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29 December 2022

The best New Statesman long reads of 2022

The stories and essays that had you (and us) gripped from start to finish this year.

By Melissa Denes

From Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine to the end of Boris Johnson’s reign, via the Lionesses’ win at the Euros and a rollercoaster year at GB News, these were our favourite long reads.

How the trial of the Colston Four was won: the inside story

Tom Lamont

In January, four protesters were cleared of criminal damage after toppling a statue of the slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol. Their acquittal sparked fury from the government, while the trial raised fresh questions about justice, racism and history. 

Are you mentally ill, or very unhappy? Psychiatrists can’t agree

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Sophie McBain

As rates of diagnosis rise, a fierce debate rages in psychiatry. Are we experiencing a “mental health epidemic”, or a rational response to a traumatic world? 

Why climate despair is a luxury

Rebecca Solnit

Those who live on the front line of the climate crisis cannot turn away. Writing in Greta Thunberg’s New Statesman guest edit, the American essayist and activist reflects on 20 years of writing about hope and the moral imperative to act.

‘We’re going to disrupt’: a year inside GB News

Stuart McGurk

Drawing on interviews with staff past and present, this insider account of the growing pains of the UK’s first new television channel in 30 years won the 2022 Foreign Press Award for best culture story.

If America has its Dream, what ideal unites the British?

Gary Younge

In this essay from Michael Sheen’s New Statesman guest edit, Younge argues that – unlike France or the United States – there is no utopian trajectory that has captured the British imagination.

Rage against the regime: the Belarus ultras who stood up to Lukashenko

Maria Wilczek

How the war in Ukraine and repression at home steered die-hard football fans towards protest, prison and exile.

Is a united Ireland now inevitable?

Martin Fletcher

In April, Sinn Féin became the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly. In this reported piece, Fletcher talked to politicians and key players about how reunification might work.

The more beautiful game: how I fell for women’s football

May Robson

Professional women’s football was banned by the Football Association from 1921 until 1970. Amateur player Robson explored the game’s deep history and conflicted present on the eve of England’s historic Euros win.

The death of “Boris” the clown

Edward Docx

When Boris Johnson announced his resignation as prime minister on 7 July, the novelist Edward Docx wrote this satirical, savage look back at his career: the adventures of an opportunist in four increasingly surreal acts.

Death for her was a political act: why the Queen chose Scotland

Tanya Gold

The day after Queen Elizabeth II died, Gold travelled to Edinburgh and then Balmoral Castle, capturing the surreal and moving mood as Scotland paid its last respects. Had the Queen made one last roll of the dice for the Union?

Watergate in the age of Donald Trump

Colin Kidd

Fifty years since the scandal that brought down US president Richard Nixon, the historian Colin Kidd looks at the parallels with another dark period for US democracy.

How did I feel when Dad died? Music helped me figure it out

Pete Paphides

Music writer Pete Paphides on loss, family and the tracks that guided his “griephoria”. 

What is there left of Princess Diana, 25 years after her death?

Tanya Gold

On the 25th anniversary of her death, Tanya Gold explores the monuments and myth surrounding Diana Spencer.

The battle for the soul of English cricket

Emma John

When the former Yorkshire bowler Azeem Rafiq blew the whistle on racism in the game, resignations and inquiries followed. Emma John joined a grassroots team, and the “last” Eton-Harrow fixture at Lord’s cricket ground, to hear what happened next.

With the ghost children: inside the crisis in child social care

Anoosh Chakelian

The murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson revealed shocking shortcomings in the UK’s social care system. Anoosh Chakelian spent months talking to social workers about the impact of lockdowns and poverty on the children they support, and on their own capacity for care.

The year “woke” break: a brief history of a contested word

Stuart McGurk

From Suella Braverman to Elon Musk, war was declared on the “liberal elite” in 2022. Stuart McGurk traced the evolution of one little word, through its golden years to the culture wars.

[See also: In January, I made ten predictions for 2022 – how did they turn out?]

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