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5 January 2012

In this week’s New Statesman: Forget Obama

NS picks the top US progressives | Maurice Glasman on Ed Miliband's leadership | Douglas Hurd on

By Alice Gribbin

Who’s left? The 20 most intruiging progressive voices in the United States

With Barack Obama accused of governing as a moderate Republican, this New Statesman cover story names the left-wingers in America who matter – not just liberals, but socialists, social democrats and true progressives.

From satirists and journalists to senators and actors, the NS list includes 20 profiles of the leading progressives, including:

Rachel Maddow, MSNBC news anchor
Noam Chomsky, theorist
Paul Krugman, economist
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, satirists, organisers of the Rally to Restore Sanity
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood leader
Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, poverty activists
Van Jones, activist
David Graeber, anthropologist, Occupy Wall Street co-ordinator
Elizabeth Warren, would-be senator and Wall Street watchdog
Matt Damon, actor and teachers’ campaigner
Keith Ellison, congressman and co-chair, Congressional Progressive Caucus
Sonia Sotomayor, justice of the Supreme Court
Markos Moulitsas, editor, Daily Kos
Danny Glover, actor and campaigner
Angela Davis, activist, Occupy movement visitor
Glenn Greenwald, blogger, Salon
Tim Robbins, actor and film director
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor, the Nation
Michael Moore, activist, film-maker and writer
Bernie Sanders, senator

Maurice Glasman: Ed Miliband must trust his instincts and stand up for real change

In this week’s New Statesman, writing in a Guest Column, the Labour peer and founder of Blue Labour Maurice Glasman, often described as Ed Miliband’s “guru”, contends that the Labour leader has “not broken through” and urges him “to show some leadership” in 2012.

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Glasman writes:

On the face of it, these look like bad times for Labour and for Ed Miliband’s leadership. There seems to be no strategy, no narrative and little energy. Old faces from the Brown era still dominate the shadow cabinet and they seem stuck in defending Labour’s record in all the wrong ways – we didn’t spend too much money, we’ll cut less fast and less far, but we can’t tell you how.

. . . But we have not won, and show no signs of winning, the economic argument. We have not articulated a constructive alternative capable of recognising our weaknesses in government and taking the argument to the coalition. We show no relish for reconfiguring the relationship between the state, the market and society.

Glasman applauds the leadership Miliband demonstrated with his “campaign for a living wage” and says he was “right to distinguish between predatory and productive capital” – but argues that

Ed . . . has not broken through. He has flickered rather than shone, nudged not led. It is time for him to bring the gifts that only he can bring. He should leave behind state orthodoxies and trust his instinct that change is essential.

David Blanchflower: Newt Gingrich lacks economic credibility. That’s why I’m voting for him

In the Economics Column, David Blanchflower argues that the Republican Party seems to be doing “everything it can to prevent the economy recovering from recession”. Republican policymakers – “Tea Party economic Neanderthals” included – “are being obstructionist and the public, it would seem, is on to them”.

Ahead of the GOP presidential primary on 10 January in New Hampshire, now his home state, Blanchflower writes:

It may surprise you to learn that I am planning to vote for the ex-Speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich, even though he has grave weaknesses.

Among those weaknesses, Blanchflower includes Gingrich’s failure to draw up a plausible plan for the US economy:

He is for an optional, highly regressive flat tax of 15 per cent and wants to strengthen the dollar, which would hurt US exports . . . He wants to reduce the power of the Fed, and balance the budget . . . [but] fails to explain how he would do this.

So why is he voting for Gingrich?

Because he has no chance of becoming president. But the longer he remains in the primary race, the more Mitt Romney will have to spend on destroying his opponents’ credibility and the less money Romney will have to attack Obama. Welcoming to tactical voting American-style.

Douglas Hurd reviews The Iron Lady: “She knew she was right”

In The Critics this week, the former Conservative foreign secretary Douglas Hurd writes about Phyllida Lloyd’s Margaret Thatcher biopic, The Iron Lady.

Although he admires Meryl Streep’s portrayal of Britain’s only female prime minister, Hurd finds the film a “ghoulish spectacle”. Moreover:

It leaves out much that is crucial to any understanding [of Thatcher’s premiership]. There is no mention of the Westland affair, which, to me at least, exposed the weakness of her style of government and underlined the need to return to collective, cavinet government, as opposed to decisions born out of conversations betwen individual ministers and the prime minister.

. . . Each of us who worked with Margaret Thatcher carries away his or her store of memories out of which we put together our own portrait. These portraits will differ greatly. She had a small group of individuals who shared her underlying views about such matters as the money supply, the nature of poverty in Britain, the evil of communism and the dangerous characteristics of the German people . . . I was never a member of this group, never “one of us”.

Elsewhere in the New Statesman

All this plus the shadow lord chancellor, Sadiq Khan, on his what he learnt about integration in Britain from his first visit to Jerusalem, following the special guest-edited Christmas NS Mehdi Hasan takes issue with Richard Dawkins over God and science, David Patrikarakos on the ascendency of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Samira Shackle interviews the sharp-tongued satirist P J O’Rourke and we publish “Years of This, Now”, a bleak yet brilliant new short story by Jon McGregor.

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