Friday 30 September 2016


'Socialism for the 21st century' - that's the rallying cry from the Labour Party conference in Liverpool this week. Sounds good to  me. The Cornishman published my letter last month in which I made the case that leading economists such as Ha-Joon Chang at Cambridge, Thomas Piketty in France, and Joseph Stiglitz in the States have ideas for the recovery of capitalist market economies and the creation of more humane and prosperous societies that are broadly similar to those of Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn - our next prime-minister

and all who share his values. The old and crude polarisation of capitalism vs socialism is no longer fit for purpose.

Pilgrim, my alter ego in 'The Road to Corbyn' (published August 2016), says (p.132):

'I feel ... I feel now that the way people used to talk about the battle between capitalism and socialism is no longer helpful. Too many sane and compassionate people who have an understanding of economics that is the opposite of  the neo-liberal nonsense we are suffering believe in the positive power of the market to  generate wealth. But that market has to have a measure of regulation or otherwise Mammon will rule. Inequalities of  wealth and power will be the order of  the day' ...

And a little later (p.133):.

'The smile had gone. Pilgrim was angry. "It is the patronising contempt for ordinary people that gets to me. We are all equal in worth. There should not be this reckless pursuit of deception ..."

If I had to pinpoint the key ideas of my book - the reason for writing - those extracts above capture

Wednesday 14 September 2016


I had said in my last blog that there would be no blogging for three weeks since we were going away on holiday. But having taken the laptop away with me in order to keep up with publishing news (sales figures for 'The Road to Corbyn', reviews, the urge to blog again has become irresistible. This island is too important in our life journey - and in that of others too - not to give due acknowledgement.

Patmos is less than a dozen miles from the Turkish coast, eight hours ferry-ride distance from the Athenian port of Piraeus; a Dodecanese island small enough to drive around in a couple of hours that is the site of one of the great monasteries of the Greek Orthodox church at Chora on the highest point of the island. This is the Holy Island. John the Evangelist, it is claimed, received the revelations that were then in time recorded in the last book of the Christian bible here on Patmos, in a cave, at the end of the first century. The cave itself is now a focal point of devotion within the Convent of the Apocalypse, half-way up the hillside ascending to the great monastery itself that was built around the end of the 11th century.


Whatever the historical truths of such claims, many travellers have spoken and written of the sense of peace that comes to them on this island. The American poet, Robert Lax, lived a hermitic life here for several decades, writing much of his major poetry, before returning to end his days in the place of his birth. Peter France, a former BBC editor, made this island a place of personal pilgrimage for himself and his family and wrote with insight about its power, not least in 'Patmos a Place of Healing'.

And we have been coming here - first in August and now I am no longer in the classroom in September - every year we could afford to since 1988, the year of our first visit. We are approaching fifteen visits. They have been a lifeline. Two weeks of rest for weary pilgrims on a life journey that