A 9/11 reader

Ten of the best articles on the tenth anniversary of the attack.

In the morning of September 11, 2001, 19 hijackers took control of four commercial airliners, piloting two in to the World Trade Center in Manhattan, and another into the Pentagon in Washington. The final plane, United 93, was brought down by passengers in Pennsylvania.

Some 2,977 people died as a result, as well as the 19 hijackers. To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the attacks, here are ten articles - old and new - giving a range of perspectives on those events.

1. Where were you on 9/11?

For its 9/11 special issue, the NS asked politicians, writers and other leading figures for their memories of the day. From Rory Stewart in Nepal to Stephen Evans in the World Trade Center, they provide a fascinating insight into the day that defined a generation.

2. Ten Years On: Your Memories

In recent days, The Guardian has tried a unique crowd-sourcing project, inviting readers to submit their own remembrances of the day. The result is a far more international perspective on the attacks than many other media outlets have managed.

3. Simply Evil

Christopher Hitchens's thinking was profoundly affected by the events of September 11 (more here). This is his response to the anniversary.

4. How the fear of being criminalised has forced Muslims into silence

Mehdi Hasan on the demonisation of Muslims. . .

5. "You no longer have rights"

. . . and three incredible stories of discrimination, collected by McSweeneys.

6. The Falling Man

One of the most acclaimed pieces of journalism to follow the attacks, this piece tried to trace the identity of the man pictured falling from the burning Towers.

7. Perpetual warfare

John Gray puts the attacks in a wider historical conflict, exploring the decade of conflict which began in 2001.

8. How to write a horror film and How did Hollywood handle the tragedy?

Two film critics assess the cinematic response.

9. The Twins of the Twin Towers

Of the 3,000 who died in the towers, 46 were twins. In the Daily Mail, the survivors tell their story.

10. The day that changed my city

In a moving piece, the Independent's David Usborne relives the day in Manhattan, and explores why he dreads its anniversary so much.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11

How Jim Murphy's mistake cost Labour - and helped make Ruth Davidson

Scottish Labour's former leader's great mistake was to run away from Labour's Scottish referendum, not on it.

The strange revival of Conservative Scotland? Another poll from north of the border, this time from the Times and YouGov, shows the Tories experiencing a revival in Scotland, up to 28 per cent of the vote, enough to net seven extra seats from the SNP.

Adding to the Nationalists’ misery, according to the same poll, they would lose East Dunbartonshire to the Liberal Democrats, reducing their strength in the Commons to a still-formidable 47 seats.

It could be worse than the polls suggest, however. In the elections to the Scottish Parliament last year, parties which backed a No vote in the referendum did better in the first-past-the-post seats than the polls would have suggested – thanks to tactical voting by No voters, who backed whichever party had the best chance of beating the SNP.

The strategic insight of Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, was to to recast her party as the loudest defender of the Union between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. She has absorbed large chunks of that vote from the Liberal Democrats and Labour, but, paradoxically, at the Holyrood elections at least, the “Unionist coalition” she assembled helped those parties even though it cost the vote share.

The big thing to watch is not just where the parties of the Union make gains, but where they successfully form strong second-places against whoever the strongest pro-Union party is.

Davidson’s popularity and eye for a good photo opportunity – which came first is an interesting question – mean that the natural benefactor in most places will likely be the Tories.

But it could have been very different. The first politician to hit successfully upon the “last defender of the Union” routine was Ian Murray, the last Labour MP in Scotland, who squeezed both the  Liberal Democrat and Conservative vote in his seat of Edinburgh South.

His then-leader in Scotland, Jim Murphy, had a different idea. He fought the election in 2015 to the SNP’s left, with the slogan of “Whether you’re Yes, or No, the Tories have got to go”.  There were a couple of problems with that approach, as one  former staffer put it: “Firstly, the SNP weren’t going to put the Tories in, and everyone knew it. Secondly, no-one but us wanted to move on [from the referendum]”.

Then again under different leadership, this time under Kezia Dugdale, Scottish Labour once again fought a campaign explicitly to the left of the SNP, promising to increase taxation to blunt cuts devolved from Westminster, and an agnostic position on the referendum. Dugdale said she’d be open to voting to leave the United Kingdom if Britain left the European Union. Senior Scottish Labour figures flirted with the idea that the party might be neutral in a forthcoming election. Once again, the party tried to move on – but no-one else wanted to move on.

How different things might be if instead of running away from their referendum campaign, Jim Murphy had run towards it in 2015. 

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

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