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It’s months since Godfrey Bloom ruined the UKIP conference: one sexist joke overshadowing the all‑encompassing bigotry of the rest of the event. But he still pops up in the media, one of those colourful, loose‑cannon, blah-blah figures that journalists like because they’re ‘off‑message’. People tire of Farage already. The booze and fags are wearing thin, as he flaps around, trying too hard to be liked.
Today’s politicians are boring. Perhaps that’s why they get away with so much. Who can be arsed to hate Grant Shapps, a man whose personality is so lacking that he had to invent another one? Work must have been a joy for Mike Yarwood. For Rory Bremner, it is surely a grind. Hague is worth impersonating and might buy a round. Ken Clarke has shaken off his history to become an occasionally-undiplomatic uncle, bumbling around in a likeable daze like Paddington Bear after a car accident.
But who else is there? Even retired politicos such as Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson are interchangeable planks. Ann Widdecombe is a character, in the sense that it would be better if she were fictional, but that’s about it for funny-looking people with funny voices.
So professional interviewers must long for a quirky bigot: ‘Please God, not Chuka Umunna again – what the hell am I going to ask him?’ Far better the ravings of right‑wingers who pose as anti-establishment rebels. Journalism itself is full of people like that, ranters who tell us you can’t say anything these days, while being amply rewarded for spewing whatever filth they like.
But whether you love or hate the pantomime reactionaries, they catch the eye, while a grey parade of functional dullards do their evil work in semi-obscurity. Gove desperately tries to get our attention, but is so uncharismatic even he fails.
The collapse of Carillion is only one small part of a larger story of decades of economic mismanagement, writes Jane Lethbridge
Laura McDonald writes that universities should not just be finishing schools for the wealthy or disciplinary institutions churning out docile workers.
A floundering alliance of Blairites is trying to reinvent itself for a Corbynite age. By Tom Costello.
Marienna Pope-Weidemann explains why decades of occupation and oppression have led some people to call Israel an apartheid state.
International Women's Day is set to be marked by strikes from "paid work in offices and factories, or unpaid domestic work in homes, communities and bedrooms."
Laurie Laybourn-Langton writes that measuring the economy is political - and economic measurement dominates politics.
David Scott argues that our prison system represents a human rights disaster, and reformist solutions can't tackle the root problems.
A deeper engagement with culture can strengthen our democracy, taking political projects beyond electoral impact and festival memes into a whole new world of radical, lasting change.
Ruth Tanner writes that revelations about Oxfam's behaviour in Haiti are shocking, but not surprising.
The actions of Oxfam officials are horrendous - but gutting foreign aid funding just puts more people at risk, writes Daniel Gibson.
Stormzy, Grenfell and what it means to be a ‘threat’
The artist is giving a vital platform to a new generation of voices pointing out the deep hypocrisy in which crimes get punished and which get rewarded, write Remi Joseph-Salisbury and Laura Connelly
For All, By All
The latest issue of Red Pepper asks - how do we invite, support and nurture greater public participation so that our cultural capabilities are empowered beyond the crushing logic of market fundamentalism?
‘We are hungry in three languages’: The forgotten promise of the Bosnian Spring
Ruth Tanner looks back at a wave of protests which swept through Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2014.
It’s time for a cultural renewal of the left
Andrew Dolan writes that we need to integrate art, music, films and poetry into our movement, creating spaces where political ideas are given further room to breathe.
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes