question time: did the straw man really slay the griffin?

by Adam Ford

Viewers of the BBC’s Question Time were confronted by many truly repellent outbursts from the platform on 22nd October. The screening – which had generated massive controversy due to the debut appearance of British National Party chairman Nick Griffin – often broke out into shouting and boos as the audience expressed their disgust with Griffin’s barely disguised racism and homophobia. But a significant early comment by another panellist went almost unnoticed amidst all the fury: Jack Straw claimed that Labour and the other ‘mainstream’ parties’ have a “moral compass”. In this article I will examine that claim, look at the ideological role of Question Time, and criticise the tactics of Unite Against Fascism and the Socialist Workers Party.


(Photo by Mike Fleming)

Since it began in 1979, Question Time has been a centrepiece of the BBC’s political coverage. During that time, it has played a significant role in framing the national policy debate, in determining which views are (and which are not) acceptable as ‘mainstream’. When the programme began, in the early days of Margaret Thatcher’s first Conservative government, there were four panellists – one each from Conservatives, Labour and the Liberals (as the third party were known at the time). The fourth panellist would be a prominent ‘talking head’, often from the fields of academia, the media or religion. In 1999, the panel was expanded to five guests, and the show experimented with ‘outsider’ figures, such as comedians, but this was quickly ditched. Continue reading “question time: did the straw man really slay the griffin?”

marxist analysis of ‘the apprentice’ episode one

by Jack Staunton

“the problem of unbridled free markets in an unsupervised market place is that they can reduce all relationships to transactions, all motivations to self-interest, all sense of value to consumer choice and all sense of worth to a price tag.”
Gordon Brown, speech to European Union parliament, 24th March 2009

Readers of the various websites and papers calling themselves ‘communist’ may be aware of the vogue in recent years for reviews of films, novels and TV programmes. These allow the writer not only to connect with ‘the young people’/’real people’, but furthermore to offer a ‘dialectical materialist’ take on the narrative therein and use their training in the works of Lenin and Trotsky to propose what the characters or people involved ought to have done to change the ending. After all, if you think it worthwhile to write a piece on why the workers who established the Paris Commune were defeated (their failure to build a vanguard party…) from the safety of nearly 140 years of history, why not proffer a catch-all solution for how Jack might have survived in Titanic, or how Blofeld might have finished off James Bond?


The best examples of this are the film and video game reviews to be found on the websites of the American groups ‘Monkey Smashes Heaven’ and ‘Maoist Internationalist Movement’, who give timelessly useful analysis such as “The Jokers of the world will never destroy the system. Only communist revolution will destroy Batman and the system he represents once and for all.” orĀ  “Mao taught that the masses make history; the masses are the true heroes. If the oppressed act collectively, they can change the course of history and remake the world. The revolutionary outlook is diametrically opposed to the fatalistic, magical one of Slumdog Millionaire.”

Not to be outdone, The Commune is the first website to feature a properly Marxist analysis of the first episode of the latest series of The Apprentice. Continue reading “marxist analysis of ‘the apprentice’ episode one”