Not every book gets a thumbs-up from the founder of a political party. One that has is John Gillingham’s polemical history, The EU: An Obituary. The back displays a surprising endorsement from ‘Ian Sked’ – actually Alan Sked, founder of UKIP. Sked has disowned the party, but still treasures ‘happy memories’ of working with Enoch Powell, a man he denies was racist.
Gillingham too can be soft on racism. He writes, for instance, that Dutch far-right leader Pim Fortuyn was ‘not racist per se’ but spoke for those whom ‘an influx of foreigners had made feel like strangers in their own neighbourhoods’. And he suggests that after electing Nazi apologist Jörg Haider, Austria suffered ‘impose[d] standards of political correctness’. Gillingham’s preferred brand of extremism, however, is neoliberal. A wide-eyed techno-optimist, foe of ‘statism’ and cheerleader for market-driven ‘creative destruction’, he portrays familiar demons: bloated quangos and corrupt, incompetent Eurocrats. As such, he lauds many of the EU’s worst features and impugns some of its best.
The worst bane is state intervention in trade, industrial policy or regulation. Reagan’s brutal class war ‘worked well’, and we should ‘give the City the autonomy it has long sought’. Plans to curb monopolies and protect data are ‘a campaign of harassment’ and ‘demonisation’ of American tech giants. Trade policies condemned by poor countries and development organisations are ‘impressive achievements’. On TTIP, Gillingham is almost ecstatic: it’s a ‘game-changer’ that might revive the EU. How? GDP could rise half a percentage point.
On climate change, the EU must axe ‘costly regulation’ and ‘unrealistic targets’; jihadist attacks show there are ‘more pressing problems’. Cutting carbon has been Europe’s ‘priority’ – though the Emissions Trading Scheme (gutted by corporate lobbyists) doesn’t work, and Russian gas deals are business-as-usual. Some ‘priority’.
When the public reject his ideas, Gillingham insults their intelligence. Why did they oppose Frits Bolkestein’s appalling services directive, which threatened wages and vital protections? Because people loathe Polish plumbers, and ‘Bolkestein’ sounds like ‘Frankenstein’. Why did they mobilise against TTIP? Because campaigners spread scares about chlorinated chicken.
On austerity, technocracy, the democratic deficit and Europe’s abandoned social model, Gillingham’s scholarship is at least offering a window, albeit slanted, on EU history. But his blinkers and biases are inescapable, plaguing page after page. For guidance on the EU referendum, look elsewhere.
Yasmin Gunaratnam reflects on John Berger’s gut solidarity with the stranger
Charlie Clarke and Heather Mendick discuss how to work through the tensions within Momentum
As man-made global warming gets closer to the tipping point, Andrew Simms finds reasons to be positive about averting catastrophic climate change
In this extract from his new book The Candidate, Alex Nunns tells the inside story of how Jeremy Corbyn scraped onto the Labour leadership ballot in 2015
Graham Jones proposes a framework for a diverse movement to flourish
Bryony Moore profiles Stitched Up, a non-profit group reimagining the future of fashion
Musician Eliane Correa reflects on the fading revolution
Trump's victory is another sign of the failure of the centre-left's narrative on climate change. A new message is needed, and new politicians to deliver it, writes Alex Randall
Siobhán McGuirk says the question we are too afraid to ask is simple - what kind of society leads to Donald Trump as President?
The battle lines are clear. Democracy is in peril and the left must take itself seriously electorally and politically. Ruth Potts speaks to Gary Younge, who was based in Muncie, Indiana, for the US election, about the implications of Donald Trump’s victory
Utopia: Work less play more
A shorter working week would benefit everyone, writes Madeleine Ellis-Petersen
Short story: Syrenka
A short story by Kirsten Irving
Mum’s Colombian mine protest comes to London
Anne Harris reports on one woman’s fight against a multinational coal giant
Bike courier Maggie Dewhurst takes on the gig economy… and wins
We spoke to Mags about why she’s ‘biting the hand that feeds her’
Utopia: Daring to dream
Imagining a better world is the first step towards creating one. Ruth Potts introduces our special utopian issue
Utopia: Room for all
Nadhira Halim and Andy Edwards report on the range of creative responses to the housing crisis that are providing secure, affordable housing across the UK
A better Brexit
The left should not tail-end the establishment Bremoaners, argues Michael Calderbank
News from movements around the world
Compiled by James O’Nions
Podemos: In the Name of the People
'The emergence as a potential party of government is testament both to the richness of Spanish radical culture and the inventiveness of activists such as Errejón' - Jacob Mukherjee reviews Errejón and Mouffe's latest release
Survival Shake! – creative ways to resist the system
Social justice campaigner Sakina Sheikh describes a project to embolden young people through the arts
‘We don’t want to be an afterthought’: inside Momentum Kids
If Momentum is going to meet the challenge of being fully inclusive, a space must be provided for parents, mothers, carers, grandparents and children, write Jessie Hoskin and Natasha Josette
The Kurdish revolution – a report from Rojava
Peter Loo is supporting revolutionary social change in Northern Syria.
How to make your own media
Lorna Stephenson and Adam Cantwell-Corn on running a local media co-op
Book Review: The EU: an Obituary
Tim Holmes takes a look at John Gillingham's polemical history of the EU
Book Review: The End of Jewish Modernity
Author Daniel Lazar reviews Enzo Traverso's The End of Jewish Modernity
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants
Ida-Sofie Picard introduces Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants – as told to Jenny Nelson
Book review: Angry White People: Coming Face to Face With the British Far-Right
Hilary Aked gets close up with the British far right in Hsiao-Hung Pai's latest release
University should not be a debt factory
Sheldon Ridley spoke to students taking part in their first national demonstration.
Book Review: The Day the Music Died – a Memoir
Sheila Rowbotham reviews the memoirs of BBC director and producer, Tony Garnett.
Power Games: A Political History
Malcolm Maclean reviews Jules Boykoff's Power Games: A Political History
Book Review: Sex, Needs and Queer Culture: from liberation to the post-gay
Aiming to re-evaluate the radicalism and efficacy of queer counterculture and rebellion - April Park takes us through David Alderson's new work.
A book review every day until Christmas at Red Pepper
Red Pepper will be publishing a new book review each day until Christmas
Book Review: Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics
'In spite of the odds Corbyn is still standing' - Alex Doherty reviews Seymour's analysis of the rise of Corbyn
From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation
'A small manifesto for black liberation through socialist revolution' - Graham Campbell reviews Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor's 'From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation'
The abolition of Art History A-Level will exacerbate social inequality
This is a massive blow to the rights of ordinary kids to have the same opportunities as their more privileged peers. Danielle Child reports.
Mass civil disobedience in Sudan
A three-day general strike has brought Sudan to a stand still as people mobilise against the government and inequality. Jenny Nelson writes.
Mustang film review: Three fingers to Erdogan
Laura Nicholson reviews Mustang, Deniz Gamze Erguven’s unashamedly feminist film critique of Turkey’s creeping conservatism
What if the workers were in control?
Hilary Wainwright reflects on an attempt by British workers to produce a democratically determined alternative plan for their industry
Airport expansion is a racist policy
Climate change is a colonial crisis, writes Jo Ram
Momentum Kids: the parental is political
Momentum Kids is not about indoctrinating children, but rather the more radical idea that children have an important role to play in shaping the future, writes Kristen Hope