Paul Anderson, co-author with Kevin Davey of Moscow Gold? The Soviet Union and the British left, is a libertarian democratic socialist writer, editor and teacher. Born in Edinburgh in 1959, he grew up in Ipswich and studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Balliol College, Oxford (1978-81) and journalism at the London College of Printing (1982-83). He came close to joining the International Socialists as a teenager but recoiled after most of the members of their Ipswich branch were expelled for differing with the party leadership, and by the time he went to university was an anarchist, which he remained more or less until the mid-1980s, when he joined the Labour Party.
He spent the 1980s and 1990s working for various radical publications, starting with the libertarian socialist magazine Solidarity and the radical weekly London listings magazine City Limits. He was deputy editor of European Nuclear Disarmament Journal, the magazine of E P Thompson’s European Nuclear Disarmament group, from 1984 to 1987. He went part-time at END to take on the job of reviews editor of the left weekly Tribune in 1986, soon after he and END Journal editor Mary Kaldor co-edited an instant book for Pluto Press on the US raid on Libya, Mad Dogs.
He spent seven years on Tribune, becoming editor in 1991, before moving to New Statesman & Society as deputy editor in 1993. He lost his job there when the magazine was taken over by the millionaire Labour MP Geoffrey Robinson in 1996, spent a year writing a book with Nyta Mann about Tony Blair’s Labour Party (published by Granta as Safety First: The making of New Labour in 1997) and then joined the radical monthly Red Pepper as news editor. He left Red Pepper to become deputy editor of the short-lived monthly New Times from 1999 to 2000. In 1998, Anderson made a first foray into mainstream politics as the director of People’s Europe ’98, a massive talking shop supported by the Foreign Office, the European Commission and the European Parliament to coincide with Britain’s presidency of the European Council: it was not a happy experience, but he had recovered from it sufficiently to stand for Labour in the local elections of 2014 in a solid Tory seat in Ipswich (in which he lost, but beat UKIP). He stood again for the same seat (and was a distant second) in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019.
From 2000 to 2012 Anderson was a journalism lecturer at City University London, for most of that period working regularly as a subeditor on the Guardian’s comment pages and throughout contributing a regular column to Tribune. In 2006, he was editor of a book collecting George Orwell’s columns for the same paper to coincide with its 70th anniversary, Orwell in Tribune: ‘As I Please’ and other writings, published to widespread acclaim by Politico’s/Methuen. A new edition is planned by Aaaargh! Press for 2021.
He left City in 2012 to finish Moscow Gold?, set up Aaaargh! Press and take up other freelance work, but he continues to teach journalism at the University of Essex and to sub on the Guardian and write freelance. An archive of his journalism is here. He is currently working on a history of British left responses to Chinese communism, to be published by Aaaargh! Press in 2021.
PRAISE FOR ORWELL IN TRIBUNE
‘Orwell in Tribune: “As I Please” and Other Writings, 1943-47 … is compiled and edited by Paul Anderson, a former Tribune editor whose special insights into Orwell’s genius make this particular volume the very best on the subject.’
MICHAEL FOOT Observer
‘Neatly edited by Paul Anderson, and good on the contemporary left-wing background, this deserves to sit on the same shelf as Peter Davison’s monumental George Orwell: The Complete Works.’
D J TAYLOR Sunday Times
‘This book is a collection of all the columns [Orwell] produced between 1943 and 1947… It comes with a lucid and thoughtful account of Tribune and Orwell by former Tribune editor Paul Anderson. It … shows Orwell to have been the best sort of newspaper columnist.’
FRANCIS BECKETT Guardian
‘Even if I had read the pieces before, I profited by reading them again in this attractively presented and well edited collection… Paul Anderson’s notes are not only copious but informative, the work of someone who knows the subject and the period…’
GEOFFREY WHEATCROFT Spectator
‘Evidently Orwell was well equipped, in 1943, to take on the literary editorship of Tribune. He could write interestingly about pretty much anything, and had often appeared in its pages already… The relevant history of the journal is sketched with authority by Paul Anderson in his introduction to this book.’
FRANK KERMODE New York Review of Books
PRAISE FOR SAFETY FIRST
‘Safety First does the government the courtesy of examining its origins and ideas seriously. That inevitably involves criticism. But grown-ups’ respect for Blair and Blairism is much more likely to be encouraged by real analysis than by facile praise. Safety First is not the last word on New Labour, but it is the best so far.’
ROY HATTERSLEY Guardian
‘Paul Anderson is a former editor of Tribune and a former deputy editor of the New Statesman. Nyta Mann is a former NS assistant editor. The tone and the standpoint is Tribune at its best: rude, factual, lively and down-to-earth English, always provocative, always selective, but crammed full of useful information . . . They remind the triumphalists that the Conservatives killed themselves. Labour could almost certainly have won on bolder policies.’
BERNARD CRICK New Statesman
‘Anybody looking for a primer on Blairism would do well to start here . . . The fact that the authors are on the left, but are sceptical of the Blairite project, gives them distinct advantages in comparing old Labour with the new sort. It means that, although they understand what Mr Blair is about, they are immune from the tendency to gush in awe.’