STORIES ARE EFFECTIVE VEHICLES FOR COMMUNICATING LIKEABLE FALSEHOODS. NO WONDER DONALD TRUMP VALUES THEM.
We used to expect our politicians to tell us truths, and to uphold the highest standards of public morality. Saying so today sounds naive. Donald Trump in the USA and Boris Johnson in the UK lie to us sytematically and unapologetically. In his book The Art of Political Storytelling Philip Seargeant explains how they do it.
MICHAEL WATERHOUSE ON
WHAT NOT TO DO IN AFGHANISTAN
UNLIKE HIS PARENTS IN RURAL HAMPSHIRE, STEPHEN PADGETT HAS MORE ON HIS MIND THAN BACH ARIAS.
He's a serving soldier. On active duty. In Afghanistan. He's in charge of a corporal, three privates and half a dozen local police recruits. And he's about to do something very unwise. Michael Waterhouse reads an extract from his new novel, Prodigal, published in the summer 2020 edition of Booklaunch.
DIMITRI BATROUNI ON
THE LABOUR PARTY'S IDENTITY
CAN'T TELL JEREMY CORBYN AND DONALD TRUMP APART?
You need Dimitri Batrouni's help. Dr Batrouni is a councillor, has worked in Parliament and the Welsh Assembly, helped in the US presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012, and now teaches public policy at the University of Bristol. In his new book, he looks at how senior figures in the Labour Party discussed policy ideas under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, and reveals surprising parallelsbetween Corbyn's stances and those promoted by Donald Trump.
HAFSA LODI ON
WHAT'S DRIVING 'MODEST' FASHION
IS THE AGE OF REVELATION OVER?
For more than a century, fashion designers sought to reveal the female body. Clothes were thought to be constraining, politically as well as physically, and women demanded freedom. But now, stylists are designing clothes that cover up the body, and their creations are being welcomed by various important and hitherto overlooked demographic groups. Fashion enthusiast Hafsa Lodi, a law graduate from SOAS, explains what's going on.
DANIEL DEFOE ON
OUR PANDEMIC, LAST TIME AROUND
People were locked down at home, thought they were safe each time mortality rates dropped, and quickly guessed that they were being lied to by the authorities. We're talking about the coronavirus virus, right? Wrong. Some 355 years before covid-19, London was hit by the last outbreak of the plague that had devastated the world for the previous 300 years. The biology of the infection was different, but the parallels with today are stunning. Daniel Defoe was only 5 when the plague struck in 1665 and didn't publish his Journal until 1722. That makes his book a case study in great documentary journalism.
JOSHUA ROZENBERG ON
CAN WE TRUST THE JUDICIARY?
Two conflicting charges have been laid against the judiciary: that they either act to block the will of the people or try and shape it. Do they?Late in 2019 judges prevented the British prime minister's proroguing of parliament by deciding that no such proroguing had taken place. Their decision was one of several that outraged some MPs and their constituents, as well as parts of the media that habitually accuse judges of seeking political outcomes that are either too left wing or too right wing. Joshua Rozenberg, presenter of the BBC's "Law in Action", weighs up the evidence in his book Enemies of the People?
MARY O'HARA ON
THE SHAME GAME
WHY DO WE HUMILIATE THE POOR JUST FOR BEING POOR?
People tend to treat the poor as if their poverty is their own fault—as if the conditions that entrap them are the product of bad life decisions or their own ineptitude. Such accusations rob people of opportunities and rights; they're also hurtful. Mary O'Hara, an award-winning writer specialising in social policy and social justice, was brought up in conditions of poverty. She asks how the attitudes of condescension and blame that perpetuate inequality and division can be overturned.
GAVRIEL ROSENFELD ON
THE HISTORY OF A FUTURE NAZISM
HOW HAVE FEARS OF A FOURTH REICH AFFECTED OUR HISTORY?
Even before the Third Reich ended, there were fears (and for some in Germany, hopes) of a resurgent Nazism, not just among politicians but writers, academics, and people in the creative arts. Why? What ideas do thoughts of a Fourth Reich help us to articulate, and how have these thoughts changed? In his new book, Gavriel Rosenfeld charts the history of this unnerving topic as well as asking whether history can deal with pasts that haven't happened.