The filmmaker Adam Curtis — Image from Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

One of the many questions I would ask Adam Curtis, the filmmaker, if I were ever to meet him would be this. Having released the film ‘Hypernormalisation’, about one quarter of which tells the story of Donald Trump, just a month before the 2016 Presidential Election how did you feel the morning after his election with the knowledge that you were…right?

Although we know nothing really about Curtis’ personal political beliefs it is fair to assume from the stories he tells, his long association with the BBC and the podcasts to which he chooses to give interviews that he was…

Author and artisan Robert Noonan would not live to see his book published. Image in the public domain courtesy of Hastings Museum

Robert Noonan, an Irish housepainter who wrote a single book in his life under the surname Tressell, died from tuberculosis, that old codeword for poverty, in 1911. His single written work, The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, stayed unpublished until his daughter Kathleen found a publisher for some of the material in 1914. Noonan’s complete story would not be published until 1955.

An Edwardian version of HBO’s ‘The Wire’, the book is a slow safari through a system defined by absurd injustice. Characters are sketched and lingered on, but are ultimately mere dots that only make sense when the reader steps back and…

On 7th June 2020, protestors in Bristol tore down the statue of Edward Colston and threw it into the harbour. Image courtesy of Twitter

The weekend saw the removal of a statue of a slave trader in Bristol by Black Lives Matter protestors. Like so much of social change that is caused by social movements, this particular statue finally fell to direct action after years of discussion and failed petitions. But it begs the question — does history change or is it statuesque?

Next to the Houses of Parliament, on probably one of the most dangerous junctions in the country due to confusing traffic flows and selfie thirsty tourists, there stands another statue. It stands on the brink of Westminster Bridge and shows a…

The message attacking the British press which went viral on Facebook and Twitter in April 2020.

Something went viral last week. It was a message from an unknown everyman or woman who felt compelled to speak for Britain. It started ‘A message to all our Negative UK Press…’

“…We do not want or need blame. We do not want constant criticism of our government who are doing their very best…But time and again we see our negative press trying to trip up our politicians instead of asking questions that will provide positive and reassuring answers for all of us.”

Pinging around social media, it struck a chord with many. But like so much of what is…

A German Hussar Patrol from the First World War. The war started on horseback like the 19th Century, but it ended four years later in the 20th Century’s tanks and planes. Image courtesy of The Library of Congress via Flickr

The respected historian Eric Hobsbawm, in an attempt to understand the character of the last two centuries, made two observations that defined his work. First, there was a ‘long nineteenth century’ a 125 year period of relative stability from the French Revolution in 1789 until the First World War in 1914. Second, there was a short Twentieth Century of dynamic turmoil from 1914 to 1989 when the Cold War ended. Hobsbawm made these observations so we could see the similarities and differences not just between dates and events, but between forces of history. …

As well as misinterpreting history, Roger Hallam’s Holocaust comments reinforce negative stereotypes of environmentalism. Image by TwoPointsCouture

“The fact of the matter is, millions of people have been killed in vicious circumstances on a regular basis throughout history…They went to the Congo in the late 19th century and decimated it… “[the Holocaust was] almost a normal event…just another fuckery in human history.”

These were the words of the Extinction Rebellion leader Roger Hallam in an interview to the German publication Die Zeit this week. Why is it that in saying these things Hallam has been disowned by the German branch of his own organisation and seen the German publisher of his book withdraw support?

The Holocaust was…

The twenty-year-old Northern Ireland peace deal dealt decisively with the issue of identity — the same issue now at the heart of Brexit

The old blue British passport is symbolic of a certain lost British identity. However, as the Brexit crisis continues, identity in the British Isles will need to become more flexible and inclusive. Image licenced by Creative Commons

“It’s not about how long it takes a lorry to cross a border,” pleaded Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff, on Newsnight recently, “The issue is identity.” Never, in an era of populism, was a truer sentence said.

And Powell should know. As chief negotiator for one of the great diplomatic successes in twentieth-century history it is telling that, although he was talking about the Good Friday Agreement, he could equally have been diagnosing Brexit…

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party since 2015— Image from the public domain

Are you a British voter? Have you heard that Jeremy Corbyn is a Marxist but unsure what that means? If yes then it might be worth making up your mind so you can vote on 12th December in good faith.

To get to the bottom of this we must understand capitalism. Capitalism brings things that are not in the market and makes them marketable. The classic example is your ‘work’. Before capitalism, you just worked on a farm for food or produced something artisanal and exchanged it for other things you needed. The magic of capitalism was to turn this…

Art imitating Life: ‘Jesus the Homeless’ sculpture in Manchester dedicated by the Bishop of Manchester in April 2018. Image Copyright David Dixon and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

“Hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The time is gone, the song is over,

Thought I’d something more to say.”

Pink Floyd, 1973

The Conservative Party is the most successful political party in modern history. They are considered by many, and nearly all within it, to be the natural party of government in Britain. If you were to guess the party of government at a random point in the past century then it would likely be the Conservative Party. It dominates.

Today, the party has been in power for more than nine years. So as we enter…

The Houses of Parliament — Although currently having a structural refurbishment we are short of ideas on how to improve what happens inside. Image by Roman Boed (CC BY 2.0)

In his book ‘Heroic Failure: Brexit And The Politics of Pain’, Fintan O’ Toole concludes that the UK:

“cannot be governed without radical social and constitutional change.’

and that,

‘[the]model of the British state is sanctified by the vestiges of explicitly pre-democratic forms of rule — the monarchy and the unelected House of Lords.”

But what does the House of Lords actually do? If I had a pound for every time I heard someone say that I would have nearly seven pounds.

In one line, the House of Lords is the second chamber of Parliament and has the power to…

Luke Murphy

Contact Luke at or follow him on Twitter

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