Fake news, alternative facts – US politics continually outstrips even the most outlandish imaginations. Thriller writers need a radical rethink
Fifty six years ago, a young Philip Roth despaired at the apparent inability of his chosen trade to compete with the world around him. “The American writer in the middle of the 20th century has his hands full in trying to understand, describe, and then make credible much of American reality,” the novelist declared in his essay Writing American Fiction. “It stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s meagre imagination. The actuality is continually outdoing our talents, and the culture tosses up figures almost daily that are the envy of any novelist.”
Roth wrote those words in 1961, when he could look out on the America of John Kennedy, J Edgar Hoover and Malcolm X, not long before the Cuban missile crisis would see the world teeter on the edge of Armageddon. You can see why he felt those engaged in the pretences of fiction had to struggle to keep up when “the actuality” was generating characters of such vivid intensity and events of high drama.
How could any fiction come up with a drama as lurid and compelling as the nightly news from the US?
Related: Reality Winner: NSA contractor and environmentalist repulsed by Trump Continue reading...
One year on, the certainties of the leave case are collapsing. We’re no longer shackled to that verdict
One year on, the political weather has changed and suddenly a once unthinkable question can be asked: might Brexit be stopped?
The obvious shift is in the power of a government whose animating mission was meant to be British departure from the European Union. Put simply, Theresa May sought a mandate for hard Brexit and didn’t get it. That leaves the forces of leave weakened, and remain emboldened.
Related: Brexit: May 'blocked unilateral offer for EU citizens' rights' last June Continue reading...
The Tories are in a hole. But to get out the party needed to promise more: the easing of austerity, the end of tuition fees and more taxes for the wealthy
If I were a Tory MP, I’d have listened to the Queen’s speech with an unease that turned steadily into panic.
It’s not just that I’d have heard the first such address in many decades to be delivered by a government with no majority in the House of Commons. On that score, I’d comfort myself that the Democratic Unionist party will come on side eventually: deal or no deal, they’re surely not going to vote down Theresa May, thereby handing the keys to No 10 to Jeremy Corbyn, a long-time sympathiser with the DUP’s republican arch-enemies in Northern Ireland. Even if the DUP abstains, that will be just enough for May to squeak home.
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But if the Tories are not to be driven from power, they are going to have to respond to this shift in public mood Continue reading...
Under normal circumstances the tragedies of the last month would each be the defining event of an entire year, argues Jonathan Freedland. But in the last month we have been forced to grieve at an unprecedented rate, and the risk is that our wounds will not properly heal – or worse, that we will grow used to tragedy Continue reading...
The evil of rampant inequality is nothing new. But this disaster must bring us to a turning point
You walk around and it might be Westminster or the Manchester Arena or London Bridge, or even New York in the days after 9/11. In the shadow of Grenfell Tower, the trappings of grief: the signs pleading for the safe return of the missing, the vigil candles, the notes and messages left for the dead. People stand in stunned clusters, talking to each other, to police, to reporters, telling of the horror they’ve witnessed, recalling the pain of a friend’s final message or a father whose phone rang and rang but was never answered.
Related: Grenfell Tower fire: May announces £5m of payments to residents – latest Continue reading...
Conservatives are putting their poll failure down to either too hard a Brexit stance or too much austerity. If May is the reason, another dangerous election looms
They say success has a thousand parents while failure is an orphan. But judging by the argument now raging inside the Conservative party, what failure lacks in parents it makes up for in guides and tutors – all now queuing up to explain last week’s Tory debacle in terms that, surprise, surprise, neatly fit their prior political positions.
David Cameron has weighed in, suggesting that the effect of last week’s election is that the government might have to pursue a “softer” Brexit. He’s reinforcing the views of his former chancellor, George Osborne, who’s been gleefully pointing out that there is now no majority in the House of Commons for a departure from the single market. Continue reading...
Jonathan Freedland and Owen Jones are joined by Polly Toynbee in the last of our Election Daily podcasts. The dust still hasn’t settled from Friday’s shock results, so what now for Labour? What now for the country? And how long for Theresa May?
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Jonathan Freedland and Owen Jones are joined by Polly Toynbee in the last of our Election Daily podcasts. Continue reading...
After a Labour success that defied predictions, the assumptions about how British elections are fought, and maybe won, have to be revisited
Of the three political earthquakes that have shaken the western political landscape in the past year – Brexit, Trump and Thursday’s general election – the latest has a claim to be the biggest shock of all. Remember that remain and leave were neck and neck in the opinion polls in the days leading up to the EU referendum: a leave win always looked a possibility. In the US, surveys regularly showed Donald Trump just a couple of points behind Hillary Clinton in the popular vote, which is exactly how things turned out.
Related: Corbyn stuck two fingers up at his critics and changed politics for good | Aditya Chakrabortty
It’s clear that many Britons are simply sick of stagnant wages, underfunded public services and unaffordable homes Continue reading...
Owen Jones, Jonathan Freedland and Heather Stewart discuss another momentous shift in the political landscape after Theresa May’s snap election resulted in the Conservatives losing their parliamentary majority
A snap election called by Theresa May to produce a “strong and stable government” has produced the opposite: a hung parliament in which the Conservatives are the largest party and who now must rely on the votes of the Democratic Unionist party to govern. It has been a disastrous miscalculation from the prime minister who has vowed to stay in Downing Street in order to begin the Brexit talks.
Joining Heather Stewart, Jonathan Freedland and Owen Jones with barely a wink of sleep between them is the Guardian’s Ireland correspondent Henry McDonald. Continue reading...
Jonathan Freedland and Zoe Williams are joined by reporters and analysts to pick out the key seats to watch in the 2017 general election
It’s election day and our reporters around the country have dialled in with their key seats to watch out for in a poll that could see wide regional disparities.
Jonathan Freedland and Zoe Williams are joined first by Deborah Mattinson, the director of Britain Thinks, who has been conducting focus groups around the country. Continue reading...