• Jonathan Freedland: Review of Jonathan Sperber's "Karl Marx: A Nineteenth-Century Life"

    Jonathan Freedland is an editorial page columnist for The Guardian of London.The Karl Marx depicted in Jonathan Sperber’s absorbing, meticulously researched biography will be unnervingly familiar to anyone who has had even the most fleeting acquaintance with radical politics. Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene, living in rooms that some might call bohemian, others plain “slummy,” and who can be maddeningly inconsistent when not lapsing into elaborate flights of theory and unintelligible abstraction.

  • Polly Toynbee: Labour Needs to Recapture the Spirit and Nerve of 1945

    Polly Toynbee is a columnist for the Guardian. She was formerly BBC social affairs editor, columnist and associate editor of the Independent, co-editor of the Washington Monthly and a reporter and feature writer for the Observer...Here we are in the worst crisis of our lifetime, in the depths a long slump with no end in sight – demand dead, companies hoarding cash, most cuts still to come and bound to depress future growth. The bottom half lose most as real wages fall, while rents, food and fuel prices rise. Nothing gets better as deficit and debt soar. What better time for Ken Loach's new documentary, Spirit of 45, a patchwork of old documentaries and memories of the coming to power of the postwar Labour government, full of hope. In a breathless few years, Labour implemented its remarkably radical programme, creating the NHS, nationalising coal, steel, rail, road transport and electricity, initiating a mighty house-building programme. Loach's film is a hymn to the Labour party manifesto of 1945 – the tone would make as good a text for 2015 as back then.