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The Guardian e-paper Journal - April 12, 2018

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Section:GDN 1J PaGe:1 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 18:25
Why are politicians so bad at asking questions? Jonathan Freedland, page 4
The fight for abortion rights is far from over Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, page 5
A murder in a place where murder never happens The long read, page 9
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
and ideas
People want
basic things,
and a politics
to provide them
t’s just like old times. Donald Trump has
picked a fight with China over trade and he is at
odds with Russia over Syria. Relations between
Beijing and Moscow are getting closer as the
former communist superpowers confront the
old American enemy. A regional conflict in the
Middle East is a means by which the United
States and Russia can engage without actually
coming to blows – until now at least. Welcome to the
new cold war. The clock has been turned back to the
days before the Berlin Wall came down.
History tells us that the first cold war lasted from
1945 until 1990, and was won by the west. Capitalism
triumphed over communism, freedom over tyranny.
The early 1990s witnessed a victory roll for markets:
economic shock treatment was administered to
the former Soviet Union and its satellites; a global
free trade deal was wrapped up; and parties of the
left got with the programme. They stopped talking
about socialism and embraced the need for greater
competition, efficiency and labour market flexibility.
The centre of gravity of politics shifted. Before the
collapse of the Soviet Union, the middle ground in
the west was halfway between full-blown communism
at one extreme and full-blown capitalism at the other.
From the late 19th century onwards, the fear that
the working classes would be seduced by Marxism
prompted parties of both left and right to introduce
reforms intended to knock some of the rough edges off
capitalism. Bismarck was won over to the idea of old age
pensions; the welfare state in Britain was started by the
Liberal government of 1906; Roosevelt came down hard
on Wall Street during the Great Depression.
There were plenty more concessions after the second
world war. With the Red Army occupying eastern Europe
and strong communist parties in France and Italy, the
generosity of America’s Marshall plan was not just
philanthropy. It was also the result of fear of communism
and a feeling that if capitalism couldn’t deliver for
ordinary people, they had somewhere else to go.
This anxiety dwindled over the decades as it
became clear that the Soviet Union’s economy worked
a lot better when the need was to provide tanks and
aircraft for total war than it did to produce consumer
goods in peacetime. The end of the cold war removed
the threat of an alternative ideology altogether. So the
new middle ground – the third way – moved closer to
an undiluted form of capitalism.
To take just one obvious example,
the economic strategy being proposed
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:2 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 18:30
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
People want basic things, and
a politics to provide them
Larry Elliott
Continued from front
at present by John McDonnell, the
shadow chancellor – higher personal and
corporate taxes, state ownership of the
public utilities and the railways, a national investment
bank – would have been firmly in the social democratic
mainstream when the cold war was at its height. Now
it is seen as so extreme that Labour dissidents are –
in another echo of the past – toying with the idea of
forming a new centrist party.
In the new post-cold war politics, parties that once
believed their job was to make capitalism work for
voters now believed their task was to make voters
fit for capitalism. State intervention did not cease,
it merely took a different form. Governments might
have believed they could do nothing to prevent
communities wiped out by deindustrialisation and
were no longer to guarantee full employment as they
once had, so instead they used welfare reform to get
the unemployed to take low-paid jobs and tell the poor
that they needed to smoke less, drink less and eat more
healthily. State control over the people replaced state
control over the economy as the focus of policy, and it
didn’t really matter whether the voters liked the tough
love or not, because there was nowhere else to go.
The austerity policies of the past decade saw the
full flowering of the new politics. Those who were
responsible for the biggest financial crisis since the
second world war went unpunished; those who
were innocent felt the full force of deficit-reduction
programmes. There was nothing like Marshall aid
for Greece when it was experiencing a 30% fall in
GDP, no writing off of the country’s debts as there
was for West Germany in 1953.
t is now almost three decades since the cold
war ended, and few hanker for a return to the
days when the iron curtain divided Europe.
Yet the promises made in the early 1990s have
not been fulfilled. Liberalising markets did not
lead to economic nirvana; instead the orgy of
speculation unleashed led to the financial crisis
of 2008. Living standards have continued to
rise in the west, but more slowly than they once did.
Productivity growth has stalled. In the UK, personal
debt levels are not much lower than before the crash.
The country that has done best in the post-cold
war era – China – has done so with a version of the old
middle way. Strong growth has meant a stupendous
fall in poverty rates over the past four decades but
movements of capital have been carefully regulated,
trade barriers have remained higher than in the US
or Europe and the state has maintained ownership
of large chunks of industry. China has become more
market friendly but only up to a point.
The decision to embrace the discipline of the
global marketplace has proved disastrous for parties
of the centre left. They did well enough during the
late 1990s and early 2000s, when cheap imported
goods flooded in from China, but were bereft of ideas
when the global economy hit the wall in 2008. Where
there would once have been a plan to re-regulate
capitalism there was an intellectual vacuum.
There are some obvious lessons to be drawn from
this. The first is that the mainstream parties need to
come up with policies that do things for people rather
than do things to people. The record shows that the
managed capitalism of the cold war delivered better
results than the unmanaged capitalism since.
The second lesson is that voters don’t buy the
idea that global capitalism is a force of nature – the
economic equivalent of the “beast from the east” – that
cannot be tamed. That’s why Trump’s proposed tariffs
on Chinese imports and McDonnell’s plan to nationalise
the utility companies are popular. People want now
what they have always wanted: a job, decent pay, a
pension, a roof over their heads and a sense that their
children will be better off than they are. They can’t
understand why the global economy can’t deliver today
what nation states could deliver half a century ago.
There is one final lesson. If mainstream parties don’t
come up with the answers, the evidence is that voters
will look elsewhere for solutions. The rise of populism
explodes the myth that they have nowhere else to go.
Founded 1821 Independently owned by the Scott Trust № 53,381
‘Comment is free… but facts are sacred’ CP Scott
We must cherish the BBC
as the protector of our
diminishing public sphere
It is easy to become frustrated with the BBC. On
the right, the complaint has always been that the
corporation is an overmighty behemoth staffed by
overpaid lefties. In more progressive circles, there has
recently been anger over the time devoted to climate
change deniers (such as Nigel Lawson) and pro-Brexit
positions. A serious disparity between the salaries
earned by male and female employees has been a
justified focus of criticism. It is right to hold this publicly
funded organisation to account; it is right to pace the
ramparts of its impartiality and independence. It is also
right to keep a steady eye on what areas the BBC should
operate in, and where it should draw back to allow other
voices to flourish, whether they be local newspapers,
the national press, or independent podcasts.
Nevertheless, however tempting it may be in
the moment to taunt it as the “Brexit Broadcasting
Corporation” (or whatever the current anxiety may be),
it is also right to take the long view of the BBC. That must
surely mean defending its importance as a bastion of
the UK’s democracy, culture and identity. The BBC was
formed from a set of enlightened decisions taken during
the birth pangs of broadcasting. In 1925, three years
after the BBC was founded, the Crawford parliamentary
committee took the view that the new wireless
technology was so powerful and precious that on the one
hand it ought not to be controlled by the state, and on the
other, not abandoned to the market. And so the British
Broadcasting Company became the British Broadcasting
Corporation, to be run in the public interest. It would be
financed by the licence fee rather than taxation, and so
protected from the daily ebb and flow of party politics.
If one considers the conditions of the world we live in
now, these decisions look especially prescient. Today,
this promise of broadcasting in the public interest means
not commodifying your data against your will, or giving
Medical dangers
Evolution works on
the side of bacteria
against human beings
The first case anywhere in the world of a strain of
gonorrhea resistant to all known antibiotics was
reported late last month. The diagnosis was made in
England, but it appears that the infection came from an
encounter in south-east Asia. Antibiotic resistance is a
global problem, and can’t be confined to any one part of
the world for long. Last autumn a woman died in the
US of an infection apparently picked up in an Indian
hospital which was impervious to all 14 antibiotics in
her hospital; later tests showed it was also resistant to
the other 12 drugs available to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.
The dangers of antibiotic resistance are by now well
understood, even if action to diminish them is slow
and uncoordinated. The growth of superbugs is not just
caused by overprescription in developed countries and
completely uncontrolled usage in developing countries,
where they are rationed only by price. It is also a product
of the widespread use of antibiotics in factory farming,
where they are used to keep animal populations at a
density which would be impossible in nature. In all these
cases, we have set up evolutionary pressures which
favour the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of
bacteria, and evolution has responded in its usual creative
you fake news. The threats to democratic discourse
presented by the filtering of information via the
algorithms of multinational companies have become
obvious. We are beginning to digest how politics (in
Britain and overseas) may have been influenced by
the use of data acquired on Facebook and elsewhere.
But the BBC is vulnerable. For 40 or so years in the
late 20th and early 21st centuries, the television was
the hearth around which all Britain gathered. It was the
carrier of a common culture. That is no longer true. UK
public-service broadcasting (including from Channel
4 and others) still accounts for 70% of content seen
by audiences in Britain, but providers such as Netflix
and Amazon are claiming more and more of viewers’
attention. The BBC is also gradually waking up to the
fact that 16- to 30-year-olds are rapidly drifting away
from it, as a recent speech by Tony Hall acknowledged.
This is bonanza time for audiences: never has there
been so much high-quality material available to watch,
whenever we like. But our voracious appetite for
content should not blind us to the preciousness of the
BBC, which has time and again over the years taken
artistic risks to create brilliant, radical and innovative
work that would be in the interests of no profit-driven
private company. The corporation has, however, been
assaulted in recent years. The decision by the former
chancellor George Osborne to force the BBC to finance
the licence fees of the over-75s – a cost previously
borne by the government – was shortsighted. Whoever
is in power at the moment of the next licence fee
assessment must reverse Mr Osborne’s move to allow
the BBC to make great programmes that will in turn
enhance the reputation of the UK globally. As it is, this
drain on the corporation’s finances (£750m by 202021) may presage its slow death, as the population ages
and the BBC is harder pressed to fight off its rapidly
consolidating American competitors.
The BBC needs to greet the future with boldness.
If the television is no longer the carrier of the public
sphere that it once was, then what is? One answer
is, of course, the internet. What if BBC engineers
were to build a mechanism for structuring and
shaping audience’s experiences of the web, in the
public interest? That kind of thinking would take
imagination, patience and creativity – not just from
the BBC, but from the government.
way. Around half of the detected cases of infection
with the campylobacter bacterium in chickens in
British shops involve antibiotic-resistant strains.
Campylobacter is unpleasant, but seldom deadly, and
can in any case be killed by thorough cooking.
Now fresh research has shown up a new and largely
unsuspected means by which industrialised food
processing threatens human health. Trehalose is a
form of sugar found in nature that is stable at high
temperatures. The discovery of a new technique
for mass producing it led to widespread adoption
in the processed food industry both in the US and
Europe after the US Food and Drug Administration
recognised that it was safe for humans in 2000. This
was followed by outbreaks of hospital infections in
countries from Kuwait to Canada, all caused by the
gut bacterium Clostridium difficile. There are now
two strains of C diff which have evolved mechanisms
to consume low concentrations of trehalose and
thus flourish at the expense of others. In one case,
the newly voracious bugs also produce a more
virulent toxin.
This is not as frightening and widespread a threat
as the rise of antibiotic resistance, but it remains a
chilling example of the complex unpredictability of
our interactions with the natural world. The law of
unintended consequences is powerful. No one could
have imagined that a more efficient way to produce
ice-cream might lead to the growth of hospital
infections. The real difficulty in both cases is that
the costs of industrial food production are not paid
by the food processors and farmers who profit most
from it. Only coordinated international action can
ever fix that – and time is running out.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:3 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 12 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 11/4/2018 17:40
reports that
the public sees the
prime minister more
favourably than
Jeremy Corbyn by a
margin of 10 points
Labour cannot
assume May
will fail. That’s
too dangerous
ver since June 2017, the political
world has written off Theresa May.
It is easy to see why. She called an
unnecessary election, she ran a
terrible campaign and she threw away
her majority. Then things got worse.
Her party conference speech was a
shambles. A feeble cabinet reshuffle
underlined her weakness. Brexit remains divisive and
dangerous. Labour thinks she is there for the taking.
May’s faults as a leader are now painfully familiar. Her
public style is mechanical. She lacks easy empathy. She
isn’t quick on her feet in parliament or in interviews. She
can’t inspire. She shows no ability to change or even any
desire to do so. She is remote, a cultural throwback. She
is very home counties. All these limits were ruthlessly
exposed in the election and after the Grenfell Tower fire.
May has thus been treated, politically speaking, as
a dead woman walking. Her authority is generally
regarded as shot, her certain fall merely a matter of timing.
Some speculate that the Brexit endgame may precipitate
her departure as soon as this autumn. Or she may last
until 2019. Few believe her claim that she will lead the
Conservatives into the next election, due in 2022. Labour
believes it will beat her whenever the moment comes.
It is not the purpose of this article to dismiss all this
as rubbish. Yet gradually it is beginning to look a bit
less obvious. That could change, of course, perhaps
quickly. Yet May has not just survived. She has even,
in some limited and contingent ways, begun to prosper.
Her immediate Tory rivals now seem to sense this, and
Labour ought to be more alive to it than it is.
There are four main reasons for taking this revisionist
view more seriously. The first is that she has had some
relative successes on Brexit, the issue that is fated to
define her prime ministership. The deal with Brussels
on the price of departure has now been followed by
a deal on the transition. Almost all Tory MPs have
accepted the compromises. None of this was certain
a few months ago. But it begins to look more possible
than before that May’s Brexit strategy could make it over
the line. If it does, she will be able to say she got it right.
The second argument is that May has been
strengthened by her response to the country’s dangers.
The Skripal poisonings have played to her strengths.
Theresa May
with members
of her staff
and the UK
delegation in
Sweden on
She is experienced on security issues. She has been
methodical and measured in her responses but
firm and effective. And she has built alliances around
Britain’s grievances against Russia. Thus far, she has
also avoided a headstrong response to Syria’s latest
use of chemical weapons.
This has helped to provide her with her third recent
advantage, the contrast with her potential rivals.
Boris Johnson, in particular, has had a very bad spring.
He has been found seriously wanting on the Skripals,
Iran and Ireland. And, very importantly, his party
has noticed. Last week Johnson fell to 14th, behind
the Scottish secretary David Mundell, in the latest
ConservativeHome website cabinet satisfaction survey.
The Jacob Rees-Mogg bandwagon has also slowed.
Finally, May has prospered from Labour’s internal
failings. Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to take a grip on his
party’s antisemitism scandals has played into May’s
hands. Syria may provide another problem for the
Labour leader, although it is too soon to say this with
certainty. Shadow trade minister Barry Gardiner’s
foolish dismissal of the Good Friday agreement has
weakened Labour too, as has his undermining of
Labour’s Brexit policy. Brexit remains the ticking
timebomb under Labour’s electoral credibility.
The upshot has been that May’s popularity has surged
among Tory members, albeit from a very low base. Even
more significantly, May has also regained the poll lead
over Corbyn that she enjoyed before the 2017 election.
This week YouGov reported that the public sees May
more favourably than Corbyn by a margin of 10 points.
abour may win sweeping successes
in next month’s English local
government elections, especially in
London. Senior Tories have told me
they believe a wipeout in the capital
would rekindle the leadership question.
The Conservative party contains a lot
of hotheads and malcontents. But it
also has a lot of cool heads and loyalists. Everything we
think we know about midterm local elections is that
they are not always good guides to electing a national
leader at the next general election.
Moreover, these 2018 elections take place in districts
where Labour did quite well in 2014, which may blunt
the expected Labour gains outside London. But they are
also a kind of unofficial midterm election for the Tory
government. A big decline in the Ukip share from 2014
will have a dramatic but unpredictable effect.
None of this is to pretend that the Conservative party
is in a good place. The party has not won a clear outright
general election victory since 1987, more than 30 years
ago. To lose in the nation’s capital would stretch its
claims of being a one-nation party. It remains at huge
risk of becoming the party of the old, the xenophobic
and the angry English poor. May is a better insurance
against that than many of her rivals would be.
Anecdotally, Tories report a lot of sympathy for
May among unpolitical people. She’s got a really hard
job but she’s doing her best, is a common theme. She’s
not flash but she’s working her socks off, is another.
She made a mistake but she knows she has something
to prove, is a third. All of this strikes a chord. May got
the job less than two years ago because she was rather
obviously the best grownup that the Conservatives
could unite behind in a thin field. In the end, that
may still be the party verdict, in spite of all.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:4 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 18:14
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
Dear BBC, we
really need
to talk about
Andrew Neil
magine this. The BBC appoints a prominent
radical leftist, a lifelong Bennite, the chairman
of the publisher of a prominent leftwing
publication no less, as its flagship political
presenter and interviewer. This person has
made speeches in homage of Karl Marx calling
for the establishment of full-blooded socialism
in Britain, including a massive increase in
public ownership, hiking taxes on the rich to fund a
huge public investment programme, and reversing
anti-union laws. They appear on our “impartial” Auntie
Beeb wearing a tie emblazoned with the logo of a
hardline leftist thinktank. Their BBC editor is a former
Labour staffer who moves to become Jeremy Corbyn’s
communications chief. They use their Twitter feed –
where they have amassed hundreds of thousands of
followers thanks to a platform handed to them by the
BBC – to promote radical leftist causes.
This would never happen. It is unthinkable, in fact.
If the BBC establishment somehow entered this parallel
universe, the British press would be on the brink of
insurrection. And yet, the strange case of Andrew Neil,
the ultra-Thatcherite former Sunday Times editor who
is the BBC’s flagship political presenter, is an instructive
example about how our media works.
Neil is a formidable political interviewer in many
ways: forensic, unrelenting, quick-witted, sardonic. But
consider the background of this former Conservative
Broadcasting House, London PHOTOGRAPH: NICK ANSELL/PA
party researcher. When Jeremy Corbyn had the
audacity to meet with leftwing Jewish group Jewdas,
Neil smeared them as “nutters”; last year, he made a
speech denouncing antisemitism on the left. To be clear,
leftwing antisemitism exists and must be vanquished.
But Neil has no moral authority on this issue. As editor
of the Sunday Times in 1992, he hired Britain’s foremost
Holocaust denier, Nazi apologist David Irving, to work on
the Goebbels diaries. To hire a sympathiser of Hitler and
denier of the worst atrocity in history to do respectable
work for a national newspaper was a disgrace for which
he has never apologised. As the Wiener Library, the
oldest institution devoted to the study of the Holocaust,
said at the time: “David Irving denies the gas chambers.
Anyone who deals with him is tainted with that.”
Not long after becoming a high-profile BBC
presenter, Neil made a speech in homage to rightwing
radical Friedrich Hayek, in which he called for a
“radical programme to liberalise the British economy;
a radical reduction in tax and public spending as a
share of the economy” as well as a flat tax “and the
injection of choice and competition into the public
sector on a scale not yet contemplated”. During
last year’s general election, he presented the Daily
Politics wearing a tie emblazoned with the logo of the
hardcore neoliberal Adam Smith Institute.
Neil’s Twitter account – which has hundreds of
thousands of followers thanks to his BBC gig – is
routinely used to promote rightwing causes. He uses
this platform to denounce the scientific consensus on
climate change. It is not the first time he has deviated
from scientific consensus. When he was Sunday
Times editor, his newspaper ran a series of articles
arguing that HIV did not cause Aids. His Twitter feed,
too, reveals a relentless sympathy for Brexit and
denunciation of its critics. A valid political perspective,
but not coming from the BBC’s main politics presenter
on the biggest issue facing Britain.
is firebrand rightwing politics aside,
Neil skins politicians alive across
the political spectrum, comes
the inevitable retort. There is no
question that Neil is exceptionally
bright and well-read with an acute
eye for detail: it is a grave error to
turn up unprepared with him in the
chair, as I myself discovered. And yes, he did recently
take down a Tory minister for the absurd smears against
Corbyn over a crank ex-Czechoslovak spy. But as a
general rule, while Neil will fillet politicians on both left
and right on the basis of competence, he reserves his
ideological assaults on the left.
Why does this all matter? Critiquing any prominent
journalist normally results in a defensive backlash: it
is regarded as the ultimate sin within media ranks. But
the issue here is about a system. The media are one of
the most essential pillars of any democracy, and must
be critiqued as such. The usual BBC defence is that the
corporation is attacked from both sides, and therefore
must be neutral. This is a logical fallacy. For one, it
does not take into account which side is more assertive
or dominant. Our press overwhelmingly supports
the Tories and is intolerant of even mild deviations
from rightwing orthodoxy. Its daily news priorities
are set and framed by the front pages of Conservativesupporting newspapers.
Neil himself would be the most intimidating and
effective rightwing polemicist in Britain if he was freed
from the BBC. But the fact that somebody as stridently
leftwing as he is rightwing would never be appointed to
such a position is indicative of how our media operate.
Many on the left fear that any critique of Auntie will
play into the hands of a rightwing that would privatise
and gut the BBC if it could. This deference means that
BBC political output remains framed by rightwing
assumptions. The Media Reform Coalition has suggested
a series of proposals, such as freeing the BBC from all
government interference and a BBC board elected by
licence-payers and BBC staff. At the very least the left
– which, after all, represents millions of Britons – must
stop accepting its continued media marginalisation as
just one of those things. It isn’t – and it must change.
Why are
politicians so
bad at asking
acebook’s share price leapt 4.5% after
Mark Zuckerberg’s supposed grilling
by a committee of US senators. The
headlines were exactly what he’d
wanted: “Mark Zuckerberg outwits
Congress,” declared the Axios
website. The single, clear lesson
from the session, a lesson that has
been demonstrated repeatedly over the years in both
Washington and Westminster was: politicians are
overwhelmingly useless at asking questions.
Of course, there are exceptions. Parliamentary
veterans still recall the late Robin Cook’s forensic
interrogation of John Major’s government over the
question of arms sales to Iraq. But all too often, as was
the case on Tuesday, they miss the target. Part of the
problem was the clear ignorance, if not befuddlement,
in the face of technology displayed by most of the
senators, many of whom are of a ripe vintage. But the
wider problem is one shared by politicians of all ages.
Again and again, a committee will have a key player
accused of wrongdoing sit before them. Yet gifted the
chance to nail that player once and for all, they’ll watch
him or her wriggle away, unscathed.
Witness the 2011 appearance of Rupert and James
Murdoch before the Commons culture committee. It
was billed as the showdown that would, at last, force a
confession of culpability in the phone-hacking affair.
But it triggered the same sense of frustration felt by
anyone who watched Zuckerberg’s testimony. In both
cases, the politicians mostly failed to ask short, sharp,
concrete questions of a kind that demand a clear,
illuminating or uncomfortable answer. Instead, they
asked a blizzard of several questions in one go – or used
their time to expound their own views, or asked such
broad, abstract questions that Zuckerberg was allowed
to reply with windy, time-filling platitudes.
What accounts for this persistent failure? It can’t be
a lack of training. So many politicians began as lawyers
or journalists, where asking questions is half the job.
The remedy would be tightly planned coordination,
so that the MPs or the senators would agree the
three or four key questions they want to ask and
persist with them until they got answers – with each
colleague picking up where the other left off.
But that goes against most politicians’ instincts.
They compete with each other more readily than they
cooperate. The problem might lie even deeper. For
what makes a truly good questioner? It requires not
just curiosity but the ability to sublimate your own
views as you tease out those of your interlocutor.
Too many politicians struggle with that. The answer
for these politicians would be to allow their more techsavvy aides to work together and come up with a list
of killer questions – and then act as a unit to get the
answers from Facebook. It would require them to make
a fundamental change in the way they operate. And
that, you might say, would be a very big ask.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:5 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 12 April 2018 The Guardian
After this win
for abortion
rights, fight on
Lucy Cosslett
Sent at 11/4/2018 17:56
ast month, Alison (not her real
name) says she was accosted on her
way into the Marie Stopes clinic in
Ealing, west London, to discuss a
termination. She was approached by
a man asking her for help; it was only
when he started showing her antichoice leaflets that she twigged that
he was a protester. As she went to leave, he put his
hand towards her, saying that he wanted to give her
something. In his palm was a tiny model foetus.
In a landmark decision, Ealing council has voted
to instigate a buffer zone around the clinic, the first
of its kind. This radical implementation of a public
spaces protection order – a move now also being
considered by other councils – marks an important
first step in protecting the rights of women from this
kind of harassment. The home secretary, Amber Rudd,
has launched a national consultation on the introduction
of new powers to protect women. It is an example of
how a community, led by pro-choice activist group
Sister Supporter – set up by 25-year-old Anna VeglioWhite, who was horrified by the protesters’ tactics –
can rally together to fight antisocial behaviour.
Because this isn’t about freedom of speech. This is
about women’s legal rights to access medical treatment
being impeded. It is about women being harassed and
intimidated by groups of religious fundamentalists
whose ideas about female bodily autonomy are
rooted in misogyny. If the protesters were interested
in changing legislation, you might think they’d be
lobbying parliament. Instead, they opt to intimidate
individual women, especially when they are alone.
“Imagine if men were going to pick up a Viagra
prescription and someone was there holding up a
massive sign saying ‘floppy dick’”, Veglio-White says.
Anti-choice campaigners have protested outside
the clinic in Ealing for some 23 years. In that time there
has been a variety of horrible tactics used to try to
prevent women accessing medical services to which
they are legally entitled. They have had “holy water”
thrown on them. And if patients are alone, protesters
holler, “does he know you’re killing his baby today?”
Some ask women to choose a blue or a pink rosary,
depending on the sex of their “baby”.
“One woman we saw, they called her ‘Mum’,” says
Veglio-White. “She ran off into the park in tears. Her
partner begged them to move. She had wanted her child
but there was a foetal abnormality. She didn’t end up
going in that day. We don’t know if she went back.” Who
knows how many other women, over two decades, have
had their lives changed by these callous obstructions.
But at least on the UK mainland, women’s legal rights
to access abortion have been recognised since 1967.
Most citizens believe abortions should be allowed by
law and that opinion is growing, even among Catholics.
Even those who are anti-abortion would rarely advocate
the tactics seen outside the clinic in Ealing.
Sadly, in the Republic of Ireland such language
and behaviour are not limited to fundamentalist
fringe groups but are part of the mainstream national
discourse. One campaign group has been claiming
that if there is a repeal of the eighth amendment in the
country’s constitution, which restricts abortion to cases
where the life of a pregnant woman is at risk, women
will seek abortions because having a baby conflicts with
their holidays. The Save the 8th group has launched
a poster campaign calling for a no vote if terminating
an “unborn baby at six months bothers you”. I cannot
believe I am writing this, but we are seeing unborn
foetuses on beer mats and posters in pub urinals (the
latter are not placed in the ladies’ toilets, naturally).
So, though we trundle forwards, the battle for
reproductive rights is by no means over. A woman
seeking an abortion here still needs to convince two
doctors that carrying a pregnancy to term will affect her
long-term health. Women are still unable to administer
abortion pills in the safety and comfort of their homes
and so are miscarrying in transit. Anti-choice MP Maria
Caulfield has been appointed Conservative vice-chair
for women, and has called for a reduction of the time
limit. Women in Northern Ireland continue to have their
human rights violated by the abortion ban there. Groups
continue to picket clinics elsewhere in the UK.
But there is cause for optimism. “With this move,
progress in Northern Ireland, and the referendum
of 25 May in the Republic of Ireland, 2018 is set to be the
biggest year in reproductive rights history since 1967,”
says Anna Veglio-White. But we need to keep fighting
to ensure that she is right.
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:6 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 17:59
Before insisting on a military attack
on Syria (After Douma the west’s
response must be military, 10 April),
it might be as well to reflect on
historical precedent. In 1936 a revolt
broke out in a Spanish province
against the government of the
republic by half the army. Although
intensely disliked by the privileged
and the Roman Catholic church
in Spain, it was, like Assad’s, the
legitimate government. The League
of Nations authorised an arms
embargo on Spain which was
rigorously enforced by blockade
by Britain and France. A prolonged
civil war ensued with thousands
of casualties, with the government
deprived of the resources essential
for fighting the rebel forces, while
the fascist/Nazi governments of
Italy and Spain poured arms and
troops with impunity into the
conflict, which lasted until 1938.
Hundreds of thousands of
refugees poured into neighbouring
countries, where most remained.
A criminal dictator ruled Spain,
murdering hundreds of thousands
of innocent victims, a dreadful
Foreign military
intervention from all
sides has only served
to deepen and prolong
the war in Syria
Mark Rylance, Brian Eno et al
dictatorship ensued for nearly 40
years and the aftereffects continue
to this day, as in Catalonia. Be careful
what you wish for, Mr Tisdall.
Greg Levitt
Maidstone, Kent
• There can be no justification
for chemical weapon attacks,
or for despicable bombing that
targets civilians. Further military
intervention, as proposed by Trump,
May or Macron, is not the solution
and can only extend the appalling
suffering of the people of Syria. It also
risks spreading the war across the
Middle East and raises the frightening
possibility of direct confrontation
between nuclear-armed powers.
It is wrong to argue, as Tony Blair
does, that these attacks are the price
of non-intervention. Foreign military
intervention from all sides, including
from our own government, has only
served to deepen and prolong the
war in Syria. Britain voted to join
the US in bombing Syria in 2015 and
was involved in covert operations
before that. Its interventions have
killed many people, fuelled the
cycle of violence and done nothing
to bring peace. Rather than backing
the gung-ho foreign policy of the
most inflammatory and xenophobic
US president in history, the UK
government should be seeking
political and diplomatic solutions,
and avoid anything that can escalate
further the conflict in the region.
Mark Rylance, Brian Eno, Francesca
Martinez, Lindsey German, Murad
Qureshi and 34 others (full list of
signatories at
Many reasons to be grateful
to Bristol’s tobacco women
Jane Nation (Letters, 9 April) gives
proper attention to the thousands
of women workers who fuelled the
success of WD & HO Wills in their
Bristol tobacco company, providing
the profits for which Bristol
University can be thankful. In fact
the Wills family ploughed money
into a number of much-valued
public and civic projects in the city,
including Bristol Museum and the
zoo, as well as charitable institutions
such as sheltered housing schemes.
However, the city is squeamish
about celebrating the contribution
that the tobacco industry (not just
the Wills company) and its workers
made to the city’s prosperity from
the late 19th century until Imperial
Tobacco’s Hartcliffe factory closed
in the 1990s. The city’s museums
make little mention of tobacco
and its impact on communities in
south Bristol. The reticence may
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
Syria, international law
and the west’s response
be about indirect links with an
agriculture built on slavery in the US,
or about the health impact of tobacco
consumption. If the city won’t
recognise these facts, the community
can. An oral history project in 2013/14
produced fascinating stories, mainly
from women workers, who recorded
the hard work and sometimes harsh
conditions in the Wills factories,
but also the social benefits and
community value which workers
derived. The project culminated in a
book, Bedminster’s Tobacco Women,
which celebrates their stories and
makes some redress for their lack
of recognition in the city.
Helen Thomas
Bedminster Tobacco Women Project
• Jane Nation says Bristol University
provided “the education of privileged
students from upper-middle-class
backgrounds”. My father and I both
• So-called humanitarian
interventionism has a very bad
track record, both in terms of
making lives better for the affected
and being abused as a pretext for
geopolitical power play. The west
has nothing to offer Syria other than
to turn it into another Afghanistan
or Libya. Unlike Iraq and Libya,
Syria has powerful allies perfectly
capable of standing up to aggressive
military bullying by the west.
Currently, the west is suffering from
unquestionably bad leadership.
Trump and Macron are politically
inexperienced leaders elected on
impossible-to-meet promises.
May is a weak and meek PM unable
to impose discipline, even in her
own cabinet. Under such dangerous
circumstances, I expect the press
to exert a moderating influence on
politicians and not warmonger.
Matthias Vogelsanger
Zürich, Switzerland
• Your editorial on Syria (11 April)
failed to mention international law.
All governments are obliged to obey
international law, which expressly
forbids interference in the internal
affairs of states on any grounds.
Article 2 (4) of the UN charter says:
“All members shall refrain in their
international relations from the
threat or use of force against the
territorial integrity or political
independence of any state.”
Will Podmore
• Peter McKenna’s description of
the anti-government insurgents
in Syria as “bizarrely anonymous”
(Letters, 11 April) is spot-on. Despite
the endlessly repeated mantra of
“Assad, backed by Russia and Iran”,
we are never told by whom the
rebels are supplied with arms.
Wal Callaby
attended the university. He was the
son of a small farmer and was one
of the first children from his village
to obtain a secondary education, let
alone university. After his first year
he had to apply to a hardship fund
to continue his course. Thanks to his
education, my background was more
privileged but hardly upper middle
class. Nonetheless I am grateful to
the hard-working Bristolian women
who enabled our education.
Hilary Johnson
Malvern, Worcestershire
• According to friends who worked
at WD & HO Wills in the 1960s and
70s, the effect of inhaling the fumes
of tobacco necessitated many toilet
trips, so having to ask permission was
a cynical company ploy to discourage
shirking. I was one of very few
Bristol working-class students at the
Wills-funded Bristol University at the
time and wonder how many children
with local or Caribbean origins the
university has admitted since – there
don’t seem to be many these days.
Cat Bracey
‘Among a large
flock of ewes
with their lambs,
this little one
was getting
some climbing
practice on its
very relaxed
mum’s back!’
Share your
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The Commonwealth
– has it had its day?
Philip Murphy suggests that the
Commonwealth is or shortly will be
irrelevant and perhaps he is right in
relation to Brexit (The myth of the
Commonwealth, 10 April). But he
misses out a different perspective
put movingly by Lenny Henry in
his recent TV programme about his
Jamaican roots. Henry recognised
that the concept means little or
nothing to some people while others
had benefited from educational
opportunities so felt they belonged
more. But if the Commonwealth is a
“club” then surely there is value in
mutual obligation, such as the need
to do more to help after the recent
hurricane which devastated at least
one island and damaged more.
Alison Watson
• With regard to Ian Jack’s comments
on the Commonwealth (Trade after
Brexit will lay bare our fantasy
of empire, 7 April), no sensible
person could imagine that the
Commonwealth network of nations
would be an immediate substitute
for access to today’s mature markets
of Europe and the Americas. But
Mr Jack seems to have overlooked
that the largest expansion of middleincome markets is going on right
now in Asia and Africa, that most
of the world’s growth over the next
three decades is going to be in what
used to be called the developing
countries, and that most of the
world’s population lives in Asia. The
Commonwealth may not be the only
way for the UK into this new world,
but as a network of like-minded
countries it would be pretty silly not
to build the best possible relations
with its 53 members, with several
more wanting to be associated with it.
David Howell
The Royal Commonwealth Society
• At Richard Bourne
on the Commonwealth’s flaws and
proposals to nominate the Queen for
a Nobel peace prize for keeping it going
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:7 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 12 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 11/4/2018 17:59
 @guardianletters
Corrections and
• An article investigating the underrepresentation of BAME people on
British magazine covers last year
cited Office for National Statistics
ethnicity data for England and Wales
from 2011. A better comparison
for the study would have been the
latest ONS estimate of the UK’s
BAME population, which was 13.7%
in June 2016 (Still too white: the
problem with glossy magazines,
10 April, page 4, G2).
Editorial complaints and corrections can be sent to or The readers’ editor,
King’s Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU; alternatively
call 020 3353 4736 from 10am to 1pm Monday to Friday
excluding public holidays. The Guardian’s policy is to
correct significant errors as soon as possible.
Will Self should have
a paws for thought
While dogs might not be considered
“productive” in the true sense of the
word, Will Self (Out in paperback,
Review, 7 April) is failing to recall the
extraordinary work they accomplish
for humans: sniffing out bombs,
guiding the blind, getting help if
their owner is having a seizure.
The list goes on. My own cat never
fails to let me know when I’m on the
computer too long, too late at night,
writing letters such as this one.
Sandra Jensen
Hove, East Sussex
Competition and collaboration
to cut the price of medicines
The large graphic accompanying
your article (The cost of drugs,
9 April) has a major omission,
one of the most important factors
affecting medicine pricing and
affordability. It charts the 13 years
of rigorous clinical development
required by regulators to ensure
new drugs achieving approval are
safe and effective. As the article
states, all this R&D costs a fortune.
The crucial missing piece is what
happens next. Patent exclusivity
is limited by regulations enabling
other companies to make copies
of the original licensed product
(within a lot less than the 20 years
referred to). Once these “generic”
drugs are launched, the originators’
revenues can quickly diminish
to next to nothing. With such a
relatively short duration to recoup
the costs of investment, drug prices
have to be higher than necessary.
The issue is even more pronounced
for medicines used to treat relatively
rare conditions, where the cost per
patient has to be necessarily high.
If patent exclusivity was extended
for two to three years, lower prices
would be possible and in everyone’s
interest, except those generic
companies who’d have to wait a little
longer before selling their copies.
Giving originators a few years longer
to make sales (at a lower price) seems
a sensible compromise, but under
the complexity of international
regulatory rules, changing such policy
is extremely unlikely to happen.
Adam Barak
PPi Healthcare Consulting
• Your article did not mention
innovative collaborative initiatives to
increase supply of low-cost medicines
in developing countries, such as the
Geneva-based Medicines Patent
Pool (MPP). The MPP has brokered
licences with major pharmaceutical
companies to allow generic
manufacture of new HIV, hepatitis
C and tuberculosis treatments for
low- and middle-income countries
(LMICs). In HIV, for example, the
MPP is now working with more than a
dozen suppliers to produce UK-based
ViiV Healthcare’s dolutegravir.
Affordable versions could reach
more than 100 developing countries
over the coming years.
And as experts meet at the
International Liver Congress
this week in Paris, the MPP will
have good news to share with the
hepatitis C community. Its licensed
antiviral, Bristol-Myers Squibb’s
daclatasvir, paired with sofosbuvir,
will soon reach many LMICs.
As a result of generic competition,
prices for hepatitis C drugs are
dropping. Last October, Médecins
Sans Frontières announced it had
secured a price of $120 for a threemonth course of DAC/SOF, a dramatic
cut from the original price in 2015.
Marie-Paule Kieny
Medicines Patent Pool
• Penelope Woolfitt (Letters, 11 April)
mentions the art of Eric Fraser (not
Frazer) in the Radio Times in the
1950s, but he continued to draw
wonderful illustrations for the
magazine well into the 60s and 70s.
Especially memorable was his work
for Christmas editions as well as for
broadcasts of Shakespearean plays.
I still have an album of those I cut out
and kept as a teenager.
Ian Arnott
• I am delighted that the owners of
Tesco have made a healthy profit
this year (Report, 11 April). Does this
mean they will return to the taxpayer
the large volume of tax credits on
which their poorly paid employees
rely in order to make ends meet?
Suzanne Bosman
• Regarding female newsreaders
(Letters, 10 April), Nan Winton read
the news throughout the 1960s,
and here in Scotland we had the
wonderful Mary Marquis who
preceded Angela Rippon.
Margaret Squires
St Andrews, Fife
• “London Book Fair … an exemplar
of the global … outward-facing
economy” (Letters, 11 April). Just as
well – at £55 to enter, it certainly isn’t
encouraging most people in.
Chris Hardy
Established 1906
Country diary
The most familiar and enigmatic
garden birds have been feeding on
nothing again. Six beaks probed
the branches of the winter-bare
rose bush, four beaks descended
to peck at the ground beneath, one
beak washed her meal down with
a sip from the pond. Every day they
return and every day I scan the soil,
and interrogate the impervious hide
of the rose, for anything edible, in
vain. Do the birds milk the thorns?
The house sparrows lived up to
their name over the winter, sleeping
three metres from my bed. Frosty
cheeps from the clematis spoke
of another night survived. The
sparrow song has swollen to a full
dawn chorus now, though they are
not early risers and their “song” is
nothing more than an exclamation
mark – a cheep, a chirp, a chirrup.
While the garden blackbird, robin
and dunnock plunder the scales
for melody, the sparrows strike
a percussive note. They shout at
the double glazing, they open our
windows, they release the spring.
There is something we recognise
as human-like in their song, for
they are the only birds around
exchanging dialogue, as cheep
answers cheep. And they bicker.
A gabble of rattling calls brought me
to the patio window, and, looking
up into the clematis, I saw half a
dozen bobbing sparrow arses. They
were, quite literally, hopping mad.
In 2002, the year when Passer
domesticus went on the red list
of endangered birds, I followed
a fashion and put up a threechambered sparrow terrace under
the eaves. I quickly discovered that
although they are colonial nesters
they are not that convivial; each pair
has an urban mentality, defending
a tiny territory a metre beyond their
nest hole. Only one cavity was ever
occupied by sparrows in those
first springs, and then the box was
abandoned – until now. Our local
flock is a nesting tornado, shifting
location from year to year, and this
spring it is our turn to be noisily
blessed. Three pairs hacked at the
Russian vine next door for bedding,
flying off with full beaks to three
points of the compass. Sparrow
lives alternate between nesting,
chattering and feeding – and I
still don’t feel I understand our
nearest neighbours.
Derek Niemann
Twitter: @gdncountrydiary
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:8 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 17:39
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
 @guardianobits
Pop singer at the heart
of Swedish culture who
became a TV regular
n an age when some singers
are known in every culture
around the world, the
existence of the purely
national celebrity is easy to
overlook. Johnny Hallyday
in France, Gordon Downie
in Canada and Lill-Babs in
Sweden are all examples of singers
mourned with an extravagance that
has excluded outsiders.
Lill-Babs, who has died aged
80, was a trouper: a phenomenon
of energy and courage. From her
debut as an ingenue from the
provinces, she sang and toured for
65 years until she was at the dead
centre of a certain idea of Sweden;
in British terms, something like a
cross between Vera Lynn and Bet
Lynch. She was part of the first
Swedish generation to experience
general prosperity; the first
teenagers to have spending money;
the first to be influenced by the
US. She also belonged to the first
Lill-Babs with
Paul McCartney,
George Harrison
and John Lennon
in 1963, when the
Beatles appeared
on the television
show Drop In
generation to have its own celebrities,
and was the queen of them all.
Born Barbro Svensson in Järvsö,
180 miles north of Stockholm, to
Ragnar and Britta Svensson, she
lived in humble circumstances for
much of her early life, spending nine
years in a cottage without running
water. She began singing in church
at the age of 11, and made her first
public appearances with one of
her father’s work colleagues, who
accompanied her on the accordion.
After singing on a radio show
aged 15, she was promoted by the
bandleader and talent scout Simon
Brehm, who gave her the name
Lill-Babs (little Babs) to distinguish
her from the already established
Swedish cabaret singer Alice Babs.
Lying about her age, Lill-Babs had
told Brehm that she was 16, and he
became her manager, bringing her to
Stockholm as something of a novelty
from the backwoods, performing
in nightclubs and restaurants. In
1954 she released My Mom’s Boogie
on a 78rpm record, and her career
looked set fair until an unplanned
pregnancy shortly afterwards forced
her to retreat to Järvsö, where she
gave birth to a daughter, Monica.
She returned as an unmarried
mother to showbiz in Stockholm as
soon as she could, and in 1959 had
her first big hit – singing, in a thick
regional accent, a novelty song
called Do You Still Love Me, KlasGöran?, written by Stikkan “Stig”
Anderson, who would go on to put
together and manage Abba in the
1970s. It was a memorable tune, and
with tremendous gusto she hammed
up the part of the dumb blonde
who fails to realise she has been
abandoned by her lover.
In 1961 she sang the Swedish
entry, April, April, in the Eurovision
song contest at Cannes, and though
she finished 14th with deux points,
the appearance enhanced her
reputation back home. By 1963 she
also had a following in Germany
(the Beatles scored her autograph
when she appeared with them on
a television show there) and in
the same year released her best
known hit, Live Life. Thereafter she
performed frequently on national TV
She belonged
to the first
generation to have its
own celebrities, and was
the queen of them all
Sir Alan
playwright, 79;
Guy Berryman,
bassist, 40; Bill
Bryden, actor and
theatre director,
76; Montserrat
Caballé, opera
singer, 85; Sarah
singer, 51; Claire
Danes, actor, 39;
Fabian Hamilton,
Labour MP, 63;
Herbie Hancock,
jazz pianist and
composer, 78;
Kate Hollern,
Labour MP, 63;
Uwe Kitzinger,
former president,
College, Oxford,
90; Hardy Krüger,
actor, 90; David
Letterman, chat
show host, 71;
Bryan Magee,
philosopher and
writer, 88; Gillian
Merron, chief
executive, Board
of Deputies of
British Jews, 59;
Chi Onwurah,
Labour MP, 53;
Lord (George)
Robertson of
Port Ellen,
former Labour
minister, 72;
Wendy Savage,
obstetrician and
83; Will Sergeant,
guitarist, 60;
Robin Walker,
Conservative MP,
40; Jacob Zuma,
former president
of South Africa, 76.
and at events across the country, and
over the next decade also featured in
Swedish and German films.
Her 1971 hit song, Welcome to
the World, written and produced
by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny
Andersson of Abba, featured all
four future members of Abba.
In 1974 she was Annie Oakley in
a successful production of the
musical Annie Get Your Gun at the
Scandinavium arena in Gothenburg.
Nationally she recorded hundreds
of songs and had 16 charting studio
albums. An omnipresent figure in
Swedish pop music, she appeared
regularly on light entertainment
TV programmes, chat shows and
adverts. She also presented several
shows throughout the 80s and 90s.
For most of her career Lill-Babs’
personal life was public property.
She was married and divorced
twice, to the singer Lasse Berghagen
from 1965 to 1968, with whom she
had a daughter, Malin, and then
the Norwegian footballer Kjell
Kaspersen from 1969 to 1973; they
also had a daughter, Kristin.
Her love affairs were a staple of
the weekly magazines; the headline
“Lill-Babs’ new love” came around
at such regular intervals that it was
one of the first Swedish phrases I
learned when I moved there in the
70s. Later, returning to my ex-wife’s
home town after an absence of 12
years, I was enchanted to discover
the same headline in the rack
outside the hot-dog stand.
When she appeared on TV in Här
är ditt liv, the Swedish version of This
Is Your Life, in 1983, the producers
had Lill-Babs greeted by a lineup of
10 of her exes, all in dinner jackets,
singing together a parody of her
first big hit. It was cruel, and it was
said to have hurt her, but she went
along with the stunt because she was
always game. She might have been
knocked back by love but was never
needy, standing for an ideal of tough
but vulnerable independence.
Above all, she worked. Every
small Swedish town has a “people’s
park” – an open air space with a
bandstand where locals gather to
dance in summer – and she played
that circuit constantly. Although
she never broke through into
English-speaking countries, this did
not matter; she went to meet the
Swedish people where they lived,
whether in the open air or through
their television sets, and she was
loved for it in a way that no other
Swedish performer will be again.
Later in life she ran the LillBabs Foundation, which supports
social programmes for women and
children. At her death she was still
appearing on TV, as a married lesbian
matriarch in the SVT soap opera
Bonusfamiljen. She had come a long
way from singing patriotic songs in
church, but so too had Sweden.
She is survived by her three
daughters, 10 grandchildren and a
Andrew Brown
Barbro Margareta Svensson, singer,
born 9 March 1938; died 3 April 2018
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:9 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 12 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 11/4/2018 16:46
The long read
In a country with one of the lowest murder rates
in the world, the killing of a 20-year-old woman
upended the nation’s sense of itself. By Xan Rice
The murder that
shook Iceland
he main shopping street in Reykjavík
is called Laugavegur, “the way of hot
pools”, because it was originally used
by women hauling laundry from the
town to the thermal springs two miles
away. It cuts across Iceland’s capital
from west to east, with the Atlantic
Ocean below and, above, the bonewhite Hallgrímskirkja church looming over the city’s
brightly coloured roofs like a tower from Tolkien’s Middleearth. It was a street that Birna Brjánsdóttir knew well.
A vivacious 20-year-old woman with auburn hair and
a sharp sense of humour, Birna grew up in the suburbs, a
30-minute walk away. She liked music and she liked to
drive, and so in the summer of 2016 she embraced the
Icelandic pastime of rúntur, cruising slowly down Laugavegur in her father’s car with her friends, windows open,
speakers blaring, past the boutiques and coffee bars and
tourist shops selling soft-toy puffins and knitted jumpers.
That winter, when the sun appeared for only five hours
a day and the snow piled deep on the nearby mountains,
Birna had been enjoying the nightlife around
Laugavegur. After finishing work on a Friday, she would
often play cards in a pub with some friends and then,
after midnight, when people in Reykjavík start to party,
they would go dancing, as they did on 13 January 2017.
Self-assured and carefree, Birna was one of the first
people that night to get up and dance on the stage at
Húrra, a popular live music venue and club. When her
friends decided to leave at 2am, she told them she would
stay on. She left the club just before closing time three
hours later. She bought a falafel pitta and started slowly
walking up Laugavegur, which is brightly lit at night, with
glowing storefronts and lampposts every 10 metres or so.
She was walking alone, which was not unusual behaviour in Reykjavík, even for a young woman. More so
than in most other countries, Icelanders feel they know
their own people; it is a peaceful place where entire years
have passed without a single murder. It was -9C with the
windchill, but Birna seemed unperturbed. She wore
Dr Martens boots, black jeans, a grey sweater and a black
hoodie draped over her shoulders. Her hair hung loose
and a pair of white earbuds dangled around her neck.
She was drunk, dropping coins at one point and
bumping into a stranger on the pavement. She ambled
past the yellow-and-red awning of the Lebowski Bar,
and a coffee-and-waffle shop on a corner where a
narrow lane led down to the sea.
And then, she disappeared.
When Birna did not show up at work on Saturday
morning, her friend María raised the alarm. Birna was
always on time. They worked in the fashion section of
the Hagkaup department store, and had known each
other since primary school. They were close friends
who used to watch Britain’s Got Talent and go to music
festivals together. Mariá called Birna’s mobile. It was off
– and Birna’s mobile was never off.
María contacted the girlfriends Birna had been out
with the night before. They had assumed she had gone
back to her father’s house, where she lived, but she was
not there. María then called Birna’s mother,
Silla Hreinsdóttir, who was worried by the
news. Her daughter was independent and
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:10 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 17:40
strong-willed, but also responsible, and always let her
parents know where she was.
That evening, after filing a missing-person report with
the police, Silla posted a message on Facebook, saying
that her daughter had not come home or been heard
from since. “Dear friends … It’s not like her that we can’t
reach her. Please share and let’s find her. Silla.”
Within a few hours, the post had been shared thousands of times, but there was no word from Birna. Her
mother stayed awake all night, calling the emergency
services every hour to see if they had any news. At 9am
on Sunday, there was an update from the police. Before
Birna’s phone was turned off, or ran out of power, it had
pinged a mobile tower in an industrial area in Hafnarfjörður, a port town six miles south of Reykjavík, known
for its lava fields and Viking festival. Hreinsdóttir drove
there with some relatives and several of her daughter’s
friends, knocking on doors and calling Birna’s name.
By the early afternoon, with the light fading fast,
Silla was desperate. Her daughter had not been seen for
nearly 36 hours, and she was convinced something was
horribly wrong, but there was still no official search.
Without evidence of foul play, the police were reluctant
to act. But the media had picked up the story, and when
the two main television stations called requesting
interviews, Silla agreed. The mystery of the young
woman who had disappeared from Reykjavík’s bestknown street appeared on the Sunday evening bulletins.
With a small, mostly homogenous population of
340,000 and a high degree of economic equality, Iceland is one of the world’s safest nations. It is the only
Nato member without a standing army. Gun ownership
is high, but the weapons are purchased for hunting
rather than self-defence, and very seldom misused.
Violent crime is rare. Between 2000 and 2015 there were
an average of just 1.6 murders a year, with most perpetrators and victims young men known to each other.
In 2016, there were no homicides at all. Police are not
armed, and the Reykjavík force’s Instagram feed shows
officers eating ice-cream, sledding and posing for selfies. The feeling of security is bolstered by Icelanders’
tendency to look out for one another, a tradition that
dates back to times when close collaboration was
essential to make it through the long, brutal winters.
Detective Grímur Grímsson did not watch the news
that Sunday night, but as he was finishing dinner with
his wife, his phone rang. It was his supervisor, telling
him about the missing woman. Soon after, he received
a second call from the police headquarters in Reykjavík
asking him to come in. He was not overly worried. Each
month several people are reported missing in Iceland:
hunters and hikers in the country’s hostile interior,
youngsters running away from home or involved
with drugs, people with mental health problems or
Alzheimer’s, suicide victims. In urban areas, young
people reported missing usually turned up quickly,
after having slept at a friend’s house – as Birna often
did – or hooking up with someone for the night.
At police headquarters, just off Laugavegur, Grímsson
was briefed on the case. Officers had collected a sample
of Birna’s clothing from her father’s house, to give the
scent to tracker dogs, which had been taken to the spot
where she was last seen. Reykjavík had thinner CCTV
coverage than many European capitals, due to the low
crime rate and a hostility to surveillance in a society that
largely polices itself. But officers had been able to piece
together grainy footage showing Birna’s movements
after leaving the club on Saturday morning. Grímsson
watched her drop the coins and bump into the stranger
before walking past the Lebowski Bar. But in footage
from the next camera, one short block away, there was
no sign of Birna. Either she had gone down the side
road, or had climbed into a passing vehicle.
Scrutinising the video again, Grímsson and his
colleagues noticed a small red car, a Kia Rio, travelling in
the opposite direction to Birna. It drove past the Lebowski Bar less than 30 seconds after she had appeared on
camera there. Had she got into that car? It was possible,
the officers thought. But the video quality was not sharp
enough to identify the occupants, or the number plate.
And when police checked the national database, they
found more than 100 cars of the same model and colour.
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
Grímsson moved on from
the first and maybe only
murder case he will ever
lead – one that made him
a hero in Iceland
At 2am on Sunday, Silla and Birna’s father, Brjánn –
who are divorced but on good terms – arrived at the police
headquarters. Silla pleaded to be taken seriously, and for
an immediate search. Birna had no reason to go missing,
she insisted: she was close to her family, and not involved with drugs, or depressed. One friend described her
as a “happy pill” because she was invariably so upbeat.
When Grímsson showed them the CCTV footage, Silla
was furious that they could not identify the red car’s
number plate. “Can’t you find it, like in the movies?”
she said. “It doesn’t work like that,” Grímsson replied.
The idea that everyone knows everyone in Iceland is a
stretch. But mention one Icelander to another and they
will probably know someone who knows them. There is
a strong feeling that every person is a valuable part of
the community – and that when assistance is needed,
you step up. “Everybody here does things that are not
paid, whether singing in a choir or organising a sports
team,” said Lilja Sigurðardóttir, a leading crime novelist.
“It gives us an inflated sense of our own value and importance. It’s not always helpful, but it can be beautiful.”
By Monday afternoon, with no further leads, the police
sought to tap into that spirit, calling a rare press conference to appeal for information that could help locate
Birna or identify the driver of the red car. Despite feeling
the police were treating her like a “hysterical mother”,
Silla agreed to appear beside Grímsson, who had been
assigned to lead the case. She told reporters that she
feared her daughter, who loved speaking English and
travelling, might have stopped to speak to tourists on her
way home. She added that Birna had recently joined
Tinder after breaking up with her boyfriend.
Grímsson gave an update on the search, which was
being led by the Icelandic Association for Search and
Rescue (Ice-Sar), a sprawling network of well-trained
emergency-response volunteers. Its roots go back 100
years, and its continued existence reflects the reality that
the main dangers in this island nation come from the
harsh natural conditions rather than from other people.
Generally, having ordinary citizens – as opposed to IceSar teams – involved in a search for missing persons in
Iceland is a hindrance, “because you have people who
don’t know what they are doing”, according to
Guðbrandur Örn Arnarson, the organisation’s project
manager. But just a few hours after the press conference,
late on Monday night, it led to a breakthrough.
Two brothers in their 20s, with no connection to IceSar or to Birna, went looking for her in Hafnarfjörður,
where the last signal had been picked up from her phone.
On a whim, they headed to the harbour. Between the
road and the sea was a fenced-off area with three large
oil storage tanks, and next to it an open patch of rough
ground littered with building supplies. Alongside some
pipes, they spotted a pair of black boots. The missingperson appeal had described Birna’s clothing. The men
Googled “Dr Martens” and, seeing a resemblance to the
boots they had found, posted a photo on Facebook.
Officers rushed to the port. The boots, they quickly
ascertained, belonged to Birna.
As divers plunged into the icy waters and drones
hovered above, Grímsson’s officers pored over CCTV
footage from the docks. They soon spotted a red Kia Rio
entering the harbour shortly after 6am on the Saturday
morning. The car parked alongside a 65-metre fishing
trawler, the Polar Nanoq, sailing under Greenland’s flag.
A man exited the passenger door and walked slowly,
drunkenly, on to the ship. The car then drove off.
This time the number plate was legible. It was a rental
vehicle, which the company said had been hired by a
crew member of the Polar Nanoq, Thomas Møller Olsen,
a 25-year-old man from Greenland. He had returned the
vehicle at lunchtime on Saturday, and it had since been
hired out again to a young family. Police impounded the
car. It was obvious that it had recently been cleaned –
the family’s son, sitting in the back, had complained of
the strong chemical smell. On closer inspection, officers
found traces of blood on the back seat. Since Iceland
lacks a sophisticated forensic crime laboratory, a sample
was sent to Sweden for analysis, along with Birna’s DNA.
The hunt was on for Thomas Olsen and the man seen
walking from the car to the ship on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately, the trawler had set sail on Saturday
afternoon with both men on board.
A poster
appealing for
about Birna
disappearance in
January 2017
By the Tuesday, three days after Birna disappeared, the
Polar Nanoq was hundreds of miles away, fishing off
Greenland. Since leaving Iceland, Thomas Olsen and his
companion from the car, Nikolaj Olsen (a fellow Greenlander, no relation), had seemed their usual selves. But
then Thomas, who was described by his crewmates as
likable and easygoing, received a message on his phone
that made him visibly agitated. A newspaper reporter in
Reykjavík, who had learned that the Polar Nanoq had
been linked to Birna’s disappearance, had discovered a
Facebook group used by the crew and sent a speculative
message to Thomas asking if he knew who had rented
the red Kia Rio. Thomas, who had gone pale, showed the
journalist’s message to the ship’s captain, who told him
he did not have anything to worry about if he had not
done anything wrong, and gave him some sedatives.
For Grímsson’s team, the pursuit of the two sailors
presented a major logistical and diplomatic challenge.
A coast guard helicopter had flown four police officers to
a Danish warship, the Triton. Because the Polar Nanoq
was a Greenlandic vessel, in Greenland’s waters, the
plan was to sail to Greenland, an autonomous territory
of Denmark, collect local police officers there, and take
them to the Polar Nanoq to make the arrests. Grímsson’s
concern was time: the longer the suspects were at large,
the more opportunity they would have to destroy
evidence and coordinate stories.
Then, Grímsson received some news that allowed for
a swifter and simpler solution: the captain of the Polar
Nanoq, who had read online that the ship had been
linked to the disappearance and was concerned his men
might be implicated, had decided to sail back to Iceland.
He and the senior crew agreed they would tell Thomas
and Nikolaj that the engine had malfunctioned,
necessitating the turnaround. The captain also turned
off the wifi, so the two men would not be able to read
the media reports about the case.
Though Iceland does not have special forces, it does
have an elite counter-terror unit within the police, called
the Víkingasveitin, or Viking Squad. Early the next
morning, six members of the Viking Squad flew out to
meet the Polar Nanoq as it crossed into Icelandic waters.
Although the sea was rough, with eight-metre waves,
the officers safely rappelled on to the deck. Thomas and
Nikolaj were arrested and confined to their cabins. In
12 hours, the Polar Nanoq would reach Hafnarfjörður.
By now, all of Iceland was following the story, with an
increasing sense of foreboding. Parents who had never
before needed to explain the dangers of crime to their
children struggled to answer their questions about the
missing young woman and the sailors. In the cafes and
bars of Reykjavík, people checked for updates on news
sites and swapped theories about what had happened.
Other instances of violent crime, rare as they were, were
not mysteries that needed solving, or that required
manhunts. This one was unfolding like the plot of the
noir novels that have become so popular in Iceland over
the past decade. “It represented the ultimate fear in
our society: a young, innocent woman targeted in a
downtown area,” said Helgi Gunnlaugsson, a sociology
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:11 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Thursday 12 April 2018 The Guardian
Sent at 11/4/2018 16:46
professor at the University of Iceland. “And then the
suspects were outsiders – that only intensified it.”
The public reaction was mostly well-intentioned and
appreciated. The national broadcasting service, RÚV,
had even postponed the airing of the second series of the
BBC drama The Missing, about a girl who disappears, out
of respect for relatives and friends of Birna. But with so
many people playing amateur detective, wild rumours
were spreading online. Late the previous night, Grímsson
had sent officers to Hafnarfjörður to dispel reports on
social media that a body had been found in a lake. Now
there was fresh speculation: that Birna was alive on the
Polar Nanoq, and that several other abducted women
had also been found on board. Grímsson appealed for
calm and urged people to avoid “mob fever”.
With the Polar Nanoq just hours away, the harbour
at Hafnarfjörður was sealed off to keep the public at a
distance. The port was blanketed in snow, and red-andblue uniformed Ice-Sar volunteers continued their
search for evidence. More than a dozen police vehicles
were parked on the dock with their lights on when the
ship finally sailed into view at 11pm on Wednesday night.
“You had this feeling like all the police cars in Reykjavík
were there,” said Snærós Sindradóttir, a reporter covering
the case for Iceland’s biggest newspaper. Viking Squad
officers led Thomas and Nikolaj off the ship in handcuffs.
“It was a really powerful moment,” said Sindradóttir.
There was always this chance we had lost the suspects.”
After days of unrelenting bad news about the case,
Icelanders at last had a small measure of relief. That the
arrested men were foreign provided an extra level of
comfort to some, “a blessing that allowed us to be united
as a people”, as one person put it.
The police convoy sped to the headquarters in Reykjavík,
where questioning began immediately. Forensic tests
in Sweden had revealed that the blood in the car was
Birna’s. But both men denied causing her any harm.
Their accounts of what happened the previous Friday
night and the first part of Saturday morning, until
Nikolaj was dropped off at the ship, were similar.
The Polar Nanoq had arrived from Denmark on 11 January 2017, a Wednesday, to pick up fresh crew members,
and on the Friday, a few of the men remaining on board
decided to go for a night on the town before heading
back to sea. Nikolaj took a taxi from Hafnarfjörður to
Reykjavík, and went for a drink in the English Pub just
off Laugavegur. He paid 2,500 krona (£18) for a spin of
the lucky wheel, a game of chance with a grand prize
of eight beers – which he won. By the time Thomas
had driven the rental car to the capital and joined his
crewmate, Nikolaj was already very drunk. They later
moved to another bar, before going for a drive and
ending up on Laugavegur, where the red Kia Rio was
captured on CCTV at the same time as Birna disappeared.
Both men claimed that two women had entered the
car at that point, although Nikolaj, who said he fell asleep
on the way to Hafnarfjörður, recalled nothing about
them. Thomas told police that after dropping Nikolaj off
at the Polar Nanoq, shortly after 6am, he had parked at
the end of the harbour and climbed into the back of the
tiny car with the two women, one of whom was Birna,
who he claimed to have kissed. He said he dropped the
women off at a nearby roundabout after about an hour.
To the police, Nikolaj’s vagueness seemed plausible –
from the CCTV footage at the harbour they could see how
drunk he was. But Thomas’s account was full of holes. At
7am on Saturday, when he was seen on camera driving
away from the harbour, his phone went off for four
hours. The car was not seen on any surveillance footage
again until 11am, when Thomas returned to the port.
He said he had slept in the car during that time, although
the odometer reading suggested he had taken a long
drive. Soon after, he was captured on video buying Ajax
cleaning liquid, clothes and plastic bags at a supermarket,
and then scrubbing the inside of the car.
He claimed to have been trying to remove vomit
from the back seat. But after the car was impounded,
a forensics officer sprayed the interior of the vehicle
with Luminol, a chemical that glows bright blue when it
comes into contact with bloodstains, even those that
have been cleaned up and are invisible to the naked eye.
The car “lit up”, the officer would later testify.
her, to pick him up. To the astonishment of everyone in
court, Thomas was trying, at this late stage, to pin the
murder on his crewmate. A month later, the three
judges convicted Thomas of both charges and
sentenced him to 19 years in prison.
A memorial
for Birna on
in Reykjavik
Xan Rice is a
freelance writer
based in Oxford
Other evidence also weighed against Thomas. The
doctor who examined him noted scratches on his chest,
indicative of a struggle. Meanwhile, officers searching
his cabin in the Polar Nanoq had found 23kg of hashish,
with a street value of £1.4m, which he had brought on to
the ship in Denmark. More importantly, they discovered
Birna’s driver’s licence, folded and discarded in the
ship’s rubbish tip. The licence was sent to a crime lab
in Norway for fingerprint analysis. Grímsson was certain
that Thomas was responsible for Birna’s disappearance.
But he was still no closer to finding her.
On the morning of Saturday 21 January, a week after
she vanished, the biggest search operation in Iceland’s
history began. Ice-Sar alone deployed 835 volunteers and
87 vehicles. Across the island, people waited anxiously
for updates. “Today she is our sister, our daughter – that
became the mantra,” said Arnarson, Ice-Sar’s project
manager. “We don’t live in a society where we tolerate
a 20-year-old woman being abducted in the night.”
The vast search area included Iceland’s Southern
Peninsular, with its lava fields, snowy hills and frozen
lakes. Saturday’s search yielded nothing. Around noon
the following day, a coast guard helicopter flying low over
the desolate coastline neared the bright orange Selvogsviti
lighthouse. There is no beach there, only a berm of black
stones littered with fishing buoys and driftwood. Kelp
bobbed in the shallows, and the rockpools were glassed
with ice. An officer on board the helicopter spotted
something near the water’s edge. It was Birna’s body.
Shock quickly gave way to grief. Memorials were held
in Greenland, whose citizens had followed the case
with horror and shame, in Denmark, and all across
Iceland. In Reykjavík, thousands of people walked
together down Laugavegur, leaving candles and flowers
at the spot where Birna disappeared. Her funeral was
held at the Hallgrímskirkja, with the president and
prime minister among the 2,000 mourners. Birna’s
friends carried the white coffin. The songs included
two that she had introduced to her mother in her last
months: Gerry Rafferty’s Right Down the Line and You
by English musician Keaton Henson: “If you must die,
sweetheart, die knowing your life was my life’s best
part,” go the lyrics.
For weeks, Birna’s mother was too devastated to hear
the details of how her daughter had died. In March, she
asked to meet with police, who were eager to give her
some closure, and told her what they knew. Though
Birna was found naked, there was no evidence of sexual
assault. She had been struck in the face and strangled –
at the harbour, police believe, when Thomas was seen
on camera entering the back of the car, before his phone
was turned off and he drove away from the port – but she
was alive when she was put into the water. The autopsy
revealed the cause of death to be drowning.
Nikolaj had been released after two weeks, when
police concluded he was not present when the crime
was committed. Despite the evidence, Thomas did not
confess, sticking to the same story through nine police
interviews. Police still had no idea why Birna got into
his car on Laugavegur, or why he killed her.
On 30 March 2017, Thomas was charged with murder
and drug possession. When his trial began in August, the
prosecution’s case was even stronger: his DNA had been
found on one of Birna’s boots, and Norwegian scientists
had identified his fingerprint on her driving licence.
Entering court, Thomas covered his face and sat facing
away from the gallery. He confessed to drug possession,
but not to murder. Speaking in a low voice, and without
emotion, he spun a completely new story. Instead of two
girls in the car, now it was only one, Birna, who he said
had suddenly climbed into the Kia Rio as he drove along
Laugavegur. Thomas said he had stopped the car and got
out to have a pee in Hafnarfjörður, at which point Nikolaj
drove off with Birna, returning some time later without
It is now more than a year since Birna died. Has her
murder changed Iceland? Superficially, no. There has
been little new animus towards outsiders, and young
people have not stopped going out or getting drunk.
On a clear, cold night in early March, the bars and clubs
in downtown Reykjavík were busy, with British and
American tourists watching Champions League football
in the English Pub, and black-clad locals packing into
Húrra for a heavy metal party.
But ask any Icelander and they will tell you something
has shifted. “This case will be remembered,” said Vigfús
Bjarni Albertsson, the chaplain who conducted Birna’s
funeral. “It changed us a bit, our feeling of security.”
There are now more CCTV cameras in Reykjavík.
Young women are more wary, and conscious of the need
to look after one another. Catching a lift from strangers
after a night out had become common, especially
through a Facebook group called Skutlarar (“those who
give people a ride somewhere”). After Birna’s death,
a female-only version of Skutlarar was established.
The biggest effect may be on the national psyche. The
murder coincided with a period of economic growth
driven by outside forces: a tourism boom, an influx
of migrants to take up low-level jobs, and foreign
investment. “I think many people feel overwhelmed by
how fast the country is changing, from a small island
nation to something more cosmopolitan,” said Egill
Bjarnason, a local correspondent for the Associated
Press. “Birna’s death encapsulated people’s unease
about this new era.”
Grímsson has moved on from the first and possibly
only murder case he will ever lead – one that turned him
into a hero in Iceland. He is now based in The Hague,
as Iceland’s representative at the EU’s Agency for Law
Enforcement Cooperation. I recently met him at the
police headquarters in Reykjavík when he returned
home for a few days. He said he was proud of the
investigation, but wishes his force had been quicker to
respond to Silla Hreinsdóttir’s desperate pleas for a
search for her daughter. “One of the things I have been
thinking a lot about is this: should it be 24 hours to
respond in missing-persons cases? Or more subjective?”
Silla did not attend the trial, and later made an appeal
in the media for people not to refer to the murder as the
“Birna case”. “I don’t want this evil act to be blended
with her name,” she told me when we met one
afternoon in her flat. “Birna was a beautiful soul. She did
not deserve this.”
A picture of Birna hangs from a chain around Silla’s
neck. Her focus now is keeping the positive memory of
her daughter alive. In the living room, one entire wall is
devoted to Birna. There is a large collage of photos of her:
swimming with dolphins in the Bahamas on a family
holiday, on the beach in Hawaii, outside church. Next to
the collage hangs the dress Birna wore to her brother’s
confirmation, and beneath the photographs is her
makeup table, with her brushes on top. She had often
talked about moving to the US to train as a professional
makeup artist for films and the theatre.
Like her daughter was, Silla is generous and warm. As
the pale afternoon sun streamed through the window,
she laughed loudly while watching the videos that Birna
had recorded and uploaded to her YouTube channel:
miming to rap songs, doing crazy dances. And like her
daughter, Silla speaks her mind. Stepping outside on to
the balcony for a cigarette, she said she still has faith in
God, but is mad at him. When she was praying for her
daughter’s safe return, where was he? Although she is
grateful for all the public support, she rejected an idea
to have an annual memorial day in Birna’s name to
promote “unity”, and dismisses the notion that some
good has resulted from the tragedy.
“There was no purpose in this. It makes me crazy when
people talk about the country coming together. It’s a
fantasy: this beautiful country in the frozen north where
everybody comes together … I don’t think it’s healthy
for Iceland to think of itself as special in that way.” •
Section:GDN 1J PaGe:12 Edition Date:180412 Edition:01 Zone:
Sent at 11/4/2018 13:48
The Guardian Thursday 12 April 2018
Killer Sudoku
Each letter of the alphabet makes at least one appearance in the grid,
and is represented by the same number wherever it appears. The letters
decoded should help you to identify other letters and words in the grid.
Killer Sudoku
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.
Cryptic crossword
Solution No. 27,480
Guardian cryptic crossword No 27,481 set by Imogen
Stuck? For help call 0906 200 83 83.
Calls cost £1.10 per minute, plus your
phone company’s access charge.
Service supplied by ATS.
Call 0330 333 6946 for customer
service (charged at standard rate).
Want more? Get access to more than
4,000 puzzles at
crossword. To buy puzzle books, visit or call
0330 333 6846.
7 Bawdy author’s first mob,
so to speak (8)
9 Kind of kitten or cat, one
included in bill (6)
10 Appear vaguely in room, where
one goes mad unnoticed (4)
11 Part of Atlantic’s valuable reserve
that’s not yet exploited (6,4)
12 Flowers return, fed with
nitrogen, I detect (6)
14 Be proud of rhubarb that Mrs
Grundy’s bottled (8)
15 Two blokes meeting pedlar (7)
17 What is in Washington? Start to
explore and gape (7)
20 He led miners from cliff
to ravine (8)
22 I have no leisure — almost
behind, for example, in verse (6)
23 Huge old quantity halved in a
sort of arithmetic (10)
24 Lied about being unemployed (4)
25 For delivery to a force to be
reckoned with (4,2)
26 Keeping wife and Jack working,
makes index (3,5)
1 Pen a note: check boxes
measuring small dimensions (8)
2 European misses out on a new
beginning (4)
3 Be undecided about one claim
forgone (6)
4 I make careless mistake in feeble
poem, after change of heart (8)
5 More than one firm Tory type
rejecting Heath from tedium (10)
6 Sympathised with one sort of
public house under pressure (6)
8 In predicament, fight with
energy (6)
13 Top-class con man? (5-5)
16 Very inaccurate shot (where one
saw it coming?) (1,4,3)
18 Vineyard Frenchwoman runs
with less compassion (8)
19 Some roofs are abused (6)
21 Church oversees exam
for singers (6)
22 According to judges, sons are not
consanguineous (2-4)
24 King cobra kills every other
Russian (4)
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