UK

In Britain, black people are excluded from decision-making in top-flight football. It will take more than one club appointment to change that

If you are white, you might think that English football is gloriously multiracial. After all, over a quarter of the players in the Premiership are black and much the same is true of the lower leagues. Alas, you would be wrong. Many players are black and, predictably, so are many who do football’s menial jobs such as catering, parking and security; but after that you enter an overwhelmingly white world. Virtually all the club chairmen and directors are white. Most outrageously of all, virtually every manager, even though they are almost always former players, is white.

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Obama has exposed the timidity of Blair and Brown – whose disastrous legacy is a Britain with no strong, credible left-of-centre voice

For those brought up on the modus operandi of the past 30 years, it is difficult to adjust to the monumental shift in US politics. The idea that General Motors – for so long the jewel in the crown of American manufacturing – will now be reshaped by the federal government is remarkable.

From finance to industry, the US government is now more involved in the economy than at any time since the 1930s. Furthermore, while the Republicans stand on the sidelines, warning of creeping socialism – itself an amazing charge – most of society seems to believe that there is little alternative other than a huge dose of state intervention to rescue the economy.

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The Labour Party that capitulated so completely to neoliberalism is exhausted. If it is to be reinvigorated, it will have to embrace bold ideas

The end of the neoliberal era is surely cause for some celebration. It marked a decisive shift in the centre of gravity of power in society: from the state to the market, from society to the individual, from relatively egalitarian values to the embrace of inequality. In the past 30 years, there has been a formidable redistribution of power and wealth in favour of the rich.

It can be argued that it is premature to announce the end of neoliberalism, and of course, in a sense, this is true. An ideology that has acquired such dominance at all levels of society, from the person in the street to the man at No 10 – to the point where it has acquired the force of common sense – does not and cannot disappear overnight.

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The longer the Prime Minister remains silent about the mistakes of the past, the less convincing he is as a leader for the present, let alone the future

Mr Brown is not going to apologise. He has made that perfectly clear by his silence, if nothing else. Alas, he is wrong. There was a moment last October when we glimpsed a different Gordon Brown as, seemingly energised by the financial calamity, he showed a boldness of action that suggested he might not be a prisoner of his past. But since then he has been the dour and defensive Prime Minister that we have grown accustomed to. There are three reasons why he should say mea culpa.

First, we need to try to understand the causes of the financial crash. We have proximate explanations but it will take a long time for us to arrive at any deeper conclusions. If the Prime Minister admitted to his own responsibility in the financial meltdown, that would set the tone for British society to enter into a more meaningful debate about the debacle. If the Prime Minister shows contrition, it encourages everyone else to do likewise. That is what leadership is about. And after a decade of gross excess, contrition is surely an attitude that should be encouraged.

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In the face of Thatcher’s iron will, Scargill’s decision to lead the strike without a ballot was an error that sealed the miners’ fate

The miners’ strike, which began 25 years ago this month, marked a decisive moment in the period of the Thatcher government. More than that, it was also a watershed in postwar history. The labour movement emerged from the second world war far stronger than previously. The long postwar boom which lasted until the early 1970s further bolstered the unions; this new-found strength was tested during the Heath government when the unions successfully resisted its various attempts to weaken them.

At the heart of this militancy were the miners. When Margaret Thatcher took office in 1979, she was determined not to be thwarted in the way that the Heath government had been and her government prepared its ground for a future confrontation with the unions with a carefully-conceived political strategy and meticulous preparation.

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The “new” in New Labour was skin deep: it marked the party’s capitulation to Thatcher

The 30th anniversary of Lady Thatcher’s election in 1979 – and the beginning of the era of Thatcherism – now looks very different from how it would have been viewed just a year ago. Indeed, one is reminded that Gordon Brown regarded an invitation to the Iron Lady for tea at No 10 as a means by which to lend authority and credibility to his premiership in its earliest days. Would he do so now? Perhaps. But that is mainly because the present Prime Minister is unable to shed his own Thatcherite clothes even though reality is dragging him kicking and screaming remorselessly in that direction. The 30th anniversary of the Thatcherite revolution is taking place at a time when the whole edifice of its assumptions, panaceas and policy prescriptions is crumbling in spectacular fashion. If Thatcherism has defined the zeitgeist of British politics for three decades, suddenly it now seems out of time. That is what historical turning points are about.

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Labour will pay at the next election for its inability to wrest accountability from vested interests in the financial sector

When the credit crunch struck once more in the autumn and threatened to bring every major financial institution in London and New York to its knees, there was wonderment at Gordon Brown’s reaction. From being a prime minister who had disappeared into his own manmade black hole and a chancellor who had been wedded to neoliberalism and all its economic wares, he suddenly displayed a nimbleness of foot and an openness of mind which had previously been alien to him. In contrast to the huge bail-out of the banks proposed by George Bush and Hank Paulson – with nothing in return for the taxpayer – the plan proposed by Brown and Alistair Darling at least gave the public a stake in RBS and Lloyds-HBOS in exchange for the huge sums of taxpayers’ money they received. Not surprisingly, its boldness was widely admired and copied, as was the decision to engage in major counter-cyclical public spending programme. That was then.

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England will never produce a true world tennis star until the sport loses its white, middle-class profile

Even now, following his tennis exploits at the US Open, there is only grudging respect for Andy Murray on the part of many. Imagine if Tim Henman had reached the final of the US Open – the media would have been going bonkers.
If we applied the same criteria to our football stars as we use for our tennis players, hardly anyone would pass muster: Wayne Rooney would be condemned as an oik, not fit to represent our nation.

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Max Mosley’s survival is a victory for the right to privacy. The News of the World should be worried

So Max Mosley has survived as few men have done. To be caught by the News of the World with your trousers down in the company of five prostitutes in a sado-masochistic orgy, which is simultaneously made available for the world’s delectation on video, and still live to tell the tale is quite some achievement, especially in the (allegedly) upright world of the Caravan Club of Great Britain and the American Automobile Association. Normally, such exposure leaves the hapless victim hobbled and humiliated. But Mosley is just not that kind of guy.

If you are the son of the fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, then you will have had more than your fair share of denigration and derision. And if you are the product of an extremely rich background, private tutors, public school and Oxford, then the resulting sense of superiority and disdain towards fellow mortals (which Mosley, a man of aristocratic manner and bearing, possesses in bucketfuls) can arm you with a thick skin, a mighty self-righteousness and an unshakeable self-confidence. There is, in fact, much to admire in the way that Mosley has fought his corner.

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Driving habits mirror politics. So, as the neocon moment passes into history, the Hummer brand has fallen on hard times

Politics comes in many different shapes, sizes and forms. The car is one of the most important. For the last 60 years it has dominated transport in an era when personal mobility has become increasingly valued. If one wanted to find a modern symbol of personal freedom, the motor car is right there near the top of the list. But a car has come to mean much more than that.

It has become a powerful statement about who you are and how much you earn. Car advertising long ago abandoned functionality and practicality in favour of image, romance, hedonism and status. There may be little practical difference between a Ford Mondeo and a BMW three series, but in terms of perceptions of who you are and what you are, then they are worlds apart.

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Updated and expanded new Chinese edition just released.

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Turkish edition just published!

When China Rules the World is the first book to fully conceive of and explain the upheaval that China’s ascendance will cause and the realigned global power structure it will create.

New edition available now from:

Amazon UK
and all good booksellers.

US second edition is available now via: 

Amazon US