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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Beware, hard Brexiteers - Ruth Davidson is coming for you

The Scottish Conservative leader is well-positioned to fight. 

Wanted: Charismatic leader with working-class roots and a populist touch who can take on the Brexiteers, including some in the government, and do so convincingly.

Enter Ruth Davidson. 

While many Tory MPs quietly share her opposition to a hard Brexit, those who dare to be loud tend to be backbenchers like Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan. 

By contrast, the Scottish Conservative leader already has huge credibility for rebuilding her party north of the border. Her appearances in the last days of the EU referendum campaign made her a star in the south as well. And she has no qualms about making a joke at Boris Johnson’s expense

Speaking at the Institute of Directors on Monday, Davidson said Brexiteers like Nigel Farage should stop “needling” European leaders.

“I say to the Ukip politicians, when they chuckle and bray about the result in June, grow up,” she declared. “Let us show a bit more respect for these European neighbours and allies.”

Davidson is particularly concerned that Brexiteers underestimate the deeply emotional and political response of other EU nations. 

The negotiations will be 27 to 1, she pointed out: “I would suggest that macho, beer swilling, posturing at the golf club bar isn’t going to get us anywhere.”

At a time when free trade is increasingly a dirty word, Davidson is also striking in her defence of the single market. As a child, she recalls, every plate of food on the table was there because her father, a self-made businessman, had "made stuff and sold it abroad". 

She attacked the Daily Mail for its front cover branding the judges who ruled against the government’s bid to trigger Article 50 “enemies of the people”. 

When the headline was published, Theresa May and Cabinet ministers stressed the freedom of the press. By contrast, Davidson, a former journalist, said that to undermine “the guardians of our democracy” in this way was “an utter disgrace”. 

Davidson might have chosen Ukip and the Daily Mail to skewer, but her attacks could apply to certain Brexiteers in her party as well. 

When The Staggers enquired whether this included the Italy-baiting Foreign Secretary Johnson, she launched a somewhat muted defence.

Saying she was “surprised by the way Boris has taken to the job”, she added: “To be honest, when you have got such a big thing happening and when you have a team in place that has been doing the preparatory work, it doesn’t make sense to reshuffle the benches."

Nevertheless, despite her outsider role, the team matters to Davidson. Part of her electoral success in Scotland is down the way she has capitalised on the anti-independence feeling after the Scottish referendum. If the UK heads for a hard Brexit, she too will have to fend off accusations that her party is the party of division. 

Indeed, for all her jibes at the Brexiteers, Davidson has a serious message. Since the EU referendum, she is “beginning to see embryos of where Scotland has gone post-referendum”. And, she warned: “I do not think we want that division.”

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.