Interviewing the Beast of Bolsover

I tried to commission Dennis Skinner to write a comment piece ahead of the general election. He told me he wouldn’t “moonlight” and take work off journalists.

So I interviewed him, instead.

But what about those who would like to vote Labour but are reluctant to back Jeremy Corbyn? What would he say to them?

Skinner’s response is so forceful I feel like I may have to hold the phone away from my ear. “Any Labour government is better than a Tory government”, he booms, adding, “even Blair”.

Read the full piece at the i.

Benjamin remixed: reviewing Kenneth Goldsmith’s Capital

Goldsmith’s Capital moves Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project  to New York and remixes it for the digital age. But what does it tell us about Goldsmith’s project – and his “appropriative” style?

By bringing Capital into conversation with David Kishik’s The Manhattan Project, I attempted to find an answer.

To the extent which The Arcades Project and Capital both move “capital” away from the sovereign and toward commercial culture, they also fortify the latter with responsibility, and to take them seriously necessitates examining their own place in the culture industry. From here in England, where Goldsmith is not the celebrity poet he is in the US, it is sometimes hard to appreciate his cultural power. Several of the friends I spoke to about this piece suggested that his blunders are perhaps more naïve than calculated. Yet it is surely not accidental that Capital is published by Verso, the radical house whose list includes a good number of books by and about Benjamin, including most recently an edit of his archive. The Arcades Project is no autopsy report, but it is still difficult to imagine Goldsmith and his publishers not envisioning the censure that might reasonably follow this particular writer taking the unfinished work of a refugee and adopting its form without including what Lauren Elkin, writing in the Financial Times, calls “the analysis.”

Read the full piece at the LA Review of Books.

The DM slide: an investigation

What is the DM slide? Why do people do it? And why – oh why – can it come across as so creepy?

When I asked women how they felt when a man sent something privately that could have been sent in public, several admitted it made them immediately suspicious. “Why aren’t you doing this on public Twitter?”, one said, adding that “the fact you’re not means it’s probably creepy”. This is something I’ve felt myself, particularly when it comes to replying to pieces I’ve written: if there’s nothing obviously confidential in the content of the message, why does it need to be sent “out of earshot” of our followers?

Read the full piece at the New Statesman.


Northern Ireland’s abortion law must change

After Trump outraged feminists worldwide by saying that women who sought an abortion should be “punished”, I wrote on why British women need to look at Northern Ireland, first.

I am always wary of the idea one need imagine misogyny hurting a mother, sister or daughter in order to acknowledge it as a problem, but I’m also practical, and if that is what it takes to conjure up the appropriate empathy, so be it. Because that is, ultimately, the question: if you couldn’t forget that one in three of the women you know might undergo this, what would you want the law to be?

Read the full piece at the New Statesman.