Beatrice Webb, co-founder of the New Statesman.
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Promoted

New Statesman and the Webb Memorial Trust Essay Competition

Essay competition run by the New Statesman and the Webb Memorial Trust. First prize: £1,000.

The Competition

All interested young people are invited to submit an essay of no more than 2,500 words answering the following question:

The question this year is;

How can business reduce poverty?

The deadline is 22 October 2014.

The winning essay will be published prominently in the New Statesman magazine and on our award-winning website at Christmas.

A first prize of £1,000 will be awarded to the winner. The runner-up will receive £500.

Entrants must be between 18 and 25 years of age.

The results will be announced at an awards reception in London in December (all those whose entries are shortlisted will be invited).

 

Please submit your entry to Roxanne Mashari at info@appgpoverty.org.uk

Submitted entries will be judged by a panel including:

Richard Rawes (Chair, Webb Memorial Trust)

Jason Cowley (Editor, New Statesman)

Paul Hackett (Director, Smith Institute)

Lord Kinnock (Labour peer)

Kate Green MP (Chair, APPG Poverty)

More to be announced

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The Webb Memorial Trust shares a rich history of collaboration with this magazine. Beatrice Webb co-founded the New Statesman in 1913 with her husband, Sidney Webb, the socialist campaigner who became a Labour MP in 1922. In recent years our associated ventures have included supplements tackling issues of poverty and inequality in the UK today, with contributions from leading think-tank directors, heads of charities and policymakers.

In February 2012 the New Statesman, supported by the trust, produced a 15-page policy report that questioned not whether the government should be tackling poverty, but how. Kate Green MP, Chris White MP, Andrew Harrop and Paul Hackett were among the advisers and legislators who made the case for a fairer society.

In March 2013 we produced a second supplement, which focused on the myths about poverty that are grabbing headlines. How accurate are the perceptions of “benefit scroungers” and what effects do these attitudes have on those living below the poverty line? Christian Guy, Kate Henderson, Alison Garnham, Deborah Hargreaves and others discussed low pay, in-work poverty and the social housing stigma, highlighting proactive projects that have made a difference.

This year we collaborated on a third supplement debating whether civil society rather than the state should be the driving force behind the alleviation of poverty. Kenny Imafidon, Ruth Lister, Max Wind-Cowie, Paul Bunyan and John Diamond all contributed ideas on wider society could do to have a real impact, independent of government.

Never has the work of the trust been more important. Tough economic conditions, rising use of zero hours contracts and cuts to the welfare state have put more people than ever at risk of living in poverty. The New Statesman is proud to be partnered with this great institution.

The two supplements can be downloaded from the New Statesman website at: newstatesman.com/page/supplements.

 

 

 

 

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Conjuring the ghost: the "shape-shifting, queer, violent, hippie genuis" of David Litvinoff

A new biography tracks down the elusive Kray confidant who became a friend of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.

David Litvinoff is a mythic character to anyone with an interest in London during the Sixties. An intimate of the Krays, he was a tough and violent Jew from the East End. He was also a musical genius with an unrivalled knowledge of jazz, the blues and rock that made him a valued friend of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. It was his ability to move from the East End to Chelsea, from the dives of Soho to Notting Hill, that was the critical factor in the extraordinary vision of London that Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg conjured into the film Performance, for which Litvinoff is credited as dialogue coach. And yet, even though all this is known and recorded, he remains a ghost, a figure who wrote nothing and who systematically destroyed all the records of his life he could lay his hands on. Even his exact role in Performance is shrouded in mystery. He is said to have dictated much of the script to Cammell. This biography claims that Jagger’s mesmerising song on the soundtrack, “Memo from Turner”, was in fact a memo from Litvinoff.

Multiple reports describe him as the most brilliant talker London had known since Coleridge, but although there are rumours of tapes they have always been just rumours. I’d have thought he was a figure who would defeat any biographer – a shape-shifting, queer, violent, hippie genius lost in a mist of hallucinogens – but Keiron Pim’s account of this extraordinary character is a magisterial work of scholarship. He tracks down all the living witnesses; he has also unearthed letters, and even some of those long-lost tapes.

The story that emerges is even harder to believe than the legend. Litvinoff came out of the Jewish East End but he was from one of its most talented families. His name was not even Litvinoff: his mother’s first husband went by that name but David was the son of her second, Solomon Levy. Long before he met the Krays or the Stones, he was a gossip columnist on the Daily Express, practically inventing the Chelsea set that shocked the prim Fifties. By that time he had met Lucian Freud, who painted him in an astonishing study, the working title of which was Portrait of a Jew. Litvinoff was furious when Freud exhibited it with the new description of The Procurer, and the bad blood between these two men, both of whom inhabited the drinking clubs of Soho and the Krays’ gambling joints, remained for the rest of their lives. In fact, it is Freud who comes over as the villain of the book, fingered by Pim as the man behind the most violent assault on Litvinoff: he was knocked unconscious at the door to his own flat, on the top floor, and awoke to find himself naked and tied to a chair suspended from the balcony, nose broken and head shaved bald.

I learned much from this book: a period working for Peter Rachman before he became involved with the Krays; sojourns in Wales and Australia when he was fleeing threats of violence. The big discovery for me, however, was Litvinoff’s encyclopaedic knowledge of the jazz and blues traditions that gave birth to rock’n’roll. He taught the Stones a lot but he taught Eric Clapton even more – they were both living at the Pheasantry building on the King’s Road, and Litvinoff seems to have had unlimited access to the most recherché back catalogues and the most recent unreleased recordings. The book traces, but does not comment on, a transformation from an amphetamine-fuelled hard man in the Fifties and early Sixties to the oddest of hallucinogen hippies by the Summer of Love in 1967.

But, for all Litvinoff’s knowledge, wit and gift for friendship, his tale is a tragedy. A man who could talk but couldn’t write; an out gay man long before it was acceptable, who seems never to have been at ease with his sexuality; a proud Jew without any tradition of Judaism to which he could affiliate. Above all, this was a man who lived to the full the extraordinary moment when London dreamed, in Harold Wilson’s Sixties, that class was a thing of the past. Back from Australia in the early Seventies, Litvinoff awoke again to find that it had indeed been a dream. His suicide in 1975 was cold and deliberate. He had outlived his time. 

Colin MacCabe edits Critical Quarterly

Jumpin’ Jack Flash: David Litvinoff and the Rock’n’Roll Underworld by Keiron Pim is publisyhed by Jonathan Cape (416pp, £16.99)

This article first appeared in the 25 August 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Cameron: the legacy of a loser