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The Guardian e-paper Journal - April 7, 2018

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Section:GDN 1J PaGe:1 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:58
Boris Johnson has moved from post-truth to post-shame Marina Hyde, page 3
Amazon or Trump: who do you hate most? Thomas Frank, page 4
The Saturday interview David Lammy, by Decca Aitkenhead, page 6
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
and ideas
Trade after
Brexit will lay
bare our fantasy
of empire
arly April, 2018. In Brisbane a cheeky
radio interviewer asks Prince Charles if
he really does carry a personal lavatory
seat on his travels, and the prince
replies, “Oh, don’t believe all that
crap.” Elsewhere in the Queensland
capital, India win gold in the women’s
weightlifting and lose to Cameroon in
the men’s basketball. At Buckingham Palace, a menu
is drawn up for a banquet to be attended later this
month by 53 heads of state or their representatives.
In Whitehall, the Department for International Trade
ponders the effects on British farming of hormonetreated beef imports from Australia, which is a probable
consequence of the UK’s first post-Brexit trade deal.
In one way or another, the Commonwealth is
responsible for all these things: for the Commonwealth
Games, which demand the presence of the heir to the
throne in Australia; for the Commonwealth heads of
government meeting (Chogm), the 25th such conclave
since 1971, which occurs in London (and Windsor Castle)
on 16-20 April; and, simply by its dogged and unlikely
persistence as an international grouping, for permitting
the British delusion that old imperial patterns of trade
can replace the present arrangements with the EU.
Not that the Commonwealth itself encouraged
this idea: nearly every Commonwealth republic and
“realm” wanted the UK to remain inside the EU.
And not that Europhobes have always prized the
Commonwealth. As our present foreign secretary wrote
in 2002, “It is said that the Queen has come to love the
Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with
regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”
The Commonwealth that some Brexit campaigners had
in mind was perhaps a little whiter – back to the time
when it meant the British empire’s settler dominions:
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Newfoundland and
South Africa, which were sovereign states, not colonies,
and bound only by their loyalty to the crown.
Indian independence forced Britain to be more
flexible about who could be included. As India would
be a republic, loyal oaths were out of the question.
But Britain was keen to maintain some form of the old
connection “in the mistaken belief ”, according to the
Commonwealth historian Philip Murphy, “that India’s
huge standing army would continue to underwrite
British great-power status”. There were other reasons
too. Historic sentiment, fear of American
ambition, the need to protect British
markets: together they led Britain to
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:2 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 17:08
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
Trade after Brexit will lay bare
our fantasy of empire
Ian Jack
Continued from front
propose a compromise. All that would be
required was that India recognise the king
as the head of the Commonwealth, “as
the symbol of the free association of its independent
member states”. Even so, the offer still flew in the face
of the complete withdrawal that had been promised
by leaders of the independence movement. But
India’s prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, finally went
along with it – realising, he said, that Commonwealth
membership meant “independence plus, not
independence minus”.
Other countries felt the same. In his forthcoming
book, The Empire’s New Clothes, Murphy argues that
Britain didn’t mastermind the growth of the modern
Commonwealth as part of a grand geopolitical strategy.
Newly independent colonies wanted to belong, not
least because their anticolonial leaders still felt a strong
sense of cultural attachment to British institutions –
universities mainly – that had brought them into contact
with contemporaries from other parts of the world.
Any thought that the Commonwealth could
successfully perpetuate the empire vanished with the
Suez humiliation in 1956, when India sided with Egypt
over the Anglo-French assault. The ties to London
began to weaken. Names changed to reflect different
realities. Founded in 1930, the British Empire Games
became the British Empire and Commonwealth Games
in 1954, the British Commonwealth Games in 1970, and
finally the Commonwealth Games in 1978.
n paper, the facts remain compelling.
The countries of the Commonwealth
spread across a fifth of the world’s
land surface, contain nearly a third
of the world’s population and
produce around 15% of the world’s
wealth. But how much does the
Commonwealth affect the lives of
the people behind these statistics? Hardly at all. The
organisation defines itself as a “diverse community of
53 nations that work together to promote prosperity,
democracy and peace”. Friendly politicians call it a
useful talking shop. Many people in its constituent
countries have never heard of it. Both its longevity and
its apparent importance owe a lot to the enthusiasm of
the Queen and the international affection for her.
Until the run-up to Brexit, the notion that the
Commonwealth offered the UK economic salvation
would have been comic. In 2010, it was left to Ukip’s
manifesto to promise a Commonwealth Free Trade
Area, which would account for “more than 20% of all
international trade and investment” and enable Britain
to flourish outside the EU. The Tory manifesto for the
next general election, in 2015, pledged to “further
strengthen our ties with our close Commonwealth
allies, Australia, Canada and New Zealand”. And by the
time the referendum came around, several prominent
leavers, including Boris Johnson, were happy to say
the UK had “betrayed” the Commonwealth when it
joined the EEC in 1973. It was time, as a Daily Telegraph
headline had it, to “embrace the Commonwealth”. And
in a desire to be more obviously useful – particularly
to the UK, its biggest backer – the Commonwealth had
begun to sell itself as a trade and investment asset.
But to the Brexiteer, the Commonwealth offered
more than the prospect of increased trade (from a
very low base: Australia takes 1.6% of UK exports
and the Commonwealth as a whole 9.5%). Before the
referendum, it was also talked up as a source of betterquality immigrants. In 2013 Johnson, then London
mayor, proposed a “bilateral free labour mobility zone”
between the UK and Australia: “We British are more
deeply connected with the Australians – culturally and
emotionally – than with any other country on earth”.
The Eurosceptic Tory Tim Hewish picked up the idea
and extended it to Canada and New Zealand. There was
no proposal, however, to include the countries of south
Asia, Africa or the Caribbean – which just as many, if not
more, Britons are as deeply connected to.
The theme of this month’s Commonwealth heads
of government meeting is “Towards a Common
Future”. The host runs the risk of turning into the
most unpopular guest.
Founded 1821 Independently owned by the Scott Trust № 53,377
‘Comment is free… but facts are sacred’ CP Scott
US-China trade
Donald Trump’s trade
war threats should
not become realities
Trade wars do not start by accident. If the US and China
contrive to launch a new era of tit-for-tat protectionism
to match that last seen in the 1930s it will be because of
political decisions taken in Washington and Beijing by
those with a full understanding of the consequences of
their action. Comparisons with the drift to war in the
summer of 1914 are wide of the mark.
Despite announcing plans for 25% tariffs on a small
range of US imports this week, China has made clear
that it wants to avoid a trade war. It will be happy to
disarm if Donald Trump removes his threatened action
against $50bn of Chinese goods. But Mr Trump is now
threatening to escalate the battle with another $100bn
of tariffs. The financial markets have been by turns
spooked, then calmed, then alarmed again.
China has good reason to take a measured approach.
It is an export-driven economy that had a trade surplus
of close to $350bn with the US in 2016. Over the past four
decades, people have moved from the countryside to
find jobs in fast-growing cities. A full-blown trade war
with the US could easily lead to factories closing and
millions of unhappy unemployed workers. The leaders
of China’s Communist party would prefer to avoid that.
It is perhaps more difficult to assess what Mr Trump
wants to achieve. The president has made no secret of
his desire to target what he considers to be China’s unfair
trade practices, including currency manipulation and
the need for US companies to cede intellectual property
rights to Chinese partner firms in return for market
access. Mr Trump is not alone in this analysis. Barack
An angry public is
on the side of the law;
but it is not a substitute
The death of Henry Vincent, a career criminal who
died after being stabbed in a fight with a south-east
London pensioner more than twice his age whose
house he was trying to burgle, has unleashed violent
public passions and arguments. Legally, the matter may
be a simple one. Ever since the case of Tony Martin,
the Norfolk farmer who shot in the back and killed
a young thief in his isolated farmhouse in 1999, and
served three years in prison for manslaughter after an
outcry against his initial conviction for murder, the law
has been successively rebalanced in the interests of
homeowners and against intruders.
Householders are now entitled to fight back – and even
to deploy “disproportionate force” – in self-defence if
they are attacked in their own homes. Richard OsbornBrooks, the 78-year-old pensioner involved in the fight,
has been met by a wave of public sympathy, while the
dead man, his family and associates, have all been the
subjects of scorn and abuse from the papers. Any gang
which preys on old people, as they did, deserves public
obloquy as well as prison sentences. It’s difficult to
imagine a crime that is more despicable and spreads
more fear and distrust than stealing from pensioners.
The instincts of the public in this case are entirely on the
side of justice. But they are not the same thing as justice.
The rush of public sympathy and understanding for
Mr Osborn-Brooks is not at all hard to appreciate or to
sympathise with. If he did kill Vincent this will have
been an entirely traumatic experience for him; even
having to confront a burglar in the middle of the night
Obama said much the same when he was president,
yet had little to show for a measured approach.
Mr Trump has little time for the traditional niceties
of diplomacy. He prefers to adopt a strategy that is
seemingly based on his own 1987 business bestseller,
The Art of the Deal. This suggests that negotiators get
nowhere unless they are prepared to be tough and
make excessive demands that they will later modify.
The early exchanges between Washington and Beijing
seem consistent with that approach.
Yet trade talks with China are more complicated
than clinching a real-estate deal in New York City in
the 1980s. Mr Trump’s own background suggests that
he too would prefer not to have a trade war. As far as
it is possible to tell, the US administration is adopting
the classic good cop, bad cop routine. One day Mr
Trump tweets something minatory; the next his chief
economic adviser Larry Kudlow steps out on to the
White House lawn and says that in the fullness of
time a deal will be done.
For now, the idea that what has happened so far is
merely sabre-rattling looks a reasonable assumption.
Wall Street thinks so, which is why share prices rallied
when Mr Kudlow adopted an emollient tone. The US
will have a quite lengthy consultation period before
the threatened tariffs are implemented, which leaves
plenty of time for a deal to be done.
Opinion polls suggest that Mr Trump’s tough
line on trade is going down well with the voters. He
may be further emboldened by the fact that China’s
proposed tariffs cover 40% of its imports from the US,
but account for less than 2% of total American exports
and only 0.3% of US GDP. They would make barely a
dent in a US economy that is growing at a healthy lick.
Yet a good negotiator knows when it is time
to do the deal. Mr Trump may secure more trade
concessions out of China than his predecessor ever
did. The danger is that the man who claims “nobody
knows more about trade than me” is not as good a
negotiator as he thinks he is either.
is shocking enough for most people. But the rush of
vicarious rage which has also greeted the story is a
reminder of what the law and the criminal justice
system stand for. Its measured deliberations ensure a
balanced approach and protect us from our own most
violent instincts. Vincent may well have deserved
another long prison sentence, an exceptionally
grim punishment in the present state of prisons. His
death was, in a sense, a foreseeable consequence
of his wicked and profoundly antisocial behaviour.
Nonetheless, he did not deserve to die, as his family
has pointed out, and had he stood trial for breaking
into an old couple’s house he would not have been
sentenced to death.
The passions aroused by this case are reminiscent
of some of the tragic cases in the US, though
fortunately without the racial angle which makes
such episodes so very poisonous there. The easy
availability of guns in the United States means that
the American householder who feels threatened
becomes a very much more dangerous person than
a British pensioner. The result is not a safer country
but a very much more dangerous one, with higher
murder rates and much more fear and unease in the
background of daily life.
Which brings us back to the tragic statistic that
in the first months of this year the murder rate in
London exceeds that of New York; and most of these
killings have involved knives. The death of Henry
Vincent was not a “knife crime” in the sense that the
label is usually applied. But it is a reminder of how
dangerous a stab wound can be, even when inflicted
by a pensioner; and it should serve as a reminder of
the urgency of stopping the use of knives as a means
to settle any disputes. Cases such as this one are
mercifully rare. Most crimes involving knives are
not fatal; many are also morally much less clear. But
this one should remind us that it is the law and its
enforcement which exist to keep old and vulnerable
people safe, not unofficial or vigilante violence.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:3 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 6/4/2018 17:18
For a man
who wears
his vast vocabulary
so heavily, he
struggles for lexical
precision when it
actually matters
Boris Johnson
has moved
from post-truth
to post-shame
et me be clear from the start: it was
absolutely wrong to make the claims
of the substance that he did. That a
foreign leader broke off from allegedly
fiddling his election to publicly say so
might be regarded as brass neck of the
worst order – but accuracy matters. The
one does not excuse the other. It was
entirely right that the comment was withdrawn, and the
MasterChef judge Gregg Wallace going on telly to clarify
what he meant about the rendang sauce/chicken skin
interaction belatedly went some way to de-escalating
the diplomatic fallout with, among others, the Malaysian
prime minister.
I know what you’re thinking: how many dodgy foreign
leaders are going to accuse the Brits of substance-related
disinformation this year? Are these things cheaper in
bulk? All I can tell you is that, while artisan greengrocer
Gregg Wallace has vaguely conceded his cock-up, artisan
foreign secretary Boris Johnson is still trying to style
his out in the face of having needlessly handed Russia a
propaganda coup. Having previously said that “the guy”
at Porton Down had told him there was “no doubt” the
novichok nerve agent used in the poisoning of former
Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, was
made in Russia, the Foreign Office has had to offer a more
nuanced version of the evidential trail.
Clearly, Boris’s needless overstatement was a gift
to troll tsar Putin, whose known modus operandi is to
encourage and seed multiple doubts and conspiracy
theories about any Russia-related misdeeds until the
factual environment is more toxically polluted than one
of the reactor ghost towns the Soviets forgot to admit to.
Meanwhile, the Russian ambassador to the UN was
channelling former KGB bleeding-heart Putin directly
on Thursday, when he posed a plangent inquiry about
the Skripal pets. “What happened to these animals? Why
doesn’t anyone mention them?” he mentioned, stopping
just shy of demanding Ace Ventura be seconded to the
OPCW investigation.
What happened, alas, has just emerged. The two
guinea pigs were not victims of novichok, which
would have made them a guesstimated 350,001st and
350,002nd of their species to succumb to a nerve agent,
though probably the first pair in a domestic setting.
Instead, the poor things were killed by thirst, having
been sealed inside the Skripals’ house by investigators.
The cat was in such a distressed state when a vet
eventually gained entry that it was euthanised,
reportedly at Porton Down.
This is some way from a typical case of animal
neglect, though for many of Britain’s 5 million armchair
Boris Johnson
at a diplomatic
banquet in
Hans Blixes, the pets’ fate will be inexcusable. It
should certainly be more than enough for Labour’s
Chris Williamson to take his Lord Hawski-Hawski act
on Russian TV again. Don’t worry if you missed the
Derby North MP’s sombre-suited explanation that
the Skripal story was the British government’s “way
of diverting attention from their own difficulties
over Brexit and economic policy”. It’ll be played on a
grateful loop across Russian state media for days – as
a way of diverting attention from their own difficulties,
funnily enough.
Idiots gonna idiot. It’s just a shame that foreign
secretaries won’t foreign secretary. You hear a lot about
post-truth these days, but with each new sack-resistant
balls-up, Boris Johnson moves closer to the category of
post-shame. He’s a sort of market knock-off of Prince
Philip – Le Shark Sportif of not really giving a toss. The
foreign secretary who feels less shame and takes less
grownup responsibility for himself than Gregg Wallace.
Gregg Wallace! I mean, Gregg is the guy who “couldn’t
get to the bottom” of one of his former wives’ claim that
he was “needy”. “I find it all weird,” he mused. “I mean,
she came up to the flat in London last week to change
my sheets.”
nce again it will be up to Theresa
May and various Swat mandarins to
change Boris’s bed after the latest
shitting thereof. Obviously it would
stay classified for decades, but
perhaps Whitehall might undertake
a time-and-motion study to evaluate
precisely how much Foreign Office
time is spent dealing with cock-ups by the foreign
secretary. It is difficult to think of anyone more loftily
dismissive of the central demands of their role, certainly
since Hristo Stoichkov got the Celta Vigo job and used
his unveiling to announce: “I do not believe in tactics.”
His tenure … did not go well.
It’s remarkable, incidentally, how often the foreign
secretary is undone by language. For a man who wears
his vast vocabulary so heavily, Boris struggles for lexical
precision when it actually matters. He can lavish who
knows how much time coming up with the mot juste for
Jeremy Corbyn – “mugwump” – and then produce it like
he’s James effing Joyce in every news interview for a
24-hour period. But he can’t expend quite so much care
when discussing the evidence for the deployment of a
nerve agent in an attempted assassination on UK soil.
But on he goes. The Kremlin has duly picked up his
slopfest and run with it – yet as Britain’s most shameless
cynic, Boris hopes “the world will see through this
shameless cynicism”. Oh dear. All we need now is
Michael Gove to tell Britain to have some respect for the
experts and we’ve got the full set.
We are living through a political reboot of
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Politicians who stoked
distrust of expertise are now desperate for people to
take the official word for things. The “ultra-patriotic”
provisional wing of the leave campaign openly backs
the Kremlin over the British government. And a whole
lot of senior continuity remainers who are bemoaning
it all have conveniently forgotten their own role in the
intelligence misrepresentation that led up to the Iraq
war. It’s as if two generations of political chickens have
come home to roost at once, and no one in charge knows
what to do with them all. Rendang, perhaps. But are
they even trusted to know how?
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:4 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 17:17
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
Who do you
despise more:
Trump or
resident Trump last week resumed his
campaign of critical tweets about the
online retailer Amazon, which he accuses
of paying too little in taxes and of getting
too good a deal from the United States
Postal Service, which delivers many of its
packages. Along the way he also asserted
that the company used the Washington
Post, which is owned by Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff
Bezos, to lobby for Amazon’s interests. The price of
Amazon shares fell on the news.
In threatening a single business because of some
personal quarrel with its CEO – apparently in order to
squeeze friendlier coverage out of a newspaper that
the CEO happens to own – Donald Trump has clearly
violated the basic rules of democratic government. But
it is also important to remember that the enemy of my
enemy is not necessarily my friend. Amazon has been
the subject of critical reporting for a number of years;
anyone who reads the Guardian or the New York Times
knows about the company’s alarming labour practices
and its imperial economic ambitions.
Yet some critics of the president took his tweets as
a signal to rally round Amazon and its chief executive.
They joked about how jealous Trump must be of Bezos’s
billions. They fantasised about how Bezos might
Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon and owner of the
Macron’s way
with (English)
words leaves a
lot to be desired
contrive to humiliate the president by buying still more
media properties. They clucked over Trump’s stupidity
on the matter of the postal service. They snickered at his
inability to understand modern internet enterprises.
Given the chance to remind the public of American
liberalism’s instinctive tendency to defend cyberoligarchs like Bezos against the claims of those it sees as
uncomprehending luddites, Team Liberal jumped at it.
Along the way, they gave us a vivid reminder of
why modern liberalism keeps generating – and losing
to – unbelievably awful antagonists such as Trump.
Put it this way: yes, Trump hates Amazon, and its
chief executive, and his newspaper the Washington
Post. But Trump’s blustering animosity doesn’t make
Amazon an admirable company. Nor does it make the
Washington Post a temple of objectivity, untainted by
the capital’s culture of influence-peddling.
Take the matter of the postal service’s contract with
Amazon – the cause of so much self-assured guffawing
among the know-better set. Guess what? The president’s
complaint here is kind of legit. While it might be
technically correct that the US postal service makes a
“profit” on its current arrangement with Amazon, it
would also be correct to say that it could easily be making
a lot more.
If you care about the postal service workforce,
maybe you too might want to show some concern
about the question rather than brush it off as yet
more idiocy from the comb-over caudillo.
Or take the larger question of Amazon’s
overwhelming and unaccountable market power,
which journalists and scholars have documented
painstakingly and at great length – and yet which many
commentators seem to have forgotten the instant Trump
started bad-mouthing Bezos. “Amazon is the shining
representative of a new golden age of monopoly,” is how
the Atlantic journalist Franklin Foer put it in 2014, and
what he said then is even truer today.
onfronting concentrated, autocratic
economic power is what Democrats
used to do. It was the definition of
the species. They fought against
monopolies in oil and food and
transport that ripped off producers
with one hand and consumers with
the other. But now it’s Trump who,
in his clumsy and authoritarian way, is trying to swipe
that legacy.
I am making a tricky point here, so let me be
clear: I don’t like Amazon, and I don’t like Donald
Trump either. I would approve enthusiastically if
a president started enforcing antitrust laws, but
that’s not what Trump is proposing to do. What we
are being offered instead is a choice between the
worst president of our lifetimes and one of the most
rapacious corporate enterprises in the country. And,
eagerly, we are lining up with one or the other.
This in turn seems to me an almost perfect
representation of the wretched choices available
to Americans these days, as well as the megadoses of
self-deception we are swallowing in order to make
them. It is everything that is wrong with our politics,
and it extends from the most sweeping matters of state
right down to the individual reader.
It set off my alarm bells when the would-be
monopolist Bezos tangled with the book publisher
Hachette in 2014, just after buying the most important
news outlet in Washington – but after reading Trump’s
bullying tweets on Amazon, I want to like the plucky
plutocrat from Seattle.
Similarly, I despise what this president is doing
to the US – but after watching CNN or reading
the Washington Post’s op-ed page I sometimes want to
like Trump too. That’s how their transparently unfair
coverage affects me.
And this is where we are now in the world’s greatest
democracy. We have the billionaire Republicans,
with their bigotry and their war on all things public,
and the billionaire Democrats, with their oblivious
ideology of globe and technology. To the common
people, assembled in all our majesty, the momentous
question is posed: who do you hate more?
Thomas Frank
is the author of
Listen, Liberal
Pauline Bock
is a UK-based
French journalist
n a speech on Thursday, Emmanuel Macron
angered many of his compatriots by declaring:
“La démocratie est le système le plus bottom up
de la terre” (“Democracy is the most bottom-up
system in the world”). He meant “inclusive”,
“participatory” or “non-elitist”. But there
is a phrase for that concept in French: it’s
démocratie ascendante. There’s also one for
English words in French: franglais.
From “basket” and “chewing gum” to “blockbusters”
and “bestsellers”, English words are common in my
language. The film industry regularly “translates”
English film titles using another English phrase, usually
more transparent, to look “cool” (for instance, Silver
Linings Playbook became Happiness Therapy).
But to many French people, “bottom up” is
more confusing: was Macron making a risqué joke?
Was it “bottoms up” (or “cul sec” in French)? His
words, coming only days after he had launched a
grand plan to promote the French language, were
heavily criticised. “This sentence devalues Frenchspeaking democracy,” Bernard Pivot, a fervent
defender of the French language, tweeted. But Macron
has never hidden his love for franglais: his campaign’s
volunteers were les helpers and many on la team
présidentielle refer to him as le boss. He often gives
interviews in English. And it is nice, for a change, to
have a president who can pronounce English words
correctly, unlike his predecessors François Hollande
and Nicolas Sarkozy. Macron’s overuse of English,
however, his desire for an économie disruptive and
a start-up nation, flirts with caricature.
Then there’s the fact that his actions don’t
always seem to reflect the “bottom up” rhetoric. In
November, 100 members of his party, La République
En Marche!, left because of a “lack of democracy”.
The head of the En Marche! parliamentary group was
elected by default, since he was the sole candidate.
But to criticise Macron’s words, French people had
to understand them first. Sure, to entrepreneurs and
millennials it makes sense. But what about French
people who don’t need English for work, or are simply
older than the typical start-upper?
I asked my family – teachers living in rural eastern
France – if they understood the president. My father,
60, whose English is good because he regularly writes
letters for Amnesty International, was the only one
who immediately got it. My mother, 54, was confused.
“Bottom up?!” she said. “I don’t know.” She goes to
weekly English classes, but prepositions are tricky for
beginners and expressions combining them with other
words even more so. My grandfather, 86, struggled too:
“‘Bottom’ is like the foot of a tree,” he said, “and ‘up’
is when it grows?” With context, and five minutes, he
understood – but in a speech, he wouldn’t have done.
In the end, the final say on the matter was had by
my grandmother, 82: “English words in French, I hate
them. I don’t understand and it pisses me off.”
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:5 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:54
You don’t read
men to learn
about women
Lucy Cosslett
he was 40 but could have passed for
a year younger with soft lipstick and
some gentle mascara. Her dress clung
to the curves of her bosom which was
cupped by her bra that was under it,
but over the breasts that were naked
inside her clothes. She had a personality
and eyes.” This is how the author Jane
Casey fulfilled the challenge of describing herself
as a male author would, which was set this week on
Twitter by the writer Whitney Reynolds.
It made me laugh out loud, as did many of the
other responses. The alleged inability of men to write
women has been a topic on social media before: in
2016 this memorable passage – “She breasted boobily
to the stairs, and titted downwards” – went viral.
Obviously, such sentences are exaggerated for comic
effect, but nonetheless they contain a grain of truth:
male writers do really seem to struggle to write women.
My reading is interrupted relatively often because a
description of a female character has been clunky,
poorly conceived, or downright hilarious. Often this
comes in the form of a dry laugh or an exclamation of,
“How wrong can you be?” Sometimes you come across
a passage where you wonder if the writer has ever met a
woman at all, or is merely using his female character as
a masturbatory fantasy.
And yet often these novelists are widely lauded
as incredible writers with a talent for conveying
fundamental human truths – at least by male readers.
Haruki Murakami, Jonathan Franzen and Michel
Houllebecq all have notable weaknesses when it comes
to female characters, as do many of the greats (Tess of
the D’Urbervilles, anyone?).
The question is, can you really be considered a great
novelist when, in writing characters of a gender that
makes up 50% of the population, you consistently fail?
Female authors do not seem to have the same problem
with male characters, at least not as frequently. Perhaps
it is because we grow up reading novel after novel
offering insight into the male psyche – or at least an
outward performance of it – books that are hailed as
classics, their place in the canon secure.
Meanwhile, the books interrogating the experience
of being a woman are dismissed and ignored by many
male readers and are not given the same cultural status.
Who can forget VS Naipaul’s comments a few years ago
about female writers’ tendency towards sentimentality?
Women’s stories are not considered important, or at
least have not been in the past, and so they fall by the
wayside. Couple this with an ego that perhaps does not
quite recognise women as fully rounded human beings,
and you end up with shoddy female characters.
But I think there are other factors at play here. It
would be easy to buy into the empathic/systematising
gender dichotomy here as providing an answer – men
just aren’t as good at seeing things from the point of
view of others, the argument would go. And that is why
male writers don’t get the nuances of womanhood. Such
an argument amounts, to my mind, to a get-out-of-jailfree card. It isn’t that these male authors are unable to
empathise, it is that they haven’t bothered, or needed
to. You can still have your novel hailed as a work of
heartbreaking genius that is somehow universal despite
such a major deficiency, so why try?
There is something else at work too. There is a theory
that the Italian novelist Elena Ferrante, who hides
her real identity, is in fact male. Any woman reading
Ferrante knows that’s laughable. They know they are
reading the work of a woman. Why? Because so much
of femininity is unspoken. Moving through the world
as a woman – the way you are viewed and treated,
your emotions, your approach to your body – involves
subtleties and complexities that are often unarticulated,
sometimes even between women themselves.
There are great male writers out there who have
written brilliant female characters: Kazuo Ishiguro,
Leo Tolstoy, Gustave Flaubert, Colm Tóibín and
Graham Swift are just some who came to mind, or were
singled out by other Twitter users when I asked for
recommendations. But they remain exceptions.
A lack of imagination and a tendency to objectify
certainly play a part. Little interest in female stories,
which are not given the same status as male ones?
Absolutely. But the taboo aspects of womanhood,
especially when it comes to our bodies, must surely also
be a reason. When faced with such complexities, these
writers take refuge in descriptions of cleavage, believing
it is enough. It is not enough. We are right to mock them.
Maybe as a result they’ll try harder next time.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:6 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:13
After a week of shocking violence
in London, MP David Lammy is
calling for politicians to admit
the ‘war on drugs’ has failed and
that black lives matter: ‘Why do
I have to start every debate? Kids are
getting killed. Where is the prime
minister? Where is Sadiq Khan?’
Interview by
Decca Aitkenhead
Interviewer of the year
avid Lammy is one of those
politicians whose public profile
has never correlated with his
position in his party, or converted
into frontbench power, and this
sort of maverick celebrity operator
tends to attract suspicion. Elected
to represent Tottenham 18 years
ago, the 46-year-old has at various key moments – the
Grenfell fire, the London riots – distinguished himself
in the public’s affection by seizing individual ownership
of the agenda. To some, particularly in Westminster,
this highly personalised brand of political identity
is opportunistic self-promotion, artfully disguised
as heroism.
To me, his politics look sincere and principled, I’ve
just never been entirely sure what they are. He used
to joke: “I’m not Blair, I’m not Brown, I’m just black.”
And he has successfully eluded all association with
any ideological faction with such dexterity that he can
sometimes look a bit slippery, as if his public persona
is contingent on whatever strategy he has devised to
please his audience.
We meet in the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham
on Thursday, to discuss the violent crime surge that
has cost 51 lives in London this year. More than half of
the victims have been young – in their 20s and younger
– and poor. I am not expecting much more than for
Lammy to offer carefully calibrated, bland reassurances.
It takes less than five minutes to see how wrong I am.
Lammy woke up on Tuesday to a text informing
him that Tanesha Melbourne-Blake, a 17-year-old girl,
had been gunned down in a drive-by shooting in his
constituency. This time, he decided, he would not let
the murder go unnoticed.
“To be honest,” he says, “I was shocked that four
weeks ago, when a moped and pillion passenger gunned
down a young man standing outside the cinema in
Wood Green, that there was not more national attention
on that shooting.” How does he explain the apparent
indifference? “Because he was black.” He delivers this
with such force, his words ring out across the cafe.
“Because he was black,” he repeats. “And I think we’ve
got to ask ourselves, do black lives matter?”
For the next hour, Lammy barely draws breath. Only
twice does he pause to consider the impact of what he
is about to say. Even in private, I have never heard a
politician hold forth with such utter disregard for his
or her audience.
The first thing Lammy wants us to understand is
the blameless ease with which a child who goes home
to an empty council estate flat because his mum can’t
afford childcare while she’s at work, can become a gang
member. All it takes is a gift of new trainers, he says, for
which in return the child is soon asked to carry a little
package round the corner, and before long, the 12-yearold is earning more in one week than his parents make
in a year. The white middle-class market for cocaine is
booming, Lammy says, citing reports by Interpol and
Europol, and he has seen for himself how easy it is to
service because dealers in Tottenham have shown him.
“People are ordering drugs on WhatsApp, Snapchat. It’s
easy.” One young constituent was caught selling cocaine
in Aberdeen: dealers in London now operate what are
known as “county lines”, supplying cocaine to every
region of the country. Do middle-class customers safe in
neighbourhoods far away from Tottenham’s turf wars
have blood on their hands? For a moment he pauses.
“I think they have got to make the connection between
their drug use and what is happening with that drug. But
actually,” he goes on impatiently, “there are much bigger
questions. It’s bigger than just making people feel guilty.
There are big public policy questions about what to do
about this, but there is no major public discourse about
what we’re going to do. Most people think the war on
drugs has not worked – but nothing has replaced it. There
is some debate about decriminalisation, particularly
of marijuana, and it is happening in some parts of the
world, but it’s not reached our shores yet. This is not
currently being discussed in the mainstream.”
Surely, then, I say, this is the time for the political
courage to stand up and admit the “war on drugs”
has failed? Far from protecting us, our drug laws have
delivered an £11bn cocaine industry into the hands of
teenagers, putting all of us in danger. “Yes,” he agrees.
“Yes. I think it is.” The heavy flatness of his tone suggests
he finds no pleasure in concluding that prohibition has
I think we’ve come
to normalise it –
we think of gun and knife
crime among teenagers as
normal. And it is not
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:7 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 6/4/2018 18:04
been a terrible mistake. Does culpability therefore rest,
ultimately, with the legislators responsible for passing
and perpetuating those laws? “Yes. That’s right. I think
that is basically right.” Looking suddenly anxious, he
adds: “Look, all I’m saying is that there is no debate at all
going on in this country about it.”
He could start one himself, I suggest. A Christian
ex-barrister, born to inner-city, working-class
Guyanese immigrants, his credibility confers an
authority that spans council estates and the Commons,
and makes him an ideal candidate to introduce a
radical rethink. I’m not expecting the suggestion to fly
him into a rage, so am a bit taken aback when his arms
begin to swoop like an angry swan and his voice rises
to a shout.
“Look, why have I got to start everything? No, I mean
it. Why have I got to fucking start everything?” He is
furious. “You know, I’m here in this constituency, it’s
bloody tough. Why is there a political vacuum? Where is
the prime minister? Where is the home secretary? Where
is Sadiq Khan? There’s a riot, everyone’s on holiday?
David? Kids get killed? David?
“So I have to start every debate. I have to be in every
discussion. It’s very frustrating. I want other people to
step up to leadership. I can’t do this all on my own. Quite
rightly, folk on the street are pretty pissed off, they’re
really frustrated with politicians, they want action. I
hear: ‘David, can you do this? ‘David, can you do that?’
I’m trying, but I can’t.” He sighs. “I find it slightly odd that
I am asked to be the urban guru. I haven’t got a budget.
I’m a legislator, but it’s hard to legislate when my party’s
out of power. I can convene and knock heads together, I
have some influence and can speak to the media. So I’m
doing what I can do. But I have no pocket of cash.”
Earlier that morning, Lammy, had broadcast his
bewilderment on Radio 4’s Today programme that
neither the home secretary nor the mayor had taken the
trouble to phone him, when four of his constituents had
been murdered. Unsurprisingly, both offices get in touch
before the end of the day, but why it took them so long
perplexes Lammy. “Sadiq and I have a good relationship,”
he says, but the only reason he can think of to explain
why Khan didn’t call is also his greatest fear: “I think it’s
that we’ve come to normalise it. We think of gun and
knife crime among teenagers as normal. And it is not.”
To Lammy, the rise in London murders feels
ominously different to previous surges of violence. “I am
more worried about this spike because the profile of the
people getting caught up in it is younger. The callousness
of shooting into a crowd outside a cinema, shooting
at young women, the normalisation – never mind the
ramping up by social media – all of that makes me
alarmed and worried. I am pretty confident that we’re
not going to get over this problem unless there is a proper
political consensus. This is not going to self-correct.”
What does Lammy say to people who hold inadequate
or dysfunctional parents entirely to blame? His face
screws up in disgust.
“If any of my children picked up a knife or a gun, I
would be horrified. I would feel I had failed. But you
know, I’ve got resources and means to pay for stuff when
my wife and I are at work, and to keep my kids busy.
The middle classes use boarding schools and all sorts of
clubs, and can bus their kids from X to Y. They have got
cars. Their children aren’t having to navigate spaces on
their own. So I’m just saying, of course it comes back
to parents and moral choices. Of course it takes Mum
and Dad, but it also takes a village. And it has to take
you paying your taxes to – ”. He falters, on the verge of
breaking down. “I’m getting emotional because I am
tired,” he says, but looks wholly unembarrassed. “It has
to take you paying your taxes to pay for youth services,
to pay for support for the more vulnerable in society.
There is no way you can expect that single mother to do
it all on her own.”
If he had to identify the single biggest cause of the
violence, would it be austerity? Six seconds of silence
fall, before he replies unhappily: “I don’t want to be the
cliched Labour politician who says that it is all down
to cuts. I really don’t want to be that. But I think we
have to be clear: neighbourhood policing has vanished.
It’s gone. Then if you also take out 40% from the local
authority and you cut youth services, you do effectively
It comes back to
parents. But it also
takes you paying taxes
to pay for youth services.
You can’t expect that
single mum to do it all
leave communities to their own devices.” Does he
agree with Met police commissioner Cressida Dick that
social media also plays a major part? “I think it’s a big
influence,” he nods. “Some of this comes back to pride,
ego, respect. I see the way in which slights turn into:
‘I’m going to go and kill you.’ But the truth is,” he adds,
that “we are living in a world in which presidents of
countries are living in this way. Why do we think that’s
not going to affect young people, who are vulnerable
and suggestible, to take that to a different conclusion?
That’s what’s going on, yes.”
I’m puzzled by Lammy’s failure, under four
successive Labour leaders, to secure his position on the
frontbenches, so ask if he can explain it. With a pointed
stare, “No,” he says flatly. “Go and ask the white men
who run my party. That’s all I’m going to say.” I say that
sounds like an eloquent answer. “Go and ask them,” he
says testily. “Don’t come to me and ask me why I haven’t
been chosen. Ask them about who they’ve chosen.”
Lammy nominated Jeremy Corbyn in the leadership
election, so I ask if this was because he wanted Corbyn
to become leader. “No. I nominated him because I’m his
friend.” Why he isn’t a key player in Corbyn’s inner circle
seems confusing, but when I say this, he looks cross.
“You know what? You know what? I’m so bored of tribal
politics. That’s part of the problem.” His voice rising,
he repeats: “I’m so bored of it. I’m not a tribalist. That’s
not what turns me on. So if I don’t present sufficiently
as part of the clique, then so be it. I am very happy
influencing change in the way I’m influencing change.
I have long given up crawling up political backsides in
order to float to the top.”
We’re winding up, about to say goodbye, when
I remember one last question. Lammy tweeted a
eulogy of unequivocal praise for Winnie Mandela, after
her death this week, and I wondered – in view of the
violence in Tottenham – if he was at all worried that
it might be read as a tacit message that violence is a
forgivable, perhaps even legitimate, response to racial
oppression. He stares at me in silence for around eight
seconds, and his eyes begin to redden and well.
“I tweeted about Winnie Mandela,” he begins, his
voice cracking, “because I remember being 13 or 14,
growing up in this constituency” – the voice falters
again – “with Margaret Thatcher doing deals with Botha,
and not pursuing sanctions. Riots, Nelson Mandela
in prison.” Tears begin streaming down his cheeks.
“And she was our hero.” He pauses to steady his voice.
“No one is perfect, and I have not had to put up with
the humiliations, the tortures, the nightmare of your
husband being in prison for 27 years. She has died, and
I know enough South Africans to know that for them,
Winnie Mandela is a hero. And I stand with them.
“I’m not going to be cowed by the rampant racism,
the organised racism, that comes from parts of the altright.” His voice rises as his anger swells. “That seeks
to put down every single tweet I make. I’m standing
with Winnie. And I don’t give a damn. It’s as simple
as that. I’m not running in the opposite direction.
That’s why I tweeted. This is where I’m from.” He
bangs the table. “I grew up just a few roads away. This
is where I’m from. I speak for the people I represent.
And we are proud of Winnie Mandela – faults and all.
We look around at our national politicians, we do not
see national politicians who are without fault. And,
actually, we see quite a lot who get very far – let’s take
Boris Johnson – with,” and through his tears he spits out
the words: “Considerable. White. Privilege. Failure after
failure after failure rewarded. So don’t preach to me
about Winnie Mandela.”
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:8 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:35
Amelia Gentleman (Angry about
the pay gap, 3 April) was helpful
in separating out the various
reasons for unequal pay, together
with ideas for women to tackle the
problem. But where is the advice to
employers that unequal pay is often
the result of unequal opportunities?
Many jobs advertised as full-time
could be done by part-timers or
as job shares. There are easy-tofind organisations out there with
experience in advising about this.
Where are the talent spotters,
identifying women in their
companies with the capacity to
learn and do more, enabling them
to move into the higher-paid maledominated areas.
And let’s not forget the
responsibility of government.
Years after these issues were first
raised, we still have too few girls
choosing Stem subjects, a well
understood avenue to well-paid
employment. Childcare? Often
affordable for parents of one child,
out of reach for more than one.
Hence the exodus of women from
decently paid full-time jobs with
prospects into part-time work,
almost always at the bottom of
the pay and opportunities ladder.
Exposure of the gender pay gap is
of course helpful, but only actions
and commitment to solutions will
start to solve the problem.
Margaret Prosser
Labour, House of Lords
• The figures so far are fairly
crude and open to a degree of
interpretation (as some people will
not be included in the calculations),
but the pattern is clear. Most
companies report a pay disparity in
favour of men, and the construction
and finance sectors seem to be the
worst offenders. The real reason
for the pay gap is not necessarily
that women are getting paid less for
the same work as men, but more
likely that they are not getting into
the higher-paid positions. And if
companies want to reduce their
gender pay gap, this is the area that
would make a difference.
It will be interesting to see what
happens next. The reasons given by
companies for their pay gap suggests
a tendency to make excuses. The
obligation to report is an annual one,
so we will need to wait another year
to see if progress is being made.
Amy Richardson
• Theresa May’s gender pay gap
data, however imperfect, does shed
a little light. For all their criticism
of Gary Lineker’s pay, the Guardian
(11.3%), Associated Newspapers
(19.6%), Times Newspapers
(14.3%), Express Newspapers (17%),
Channel 4 Television (28.6%), and
ITV (18%) all have larger average
pay gaps than the BBC (10.7%). BT
(-0.7%), where women earn a little
more on average than men, is an
example to the likes of HSBC (59%)
and Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
(32.1%). Perhaps the Labour party
(2.5%) could press Theresa for even
more information next time.
Philip Kerridge
Bodmin, Cornwall
Fight the power of the frackers
by changing energy supplier
The news from Lancashire
(Fracking firm Cuadrilla finishes
drilling UK’s first horizontal well,
4 April) came as a disappointment,
particularly in the wake of the
Observer business leader that
suggested fracking companies
were running into difficulties in the
UK (Fracking industry blows hot
and cold amid fuel shortages and
false starts, 11 March).
Perhaps the easiest method
of thwarting them would be for
millions of energy customers to
switch their accounts away from
the big six and other suppliers of
shale gas, and towards the smaller,
often local energy companies who
only supply gas from renewable
sources and unfracked gas.
There are a number of such
companies in the Bristol area,
for example, and they are easily
identifiable on their websites as
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
Actions louder than
words on the pay gap
they tend to trumpet their green
credentials, whereas the firms
trafficking shale gas do not mention
the source of their gas. The green
companies also tend to be cheaper
for the consumer.
Given the drilling companies’
current problems with governmental
checks on their finances, local
authorities blocking them and local
mass protests, the prospect of a
significant desertion of account
holders might be the final straw
in deterring them from pursuing
drilling in the UK.
Howard Hardman
• Cuadrilla reports “signs” of a
“sizeable quantity of shale gas”
in Lancashire and claims its tests
indicate that each of the four wells
for which it has planning permission
could “extract enough gas to power
• Reading Boswell’s life of Dr
Johnson, I came upon the following
entry on 11 April 1773. “I put a
question to him upon a fact in
common life, which he could
not answer, nor have I found any
one else who could. What is the
reason that women servants,
though obliged to be at the
expense of purchasing their own
clothes, have much lower wages
than men servants, to whom a
great proportion of that article is
furnished, and when in fact our
female house servants work much
harder than the male?”
What answer would Boswell
get today?
Jim Baillie
Sale, Cheshire
• Danny Dorling rhetorically
asks (Letters, 3 April) whether the
Oxford Diocesan School Trust is
paying part-timers less per hour
than full timers, and if that is the
explanation for their large gender
pay gap. The answer is obviously
yes. The gender pay gap being
reported currently is the total,
unadjusted, one; of all men and
women in work and it’s around 18%.
The pay gap, unadjusted for any
other factor, among full-timers only
is 9.6% by the same ONS figures.
That part-timers get lower pay
per hour is thus the explanation
for some half of that gender pay
The obligation to report
is an annual one, so
we will need to wait
another year to see if
progress is being made
Amy Richardson
5,000 homes for 30 years”. Cuadrilla
CEO Francis Egan further claims the
drilling is “a major milestone towards
getting Lancashire gas flowing into
Lancashire homes”. Given that
there are over 650,000 homes in the
county, that means the four wells
together might provide about a year’s
worth of gas for each one – not much
of a return for a sizeable intrusion of
the Lancashire environment.
Austen Lynch
Garstang, Lancashire
• Your article on the Swansea energy
scheme (Tidal lagoon jobs at risk
after delay to funding agreement,
3 April) quoted business secretary
Greg Clark’s January letter to the
Welsh first minister, describing tidal
lagoons as “an untried technology
with high capital costs and significant
uncertainties”. The world’s first tidal
power station was in France, opened
in 1966, paid for itself in 20 years, and
is still producing enough to power
130,000 houses. Mr Clark seems to be
stranded on the mud of ignorance.
Neil Anderson
gap currently being reported, isn’t
it? Across the entire economy, it
will be higher in those fields and
organisations which employ more
than the average proportion of parttimers. This is such a well known
fact that even those in their ivory
towers should grasp it.
Tim Worstall
Senior fellow, Adam Smith Institute
• While Theresa May is probably
happy to contribute to the anger
about the pay-gap issue, it is a
welcome distraction for her: a blue
herring (Men paid more at 80%
of firms, 5 April). The real battle
over women’s pay should focus on
the gap at the bottom end, where
millions of workers are paid less than
a living wage or even below the legal
minimum wage, and most of them
are women.
The government could take two
easy steps now to improve matters
for working women: first, make
firms obey the minimum wage
law or, better yet, ensure that all
employees get paid a real living
wage, giving them enough to live on
without benefits. If companies were
made to pay decent wages, the Tory
austerity agenda could be shelved,
and millions of lives would be
improved; it really is that simple.
David Reed
• I was buying something and
couldn’t decide between two
purchases. I decided to look at each
company’s gender pay gap and
choose the one that paid women
the fairest. If other women consult
the pay gap before deciding where
to spend their money, we could
perhaps move this thing along a bit
more speedily. Let’s start a “spend
where it’s fair” movement.
Janet Graves
Mellor, Cheshire
Justice for gay men
killed in Chechnya
One year ago this week, news broke of
a wave of terrifying, state-sponsored
violence in Chechnya against men
perceived to be gay or bisexual. In
scenes that would not have been out
of place in Nazi Germany, innocent
men were rounded up and removed
to illegal detention centres. Men like
Maxim Lapunov, who spent 12 days in
a blood-soaked cell just because he is
gay, but who today is bravely speaking
out for justice. Men like the singer
Zelim Bakaev, who disappeared last
August during the round-ups and
has not been seen since.
Prisoners were held in appalling
conditions: starved, humiliated,
beaten and subjected to extreme
torture. Some did not get out alive.
The authorities also outed many of
the men to their families, directly
inciting relatives to carry out honour
killings against their sons, brothers
and fathers. Ramzan Kadyrov, the
Chechen leader, has both denied
the existence of LGBT people in his
country and said that gay people
should move to Canada “to purify
our blood”. But it is Vladimir Putin
and the Russian government
who have the final say on what
happens in Chechnya. Russia has
failed to conduct any meaningful
investigations into the appalling
abuses. Nobody has been brought to
justice. This is unacceptable.
Today, All Out, its members and
partners will come together at
2pm outside the Russian embassy
in London and in cities around
the world to honour our gay and
bisexual brothers murdered in
Chechnya. We will stand in solidarity
with men like Maxim who survived
the torture camps. We will make
sure the world does not forget about
what happened in Chechnya. We will
tell the Russian government “we are
watching you”. We won’t rest until
we get justice for Maxim, for Zelim
and for the dozens of other men
tortured and murdered in Chechnya.
Matt Beard
Executive director, All Out
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:9 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:34
 @guardianletters
beach. The
old steelworks
was just visible
in the mist in
the distance.
Someone had
left some crab
creels on the
sand, which I
thought made
an interesting
Share your
Corrections and
• Our gender pay gap coverage
used NWN Media data that had been
entered in the government database
incorrectly. The entry has been
changed to show a median gap of
85.2% in favour of women, not men
(When do companies stop paying
women in 2018?, 5 April, page 12).
• The Driver & Vehicle Standards
Agency sets driving tests, not the
Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency
(Adult learner, 31 March, page 69,
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There is no space for extremist
views in Polish Saturday schools
Reading your article (Polish schools
in UK accused of links to far-right
associates, 2 April) one can get the
impression that a number of Polish
Saturday schools are exposed to farright organisations. I am not aware
of any confirmed cases where such
a school has developed a serious
connection with this kind of group
or individual – and if such a case
arises I will do everything I can to
prevent the spread of this narrative.
Your article creates an incomplete
picture of Saturday schools and
damages the hard work of parents,
schools and the Polish Educational
Society, all aiming to ensure the
next generation of Polish children
are aware of their identity, roots
and the values of honesty, tolerance
and respect for others. The PES
works tirelessly to deliver a Polish
curriculum that truly reflects our
culture and history. We appreciate
the tremendous work of everyone
involved in the Polish educational
system in the UK. This does not
mean that we should not address,
and if necessary counter, attempts at
influencing these schools by any form
of extremism and intolerance.
Arkady Rzegocki
Polish ambassador to the UK
• We take the disturbing allegations
about links between some far-right
organisations and Polish Saturday
schools extremely seriously as we
strongly believe there is no space for
radical and extremist views of any
sort in any of our schools. Following
the publication of the article, we
have requested further and detailed
explanations from two of the schools
named in the report. The third,
in Southampton, has never been
registered with the Polish Educational
Society as a member school.
Polish Saturday schools have for
decades offered a safe space for all
children of Polish heritage to learn
more about Poland and its language,
literature, and history, playing a
pivotal role in the life of generations
of Polish-British children. As of 2018
there are over 130 schools, regularly
attended by some 20,000 pupils.
We have distributed guidance
asking all headteachers to review
their procedures regarding external
engagement and tighten them up,
if necessary, to rule out any future
cooperation with organisations
representing radical and extremist
views. We also reminded them of
the importance of working closely
with local authorities, including local
councillors and police, and their
responsibility to report any activity
in the broader Polish community that
might not be conducive to the public
good or could jeopardise community
relations. We are committed to
ensuring that all Polish Saturday
schools are free of harassment, hate
speech, or radicalism of any sort.
Krystyna Olliffe
Chair, Polish Educational Society
When is someone going to notice
that gang violence only occurs where
there is acute poverty (Police ‘have
lost control of the streets’, 6 April)?
Kit Jackson
• Martin Kettle (Britain is closer to
Ireland than ever. We must not forget
why, 5 April) forgets to mention
Mo Mowlam, without whose warm
and engaging personality it may be
doubted if Blair would ever have been
in a position to claim her credit.
Mary Cawley
Carlton Husthwaite, North Yorkshire
• In 1990 QPR played Peterborough
United in a cup game. We repeatedly
heard Ray Wilkins instruct defenders
to “isolate him”. This was the first
time we had ever heard a footballer
use a word containing more than two
syllables (Obituary, 5 April).
Toby Wood
• In suggesting (Letters, 5 April) the
Guardian should print photographs of
newborn lambs only if accompanied
by pictures of “what happens to them
next”, Elizabeth Hill may consider
the effect on cookery articles showing
culinary creations if there needs to be
photographs of how that same food
will look post-digestion.
Angus Thomson
Streatley-on-Thames, Berkshire
• Easter bunnies are no better off.
Gassing, diseases, roadkill and
natural predation take a horrible toll.
It really isn’t nice out there at all.
Iain Climie
Whitchurch, Hampshire
• By reducing the size of the quick
crossword (Letters, 4 April), we
could have a return of kakuro at
least one day a week. After all, it is
superior to sudoku.
Pamela Leemeijer
Northleach, Gloucestershire
Established 1906
Country diary
A few days ago I was asked if I was
a birder and apparently I pulled an
indecisive face. Now I’m proving
the point. The air quivers with
curlew music, but I am walking
head down. In my defence, drizzle
is gusting up the valley, and I’m
looking for water vole feeding signs,
hoping for evidence to match some
promising burrows a little way
downstream. There are plenty of
clumps of rush, the stems trimmed
at 45 degree angles, but droppings
are elusive – washed away or
disintegrated by the rain, I suppose.
If I hadn’t been focusing down,
I might not have seen the dipper,
dead in the rushes. Worse, I might
have trodden on it.
It’s noticeably heavy and
for a moment I think it must be
saturated, but then I remember.
Dippers are aquanauts as much as
aeronauts and, uniquely among
songbirds, their bones are solid, for
ballast. Even more than me, their
habitual focus is down, and in, not
up or out.
I open the short, triangular
wings. No wonder there’s
something of the bumblebee in a
live dipper’s whirring trajectory
from rock to branch, branch to
bank, and bank back to rock. In the
water, the wings are both oars and
hydrofoils, angled to harness the
flow and surf the body down.
The feet are large, with long,
loose-jointed toes that curl around
my little finger. They have small
dimpled pads, and the grapplehook points of the claws are slightly
blunted from anchoring the bird to
the streambed while it probes for
mayfly nymphs, caddis larvae and
shrimp with a beak like a pair of
needle-nosed pliers.
The feathers on the head are so
fine they merge in what looks like a
small serving of whipped chocolate
mousse. One underwater-seeing
eye is open. It is so nearly alive that
I feel complicit – my inability to
revive a crass excuse for my urge
to possess.
The next morning I see another,
bobbing and impeccable in its
white bib and russet cummerbund.
It calls and zips downstream like
a wind-up toy released, more
miraculous for the remembered
dead weight of its cousin, the feet,
the cocoa-feather drysuit.
Amy-Jane Beer
Twitter: @gdncountrydiary
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:10 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:44
hen a
of the
commissioned in 1989, hoping
to attract 70,000 visitors a year,
the idea of building an important
cultural attraction to stimulate
the local economy was barely
understood. A competition for the
old gasworks site was won by the
life/work partnership of Eldred
Evans and David Shalev, who
based their design on the site’s old
foundations to keep within budget.
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
David Shalev
Architect of Tate St Ives
whose work balanced
modernism with
classical references
A circular entrance reused the
footings of the gasholder. It was
large because the cost of flooring-in
the broad drum was too expensive,
but the full-height windows gave
stunning views across Porthmeor
beach and the architects knew that a
similar drum had worked well at the
Cardiff National Museum.
Carefully proportioned galleries,
likened by Shalev, who has died
aged 83, to a series of artists’ studios,
balanced modernism with classical
references more overt than those
in the accompanying art. While
surprising many visitors, they
indicated the architects’ grounding
in the work of the US architect Louis
Kahn, whose creations inspired
modernists, postmodernists and
those such as Evans and Shalev who
steered a middle path.
Opened in 1993, Tate St Ives
attracted 250,000 visitors a year and,
far from the entrance being too big,
the rest of the building proved too
small. Evans and Shalev returned
to fill in a circular courtyard with an
education space, completed in late
2017 in a programme led by Jamie
Fobert, whose own extension is
respectful of the earlier building.
Evans and Shalev had been
confirmed as one of Britain’s most
distinguished architectural practices
by an earlier building in Cornwall.
When Michael Heseltine, the
environment secretary, instituted
a series of competitions to improve
public sector architecture, they won
that for a library at the Royal Military
College of Science at Shrivenham,
only for the project to be axed in
1982 when military budgets were
diverted to the Falklands war.
In compensation, Heseltine
commissioned them to design the
law courts at Truro. An entrance
portico was a first hint that their
evolution had embraced classicism,
giving dignity without the building
dominating the little city. It won the
RIBA Building of the Year for 1988, a
forerunner of the Stirling prize.
Subsequent commissions
included the Bede Museum in
Jarrow (1993-2001) and a library and
residential block at Jesus College,
Cambridge (1994-2000), naturally lit
from above and a balance of classical
motifs with details from Charles
Rennie Mackintosh.
These were belated triumphs
for one of Britain’s unluckiest
architectural practices. Evans,
who was described by her student
contemporary Richard (now Lord)
Rogers as “the brightest student …
a goddess”, had won a competition
for a civic centre at Lincoln with
her graduate thesis, a triumph for a
23-year-old woman in any era, but
which in 1961 seemed to herald an
awakening of new ideas and belief in
youth. But the council had problems
and abandoned the scheme in 1965.
Evans’s student friends Rem and
Ada Karmi, by then working in Israel
for their architect father Dov Karmi,
asked her to look after a colleague
who was coming to London. Evans
thus met Shalev. He brought
stability, organisational skills and
an architectural brilliance to match
her own.
Small architectural practices often
find work by entering competitions,
either open to all-comers or limited
to invited practices. They can make
their reputations, while providing
prize money and the chance to build.
Together Evans and Shalev
entered 60 competitions, winning
18 and gaining places in 20 more.
Even when working separately in
different rooms they came up with
similar ideas. Coffered ceilings,
concrete blocks and a strong grid
became ingredients of all their work,
regardless of stylistic details.
Yet nothing was built until 196972, when they finally realised a large
comprehensive school, Bettws high
school near Newport, Gwent. The
school was big and the students
came from very mixed backgrounds,
so Evans and Shalev subdivided
the plan into friendlier house units
with their own dining areas. The
building became neglected and was
demolished in 2003.
A children’s centre and a home
for young people with disabilities on
awkward sites in Camden have been
altered. A house for the Taoiseach
in Phoenix Park, Dublin (1979),
scrupulously incorporated the
ancient tower house on the site, but
remained unbuilt.
Instead, Shalev made his
reputation as a tutor, with stints
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:11 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Saturday 7 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 6/4/2018 16:49
 @guardianobits
Tate St Ives,
which opened in
1993, before its
recent extension
Interior of the
law courts at
Truro, featuring
a naturally lit
▼ Interior of the
Bede Museum at
Jarrow Hall on
at the Architectural Association
between 1963 and 1980 inspiring two
generations to grasp the problems
of designing in three dimensions.
Architects such as Gordon Benson
and David Chipperfield embraced
his ideas of planning round a rooflit central void, which proved
particularly dramatic on the small
scale of a private house. Shalev then
taught at Bath University from 1995
until 2001.
He was born in Jerusalem
soon after his parents, Lotte
(nee Mühsam) and Gunther
Friedlander, fled Germany. His
mother was a social worker; his
father, a pharmacist, went on to
found Teva Pharmaceuticals, for
whom Evans and Shalev designed a
factory in Jerusalem, again unbuilt.
Shalev, who changed his name
after leaving school, thought of
becoming a painter, but studied
architecture on his father’s advice,
gaining additional qualifications in
engineering and planning when he
graduated from the Haifa Technion
in 1960.
He is survived by Eldred, whom
he married in 2001, and by their
daughter, Elantha Evans; and by a
son, Oren, from his first marriage,
which ended in divorce.
Elain Harwood
David Shalev, architect, born 3
September 1934; died 6 January 2018
Eric Bristow
The ‘Crafty Cockney’
who was five times
world darts champion
uring the 1980s
darts was in
its golden age,
fuelled by new
sponsorship deals
and lucrative
Presiding over it all was the “Crafty
Cockney”, Eric Bristow, world
champion five times between 1980
and 1986 and a character whose
gaudy charisma was central to the
sport’s colonisation of the post-pub
TV schedules.
Bristow, who has died of a
heart attack at the age of 60, was
supremely confident, flash but
intensely professional, and though
there were plenty of talented rivals
such as Jocky Wilson and John
Lowe, at his best he was unbeatable.
When he won his third world title, in
1984, the commentator Sid Waddell,
renowned for his flights of verbal
fancy, declared, “When Alexander of
Macedonia was 33, he cried salt tears
because there were no more worlds
to conquer. Bristow’s only 27.”
While his delivery was slightly
camp, little finger daintily crooked,
there was an abrasive edge to
Bristow’s wide-boy persona. He
loved to wind up opponents with
frowns and mocking gestures and
he developed what was often a lovehate relationship with the crowds.
During one big match in 1982 he
came under what a darts magazine
called “the most sustained barrage
of jeering witnessed at a darts
match”. Each volley of abuse was
followed by a treble 20.
He acquired his Crafty Cockney
nickname after visiting an Englishstyle pub of that name in Santa
Monica, California, and his first
world title soon followed.
As well as the darts circuit at
home in the UK there were foreign
tours, including a trip to the
Falklands to entertain the troops.
He revelled in his cheeky manof-the-people image. When he
was appointed MBE in 1989 he
accidentally broke protocol by
turning his back on the Queen as
he retreated. Remembering royal
etiquette, he wheeled round and
said, “Sorry, darling.” She burst out
laughing, he reported.
He was born in Hackney, north
London, in 1957, the only child
of George Bristow, a plasterer,
and Pamela, a telephonist, and
had a happy childhood in Stoke
Newington. George was a sports
lover who exposed his son to golf,
snooker and pool before buying a
dartboard when Eric was 11.
Bristow passed his 11-plus and
attended Hackney Downs grammar
school. Though he was good at
mathematics – handy for calculating
check-outs – he was not a model
pupil and left at 14, later admitting to
criminal activity such as joy-riding
and burglary.
Darts soon took over, and he was
playing for a local team by the age
of 14. Within a year he was making
more in prize money than the £12 a
week from his job as a proofreader
in the City – “I was earning £120 a
weekend,” he recalled – and he gave
up work to concentrate on darts.
He threw for England just before
his 18th birthday and won his first
world title in 1980. But his career
stalled towards the end of the
decade when he began to suffer from
dartitis, a condition similar to the
yips in golf: at the critical moment,
the player is unable to release the
dart and follow through.
He was afflicted for eight years,
and although he briefly regained
his No 1 world ranking he had
been replaced at the summit of the
sport by Phil “the Power” Taylor,
whose own rise owed much to
Bristow. During his time out of the
game, Bristow had mentored and
coached Taylor, sponsoring him to
the tune of £10,000. Taylor would
go on to win 16 world titles, and
Bristow later joked, “I ended up
creating a monster.” In 1990 the
monster beat his creator in the world
championship final.
In 1993 Bristow was one of the
leaders of a 16-man breakaway that
saw the sport split in two, but his
last big occasion on the oche was
an epic world championship semifinal defeat to Taylor in 1997. He
finally retired from competition in
2007, devoting himself to exhibition
matches and roadshows, and in 2012
he finished fourth in the jungle on
I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
In 2008 he published an
autobiography, The Crafty Cockney,
but his career as an acerbic and often
controversial pundit was derailed
in 2016 when he was sacked by Sky
after tweeting insensitively about
the sexual abuse scandal in football.
For several years from the late 70s
Bristow was in a relationship with
Maureen Flowers, at that time the
UK’s top women’s darts player. Then
in 1989 he married Jane, with whom
he had two children, Louise and
James. They divorced in 2005 and
he was latterly in a relationship with
Becky Gadd, whom he had met at a
roadshow. She survives him along
with his children.
Chris Maume
Eric Bristow, darts player, born 25
April 1957; died 5 April 2018
Today’s birthdays: Dennis
Amiss, cricketer, 75; Lady Angela
Bonallack, golfer, 81; Francis
Ford Coppola, film director,
screenwriter, 79; Gerry Cottle,
circus proprietor, 73; Russell
Crowe, actor, 54; Jon Cruddas,
Labour MP, 56; Prof Sir Graeme
Davies, metallurgist, 81; James
“Buster” Douglas, boxer, 58; Peter
Fluck, puppet-maker and satirist,
77; Nick Herbert, Conservative
MP, 55; Lady Patty Hopkins,
architect, 76; Alison Lapper, artist,
53; Sir Martyn Lewis, broadcaster,
73; John Oates, musician, 70;
Tim Peake, astronaut, 46; Jane
Priestman, industrial designer, 88;
Joël Robuchon, Michelin-starred
chef, 73; Gerhard Schröder, former
German chancellor, 74.
Tomorrow’s birthdays: Lady
(Ros) Altmann, former pensions
minister, 62; Kofi Annan, former
UN secretary general, 80; Sir John
Arbuthnott, microbiologist, 79;
Mark Blundell, racing driver,
52; Chris Burns, chief operating
officer, BBC, 56; Dr Lisa Cameron,
SNP MP, 46; Evan Davis,
broadcaster and journalist, 56;
Barbara Kingsolver, author, 63;
Juliet Lyon, chair, Independent
Advisory Panel on Deaths in
Custody, 68; Biz Markie, rapper,
54; Brian McDermott, football
manager, 57; Prof Chris Orr, artist
and printmaker, 75; David Pickard,
director, BBC Proms, 58; Joe
Royle, football manager, 69; Alec
Stewart, cricketer, former England
captain, 55; Dame Vivienne
Westwood, fashion designer, 77;
Robin Wright, actor, 52; Lady
(Barbara) Young of Old Scone,
chair, Woodland Trust, 70.
Bristow, aged 21, practising at the 1978 British Open
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:12 Edition Date:180407 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 6/4/2018 14:29
The Guardian Saturday 7 April 2018
Killer Sudoku
Chris Maslanka’s archive puzzles
Hard No 600
Pyrgic puzzles
Killer Sudoku
1 “It would be wrong to raise the issue of German reparations during the current economic
crisis or it would look as if Greece was looking
for an alibi,” opined a spokesperson on our
flagship radio station. Pedanticus crushed his
radio with a sledgehammer. Why?
2 An equilateral
triangle can be
made by cutting
2 identical
hexagons into 3
big identical pieces. Now perform the same
feat by cutting them instead into 2 identical
big pieces and 4 identical small pieces.
3 Three glasses were each supposed to
contain the same amount. I poured a half of
the first glass into the second, then a third of
The normal rules of
Sudoku apply: fill each
row, column and 3x3 box
with all the numbers from
1 to 9. In addition, the
digits in each inner shape
(marked by dots) must
add up to the number in
the top corner of that box.
No digit can be repeated
within an inner shape.
Easy No 600
Fill in the grid so that
every row and column
contains the numbers
1-5. The “greater than” or
“less than” signs indicate
where a number is larger
or smaller than its
Cryptic crossword
Solution No. 27,476
2 <
Identify this 10-letter word with the centre
Twitter: @ChrisMaslanka
E pluribus unum
Rearrange the letters of OTTER CANOES to
make a single word
Uncle Rebus
(4, 3, 2, 5)
Missing Links
Find a word which follows the first word in
the clue and precedes the second in each
case making a fresh word or phrase. E.g. the
answer to fish mix could be cake (fishcake &
cake mix) and to bat man it could be he (bathe
& he-man)...
a) stone room
b) rolling cube
c) human horse
d) window station
e) grape gun
f) pork ties
© CMM 2010. Solutions on Page 62
Guardian cryptic crossword No 27,477 set by Paul
Want more? Get access to more than
4,000 puzzles at
crossword. To buy puzzle books, visit or call
0330 333 6846.
In each case find the correct definition:
a) pertaining to snails
b) crumbly
c) Learian nonce word
d) reedy
a) fear of mice
b) fear of musicians
c) fear of dirt
d) severe allergy to moulds
a) pediment
b) old Russian unit of length
c) in common law, unmodified
d) pertaining to ladybirds
the second into the third and finally a quarter
of the third back into the first. Now they each
contained 12ccs. How much did they start
out with?
4 In the football results all the home teams
scored 4 goals and all the away teams scored
only 1 consolation goal – apart from just one
away team whch managed to equalise in their
fixture with 4 goals. With what pithy phrase
was this summarised in the headline?
5 Insert what signs you like (brackets, +, X and so on) into the string 1234456789 to make
6 The first multiplicative magic number is
6, since 1 x 2 x 3 = 6. N is magic if and only
if the product of all its factors smaller than
itself equals N. Prove that the number of
multipicatively magic numbers is infinite.
The first five correct entries drawn each week win Can You Solve My
Entries to: The Guardian Crossword No 27,477,
P.O. Box 6603, Birmingham, B26 3PR, or Fax to 0121-742 1313 by first post
on Friday. Solution and winners in the Guardian on Monday 16 April.
1 Admirer pulling sausage skin
from dish of game? (7)
5 Into loveless jive/salsa dancing,
am I potty? (7)
9 A success for Lloyd Webber,
somewhat inevitably (5)
10 See 25
11 Daughter inspired by the
influence of granny, perhaps,
after heading for shower to get
cleaner (4,6)
12 Avian that’s smoked (4)
14 Gloucestershire opener in
desperate chase dropping catches
— players get lessons here (5,6)
18 Fine lifesaver having stepped
down, one in the majority (8,3)
21 Head shaved in bed, that’s proved
painful! (4)
22 Man offering personal advice,
lunacy gone mad! (5,5)
25,10 Feeling initially around letter
bag, need letters for children’s
favourite game? (9,9)
26 Sweet thing hard to forget in
ancient Chinese text (5)
27 Little jerk inspiring one to beat
giant (7)
28 No explosive energy for runner (7)
1 See 4
2 Welcome in outskirts of Ontario,
an American statesman (6)
3 Best thing to bury a spy, so
desperate to feign death (4,6)
4,1 Joint declaration of nation, great
effort (5,6)
5 Fickle type appeared to welcome
leadership of Hitler and Trotsky
6 Womaniser’s tool (4)
7 Point put in to ham about right for
butcher’s device (4,4)
8 Single weapon briefly in contact
with a Roman emperor (8)
13 Cruise too flipping grand for PC
travel (10)
15 In eating badly, chips primarily
causing immune response (9)
16 Weak figure entering testament in
support of the devil (8)
17 Intellectually threaten to push
city’s outsiders around (5,3)
19 Fighting, it arises during a party
20 Beginning to brag, bird hunter (6)
23 Stretcher on after awful injury,
demolition all ends up (5)
24 New painting lifted hero (4)
□ Tick here if you do not wish to receive further
information from the Guardian Media Group or
other companies screened by us.
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