New book featuring NS contributors

<em>Fight Back! A Reader on the Winter of Protest</em> is free to download.

The first book on Britain's anti-cuts movement has been published by openDemocracy. Fight Back! A Reader on the Winter of Protest features a number of New Statesman contributors – Anthony Barnett, Rowenna Davis, Jeremy Gilbert, Dan Hancox, Johann Hari, Owen Hatherley, Laurie Penny and Daniel Trilling – and is now free to download as an e-book. More details from the publishers here:

In November 2010 opposition to the government's cuts exploded into direct action, as students stormed the Conservative Party HQ in Millbank.

A month later, Parliament Square itself was occupied, as 30,000 marched while the police protected the House of Commons, and later brutally "kettled" many of the young demonstrators.

Has a new movement been born? One which can even defeat the government?

Fight Back! the book features the best writing, blogs, articles, images and exchanges of two explosive months of action against the government's programme of cuts and student fees.

Its "editorial kettle" of seven are all under 30 and were all kettled by the police in November and December 2011.

Edited by the journalist Dan Hancox, others on the editorial team are Guy Aitchison, Laurie Penny, Siraj Datoo, Caillean Gallaghar, Aaron Peters and Paul Sagar.

The book brings together 43 contributors of all ages, from a 15-year-old UK Uncut activist to a rebel Lib Dem peer.

Fight Back! is published by openDemocracy's OurKingdom.

It will be published on 24 March as a book and on Kindle.

It can be downloaded now as a free e-book with no registration.

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No, David Cameron’s speech was not “left wing”

Come on, guys.

There is a strange journalistic phenomenon that occurs when a party leader makes a speech. It is a blend of groupthink, relief, utter certainty, and online backslapping. It happened particularly quickly after David Cameron’s speech to Tory party conference today. A few pundits decided that – because he mentioned, like, diversity and social mobility – this was a centre-left speech. A leftwing speech, even. Or at least a clear grab for the liberal centre ground. And so that’s what everyone now believes. The analysis is decided. The commentary is written. Thank God for that.

Really? It’s quite easy, even as one of those nasty, wicked Tories, to mention that you actually don’t much like racism, and point out that you’d quite like poor children to get jobs, without moving onto Labour's "territory". Which normal person is in favour of discriminating against someone on the basis of race, or blocking opportunity on the basis of class? Of course he’s against that. He’s a politician operating in a liberal democracy. And this isn’t Ukip conference.

Looking at the whole package, it was actually quite a rightwing speech. It was a paean to defence – championing drones, protecting Britain from the evils of the world, and getting all excited about “launching the biggest aircraft carriers in our history”.

It was a festival of flagwaving guff about the British “character”, a celebration of shoehorning our history chronologically onto the curriculum, looking towards a “Greater Britain”, asking for more “national pride”. There was even a Bake Off pun.

He also deployed the illiberal device of inculcating a divide-and-rule fear of the “shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”, informing us that children in UK madrassas are having their “heads filled with poison and their hearts filled with hate”, and saying Britain shouldn’t be “overwhelmed” with refugees, before quickly changing the subject to ousting Assad. How unashamedly centrist, of you, Mr Prime Minister.

Benefit cuts and a reduction of tax credits will mean the Prime Minister’s enthusiasm for “equality of opportunity, as opposed to equality of outcome” will be just that – with the outcome pretty bleak for those who end up losing any opportunity that comes with state support. And his excitement about diversity in his cabinet rings a little hollow the day following a tubthumping anti-immigration speech from his Home Secretary.

If this year's Tory conference wins the party votes, it’ll be because of its conservative commitment – not lefty love bombing.

Anoosh Chakelian is deputy web editor at the New Statesman.