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My family values
Author, Gillian Slovo
The Guardian, Saturday January 17 2009

One of the greatest things I learned from my parents [anti-apartheid campaigners Ruth First and Joe Slovo] was the importance of being connected to the world and of taking responsibility for what happens in it. One of my first memories, aged six, is of my mother coming in and handing me a bag of crisps and saying, “Now you can have this.”
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The shift to thrift
The Guardian, Wednesday July 2 2008
“Greed blunts social compassion. The rich take too much, leaving the poor with too little. Where do we hear the case for modest living? Not in parliament. Not much from the church or the broadsheets.” These stirring words come not from a Victorian novel or disillusioned new Labour MP. Instead, they are spoken, in lilting tones with just a remaining trace of his cockney…
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Foreign Affairs
The Guardian, Saturday June 7 2008
A Scandalous Man by Gavin Esler 416pp, HarperCollins, £17.99

Gavin Esler, former Washington and chief North America correspondent for the BBC, now a sure-footed Newsnight presenter, knows a thing or two about power and politicians. One feels in safe hands, then, as this story opens in the spring of 2005, a lacklustre general election looming in the shadow of the…
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Cherie chronicles
The Guardian, Saturday May 24 2008
Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography by Cherie Blair 432pp, Little, Brown, £18.99 There’s a rank, rumbling misogyny at work in the nation’s attitude to Cherie Blair, in among the more legitimate complaints about poor taste and vast sums of money. “I’ve always hated that woman,” offered an elderly man glimpsing the book on my lap on a recent train journey. Why? …
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You can make it up
The Guardian, Thursday April 3 2008
‘This is really about you, right?” Every novelist is used to the autobiography question, the canny reader or critic who wants to pin down the connections between life and the page. But for me, a writer from a big, public, political family, who has just published a novel about two political families set against the background of the Blair years, the questions are proving far …
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Conquer’d and slain
The Guardian, Saturday March 15 2008
I first read the opening lines of The Book of Daniel, EL Doctorow’s fourth novel, 20 years ago, on a cheap package break to Portugal; the kind of holiday, pre-children, pre-serious responsibility, where you sleep 10 hours a night, drink too much red wine every evening, devour a serious novel a day and come back mysteriously changed in ways that can never quite be described.
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Why, when a child goes missing, does the mother take the rap?
The Guardian, Wednesday March 12 2008
Perfect mothers, it seems, are as hard to find as ever. With no significant developments in the McCann case, the media has latched with suspicious zeal on to the tragic stories of missing nine-year- old Shannon Matthews and 15-year-old Scarlett Keening, who was raped and murdered in Goa, with heavy emphasis on the moral failings of the mothers. With news filtering through …
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Parents: your school needs you
The Guardian, Tuesday February 12 2008
Barrie Birch, the deputy headteacher at Queens Park community school, tells a joke about parent, teacher and friends associations (PTFAs). “You know what we used to say about our old PTFA? One parent. One teacher. And it does sweet FA.” Not any longer. By any standards, parental activity at Queens Park community school (QPCS), a comprehensive in Brent, north-west London, …
(Read it here)