A story I wrote for The Mirror, about the impact of the withdrawal of Covid testing kits on care homes in the UK, based on accounts from the managers of a home in Nottingham who said they had been left “stranded”. EXCLUSIVE Staff were forced to put a vulnerable, elderly patient with dementia into isolation after the withdrawal of potentially unsafe testing kits A care home was forced to place a vulnerable elderly patient with dementia into isolation after the withdrawal of potentially unsafe coronavirus testing kits. Staff at a home in Nottinghamshire had choice but to place the newly-arrived patient into “barriered nursing”, meaningRead More →

My exclusive story for The Mirror, uncovering the fact that a recipient of a major government contract to deliver Covid testing systems – since withdrawn over safety concerns – is a considerable donor to the Tory party. EXCLUSIVE Ministers halted the use of test parts supplied by Randox Laboratories with immediate effect and until further notice. Coronavirus tests given to thousands of Brits and supplied by a firm which has donated £160,000 to the Conservative Party were pulled last night over safety fears. Care homes in England were ordered by the DHSC to halt using the testing kit produced by Randox Laboratories, on the groundsRead More →

This article originally appeared in the Daily Telegraph, in July 2020. The author of Animal Farm is eminently quotable – and that is why he has been co-opted on both sides of the political spectrum. “If Liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” This quote by George Orwell, which is engraved next to his statue outside the BBC headquarters, makes Billy Bragg, the musician and left-wing activist cringe. Writing in the Guardian last week, Bragg expanded by highlighting a tendency to cite Orwell and this quote in particular, among the “reactionary right”, andRead More →

This article first appeared on the website of Independent Labour Publications (ILP). On the 70th anniversary of his death aged 46, BENEDICT COOPER assesses George Orwell’s relationship with the ILP and its effect on his life, writing and politics. When a sentry reported to John McNair, leader of the Independent Labour Party’s (ILP) Spanish Civil War contingent, that a “great big Englishman is here to see you”, he didn’t think much of it. This was late December 1936; thousands of foreign volunteers were pouring into Catalonia to take up arms for the Republic. McNair still wasn’t impressed even after the new arrival had been shownRead More →

Everyone in Shirebrook knew there was something seriously wrong at the Sports Direct factory down the road. How many ambulances had they seen hurtling towards the plant in recent months? It was hard to tell. Sometimes they were called out more than once in a day. When a local BBC Inside Out team looked into it the figures were as stark as the human stories behind them were bleak: 76 emergency callouts to the site in Derbyshire, in less than two years; reports of workers, afraid of the consequences of calling in sick, collapsing at work, suffering convulsions and strokes on the factory floor; heavily-pregnantRead More →

This feature, on the ways in which Orwell is mistreated and misunderstood by popular culture, appeared in The Telegraph in March 2020. “You’ve read Animal Farm?” So says the female villain of The Hunt, Blumhouse’s slasher-cum-satirical film, to the unlikely heroine, a Mississippi hick she’s nicknamed Snowball. As she learns to her cost, during their showdown, she has a bad case of cognitive bias. Despite Snowball’s lowly identity – in the eyes of her hunter at least – our heroine, real name Crystal, has read a book or two. Briefly, the background, and the premise of the film. Crystal is the last survivor of a humanRead More →

This profile piece of Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy appeared in The House magazine, the in-house magazine of The Houses of Parliament, and Politics Home in February 2020. After 85 years as a Labour seat, the Nottinghamshire constituency of Bassetlaw witnessed the largest swing from Labour to the Conservatives in the country at the general election. Benedict Cooper joins Lisa Nandy on a trip to the area to hear first hand how she plans to reconnect with the party’s former heartlands   It’s a bright, crisp winter’s day in Worksop, and in the café of The Crossing church and community centre the lunchtime trade isRead More →

A report from the Labour leadership hustings held by Open Labour in January 2020, originally posted on Byline Times. There was a conspicuous lack of discord and disharmony at the Labour leadership and deputy leadership hustings in Nottingham. For the past four years, gatherings of Labour members have tended towards the truculent wherever debate is involved. Or, when Jeremy Corbyn has been present, they have been love-ins; orthodoxies of uncritical faith and untempered affection. There was, of course, some liveliness. It is hard to bring a number of Labour members together without hearing that accusations of anti-Semitism against the leadership were “illegitimate” spurious “smears” againstRead More →

It will make a lot of Labour members in Birmingham Yardley, and beyond, extremely happy if their MP Jess Phillips is ‘triggered’ in a vote tonight.  Phillips is one of Labour’s most prominent working class female MPs, one of the few MPs whose appeal reaches out to the wider electorate; a member of the Women and Equalities Committee, who came into politics to do more to protect victims of domestic abuse; and in the last fortnight alone has stood out for standing up to Boris Johnson in the fight to keep the Domestic Abuse Bill alive.  But none of that matters in the Labour party todayRead More →