In this week’s New Statesman: the God issue

Sam Harris interview | The rise of Hinduism | Alice Miles: why I admire Rupert Murdoch.

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This week's New Statesman is a special issue devoted to faith, science and what we believe today.

The highlights include an interview with the atheist thinker Sam Harris, who argues that science can never be reconciled with religion, Garry Wills on why Saint Augustine's Confessions is best read as a "drama of sin and salvation", and Cherie Blair, Peter Hitchens and Jeremy Vine on why they believe in God.

Also this week, Mehdi Hasan argues that we should vote Yes to AV even if it is a "miserable little compromise", the NS editor, Jason Cowley, discusses Jemima Khan, Julian Assange and our failing concentration, Alice Miles confides her unfashionable admiration for Rupert Murdoch, and David Blanchflower explains why we shouldn't worry about inflation.

All this, plus Geoffrey Robertson on why the coalition's libel reforms won't help free speech, Will Self on urban myths, and an American writing special, including Jonathan Derbyshire on David Foster Wallace's last novel and interviews with Dave Eggers and Joshua Foer.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Gerald Kaufman dies aged 86

Before becoming an MP, Kaufman's varied career included a stint as the NS' theatre critic.

Gerald Kaufman, the Labour MP for Manchester Gorton and former theatre critic at the New Statesman, has died.

Kaufman, who served as the MP for Manchester Gorton continuously from 1970, had a varied career before entering Parliament, working for the Fabian Society in addition to his flourishing career in journalism and as a satirist, writing for That Was The Week That Was and as a leader writer on the Mirror. In 1965, he exchanged the press for politics, working as a press officer and an aide to Harold Wilson before he was elected to parliament in 1970.

Upon Labour’s return to office in 1974, he served as a junior minister until the party’s defeat in 1979, and on the opposition frontbenches until 1992, reaching the position of shadow foreign secretary. In 1999, he was chair of the Man Booker Prize, which that year was won by JM Coetzee’s Disgrace.

His death opens up a by-election in Manchester Gorton, which Labour is expected to win. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.