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The Observer — January 14, 2018

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THE NEW REVIEW
NEXT WEEK:
A NEW-LOOK
OBSERVER
MEET THE UK?S BEST
NEW NOVELISTS
See page 4 for full details
Libby Page, Michael Donkor,
Mary
a y Lynn
y Bracht
ac t and
a d more
oe
THE NEW REVIEW
HOW TO
GO VIRAL
THE NEW REVIEW
STEWART LEE
ON TOBY YOUNG
Where next for the
maverick toadmeister?
Inside Britain?s
meme factory
www.observer.co.uk
Sunday 14 january 2018 �00
�49 FOR
SUBSCRIBERS
PAGE 17 �
Our historic Brexit vote could
be reversed, admits Farage
Trump tension
?risk to quick
US trade deal?:
former envoy
? Remainers ?are controlling EU debate?
by Michael Savage and Toby Helm
? We stopped ?ghting: ex-Ukip chief
by Toby Helm and Michael Savage
Nigel Farage today makes a dramatic
admission that the vote for Brexit could
be overturned because Remainers have
seized control of the argument over Britain?s future relationship with the EU.
The former Ukip leader told the
Observer that he was becoming increasingly worried that the Leave camp had
stopped fighting their corner, leaving
a well-funded and organised Remain
operation free to in?uence the political
and public debate without challenge.
?The Remain side are making all the
running,? said Farage. ?They have a
ON OTHER PAGES
Now it?s clear ? the real Brexit struggle
is only just beginning 8-9
Andrew Rawnsley, Comment 37
Henry Porter on David Davis 38
majority in parliament, and unless we
get ourselves organised we could lose
the historic victory that was Brexit.?
On Tuesday Farage angered many
Brexiters, and many in Ukip, when he
said he was coming round to the view
that the country might need to hold a
second referendum in order to close
down the EU argument for good.
He said then that he believed such a
vote would see the Brexit side win with a
bigger majority than the one it achieved
on 23 June 2016, when it triumphed by
52% to 48%. But, speaking on Friday,
Donald Trump?s deteriorating relationship with Britain is likely to kill off
any lingering cabinet hopes of a swift
post-Brexit trade deal with the United
States, a former British ambassador to
Washington has warned.
Sir Nigel Sheinwald said that a series
of controversial interventions by the
US president in British issues meant
that the remote prospect of a quick
transatlantic deal, heralded by proBrexit cabinet members, should now
be ?put out of our minds? for good.
His intervention comes as a new
poll highlights the British public?s
opposition to Trump in the wake of
his decision to cancel a trip to the UK,
with fewer than a ?fth of voters (18%)
believing he is a friend of Britain.
Almost three-quarters of voters
(72%) also believe that the US
president is a risk to international
stability, according to a new Opinium
poll for the Observer. A similar
proportion (71%) believe he is
untrustworthy. Two in ?ve voters
believe that Trump should not be
visiting Britain at all.
The dim view taken by the British
public over the outspoken president
comes after Whitehall insiders
suggested that the clashes he has
had with Britain over the last year
contributed to his decision to cancel
a visit to open the new US embassy
in London. A mass protest had also
been expected during Trump?s visit,
which would have marked a further
embarrassment for the president.
The special relationship between
Farage appeared to change his tune,
making clear that he was seriously worried that Brexit could be undone and
reversed. The case for a complete break
from the EU was no longer being made,
even by pro-Brexit MPs in parliament,
he said.
Instead, the Remain camp was relentlessly putting out its message that a hard
Brexit would be ruinous to the British
economy and bad for the country, without people hearing the counter-argument that had secured Brexiters victory
in the 2016 referendum campaign.
His latest intervention comes ahead of
another vital week for the Brexit process
in the House of Commons and as peers in
the overwhelmingly pro-Remain House
of Lords prepare to argue for retaining
the closest possible links with the EU ?
and in some cases a second referendum
? when legislation reaches peers at the
end of this month.
Farage said he now had a similar feeling to the one he had 20 years ago when
Tony Blair appeared to be preparing the
country for an eventual entry into the
euro. ?I think the Leave side is in danger
of not even making the argument,? he
said. ?The Leave groups need to regather
and regroup, because Remain is making
all the arguments. After we won the
referendum, we closed the doors and
stopped making the argument.?
Last Monday Farage held a meeting
in Brussels with the EU?s chief Brexit
negotiator, Michel Barnier, which, he
Continued on page 9
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has admitted that Brexit may not go ahead, with a
strong Remain camp now dominating the debate. Photograph by Virginia Mayo/AP
Continued on page 3
INSIDE > WEATHER THIS SECTION PAGE 53 | CROSSWORDS SPEEDY, THIS SECTION PAGE 53; EVERYMAN PAGE 34 + AZED PAGE 35 IN THE NEW REVIEW
1 2 A
*
2 | NEWS
*
14.01.18
Fire?ghter Alex Jimenez wades
through the mud in Montecito after
?nding remains of a victim of the
?ash ?ood. Photograph by Wally
Skalij/Los Angeles Times
Dispatch Montecito, California
?It was like Niagara Falls? ? how rich and
poor joined forces against a tide of mud
After wild?re and ?ood, nature has again taken
its toll in California, from the rustic Verdugo
mountains to Montecito?s celebrity homes
Rory
Carolll
Jeanette Abney owns a big, fancy house
while Elizabeth Terry rents a room in
a boarding house but last week they
both ended up sleeping on cots at the
same American Red Cross evacuation
centre, sipping the same instant coffee,
nibbling the same pastries and huddling under the same blankets. A rainsodden poster at the entrance declared
?Disaster Services?.
Both women were in need. A storm
had drenched the Verdugo Mountains,
a rugged, rustic outpost of Los Angeles,
and unleashed a massive mudslide,
forcing them to ?ee to an improvised
evacuation centre in the San Fernando
Valley.
?It was like a war zone, like Niagara
Falls. I?ve never experienced anything
like that,? said Abney, 88. She counted
herself lucky to be safe and warm in
a shelter. So did Terry, 63, who lives
a few miles from Abney in a boarding house for women on the verge of
homelessness. ?The mud was pouring
down the hill. I knew that it was time
to go.?
The rains and avalanches of mud
and debris which struck southern
California last week did not respect
postcodes or security walls or cameracontrolled gates. The surges of rock
and boulder smashed through the
estates of billionaires and hardscrab-
ble homes, sweeping away lives and
property in a brutal reminder that the
Golden State can exact a terrible price
from those who choose to live here.
A land with four seasons, goes the
old, bitter joke: drought, earthquake,
?re and ?ood ? the last three elemental
threats, which in an instant can unite
pauper and plutocrat in dread.
A tour of the Verdugo Mountains
last week revealed knee-high swamps
of mud encasing homes and cars both
humble and ?ashy. Many slopes were
black and blanketed with ash, the
legacy of a wild?re last September.
Worst hit was Montecito, an affluent
town 90 miles to the north. It abuts
vineyards in Santa Barbara county
which last month endured the biggest
wild?re in Californian history, an
inferno that charred vegetation and
left the soil unable to absorb moisture
efficiently. Torrential rains triggered
calamity.
Residents awoke early on Tuesday to
a roaring sound. Survivors compared
it to a freight train. Sludge thundered
down hillsides in a roiling mash of
boulders, trees and cars, cleaving
houses from foundations, erasing
entire blocks and burying the 101
highway.
Seventeen people died, including
four children. The coroner has listed
the cause of death for each as ?multiple
traumatic injuries due to ?ash ?ood
with mudslides due to recent wild?re?.
Rescue teams with dogs and helicopters plucked survivors from the ruins.
?I thought I was dead for a minute
there,? a 14-year-old girl told them.
The super-wealthy who live high
on certain slopes emerged relatively
unscathed. The less wealthy, lower
down the slopes, bore the brunt.
?I?m looking out the front window,
I think ?everything?s ?ne, everything?s
?ne?,? Oprah Winfrey told chatshow
host Ellen DeGeneres in a call to her
show. ?It wasn?t until I put my boots on
and went outside walking and I realised everything wasn?t indeed ?ne. All
of my neighbours? homes are like gutted. Their houses are gone, just gone.?
Winfrey, whose barnstorming
speech at the Golden Globe awards last
Sunday spurred chatter of a run for the
White House, vowed to help Montecito
rebuild. ?We?re going to come together
and we?re going to do what great
Americans do all the time. We?re going
to help each other.?
That may sound a pious bromide
but natural disasters often do soften
?I put my boots on and
went out. All of my
neighbours? homes
are gutted. Their
houses are just gone?
Oprah Winfrey, above
America?s class and racial divisions,
however ?eetingly.
When Hurricane Harvey ?ooded
Houston in August volunteers with
canoes, skiffs and airboats from
Louisiana ? Trump country ? rushed to
help one of America?s most diverse cities. ?Put a gay or black person in need
next to them and they?ll help. But in a
voting booth they?ll turn around and
cut their healthcare. It?ll just blow up
your mind,? one boatman told me then.
There was a similar twist last year
after landslides cut off Big Sur, a picturesque coastal ribbon 180 miles north of
Montecito. Wealthy visitors helicoptered into a luxury resort to savour the
temporary, enforced stillness of an area
usually teeming with tourists.
?We had a very negative opinion
initially of the helicopter thing ? they
being the rich and we being the poor,?
said John Hoeffel, 71, a resident. He
changed his mind because the highrolling visitors saved jobs. The view is
echoed by local Latino cooks, cleaners
and chambermaids. ?We all need jobs,?
said Josu� Ramos, 19, a gardener.
This hardly adds up to a truce in a
new gilded age of obscene inequality.
It runs especially deep in California,
which is the world?s sixth biggest economy yet is dotted by ragged tarpaulin
encampments from Silicon Valley to
Venice Beach to San Diego.
In Los Angeles county alone the
number of homeless rose last year by
23% to nearly 60,000 people. Once
con?ned largely to Skid Row, a grim
tent city in the heart of downtown,
the homeless have fanned out as far as
Bel-Air, a neighbourhood of mansions
etched into canyons. Residents include
Elon Musk and Rupert Murdoch, who
has a winery. A developer is putting the
?nishing touches to a 100,000-squarefoot house, soon due to go on sale for
$500m, which bills itself as America?s
most expensive home.
Some sensed a parable at work
last month when a cooking ?re at a
homeless encampment leaped out
of control and scorched 500 acres of
Bel-Air, destroying several properties and damaging dozens of others,
including Murdoch?s. No homeowner
matched Zsa Zsa Gabor?s lament from
a 1961 blaze ? ?My three dark minks,
my white mink, my sables, some really
very nice little jewels are gone? ? but
the rest of LA did not exactly weep for
the singed mansions. Solidarity, even
during natural disasters, has its limits.
But many of the city?s rich and poor
are united in their disregard for nature.
LA may be synonymous with
urban sprawl but boasts canyons and
mountains which offer rural seclusion
and spectacular views. Those who can
afford it build ? with the complicity
of developers and local authorities
? homes in ever more rugged areas.
Those who can?t afford to build simply
camp or park mobile homes there.
?Dude, why wouldn?t I live here? It?s
gorgeous,? said one homeless resident
of a remote corner of Bel-Air, who gave
his name only as Carlos. ?Skid Row?s a
germ factory.?
As people move up the slopes a
pattern repeats: drought parches
the land, turning grass into kindling.
Hot autumn winds known as Santa
Anas fan wild?res, which turn soil to
dust. Rain turns slopes into mush and
unleashes mudslides.
Winfrey, in her call to DeGeneres,
echoed widespread surprise that one
calamity should so swiftly follow
another. ?After we survived the ?res
and the rain came who would have
expected that we?d have this devastation again with the mudslides, and so
soon?? Well, state officials expected
it and issued evacuation orders in
Montecito which were largely ignored,
with many citing ?disaster fatigue?.
Back at the Red Cross centre I asked
Abney if her narrow escape from this
latest bombardment would persuade
her to move home ? to leave the mountain. She shook her head. ?Oh no.?
14.01.18
NEWS | 3
*
Women level
claims of sexual
harassment
against top
UK art patron
Grayson Perry
and Anthony
d?O?ay at the
Tate Modern
gallery in
London in
2009. Photograph by Dave
M Benett/
Getty Images
Anthony d?O?ay, donor of a multi-million
pound collection to the nation, denies
historical allegations over behaviour
by Ben Quinn and Christina Ruiz
Anthony d?Offay, one of the most powerful ?gures in the contemporary British
art world, is facing allegations of sexual
harassment and inappropriate behaviour from three women with whom he
has worked.
The 78-year-old dealer created the
Artists Rooms project after donating
much of his multi-million-pound collection to the Tate 10 years ago. The
Observer has also established that police
are investigating d?Offay after receiving a
complaint from a young woman that he
sent her malicious messages.
D?Offay stepped down on 19 December from his role as ex-officio curator
to the Artist Rooms, jointly owned and
managed for the nation by the National
Galleries of Scotland and the Tate ?
although this has yet to be announced.
The allegations of sexual harassment
and inappropriate behaviour date from
1997 to 2004 and come from women
with successful careers in the art world.
The women say they feel duty bound
to speak out, and believe their action
will encourage others to come forward.
D?Offay strongly denies the allegations
and says he is unaware of a police investigation.
One woman, a former employee who
joined his London gallery in 1998 aged
25 and was asked by him to become an
assistant, is in breach of non-disclosure
provisions of a settlement agreement.
?He started taking me for meetings
and appointments outside the gallery.
He would hold on to my arm or put his
arm around me. I thought it was not
quite right, but dared not voice my discomfort,? she said. Her concerns deepened when he informed her that he
would like her to accompany him to New
York. ?That?s when things escalated. He
grew more touchy, and would put his
hand around my waist, very close to my
bum. There was no sense of boundary in
respect to personal space.?
Events came to a head in October
2000 at his former gallery in Dering
Street, when she says he approached
her while she was on the phone. ?He
grabbed me. Pulled me really tight and
started kissing my neck. I pushed him
away. Because I was on the phone I could
not scream. Pushing him away was the
only thing I could do,? she said. The inci-
dent, she says, was captured on CCTV.
She signed a settlement agreement and
left his employment shortly after.
Another woman said she was introduced to d?Offay aged 34 as a possible
mentor, but felt increasingly uncomfortable. She says he began to phone
her outside work, with calls increasing
in intensity. On the ?nal call she could
hear water and says that she realised he
was in the bath. She says that his voice
slowed, his breathing became heavy
and she believed he was masturbating.
I felt violated that he had used my voice
to service his sexual needs. I genuinely
thought I was having a phone conversation about a high-pro?le German artist. I
was in complete shock when I realised.?
Prior to the ?nal call, she was invited
to his house for dinner, with others, in
the middle of 2004. ?After dinner it was
suggested some guests go for an evening stroll. As we reached the park gate,
suddenly, the other guests said they felt
unwell and went home.
?I felt very uncomfortable about the
fact that I was in the park alone with
him. He said: ?You are being very cruel by
not reciprocating my feelings.? My ?rst
reaction was to laugh: ?You?re married
and in your 60s ? this is ridiculous.
?I really needed to get out of the park,
but he lunged at me with his mouth
open. I was in disbelief. I pushed him
away and shouted loudly ?no, Anthony,
absolutely no!?
?He laughed and said that I needed to
surrender to him and in time I would. I
did not feel I could tell anyone about this
because he was one of the most powerful
men in the art world.?
She relates another incident, a meeting at his gallery, with others present,
where he offered her an Andy Warhol
show. ?I said in the light of what has
been going on I don?t think I can work
with you and, with respect, I am turning
down the Warhol show. He said: ?Right,
you can go out the tradesman?s entrance,
that is where you belong?.?
?He called me later and said: ?Well,
you have to mourn us now including
all opportunities you have just turned
down because of your rejection of me?.
By then I had my family advising me. On
my birthday they had witnessed how he
had come around to my house and put
a rare postcard through the letter box
? a drawing of a courtesan on a chaise
longue. He had written: ?Happy birthday.
This reminds me of you?.
?After the phone call I refused to have
any other interactions. I knew that he
would try to punish me professionally
and indeed he did for several years afterwards, but at least I had my self-respect
intact, even if my business missed out
?I did not feel I could
tell anyone about this
because he was one
of the most powerful
men in the art world?
�m and to the National Galleries
of Scotland for nothing, as part of a
reciprocal tax arrangement.
The collection forms the basis of a
series of 50 free touring exhibitions
called Artist Rooms that have been
seen by almost 30 million people. At
the time it was described
as a ?supreme act of
phi
philanthropy?, welcomed
by G
Gordon Brown and by
Sir Nicholas Serota, now
hea
head of the Arts Council
Eng
England, who said the act
of ?imaginative generosity? was ?without
precedent anywhere in the world?.
Born in She?eld to a French father,
d?O?ay was only 25 when he opened
his ?rst tiny gallery near Piccadilly.
Within a year he had sold a drawing by
Jean Cocteau to Paul McCartney and he
launched a new gallery near Bond Street
in 1969. He helped build the reputations
of Wyndham Lewis and Stanley Spencer
and in the year his gallery closed it hosted
exhibitions of Ron Mueck, Anselm Kiefer
and Bill Viola.
Vanessa Thorpe
One of d?O?ay?s accusers
LIFE AND TIMES
Anthony d?O?ay is used to making
headlines in the art world ? ?rst, in 2001,
when he suddenly announced he was to
retire after more than 30 years as one
of London?s elite ?ne art gallerists, and
then again when he was applauded up
and down the country for his decision to
onal
give his �5m personal
collection of postwarr
y
works to Tate for only
Damien Hirst?s Away
y
from the Flock, part of
how.
the Artist Rooms show.
?nancially. I had not felt able to speak
about this. After all, the art world is a
very small place and Anthony d?Offay
has been a major philanthropist.
?However, in December I became
aware of allegations made by the young
woman to the police and I felt compelled
to speak out.?
A third woman, who worked at
d?Offay?s gallery for two years from late
1997, said she made many complaints
about how he had spoken to her inappropriately. She was told that he would
be spoken to, but believes her complaints
were shrugged off and she left the gallery
following a confrontation with d?Offay.
?I remember saying he could not
speak to me in this way ever again, over
something he did in front of a group. It
was an artist, a collector, ?ve or six people, and he said something that was thoroughly humiliating. It was something
about sitting in one of your laps and giving him a french kiss. It was something
suggestive and embarrassing.?
D?Offay said of the allegations by the
three women: ?I am appalled these allegations are being levelled against me and
I categorically deny the claims being
made.? He added. ?I am completely
unaware of any police investigation. If
there is one, then police time is being
wasted.? He also said: ?I conceived the
idea for Artist Rooms some 15 years ago.
It has been a wonderful success. However, having been directly involved for
that length of time and also reaching 78
years old, I decided in December it was
time to retire as ex-officio curator.?
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson
said: ?Police received an allegation of
malicious communications on Wednesday, 20 December. Officers from the
Central North Command Unit investigate. No arrests; enquiries continue.?
Tension between Trump and UK will ?kill o?? quick trade deal, warns ex-ambassador
Continued from page 1
the UK and US has taken a series of
hits since Theresa May became the
?rst foreign leader to visit President
Trump at the start of last year. Trump
has attacked the London mayor, Sadiq
Khan, re-tweeted posts by a British
far-right group, and publicly turned on
May for criticising his comments.
Trump con?rmed on Twitter last
week that he had cancelled a trip to
open the new US embassy in Vauxhall
because he disagreed with the process
of moving it from Mayfair to an ?off
location? south of the Thames. While
he blamed the Obama administration,
the deal was signed under George W
Bush?s presidency.
Sheinwald, the British ambassador
to the US from 2007 to 2012, said he
had always believed that a swift trade
deal with the US was unlikely, but that
the latest episode should end hopes by
some Brexiters that it could be done by
Brexit day in March 2019.
?Given that Trump?s attitude to the
UK seems to have changed for the
worst over the last year, I think that
takes out another of the arguments
for thinking that this would be a great
positive for the UK in the post-Brexit
world,? he said. ?It will be important
for us to get a deal with the Americans,
but it will take a long time.
?If you?re a Liam Fox [the
international trade secretary], who
has staked so much on the American
deal being easy and within our reach
around the same time as Brexit,
then the way in which the bilateral
relationship has atrophied and the
tone has changed in the last year since
May?s ?rst visit is quite a big blow.
?It means we should put out of our
minds the idea that when we leave the
EU there is a magical deal with the US
that is going to solve all our trade and
industrial problems. Absolutely not.?
Sir Christopher Meyer, another
former British ambassador to the
US, said that he believed the current
ON OTHER PAGES
What next for alt-right? In Focus, 28-29
Observer Comment page 36
cooling of relations made little
difference, as the chances of a swift
deal had always been far-fetched.
Sadiq Khan, who welcomed Trump?s
decision to shelve his trip to the UK,
was targeted by pro-Trump protesters
yesterday as he gave a speech in central
London. His address was delayed after
a demonstration by a group called the
White Pendragons. They were escorted
out of the venue by police.
After Trump?s recent declaration
that he believed he was a ?stable
genius?, many British voters compare
themselves favourably against the
president?s intellect. Almost half (47%)
believe they are more intelligent than
Trump, according to the Opinium poll.
More than two-?fths (44%) believe
Trump is less intelligent than the
average person. A ?fth (18%) believe he
is more intelligent than average.
In terms of overall party support,
the poll showed that Labour and the
Tories are now neck-and-neck on
40% support. It means Labour has
relinquished a 2-point lead from a
month ago.
The Liberal Democrats continue
to struggle on just 6% support. Vince
Cable, the Lib Dem leader, has a lower
net approval rating (-19%) than either
Jeremy Corbyn (-10) or Theresa May
(-17%).
May?s lead over Corbyn on who
would make the best prime minister
has fallen very slightly, from six points
to ?ve points.
4 | NEWS
*
14.01.18
Coming next week ?
Welcome
to your new
Observer
The newspaper will change
format next Sunday but
its values and journalism
will remain steadfast
Throughout its 226 years, the
Observer has appeared in many
formats: principally as a broadsheet
newspaper and, for the last 13 years,
as a Berliner. Next Sunday sees its
next iteration, as a tabloid, when we
move to new printing presses. Our
sister paper, the Guardian, switches
tomorrow.
The Observer may have come in
different shapes and sizes but our
journalism has remained steadfast.
Over two and a quarter centuries, the
paper has weathered many storms,
both commercial and journalistic.
In the 19th century, it supported the
Chartist movement for political and
social reform. It backed the rise of early
trade unionism. When it supported the
north during the American civil war,
it drew ?re from reactionaries in business and politics. The paper suffered
commercially, but its legacy prospered.
When it took issue with prime
minister Eden?s support for an
Anglo-French incursion in Suez,
the Observer took centre stage in a
national crisis. In 1991, the historian Richard Cockett described the
paper?s attack on Eden as ?the most
celebrated press attack on a government in the postwar era?. It drew
?erce criticism from politicians and
the business community; advertising
and readership declined. In all other
respects, the paper?s reputation was
enhanced.
Later, it played a central role
in the establishment of Amnesty
International and a key part in
highlighting the threat of execution
facing Nelson Mandela during his trial
in 1963. In 2011 his ex-wife, Winnie
Mandela, told us: ?It was a result of
the coverage by the Observer that our
loved ones were saved from death
penalties during the Rivonia trial.
Had it not been for the Observer, they
would have faced the death penalty.?
In 2018, this newspaper remains
committed to the values that爃ave
shaped it since 1791. It was founded
as a new set of values swept燼cross
Europe during the Enlightenment,
and born into an era when the ideas
of rationalism, science and liberalism
were taking hold. These are still our
guiding principles.
Next week you will notice some
changes, all of them designed to
enhance our commitment to serious, rigorous and thought-provoking
journalism. There will be a new-look
magazine. Fresh, innovative design
will power all the sections. New columnists will appear. The New Review
will continue to devote itself to
cultural and intellectual reporting of
the highest order. And we will publish
the 200th issue of our award-winning
Observer Food Monthly.
The Observer ?rst appeared on
4燚ecember 1791. It is now the world?s
oldest Sunday newspaper. And the
spirit that has animated it since that
day will continue undimmed in next
week?s issue. Our commitment to
analysis, debate and re?ection will not
change. Our desire to be open, interna-
tional and European remains as strong
as ever. Our wish to represent the
weakest while holding the strongest
to account still holds true. Our aim to
provide a platform for different ideas,
and help give a voice to those denied
one, is central to our work.
The shape of the world has
changed since 1791: and the
shape of the Observer too. But our
journalism remains guided by the
force and philosophy of 1791. That
will爊ever燾hange.
John Mulholland
Observer Editor
Sections of The Observer are carefully collated at our print site and by newsagents. If any section of today?s UK edition of The Observer is missing, call freephone 0800 839100. Back issues can be obtained from Historic Newspapers, tel: 0844 770 7684 (www.observer.backissuenewspapers.co.uk)
�18 Published by Guardian News & Media Limited, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU (tel 020 3353 2000) and Centurion House, 129 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WR. Printed at Guardian Print Centre South, Rick Roberts Way, Stratford, London E15 2GN; Guardian Print Centre North, Longbridge Road, Parkway
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ISSN 0029-7712
14.01.18
NEWS | 5
*
Beer-battered ?to?sh? and no leather seats
? welcome to London?s ?rst all-vegan pub
Mark Townsend joins
drinkers and diners at
the Spread Eagle, the
latest milestone on a
cultural shift towards
a plant-based lifestyle
Four years ago, Meriel Armitage was so
anxious about using the word vegan on
her menu she considered dropping it
altogether. On Friday night, shortly after
dusk, the 34-year-old opened the doors
of London?s first 100% vegan pub, its
sales pitch very much based on an absolute boycott of animal products.
Standing by the freshly polished bar,
as the ?rst customers arrived into the
dimly lit room where all food, drinks, ?xtures and ?ttings are purely plant-based,
Armitage smiled: ?Back then, we were
genuinely worried about putting customers off; suddenly it?s the opposite.?
The arrival of the Spread Eagle in east
London?s Homerton, occupying a prime
spot on a hipster artery stretching from
central Hackney, coincides with unparalleled enthusiasm for veganism.
This month?s Veganuary has enticed
at least 100,000 to give up all animal produce for the month, a 40,000 rise on last
year. Little more than 3,000 took part
in its inaugural outing in 2014. Global
brands have spotted the potential, Pret
a Manger launching its vegan range a
week ago. On Monday, Britain?s biggest
supermarket, Tesco, unveiled its range
of 100% plant-based meals to be sold in
600 stores.
For Luke McLaughlin, co-founder
with Armitage, the Spread Eagle?s
arrival marks the start of the next phase
of veganism?s move into the mainstream.
?A year ago, we would have been nervous about opening, but not any more,?
he said.
His confidence was justified by the
early flurry of customers. A group of
London food bloggers, who knew each
other through their admiration for all
things vegan, were among the first to
place an order with Armitage?s kitchen.
Admiration greeted the arrival of tacos
with vegan chorizo, vegan fried chicken
scallops and beer-battered ?to?sh?.
Kishani Widyaratna, 32, was among
those wowed: ?It?s exciting to be here,
veganism is growing fast.? Her friend
Hannah Siery, 35, nodded eagerly: ?The
Tesco range was such a big step, the
buzz around veganism has never been
like this.?
McLaughlin, 38, from Rochdale, predicts the Spread Eagle will prompt a
surge in similar vegan ventures around
the capital, six years after Soho?s Coach
and Horses gained kudos as London?s
?rst vegetarian pub. Research suggests
Food blogger Sareta Puri, right, and friends in the Spread Eagle on Friday. Below, tofu tacos were on the menu. Photographs by Sophia Evans for the Observer
there are more than half a million Britons following a vegan diet. Another food
blogger predicted that the rise of veganism will result in a Britain split between
vegans and meat eaters. ?There?ll be no
middle ground any more, just a divided
nation,? said Sareta Puri, 34.
Hackney resident Erin Hackett, tucking into a plate of corn esquites, believes
it will gradually become the norm to eat
less meat. ?Meat used to be more of a
treat for our father?s generation and I can
see a return to that,? said the 31-year-old.
Helping drive demand, according to
Armitage, are social media and the accumulation of readily available information
shining a light on aspects of mass-food
production. ?It?s become harder to cut
yourself off from the realities,? she said.
Several of those in the Spread Eagle on
Friday cited Simon Amstell?s Carnage,
a dark comedy set in the future where
older generations suffer the guilt of their
carnivorous past, as another defining
moment in the evolution of veganism.
That London?s first vegan pub is in
Hackney should come as no major surprise. The UK?s ?rst vegan chicken shop,
Temple Of Seitan, opened last year and
has since drawn crowds of devotees. A
vegan Christmas market in the borough
drew four-hour food queues.
The Spread Eagle has been popular with the area?s drinkers since 1752
and, on Thursday night, residents were
invited to sample its cask ales, brewed
without using any animal products. Nine
of the pub?s stalwart drinkers
inkers turned up,
taking their usual stoolss ? their leather
seats ripped up and assiduously
ssiduously
replaced with synthetic
tic covers ? to sample theirr first
plant-based pints. ?They
hey
said that they?ve never
ver
been made to feel more at
home and that delighted
d
me. They?re part of thiss
area, it?s rich heritage,?
e,?
said McLaughlin.
Others had travelled
lled
Fears of Brexit drain grow as European
ambulance paramedics leave the NHS
by Denis Campbell
Health Policy Editor
Increasing numbers of European
Union-trained ambulance staff are
quitting the NHS, raising fears of a
Brexit drain from the 999 service just
as national concern over slow response
times grows.
There are fears the departures could
exacerbate high vacancy rates in ambulance services in England, which are
already one of the most understaffed
areas of NHS care.
Freedom of information requests
submitted by the Liberal Democrats
have revealed what the Lib Dems say
is an ?alarming trend of resignations?
among ambulance staff trained in the
other 27 EU countries.
The responses from England?s 10
ambulance service trusts show that 101
paramedics, call handlers and other
staff from the rest of the EU left in
2016-17 ? one in seven of the 688 EU27
?These EU citizens
save lives in our
communities every
day,? said Judith
Jolly of the Liberal
Democrats.
personnel who were working for the
trusts during that time.
Last year was the second in a row in
which the number of leavers rose: 81
did so in 2015-16 and 78 quit in 2014-15.
?It is deeply concerning to see a rise
in ambulance staff from the EU leaving
the country. This is especially alarming when we are facing such a severe
shortage of paramedics,? said Baroness
Judith Jolly, who speaks for the Lib
Dems on health. ?These EU citizens
save lives in our communities every day,
yet ministers have treated them like dirt
and failed to give them certainty over
their futures here.?
At the South Central Ambulance
Service, 27 of its 143 EU27 staff quit ?
the most among the seven trusts that
provided full ?gures.
At South East Coast Ambulance
Service, 20 EU nationals left ? one in
three of its cohort of 57 ? while 18 of
152 did so at the London Ambulance
Service, slightly fewer than the 21 who
left the year before.
The biggest increases in departures
came at the South Central Ambulance
Service (27, up from 17) and the North
West Ambulance Service (15, up
from爀ight).
Danny Mortimer, co-convener of
the Cavendish Coalition, a grouping
of health and social care organisations
that fear Brexit?s possible impact on
the NHS and social care, said: ?Any
indication that the NHS is becoming
less attractive as a place to work for
paramedics and ambulance staff, from
abroad or from the UK, is worrying.?
He added, however, that ?the certainty now being offered EU nationals
is a massive step forward.?
?In ?ve years time,
the places that are
selling meat will be
the odd ones out?
Damien Clarkson, customer
slightly further to sample its fare. Tali,
27, from Los Angeles, was adamant the
Spread Eagle is certain to become a
trendsetter. ?Think of the environmental bene?ts, the health bene?ts ? what?s
not to like??
Across her at the table sat Damien
Clarkson, 33, the co-founder of Vevolution ? a media company devoted to
promoting vegan culture. He hosted
the recent Tesco launch, and predicted
veganism?s takeover might become so
rapid that it becomes the dominant positioning of restaurants and pubs. ?In ?ve
years? time, the place selling meat will be
the odd one out,? he laughed.
Beside him, Judy Nadel, 33, said:
?Veganism is not exclusive, it?s for everyone, that?s really my hope for the future.?
By 10pm, the pub was buzzing. Armitage scanning the bustling room, said: ?At
one point, you would?ve hidden that you
were vegan; now it?s a case of being loud
and proud. All of a sudden, you no longer
feel meat eaters have the upper hand.?
School music support urged as
UK fails to make Menuhin ?nal
by Dalya Alberge
The failure of budding British violinists
to qualify for one of the world?s most
prestigious music competitions has led
to calls for a music revolution in schools.
The Menuhin Competition, founded
by Yehudi Menuhin in 1983, is known as
the ?Olympics of the violin?, with many
contestants going on to international
recognition. Participants and prizewinners include the soloist Tasmin Little
and Japan?s Daishin Kashimoto, concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic.
But while 15 UK musicians entered
this year?s competition, none has made
the shortlist, which is announced tomorrow. The 44 contestants have been chosen from 17 countries around the world.
The failure has sparked renewed calls
for the government to invest more in
musical education to let the next generation compete on the world stage.
Gordon Back, artistic director of the
Menuhin Competition, said: ?The Brit-
ish love all-round education. In a way,
they don?t like specialising too early
in one discipline, whether it?s sport or
anything. I do think it?s our responsibility to nurture musical education in
the earlier years. You have to in terms
of producing international stars. Past
governments, and this one, have given
so little opportunity to the arts, instead
of realising their importance and what
they contribute to our society.?
He pointed to scientific studies
showing the bene?ts: ?The University of
Southern California?s Brain and Creativity Institute found that musical experience in childhood can actually accelerate development.?
He added: ?I grew up in a very poor
area of south Wales where music was
positively encouraged and you had
violins for free to play. That doesn?t exist
any more ? Back in Wales in the 1950s,
there was a thriving national youth
orchestra, but also a local county youth
orchestra, which was at an extraordinary
standard.?
6 | NEWS
*
Move over, Ed:
star Dua Lipa
leads Brit award
nominations
CONTENDERS FOR
THE BIG PRIZES
British male
solo artist
Ed Sheeran
Liam Gallagher
Loyle Carner
Rag?n?Bone Man
Stormzy
British female
solo artist
Dua Lipa
Jessie Ware
Kate Tempest
Laura Marling
Paloma Faith
British group
Gorillaz
London Grammar
Royal Blood
Wolf Alice
The xx
Singer born in London to Kosovan parents is
up for ?ve honours at next month?s event
by Ben Beaumont-Thomas
Dua Lipa, the breakthrough pop star
who scored a huge summer hit with the
song New Rules, has earned the most
nominations at the 2018 Brit awards
? beating Ed Sheeran, despite his spectacular year-long assault on the charts.
She has been nominated for the British female solo artist, breakthrough act,
single and video categories, along with
the night?s biggest award, British album
of the year. As he cannot now be nominated in the breakthrough category,
Ed Sheeran is the runner-up with four
nominations, for British male solo artist,
video and single (each for Shape of You),
and the album award for �, the biggestselling album of 2017 in the UK. East
London rapper J Hus and platinumselling songwriter Rag?n?Bone Man each
received three nominations.
Lipa said yesterday: ?I feel like this
year has been so special for so many
British artists leaving their mark on the
world, and I can?t believe I?ve been nominated for one, let alone ?ve, Brit awards.
This is so surreal and exciting, and I?m so
thankful for the recognition.?
Lipa?s competition for the female
solo artist award comes from Jessie
Ware, Kate Tempest, Laura Marling and
Paloma Faith ? all of whom have been
nominated before, with Marling and
Faith winning in 2011 and 2015 respectively. Sheeran is up against a strong
?eld for male solo artist: Liam Gallagher,
Stormzy, Loyle Carner and Rag?n?Bone
Man, aka Rory Graham, who had the
second-biggest selling album of last
year, and is also nominated in the album
category, alongside Sheeran, Lipa, J Hus
and Stormzy.
The third-biggest seller of 2017, however, Sam Smith?s The Thrill of It All, was
shut out: Smith got no nominations at all,
though the November release date of his
album means he is also eligible for 2019?s
awards, and he will perform at this year?s
ceremony. Sampha, the current holder of
another British music award, the Mercury prize, was nominated in only one
category, for breakthrough artist.
All ?ve former members of the massively successful British boyband One
Direction put out solo material last year,
but only three were nominated: Zayn,
Harry Styles and Liam Payne.
Five acts are vying for the Brit-
14.01.18
British single
Calvin Harris
Feels (featuring
Pharrell Williams,
Katy Perry & Big
Sean)
Clean Bandit
Symphony (feat
Zara Larsson)
Dua Lipa became the moststreamed British female
pop artist in the UK last
year, after her song New
Rules reached No 1.
ish group award: Damon Albarn and
Jamie Hewlett?s cartoon band Gorillaz,
mournful trios London Grammar and
the xx, hard rock duo Royal Blood, and
indie quartet Wolf Alice. Stars including Taylor Swift, Drake and Pink were
nominated in the three international
categories, as was Kendrick Lamar, who
? given his tour takes him to London the
day before the ceremony ? is rumoured
to be a surprise performer on the night.
As well as Smith, con?rmed performers
at the ceremony so far include Foo Fighters, giving their ?rst Brits performance
in their 24-year history, plus Sheeran,
Rag?n?Bone Man, Stormzy and Lipa.
Lipa is a slow-burn success who
upended music industry expectations to
become the most-streamed female artist
in the UK last year. Her upbeat yet melancholy debut single Be the One reached
the Top 10 in 2015, but follow-up singles
Hotter Than Hell and Blow Your Mind
didn?t match its success. But after her
song with Dutch producer Martin Garrix, Scared to Be Lonely, spent 16爓eeks
in the Top 40, she released New Rules,
an irrepressible track on which she dispenses relationship advice. It ascended
to No 1 and spent 10 weeks in the Top 5;
its video has been viewed 888m times on
YouTube, and it became her ?rst US hit.
Now 22, Lipa was born in London to
Kosovan-Albanian parents, and moved
to the Kosovan capital, Pristina, with
them aged 11, before returning to London
Dua Lipa
New Rules
Ed Sheeran
Shape of You
J Hus
Did U See
Jax Jones
U Don?t Know Me
(feat Raye)
Jonas Blue
Mama (feat
William Singe)
Liam Payne
Strip That Down
(feat Quavo)
Little Mix
Touch
Rag?n?Bone Man
Human
British album
Dua Lipa
Dua Lipa
Ed Sheeran
�
J Hus
Common Sense
Rag?n?Bone Man
Human
Stormzy
Gang Signs &
Prayer
at 15 alone to take GCSEs and A-levels
while living with an older female friend.
As a teenager she worked as a model for
clothing retailer Asos, followed by spells
on the doors of London restaurants and
nightclubs. Uploading herself singing
cover versions and sharing them on
social media earned her a management
deal and then a record contract.
One award, for producer of the year,
has already been handed out to Steve
Mac, the man behind three of the 10
songs nominated for single of the year:
Ed Sheeran?s Shape of You, Liam Payne?s
Strip That Down, and Clean Bandit?s
Symphony. The ceremony is on Wednesday 21燜ebruary, at the O2 Arena in London, and will be broadcast live on ITV.
14.01.18
NEWS | 7
*
Anne Louise
Lambert, left,
in the awardwinning 1975
Peter Weir film
of Picnic at
Hanging Rock.
Alamy
Return to Hanging Rock: classic tale of lost
Australian girls retold for new generation
Half a century on, reimagined TV and theatre
versions shed new light on thriller that still
haunts a nation, writes Vanessa Thorpe
In the searing heat of an Australian Valentine?s Day, a small party of schoolgirls
set out for a local beauty spot, Hanging
Rock. Some were never to return. The
shocking incident, whether imagined or
real, as some still believe, has haunted
the national psyche ever since the publication of Joan Lindsay?s novel Picnic at
Hanging Rock in 1967.
Regarded as a key work of modern
Australian literature, Lindsay?s hypnotic
puzzle soon spawned a classic ?lm version that was to beguile and disturb audiences around the world.
Now the mystery at the heart
of both the novel and Peter Weir?s
award-winning ?lm ? the disappearance
of three schoolgirls and a teacher from
the ?ctional Appleyard College that hazy
Valentine?s Day in 1900 ? is to be looked
at anew.
An Australian television series starring British actress Natalie Dormer in
the role of boarding school headmistress
Hester Appleyard is re-telling the fable
over six episodes and will be broadcast
by the BBC later this year. And next
month a hit stage version of the book
from Melbourne opens at London?s Barbican theatre.
Hailed by the Guardian?s critic as a
show with ?volcanic power? when it
ran brie?y in Edinburgh last year,
director Matthew Lutton?s
n?s production updates the schoolgirls?
olgirls?
story and offers ?a vision off psychological breakdown as a pretti?ed illusion is ripped apart
art by
the raw force of nature?.
Lindsay ?s story has
as
attained the status of a
modern myth, exploringg
the clash between Victo-rian gentility and the burgeoning sexuality of the
schoolgirls. Writing the
book in a fortnight at the age of 69, the
author claimed to have been inspired
by dreams, although a recent book by
Janelle McCulloch found some grounds
for supposing the young Lindsay might
once have heard about a real case of girls
going missing at the landmark in the
southeastern state of Victoria. Seeds of
the story are also thought to have been
sown by a 1875 painting of visitors viewing Hanging Rock by William Ford.
The BBC promises the new serialisation offers ?a fresh take?, while its
Australian producers describe their
?re-imagining? as ?modern, mysterious,
completely gripping and visually spectacular?.
Dormer?s role as the headmisDorme
tress has been expanded for television: ?I
?In her novel, Joan Lindsay
gives you
hints there is a past
y
and that
tha Hester isn?t being completely
plet honest about her background,?
Dormer has said.
gr
?The
delicious thing is that
?
we
w have really ?eshed out
British actress Natalie
Dormer plays the headmistress in the TV series.
her morally ambiguous background in
London.?
The series has been directed for
Foxtel by Walking Dead veteran Larysa
Kondracki, whose Canadian nationality
caused initial dismay in Australia.
Actress Rachel Ward said the decision
was ?a bitter pill? for Australian directors. ?It?s ultimately just sad that those
?Australians wanted
books and ?lms that
held up a mirror to the
nation. The novel?s
timing was perfect?
Janelle McCulloch, critic
of us who have committed so many years
as Australian ?lm-makers are thought so
little of by some production teams and
broadcasters here that we must import
someone to do the job for us,? Ward said.
When a 27-year-old Weir originally set
out for Hanging Rock in February 1975 to
shoot his ?lm in six weeks, he wanted to
recreate the ?tremendous unease? he felt
reading Lindsay?s novel.?I couldn?t wait
to get to the rock to see if it was as good
as it read,? he has said.
The eerie end result, an effect
achieved by placing layers of bridal
veiling over the camera lens, was what
the late Observer critic Philip French
described as ?the ?rst true masterpiece
of the Australian cinema?.
In her book Beyond the Rock, McCulloch argues Picnic at Hanging Rock came
at the right moment: ?Australians were
hungering for something that was quintessentially Australian. They wanted
books and ?lms that held up a mirror to
the nation. It was perfect timing.?
At the core of Lindsay?s tale is the riddle of the disappearance, a point underlined by a junior editor called Sandra
Forbes, who read the book early on and
suggested that a final chapter which
provided a spiritual solution should
be deleted. The author agreed, and the
enduring appeal of her story may now
lie in the unanswered question it poses.
Only an old man in her novel finally
attempts to account for what happened
that day at the rock.
?Nobody, can be held responsible for
the pranks of destiny,? he says.
8 | NEWS | Brexit
*
14.01.18
Nigel Farage is rattled. MPs and
Now it?s clear ? the real struggle
This week MPs have another chance to
amend the EU withdrawal bill ? and
supporters of a soft Brexit in all parties
are feeling increasingly con?dent, while
the country?s most prominent Leaver
has been plunged into gloom. Report
by Toby Helm and Michael Savage
When Nigel Farage emerged from a
meeting in Brussels with the EU?s chief
Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier shortly
after midday last Monday his increasingly gloomy mood had darkened further. ?The message I got was that they
will be happy to trade chocolate and
cheese and wine freely with us but when
it comes to services, forget it. It ain?t
going to happen. I think we are going to
have a very bad deal.?
In the early hours of 24 June 2016,
the former Ukip leader, who had, arguably, done more than anyone to deliver
the Leave vote, toured TV stations,
triumphantly hailing the UK?s ?independence day?. In Farage?s view it was
not only a de?ning moment for Britain. It
was also one that would demonstrate to
other EU member states with strong or
emerging eurosceptic movements ? he
cited Denmark, Italy, Sweden and Austria ? that there was another way. ?The
EU is failing, the EU is dying. I hope that
we have knocked the ?rst brick out of the
wall,? he declared in the glow of victory.
Nineteen months on, that joy and
optimism have been replaced by doubt
and fear. These days Farage is a genuinely worried man. He deeply regrets
that the Leave campaign effectively
?shut up shop? the day after the referendum, believing it was job done. The
result of doing so, he told the Observer
on Friday, was that the Leave side is
now being seriously outgunned by wellfunded, well-organised supporters of
Remain who are intent on overturning
the referendum result.
The day after his meeting with
Barnier, Farage went on TV again and
said he was coming round to the view
that a second referendum might be
the only way to regain the initiative, to
cement Brexit and shut down the issue
for a generation. He said then that he
thought Leave would win again, and by
a bigger margin.
But on Friday he was less sure ? and
revealed the real depth and root of his
anxieties. The momentum, he made
clear, was running away from the Leavers. They had vacated the field for
Remain to run all over. Anti-EU MPs
were making a grave mistake, he argued,
if they believed that parliament and
the British people would just accept
any old deal that Theresa May could
extract however bad, or opt for a no deal
outcome as the Remain camp warned,
unchallenged, that it would mean epic
disaster for the economy and country.
?There is no Leave campaign,? Farage
said. ?I think Leave is in danger of not
even making the argument.? He added:
?I feel like I did 20 years ago when it
looked like we were heading into the
euro. We had to set up Business for Sterling to stop it.? Things felt eerily familiar
now. ?The Remain side is making all the
running. They have a majority in parliament and unless we get ourselves organised we could lose the historic victory
that was Brexit.?
With the clock ticking, and with parliament having voted to trigger the article 50 process that puts the UK on the
legal track to leave the EU on 29燤arch
next year, it is still extremely difficult to
see how the Brexit train can be derailed
entirely.
But Farage?s interventions over recent
days are highly signi?cant, and about far
more than the rogueish populist yearn-
ing to be back in the headlines. He is
nothing if not a shrewd interpreter of
prevailing political and public moods.
?He is dangerous ? and brilliant, in equal
measure,? says one ardent Tory MP from
the Remain side. ?We know that from
painful experience.?
Farage fears a very soft Brexit as much
as no Brexit at all. And he is not alone
in spotting that the forces favouring
soft Brexit ? in Westminster at least ?
are now in the ascendancy. It is not just
pro-Remain Labour MPs who are marshalling their troops to great effect to
demand that their party and parliament
as a whole backs as close a relationship
as possible with the EU after March next
year.
Where John Major and David Cameron had rightwing Eurosceptic rebels
to deal with, Theresa May, with no
Commons majority, now ?nds her biggest problems coming from those on the
pro-EU left ?ank of the Tory party. Her
chaotic reshuffle last week added new
recruits to that ever more con?dent rebel
army, among them sacked education secretary and remainer Justine Greening.
At prime minister?s questions last
Wednesday, the day after she left the
cabinet, Greening arrived early. When
anti-Brexit Tory rebel Dominic Grieve
came in to the chamber, Greening caught
his eye and patted on the vacant seat by
her side in a gesture that invited him to
be her new neighbour in the naughty soft
Brexit corner. Grieve duly accepted.
?It was a fantastic moment for us,?
said another in the group, who added
that May had made a big mistake
ousting the MP for Putney from the
cabinet. ?A燫emainer, from Rotherham,
educated at a state school. Who just
happens to be in a same sex relationship. How many bloody boxes does she
tick for us? For too long this party has
been run by a few rightwingers intent
on destroying our country. Now we are
taking the party back.?
Ryan Shorthouse, director of the
modernising Tory pressure group,
Bright Blue said: ?Before Theresa May
became prime minister, for decades
Conservative governments only really
faced concerted pressure on the backbenchers from the right of the party.
Now, there is a group of high-profile
and senior backbenchers on the ?one
nation? wing who are increasingly coordinated, empowered and outspoken.?
This week will be another crucial one
in the parliamentary battle over Brexit,
over which Farage is agonising. The
EU withdrawal bill will complete its
third readingg and report
stage in the Commons
ay before
on Wednesday
he House
heading to the
re it faces
of Lords where
a mauling, nott least from
ro-Remain
dozens of pro-Remain
avour a secpeers who favour
um.
ond referendum.
hristmas,
Before Christmas,
Grieve, a former
eral, led
attorney general,
a successful Tory
gainst
rebellion against
it to
hard Brexit
ensure MPs will
have to vote for a
efore
new statute before
any Brexit deal
eed.
can be agreed.
THE KEY GROUPS
THE PEERS
RS
The government
nment has
no majority
y in the
Lords, where
ere there
ore proare also more
EU Tories, such as
Baroness Wheatve, and
croft, above,
ltine. ForLord Heseltine
ervants
mer civil servants
rs could
and lawyers
blems for
cause problems
nment.
the government.
so more
There is also
support forr a second
m in the
referendum
ugh peers
Lords, though
ry of overwill be wary
he mark.
stepping the
THE HARDLINERS
DLINERS
Nigel Farage,
ge, right,
has suggested
sted that
another referendum
ferendum
may be needed
eded to
nail down the
o leave
decision to
wever,
the EU. However,
iters in the
most Brexiters
ative party,
Consrervative
n Duncan
such as Iain
ve taken
Smith, have
hat they
the view that
will acceptt a series
sions over
of concessions
ong as the
Brexit as long
ally leaves
UK eventually
the bloc.
?For too long, the
party has been run by
rightwingers intent
on destroying our
country Now we?re
country.
taking tthe party back
Ryan Shorthouse,
Short
Tory activist
Dominic Grieve led a
successful Tory revolt
against a hard Brexit.
The effect is to give MPs a vote ? and an
effective veto, on the outcome of negotiations with Brussels ? something the hard
Brexiters were determined to resist.
This week the focus will be on Labour,
as a growing number of Jeremy Corbyn?s
MPs put pressure on their leader to adopt
a ?rmer pro-EU, pro-single market line.
Upwards of 60 Labour MPs are now
believed to back permanent membership
of the single market and customs union
after Brexit and are ready to rebel.
Labour has already come a long way
down the soft Brexit road ? but not
far enough for dozens of its MPs. Last
summer, shadow Brexit secretary Keir
Starmer shifted to support membership
of the single market and customs during a
post-Brexit transition of up to four years.
He is now being urged to go much further. This weekend, in a sign of that pressure, the leadership announced it would
back an amendment tabled by former
shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray,
which he drew up in the belief it would
leave the party effectively backing singlemarket membership for the long term.
The amendment says that, after the
final Brexit deal is done and known,
Labour will insist on a full independent economic analysis, involving the
National Audit Office, the Office of
Budget Responsibility, the government
actuary?s department, and the ?nance
directorates of each of the devolved
administrations, before MPs vote on the
?nal deal.
Chuka Umunna, one of the Labour
MPs leading cross-party efforts to secure
a soft Brexit, sees this as a step forward,
though still an insufficient one.
?This is a significant move, which
shows we are rightly focusing on the
need to demonstrate what the economic
impact of Theresa May?s Tory Brexit will
be on people?s lives.
?If such an assessment is not carried
out, or if it is and concludes that a Tory
Brexit deal would be bad for the economy, we should oppose it. Labour should
be clear that at a minimum we should
back single market and customs union
membership, (or full participation), for
good.? Meanwhile peers ? including
14.01.18
Brexit | NEWS | 9
*
peers are ?exing their muscles.
for Brexit is only just beginning
TORY MODERATES
A group of rebels
including Dominic Grieve and
Anna Soubry, left,
helped to defeat
the government by
supporting the idea
of a ?meaningful
vote? on the Brexit
deal. Their support
for a soft Brexit is
supported by others
in the party, and the
arrival of Justine
Greening on the
backbenches could
boost their numbers.
LABOUR
The party?s position
has become softer
since it backed the
triggering of article
50. Keir Starmer,
left, the shadow
Brexit secretary,
has been at the
forefront of shifting
the position and now
faces a decision over
whether to back
keeping Britain in the
EU?s customs union.
Other ?gures such
as Chuka Umunna
and Chris Leslie
want a far softer
Brexit than currently
supported by the
frontbench.
many who take the Tory whip ? are joining cross-party alliances in an attempt
to secure long-term single-market and
customs membership.
Some are also planning amendments
calling for a second referendum before
the UK leaves the EU ? the same suggestion as that made by Farage on Tuesday.
Yesterday it emerged that, following
Farage?s meeting with Barnier in Brussels last week, it will be the turn of Tory
Remainers Grieve and Anna Soubry and
Labour MPs Leslie and Umunna to bend
the ear of the man leading the EU negotiations on Brexit.
Their meeting with Barnier will be
another blow to Farage ? and further
con?rmation of his growing conviction
that victory for Leave on the night of 23
June 2016 was far from the end of the
story.
ON OTHER PAGES
Turn to page dummy here header here
over two lines with the web address
Observer Comment xx
Great repeal bill puts
human rights at risk,
say UK experts
by Jamie Doward
A human rights de?cit will be created
by the government?s EU withdrawal
bill, leaving many different groups in
society without adequate protection,
leading civil rights bodies warn in a letter published in today?s Observer.
The organisations spell out profound
concerns that a raft of rights will be jettisoned with no adequate replacement
once the bill becomes law and the UK
leaves the EU.
Among others, the Equality and
Human Rights Commission (EHRC),
Amnesty International, Liberty, the
Fawcett Society and National Aids
Trust warn that the bill, which is
returning to the House of Commons
this week, ?will not protect people?s
rights in the UK as the government
promised?. They say: ?This is in爈arge
part because the bill removes the EU
charter of fundamental rights from
our爈aw.?
David Isaac, the chair of the
EHRC, the UK?s own independent
human rights watchdog, said: ?The
government has promised there will
be no rowing back on people?s rights
after Brexit. If we lose the charter
protections, that promise will be
broken. It will cause legal confusion
and there will be gaps in the law.
?While securing trade deals is vital
for our economy, equality and human
rights are also essential. They must also
be the focus for the type of country we
want to be after Brexit. Current protections must not be jeopardised.?
According to the signatories to the
letter, ?The charter protects rights
important to all of us: including rights
to dignity, protection of personal data
and health; and protections for workers, women, children, and older people,
LGBTI and disabled people.?
The government maintains that the
charter will cease to be part of UK law
when Britain leaves the EU but insists
that rights will not be weakened following Brexit. However, the signatories
claim that independent legal advice
shows this to be wrong.
?Losing it creates a human rights
hole because the charter provides
some rights and judicial remedies that
have no clear equivalents in UK law,?
they write.
?Furthermore, by keeping the wide
and complex body of EU law while
throwing away the charter, which is
the code to unlock it, the government
risks creating confusion, jamming
itself in a mountain of legal cases.?
According to the EHRC, rights that
would be lost, and which do not have
direct equivalents in other UK human
rights law, include a freestanding right
to non-discrimination, protection of
a child?s best interests and the right to
human dignity.
Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit
secretary, has said that Labour
will propose an amendment to the
withdrawal bill when it returns to
the Commons on Tuesday, aimed at
retaining the charter as part of UK law.
Trevor Tayleur, an associate professor at the University of Law, explained
that the charter, although narrower
in focus than the Human Rights Act,
offers a more robust defence of fundamental rights.
?At present, the main means of protecting human rights in the UK is the
Human Rights Act 1998,? he said. ?This
incorporates the bulk of the rights and
freedoms enshrined in the European
convention on human rights into UK
law and thereby enables individuals
to enforce their convention rights in
the UK courts. However, there is a
signi?cant limitation to the protection
afforded by the HRA because it does
David Isaac, chair
of the Equality
and Human Rights
Commission, says
Brexit will lead to
?legal confusion?.
not override acts of parliament.
?In contrast, the protection afforded
by the EU charter of fundamental
rights is much stronger because where
there is a con?ict between basic rights
contained in the charter and an act of
the Westminster parliament, the charter will prevail over the act.?
Koldo Casla, policy director at
Just Fair, an NGO that monitors and
campaigns for economic and social
rights in the UK, is one of the letter?s
signatories. He said: ?Social rights
have been part of Britain?s tradition for
centuries and Brexit should not change
that. We must preserve the EU charter
of fundamental rights and we must
incorporate into our legal system all
other social rights standards that the
UK has voluntarily signed up to at the
international level.?
ON OTHER PAGES
Why Britain might be asked to vote again
Andrew Rawnsley, Comment, page 37
Brexit vote could be overturned by strong Remainers ? Farage
Continued from page 1
said, left him convinced that the UK
would not be offered the kind of deal
that would be easy to sell as bene?cial
to the UK economy unless Leavers
upped their game.
?We no longer have a majority in
parliament. I think we would lose the
vote in parliament,? Farage said.
Farage?s rallying call to Leavers
re?ects genuine alarm among hardline
Brexit supporters that too many
concessions have already been made to
the Remain side of the Brexit argument
by Theresa May?s government, and that
more could follow.
As negotiations continue in
Brussels, and Brexit legislation passes
through parliament, the government
has already accepted the case for a
two-year transition period in which
the UK would effectively remain in
the single market and customs union.
Before Christmas, pro-EU Tory MPs
sided with opposition MPs to defeat
the government and ensure that MPs
will have a ?meaningful vote? on the
eventual Brexit agreement struck
with Brussels ? meaning they have an
effective veto.
Labour will this week back an
amendment to the EU withdrawal
bill demanding that a very detailed
independent economic analysis of the
effects of the eventual deal should be
conducted after it is struck but before it
is put to a vote of MPs.
While the Labour leadership is
playing down the signi?cance of
the move, many MPs see it as a step
towards their party backing permanent
membership of the EU single market
and customs union.
Labour MP Chris Leslie, a supporter
of the pro-EU grouping Open
Britain ? one of those which Farage
worries has become too in?uential
? said: ?The very least the Labour
frontbench should be supporting is a
proper analysis of the dire economic
consequences of leaving the
single market and the customs
union.
?The clock is ticking and the time for
sitting on the fence is long gone. This
should serve as a stepping stone to the
party backing the position of staying
in the single market and the customs
union permanently.?
Anti hard-Brexit Tories says their
numbers have increased since May?s
widely criticised government reshuffle,
in which Remainer Justine Greeing
left the Cabinet to sit with pro-EU
Tories at prime minister?s
questions.
Writing for the Observer today, Ben
Bradley, the 28-year-old Mans?eld MP
and newly appointed Tory vice-chair
for youth, said the reshuffle marked a
moment for the party to show it would
become more responsive to the needs
of young voters following its poor
election result last June.
?Last year?s general election saw a
surge in young people turning out to
vote, with 18-to-24-year-olds voting
in greater numbers than at any other
time,? he writes.
?Politicians ? of all political stripes
? have to start listening. The fact that
most of the youth vote went to Labour
in 2017 means that Conservatives
have to start listening even more
carefully.
?As a young person ? brought up
on the values of tolerance and respect
? I want to ensure that people of my
generation and younger are not
scared to say that they are a
Conservative.?
10 | NEWS
*
Anxiety-prone teenagers
?buy Xanax on dark web?
MPs urge action on use
of tranquilliser that can
turn young ?into zombies?
by Dulcie Lee
A growing number of children are
using the anti-anxiety drug Xanax to
?self-medicate? against mental health
problems, prompting calls from senior
Labour MPs for an investigation into the
escalating use of the tranquilliser, which
is around 20 times stronger than Valium.
Xanax has seen a sharp rise in popularity in the past year, with some experts
saying it has become one of the top ?ve
drugs used by young people, alongside
cannabis and alcohol. Known as alprazolam in its generic form, Xanax is not
available on prescription in the UK but
can easily be bought from street dealers,
online pharmacies or the dark web for as
little as �a pill.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan
Ashworth is joining Labour MP Bam-
bos Charalambous to urge Public Health
England to look into the apparent boom
in usage after one of Charalambous?s
constituents said her daughter had been
groomed using Xanax. Ashworth said:
?Some of the stories we are hearing
about this are shocking.?
Charalambous, who will hold a debate
on the drug in parliament tomorrow
night, said: ?Some young people are
using Xanax to self-medicate to cope
with anxiety, while younger teenagers
are being groomed and exploited by drug
pushers taking advantage of the drug?s
14.01.18
Xanax, below,
is said to be
becoming almost
as popular as
alcohol and
marijuana among
young people.
Alamy
?zombie-like? effects. The government
needs to research its use and gather clear
data, raise public awareness and put support in place for those who have developed a dependency.?
The news comes after a spate of
Xanax-related hospitalisations over
Christmas, prompting Lewes police
in East Sussex to warn people at New
Year?s Eve events
ts about the dangers off
her prescription
taking Xanax and other
ve most
mos
drugs. Charity workers believe
teenagers taking Xanax are doing so ffor
recreational use, but signi?cant anecdotal evidence is suggesting that many
are trying to manage anxiety and other
mental health problems.
Nick Hickmott at the charity Addaction said: ?I think the self-medication
taps into CAMHS [child and adolescent
mental health services] waiting lists and
young people not having access to good
mental health care.
?Young people don?t have the time to
explore anxiety and paranoia, and pressure and stress. Young people are looking
for answers and they?re not necessarily
looking to GPs, carers or drug workers ?
they?re looking to each other.?
Hickmott says he had learned of a
teenager who bought 300 pills on the
dark web and sold them to his peers at
school. ?So it?s not so much the big bad
dealers coming down from London to
snap up all these kids who don?t know
what they?re doing,? he said.
Addaction believes more needs to be
done to educate young people about the
harm involved in taking Xanax, including the addictive nature of the drug. In
the last few months there have been several reports of people being hospitalised
after taking Xanax in Sussex, Somerset,
Kent and Cumbria.
The drug has also achieved greater
publicity through online and celebrity
culture. In November last year, 21-yearold rapper Lil Peep died from an acci-
?Young people want
answers, and they?re
not looking to GPs.
They?re looking to
each other?
Nick Hickmott, charity worker
dental overdose of Xanax and the painkiller Fentanyl in the US, where Xanax is
widely prescribed.
Charalambous?s constituent Michaela
said her 14-year-old daughter had fallen
in with ?the wrong crowd? over the
summer holidays and quickly spiralled
downwards after using Xanax. She said:
?It?s scarily easy to get hold of. When she
was on Xanax she would act like she was
really drunk, really dopey like a zombie,
and then the next day she would be
really aggressive and quite violent.
?She?s looking for something to make
her feel better. And these people introduced her to something that temporarily
makes her feel better,? Michaela added.
She warned that things can change
quickly: ?Her school reports were
impeccable, and she?s gone from that, six
months ago, to being expelled.?
Professor Malcolm Lader, a clinical
psychopharmacologist at King?s College London, said Xanax could be used
as a date-rape or grooming drug due to
its amnesia-inducing effects. ?[Users]
become zombie-like. They?re dazed. It?s
an introductory drug to more serious
abuse. If they?re taking it every day ?
they?re going to be staggering around.?
Xanax is part of a wider class of drugs
known as benzodiazepines, which are
known to cause physical and psychological dependence. The drug interacts
strongly with alcohol, greatly increasing
the risk of overdose
James ?rst took Xanax aged 15, and
said he ?loved it?.
He said: ?Mixing Xanax with weed
made me feel 10 times more drowsy than
before. It gave me a confidence boost
which was nice because before I suffered
with anxiety.
?Then, not realising the addictive
side effects, I built up a tolerance and
was taking around a bar every couple of
days. It was cheap [�a bar] and it was
glamourised all over social media.?
Some names have been changed
14.01.18
NEWS | 11
*
Churchill?s battle
cry: ?Fight them
in your breeches?
Gary Oldman plays
Winston Churchill in the
film Darkest Hour, released
in cinemas last week.
Working Title Films
As the exploits of Britain?s wartime leader are
hailed in cinemas, details emerge of how he had
earlier called the idea of women in con?ict ?revolting?
by Jamie Doward
It is perhaps the most famous peroration of the second world war. ?We shall
?ght on the beaches, we shall ?ght on
the landing grounds, we shall fight in
the ?elds and in the streets, we shall ?ght
in the hills; we shall never surrender,?
declared Winston Churchill.
However, if his earlier thinking on the
subject was anything to go by, Churchill should have added the rejoinder:
women will be allowed to do so only
if they are dressed
d as men. A longneglected essay byy Britain?s wartime
leader, written a year
ear before war with
Germany was declared
ared
and explored in a
new book, reveals
that Churchill held
bizarre views on the role
of women in con?ict.
t.
The essay, pubber
An anti-aircraft spotter
in Britain in 1942.
lished in the monthly Strand Magazine
and entitled Women in War, opens
with the arresting observation: ?The
idea of women entering the line of battle and ?ghting in war is revolting to us.
The whole civilisation of the western
world is based upon the traditions of
chivalry which have come down from
medieval times and still exert a potent
force.? Invoking the Christian canon and
Greek philosophers, Churchill, who was
then a backbench MP, suggested there
could, however, be exceptions. ?We are
not revolted particularly by the idea of
women fighting disguised as
wom
men,? he wrote. And he conme
tinues: ?Some women are
tin
very like men, and a woman
ve
disguised as a man does not
di
challenge the principle of
ch
women ?ghting.?
wo
Churchill?s comments
aare light years from those
of the modern British army,
o
which last week launched a
w
new recruitment campaign
ne
aimed at reaching people who
aim
have historically not been attracted to a
military career.
General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the
general staff, explained: ?Our traditional
cohort would have been white, male,
Caucasian 16 to 25-year-olds, and there
are not as many of those around as there
once were. Our society is changing, and
I think it?s entirely appropriate for us
therefore to reach out to a much broader
base to get the talent we need to stay in
that combat effectiveness.?
Professor Richard Toye, head of his-
tory at the University of Exeter, and a
leading expert on Churchill, came across
the essay while researching for a chapter
he contributed to a new book, Rethinking Right-Wing Women. ?It wasn?t something Churchill was obsessed with making a point,? Toye said. ?He rather kept
his views about women under his hat.?
Rather, Toye suggested, Churchill,
who would go on to win the Nobel prize
for literature, was doing the bidding of
his literary agent, Emery Reves who
would suggest topics for the politician
to write about. ?Churchill didn?t do stuff
unless he was being pretty well paid,?
Toye said. ?Strand Magazine?s ability to
pay him what would probably have been
several hundred pounds in those days
indicates this was a commercially successful magazine.?
In his essay, Churchill suggested that
even the Germans had ?set their faces
like ?int against using women as ?ghters.
They hold to the broad human principle
that the women?s place is in the home
and that the male protects her.? But,
despite feminist ideas gaining ?a great
ascendancy? in England, he suggested
?the tests of war would very soon show
that the stronger sex would have to do
the ?ghting and the weaker the suffering
and weeping?.
Toye suggested Churchill?s views
were relatively unusual for the time.
?He was fundamentally fairly sexist but,
unlike a lot of politicians at the time, he
didn?t offer generalisations about women?s capacities. He was at best a lukewarm supporter of votes for women. But
he didn?t say ?we mustn?t give women the
vote because their brains aren?t right or
they lack physical capacity?, it was more
?I don?t see the demand is there?.?
The transformative power of technology was a particular concern, given how
it could create a level playing ?eld for
the sexes. ?The women, at great disadvantage with club or spear, will, it is said,
be on equal terms in pressing the button
of a machine-gun or in pulling a trigger,?
Churchill wrote.
ON OTHER PAGES
The woman behind a very great man
Wendy Ide reviews the ?lm Darkest Hour
The New Review, page 29
12 | NEWS | Pro?le
*
14.01.18
Shane MacGowan with his
partner Victoria Mary Clarke
in their Dublin home in 2016.
Photograph by Steve
Humphries /eyevine
Bruised, bloody but unbowed at 60: the
?miraculous? survival of the Pogues poet
As fans of Shane MacGowan gather at a
Dublin concert to mark his milestone
ne
birthday, Sean O?Hagan re?ects on
a remarkable songwriting legacy
?I believe in miracles,? Shane MacGowan
said recently in response to a question
about his religious beliefs from the Irish
radio show host, Miriam O?Callaghan.
?I?ve seen miracles happen in my life.
It?s a miracle every morning when you
wake up.?
In MacGowan?s case, this oft-repeated
spiritual mantra has a particular resonance. Having turned 60 on Christmas
Day, he has de?ed the dire predictions
of both doctors and concerned friends
regarding his doggedly self-destructive
lifestyle over the last four decades. In
short, Shane MacGowan is alive and
(relatively) well despite himself, despite
the years of dissolution that began in his
teens and continued apace through his
years as a punk ?face? in the late 1970s,
the halcyon days of his London-Irish
group, the Pogues, in the 1980s, and the
long years since when his appetite for
excess dulled both his songwriting skill
and his ability to perform.
What is also clear with each passing year, however, is that the great
MacGowan songs endure, from the
bruised romanticism of A Pair of Brown
Eyes to the brutal realism of The Old
Main Drag, his evocation of life among
the teenage rent boys that once haunted
Piccadilly Circus by night. Not only that,
but they possess a visceral authenticity
that belongs to a time before the onset of
cultural gentri?cation, when rock music
was peopled with outsiders and mis?ts.
As one of them, MacGowan wrote with
acuity about the lives of London?s human
?otsam and jetsam.
?His songs, even though they are
hard-edged, always have empathy for
the characters in them,? says Bobby
Gillespie, lead singer of Primal Scream.
?He has a brutal eye for detail and he can
tell a story in a concise but almost cinematic way using these amazing images
that just hit you in the heart with their
tenderness and emotion.?
Tomorrow evening, in celebration of
MacGowan?s 60th birthday, a host of fellow performers including Gillespie, Nick
Cave and Cerys Matthews will grace the
stage of the National Concert Hall in
Dublin to sing his songs backed by a band
that will include a few ex-Pogues as well
as the Hollywood actor Johnny Depp
on guitar. Like Cave, Depp is a close
friend of MacGowan?s who directed and
appeared in the video for That Woman?s
Got Me Drinking, and considers Shane
?... a special being and one of the most
important poets of the 20th century?.
According to MacGowan?s longtime
partner, Victoria Mary Clarke, other surprises are planned for the concert, but
even had Bob Dylan been able to make
it (he had a prior engagement), nothing
will be more eagerly awaited than the
sight of MacGowan himself appearing
onstage to deliver his singular songs in
his inimitable way.
?Shane always seems to be channelling something when he sings,? says
Cave. ?Some kind of energy that exists
beyond himself. I saw him at a soundcheck at a festival in France, and he
walked up to the mike and stood with
his hands in his pockets and sang A Pair
Of Brown Eyes, and for the few of us that
were there time stood still. There was so
much emotional power coming out of
him, without him doing a fucking thing,
that you had to question your ideas
of divinity.? Five hours later, though,
MacGowan was un?t to perform. ?That
is the other side of him, of course,? says
Cave. ?But we love that too.?
It has been a while since MacGowan
played a live gig, having been wheelchair-bound, on and off, since a heavy fall
badly damaged his back a few years ago.
?I?m concentrating on my health at the
minute,? he told O?Callaghan, and to this
end he has given up spirits and now only
drinks wine. This is progress of a sort,
given his marathon aversion to what he
considered the curse of sobriety. ?Why
should I hold back?? he retorted, when
I expressed concern about the extent of
his self-destructive lifestyle way back in
1989. ?I mean, I?ve got one life to live. It?s
my choice to die when I want to.?
As the years went by, however, and
several of his acquaintances did in fact
die from alcohol and drugs, it seemed
almost inevitable that MacGowan would
follow suit, particularly when he began
to attract the perhaps inevitable coterie of equally dissolute hangers-on that
gravitate like ambulance chasers to the
famously self-destructive. On YouTube
you can view a few interviews with him
in the 90s in which he seems barely able
to speak, never mind answer questions.
But like Keith Richards and Iggy Pop
Shane MacGowan, photographed by Andy
Hall in the Mean Fiddler, London, in 2000.
?He has a brutal eye
for detail and can tell
a story using these
amazing images that
hit you in the heart?
Bobby Gillespie, Primal Scream
before him, MacGowan has proved himself to be one of the great rock?n?roll survivors ? bruised, bloody but unbowed, as
he enters his seventh decade.
I ?rst crossed paths with him when
he was working in a record shop called
Rocks Off in central London in 1976. If
memory serves me well, he insisted I buy
the debut single of a group I had never
heard of: New Rose by the Damned.
Unbeknown to me at the time, it was
the ?rst British punk record. As I later
realised, MacGowan was one of the early
faces on the London punk scene. As a
wired 19-year-old, he was captured for
posterity dancing furiously in a Union
Jack jacket on the floor of the fabled
Roxy Club in Covent Garden. ?I was
happy during punk, incredibly happy,?
he told me wistfully a decade later. ?I
didn?t regard it as chaos; to me it was
natural living.?
In 1981 his post-punk band the Nips
released a single called Gabrielle, its
swagger and edgy romantic lyricism the
earliest intimation of what was to follow.
Then, sometime in 1984, I witnessed the
Pogues, then still called Pogue Mahone
(the Irish for ?kiss my arse?) in a Brixton
bar. Apart from the female bass player,
Cait O?Riordan, who exuded icily cool
punk attitude in spades, there was nothing remotely glamorous about them. I
described them back then as ?a motley
bunch of Anglo-Irish swiggers with attitude, kitted out in secondhand suits their
grandfathers might have worn, playing
songs their Irish aunts and uncles sang
at weddings, parties, anywhere?.
Once I had gotten over the shock of
hearing old-fashioned Irish ballads like
The Auld Triangle and Poor Paddy being
given a good kicking, I began to take in
MacGowan?s originals ? raw and rowdy
punk-fuelled songs like Transmetropolitan and The Boys from the County
Hell. To me, and thousands like me, they
seemed both old and new, familiar and
disorientating. They were immigrant
songs: London-Irish rather than purely
Irish, as dependent for their visceral
insider reportage on the primal in?uence of the Sex Pistols as on the Dubliners. Back then, MacGowan often evoked
a rural, pre-Celtic Tiger Ireland that
was already disappearing, but his lyrics
spoke to me even more directly of the
life I lived back then ? the crappy jobs,
the dole queue, the casual racism, but
also the more illicitly exciting London
of semi-legal squats, cheap gigs, and allnight shebeens and dive bars.
Like the plays of Martin McDonagh,
who cites the Pogues as a formative
influence, MacGowan?s songs arose
out of his lived experience of both rural
Ireland and inner-city London. Thus,
unashamedly romantic descriptions of
home often merge with images of urban
alienation, oppression and violence.
He was an outsider in England from
the moment he arrived as a youngster plucked from rural Tipperary on
a scholarship to Westminster School.
Constantly bullied for his looks and
accent, he spent long hours, he later told
me, wandering alone in Soho, a curious
teenager drawn to the seedy undertow
of those pre-gentrified streets where
the lure of peep shows and strip joints
still held sway. All he experienced, saw
and overheard somehow lodged in his
brain, and came out again, transformed,
in the songs he wrote on the scraps of
paper that littered his ?at in King?s Cross
alongside the empty bottles and scattered records.
One of those songs, of course, has
since entered the public consciousness
in the most surprising way. The epic and
brutally romantic sway of Fairytale of
New York has become the festive song
for those of us who can?t abide festive
songs, and no amount of annual overexposure can dull the achingly regretful
sway of the couplet he trades with the
late Kirsty MacColl ? ?I could have been
someone/ Well, so could anyone.?
?I regard Shane as easily the best lyric
writer of our generation,? says Nick
Cave. ?He has a very natural, unadorned,
crystalline way with language. There is
a compassion in his words that is always
tender, often brutal, and completely his
own.? Whatever the ragged contours of
Shane MacGowan?s epically unruly life,
it is his tender and brutal songs that will
live on after he, and those of us who had
the good fortune to experience him in
full creative ?ow, are long gone.
14.01.18
NEWS | 13
*
New row over advice to Worboys parole board
Prison sta? fear ?undue
weight? given to evidence
of defence psychologist
by Jamie Doward
Prison and probation officials have complained that disproportionate weight
was given to external advice in the controversial decision to release ?taxi rapist ? John Worboys, the Observer has
been told.
An independent psychologist, hired
by Worboys? defence team, drew up a
report, making the case for his release,
that ran contrary to the opinions of
some Prison Service officials. The psychologist, whose identity is protected
by parole board procedures, had previously called for Worboys, jailed in 2009
for attacks on 12 women and suspected
of scores more, to be moved to an open
prison. The request was rejected in 2016.
However, after conducting interviews
with Worboys last year, the expert, who
has decades of experience working with
sex offenders, produced a report for
Worboys? lawyers endorsing his release
which was then submitted to the threestrong parole board panel hearing his
case. Its decision to approve Worboys?
release shocked his victims, who have
questioned whether he has been sufficiently rehabilitated.
It is currently unclear whether Worboys has undergone a sex offender rehabilitation programme or admitted his
guilt ? normally a precursor to release.
In 2015 he launched an appeal against
his sentence, proclaiming his innocence.
?The decision to release Worboys
is highly controversial,? said Harry
Fletcher, an expert on probation and
victims? rights. ?The independent report
appears to have been very in?uential in
that process. Prison sources have told
me that undue prominence was given to
the independent report over those provided by prison and probation staff.?
Fletcher said that lawyers acting for
prisoners applying for parole were entitled to commission independent experts.
Increasingly defence teams commission
their own psychological reports. This
would usually involve at least two interviews with the applicant in jail. ?The
report does not have to be submitted,
but if put forward it can be in?uential,?
Fletcher said. ?It is controversial, as
prison staff are paid to assess inmates and
have considerable experience of monitoring behaviour and risk over many years.?
A spokeswoman for the parole board
said the decision to release Worboys was
taken only after extensive consultation.
?The parole board carefully considered
a detailed dossier of evidence of nearly
400 pages and heard evidence from
nine witnesses, including four psycholJohn Worboys was
given an indeterminate jail sentence
after he attacked
12 women. He is
suspected of more.
ogists, two probation officers and three
members of prison staff,? she said. ?The
independent parole board panel took
account of all of that evidence. It is simply untrue to say that they were overly
in?uenced by one individual?s evidence.?
Worboys was held on an indeterminate prison sentence. These have no
?xed length of time and it is up to the
parole board to decide when someone
on such a sentence is released.
A brie?ng document explains: ?The
parole board makes these decisions by
assessing the risk the prisoner presents
to the public. It may only direct the
release of a life sentence prisoner if it is
satis?ed that it is no longer necessary for
him/her to be detained in order to protect the public from serious harm.?
However, the panel?s assessment that
Worboys no longer poses a risk to the
public is disputed by some of his victims.
Lawyers from Slater and Gordon
and Birnberg Peirce ? two ?rms which
have represented some of the women
he attacked ? have written to the Crown
Prosecution Service asking it to reassess
93 unprosecuted cases against Worboys.
The CPS has rejected the request.
Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru?s
spokeswoman on home affairs, last week
used a parliamentary question to ask the
lord chancellor, David Gauke, to commit
to a review ?that will consider the role
of independent psychologists in advising
on offender risk, especially when their
advice con?icts with that of probation
and prison professionals?.
In response, Gauke said: ?Clearly,
as爓e look at the issue of transparency
for parole board decisions, we shall
need爐o look at the evidence with which
the board is provided and review the
extent to which it should be put in the
public domain.?
Whitehall calls
emergency talks
on Carillion crisis
Government departments are holding emergency meetings this weekend
to discuss contingency plans if the
construction giant Carillion, which is
involved in a raft of public infrastructure projects including HS2, is forced
into administration.
Opposition parties are now
questioning the decision to continue
awarding the Wolverhampton-based
?rm public sector contracts when
ministers knew it was in trouble.
Reports that the company?s proposed
plan to turn around its fortunes has
been rejected by stakeholders, which
include leading banks Barclays, HSBC
and Santander, have been played down.
But time is running out for a deal and
there are claims that Carillion could be
placed in the hands of administrator
EY as early as Monday.
?The government has continued to
hand contracts to the company, even
after pro?ts warnings were issued,?
said Jon Trickett MP, Labour?s shadow
minister for the Cabinet Office. ?Jobs
and public services are at risk because
the Tories were blinded by their
commitment to a failing ideological
project of introducing the pro?t motive
into taxpayer-funded services.?
Chris Grayling, the transport
secretary, is facing the most pressure.
His department awarded a consortium
that included Carillion a share of
contracts for the HS2 line just a week
after the company had issued a shock
pro?ts warning that marked the start
of its crisis. Whitehall insiders stressed
that the HS2 contracts had been ?stress
tested? to ensure that if one contractor
pulled out, others in the consortium
could ?ll the gap.
A government spokeswoman said:
?The company has kept us informed
of the steps it is taking to restructure
the business. We remain supportive of
their ongoing discussions with their
stakeholders and await future updates.?
Flo & Joan
by Jamie Doward and Michael Savage
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to a friend and if they switch their current account
to us within 90 days, you?ll share �0.
15 million members building society, nationwide
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ON OTHER PAGES
Carillion in crisis as outsourcing operation
crumbles under debt
Karl West, Business, pages 42-43
Information correct as at 21.12.17.
Nationwide Building Society. Head Of?ce: Nationwide House, Pipers Way, Swindon, Wiltshire SN38 1NW.
14.01.18
| 15
*
Barbara Ellen
Gay people?s sex
lives are none of
Farron?s business
T
im Farron has said that he now
regrets saying that gay sex
wasn?t a sin, when he was Liberal Democrat leader during the
last general election campaign. Speaking to Premier Christian Radio, Farron,
an evangelical Christian, said that he?d
felt pressured to make the statement.
Vince Cable and other Liberal
Democrats have since criticised
Farron, while gay activists asked why
he was allowed to return to the LibDem frontbench. Farron has become
an embarrassment, not just to LGBT
people, but to his party and modernthinking Christians.
It?s signi?cant that, even now, Farron
only wishes that he hadn?t said that gay
sex wasn?t a sin. He?s not ?coming out?,
as it were, to say that he thinks that gay
sex is a sin. Elsewhere, his view that
he?s being persecuted for his Christian
beliefs seems somewhat disingenuous.
All political leaders end up being asked
about LGBT issues.
Farron also claims that he would
never have been allowed to explain
himself properly ? when media outlets
were falling over themselves to run an
article from him and sections of the
LGBT media repeatedly offered him a
platform. In truth, Farron wasn?t being
persecuted, scapegoated or muzzled.
He was being treated like any other
leader ? his unease was because he
knew that what he had to say would
prove disastrous.
This is all beyond disappointing
for someone like myself, who joined
the Liberal Democrats just before
the last general
ral election.
I don?t regrett it ? I
still appreciate
ate the
party remaining
ning
staunchly prooRemain, unlike
ke
increasingly
pathetic two-faced
-faced
Labour. I?d also
lso
argue that Farron?s
arron?s
political clumsimsiness in handling
ling the
situation wass a point in
his favour ? I know we live
in increasingly
gly cynical
times, but it has to be
Tim Farron:
misguided.
better when a politician isn?t a really
smooth liar.
However, the situation with Farron
has become as confusing as it is
disgraceful, up to and including the
fact that he has supported pro-LGBT
legislation in the past. Does this make
Farron a hypocrite (bad), someone
who?s able to put civil rights ahead
of his personal views (good) or just
completely confused as to what ?gay?
means?
Indeed, in a wider sense, this
becomes not just about Farron, but
about people such as Farron, evangelically Christian or otherwise, who
believe that they have the right to
hold such bizarre, dated, judgmental attitudes towards someone else?s
sexuality. It raises the question: when
are heterosexuals going to accept that
what gay people get up to, sexually, is
none of their business?
You?d think that, in 2018, this
wouldn?t even be up for discussion, but
still some people seem to feel that they
have the right to dictate what homosexuals are allowed to do.
In truth, within the con?nes of the
law, it?s no one?s business what LGBT
people do and, therefore, no need for
either prurient handwringing or agonised ethical contortions. This is where
it starts looking a little weird that
Farron voted for pro-LGBT legislation
? it could be construed as a squeamish
attempt to separate gay people from
their sexual practices. Similarly, it?s no
use saying that gay people are OK, but
isn?t,
says that the
gay sex isn
t, because that sa
celibate one.
only good gay person is a cel
Some sections of society still
s can?t
engage in sex, so
accept that gay people engag
they turn it into a sexless/civic/domessexless/ci
tic deal, because that?s all they
can
t
handle. And when they can?t
ca handle
it, they call gay sex ?disgusting?
and
?disgu
?unnatural?? or they get into media
tangles over whether or not
n gay sex
is a sin.
People such as Farron need to
accept that ?gay? usually means
?gay sex? and get over iit. The good
news is that there?s n
nothing
to worry about,
because
becau it?s
none of their
non
damn
d
business.
Surgeons don?t
have to sign their
names? in us
S
Surgeon Simon Bramhall was fined �,000 for initialling his patients? livers. PA
�
?I loved
playing
Trudy.
She made
men think
they had
the power
while she
controlled
everything. She
was such
a badass?
Mad Men?s
Alison Brie
goes to
Hollywood
pages 12-18
I
t?s always educational to hear from
former Italian prime minister Silvio
Berlusconi, who looks? erm? well,
with any other octogenarian, I?d
hesitate to comment on their appearance, but Berlusconi was always so
generous with his views on female politicians (Angela Merkel: ?Unfuckable
lard-arse?) that I think he?d be ?ne with
my observation that his skin is now so
tortuously stretched that he resembles
a sous-vide Boris Karloff.
However, it?s what Berlusconi has
to say that matters and he?s waded into
the Catherine Deneuve ?randy men
should be able to make passes? row.
Thanking the ?blessed? Deneuve, he
believes women should be ?pleased?
when a man tries to seduce them (of
course they should ? every single time!),
though he wasn?t an expert on the
theme as women usually chased him
(what, always in the same direction, Silvio?). He added that none of it mattered,
so long as the courtship was ?elegant?.
Quite. When Berlusconi comes out
with such gems of wisdom, it seems
negative to dwell on his chequered past
(or present or probable future?). All
that unfortunate tittle-tattle about the
underage escort (Berlusconi was convicted, then acquitted) or the fact that,
even now, as leader of a centre-right
coalition, he?s barred from public office
because of a conviction for tax fraud.
Instead, let?s reminisce about Berlusconi?s ?bunga bunga? parties and
concede that the very ?rst word that
springs to mind is ?elegant?. All those
powerful intoxicated older men, in
tiny shorts, frugging next to swimming
pools, music pumping, bits of barbecued chicken stuck in their chest hairs,
surrounded by young beauties, some
of whom may have actually wanted to
be there. That whole scene was just too
?elegant? for words. The Harvey Weinstein allegations made 2017 a difficult
year ? thank God there?s Berlusconi to
put us straight.
Observer
Magazine
Berlusconi, always the gentleman
urgeon Simon Bramhall, who
burned his initials on to the livers
of two transplant patients while
working at the Queen Elizabeth
hospital, in Birmingham, has been ?ned
�,000 and given a 12-month community order.
Bramhall (now working for the NHS
in Herefordshire) was fortunate not
to have been struck off. It?s disturbing
enough to think of your body being
opened up for surgery, but to have
somebody leave their mark there (?SB?)
is grotesque; as the court found, it was
?an abuse of power, and a betrayal of
trust?. Bramhall?s defence argued that
it was to lighten the mood in theatre.
Really? In that case, put on some quiet
background music ? don?t sign a human
organ, as if you?re some kind of rock
star in scrubs being pestered for an
autograph.
It seems that there was no lasting
harm done ? the marks wouldn?t have
affected the performance of the liver
and they would disappear in time.
However, there?s always harm done; if
nothing else, such incidents bolster the
widespread public perception of surgeons being arrogant and superior.
Too many cases such as this and
patient-surgeon trust would be in grave
danger of breaking down.
16 | NEWS
*
14.01.18
Holiday homage: why the British
Seagulls, ice-cream, chips and pebbles.
Britons? love a?air with their beaches
has been captured in a new exhibition
of photographs. By Vanessa Thorpe
Over many decades the distinctive British beach experience ? pebbles, wind,
deckchairs, seagulls and chips ? has
come close to a national badge of pride
for a stoic nation. This spring the saltlashed island story of that love of our
shoreline is to be celebrated through
the work of four photographers: Martin
Parr, Tony Ray-Jones, David Hurn and
Simon Roberts.
From 23 March to 30 September the
National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south-east London, will look at the
key elements of a visit to the beach and
show how our many coastal resorts have
altered over the years.
In 102 displayed images ? some classics and some never seen before ? the
exhibition, The Great British Seaside,
will chart the shifting view from the
promenade between 1963 and 2017. It
will include images from the archival
collections of each of the photographers,
new ?lms and new work by Parr.
?We chose these artists because their
work resonates so strongly with each
other,? said Kristian Martin, curator of
the show. ?Their photographs speak to
one another about the changes to what is
basically an unchanging British seaside
experience. With some of the pictures in
the show, you could look at them and not
really know in what era they were taken.
So there is a timeless quality to this exhibition as much as a nostalgic factor.?
The selected images, taken from
Brighton to Blackpool and shared with
the Observer today, focus on the customs
and eccentricities of beach behaviour.
Among 42 black-and-white photographs
from the work of the late Ray-Jones are
several memorable shots, including ?ve
vintage prints. Others are fresh prints
made from negatives that have never
been seen before. A posthumously published book, A Day Off, was put together
from images taken while Ray-Jones travelled across Britain in a camper van in
the 1960s with his wife, Anna.
Several of Roberts?s photographs in
the exhibition come from his own English motorhome journey with his wife
and child, taken in homage to Ray-Jones
in 2007 and 2008, which resulted in his
book We English. Roberts is particularly
interested in how people spend their private leisure time in a such a public arena.
Images from his most recent book, Merrie Albion, are also included in the show.
And no exhibition of seaside work
would be complete without Parr, an
acknowledged master of the subject.
The museum will be showing 20 images
from his back catalogue alongside 20
newly commissioned ones of the Essex
coast, including landscapes from Shoeburyness, Walton-on-the-Naze and
Southend-on-Sea.
Also featured will be the work of
Hurn ? described by Martin as ?a doyen
of British photography over six decades?
? including his images of the Welsh
beaches near to where he grew up, as
well as scenes of Herne Bay in Kent.
14.01.18
NEWS | 17
*
do like to be beside the seaside
ONLINE
GALLERY
To see more
photographs
of British
beach life visit:
guardian.com/
inpictures
David Hurn
Whistling
Sands, Pothor,
Aberdaron, 1997.
Hurn is known
for shooting ?lm
stills, fashion
catwalks and
the stars of
pop culture. But
his real love is
chronicling the
lives of ordinary
people.
Magnum
Martin Parr Broadstairs, Kent
1986. The exhibition features
20 images from
Parr's back
catalogue, plus
newly commissioned images of
the Essex coast.
Magnum
Tony
Ray-Jones
Eastbourne,
1968, one of
several photos
in the exhibiton
taken during
Ray-Jones's
camper van
tour of Britain.
National
Science and
Media Museum
Simon Roberts
This 2011 image
of Southport pier
was part of his
series Pierdom
(2010?13), in
which Roberts
followed the
footsteps of
19th-century
photographer
Francis Frith
to document
surviving British
pleasure piers.
Flowers Gallery
18 | NEWS
*
True-crime German tale of
stalking hell published in UK
Dirk Kurbjuweit?s fact-based bestselling novel
asks if violence can be justi?ed in self-defence
by Sarah Hughes
A remarkable German novel based on
the author?s disturbing real-life experience of being stalked by a neighbour is to
be published in the UK later this month.
Fear, a bestseller in Germany that was
recently turned into a TV movie, is the
work of Dirk Kurbjuweit, deputy editor-in-chief of the current affairs magazine Der Spiegel. In 2003, Kurbjuweit?s
downstairs neighbour waged an eightmonth campaign against the family,
This included waiting in the hallway to
shout at Kurbjuweit?s wife, Bettina, trying to get into the family ?at through the
garden, papering the walls in the hallway with notices accusing the couple
of sexually abusing their children, and
writing poems and letters addressed to
them ?lled with fantasies of murder.
Fear takes the family?s experience and
gives it a crucial ?ctional twist ? from the
opening pages, the reader discovers the
protagonist?s elderly father has killed
the stalker. The question becomes one
of complicity and whether it is ever justi?ed to step outside the law.
?It?s an interesting question because
I燿on?t believe that Randolph [the book?s
protagonist] makes the right decision
when he asks his father to help,? says
Kurbjuweit, adding that the grandfather in the book, an expert marksman
who collects guns, is modelled on his
own taciturn parent. ?The idea came
about because in one of my ex-wife?s
darkest moments she said, ?What about
your father? Couldn?t he help?? I knew
she didn?t really mean it, she was simply
feeling desperate, but then a decade later
I found myself thinking: what if??
Kurbjuweit?s wife wasn?t the only
person to suggest violence. His lawyer
said that perhaps he would be better off
?We thought it would
be easy to get him out
because he was the
aggressor, but that
was not the case?
Dirk Kurbjuweit, author
simply getting a gun, ?which was when
I knew we?d entered the realm of the
unimaginable?. Close friends would talk
casually about how they ?knew a bouncer
who could take care of him?. Even the
police admitted there was nothing they
could do. ?We thought it would be easy
to get him out because he was the aggressor, but that was not the case,? says Kurbjuweit. ?Because he hadn?t been violent
there was nothing the state could do. We
couldn?t go on living this way but we also
felt quite strongly that we shouldn?t be
the ones to move because we hadn?t done
anything wrong.?
He chose to write a novel rather than a
memoir because ?a memoir would have
been an act of revenge and not a good
book?. Instead, the central relationship
is not between protagonist and stalker
but rather father and son. ?The character of the father is very close to that of
my father,? the author admits. What did
his father make of it? ?He?s a man of few
words. He read the book and watched
the movie but I don?t know what he
thought about it. I probably never will.?
Fear?s German title is Angst, and in
some ways that feels closer to the uneasy
currents running through the novel: this
is not so much a crime story as a tale of
existential crisis, of action versus inaction. Unsurprisingly, there have been
arguments at public readings over
whether the book?s solution is right.
?One of the things I was most interested in was how thin the line is between
being civilised and uncivilised,? Kurbjuweit says. ?It?s a subject people have
very strong views about. Many feel that
if you are under threat then it is justi?ed to take the law into your own hands.
Myself, I don?t like guns, I don?t like violence ? even in my darkest moments I
believed that the state would help us.?
In the end, his faith in the law was
justi?ed. After talking to a psychiatrist
about his neighbour?s mental health
issues ? issues that his neighbour was
aware of, Kurbjuweit adds ?爏he agreed
to assess him. ?A few days later he
packed a suitcase and left,? Kurbjuweit
says. ?He went to live in a place with
?Fictional twist?:
The UK edition
of the German
bestseller, Fear.
other men who had difficulty integrating in society.? He died soon afterwards
of a heart attack.
Does Kurbjuweit feel any sympathy
for his stalker? ?Not exactly, because
what he did was terrible ? but he had an
awful life,? he says. ?He was an orphan
who had grown up in care homes. I later
found out some terrible things had happened to him. He was a very sad person
but what he did was still very wrong.?
Fear by Dirk Kurbjuweit is published
by燨rion on 25 January (�.99)
14.01.18
Kurbjuweit?s
Fear revisits
a domestic
nightmare and
is a bestseller
in Germany.
14.01.18
NEWS | 19
*
Non-believers turn to prayer in a crisis, poll ?nds
Family and friends among top reasons to call on God
and many pray while doing their household chores
by Harriet Sherwood
Religion Correspondent
For many non-believers, it is an instinctive response to a crisis: ?Please, God.?
So爌erhaps it should not be surprising
that a new survey has found that one in
every ?ve adults prays, despite saying
they are not religious.
Just over half of all adults in the UK
pray, and they are increasingly likely to
call on God while engaged in activities
such as cooking or exercising, accord-
ing to the poll. Although one in three
people who pray do so in a place of
worship, and a third pray before going
to sleep or on waking, others combine
prayer with daily activities. One in ?ve
pray while燿oing爃ousehold chores or
cooking, 15% pray while travelling, and
12% pray during exercise or other leisure
pursuits.
Just under half of those who pray said
they believed God hears their prayers,
which suggests a slim majority feel their
supplications are not answered. Four
in 10 go further, saying prayer changes
Under half of those who pray said they
believed God hears their prayers. Alamy
the world; a similar number say it makes
them feel better.
Family tops the list of subjects of
prayers at 71%, followed by thanking
God (42%), praying for healing (40%)
and for friends (40%). Way down the
list come global issues such as poverty
or disaster, at 24%, according to the poll
of 2,000 adults by ComRes on behalf of
the Christian aid agency Tearfund.
Among the non-religious, personal
crisis or tragedy is the most common
reason for praying, with one in four
saying they pray to gain comfort or feel
less lonely.
Henry, 64, said he prays every night,
kneeling by his bed, even though he is
not religious. ?I worry about it quite a
lot ? is it some kind of an insurance pol-
icy, is it superstition or is it something
more爎eal??
Asked if he believed in God, he said:
?I� don?t know but I would describe
myself at the sceptical end of agnosticism. I certainly wouldn?t classify myself
as religious.?
Henry, who requested anonymity,
starts by silently reciting the Lord?s
Prayer and then asks for his loved ones
to be kept safe and well. ?Sometimes I
include other speci?c people or suffering groups. Then I have a fuzzy moment
about me ? not concrete thoughts, and I
don?t ask for speci?c things.?
He said he had no idea if God heard
his prayers, and said the act of praying
did not make him feel better. ?I wonder
why I don?t stop doing it. Sometimes I
feel it?s a kind of hypocrisy.?
Rachel Treweek, bishop of Gloucester, said: ?We should not be surprised
by these recent ?ndings, which re?ect
human longing for the mystery and love
of God amid experiences of daily life.?
According to Isabelle Hamley, chaplain to the archbishop of Canterbury,
prayer is ?primarily a line of communication with God ? thinking, re?ecting,
bringing one?s concerns and worries
into a bigger picture. Prayer can involve
requests, but it?s unhelpful to see God as
a heavenly Santa.
?Many people are driven to pray at
some point in their lives, even if they are
not religious. Praying spontaneously is
about reaching out.? God hears everyone?s prayers, she added.
The survey showed that prayer was an
important part of the lives of many people in the UK, said Ruth Valerio of Tearfund. ?While it is often easier to pray
for issues closer to home, we want to
encourage people to continue to engage
with global issues and pray for an end to
extreme poverty.?
Two men held
after model, 25,
stabbed to death
by Jamie Grierson
A young model stabbed to death
in west London on Thursday was
described as a ?special soul? as tributes
were paid to the latest victim of knife
crime in the capital.
Scotland Yard said the 25-year-old
man was fatally stabbed on Thursday
afternoon in Shepherd?s Bush. Two
men have been arrested on suspicion
of murder.
While police have not formally
identi?ed the victim, he has been
named on social media and in reports
as Harry Uzoka, who was signed to
Premier Model Management, which
helped launch the careers of Naomi
Campbell and Claudia Schiffer.
Uzoka, who had promoted wellknown brands including Zara and
Mercedes, was described by the model
Jourdan Dunn on Twitter as a ?young
king?. The singer MNEK tweeted:
Harry Uzoka, the
victim of a fatal
stabbing in west
London last week,
had been signed to
a top model agency.
?SHOCKED. i met him various times
and thought he was always so cool. my
heart goes out to his family. RIP.?
The online clothing retailer Everlane
described Uzoka as ?a wonderful
model but even more so a good person
and a pleasure to work with?. And the
London fashion brand Yemzi described
him as a ?special soul?.
Police were called by the London
ambulance service at 3.55pm on
Thursday to reports of an injured man
in Old Oak Road. He was pronounced
dead at the scene at 5pm. Two men,
aged 27 and 28, were arrested nearby
and remain in custody.
Detective Inspector Beverley
Ko? said: ?We believe there were
a number of people involved, but
we are still working to establish the
circumstances. We need the public?s
help to piece together what happened.?
14.01.18
Peter Preston 1938-2018 | NEWS | 21
*
?Peter believed that journalism should
try to make the world a better place?
Peter Preston,
pictured in 2000.
Portrait by Jane
Bown for the
Observer
APPRECIATION
Peter Preston, the
formidable former
Guardian editor and
Observer columnist,
died last weekend.
Roger Alton, a former
Observer editor,
remembers
his brilliant and
brave colleague
Poignantly, a new blockbuster movie
celebrating the best of journalism
arrives at precisely the time that Peter
Preston, who embodied the very best
of journalists, leaves us. If there were
two things Peter loved, they were
movies and papers. I like to think he
would have returned to the subject he
addressed in his last column for this
paper two weeks ago ?The Post, the
new Stephen Spielberg movie with
Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep telling
the story of the Washington Post?s battle to publish the story of the Pentagon
papers in 1971. Having seen the ?lm,
he might have commented gnomically
on the quality of some of the storytelling ? for Peter always wanted stories
to be told clearly ? but he would have
loved the ?lm?s message: that journalism is about telling the truth, no matter
how hard it is and no matter how great
the pressure against you from management, government or the law.
In the last few days there have been
countless wonderful tributes to Peter
? to his kindness, his inscrutability, his
energy, his brilliance and courage as a
man and as a journalist.
And then, of course, there was his
pipe. He was a quiet man around the
Guardian office, no shouting or swearing, but you could tell when he was
standing behind you from the pleasant whiff of tobacco fumes. ?Hmm,
not quite sure about that ?? he would
say about some headline you might be
writing. ?What about ...?? And come up
with a much better one.
And the fact that you never knew
when he was going to turn up meant
you had to do some of the insanely long
hours he worked. He was like a father
to me, taught me most of what I have
ever known, and gave me, like so many
journalists, some of the best years of
our lives.
He saved two newspapers, the
Guardian and Observer, which isn?t
bad. The Guardian was facing terrible trouble ? from a brutal price
war, attacks from the Times and the
Independent, raging newsprint costs,
insane and malicious union disputes
? but Peter battled through them all.
The Independent, when it launched in
the late 80s, came after many Guardian
journalists, offering to double salaries.
That so few of us left was a tribute to
the loyalty and love we felt for Peter
and his paper. Maybe a bit of fear too:
journalists can be awfully cautious at
times.
Through a shrewd series of investments and backed by an often brilliant
commercial team, Peter started hugely
successful supplements on media,
education and the public sector, all
bringing with them shedloads of classi?ed advertising. Most of it has gone
online now, but at the time this was a
coup. This was supported by editorial
innovation on a phenomenal scale ? the
women?s page, some brilliant cartoon
strips, the G2 tabloid features section,
a dazzling redesign that transformed
the paper and is still widely imitated
30爕ears on.
Later he led the way when the
Guardian group bought the Observer
in 1993, and saved it from effective
closure as the Independent wanted to
fold it into its own Sunday paper. He
was always immensely loyal to the Obs,
despite coming under heavy bombardment from some Guardian staffers and
one or two on the management side.
Peter saw that the paper had great
commercial potential. In fact, he was
a highly commercially-minded man,
unlike some on the Guardian who
tended to view business and pro?t as
dirty words.
He wasn?t ideological: he was progressive, outward-looking, fair-minded
but I don?t know anyone who knew
how he voted. He once interviewed a
friend for a senior job at the Guardian.
?Is there anything I should know about
your politics?? Peter asked. (This was
the mid-1980s and the new and shortlived Social Democratic party was
more or less run by Guardian staffers.)
?Well, I was a member of the
Communist party,? said my friend.
?A communist? Oh well that?s OK, I
thought you were going to say you
were in the SDP. Half the staff seem
to be eyeing up safe seats for the next
election.? My friend, incidentally, got
the job. Peter could always spot talent.
He believed, like all the best editors,
that journalists should be outsiders:
Peter was unbiddable, preferring a
cinema or his beloved Millwall to the
bright lights, swanky parties and ?rst
nights that too many of his colleagues
liked to be seen at. He worked long
and attritional hours, though would
occasionally join his beloved (and very
understanding) wife Jean for the end
of a play. She said he had seen more
second halves in the theatre than anyone living.
He was shrewd enough to spot the
rising importance of green issues,
launching Environment Guardian,
another ad-yielding section as well as
a skilful piece of branding. Quite how
green Peter was I have never known:
not especially I would guess, though
at one time he did have a battered old
Renault�parked up at the back of our
Farringdon Road offices, bearing the
legend ?Nuclear Power? Nein Danke.?
I think one of his daughters might have
put it there, though. That was Peter all
over: not for him the chauffeur-driven
limos that most editors favoured. He
would have thought it was a waste of
money, for one thing.
He was certainly a frugal man, Peter,
He was a member
of the Magic Circle.
If pressed, he?d say
his greatest trick was
getting the Guardian
out every night
and ? bless him ? he expected most of
his staff to be fairly frugal too. Early in
my time there, as a subeditor, I found
things fairly tight ? this was London
in the 1970s. I told Peter I was thinking of taking some freelance work in
the mornings before coming in. ?If you
must,? said Peter. ?Otherwise you could
just ?nd a rich wife.? I thought it was
easier to take the freelance work.
Peter had recruited (and kept) an
absolutely superb staff. And other
papers wanted them. My, how they did.
At one point the Sunday Times made
an eye-popping offer for the late Frank
Keating, the Shakespeare of sports
writing. Frank loved the Guardian,
which had given him a lavish canvas,
and would have probably worked for
nothing. It turned out that he almost
was: Peter had a quick check on what
Frank, who had certainly never complained, was actually being paid. Even
Peter blanched a bit, gave Frank a few
quid, though nothing like what he had
been offered, and he stayed.
Another predator seen off. Frank,
like so many of us, loved the paper
that Peter made, with all its follies and
foibles. Peter?s Guardian was a brilliant
newspaper, quirky certainly but full
of great reporters, home and overseas:
when we did a shared reporting deal
with the Washington Post, it turned out
that the Guardian had a considerably
bigger foreign staff. From its roots as a
regional paper, Peter helped to turn the
Guardian into one of the most important newspapers in the world. It was
also rebellious, feisty and fun, full of
different voices. We enjoyed producing
it and we hoped people liked reading it.
Peter would not be defeated by anything: he battled polio as a child and
de?ed its crippling effects to become
a member of the Magic Circle. One of
his early journalistic jobs was, he said,
reviewing conjurors for the Magic
Circle review. He was ?red for being
?too critical?. That was very believable. If pressed about his conjuring, he
would say that his greatest trick was
getting the Guardian out every night.
When I joined the paper in the
mid-1970s, Peter was night editor, the
last stage in his meteoric rise following some high-calibre writing jobs. He
was now the person who gets the paper
out: this was a time of vivid news ? IRA
bombings, political mayhem at home,
strikes, upheavals in America, the cold
war. Peter would map out his front
page; I was one of the spear-carriers
doing the rest. As the night unfolded,
Peter would be at his typewriter, hammering out headlines and rewritten
intros, one hand holding the other wrist
steady as he hit the keys one-?ngered.
It was always, then and for the next
40 years, an extraordinary performance. For the evening breaks, most of
us would go to the pub or the canteen.
Peter would stay at his desk, with a
small pizza which he would microwave
and a little plastic bottle of wine. It
was very Peter: restrained, but not too
restrained.
He was brave, bold, brilliant and
tenacious. He believed that journalism wasn?t just about describing the
world. It was also about trying to make
it a better place. But now the world is
a much poorer place without him. At
the end of The Post, while frenzy grips
the Washington Post newsroom as the
paper is about to defy the government
and publish the Pentagon papers, the
editor Ben Bradlee, played by Hanks,
leans across to his assistant, smiles
and says, ?Oh, the fun!? Peter Preston
would have known what he meant.
Roger Alton held a range of senior positions at the Guardian before becoming
editor of the Observer from 1998 to 2007
14.01.18
WORLD | NEWS | 23
*
World
People in the city of Idlib examine damage to a building hit in in a bombing attack on 8 January, in which 32 people were killed. Photograph by Ahmed Rahhal/Getty Images
Assad assault on last rebel stronghold
could trigger a refugee ?catastrophe?
Tens of thousands ?eeing the bombing of Idlib
province by the Syrian regime could move into
Turkey, reports Kareem Shaheen in Istanbul
The assault by Bashar al-Assad?s regime
on the last Syrian province under rebel
control could spark a ?new wave of
migration?, a top Turkish official has
warned, amid growing alarm over a
campaign that爃as displaced more than
100,000 people.
The fighting in Idlib, which has
intensified in recent days amid rebel
counterattacks, has raised fears of a
humanitarian catastrophe in an area
already crowded with refugees. ?This
displacement is the biggest perhaps in
the Syrian revolution since its beginning until today,? said Mounir Mustafa,
the deputy chief of the civil defence rescue workers organisation known as the
White Helmets.
Tens of thousands of people have
?ed from the frontlines in Idlib, which
until recently has been the only province almost wholly controlled by rebels
?ghting to overthrow the government in
Damascus. According to the UN, in the
past week 30,000 refugees have moved
into Idlib?s heavily populated cities as
well as along the Turkish border, crowding into existing camps in the harsh winter cold. Local authorities say the ?gure
is far higher.
?The intensi?ed attacks in Idlib will
trigger a new wave of migration and cause
new suffering,? the Turkish prime minister, Binali Yildirim, said in comments
carried by the state-run Anadolu Agency.
His warning will alarm EU member
states, whose deal with Ankara to stem
the ?ow of refugees and migrants across
the Aegean Sea has reduced the num-
bers attempting the journey from Turkey. Many of those ?eeing the new Assad
advance subsisted by raising livestock in
southern Idlib and northern Hama, and
their ?ight north has left them without
a livelihood. The International Rescue
Committee (IRC), which is assisting
some of the newest refugees, said that
two-thirds of them were living in makeshift tents, with up to three families in
each, and that many of the sites do not
have toilets.
?We are extremely concerned for
the safety of the 2.6 million people living in Idlib if the frontline continues to
advance,? said Thomas Garofalo, an IRC
Middle East official. ?People have told
us that they will have no choice but to
uproot themselves once again and head
further north. They will be heading to
displacement camps that are already far
beyond capacity, which means their situation will get even worse, in the dead of a
wet, cold winter.?
Zeid Ra?ad al-Hussein, UN high commissioner for human rights, said Assad?s
offensive was ?jeopardising the safety of
hundreds of thousands of civilians?.
In the spring of 2015 a coalition of
mostly Islamist rebels, including the
then al-Qaida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra,
swept through Idlib, ousting government loyalists. Since then the region
has endured relentless bombardment,
including reported attacks with chlorine
gas and sarin. Refugees from other parts
of Syria have also swelled Idlib?s population to more than two million, moving
there after rebel surrender deals.
Displaced children
at the Atamah
camp in Idlib,
on the SyrianTurkish border.
The camp is now
home to more
than 20,000
families.
EPA
150 miles
Idlib
T U RKEY
Aleppo
Raqqa
IDLIB PROVINCE
Homs
LEBANON
IRAQ
Palmyra
SYRIA
Damascus
JORDAN
?People have told
us that they will have
no choice but to
uproot themselves
once again and head
further north?
Thomas Garofalo, IRC
Hay?at Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance
formed by the merger of Jabhat al-Nusra
with smaller Islamist groups, enjoys
military predominance in the province.
Its hardline edicts have elicited protests
from other residents who also oppose
the Assad government. Aid workers are
worried that the Syrian army will use
the group?s presence in Idlib as a pretext
for bombing the increasingly crowded
civilian centres. Dozens have already
been killed in the aerial bombardment
and shelling.
?The bombing is constant. It?s not
daily but hourly, on the whole region,
and it seems to be completely random,?
said Mustafa al-Haj Youssef, a rescue
worker for the White Helmets in charge
of Idlib. ?The thing that hurts us most is
the double-tap strikes, when the regime
bombs an area, and we go to it after
receiving emergency calls, and then
they bomb it again. The displacement [of
refugees] is usually out of fear of indiscriminate bombing,? he said.
The Assad regime?s advance appears
aimed at securing a foothold in the province, with an ongoing drive towards the
Abu al-Dhuhour military complex. But
that surge, after days of initial gains, is
being met with stiff resistance in a rebel
counterattack and there are reports of
continuing ?erce combat.
The launch of this ground campaign
is a blow to the rebels, who appeared
within range of overall victory against
a teetering Assad when they conquered
Idlib. But the decisive intervention
of Russia, along with Iranian-backed
Shia militias, has given Assad the military momentum, and he has pressed
his advantage in an effort to scupper
peace爊egotiations and secure a victory
free of concessions.
The regime?s campaign has been coupled with a renewed attack on hospitals,
at least eight of which have been targeted in Idlib in recent weeks. Villages
have been abandoned wholesale near
the frontline.
The violence has cast doubt on efforts
to negotiate a Syrian peace settlement
brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran. A
new deal had designated Idlib and other
regions of Syria as ?de-escalation zones?
to stem the violence and create the conditions for talks.
Moscow had set late January as the
time for a national dialogue conference, to be held in Sochi, Russia. But
Turkish officials have said that the
bombardment in Idlib is endangering
those talks,燼nd爏ummoned the Russian
and Iranian ambassadors last week to
express their concerns.
?The Syrian people have lost all con?dence in the international community,
and do not believe anyone can stop this
killing of Syrians,? the White Helmets?
Mustafa said.
?But we are hoping the aid organisations will assume their responsibilities
and provide whatever help is necessary
to those people who are being forced to
leave their homes for other areas as a
result of the bombardment.?
24 | NEWS | WORLD
*
El Salvador?s gangs
prepare a deadly
homecoming for
women deported
in US crackdown
14.01.18
THE GANGS
Hundreds of people are killed every year and many face
sexual violence in the world?s most dangerous land. Now
Donald Trump wants to send 200,000 more
Salvadorans home. Mark Townsend in San Salvador
or
meets the returned migrants ?ghting to stay alive
Inside an apartment block in San Salvador beneath the shadow of the volcano
that dominates the city skyline, 20 girls
aged between 14 and 18 are in hiding,
fearing for their lives. Recently deported
to the country of their birth from the US
by Donald Trump as part of his evolving
immigration clampdown, the teenagers
are wanted dead by the street gangs that
make El Salvador the most homicidal
place on Earth.
Survival necessitates drastic measures when the Mara Salvatrucha, or
MS-13, or its rival 18th Street gang want
you murdered. First, the girls ? branded
traitors for daring leave El Salvador to
set up home in America ? are given radical makeovers; new haircuts and new
clothes along with sunglasses that are
rarely removed. Then they learn to talk
differently, walk differently. All trace
of their previous existence is erased.
Travel is arranged using bulletproof
cars with tinted windows. Finally, the
safe house is placed on a short-term
lease; the slightest intelligence that the
gangs have identi?ed its whereabouts
and they?re gone.
?The gangs want to kill them because
these girls have speci?c testimony on the
gangs, they want to silence them, but also
punish them because they dared escape,?
said Maria Garcia, of ISNA,an organisation that runs the secret safe house as
part of the elaborate measures required
to protect young women in a country
controlled by its barbarous gangs.
It is into this maelstrom of violence
that the US president intends to deport
nearly 200,000 Salvadorans after he outraged the international community last
week by announcing he would terminate
their temporary protected status, then
denounced El Salvador as a ?shithole?.
Twenty five years after the accords
that ended the country?s ferocious civil
con?ict, Trump?s deportees will return
to the world?s most dangerous coun-
GUATEMALA
Santa Ana
San Salvador
HONDURAS
E L S A LVA D O R
San Miguel
PACIFIC OCEAN
50 miles
NICARAGUA
try not at war. As with most hostilities,
women are routinely caught in the crossfire. Around 10 a day are subjected to
violence and sexual assault, with many
afraid to speak out. Others are silenced
forever. El Salvador ranks among the
world?s deadliest countries for women.
During 2016, 524 were killed, one in
every 5,000, although such ?gures document only bodies taken to morgues and
not those discovered in hidden dumping
grounds.
Those inside the safe house are the
fortunate ones. Few of those deported
from the US or who have ?ed the gangs
are granted such sanctuary in a country
devoid of any state or witness protection
programme.
?Deportees from the US face being
killed or sexual violence. Most girls try
to hide from the violence. The problem
is that most don?t have a place to go,? said
Salvadoran lawyer Laura Moran.
Speaking at a shopping centre with
heavy security in San Salvador, Julia, 19,
describes how to navigate life on the run
from the gangs. The crucial step requires
resurfacing in territory controlled by the
rival gang.
?It?s because the gangs rarely communicate with each other, the trick is
THE DEPORTEES
to materialise without suspicion. You
should have deleted Facebook, everything about you. You start all over,? she
said, intently scanning passers-by.
If successful, prosaic but vital measures are adopted to stay alive. Each
time Julia leaves home she carries $2 in
change in case a gang member randomly
stops her on the street and demands a
gift. ?Otherwise they will take your cellphone and if you are not carrying your
cellphone then they might kill you.?
She never carries ID. If a gang member discovers you are from rival turf
they might punish you, again by death.
And always scan the footwear of those
nearby. Nike Cortez trainers, says Julia,
are the preserve of the 18th Street with
Adidas Concha worn by MS-13. Yet identifying members is increasingly fraught,
amplifying the risk for the girls and
women in hiding.
The stereotype of tattoo-smothered
thugs is gradually being challenged.
Many now wear suits. Some work in
government. ?I could be talking to one
any time. You cannot trust the authorities, the police are also in?ltrated with
informants,? said Julia.
Walking in San Salvador is dangerous, but public transport is notorious for
attacks. The number 44 bus traverses the
capital and is among its most important,
yet Julia and her friends never use it for
fear of robbery or sexual assault.
Also off-limits is wearing shorts,
skirts or tight-?tting clothes: Julia and
her friends uglify themselves. ?You don?t
want the gangs to think about you, ever.?
Even so, evading the gangs of El Salvador can seem futile. Boys aged between
eight and 12 are recruited as lookouts and
patrol street corners, the ojos ? eyes ? of
MS-13 and 18th Street. Girls live in dread
of the moment a gang member decides
she is his girlfriend. ?If they choose you,
you cannot say no. If you say no to sex
then they will kill you,? said Julia.
Garcia, who has counselled dozens of
gang victims, has identi?ed a structural
approach to rape. ?One girl is chosen by
the palabrero (leader) and she is only his,
but the other girls can be shared between
20 to 25 gang members. The girls cannot
say no, they are forced to have sex.?
THE CAMPAIGNER
?All of the gang
members said that if
the one they have
chosen as a girlfriend
says no to sex, then
they have to die?
Silvia Ju醨ez, activist
On the north side of the city, behind a
Deportees from the US wait at an immigration centre after their flight landed at San
Salvador?s airport on Thursday. Photograph by Jose Cabezas/Reuters
reinforced iron door and two men with
shotguns, Silvia Ju醨ez is one of El Salvador?s most seasoned authorities on
the gang brutality faced by thousands
of girls and women. As co-ordinator of
the violence prevention programme at
the Organisation of Salvadoran Women
for Peace, Ju醨ez corroborates the reality that consent is dead for many girls
and women in the country. ?A lot of
women have been murdered for saying no, some manage to run away,? she
ON OTHER PAGES
The US president?s fundamental failure is
the wilful ignorance of the man
Observer Comment, page 36
THE FUGITIVE
said. At least 1,200 Salvadoran girls
and women simply vanish each year.
Ju醨ez recently ?nalised an exhaustive
investigation ? not published online
because it would prompt attacks ? based
on interviews with women, government
officials and, unusually, testimony from
25 gang recruits. ?One answer from all
the gang members regarded their ni馻,
girlfriends, and greatly concerned us. All
said that if their ni馻 say no they have to
die.? Other disquieting truths emerged.
In some areas suicides among teenage
girls is increasing. Rather than be raped,
death is preferable.
Across the city, beyond another set of
steel gates and armed sentries, Morena
Herrera of the activist consortium
Colectiva Feminista, says another issue
facing Trump?s deportees is impunity.
Herrea had just learnt that police had
dropped an investigation into a 19-yearold girl abducted from the town of
Suchitoto. Reading from a justice ministry report she said the judicial system was failing the country?s women
and girls. ?The community alerted the
police who reached her before she was
killed but not before she was raped.
14.01.18
WORLD | NEWS | 25
*
Legal marijuana a ?no brainer?
says US study, as medical-use
laws see crime rate plummet
Reduction greatest in
states bordering Mexico
as drug cartels lose trade
by Jamie Doward
THE LAWYER
Then the prosecutor realised a gang
was involved. The case was dropped.?
The same outcome had occurred with
another crime that had landed recently
on Herrera?s desk, a case of ?express
kidnapping? where a gang member
from Cuscatl醤 had taken and raped a
girl repeatedly for several days before
returning her to her family. ?She is broken,? Herrera said. Lawyers believe that
impunity affects 80% of all cases of violence against women.
Despite the unrelenting tide of sexual
violence and targeted killing of women
and girls, femicide continues to be
largely ignored. Salvadoran solicitor
Laura Moran, 30, said: ?Even in cases
where a woman?s breasts are cut off it
isn?t classi?ed as femicide. They should
be investigated as hate crimes but rarely
are.? Despite such attitudes, Moran
said police classi?ed 91 femicides in the
country during the ?rst quarter of 2017.
Julia, who fears she might be on the
run for ever, says the country?s fundamental culture needs to be challenged
for change to happen. ?We live in a
deeply patriarchal system, we?re taught
to say yes to men, accept violence and
think men are superior. If you are a
man you must prove you are strong,
aggressive, capable of violence.?
Some women sent back may choose a
fresh start in the remote uplands north
of Chalatenango, where gang activity is
less febrile. Against a backdrop of rainforest, Estrella Alfaro, 28, describes being
caught by the US immigration authorities and the anguish of deportation.
Alfaro was near Houston, dreaming of
a new life removed from El Salvador?s
gang violence, when she was arrested
as an illegal immigrant in April 2016 and
sent home. ?They handcuffed my ankles
and hands and put me on a plane. I still
think of the US.? Another women deportee hiding in the far north is Betty Galvez,
30, who was working illegally in a Texas
warehouse that was raided by police
looking for migrants. She was sent back
to El Salvador shortly after Trump won
the election. ?You feel a failure, but here
in the mountains I feel safer.?
Sixty miles south, in downtown San
Salvador, lies the reception centre where
the Salvadorans deported by Trump will
arrive. The US has been running around
Above, 18th
Street gang
members at a
police station.
From left:
Morena Herrera
of Colectiva
Feminista;
Estrella Alfaro,
who was
deported from
Texas; and
lawyer Laura
Moran. Photographs by Mark
Townsend;
Getty
eight deportation ?ights a week. When
the Observer visited, a ?ight holding 40
deportees landed shortly after dawn.
At 10am a bus carrying a further 36,
many of them unaccompanied minors,
arrived from Mexico. Each was handed
two pupusas ? a thick tortilla ? a bottle
of pop and a pair of shoelaces. ?They are
very confused and emotional. Some don?t
know what the time is, what day it is,? said
David Magana of the country?s resettlement programme. Gangs target the new
arrivals. Deportees are often considered
wealthy and ripe for extortion.
Many of the teenage girls and young
women come back from the US traumatised. But even the 1,500-mile journey
there, Garcia said, is treacherous. Most
girls set off for the US expecting to be
raped by traffickers. ?Many have a contraceptive injection that protects them
for three months. When they return
to Salvador, many have psychological
problems, sexual infections, some are
pregnant,? she said. And then the hard
work starts: protecting them from men
who want them dead.
Some names have been changed
The introduction of medical marijuana
laws has led to a sharp reduction in
violent crime in US states that border
Mexico, according to new research.
According to the study, Is Legal Pot
Crippling Mexican Drug Trafficking
Organizations? The Effect of Medical
Marijuana Laws on US Crime, when a
state on the Mexican border legalised
medical use of the drug, violent crime
fell by 13% on average. Most of the marijuana consumed in the US originates
in Mexico, where seven major cartels
control the illicit drug trade.
?These laws allow local farmers
to grow marijuana that can then be
sold to dispensaries where it is sold
legally,? said the economist Evelina
Gavrilova, one of the study?s authors.
?These growers are in direct competition with Mexican drug cartels that are
smuggling the marijuana into the US.
As a result, the cartels get much less
business.?
The knock-on effect is a reduction
in levels of drug-related violence. ?The
cartels are in competition with one
another,? Gavrilova explained. ?They
compete for territory, but it?s also easy
to steal product from the other cartels
and sell it themselves, so they ?ght for
the product. They also have to defend
their territory and ensure there are no
bystanders, no witnesses to the activities of the cartel.
?Whenever there is a medical marijuana law we observe that crime at the
border decreases because suddenly
there is a lot less smuggling and a lot
less violence associated with that.?
While the Mexican cartels smuggle
other drugs such as cocaine, heroine and metamphetamine across the
border, the market for marijuana is the
largest drug market in the US and the
one from which the cartels can make
the fattest pro?t. It costs around $75
to produce a pound of marijuana in
Mexico, which can then be sold on for
$6,000 depending on the quality.
Gavrilova, along with fellow
researchers Takuma Kamada and
Floris Zoutman, studied data from the
FBI?s uniform crime reports and supplementary homicide records covering
1994 to 2012. They found that among
the border states the effect of the
change in law was largest in California,
where there was a reduction of 15% in
violent crime, and weakest in Arizona,
where there was a fall of 7%. The
crimes most strongly affected were
robbery, which fell by 19%, and murder,
which dropped by 10%. Homicides
speci?cally related to the drug trade
fell by an astonishing 41%.
The authors claim their study
provides new insights into methods to
reduce violent crime related to drug
trafficking. But its publication comes as
the US attorney general, Jeff Sessions,
is rescinding the Obama-era policy that
ushered in the medical marijuana laws.
?When the effect on crime is so
signi?cant, it?s obviously better to
regulate marijuana and allow people
to pay taxes on it rather than make it
illegal,? Gavrilova said. ?For me it?s a
no brainer that it should be legal and
should be regulated, and the proceeds
go to the Treasury.?
More than 20 states across the US
have implemented medical marijuana
Marijuana is sold in
California. Medicaluse laws have seen
violent crime in the
state fall by 15%
since the mid 90s.
laws so far. In those that have, there
is now one marijuana dispensary for
every six regular pharmacies.
The study suggests that the full
legalisation of marijuana in Colorado
and Washington will have an even
stronger impact on the drug trade
as large-scale marijuana production
facilities are erected in these states,
further threatening the position of
drug cartels.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the
cartels are now trying to get into the
legal marijuana business in California
by opening their own farms. Others
are turning to human trafficking and
kidnapping to shore up their falling
pro?ts. There are also reports that
some cartels are switching to new
forms of drug cultivation by growing
poppies in Mexico to produce their
own heroin rather than importing it
from Afghanistan.
26 | NEWS | WORLD
*
14.01.18
Italian box office on slide as
?lm fans switch to television
Piracy and online distributors such as Net?ix keep audiences in armchairs at home
by Angela Giu?rida
The Great Beauty, by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, scooped
the Oscar for best foreign film in 2014. Rex Shutterstock
From Paolo Sorrentino?s 2014 Oscarwinner The Great Beauty to Call Me By
Your Name, the highly acclaimed gay
love story directed by Luca Guadagnino,
Italy still has a ?air for making ?lms that
create a global buzz. But that doesn?t
mean to say that Italians are such great
fans of their homegrown productions ?
at least when it comes to taking themselves off to the cinema to watch them.
According to dismal data released by
?lm associations Anec and Anica, box
office sales for Italian ?lms were down
by over 46% compared with 2016, while
takings fell by around 44%.
The decline in receipts coincides
with a 12.4 % fall in cinema attendance
overall, with just over 92 million people
going to a movie theatre in 2017, com-
As PM, Silvio
Berlusconi had
power over Italy?s
film distributors.
pared with more than 105 million in the
previous year.
Francesco Rutelli, the president of
Anica, blamed the proliferation of ?lms
online and piracy for the decline. ?People want to watch ?lms at home, with
ease and comfort. Then a huge share [of
?lms] are pirated,? he said.
But others argue that potential audiences are simply not enthused about
what?s on offer. Foreign films help to
bolster takings ? the biggest box office
hits in 2017 were Beauty and the Beast
and Despicable Me 3 ? but the golden era
of Italian arthouse ?lm has long gone.
?Italy basically invented the arthouse
?lm but we were the ?rst ones to kill it,?
Alex Infascelli, a director and screenwriter based in Rome, told the Observer.
Infascelli, who won plaudits for
Almost Blue, a thriller released in 2000,
said that the decline in attendance
began in the 1990s, when many theatres were turned into multiplexes and
films more suited to television were
being made for cinema. ?In Rome, in the
1980s, we had cinemas showing the big
US numbers but we also had a solid grid
of arthouse cinemas. Now there are just
two or three,? he said.
Another factor affecting cinema and
viewing habits in the 1990s was the
arrival of Silvio Berlusconi on the political scene. At the time there were two
main ?lm production and distribution
companies ? Berlusconi?s Medusa and
the government-owned RAI. In 1994
Berlusconi?s election as prime minister
effectively gave him power over both.
?This is when a lot started to change,?
Infascelli said. ?They wanted to make
?lms that were more like those you see
on television, which was cool at the
beginning, as you had a bigger audience.
?The products were less educational
?In Rome, in the 1980s,
we had a solid grid of
arthouse cinemas ?
now there are just
two or three?
Alex Infascelli, director
and more entertaining, but slowly the
real cinema audience drifted away
because they couldn?t see the difference
between theatre and TV.?
Horror and comedy are now the most
prolific genres, with much less focus
on the kind of storytelling that used to
re?ect Italian society. ?The French used
cinema as a revolutionary tool, while the
Italians used it as a mirror ? to re?ect
what stage the country was at socially
and politically,? Infascelli added.
Despite the grim audience levels
in 2017, there are a few reasons to be
hopeful this year. The cinema industry
is eagerly awaiting the enactment of a
law that will see more investment going
into ?lm-making, while there are some
highly anticipated movies on their way.
Alongside Call Me By Your Name, which
is due for release in Italian cinemas on
25 January, Sorrentino makes a return
this year with Loro, a ?lm based on Berlusconi, while another Oscar-winning
director, Gabriele Salvatores, will release
Invisible Boy ? Second Generation.
And there is still a strong band of avid
cinema fans who refuse to cave in to the
likes of Net?ix. Noemi Rossetto, a barista
from Orvieto, a town in Umbria which
is home to a small cinema with two
screens, said she goes to see a ?lm every
Tuesday ? the day when screenings at
the venue cost ?4, half the normal price.
?I like the experience ? the big screen,
the popcorn, the seats,? she said.
And the ?lms themselves? ?There has
been the odd good one recently, but others have been a bit banal,? she added.
Paolo Ferretti, the cinema?s manager,
said 2017 was a slow one for the Italian ?lm industry, but foreign ?lms kept
attendance at sustainable levels.
?There is a crisis in general, not just in
cinema,? he said.
?Yes, it is easier to watch ?lms online,
but there are still those who prefer the
cinema experience ? and I believe this
will continue.?
* 14.01.18
In Focus
?Steve Bannon has the message. B
After their poisonous break-up,
A year after the inauguration, the two
loudest voices of the nationalist
insurgency have split ? and Republicans
fear the tide will turn at the mid-term
elections. David Smith and Ben Jacobs in
Washington examine a fateful falling out
A
snow shower had left
Washington speckled
in white. Steve Bannon,
known for his shabby
dressing, entered the
genteel splendour of
the ?ve-star Hay-Adams hotel, a
short walk爁rom the White House,
and delivered a speech to what one
observer later dismissively referred to
as ?swamp denizens?.
Despite a falling out that made
headlines around the world, the
former White House chief strategist
repeatedly praised Donald Trump
and spoke of life for ?the everyman?
in America who believes ?the world is
stacked against them?. He was warmly
received and engaged in a back and
forth with questioners. He did not act
like a man on political death row.
But later last Tuesday afternoon,
Bannon was on his way out of
Breitbart News, which he once
called the platform for the alt-right,
a group including neo-Nazis, white
supremacists and antisemites, that
espouses tougher immigration laws
and trade deals. It was the ?nal blow
after a head-spinning week. He
had been excommunicated by the
president, his billionaire patron and
now his own company.
?The guy loves history,? the news
site Axios noted. ?Well, this political
suicide is historic. Bannon still thinks
of himself as a revolutionary. That
self-perception won?t change. It?s just
that now he has no vehicle, no staff, no
platform, and no major donors funding
his ambitions.?
A giant of the anti-globalist,
populist base that helped propel
Trump to victory in 2016 had been
toppled, raising questions about the
movement he left behind. Is the altright now leaderless and destined for
irrelevance? Is it a ?movement? at all?
Or has the establishment all but won
the Republican party civil war?
By the end of the week, one thing
was certain. Trump, meeting a group
of senators to discuss immigration,
reportedly asked in reference to
Haiti,燛l Salvador and African
countries: ?Why are we having all
these people from shithole countries
come here?? It con?rmed every
suspicion and every fear about where
his instincts lie. Bannon may be gone
but the biggest nativist of all was still in
the Oval Office.
A year ago next Saturday, Donald
Trump succeeded Barack Obama as
president. His inaugural address went
down in the ?rst draft of history for two
phrases:�America First? and ?American carnage?. Both were reportedly the
work of Bannon and Stephen Miller,
who has survived 12 months of turbulence to remain White House senior
policy adviser.
Having led the Trump campaign in
its ?nal months, and kept faith with
the candidate when others were ready
to desert him, Bannon seemed an
all-powerful consigliere. Soon he was
adorning magazine covers and there
were whispers of ?President Bannon?.
But he had, it transpired, ?own too
close to the sun and was ousted from
the national security council and
increasingly marginalised. By August,
having inevitably lost a power struggle
with Trump?s daughter Ivanka and
son-in-law Jared Kushner, he was out.
But far from humbled, Bannon
returned to Breitbart as executive
chairman and became more politically
active and outspoken. He declared war
on the Republican establishment and
made stump speeches on behalf of the
Christian fundamentalist Roy Moore
in a US Senate special election in
Alabama. But the plan back?red when
Moore, facing allegations of multiple
sexual misconduct with girls and
women, lost one of the Republicans?
safest seats.
Then came Michael Wolff ?s book,
Fire and Fury, which quoted Bannon
at length, lambasting Trump and his
family ? he called Donald Trump Jr?s
decision to meet Russians during
the election campaign ?treasonous?.
Bannon subsequently claimed that he
had been referring to Paul Manafort,
then campaign manager. But Trump
issued a long statement saying Bannon
had ?lost his mind?, told the Wall Street
Journal he felt ?betrayed?, and applied
the now familiar kiss of death of a
nickname: ?Sloppy Steve?.
Rebekah Mercer, a mega-donor to
the Republicans, who owns a stake
in Breitbart, issued a rare statement
distancing herself from Bannon. Then
it was announced he was stepping
down from Breitbart and losing his
daily show on satellite radio network
SiriusXM. The Observer understands
that Bannon had been given an
ultimatum by the company?s board.
He could either be active in politics,
endorsing candidates and stumping
the country in his trademark Barbour
jacket, or he could stick to running the
website. Bannon took the ?rst option.
For the president?s supporters, the
ugly political break-up left a dilemma:
Bannon or Trump? Benjamin Marchi,
a healthcare service franchise owner
from St Michael?s, Maryland, said:
?It?s a question I?ve been wrestling
with since of all this went down, but
ultimately it seems that Mr Bannon?s
personal ego got in the way of pursuing
the agenda that both of them wanted to
advance. Mr Bannon has shot himself
in the foot. He placed personal gain
above personal loyalty and he?s left the
White House in shame.?
Marchi, 39, denied that Bannon?s
departure would create a vacuum. ?He
was to a degree the face of some of the
movement. But no one knew what he
was before he came on the scene with
the Trump campaign. It was Trump
who was and who is now the face of
the movement for the forgotten people
of America.?
Steve Bannon, speaking at a Roy Moore
rally in Alabama?s Senate race, seemed to
have overcome his Oval O?ce eviction.
Then Moore lost the election and Fire
and Fury was published. Photograph by
Joe Raedle/Getty
?I don?t buy the Steve
Bannon-Donald
Trump separation
completely. Those two
still need each other?
Michael Steele, former chair,
Republican national committee
In the choice between Trump and
Bannon there is only one winner, and
it was not the former naval officer,
investment banker and ?lm producer
fond of quoting Thucydides. Roger
Stone, a political operative and
longtime Trump adviser, said: ?The
movement is built around Trump; it?s
not built around Bannon. This is an
inside-the-beltway story. People don?t
vote because of a political operative
they?ve never heard of. Trump will
have a greater impact on the fate of
the movement than Bannon. As long
as he keeps faith on issues such as
immigration, then the movement will
continue to thrive.?
Stone, who worked on Richard
Nixon?s 1972 re-election campaign,
criticised Bannon for failing to recruit
kindred spirits to the White House
when he had the chance, leaving
Trump surrounded by Democrats
such as Kushner and his national
economic adviser, Gary Cohn. ?It
was always about him; it was always
about Steve. Stephen Miller is the
last Trump supporter left standing. It
would be hard to point to anyone on
the White House staff who actually
voted for Trump. If his agenda doesn?t
get implemented successfully, it will
be because of the people he appointed
around him.?
Miller, 32, has emerged as the keeper
of the nationalist ?ame. Though from
liberal California, he is a hardliner
on immigration and a key architect
of the controversial travel ban that
initially targeted Muslim-majority
countries. Like Trump and Bannon,
he also revels in verbal combat. Last
Sunday he clashed with the CNN news
anchor Jake Tapper, who accused
him of speaking to an audience of one
? his boss ? and abruptly ended the
interview, saying: ?I think I?ve wasted
enough of my viewers? time.?
Miller then reportedly refused to
leave the studio and had to be escorted
out. Soon after, Trump tweeted:
?Jake Tapper of Fake News CNN
just got destroyed in his interview
with Stephen Miller of the Trump
Administration. Watch the hatred and
unfairness of this CNN ?unky!?
14.01.18
| 29
*
CANCER, BOOZE
AND ME ?
Labour MP Thangam
Debbonaire talks about
her new campaign 30
But it?s Trump who has the base?
what?s next for the ?alt right??
FIVE TO WATCH
STEPHEN MILLER
White House senior
adviser for policy
Although Miller has broken
with Bannon in the game
of thrones that de?nes the Trump White
House, he is still the most prominent
champion of Bannonite ideology in the
administration. Miller has been pushing
to stop any deal with advocates of
immigration reform and shares Bannon?s
advocacy of ?economic nationalism?.
MATT BOYLE
Washington editor,
Breitbart News
Boyle is a longtime Bannon
protege who has shaped
Breitbart?s political coverage. He spent
weeks on the ground in Alabama before
last month?s US Senate race and had a
number of interviews with Trump during
the 2016 campaign.
RAHEEM KASSAM
London editor, Breitbart
News
The former Nigel Farage
aide has left Washington
and become an important ?gure in the
Breitbart orbit. He has been hosting the
website?s daily radio show since Bannon?s
departure and is an aggressive advocate
for his former boss as well as for Trump.
Kassam has also taken the opportunity
Trump?s faith in Miller should come
as no surprise. Despite the president?s
general ideological incoherence, he
has a long history of words and actions
consistent with white nationalism.
In the 1970s he, and his father, were
sued by the Justice Department
for discrimination for refusing to
rent to African Americans. In 2015
he launched his election campaign
by calling Mexicans ?rapists? and
promising to build a border wall.
His ?rst presidential pardon was of
Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had targeted
Latino people. He referred to white
supremacists who marched in
Charlottesville, Virginia, as ?very ?ne
people?, and criticised football players
who ?take the knee? in protest at racial
injustice. He backed Moore, who had
mused that America was great during
the time of slavery. He now has no
African Americans on his senior staff.
Then came Thursday?s tirade
about ?shithole? countries in Central
America and Africa that provoked a
worldwide outcry and led many to call
him downright racist. But perhaps
more strikingly, many on the right
turned a blind eye or even endorsed
the comments, providing a glimpse of
the stark polarisation in America and
potential heirs to Bannon?s crown. The
Fox News host Tucker Carlson told
viewers Trump?s point was ?something
that almost every single person in
America actually agrees with?. Ann
Coulter, author of In Trump We Trust,
who was bitterly disappointed by
the president?s recent concessions to
Democrats on immigration, tweeted:
?He?s trying to win me back.?
As for the post-Bannon Breitbart,
it made its allegiance to Trump clear
with a series of headlines such as
?Democrats use Trump?s ?shithole?
comment to blow up amnesty talks?
and stories that dug up past comments
made by senators Dick Durbin and
Lindsey Graham in an attempt to
undermine their criticism of the
president. After all, Breitbart is still
run by Bannon proteges. Matt Boyle,
its Washington editor, has long been
close to the former White House chief
strategist and is shaping its political
coverage. In addition, Alex Marlow, a
website stalwart, is still its top editor,
and Raheem Kassam, a former aide to
Nigel Farage, is still its London editor.
One source close to Bannon said:
?Nothing is changing in terms of the
coverage, and what it does is allow him
to focus on the actual issues.?
Even so, the site faces a struggle
to remain relevant. Kurt Bardella, a
former Breitbart spokesman, said:
?What made Breitbart a must-read
destination was the idea that by
reading it you?re getting insight into
the president and the administration.
That?s gone now, and there?s no one
at Breitbart that will have proximity
to the president in the way Bannon
did. They are a platform without any
obvious political relevance.?
Breitbart will have stiff competition
on the right from rivals such as the
Daily Caller and Fox News?s growing
online presence. Bardella, who quit
in 2016 after three years at Breitbart
because its alliance with Trump was
?a deal breaker?, added: ?The real
bene?ciaries of the fall of Bannon is
Foxnews.com, which has been ramping
up over the past year. Fox News is now
offering an insight into the president.
Its hosts ,Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity
and Laura Ingraham, are now playing
the role, bringing the devotion that
Trump cares about and follows.?
Staring into the abyss of obscurity,
Bannon?s own next move will be
watched intensely. He is still living
in the so-called ?Breitbart embassy?,
a Capitol Hill townhouse that had
long been used as the site?s unofficial
headquarters: in the divorce, he is
getting the real estate. His departure
has freed him from the constraints
of having to work with Breitbart?s
owners: Larry Solov, its chief executive,
and Mercer. A source close to Bannon
said: ?If you look at his career, every six
or seven years he does the same thing.
He?s very aggressive and likes to do
things his own way.?
Some suspect that eventually there
will be a rapprochement with Trump.
Michael Steele, former chairman of
the Republican national committee,
said: ?You saw two stars that came
into the same orbit and fed off each
other: Bannon and Trump. Now
you?re seeing the separation. I don?t
buy that separation completely. Those
two still need each other. Trump has
the base; Bannon has the messaging.
I suspect by the summer you?ll see
stories that they?re talking to each
other; I wouldn?t be entirely surprised
if they?re in contact now.?
Bannon will be free to engage in
advocacy on issues such as China and
trade as well as push his economic
nationalist ideas. It remains to be
seen whether, without the Mercer
millions, he is able to press ahead with
plans to support a slate of ?America
?rst? challengers to Republican
establishment incumbents before this
year?s mid-term elections. A poll last
to bring the ?ght to Britain, defending
Trump?s ?shithole? comment by telling
Sky News that London had become ?a
shithole? under Sadiq Khan, its Labour
mayor.
TUCKER CARLSON
Fox News host
The host of a nightly show
has become the leading
TV voice for conservative
populism. Carlson, the well-groomed son
of a former US ambassador, represents
economic nationalism with a preppy
face. He has long engaged in the culture
wars that animate Bannon, targeting
campus leftwingers and establishment
Republicans.
BENNY JOHNSON
Reporter at large,
Daily Caller
If Breitbart slips in
Bannon?s absence, the
Daily Caller, moulded by Johnson, is
a prime candidate to replace it as the
centre of the conservative internet.
Johnson, who has worked at BuzzFeed
and the Independent Journal Review,
has long crafted a reputation for driving
conservatives to click on his stories and
pushing them to go viral with headlines
such as ?Sarah Sanders just burned
CNN so bad the brie?ng room let out an
audible gasp?.
Ben Jacobs
week showed congressional Democrats
with a 17-point advantage. Sensing
which way the wind is blowing, more
than 30 Republicans in the House and
Senate have already announced they
plan to leave Congress by the start of
2019.
Steele, expressing frustration at the
party?s failure to expand its ideas and
diversity, said: ?The Republicans are
borderline toast; it?s borderline over.
We?re on the verge of witnessing a
massive reversal for the Republican
brand, the Republican party.?
Steele, who is African American,
questioned whether Trump and
Bannon?s followers should be classifed
as a ?movement?. He said: ?A lot of it
was misogyny, racism, playing to the
lesser of our angels. When you have the
president of the United States referring
to countries where people come from
as ?shitholes?, that sends a signal. There
is at its core something a lot of people
don?t want to touch, a sign there are, I
have to say, a growing number of white
Americans who are afraid of and do not
want to see the browning of America.
?They have a picture-perfect 1950s
view of mother wearing an apron as
dad, in a hat, goes off to work. It looks
a lot more like them than it does me,
but America is starting to look more
like me. What gets forgotten is that the
ideal they have, what Ronald Reagan
called the shining city on the hill, is
just as important to me as it is to them.
That?s what they fundamentally miss.?
ON OTHER PAGES
Chaos, mendacity and an untrustworthy
president: Donald Trump, one year on
Observer Comment, page 36
The president who wasn?t there:
Peter Conrad?s verdict on Fire and Fury
The New Review, page 29
*
30 | INTERVIEW
14.01.18
The moment
I saw the light
about alcohol
and cancer ?
a link no one
should ignore
Thangham Debbonaire, MP and former cancer
patient, is on a mission to change the drinking
culture in Westminster and beyond.
She tells Denis Campbell it?s not a
moral crusade ? it?s about saving livess
A
fter the elation of becoming an MP in May 2015,
Thangam Debbonaire
was still getting used to
life at Westminster when
she got the bad news. ?I
was diagnosed with breast cancer on
16 June 2015,? says the Labour MP for
Bristol West, recalling the date with
calm clarity. Days later she had to
forsake her new home at parliament
and begin undergoing the rigours of
chemotherapy. She ?nally returned,
in good health, in March 2016. ?Rosie
Winterton, Labour?s chief whip at the
time, said: ?Come back when you?ve
?nished treatment.??
Determined to carry on as normally
as possible, she set up her constituency
office, hired staff and worked as
much as she was able. ?Casework
was done, emails were answered
and constituency visits were made
when I was in my good weeks,? says
Debbonaire. ?On a chemotherapy cycle
the ?rst week?s pretty awful. But on the
second and third weeks I tended to do
constituency work.? One of the emails
she received then turned out to be
fateful and life-changing.
?A publican in my constituency
complained to me that the new safe
drinking guidelines, which had
been published in January 2016, had
obviously been over-in?uenced by
teetotallers. I was about to email this
person back saying ?yes, that sounds
terrible. I?ll investigate?. But then I
thought, ?hang on, I?m not sending that
reply until I?ve read the research,???
she recalls. Her inquiries proved
revelatory.
?After reading a lot of research about
alcohol I learned what a unit was and
how to calculate it, for example. And I
realised that there is no such thing as a
safe level of alcohol consumption and
that alcohol causes at least seven forms
of cancer, including breast cancer. I
didn?t know that before.?
Scienti?c research has produced
enough hard evidence in recent years
for charities such as Cancer Research
UK and the World Cancer Research
Fund to state with certainty that
alcohol is a direct cause of seven forms
of cancer: of the liver, colon, rectum,
larynx, oropharynx, oesophagus and
breast. Worryingly, though, opinion
polls show that only small numbers
of people know there is a causal
connection between the substance
and the disease. One survey last week
found that only 10% mentioned cancer
when asked which diseases and
illnesses were linked to alcohol.
?After my treatment, I was at a
course in Bristol run by Macmillan
Cancer Support to help women who?ve
had breast cancer with the emotional,
physical and other impacts of the
disease,? says Debbonaire. ?The ?rst
thing most women wanted to know
was: what do I have to do to reduce
my risk of getting cancer again? The
health practitioners there told us
that one thing was reduced alcohol
consumption. I wasn?t drinking
anyway, what with chemotherapy and
nausea, so I thought: that?s fairly easy,
I?ll just not drink,? she says, sitting in
her Westminster office.
She was approaching her 50th
birthday. ?I wasn?t teetotal, and I?d
drunk all my life, mainly wine or
a cocktail, but I?d never been a big
drinker. I drank quite sparingly. The
last time I?d been signi?cantly merry
was the night in February 2015 I gave
up my job [with Respect, which helps
perpetrators of domestic violence],
went out with my colleagues and had
cocktails. But I just decided it was
easier then to have a default setting of
?I won?t drink? as a way of reducing my
risk,? she recalls.
She wrote back to the publican,
thanking him for raising the issue of
alcohol. ?I said: ?I know your pub ?
I?ve drunk in your pub and I will do
so again, though I?ll probably have an
orange juice. I?m pretty sure that these
new guidelines, from the chief medical
officers of the four home nations, aren?t
going to stop people going to your pub
and you might want to think about
offering a wider range of non-alcoholic
drinks and snacks.? He wrote me back
a really nice email. He was really sweet
and he didn?t argue, which I was really
impressed by ? he sort of took it on the
chin.?
Their exchange of views, and her
journey of discovery about alcohol,
prompted other lifestyle changes too.
She now runs three times a week, ?ve
kilometres on two weekdays in the
various royal parks near Westminster
and 10km every weekend in Bristol.
She also eats far more fruit and
vegetables.
?The last thing I do every night
is chop up four portions? worth of
vegetables ? red, yellow or green
peppers, carrots and courgettes ? put
them in bags and during the day reach
for them, rather than biscuits.? Angela
Merkel did something similar a few
years ago to help her lose weight.
But her new-found knowledge about
alcohol?s potential toxicity has also
unleashed an almost missionary zeal
to raise awareness about its role as a
cause of cancer, using her platform
at Westminster. She is seeking a
parliamentary debate and planning a
campaign of oral and written questions
to ministers on the subject. She is
Thangam Debbonaire is raising awareness of links between alcohol and cancer. Photograph by Stephen Shepherd for the Observer
?People said that the
smoking ban was
nanny state nonsense
? I said that too. But
the ban has helped
people to quit?
also working with alcohol and cancer
charities and is keen to see graphic
warnings put on cans and bottles
of wine, beer and spirits, warning
drinkers that alcohol and cancer are
linked, modelled on those seen on
cigarette packets.
?The two most dangerous drugs
? alcohol and tobacco ? are both
entirely legal,? says Debbonaire, an
ex-smoker, with a mixture of disgust
and wonderment. She reels off a list
of alcohol-related harms, including
broken marriages, rotted livers and
injuries caused or sustained. She is
keen to tackle what she describes as
?widespread ignorance? that leads to
disease and death.
For example: ?Of the many MPs
across all parties I?ve spoken to about
alcohol and cancer, the only ones who
knew about the link with breast cancer
were those who had had the disease
themselves.?
Did her moderate drinking cause
her cancer? ?I don?t know if my
particular cancer was causally related
to alcohol, [but the] chances are
reasonable that there was a causal link.
My dad died of bowel cancer, which
is one of those linked to alcohol. Two
of my aunts had breast cancer. I had
an alcoholic grandfather in India and
other relatives in India who died of
alcohol-related diseases. So alcohol
has caused my family, and me as part of
that, great harm.?
She is appalled at parliament?s
intimate relationship with alcohol.
?Yes, I worry about the drinking
culture at Westminster. There are
? what? ? eight or 10 bars? There?s
free alcohol at receptions. I?m
concerned that alcohol is built into the
parliamentary way of working. With
late-night votes you?re certainly aware
that some people have been drinking.
This is not a moral judgment; I worry
about colleagues? health because of
the lifestyle in this place. Alcohol is
worryingly prevalent.
?In my third or fourth week as an
MP, just before I was diagnosed with
cancer, but when I knew it was a
possibility because I?d already found
the lump, Charlie Kennedy died in
his early ?fties. He comes here to
Westminster as a young man for the
?rst time [after being elected in 1983
at the age of 23], ?nds this [drinking]
culture with, you know, ten million
bars or whatever there were in those
days, late nights, overnight sittings.
What?s he going to do?
?Mr Speaker has encouraged the
provision of mental health support [for
MPs], which is very good,? she adds.
?I?m quite idealistic about parliament.
I think it ought to be a place where
high standards are set ? not just on
expenses and sexual harassment, but
on health and wellbeing, too. I would
be delighted if there were more gyms
and fewer bars.?
Debbonaire knows fellow MPs
may think her a puritanical bore. ?I?m
not trying to kill anyone?s joy. I think
alcohol can be a lovely thing. I had
a glass of champagne at my niece?s
wedding in September ? though
only one. But I?ve seen my own dad
deteriorate from bowel cancer and
visited a liver ward in Bristol where
people in their 20s or 30s look 30 or 40
years older from drinking.?
She acknowledges that some will
portray her as a nanny state ideologue.
?People probably said seatbelts and
the drink-drive limits were nanny
state nonsense. They de?nitely said it
about the smoking ban; I said it about
the smoking ban. But seatbelts and
not drinking and driving have saved
countless lives, and the smoking ban
has helped people to quit.
?Apart from the link with cancer,
alcohol causes a massive drain on the
NHS, costs lots to the police and the
courts and affects the economy by
causing lost days at work.
?Why wouldn?t we want to shift
that behaviour? Nanny state? Well,
I?m a Labour politician. I?m a social
reformer, not a libertarian rightwinger.
Interfering, for the common good, is
what we do,? she says ?rmly.
14.01.18
Cinema
*
IN FOCUS | 31
Ten years that took this magnetic
23-year-old to the brink of an Oscar
Irish-American
Saoirse Ronan is
already winning
awards for Lady Bird,
Greta Gerwig?s
acclaimed comic
drama, writess
Vanessa
Thorpe
F
ilm stars frequently rise to
their place in the showbusiness ?rmament trailing a glittering series of lead roles and
?ery celebrity feuds behind
them. Others, like Saoirse
Ronan, appear there suddenly, twinkling down benignly.
The Golden Globe winner, now an
A-list performer despite being only
23, is the open-faced, unpretentious
Irish-American actress whose starring
role in the acclaimed new ?lm Lady
Bird, along with forthcoming lead parts
in the ?lms Mary Queen of Scots, On
Chesil Beach and The Seagull, is about
to heavily underline her arrival in the
?rst rank of talent. Yet reaching the
top of the casting directors? wishlists
has been quietly achieved, through a
succession of carefully delineated roles
in unusual and complex ?lms, such as
Brooklyn, The Grand Budapest Hotel
and Atonement.
Ronan?s latest performance, as the
bolshy Sacramento teenager known
as Lady Bird, has earned her awards
and nominations in abundance.
According to the New York Times, she
plays the part, which is loosely based
on the young life of the writer and
director Greta Gerwig, ?with daunting,
dauntless precision?. She is already, the
newspaper suggests, one of ?the most
formidable screen actors? of the day.
Fellow stars are also impressed.
?Saoirse doesn?t have a dishonest bone
in her body and that translates directly
into her work, on to the screen,? Colin
Farrell has said.
And as if all this early exposure and
praise for her ?lm work isn?t enough,
Ronan also took to the Broadway
stage with aplomb a year and a half
ago as Abigail Williams in Arthur
Miller?s The Crucible. She was ?the
face of this production? as far as the
Hollywood Reporter was concerned,
?icy and commanding in her ?rst stage
appearance?. What?s more, Ronan
turned up last year in Ed Sheeran?s
video for his hit song Galway Girl.
With the exception of this little pop
outing (and perhaps her cameo in
Muppets: Most Wanted) the actress is
distinguished by a succession of rather
sober career choices. She has taken
risks with sophisticated screenplays,
instead of opting for obvious
crowdpleasers.
The fate of Lady Bird has become
something of a Hollywood cause
c閘鑒re, although it is still a month
before the ?lm is released in Britain.
As the teenager who insists her given
name is Lady Bird ? in the sense
that she gave it to herself ? Ronan is
carrying much of the weight of this
female-centred drama at a moment
when such factors are especially
signi?cant. So when the ?lm was
ignored in the best director category at
last Sunday?s Golden Globes ceremony
many sculpted eyebrows were raised,
especially as it went on to win best ?lm,
while Ronan won best actress. Awards
presenter Natalie Portman spoke
for many of those clad in black that
night when she queried the line-up of
male nominees. Things have been set
straight since with a Director?s Guild
of America nomination for Gerwig,
although only Ronan was recognised in
the Bafta line-up.
Accepting her shining gong last
?When she begins to
act, she is so totally
possessed it?s quite
spooky. It almost
feels unnatural?
Neil Jordan, ?lm director
Ronan in Lady Bird, above, and left, on the
set of Atonement, her breakthrough role,
with Keira Knightley. Allstar, Shutterstock
week, Ronan mentioned that her
mother was not with her for the
ceremony, but was watching on
Facetime. This prompted the Irish
press to ?nd out why. She was, it has
been revealed, staying at home to mind
a new puppy, Fran. It might sound
odd to miss such a family triumph, but
then Mrs Ronan has not been short of
reasons to be proud.
Her daughter, who was born in the
Bronx in New York City, has already
been widely nominated for awards
during her short career: ?rst at the
age of 13 for her fateful role as Briony
Tallis in the 2007 ?lm of Ian McEwan?s
Atonement and then as the luminously
reserved Irish immigrant, Eilis, in
Brooklyn, adapted from Colm To韇韓?s
novel in 2015.
In fact, her own parents? story is not
so far removed from the transatlantic
questing in that story, although Paul
and Monica Ronan?s attempts to make
a new life away from Ireland belong
to a later era. Her father worked on
building sites and then behind a bar,
while her mother took a job as a nanny.
After trying out as an actor, her father
went on to work on a series of ?lms,
appearing with Brad Pitt in The Devil?s
Own. But his daughter now claims
family memories of that tough time are
sobering when Tinseltown threatens
to dazzle.
?They had to struggle for a long
time,? she has said. ?Ma watched
dad lose out on parts or star in shows
off-Broadway and make buttons. She
watched these really talented people
never get the shot they deserved,? she
has said. ?So they prepared me to be
realistic. And that?s good, because the
moment fame becomes a priority, you
should give it up.?
The young family eventually moved
back to Co Carlow in Ireland, which
accounts for Ronan?s lilting Irish
brogue. Early on, she won a role in
an Irish soap show called The Clinic,
and going to school soon became
problematic. Neither of Ronan?s
parents had enjoyed the academic
THE STORY SO FAR
Born 12 April 1994 in the Bronx, New
York City, the only child of Irish parents.
Her family moved to Dublin when she
was three.
Her breakthrough performance was
playing the teenager Briony Tallis in
Atonement (2007), earning her an
Oscar nomination for best supporting
actress. She has also starred in The
Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Brooklyn
(2015) and Lady Bird (2017), for which
she won the Golden Globe for best
actress in a comedy or musical.
life. Monica had left school at 15 after
?trouble with the nuns? and her father
had not done much better. So when
Ronan began to feel that her teachers
and fellow pupils were ?giving her
a hard time?, she opted for home
schooling instead.
?Some of the students were,
you know, mean. But when your
schoolmates recognise you before
they?ve met you, and the teachers do
too, it can make things very awkward
and difficult,? she has said.
Her big break came with Atonement,
a part she secured because she had
worked with the dialect coach involved
on the ?lm on another aborted ?lm
project. By dint of her skill, Ronan was
cast against type as Keira Knightley?s
little sister. ?Briony was supposed to
be this brown-haired, brown-eyed,
middle-class English girl ? she was
supposed to look like she was related
to Keira,? says Ronan, gesturing to her
pale skin, freckles and blond hair.
Although Briony is the catalyst
for all the pain in the story, Ronan
has always staunchly defended her.
?People say Briony?s a bitch, and she?s
not. She?s not vindictive or spiteful.
It?s just that she doesn?t express her
emotions; she just sits and observes
everything.?
This relationship with McEwan?s
?ctional characters will continue this
year with the release of On Chesil
Beach, in which she plays his troubled
honeymooner, Florence.
Ronan?s career understandably
took off after Atonement, which had
earned her an Oscar nomination, with
a leading role in the 2009 adaptation
of Alice Sebold?s dark bestseller
The Lovely Bones, directed by Peter
Jackson, and an outing as a vampire
in Neil Jordan?s 2013 horror ?lm
Byzantium. Jordan, best known for
making Mona Lisa and The Crying
Game, responded in particular to
Ronan?s ?stillness?. ?When she begins
to act she is so totally possessed that
it?s quite spooky,? he said then. ?People
say that some actors are naturals. Well,
with Saoirse, it almost feels unnatural.?
?A certain amount of technicality
comes into it,? she says. ?It?s about
understanding the camera: how it
works, what it will pick up. It all goes
very quiet on set. You can feel the
atmosphere when everyone knows
how important the shot is. The
camera?s like a friend, sitting down,
that?s just all ears, and wants you to
pour your heart out. It stares ? that?s its
way of listening.?
With growing fame in America and
Britain came a continuing struggle
for Ronan: that of getting people to
pronounce her name correctly. She has
learned, she says, to respond obligingly
to a wide variety of sounds beginning
with ?S?. Even the poster for the Golden
Globes a few years ago spelled her name
Sarise by mistake. ?You actually say it
Sairsha,? she has explained. ?But you
can also say it Sersha, or Seersha.?
She will be swapping Irish roots
for Scottish with the release of Mary
Queen of Scots later this year. The ?lm,
based on John Guy?s study of Queen
Elizabeth I?s ill-fated cousin, is directed
by Josie Rourke, artistic director of the
Donmar Warehouse, who announced
her departure from the job last week.
Margot Robbie will play the queen, and
Ronan will play Mary Stuart, who had
to endure the eyes of the world on her
at a tender age.
If there is one star who has had to
learn to perfect teenage composure
in the face of early public scrutiny, it
is Ronan. It is only adopting the airs
and graces of regal authority that will
require a bit of imagination in this role.
32 | IN FOCUS
*
Society
?Triumphant and free
women? who started a
debate we needed to
have? Or hostages to a
culture of misogyny?
An insider?s guide to
French feminism
14.01.18
GALLIC VOICES
ABNOUSSE SHALMANI
French-Iranian writer
says she does not
dismiss the courage of
#MeToo campaigners,
but wants to ?add
a different voice?.
Actress Catherine Deneuve joined 99 other prominent
women last week in a letter accusing the Hollywood antiabuse campaign #MeToo of puritanical intolerance. Writer
Agn鑣 Poirier explains how the debate is viewed in Paris
F
rench women made headlines all over the world last
week. And not because they
never get fat or their children never throw food, as a
series of American bestsellers put it, but because 100 of them
signed an open letter published in Le
Monde offering an alternative view of
the #MeToo campaign and drawing
attention to what they regard as rampant censorship in feminist ranks. In
signing the letter, the French ?lm star
Catherine Deneuve set the feminist
world ablaze.
They spoke their mind in a Gallic
manner: straightforwardly, to the point
of appearing blunt. The letter was also
strikingly badly edited, with clumsy
chunks unworthy of their authors.
But, in short, they think the campaign
by the #MeToo movement to tackle
sexual harassment represents a ?puritanical ? wave of puri?cation?; that
?rape is a crime, but trying to seduce
someone, even persistently or cackhandedly, is not, nor is being gentlemanly a macho attack?.
They went on to proclaim that ?what
began as freeing women up to speak
has today turned into the opposite ?
we intimidate people into speaking
?correctly?, shout down those who don?t
fall into line, and those women who
refused to bend [to the new realities]
are regarded as complicit and traitors?.
In other words, these 100 French
women, representing many more in
France, argue that this new puritanism reeks of Stalinism and its ?thought
police?, not of true democracy. What
they refuse to countenance is an image
of women ?as poor little things, this
Victorian idea that women are mere
children who have to be protected?,
the same one extolled by religious
fundamentalists and reactionaries.
?As women, we do not recognise
ourselves in this feminism, which
beyond denouncing the abuse of
power takes on a hatred of men and of
sexuality.?
This is an example of what has
always distinguished French feminism
from the American and British
versions: the attitude towards sex and
towards men.
Partly lost in translation, the letter
was vili?ed on social networks, its
authors accused by some of being
?lobotomised? by their ?internalised
misogyny? (according to Asia Argento),
and more generally for being ?rape
apologists?, ?too old and decrepit to
understand women?s issues today?,
for being ?over-privileged?, for being
?stuck in the 1960s and 1970s?.
Deneuve and Catherine Millet,
the art critic famous for The Sexual
Life of Catherine燤, suddenly
became the faces of what was seen
by many younger feminists in France
and abroad as a retrograde bunch
of over-privileged celebrities and
intellectuals both totally unconcerned
by the plight of all those anonymous
victims of rape and sexual harassment
and too preoccupied by their sexual
freedom and defending the French way
of gallivanting about.
The letter?s authors did not do themselves any favours by writing of men?s
?right to pester? women. This clumsy
and unacceptable line poured more oil
on the ?re and reinforced prejudices
and cliches about French women. As
Simone de Beauvoir wrote in 1947:
?American women have only contempt
for French women always too happy to
please their men and too accepting of
their whims.?
This is a real shame: the letter puts
forward strong arguments. And it does
so by being overtly French; in other
words, by sounding authoritative ?
and rude. Heated debate is a passion,
considered healthy in France. As the
highly regarded 89-year-old French
historian and feminist Michelle Perrot,
partly critical of the Deneuve letter,
wrote: ?They are triumphant free
women who show a certain lack of
Catherine Deneuve, the French film star
whose signature drew international
attention to the open letter last week.
solidarity with the #MeToo victims ?
But they say what they think, and many
people share their point of view. The
debate is real and must be recognised.?
In France today, different feminist groups coexist: the main one is
a feminism following the steps of
De燘eauvoir, one that is not at war with
men but rather with machismo culture,
gender inequality and the inherent
misogyny of religions.
And there is a rather recent
American import of feminism, one that
often comes across as opportunistic
and ?man-hating?, one that turns a
blind eye to religious misogyny, for
instance defending the wearing of the
hijab. They present themselves as the
new vanguard of French feminism,
the new blood, except they can sound
to some like Stalinist commissars, or
Robespierre in culottes, passing edicts
about what is acceptable conduct. We
would be wrong, however, to think that
the current debate shows a generational ?ght. Many millennials have
signed the Deneuve letter. The divide is
political, ideological even.
According to Perrot, ?the authors
of the letter fear that the #MeToo
movement dents creative, artistic
and sexual freedom, that a moralist
backlash comes and destroys what
libertarian thinking has fought hard
to obtain, that women?s bodies and
sex become again this forbidden
territory and that a new moral order
introduces a new censorship against
the free movement of desire?, and
concludes: ?There is indeed reason to
share their fear.?
This is probably the most interesting and sharpest argument made in the
Deneuve letter. As Sarah Chiche, a 41year-old psychoanalyst and author who
signed the Deneuve letter, explained:
?The #MeToo victims? personal stories
have proved a powerful magnet and
very popular with the public. It has
almost become a new norm in public discourse. Unfortunately, this is
becoming insidious: now books need to
be rewritten, ?lms reshot.?
Last week an opera director in
Florence decided to change the end of
Bizet?s Carmen so that Carmen now
kills her murderer. Ridley Scott edited
out Kevin Spacey from his latest ?lm
and reshot his scenes with Christopher
Plummer in All the Money in the World.
Art critics questioned on the BBC
whether to boycott the Gauguin exhibition in London because the painter
MICHELLE PERROT
Professor emeritus of
contemporary history
at the Paris Diderot
University, aged 89.
She fears a ?new moral
order?. Ulf Andersen
slept with under-age Tahitians. Others
want to rewrite Sleeping Beauty so that
the ?nal kiss is a consented one.
Since Deneuve signed the letter,
Luis Bu駏el?s Belle de Jour has suddenly been described as a rape apologist ?lm, to be banned from cinemas.
?This new feminism is now serving
the interests of cultural revisionism
and doesn?t know when or where to
stop,? says Chiche.
It is a French tradition to disturb,
to question, to critique, to set ablaze
the con?ict between two freedoms,
that which protects and that which
disturbs. Sexuality has become the new
battle?eld. ?Today, in 2018, Oshima?s In
the Realm of the Senses and Nabokov?s
Lolita would never see daylight
because of both reactionaries and selfproclaimed progressives who invoke
the fate of real victims to shut us all
up,? says Chiche.
For all the talk about Deneuve, little
has been said of the initiator of this
public letter. Her name is Abnousse
Shalmani. She is a 41-year-old FrenchIranian, born in Tehran. She grew up
14.01.18
Politics
*
IN FOCUS | 33
Why my generation
must not be scared
of saying they?re Tory
Ben Bradley, named
as Tory vice chairman
for youth last week,
explains how the
party hopes to
attract a new
generation
SARAH CHICHE
Psychoanalyst, author
and signatory of the
Deneuve letter. She
argues that #MeToo
?serves the interests of
cultural revisionism?.
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR
The philosopher, social
theorist and activist
who argued for a
feminism that is ?not at
war with men?. Rex
?#MeToo dents
creative, artistic and
sexual freedom ? a
moralist backlash
destroying what
libertarian thinking
fought hard to obtain?
Michelle Perrot, 89, historian
under Ayatollah Khomeini until her
parents ?ed to Paris in 1985. In a book
she published in 2014, Khomeini, Sade
et Moi, she revealed that she was the
victim of a rape, but also said French
authors such as Colette, Victor Hugo
and Marquis de Sade taught her how to
be free, as a woman and a sexual being,
far from the Islamic veil she was forced
to wear as a girl in Tehran.
Perhaps we should listen to her
when, amid the furore, she tried to
make herself heard on French radio:
?We do not dismiss the many women
who had the courage to speak up
against [Harvey] Weinstein. We do not
dismiss either the legitimacy of their
?ght. We do, however, add our voice, a
different voice, to the debate.?
One should always listen to the
French difference.
Agn鑣 Poirier is a London-based French
writer and political commentator. Her
forthcoming book Left Bank, Arts,
Passion and the Rebirth of Paris 19401950 (Bloomsbury) is to be published in
March
Y
oung people are getting
involved in politics like never
before ? and it is important that
we are responsive to their needs
and build a country that works for them
as well as everyone else. Last year?s
general election saw a surge in young
people turning out to vote, with 18- to
24-year-olds voting in greater numbers
than at any other time.
If so many young people turned up
to vote, politicians ? of all political
stripes ? have to start listening. The
fact that most of the youth vote went to
Labour in 2017 means Conservatives
must listen even more carefully.
This is why I was delighted
to be appointed last week as the
Conservative party vice-chairman
for youth ? given the job of attracting
young people to our cause. Both our
policies and our messaging need to
have young people and their future
at their heart, focusing on issues that
directly affect their quality of life.
My ?rst involvement with politics
was when I fell out with my local
council over our bins not being collected for a month. It spurred me to get
involved, so that I could help make a
difference. Having been elected to the
council in 2015, I won the Mans?eld
seat last June, despite it having never
been Conservative before. It proves
that, as a young person, if you get
involved and you work hard you can
make a difference.
As Conservatives, we are committed
to helping each new generation build a
better future for them and their families. It is with this spirit that a son of a
bus driver from Pakistan, Sajid Javed,
can now sit around the cabinet table,
while I ? the son a policeman from
Derbyshire ? can be elected to parliament in my twenties.
But to ensure that each generation
has the chance to get on in life, we
must focus on the issues that matter to them. This means building the
homes Britain needs so that everyone
can afford a place of their own and get
a foot on the housing ladder. It means
improving standards in our schools
and colleges so that young people have
more opportunities to get the skills
they need. And we must create better,
higher paying jobs that give people
a few years younger than me a good
quality of life and the prospects of a
better future.
Conservatives have a proud record
in government: youth unemployment
has fallen by 40% since 2010, with
more young people in work; we have
delivered 3m apprenticeships; more
young people from disadvantaged
backgrounds are going to university;
our help to buy scheme has assisted
Millennials relax in
central London.
?To ensure that
each generation
has the chance to
get on in life, we
must focus on the
issues that matter
to them,? says
Bradley. Alamy
275,000 ?rst time buyers with a
deposit; we have abolished stamp duty
for ?rst-time buyers ? which Labour
recently voted against ? and we have
extended the young person?s railcard to
25- to 30-year-olds.
The facts are there, but we need
to boldly reassert our values and
talk about what we stand for as
Conservatives ? about what we believe
in and what drives us to deliver those
policies and successes.
At the same time, we need to look
at how we disseminate our message.
Already we are improving our commitment to digital strategy, focusing on
social media and how we broadcast to
young people effectively.
Across the country we have MPs,
councillors, members and activists from diverse backgrounds and
experiences, with different voices and
connections. We have a talented young
group of intelligent and capable people
both in parliament and elsewhere who
can take our message out there with
a genuine passion and drive to make
people?s lives better.
The last general election is memorable not only for the ?youthquake? that
shocked the country, but also for the
rise of abuse and intimidation online.
Abuse has no place in our democracy.
No matter your political affiliation or
party, public life must be conducted
with the principles of respect, tolerance and fairness at its heart.
While freedom of speech is a crucial
cornerstone of our society, there is a
clear difference between legitimate
scrutiny and personal abuse ? and it is
the latter which we saw far too much
of in 2017.
My election campaign centre was
spray-painted with ?Tory scum?. I
suffered at the hands of Twitter trolls
? as did many of my colleagues. As a
28-year-old brought up on the values of
tolerance and respect, I want to ensure
that people of my generation and
younger are not scared to say that they
are Conservative.
Yet we have a Labour party that
refuses to stamp out a culture of online
abuse and stays silent in the face of
intimidation of those wishing to participate in the democratic process. When
Labour?s shadow chancellor refuses
to apologise for refusing to condemn
violence against a fellow politician, a
line has been crossed. He and other
politicians may rightly claim to be my
elder ? but that does not put them on
the right side of the argument. We will
call out Labour?s hypocrisy: the party
must take action to silence this shameful hounding of people in public life.
I am a proud Conservative because
I believe in a system which gives
everyone the opportunity to succeed
through their own hard work and talent, and delivers the security, jobs and
growth we need to prosper as a country. These are values which I believe
all of us share ? young and old ? and
which we must recommit to offering to
the country.
IN COMMENT
?A second Brexit referendum will happen if
key players feel it is to their advantage?
Andrew Rawnsley, page 37
My friend David Davis once defended
liberty. Now he has become its enemy
Henry Porter, page 38
*
34 | THE OBSERVER PROFILE
14.01.18
Carrie Gracie
Fearless leader of
battle for equal
pay at the BBC
Her resignation as China editor, because
of a lack of parity in salary with male
counterparts, has provoked a debate about
gender fairness and exposed deep divisions
in the corporation, writes Jane Martinson
A
t the height of the
expenses scandal in
2009,燼 little-known BBC
news presenter made
the headlines by revealing her �,000-a-year
salary on air and getting into a public spat. Carrie Gracie told a Labour
peer that, unlike the MPs charging
for ?chandeliers and manure?, she
never even claimed for telephone calls
?because I understand what public
service is about?.
Gracie returned to the headlines
last week when she resigned as China
editor and accused her employer of
illegal pay discrimination. A dispute
simmering since last summer, when
publication of BBC pay scales ?rst
revealed how few of the best-paid stars
were women, boiled over and led to
days of outrage and mockery over the
BBC and its treatment of women.
In an interview for the BBC?s
Woman?s Hour, Gracie explained that
she had turned down a �,000 pay
increase that would have taken her
overall pay to �0,000, but left it
below that of two male international
editors, the US editor, Jon Sopel, and
the Middle East editor, Jeremy Bowen.
?I didn?t want more money ? do
you understand ? I wanted equality,?
she said. Support was immediate and
widespread: within hours, #istandwithcarrie was trending on Twitter, with
women including Clare Balding and
Gabby Logan tweeting their support.
The row has been painful for the
BBC, exposing deep divisions among
some of its best-known staff and evoking memories of the Savile scandal
when its failure to act became symbolic
of wider social injustice. In raising
issues of inequality and fairness, Gracie
has put the BBC at the heart of two of
the de?ning issues of our age.
Miriam O?Reilly, the former BBC
presenter who took the corporation
to court for ageism and won, said the
reaction proved that dissent was now
much more widespread: ?I don?t think
I?ve experienced anything like it; the
reaction has been incredible.?
Political reaction has been swift, too.
The newly appointed culture secretary,
Matt Hancock, warned the BBC that
?much more action is needed?, while
the爌arliamentary select committee
called on Gracie and the BBC director
general, Tony Hall, to give evidence this
week. The committee is expected to
hear from爏ome of the more than 200
women who have lodged grievance
procedures against the BBC over pay
disputes.
After an award-winning 30-year
career at the BBC, Gracie is conscious
of the criticism about the highly paid
women leading the charge for equality.
In her letter announcing her decision,
she wrote: ?Many of the women affected
are not highly paid ?stars? but hardworking producers on modest salaries.
Often, women from ethnic minorities
suffer wider pay gaps than the rest.?
Jane Bradley, a former BBC journalist who now works for Buzzfeed,
re?ected the distaste many felt when
a leaked recording of a conversation
between John Humphrys, the BBC?s
highest-paid news presenter, and Sopel
showed him making light of the issue.
?Hilarious banter from Humphrys who
earns �0k a year whilst (female)
friends of mine work overnight shifts
to produce the programme on �k.?
One BBC news employee said: ?This
affects so many women of all ages,
grades and ethnicities and in every
kind of job. Carrie has a lot of support.?
The issue of equal pay is not entirely
straightforward, however, with complexities and contradictions everywhere apparent in a system in which
pay relates to the individual and not
necessarily the job. Gracie pointed out
the illogicality in the fact that her pay
as a returning BBC News presenter of
�5,000 ?will be paid more for sitting
in warm studio than hurtling round
country of 1.4 billion 24/7. Strange.?
With a wage boosted by her stint in
Beijing, she will presumably be paid
more than some of her colleagues doing
exactly the same job.
The BBC would be breaking the
law爄f it attempted to cut the wages of
its male employees; instead, it needs
to爀ncourage them to take a pay cut
voluntarily. Humphrys is one of the
few to have gone public with his own
decision to take a �0,000 cut, which
still leaves him earning roughly four
times the prime ministerial wage
for working 15 hours a week on the
Today programme and presenting
Mastermind.
Amid rumours that Huw Edwards
and Chris Evans were both being
encouraged to think about how much
they are paid, one senior BBC editor
said: ?I think the men will have to give
up the money. They [the BBC] can?t
force them, but they can just make it so
uncomfortable for them.?
S
ome observers argue
that there is a distinction
between covering the US,
which is on the main news
programmes all the time,
and the newer beat of China,
with its surveillance and other hardships. In an interview during a period
of long-service leave to supervise
her children?s A-level exams, Gracie
spoke of these difficulties: ?I ?nd it a
hard environment, very punishing,
the pollution, congestion, travelling,
intensity of surveillance, difficult
ethical issues.? Yet some at the BBC
point out that Bowen, who has worked
as a war correspondent for much of his
career and whose driver was killed by
Israeli mortar ?re in 2000, has suffered
from post-traumatic stress disorder.
One editor suggested it was typical
of Gracie to stir things up. Another
said: ?She is very direct, good fun and
a good person, but maybe quite naive,
de?nitely idealistic.?
The daughter of an oil executive
and born in Bahrain, Gracie joined
the BBC as a trainee producer in 1987
after going to both Edinburgh and
then Oxford universities, where she
graduated with a ?rst-class degree in
philosophy, politics and economics.
She was Beijing correspondent from
1991 until 1995 and ?tted in an MA in
design for interactive media as well as
a degree in Mandarin. She ?rst moved
back to the UK in 1999 because her
young daughter was ill. In 2005, she
was diagnosed with breast cancer but
returned to work as soon as she could.
Her former husband, the Chinese
rock musician Jin helped to look
after their two children, now 21 and
19, while Gracie spent half the year
in China. Her frequent trips home
to London included her ?rst stint as
a Today programme presenter last
summer.
During her 30 years at the BBC, there
have been several pay scandals. In 2009,
when Gracie was disclosing her salary,
Jonathan Ross was on a �.9m threeyear contract and the deputy director
general Mark Byford was about to be
given � to leave the BBC. Greater
disclosure and a squeeze on public
?nances have conspired to change the
culture so that such high pay at a public
broadcaster is distasteful.
Full disclosure of all those earning
more than �0,000 a year was only
agreed in the last charter settlement
and the BBC has announced plans to
cut �m from its news budget. The
pay deals of men from the earlier era
now look outdated. ?This is a hangover
from the age when money was
There are rumours
that Huw Edwards
and Chris Evans are
being encouraged to
think about how
much they are paid
thrown around to stop people getting
poached,? said one BBC News insider.
?Now there?s a sense that �0,000
is quite a lot of money for a nice job
which lots of people want to do.?
Some blame the former director
general John Birt, who is credited with
making the BBC more competitive
in the 1990s but also for introducing
market-based reforms. ?This should
mean the BBC gets back to the pre-Birt
era, before these people were treated
like stars, not journalists,? said one
insider. Several mentioned the fact
that the BBC?s status as a trusted news
source, still watched by millions, was
worth a pay cut. ?If it?s money you
need, the BBC is not the place,? said a
THE GRACIE FILE
Born Carrie Gracie in 1962 in Bahrain,
where her father was working as an oil
executive; raised in Scotland. Degrees
from the universities of Edinburgh and
Oxford. Before entering journalism she
taught in China. Two children with Chinese
rock musician Jin.
Best of times She was appointed BBC
News? ?rst editor for China in 2013.
Worst of times Quite possibly the current
furore over equal pay at the BBC. Though
she appears to be handling matters with
wit and grace.
What she says ?I would not wish to be
remembered forever as the woman who
complained about money.?
What they say ?A farce. The BBC could pay
its female Today presenters equally if it
retired John Humphrys.? ? Ben Bradshaw
supporter of BBC women. ?If public
service and a good living wage is, then
please stay.?
The BBC?s handling of the crisis has
attracted a huge amount of criticism.
From its initial statement that its pay
was ?fair?, to its decision to stop any
presenter who had ever expressed any
support for equality from reporting on
the issue, BBC management appeared
surprised by a turn of events it must
have known about for weeks.
It took Fran Unsworth, the newly
appointed ?rst female head of news,
more than 24 hours after the story
broke to send an email to all staff: ?Pay
is an issue that we need to resolve
swiftly and get right. This is a priority
not just for me, but for the entire BBC.?
Its continuing insistence that an
independent audit of on-air presenters
would be published within a few weeks
did little to assuage the doubts of those
who refused to believe last year?s
report of rank-and-?le staff, which
found ?no systemic discrimination?.
As so often in the past, the BBC ?nds
itself, often unwillingly, at the forefront of changes demanded by society.
From April, all larger employers will
be爈egally obliged to publish their pay
for men and women.
Given the insults traded over the
past week, it is perhaps surprising that
Gracie and O?Reilly ended the week on
a positive note. Tweeting after her last
shift for Today, Gracie said that although
the week had been a ?bit W1A?, referring to the BBC comedy: ?What other
news organisation would let you call
it secretive and illegal on #equalpay, +
still let you front ?agship show? Despite
troubles, #BBC IS GREAT.?
O?Reilly, who now campaigns against
ageism and sexism, said times had
changed since she quit the BBC a year
after her successful court case because
of ?humiliating? treatment. ?This is
an opportunity now, not just for BBC
women but for all women. If you can
show that you can stand up to being
treated unequally to men, women will
bene?t all around the country.?
14.01.18
| 35
*
Comment
CATHERINE
BENNETT
Wanted: recruits for
touchy-feely army.
Sorry, no facial tats Page 39
If we want to shape a landscape that?s
?t for all, we must stop romanticising it
Michael Gove?s policies on the countryside are welcome, but will only work if he can bridge the urban/rural divide
Alex
Preston
@ahmpreston
M
ichael Gove has now been secretary
of state for the environment for more
than six months and, believe me, this
isn?t easy to write, he appears to be
doing a decent job. It induces a particular kind of
cognitive dissonance in the liberal left, seeing him
making such lucid and laudable policy decisions.
Gove is behind the government?s post-Blue
Planet drive on plastic waste; the banning of
microbeads; the volte-face on the use of neonicotinoids; the outlawing of ivory sales; reintroducing beavers. He has listened to the very experts he
derided in the build-up to the Brexit vote and, by
tapping into a peculiarly British engagement with
nature and landscape, seems to be staging the
most unlikely of political comebacks.
The latest move, announced at the Oxford
Farming Conference (Gove also, admirably, was
the ?rst environment secretary to make time for
the rival, eco-friendly, Real Farming Conference),
is to use money currently paid out to the country?s
largest landowners to invest instead in a series of
?public goods?. These will be ?planting woodland,
providing new habitats for wildlife, increasing
biodiversity, contributing to improved water
quality and returning cultivated land to wild?ower meadows or other more natural states?.
This vision of post-Brexit Britain is illustrated
by Arthur Rackham ? idyllic, ?ower-strewn,
dreamlike. It?s also profoundly conservative and
driven by an acute sensitivity to issues of class.
The British landscape as we understand it was a
creation of the landed gentry in the 17th and 18th
centuries; it is largely managed and arti?cial, even
in its wildest reaches. In looking back to this lost
(imaginary) landscape, we also hark back to the
golden age of patrician politics.
Melissa Harrison?s superb second novel,
At Hawthorn Time, interrogates questions of
landscape by presenting its rural location ? the
?ctional village of Lodeshill ? from the perspective of four different characters, each of whom
constructs the idea of the landscape according to
his or her politically in?uenced worldview. One
of the tensions the book explores is between the
innate conservatism of rural life (and those wishing to preserve it) and the radical steps needed to
achieve that preservation.
I asked Harrison whether environmentalism
was necessarily reactionary. ?True,? she told me,
?conservation is partly to do with preservation,
but that?s only half the picture. It?s also to do with
the inevitability of燾hange and how we manage
it ? for people燼nd爁or wildlife. It?s possible to
care燿eeply about the parlous state of Britain?s
wildlife, worry about our farmers, want our
landscapes and traditions to be preserved燼nd
hope that enough new homes can be built, too,
but to do so means resisting the urge to be tribal
and, in a painfully divided Britain, that?s not easy
right now.?
Which brings us back to Gove. It?s clear that
a man of his ambition wouldn?t be satis?ed with
merely saving the Earth ? he wants爐o rescue the
Conservative party. His environmental policies feel like they have a covert爌olitical instinct
behind them.
Landscape plays a powerful role in the
construction of our national identity; as the
anthropologist Tim Ingold says: ?Through living
in it, the landscape becomes part of us, just as
we are part of it.? Gove appears to believe that
the countryside is common ground upon which
the factions of a divided Britain might meet in
agreement.
And yet, the Brexit referendum was partly a
story of a predominately rural Leave vote against
an urban majority in favour of Remain. So these
environmental policies risk deepening, rather
than reconciling, this divide. They appeal to those
with the time, money and education to enjoy the
meadowlands, to walk through the woods, to
watch the beavers frolic. For those in the countryside, these moves may seem just another sop
to爐he (urban) elite, merely picturesque.
L
andscape is a fraught subject when it comes
to questions of class. Harrison has爎ecently
moved from London to the Suffolk countryside, where her next novel, All Among
the Barley, is set. One of the pleasures of her new
home, she told me, was a ?sense of connection to
English rural history that I?m well aware is only
unproblematic for me because I?m white and
middle class. When it comes to the爁etishisation of
place that happened in the 1930s, and is happening again now, it?s vital to ask: who does this vision
serve and who does it exclude??
The idea of landscape cannot be separated
from its socially constructed origins. In Ways
of Seeing, John Berger writes about how the
fashion in which we view landscapes is ?ultimately determined by our attitudes to property
and exchange?. Berger?s fellow Marxist Raymond
Williams noted that those working in the countryside only rarely perceive the world around
them as a landscape: ?A working country is hardly
ever a landscape. The very idea of landscape
implies separation and observation.?
There will be many conservationists who
believe that Gove?s environmental policies are to
be celebrated whatever the instinct behind them.
But in order for them to be something more than
a politically motivated gesture to a rare?ed cabal
who want the landscape to return to a ?ctional
Ambitious
Gove
wouldn?t
be satis?ed
with merely
saving the
Earth; he
wants to
rescue his
party
Arcadian past, we need to ask precisely which
public Gove is talking about when he speaks of
?public goods?.
To foster genuine change in the way we think
about our engagement with nature, we need to
ensure that the landscape can be appreciated by
the many, not the few, that it speaks to both sides
of the urban/rural divide. This means thinking
about issues of access, of development, but, above
all, of education.
The appreciation of nature and the urge to
conserve it are not innate, they are learned.
Understanding the difference between a swallow
and a swift, or between willow herb and meadowsweet, between oak, ash and thorn, makes us less
likely to participate in their annihilation.
Last year, the nature writer Mark Cocker
championed a move to establish a GCSE in
natural history. If Gove is serious about a radical
refashioning of the government?s approach to the
British rural landscape, increasing the focus on
the natural world in the education of our young
people would be a good start.
In order to preserve what is precious, we need
to understand the source of its value. Before we
change our landscape, we need to change the
perspectives of those who look upon it.
Rural idyll: ?Capability?
Brown?s landscaping at
Petworth House, West
Sussex.
National Trust/Alamy
Alex Preston is the author of As King?shers Catch
Fire: Books & Birds (Corsair, �)
Now students pay thousands, ?rsts are on the rise. Fancy that
Vanessa
Thorpe
@vanessathorpe
M
any proud academics must
have spluttered over their
morning coffee in the senior
common room to learn that
a ?rst-class degree, once as rare as
hen?s teeth, is now more akin to a hen?s
egg: we can all have one for breakfast, it
seems, if we can only be bothered to go
out to collect it.
A survey by the Press Association
has revealed that far from denoting
scholarly excellence and a top-notch
mind, in Britain a ?rst is today a more
likely outcome of a university education than a lower second.
Analysis of official ?gures for 201516 gathered by the Higher Education
Statistics Agency shows thee share of
graduates with the highest possible
nomical
result has risen by an astronomical
44% in just ?ve years. This sharp
increase in the number of ?rsts
?rsts is
012particularly marked after 201213, the year in which ? puree
ere
coincidence? ? students were
charged higher fees and in
which 18% got a ?rst.
Perhaps this is cause for
ll,
national jubilation? After all,
w
many students will not now
al
need to cope with the social
impediment of acquiring what was
once fondly known as ?a Desmond?
after the former Archbishop Tutu (2:2,
geddit?).
Although if we are now producing so many students of the highest
cognitive calibre, how many of them
have noticed the strong corr
correlation
between the amount they have to
pay out these days and what
they get handed b
back at
the end? Sever
Several billion
pounds surre
surrendered
in fees, it se
seems clear,
can buy a q
quarter of
all underg
undergraduates a
much bett
better reason
to break o
open the
bubbly on results
d
day.
Or is
the news that ?rsts are suddenly more
attainable welcomed by爏tudents?
No young person is pleased, are they,
when the driving test爄s made more
difficult? As long as they can drive
away at the end, then they are ahead
? even if the examiner had to be
slipped an extra note or two under the
dashboard.
I
t used, surely, to be a point of selfrespect among university dons that
rigorous standards were maintained.
Securing a coveted ?rst was the
gateway, was it not, into their own
mysterious, ivory-panelled, woodentowered world? So a very persuasive
hint indeed must have gone round high
table: ?Go easy on the dears, especially
if I have to justify the noughts on my
salary here.?
It appears the country needs to
alter爐he way it views a ?rst. No longer
is it a nifty bit of shorthand for someone
who has surpassed the common crowd
in learning ? I guess we still have the
few cum laude and congratulatory-?rst
starlets for that. And must employers
quickly learn to distinguish the value of
top quali?cations from different establishments? One question remains: how
do we compensate those who have just
had their own hard-earned grades from
days gone by downgraded? Will there
be compensation for the retrospective
belittling of their ?rsts? How much for
robbing a former swot of their chance
to hint at their yellowing academic
honours?
36 | COMMENT
*
14.01.18
Established in 1791
Issue No 11,799
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Telephone: 020 3353 2000 Fax: 020 3353 3189
email: editor@observer.co.uk
US POLITICS
I
One year on, Trump has proven to be a
disgrace to his country
t is almost one year since Donald Trump was
sworn in as the 45th US president. Will he
last another 12 months? Day after tumultuous day since 20 January 2017, Trump has
provided fresh evidence of his un?tness for
America?s highest office.
It is not only that his politics and policies,
from tax cuts and climate change to Palestine
and nuclear weapons, are disastrously wrongheaded. It is not just that his idea of leadership
is divisive, confrontational and irresponsible.
Nor does the problem lie solely with his blatant
racism, misogyny and chauvinism, though
these are indeed massive problems.
His latest foul-mouthed outrage ? describing
developing countries as ?shitholes? ? is appalling even by his crude standards.
The fundamental failing underlying Trump?s
presidency is his wilful ignorance. His frequently petulant, childish behaviour combines
with a staggering lack of knowledge and contempt for facts to produce serial, chronic misjudgments. Trump, in power, cannot be trusted.
He has been exposed as lacking in empathy,
shamelessly mendacious, cynical and unversed
or uninterested in the enduring human and
constitutional values his office is sworn to
uphold. Trump is the ?rst and hopefully the
last of his kind: an anti-American president. He
is a disgrace and a danger to his country. The
sooner he is sent packing, the better.
How much longer will Americans tolerate
his embarrassing presence in the White House?
His tenancy runs until November 2020, when
he could seek a second term. But the problem is
getting worse, not better. A series of scenarios,
fuelled by his endlessly damaging, unacceptable words and actions, is beginning to unfold
that could bring about his early departure.
The ?rst and, democratically speaking, the
most desirable scenario is that the electorate will simply reject Trump. This process is
already well under way, if opinion polls are to
be believed. Trump?s personal approval rating
has averaged below 40% over the past year,
a record for presidential unpopularity. More
telling, perhaps, were the ?ndings of a Pew
Research Center poll last month that debunked
the myth that Trump?s ?base? ? his core support ? is impervious to his daily blundering.
Trump?s backing among key groups that helped
elect him ? white men, Protestant evangelicals,
the over-50s and the non-college educated ?
has fallen signi?cantly across the board. At the
same time, a Gallup survey found the number of
voters rede?ning themselves as uncommitted
?independents? rose to 42%.
Trump?s fading electoral appeal was cruelly
exposed in shock defeats in Virginia and Alabama. Anger and disappointment with Trump
among white voters was said to be a decisive
factor, assisted by record turnout among African Americans. Nationally, evidence that the
Trump rump is shredding is on the rise. A Monmouth University poll last August found that
61% of Trump voters said they could not think
of anything he might do that would turn them
against him. A poll last month put that ?gure at
37%. It is plain that many ordinary voters who
trusted Trump to make a positive difference
have been repelled and disgusted.
Pollsters and pundits are looking to November?s midterm congressional elections. Forecasts suggest a stunning repudiation of a ?toxic?
Trump, with the Alabama upset being replicated nationwide. The GOP could lose control
of the House of Representatives, where large
numbers of moderate Republicans are retiring,
and its grip on the Senate may be loosened by
an anti-Trump tsunami. No party since 1950 has
hung on to the house in a midterm poll when
the president?s approval was below 40%.
A humiliating nationwide slap in the face
from voters this year, coupled with the loss
of Congress, could bring Trump?s presidency
shuddering to a halt, leaving him wounded,
deserted by most Republicans and doomed
to one-term ignominy. Meanwhile, another
scenario prospectively leading to his political
demise is playing out simultaneously. Nobody
knows, as yet, whether the federal investigation
into the Trump campaign?s alleged collusion
with Russian agents in 2016 will ultimately irretrievably compromise the president himself.
But claims that Trump conspired to obstruct
justice by putting pressure on the FBI and ?ring
its unbiddable director, James Comey, appear
to have substance and are potentially fatal to his
presidency. Robert Mueller, the special counsel,
is proposing a formal interview under oath.
It?s not over yet. Supporters of Trump point
to what they see as a string of successes. They
cite a stock market that has added $7tn in value,
2m new jobs and radical tax reform. They
credit Trump with defeating Islamic State
(a vain boast) and reducing illegal immigration. The number of Americans saying the US
economy is in ?excellent shape? has jumped
from 2% in November 2016 to 18%. About 48%
say the economy is ?good?, up 11% in the same
period. By these measures, his trademark vow
to ?make America great again? may be beginning to work ? and this is likely to slow the pace
of desertions from his electoral base.
E
lsewhere, conservatives will point to
some signi?cant triumphs that give
the lie to the idea that Trump has been
a hapless ?gure unable to bend America to his will. On many fronts, his administration is landing signi?cant blows to the ObamaClinton legacy. The environment secretary,
Scott Pruitt, has effectively disembowelled
the Environment Protection Agency, sacking
scores of advisers and scientists. He is intent
on scrapping many Obama-era regulations on
water, climate, pollution and more. There has
been a bon?re of environmental rules. New
rules on chemicals previously declared toxic
are being relaxed.
The president is busy appointing predominantly young, white male, conservative judges
to federal appeal and district courts. While the
supreme court hears only a handful of cases a
year, it is in these lower courts where America?s
settlement on issues of gender, race, work, relationships and much more is decided.
Meanwhile, the interior secretary, Ryan
Zinke, is shrinking America?s national monuments. Part of the Obama-designated Bears
Ears in Utah (1.3m acres) and the Clinton-designated Grand Staircase-Escalante (1.9m acres)
will likely be opened up for mining and other
industrial pursuits. (Trump was lobbied by the
uranium mining company Energy Fuels to open
up Bears Ears for its uranium rich deposits.)
Then there are the quiet revolutions under
way by Betsy DeVos at the education department, while former presidential candidate
Ben Carson, at the department of housing and
urban development, is slashing government
spending on affordable housing. And on and on.
These are some of the wins that conservatives
are happy to bank while tolerating the intolerable in the White House.
The overwhelming impression of Trump?s
?rst 12 months is not of steady progress but
chaos. Tantrums, tears and irrational rage
dominate the reality TV scene inside the White
House, according to Michael Wolff ?s new book,
Fire and Fury. On the national stage, Trump
has displayed open bigotry over migrant and
race issues. His lowest point, among numerous
low points, was his implied support for white
supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Internationally, Trump made nuclear war
with North Korea more likely, dismayed the
entire world by rejecting the Paris climate
accord, insulted and threatened the UN over
Jerusalem, did his best to wreck the landmark
2015 treaty with Iran and did next to nothing to
halt the terrible con?icts in Syria, Yemen, South
Sudan and Afghanistan. Worse still, in a way,
he has scorned US friends and allies in Europe
and cosied up to authoritarian leaders in China,
Russia and the Middle East. Britain has been
treated with condescension and contempt, as in
his abrupt (but welcome) cancellation of next
month?s London visit.
Is this dysfunction evidence of an unhinged
personality, as many people suggest? Rather
than invoking the 25th amendment and
dumping Trump, it would be better if he was
held responsible for his actions. For his wilful
ignorance, his dangerous lies and his unAmerican bigotry, Trump must be held to account.
Perhaps 2018 will be the year.
ENVIRONMENT
We can be greener ? but we need laws, not vague ambitions
L
ast week, Marks & Spencer withdrew the
?cauli?ower steak? from its shelves. Essentially a thick slice of cauli?ower that came
with a sachet of lemon and herb drizzle,
the product was widely criticised for its excessive
plastic packaging and sizable markup, retailing at a
?special offer? price of �
That a retailer thought it saw an opportunity
in marketing a slice of raw vegetable in this way
reveals much, not just about our penchant for faddish food trends, but our attitudes towards waste.
As a society, we produce far too much of the stuff:
every year in the UK, 1bn plastic food trays are sent
to land?ll. We collectively throw away �bn of
food each year. Recycling rates in England lag far
behind those of countries such as Germany.
The consequences for the planet ? global warming, blighted landscapes, oceans choked with plastic ? are devastating. On the latter, it is estimated
that by 2050 the weight of plastic in the oceans will
exceed the weight of ?sh. The BBC?s Blue Planet II,
the most-watched British television programme of
2017, vividly highlighted the calamitous consequences for marine life.
Perhaps with the public concern provoked by
Blue Planet II in mind ? and no doubt keenly aware
of recent polling highlighting the salience of green
issues to younger voters ? the prime minister made
reducing waste the cornerstone of the government?s new 25-year environment plan, which she
personally launched last week. It is framed by lofty
ambition: it opens with the government?s aspiration to leave the planet in a better place than it
found it and sets out an aim for the UK to produce
zero avoidable waste by 2050. These are worthy
goals that few could take issue with. And, regardless of Theresa May?s motivations, the prime ministerial sponsorship of an issue that has long lacked
government drive and energy should be welcomed.
But the plan?s lack of teeth means its stated
ambitions will likely be blighted. Vague aspirations
and good intentions are not what drive change.
Indeed, the coalition agreement of 2010 contained
a commitment to work towards a zero-waste economy. Not only did it fail to accelerate progress, but
recycling rates in England stalled. Even as ministers were talking the talk on waste, the government
dropped recycling targets for local authorities and
stepped back from recycling quality standards.
Instead, its 2011 waste review focused on voluntarism: encouraging retailers and producers to be
more responsible on waste.
This is in stark contrast to what happened in
Wales, where the Welsh assembly increased recy-
cling targets to 70% of municipal waste by 2025
and introduced tougher quality standards. Wales
now has the second-highest recycling rate in the
world after Germany, a testament to what government can achieve with the right focus.
The government has learned none of these
lessons; its plan contains no concrete measures to
boost England?s laggard recycling rates, such as the
bottle-deposit schemes that have proved so successful internationally.
While recycling is important, prevention is far
better than cure. Here, by far the most successful
initiative of recent years has been the 5p charge for
plastic carrier bags. It resulted in the number of
single-use plastic carrier bags in circulation plummeting by more than 85% in just six months.
This should have paved the way for the introduction of similar levies ? or even bans ? on nonrecyclable plastic such as takeaway containers,
plastic cutlery and drinks straws. But apart from
extending the carrier bag charge to smaller retailers, a loophole that should have never existed, the
plan is silent on this. Instead, the government has
opted for more voluntarism: encouraging supermarkets to develop plastic-free aisles.
But retailers and producers have too little
incentive to shift their approach and consumer
preferences are shaped by what?s available. Plastic
is ubiquitous and it remains difficult and expensive for consumers to choose a plastic-free or even
plastic-light shopping basket.
There are echoes of the same toothless voluntarism the government has adopted in its obesity
strategy. Consumer palates have been conditioned
over time by food producers to want cheap ? and
addictive ? fat, sugar and salt. This undermines the
argument that healthy eating should be a matter
of consumer choice. Because there is a strong ?rstmover taste disadvantage to reducing levels of fat,
sugar and salt, the only answer lies in the compulsory product reformulation that has proved so
effective in improving population nutrition around
the world. Yet the government insists on leaving it
up to food producers, a recipe for inaction.
Theresa May has tried to make taking on
vested interests one of the de?ning themes of her
premiership. But when it comes down to it ? from
obesity, to waste, to the internet ? her government
has balked at taking real action, thwarted by a misplaced ideological queasiness about regulation and
a reluctance to ruffle feathers in the private sector.
Unless she shifts track, her inevitable legacy will be
a capitalism that becomes increasingly irresponsible and unsustainable.
14.01.18
COMMENT | 37
*
RIDDELL?S VIEW
How and why Britain might be
asked to vote again on Brexit
It still doesn?t look that likely, but we can begin to see the circumstances which would compel a second referendum
Andrew
ew
nsley
Rawnsley
@andrewrawnsley
wnsley
C
an we just call the whole damn thing off ?
Could Brexit be stopped so that Britain
can get on with the rest of its life? Is there
a possibility of doing a Breverse? This
question has been nagging away, always in the
background and sometimes in the foreground,
ever since the narrow victory for Leave. One reason this is so is because it is such a massive issue.
Another reason is because such a massive issue
was decided by such a tight margin in the summer
of 2016.
The argument that there should be another
vote before Britain heads out of the door has been
pressed aggressively by unreconciled Remainers,
the most vocal of them being Tony Blair, Sir
Nick Clegg and Andrew Adonis. A hope that
Brexit might somehow be averted also ?ickers in
the breasts of some Tory Remainers, including
members of the cabinet. They are handcuffed to a
withdrawal policy that they still think is madness,
even if they can?t say so openly. David Lidington,
a former Europe minister, was reshuffled into the
hole left by Damian Green and is now the prime
minister?s key man on the cabinet?s Brexit committees. I rather suspect Mr Lidington would be
a very happy fellow if he came out of the shower
one morning to ?nd that the last 18 months
have just been a bad dream. Other senior ?gures
around the top table, including the chancellor
and the home secretary, would be the opposite of
distraught if Britain didn?t leave in the end.
Enter, stage right, Nigel Farage. Remember
him? Loves a pint. Loves a ciggie. Loves attention.
His recent personal headline drought may be part
of the explanation for why he has suddenly ventilated the view: ?Maybe, just maybe, I?m reaching
the point of thinking we should have a second
referendum.?
Since the former Ukip leader did more than any
other person to drive the demand for the ?rst vote,
this intervention matters, at least a little bit. He has
since done something of a reverse ferret, but not
before Remainers had welcomed this unexpected
ally. ?I agree with Nigel,? quipped Sir Nick via
Twitter. Chuka Umunna, speaking for the ardent
Remainers of Labour, remarked: ?For the ?rst time
in his life, he [Farage] makes a valid point.?
They don?t, of course, agree on the why. The
former Ukip leader thinks a second vote would
?kill it off for a generation?, the Remain cause
being what he wants to bury. For Remainers,
another referendum is the only respectable way
to cancel the ?rst one. They have a persuasive
case that the public ought to be asked whether
they approve of the terms of the withdrawal. The
country didn?t know what those were going to
be in June 2016 and a democracy is no longer a
democracy if there isn?t an opportunity for the
voters to change their minds.
But if a second referendum happens, it will
not be because of the arguments of principle in
favour of holding another vote. It will only occur
if key players feel it is to their advantage to put the
question back to the country or if they are forced
by circumstances to do so.
First of all, parliament will have to legislate
for it. Is that likely? Not at the moment. Mrs May
has consistently refused a further referendum on
the grounds that pledging one would undermine
her negotiating position by incentivising the EU
to offer Britain a rotten deal. The prime minister
would be under more pressure to concede another
vote were she getting serious heat from Labour
about it. Labour?s official position is that it does
not favour a second referendum, though some of
the frontbench, including the deputy leader, Tom
Watson, have occasionally emitted noises that
sound like approval of the idea.
Jeremy Corbyn never sounds like an enthusiast
for another vote, which puts him at signi?cant
odds with the vast majority of Labour?s members.
According to the latest instalment of Professor
Tim Bale?s penetrating study of the party memberships, 78% of Labour?s members think there
ought to be a further referendum. That could
matter later ? I will discuss why in a moment ?
but for now Mr Corbyn isn?t backing the idea. So
long as neither the prime minister nor the leader
of the opposition thinks they have an interest in
asking the country for fresh instructions it isn?t
going to happen.
What could change that? Public opinion. If the
national mood were to shift decisively, this would
alter the context in which the politicians make
their calculations about the likely appeal of backing a second vote. Remainers take note: Remain
supporters just becoming more passionately
Remainy is not what matters. What is required to
force a rethink among the political decision-makers is clear evidence of second thoughts among a
substantial wedge of Leave voters.
There are some identi?able trends in public
opinion. Since Mrs May triggered article 50,
there has been a downward movement in the
proportion of voters who think the government is
making a good ?st of the Brexit negotiations. This
is not surprising when so many of the Leavers?
promises, including the fantasy about it being
child?s play to negotiate and the ?b that there
would be a massive windfall for the NHS, have
been proved false. Levels of public anxiety about
where Britain will be left by withdrawal have
been rising. The numbers thinking we will be
worse off out of the EU have gone up a bit and the
numbers thinking we will be better off are down a
bit. There are now fewer voters who think Brexit
will increase Britain?s in?uence in the world and
more voters who think it will diminish our global
Another referendum
might happen if the
government smashes
into a brick wall during
the Brexit endgame
clout. There has also been a gentle rise in the
proportion of voters who say they favour another
referendum, though they are still outnumbered by
those who don?t want one.
On the Leave/Remain question itself, opinion is still ?nely balanced. The polling company
YouGov runs a useful tracker on this question.
The most recent result has 46% thinking Brexit
was the wrong choice, against 42% who say it was
the right one. That suggests there is some buyer?s
remorse, but not yet enough of it to induce a shift
in the positions of the decisive political players.
Public opinion will have to shift more dramatically before any of the politicians in a position of
in?uence will be willing to act.
There is another way that a second vote might
happen. This is if the government smashes into
some kind of brick wall during the Brexit endgame. We have now entered what is commonly
agreed to be the tougher phase of the negotiations, the talks that cover the future trading
relationship and the length and nature of a transi-
tion period. The deadline to sign a withdrawal
agreement ? this autumn ? is hugely ambitious
given how much has to be dealt with and the combustibility of many of the issues. It is during this
phase that it will become more starkly apparent
that the UK cannot expect to continue to enjoy
all the advantages of EU membership if it is not
prepared to go along with all the rules. It is during
this phase that Mrs May will have to become a lot
more precise about her desired end state, with all
the risks that clarity will ignite the many divisions
within her party.
C
onventional wisdom says that an agreement will be put together, but there is
some chance that we end up in the car
crash of a no-deal Brexit. In that circumstance, the Labour leadership would face colossal pressure from both its MPs and its members
to back a second referendum asking the public
whether they really wanted to go through with
this. A lot of Tories would be horri?ed by the
thought of going off the cliff edge. Enough to make
it highly conceivable that they would combine
with the opposition to demand a referendum.
There is another scenario that is worth thinking about. This is that Mrs May does a deal and
then ?nds that parliament is so unhappy with
what she has come back with that it will not
endorse her agreement. The main signi?cance of
the pre-Christmas revolt by Tory backbenchers
was that the government is now obliged to put
the withdrawal terms into legislation. This can
be amended or rejected in the Commons, where
the government relies on the DUP for its majority,
and in the Lords, where Tory peers are heavily
outnumbered by the rest.
In the event that a Brexit deal is blocked in parliament, there will be a constitutional crisis and it
is anyone?s guess what would happen next. A not
unreasonable conjecture is this: Mrs May would
feel there was no other option but to go to the
people by holding another referendum. Remainers
could not quarrel with that because they have
repeatedly argued that the eventual terms should
be subject to the approval of the people.
As of today, I?d say it does not look that likely
that there will be another referendum before
Britain takes it formal leave of the EU. What we
can begin to see is how and why either Jeremy
Corbyn or Theresa May or both could end up
in circumstances in which they are forced to
embrace the idea.
38 | COMMENT
*
14.01.18
My friend David Davis once defended
liberty. Now he has become its enemy
He used to champion parliament as a protector against authoritarianism. These days, he?s happy to subvert it
Henry
Porter
@HenryCPorter
P
oliticians and journalists rarely make good
friends, but David Davis and I got on pretty
well in the period we campaigned on civil
liberties together during the last Labour
government. We lunched, he came to my home for
dinner, I introduced him to friends in New York
and we often shared the same platform, notably in
the Guardian debate at the Hay festival, when he
and I took on Charles Clarke and the legal expert
Conor Gearty on the motion: ?Does the left still care
about liberty??
I came to like him a lot and to admire his bounce
and pugnacity. Among all the politicians I knew
? with the possible exception of Dominic Grieve ?
David possessed the deepest instinct for liberty. He
seemed to me to be the archetypal English democrat who possessed a great reverence for the rule
of law as well as an equal suspicion of the accumulating powers of the state. He spoke brilliantly at
events I was involved in staging, often preparing a
long and complicated address with a few notes, just
moments before he went on stage. He was bright,
energetic and, for that period, liberty?s hero.
Today, with David now at the heart of government as the secretary of state for exiting the EU,
this all seems a very long time ago. We are now
on opposite sides and I recognise almost nothing in the politics of the man who stood at the
Convention on Modern Liberty in 2009 and asked:
?What is the point of Britain if it does not adhere
to the freedoms that made it? What is the point
of parliament if it does not uphold its most sacred
trust as a guardian of our liberty? What is the point
of government if its principles aim to maximise
fear and minimise our freedoms??
During those ?liberty years?, he always insisted
that parliament was the bulwark against authoritarian government and the ultimate protection of
the British people. Yet, within just a few months of
accepting the job of Brexit secretary from Theresa
May, he insisted that the executive must deprive
MPs of the right to debate the triggering of article
50, a move that in the words of Lord Pannick, who
led Gina Miller?s challenge against the government on this issue, undermined parliament and
?deprived people of their statutory rights?.
This jettisoning of his principles didn?t surprise
me a great deal. Just after becoming Brexit secretary, he removed his name from the legal challenge
While I?d be
happy to be
stuck in a
lift with
David, I
would
draw the
line at being
stranded in
a planning
room with
him
to the data retention and investigatory powers bill,
which forces internet companies to keep records
of people?s searches and allows authorities to hack
devices secretly. These are powers that he would
not have contemplated in his former life, but he
acceded to them without demur.
As we know, the issue of Brexit is so viscerally
potent that it can damage personalities and relationships forever. It is obvious that for David nothing matters as much as leaving the EU. In the ?rst
six months of his tenure, he dumped, apparently
without qualm, two key parts of his political character ? his respect for parliamentary sovereignty
and his love of individual liberty. I won?t rehash the
arguments about state power here, but if you hold
a belief that indiscriminate retention of data by
the state is unjusti?able, that view cannot be easily
changed without casting doubt on the authenticity
of your original conviction.
Perhaps he never really believed it in the ?rst
place. Maybe this strikingly extrovert political
character simply used the stage of liberty to occupy
his energies during the voluntary wilderness of
the Cameron years. We have all been changed by
the referendum and, on the whole, I opt for an
interpretation that sees Brexit as a psychologically
transformative event that has skewed the values
and beliefs of hundreds of thousands of people.
David may be just one of many.
But this is a sympathetic reading and it is not
supported by his attitude to parliament over the
last 18 months, especially his promotion of Henry
VIII powers ? rule by ministerial decree without
David Davis: ?Since
becoming a minister,
he has been by turns
truculent, casual and
almost contemptuous
when questioned by
MPs.?
Photograph: PA
debate in the the House of Commons ? which
he condemned so frequently in my hearing. For
a man who so often championed parliament?s
power to hold ministers to account, he has, since
becoming a minister, been by turns truculent,
casual and almost contemptuous when questioned by MPs about the negotiations with the EU.
The key moment was on 6 December when he
?nally admitted to Hilary Benn, the chair of the
Commons Brexit committee, that the 50-60 impact
assessments he promised had been carried out did
not exist. This is what he said in June: ?In my job,
I don?t think out loud and I don?t make guesses. I
try and make decisions. You make those based on
the data. That data is being gathered. We?ve got 50,
nearly 60, sectoral analyses already done.?
In fact, no data had been gathered on Britain?s
economic future outside the EU, apart from
documents hurriedly cobbled together and then
shrouded in risible secrecy to cover up the lie. In
his former life, David would have seized on this
ministerial dereliction and wept tears of anger at
the incompetence and hypocrisy of it all, particularly as more thorough impact statements, carried
out by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, convincingly paint a picture of lost jobs, growth and investment, post Brexit.
A
few days later, he told Nick Ferrari of LBC
he didn?t have to be very clever or knowledgeable to do his job ? just calm. He is
wrong. In the second round of negotiations, he has to be very clever and he must master
an untold number of briefs on different aspects of
trade. On the evidence of the leaked letter that he
sent to the prime minister in which he complained
the EU was already penalising British interests in
the case of a no-deal Brexit, it might seem that he?s
not really up for the challenge. It was all right for
him and the prime minister to talk tough, but the
moment the EU reciprocated he reacted with a
whiney tone that did not seem like David and does
not bode well for the negotiations or the inevitable
problems that will come with the unravelling of the
?agreement? on the Irish border.
Watching my former debating partner over the
last year and half, I ?nd I have lost no affection
for him. I see his energy, the ?ghting spirit and
his good-humoured resilience, yet I am struck by
a couple of things. While I would be happy to be
in the jungle or stuck in a lift with him, I would
draw the line at being stranded in a planning room
with him. The second thought is about Brexit?s
destructive power on relationships and principles.
Whatever happens in the next round of negotiations or, indeed, with the ?nal deal, this damage to
our faith in each other is going to take a very long
time to repair.
Victoria Coren Mitchell Molly tries to shu?e the pack
The more things
change the
e more
they stay the
same ? even
en in
a ?lm aboutt a
strong
woman
C
an Hollywood ?x itself? Is that
already happening? Let?s go to
the cinema together and ?nd
out.
It?ll have to be my local Everyman
? a genteel chain where they transmit a lot of productions live from the
National Theatre and sell yoghurtcoated nuts instead of Minstrels. Might
not be your cup of tea. On the plus side,
you can also get a cup of tea. It has to be
that venue, because the trip has already
happened.
I?d like you to come with me on the
trip I took, last week, to see Molly?s
Game. The experience was complicated, raising unexpectedly intense
thoughts about the topical issue of
Hollywood?s women, and I?d like to
talk it over with a bigger group. As my
friend the Chimney Sweep would say:
?Let?s have a mass debate!?
The Sweep was actually with me
at the cinema. He and I have held a
weekly poker game for nearly 20 years,
so you can imagine why we might
be interested in this biopic of Molly
Bloom, who ran high-stakes games in
New York and Los Angeles. The Sweep
loved her book. I thought the font was
too small. So we were both, in our
different ways, delighted when Aaron
Sorkin announced a ?lm version.
Factor in that my own poker memoir,
For Richer For Poorer: Confessions of a
Player, has been ?under option? for ?ve
years without anyone ?guring out how
to ?lm it, and I was so interested to see
Molly?s Game that I could barely sleep
at night. Although that may just have
been the noise of my teeth gnashing.
I went to see it with the Chimney
Sweep so that we could spend pleasurable hours afterwards discussing poker
and the accuracy or otherwise of its
depiction. Knowing that it couldn?t be
better than The Cincinnati Kid or worse
than Runner Runner, we stuffed our
smuggled Minstrels into a rucksack
and hurried in.
Before the main feature, there
were two refreshing ? even exhilarating ? trailers. One was for The Post
(which has just opened), in which
Meryl Streep plays the celebrated
1970s newspaper publisher Katharine
Graham in her battle with major government corruption.
The other was for I, Tonya, which
opens in February, about the controversial ?gure skater Tonya Harding,
played with challenging de?ance by
Margot Robbie, and her mother, played
with savage comedy by Allison Janney
(?I made you a champion knowing
you?d hate me for it; that?s the sacri?ce
a mother makes??) Even in the promo,
both mother and daughter managed
to be simultaneously unsympathetic
and likable. Historically, in most ?lms,
women are only allowed to be one or
the other. Interesting.
And both these trailers were in
advance of a ?lm about Molly Bloom:
a clever, determined, greedy ex-skiing
champion who ran an illegal poker
game! Not a cute girl running a pastry
shop in a romantic comedy, nor a
kooky, wise-cracking friend; not a
staunch/frightened wife in a thriller;
not a brave virgin in a horror ?lm; a
really weird and uncategorisable person.
I was properly excited. On TV at
home, we?ve been watching Feud:
Bette and Joan on BBC iPlayer, a joyful
series that relishes all the nuance of
Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom.
having Joan Crawford and Bette Davis
reminisce about a Hollywood in which
?everything written for women fell into
three categories ? ingenues, mothers or
gorgons?, when the roles of Crawford
and Davis in the 21st-century show
(taken by Jessica Lange and Susan
Sarandon) are so juicy, unpredictable
and complex.
What with that, the Graham and
Harding trailers and the promise of
Molly?s Game, fortuitously hot on
the black heels of the Golden Globes
protest, it all felt like real change in the
type of stories being told.
Whether you think it matters or not
? and maybe it doesn?t ? there has been
an ongoing problem with the representation of women on screen, before you
even get to the weird idea that it?s such
an honour to embody some lame and
hackneyed ?ingenue? that actresses
can hardly complain about the odd
rape as they wait in the queue.
In British television and radio ?
while it?s embarrassing how little
power or equality female performers
continue to have ? at least nobody
argues that, if you want to be one of
them, you shouldn?t mind if people
wank on you.
So, by the time Jessica Chastain
skiied on to the screen in the quirky,
multidimensional character of Molly
Bloom, her own golden globes a thing
of healthy magni?cence, I was already
full of hope and optimism for a more
interesting and realistic world.
And it?s a great ?lm! Great performances, great dialogue, great portrait
of a modern poker landscape. I loved it
and recognised it.
And then Molly Bloom got beaten
up. Just as I was feeling all excited and
happy: punch, thud, scream, bleed. I
mean, zzzzzzzzz.
It?s an important part of Molly?s true
story, of course. But did we have to
watch it in such visceral detail? Could
the attack have been depicted with
metaphor or sound? With anything
oblique, surprising, new or imaginative?
Whether it could or not, it wasn?t.
On and on and on went the attack.
Fists to the face. Boots to the stomach.
Beautiful, proud Molly helpless on the
ground. It sure showed her. And we all
got to watch.
What instinct is that playing to?
Who is it for? I love the ?lm but I really
hated this section. Will we ever get
away from glossy, sexy violence?
But maybe I?m wrong. Was it actually a good, honest way to show the
horrible truth of what happens to
women? Maybe it was.
After the beating, Molly strips off
and has a long, painful shower. Like
they always do on camera. She doesn?t
just stay, shocked, where she is. Or go
somewhere safe. Or scrunch up under
the duvet. Or sit with her back to the
door, making sure it?s locked. Nah. Kit
off and under the water.
Let the mass-debating commence.
14.01.18
COMMENT | 39
*
Wanted: recruits for
touchy-feely army.
Sorry, no facial tats
For some reason, a new advertising campaign fails to
mention poor pay and conditions and the need to kill
Catherine
Bennett
@Bennett_C_
R
egrettably, at least for anyone whose main
reason for not joining up is the terror of
serving alongside someone like Iain Duncan Smith, the army?s latest big recruiting
campaign sets out to allay quite different fears
about military service.
?What if I get emotional in the army?? asks a
tasteful animated ?lm featuring a large, plopping
tear, with a view to tempting recruits. ?There?s
always someone there to talk to.? Well, until
you?ve left the army with debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder there always is.
Another ?lm, voiced by a woman, answers
(affirmatively) the question: ?Will I be listened
to??; others reassure Muslims, gay people and
the un?t that they can rely on a warm welcome
in the army. ?Find where you belong.? Over at
Russia Today, home of the star broadcaster Alex
Salmond, local values perhaps explain why the
campaign was reported as ?British army in gay
recruitment drive as soldier numbers fall?.
If it deliberately leaves unanswered many
other common civilian questions about army
life ? ?what if my pay is rubbish??; ?will I be
allowed to complain about maggots?? ? the new
strategy from an agency called Karmarama has
already, perhaps inadvertently, exposed a host of
further deterrents, not excluding the recruiters
themselves. Not everyone, it emerges, agrees that
the main things putting off potential soldiers are
worries about discrimination, although this, for
anyone tempted and who is also into body art, is
actually the case for people tattooed above the
neck.
The fear that ??nd where you belong ? videos
amount to the possibly counterproductive
announcement: ?We?re not all bullies, racists,
homophobes, sexists and nutters ? honest!? is just
one of those expressed on that excellent website, the Army Rumour Service (Arrse). Either
way, the army?s staffing problems, in a period
of high employment, are more likely related,
it?s suggested by contributors, to poor pay, staff
retention, the treatment of veterans and difficulties in even joining up, since applications were
outsourced, apparently not by Russians, to Capita.
?What if my recruitment is so long delayed
that I give up in disgust?? could be an even more
timely question for those bothered about army
numbers than questions about hostile workplace
behaviour, which would be, in any case, unlawful.
And while Karmarama makes a con?dent
case for placing the ?desire to belong ? one of
psychology?s most powerful drivers? at the centre
of its recruitment campaign, even this feeble
female civilian is driven, by a no less powerful desire to survive, to suspect that many army
careers are 爊ot as safe as working, say, in advertising. Are there not, even for soldiers who have
found their ideal camping companions, accompanying elements of discomfort, even of enforced
violence, fear, injury?
Responding to the ?ridiculous? ads, James
Wharton, author of Out in the Army, now an
LGBT activist, con?rmed in the Telegraph: ?You
still need to learn to stab someone in the torso
with a bayonet should the situation arise.? The
campaign, he objected, ?skirts around the fact
that the army and its people exist for one reason
alone: to defend this country and its interests in
times of con?ict?.
At the same time that the new campaign invites
young people to compare, advantageously with
civilian life, the special, belongingy pluses of
a martial career, it is strikingly mute on those
aspects of army life that make it radically different,
sometimes better, sometimes in?nitely worse.
Even if soldiers were not poorly paid for acquiring
largely non-transferable skills, the response from
many current and former soldiers to Karmarama?s
strategy suggests that the requirement to obey
orders, however dementedly misguided they
If the army addressed the
age limit, a stint on a ?serve
last? basis could be just the
thing for the middle aged
Illustration:
Dominic McKenzie
might be, has not, probably rightly, been abolished. Even when it entails submission to a David
Cameron or, arguably worse, Capita.
Current squeamishness (exposed by the ?be the
best? controversy) about the traditional attractions of soldiering ? valour, duty, risk, service, tradition, sporadic public gratitude ? can only leave
this career choice looking more inexplicable, and
not only to its target, the younger generation. If
anything, the new focus on belonging ? tattoos
permitting ? as central to army life raises questions about what the British army is for in the
non-interventionist public mood bequeathed by
adventures in Iraq and Libya and now encouraged by Trump. Should we read anything into this
determined attempt to comfort the un?t, placate
the nervous and keep the use of weapons pretty
out of it? Or is it just what happens when hipsters
are in charge of advertising?
H
omophobic glee at Russia Today ? perhaps Mr Salmond can correct us if that?s
wrong ? indicates there could be value
in keeping up martial appearances. But a
civilian-soothing approach is perhaps more honest and better suited to an era in which, as some
predict, the army will evolve into a kind of benign
national security force.
In fact, if the army addressed the age limit,
along with pay and conditions, a stint in the military on a kind of ?serve last? basis could be just
the thing to attract middle-aged people seeking
the sort of experiences that cannot be had in the
local community library. Helping people out of
?ooded homes, for instance. Distributing bottles
of water. A little light strike-breaking. An age limit
of 50 seems harsh, anyway, for a career aimed at
those of us with no facial tattoos who want, in
the words of Karmarama, to experience ?powerful bonds that support you, give you purpose and
encourage you to grow?.
If the age limit remains, amid all the purposeful
bonding, maybe it?s because, as with all previous
recruiting campaigns, the army still in reality
seeks young, strong people who are willing, when
ordered, to attack. Or the opposite. Pending any
change in that requirement, Karmarama?s campaign is designed, also in keeping with military
tradition, to foster delusions. The lovely army
of the videos will offer the individual soldier no
protection from a death sentence by a future Tony
Blair, Alastair Campbell or from a future government crawling with exhibitionist patriots who
like saying things like ?boots on the ground?. It?s
not long, recruits might want to bear in mind,
since Michael Gove, after a Commons vote not to
intervene in Syria, shouted: ?A disgrace, you?re
a disgrace? at MPs who lacked his own vision of
standing one day on a tank.
Although much is made of risk-aversion, of
feet ruined by cushioned trainers, it?s possible
that one of the larger obstacles to recruitment,
not addressed in the current campaign, is not
young people?s fragility or mulishness, so much
as government-fostered cynicism. They may
even have registered that chaos in Libya and the
rise of Islamic State were both a consequence of
Cameron?s botched heroics. And if there?s one
thing more off-putting to the belonging-driven
recruit or their parents than Boris Johnson
describing the horrifying outcome of that adventure as ?the next Dubai?, it?s surely the possibility
that Johnson, or a colleague of equal integrity,
might one day be entrusted with the military.
?What if Gove was in charge?? It?s the kind of
thought that makes you want to rush straight out
and get a facial tattoo.
Censorship wins no arguments and just helps the right
Nick
Cohen
@NickCohen4
H
ow you think is as important
as what you think. If you
believe you can ban your way
to victory by mounting heresy
hunts against all who veer from the
true faith, you will not only deserve to
lose by some airy moral reckoning. You
will lose whether you deserve to or not.
As losing is no longer a trivial event in
the age of Brexit and Trump, it is worth
understanding the consequences of
going beyond the old liberal principle
that only demagogues who incite violence should be banned.
The moral arguments against censorship are so old I can recite them in
my sleep. The practical case against
a ?liberal? movement that reaches
for the censor?s red pen like a drunk
reaching for a bottle deserves more
attention.
People who call themselves progressives don?t worry enough about
unintended consequences because
they lack the broadness of mind to see
themselves as others see them. They
see no reason to treasure free debate.
No argument will persuade Donald
Trump or Nigel Farage to hold up their
hands and admit they are wrong. Their
dedicated supporters, meanwhile, are
no more likely to change their minds
than fanatical believers in any other
political ideology or religious creed.
These are good points that are beside
the point, because they are based on a
deep ignorance of how debates work.
You don?t argue to convert your
opponents. You argue to persuade
the undecided audience watching on
in silence, as it judges which side is
worthy of support. I doubt that waverers nod their heads in approval when
universities, of all places, do not allow
speakers to appear on platforms, or
when the state capitalists of Virgin Rail
refuse to stock the Daily Mail. Look at
them, and maybe look at yourself too.
It?s not a compelling sight.
For all their bombast, censors give
every appearance of being dictatorial
neurotics, who are so frightened of
their opponents that they cannot ?nd
the strength to take them on in the
open. I燾an?t imagine many saying, ?I?ll
side with the people who tell me what
I can and can?t think.? I ?nd it equally
hard to picture readers turning away
from the Mail because Sir Richard
Branson and ?alternative? comedians who haven?t had an alternative
thought since Blair?s second term tell
them to.
?Liberals? still do not understand
that when they censor they are falling
into their enemy?s trap. The alt-right
is as much a satirical as a political
movement: more South Park than The
West Wing. It is at its happiest trolling
liberal culture rather than governing,
which is why Brexit and the Trump
administration are so shambolic.
The alt-right wants to and needs to
provoke liberals into showing they are
repressive, so it cast itself in the role of
transgressive rebel. Why play the part
it has allotted you?
We are in a contradictory culture. On
the one hand, ?liberals? rightly say that
sexists, racists and homophobes are
preposterous bigots. On the other, they
run away from the chance to confront
them. If you can?t beat a bigot in argument, you shouldn?t ban them but step
aside and make way for people who
can. It?s not as if they have impressive
cases that stand up to scrutiny.
As pertinently for those wondering
how a pornographic thug like Trump
or such transparent charlatans as
Johnson and Farage can win, if you
don?t debate them, you will never
learn how to defeat them. You won?t
feel the ripple in the audience as you
make a good case or telling jibe. You
won?t learn which shots hit home
and which miss the mark. When the
battle is ?nally joined, you will enter it
unarmed, then look around in bewilderment when you are defeated.
In the hours after Trump?s victory,
the American author Walter Mosley
said Democrats had put on ?the binders of superiority? when they assumed
he must surely lose. There is no more
effective way for the superior to blind
themselves to the world around them
than by refusing to argue with it.
Again, I am not making a moral point
? we can save John Milton and George
Orwell for another day. As a matter
of practical politics, you had better
be very sure that you will win before
pandering to inquisitorial desires.
So much of what passes for ?liberal?
debate just assumes that liberals have
already won and possess the power
to decide what is read and said. They
don?t fret that reactionaries in office
will use the arguments in favour of
censorship that liberals have nurtured
to restrict their freedom to speak. Nor
do they question whether their repression will work.
H
arvard?s Stephen Pinker
recently listed true but ?politically incorrect? assertions
that have driven American
students rightwards when they discovered US campuses rarely discuss them.
His unpalatable propositions included:
capitalism is preferable to communism
? no one would prefer to live in North
rather than South Korea, after all; most
of the world?s suicide terrorists are
Islamists; and different ethnic groups
commit violent crime at different rates.
Pinker said that if only universities
had the courage to face awkward
facts they could make perfectly good
rejoinders against the apparent
justi?cations for racism and anarcho-
capitalism. The most successful
capitalist societies have strong welfare
states rather than unregulated markets,
for instance. Most American terrorists
are white supremacists. Ethnicity isn?t
destiny and the propensity of a group
to commit crimes changes over time.
Inevitably, creepy American leftists
cut his explanation out when they
edited a video of his talk to present
him as a fascist. They should have
thought harder about the failure of US
campuses to impose their taboos in a
setting where liberals have power. It is
a warning that authoritarian liberalism
is an impossible project.
Let?s try a thought experiment.
Even爄f you were to suppress the rightwing press and rightwing social media,
as so many ?liberals? appear to want
to do, you would not ban rightwing
ideas, merely win them more converts
by investing them with a dissident
glamour. What?s next? Vet candidates
for office to make sure they conform
to your desires? Stop your opponents
voting?
The motivation behind much
modern censorship is essentially
religious: an affirmation of the urge
to parade your righteousness. It is an
egocentric and frivolous emotion to
indulge at a time爓hen the stakes could
not be higher, and every opponent of
the populist status quo ought to be
concentrating on winning converts
rather than driving them into the arms
of their grateful opponents.
40 | COMMENT
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Letters to the Editor in subject ?eld). For conditions go to http://gu.com/letters-terms
THE BIG ISSUE NHS
Churches work in harmony
in rural communities
Sexual health services must
be protected to prevent a crisis
We were pleased that Nick Cohen
highlighted the impact of the systematic reduction in public health funding
on vital prevention and clinical services
(?You don?t have to be poor to be an
addict. But it helps?, Comment, last
week). Like the drug and alcohol services he referred to, there is a growing
de?cit between need and the availability of sexual health services. In London,
a number of sexual health clinics have
closed recently and patients are reportedly being turned away.
We are on the verge of a crisis in sexual health services, but the stigma and
blame attached to public health issues
such as drug and alcohol use can also be
a critical barrier to convincing hearts
and minds (and voters) to ?ght against
this predicament in sexual health.
Despite this, the ?ght is on. Already,
5,000 people have signed a petition to
protect sexual health services.
The impact of the cuts will be compounded by the removal of the ringfence on public health funds, due in
April 2020. Then, sexual health, drug
and alcohol services will be competing
for increasingly scarce funds alongside
other council services such as social
care. A plan to reverse the damage
done and to protect public health and
prevent avoidable consequences is
desperately needed.
Deborah Gold, chief executive,
National Aids Trust
Ian Green, chief executive,
Terrence Higgins Trust
Professor Chloe Orkin, chair,
British HIV Association
Dr Elizabeth Carlin, president, British
Association for Sexual Health and HIV
Nick Cohen?s
column last week.
The otherwise excellent editorial on
the NHS (?Stop apologising to patients
and raise the cash for the NHS, Mrs
May?, last week) repeats the misleading statement that the NHS was ranked
top in the Commonwealth survey of
11 healthcare systems. While it did
receive top ranking in the category of
?care process and equity? it was 10th
for ?outcome?.
Translated, this means that however
good we are at initiating health care,
the result of this care is poor compared
to other countries. This was illustrated
in the survey by survival after heart
attack, cancer and stroke. After 40
years as a NHS physician, my admiration for the service is unwavering,
but the public needs to know that its
effectiveness is under real threat from
politicians who are unwilling or unable
to support the service without selfserving and disingenuous rhetoric.
Dr Richard Banks
Gloucester
In discussion of the current crisis
in the health service and, to a lesser
extent, your recent report on train
FOR THE RECORD
?Privatisation has failed us: we must
admit it and do things differently?
(Commentary, last week, page 29),
claimed dividends of �n a year were
paid out on the privatised railways.
This was incorrect. The annual ?gure
is about �0m. Last year, ?gures published by the Office of Road and Rail
showed the total at �8m.
?How Europe?s wars of religion condemned 40,000 ?witches? to a terrible
death? (News, last week, page 7) was
illustrated with a coloured engraving
purporting to show the hanging of the
10 ?witches? of Pendle at Lancaster
castle in 1612. It actually showed the
equally grisly 1650 Newcastle upon
Tyne executions of 18 people, published
in Ralph Gardiner?s denunciation of
overcrowding on Southern, (?Is this
the best we can do with the country?s
trains??, In Focus, last week) I have
seen no reference to what happens
when queues are involved. I suspect
that, like most people, our politicians
are unaware of this branch of statistics,
but some simple examples explain
why waiting times skyrocket when the
system is under stress.
If an A&E department is 85% busy
normally, then a 1% increase in the
load leads to an 7% increase in average
waiting time, at 90%, then the same 1%
increase leads to a 11% increase in waiting time and at 98%, the 1% increase
leads to a 98% increase in waiting time.
Any attempt to maximise the efficiency of use of a system like A&E has
to take this phenomenon into account;
indeed, it should set clear priorities
when attempting such a change. It
also explains why minor changes in
demand lead, as over the last month
compared to December 2016, to major
changes in waiting times.
Jim Blair
St Andrews
Fife
TOP 10 ONLINE LAST WEEK
the Newcastle establishment, England?s
Grievance Discovered: In Relation to the
Coal Trade, ?ve years later. The illustration showed Newcastle?s bellman on
one side, asking people to bring out
their witches, and a witch-?nder from
Scotland on the other, receiving his
blood money of �a head.
?Vegans get 100 new wines to drink to
an ethical future? (News, last week)
mentioned a new Tesco range of
meals, wraps and salads and called it
the Wicked Collection. We meant the
Wicked Kitchen.
Write to the Readers? Editor, the
Observer, York Way, London N1 9GU,
email observer.readers@observer.co.uk,
tel 020 3353 4656
14.01.18
Read them at observer.co.uk
1. Woody Harrelson: ?I used to have my
head up my ass?
2. Trump?s mental health is now a
matter of public interest Bandy Lee
3. How I fell for the blockchain gold rush
Mark Beaumont
4. Is everything you think you know
about depression wrong? Johann Hari
5. UK companies will face huge new VAT
burden after Brexit
6. I?m struggling to ?nd love through
online dating Dear Mariella
7. Nottingham Forest 4 Arsenal 2
8. A Copenhagen killing: the story
behind the submarine murder
9. Philippe Coutinho joins Barcelona
10. Things you learn when you?re
burgled a second time Eva Wiseman
There is no doubt about the enormous contribution being made by
clergy from the established church
in responding to the challenges of
poverty, isolation and cuts to public
services in rural areas (?How rural
vicars became the last social workers in
the countryside?, News, last week).
However, it was disappointing that
the article failed to mention the signi?cant contribution being made, often
in partnership with the C of E, by the
nonconformist churches, in particular
the Methodist church.
Rural churches are especially good
at responding to need by loving service
and this is more often than not undertaken within the spirit of ecumenism.
Rural churches are often at the core of
the social fabric of villages and small
towns. The C of E and the Methodist
church signed an agreement to work
together in 2003. This is known as the
Anglican-Methodist Covenant and evidence of it being lived out can be found
in many villages and rural communities.
The C of E has much to offer. Churches
together can offer even more.
Rev Ruth Fry
Winchester
When size does matter
With reference to ?How Hitler could
solve our housing crisis?, New Review,
last week) concerning the objection
people have against their road being
called Bell End, as an 80-year-old, I was
unfamiliar with this euphemism for the
glans. At my age, I suppose one tends to
take less interest in such things. As an
amateur trombonist (of sorts) however,
the expression has a different meaning.
It being the ?ared end of the instrument
from which the noise erupts.
This is not to say the trombone has
no sexy connections. I remember Terry
Wogan disputing Ken Dodd?s assertion
that love is like a violin, claiming that it
is much more like a slide trombone. In
the case of the bell end of the trombone, performance can be affected
by size. Classical players tend to have
larger ones to produce a deeper, more
sonorous note, whereas those of us
in the jazz and big band world have
smaller ones to make a brighter sound.
I would have thought the addition of
road, way or avenue would have solved
the good citizens? problem.
John Davies
Bristol
No calls for segregation
Kenan Malik, in his interesting piece
on class and race (?In British education, the central issue is class, not
ethnicity?, Comment, last week) says
that ?many prominent ?gures [including myself ] called for black boys to be
educated in separate schools?. To my
knowledge, neither I nor anyone else
in full possession of their faculties has
called for black boys to be placed in
separate schools. In 2004, I did point
out that some small experiments in
racially segregated US high schools
showed that when African American
boys were taught English and maths in
all-male classes, their scores improved
signi?cantly and immediately. Kenan?s
error is understandable due to an overenthusiastic BBC PR operation selling
this observation as a call for separate
schools. Google doesn?t always tell the
whole story ? or even the real one.
Trevor Phillips
London N6
Brexit threat to our rights
The EU (Withdrawal) bill, returning
to the Commons this week, will not
protect people?s rights in the UK as the
government has promised. This is in
large part because the bill removes the
Charter of Fundamental Rights from
our law. The charter protects rights to
dignity, protection of personal data and
health and protections for workers,
women, children, older people, LGBTI
and disabled people.
The government?s analysis of the
charter repeats its assurance that
rights will not be weakened following
Brexit. However, independent legal
advice shows this to be wrong. Losing
it creates a human rights hole because
the charter provides some rights and
judicial remedies that have no clear
equivalents in UK law. Furthermore,
by keeping the wide and complex body
of EU law while throwing away the
charter that is the code to unlock it, the
government risks jamming itself in a
mountain of legal cases.
Rights without remedies are just
symbols. We need legal guarantees in
the bill about the kind of society we
want to be after Brexit. For the government to honour its promise of preserving existing rights it must retain the
protections in the charter.
Amnesty International UK
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Liberty
and 19 others. See Observer.co.uk
The Bible and the truth
I wonder which of the 66 books of the
Bible Chris Lovibond was referring to
in asking whether it was fact or ?ction
(Letters, last week)? I would struggle
with categorisations, too. The poetry
of the Psalms, Song of Songs and large
sections of Isaiah: fact or ?ction? The
apocalyptic visions of Daniel and
Revelation: fact or ?ction?
What about the histories in Samuel
and Kings and Chronicles? Most
history is written by the victors after
the event , but does that make it ?ction? I detect a derogatory note in the
application of the word ??ction? to the
biblical canon, which is not used when
referring to someone such as Margaret
Atwood, who creates stories containing truth, as do the parables Jesus told.
Was there really such a person as the
good samaritan or the prodigal son?
Does it matter?
Dr Carolyn Sanderson
Milton Keynes
THE READERS? EDITOR ON... MY YEARS AS YOUR VOICE
Stephen
Pritchard
d
@StephenPritcha8
8
N
owadays, you couldn?t sell a
newspaper on Christmas Day
even if you tried, but things
were different in the 18th century when the Observer struggled into
life. In 1791, then a mere three weeks
old, the paper came out on Sunday
25燚ecember, con?dent in ?nding readers in an age before mass entertainment
and a complete commercial shutdown.
Buried beneath an editorial praising
William Wilberforce for his campaign
?for the abolition of the odious slave
trade? and alongside other smaller
items announcing, to pick at random,
news that a Shrewsbury bride had
given birth an hour after her wedding,
was a single sentence quietly announcing the death in Vienna of Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart, ?the celebrated
German composer?.
History does not record whether
readers wrote in droves to point out
that Austrian Mozart could not be
described as German, but today they
certainly would. And they would
demand a correction. So, better late
than never, in this, my last column as
readers? editor, I formally correct our
error of 226 years ago and apologise for
our shaky grasp of geography.
Inaccuracy is, of course, as old as
journalism itself, but it has taken the
trade centuries to recognise that it
should correct its errors, not through
some kind of misplaced piety but in
order to keep trust in its work and to
maintain an accurate record of life?s
passing show. Yet even today, there are
several British newspapers that believe
that admitting to their mistakes is
somehow shameful.
The idea that we ought to be as
transparent as we can about the job we
undertake sprang last century from the
United States, where, ironically, when
we remember the current president?s
absurd dismissal of the ?fake mainstream media?, they believed that a constitutional guarantee of press freedom
carried with it the responsibility to get it
right and admit when they erred. That
idea crossed the Atlantic ?rst to the
Guardian 20 years ago and then to the
Observer, where I was installed as readers? editor nearly 17 years ago.
Correcting errors is a visible expression of a desire to be transparent, but
it is only a small factor in maintaining
accountability. While I?ve written close
to 1,000 corrections since I took on
this job (mostly serious, but some, it
must be said, included purely for their
amusement value), they have only ever
represented the least of the work.
More important has been the
constant dialogue with those who
feel injured by our coverage and seek
redress or those who cannot understand
why the paper apparently ignores what
to them is a burning issue. And there are
the loyal readers who look upon their
Observer as more than a mere news-
paper ? it is an integral part of their
lives. They seize the telephone or dash
to their keyboards when they detect a
decline in standards or a drift away from
the liberal values they believe the paper
is here to espouse.
T
he Observer?s presence on the
web was small when I started
out, but it is now read online by
millions around the world who
never see the printed paper. They may
not feel any particular attachment to the
title, but their views about a story are
every bit as valid. Whether you read in
print or online, your wisdom, suggestions and complaints have inspired my
columns on our journalism, though, of
course, we have not always seen eye to
eye. I?ve never been here to agree with
everything that complainants say.
While Britain has been slow to adopt
this form of media self-regulation,
newspapers, TV and radio around
the world continue to see its value,
attested to by the international mem-
bership of the Organization of News
Ombudsmen, which it was twice my
privilege to chair. In what can sometimes be a lonely job (?nding fault with
the staff ?s work hardly makes you the
most popular ?gure in the newsroom),
having contact with colleagues around
the world was a welcome source of
solace and sagacity.
My last column also marks the end
of my 30 years on the staff here; years
that have seen six editors come and go
and the paper transformed in at least
eight redesigns on its journey from
broadsheet, through Berliner (the
size you hold in your hands today) to
tabloid from next week ? a full-circle
return to a size nearer to that of those
?rst 18th-century issues.
I?ll be here until the end of the
month, so let me have your thoughts on
the new digital and print formats ? and
beyond that keep writing to the email
address below. The Observer needs to
hear from you.
observer.readers@observer.co.uk
14.01.18
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Contact us Email financial@theguardian.com
Phone 020 3353 4791 Fax 020 3353 3196
| 41
Business
Agenda Betting on a break-up
MAKING THE NEWS
Trouble?s brewing all
over Whitbread group
Everybody seems to be talking about
breakups at Whitbread, the group that
owns the likes of Costa Coffee, Premier
Inn and Brewers Fayre.
Take these three recent headlines,
for example: ?Furious wife confronts
her ?cheating? husband and ?his
mistress? at a seaside Premier Inn,? said
Mail Online last Tuesday.
A day later and the Sun screamed:
?Fromage a Trois,? as it informed
us about two chefs and a waitress at
Brewers Fayre getting themselves
entangled in a love triangle (and a
potential knife ?ght).
And, ?nally: ?Time to revisit those
Whitbread breakup models,? from the
Financial Times, during a breathless
spell of reports from last month.
Still, as Whitbread prepares to face
investors for its trading update this
week, the City?s number crunchers will
be concentrating less on the tabloid
coverage, and more on whether the FT
is correct and the company itself feels
it is ?nally the time for a split.
Last month, Sachem Head Capital
Management, a New York activist
investor, revealed it had a 3.4% stake
in the leisure group, which merely
added to the already long-running
speculation that the ?rm might spin off
Costa or sell its pubs business. Alison
Brittain, Whitbread?s chief executive,
says the group is ?enormously
open-minded? about its structure.
Developing ...
Coffee break: Costa spin-off on cards?
The upside to Man U?s
terrible run of form
Astonishing as it may seem, not
everybody despises Jos� Mourinho,
the Manchester United manager. Take
Philip Bowcock, the chief executive
of bookmaker William Hill, who must
feel rather fond of the cantankerous
old Portuguese at the moment.
The bookmaker had been suffering
B SIMON
BY
GO
GOODLEY
PENSIONS AND SUSPENSIONS OF DISBELIEF
from a rather dodgy spell of form over
the past few years, but its fortunes may
be about to improve ? with a small
contribution from the Special One.
Just before Christmas, Man U
went on its own questionable run,
and surprise draws against Leicester
City, Burnley and Southampton ?
plus a League Cup defeat to Bristol
City ? look likely to have swelled
bookmakers?燾offers slightly.
This is timely, as William Hill is
preparing for a trading statement this
week. Analysts at Canaccord muse:
?There are enough glimmers of light to
suggest sunnier prospects for [William
Hill?s] long-suffering shareholders.
First, and least, a favourable run of
sporting results over Christmas ...
points to scope for a modestly positive
surprise in FY17. There have also been
signs of recuperation in the online
business following a period of heavy
medicine.? Happy days (possibly).
Cheap remark has cost
Burberry?s uptown boy
A year ago Christopher Bailey, then
chief executive of Burberry and still
the luxury brand?s creative director,
was banging on about how he was
looking forward to a ?wonderfully
collaborative relationship? with
Marco燝obbetti.
Gobbetti arrived in July last year
to relieve Bailey of the chief exec gig
but, by October, it was apparent that
the collaboration was not wonderful
enough to keep the pairing together:
Bailey will step down as president and
creative director in March ? and will be
out of the company entirely by the end
of this year, following 17 years at the
fashion house.
Gobbetti hasn?t waited long to leave
other marks, too. Most memorable so
far was his November announcement
signalling that a company selling rain
macs at more than �500 a pop was
a bit on the cheap side, so the Italian
planned to take Burberry, er, upmarket.
The shares did the opposite, however,
and have yet to really recover.
Which brings us to this week and
Burberry?s trading statement, when
Barclays predicts the ?rm will post a
3% rise in third-quarter like-for-like
sales. Still, questions might be asked
about Gobbetti?s plans to ?ll the gaps
left by Bailey, plus the �0m that
got knocked off the company?s value
following his upmarket comment.
Dominic Chappell, who was at the helm of
retailer BHS when it went down, has been
called many things during his undistinguished business career, a few of which are
reprintable in a family newspaper.
Frank Field, the Labour chairman of
the pensions committee, memorably
described this astonishingly unsuitable
boss of a major business as a ?Walter
VITAL STATISTIC
Quote of the of the week goes to Virgin
Trains, for: ?There?s been considerable
concern raised by colleagues about
the Mail?s editorial position on issues
such as immigration, LGBT rights, and
unemployment. We?ve decided that this
paper is not compatible with the VT brand
and our beliefs. We won?t be stocking the
Daily Mail for sale or as a giveaway.?
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This week Chappell ? who for some
reason pronounces his name ?Shapp-ELL?
? will be back in the news when he will
be sentenced, with the former chauffeur
facing an unlimited fine.
How much that fine will be is anyone?s
guess. This is only the fifth successful
prosecution of this type and Chappell says
he?s going to appeal.
PEOPLE
TESCO
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Mitty? ? a reference to the fictional character who lived in his own fantasy world.
And last week, when finding Chappell
guilty of three charges of failing to provide
vital documents to the Pensions Regulator,
district judge William Ashworth said some
of the evidence given by Chappell was ?not
credible?, with some of his explanations
?making no sense?.
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Tesco chalked up underlying growth of
1.9% over Christmas, but fell short of City
expectations. The supermarket?s shares
are just 10% higher than they were when
boss Dave Lewis joined in 2014.
A good week for Rowan
Gormley, the chief
executive of Majestic
Wine, which reported strong Christmas
sales, with consumers increasingly opting
for English sparkling wine for their festive
?zz. The retailer said underlying sales rose
4.1% in the 10 weeks to 1 January.
A bad week for
Steve Rowe, the
chief executive of
Marks & Spencer,
as he revealed the store had been forced
to remove products from its website after
problems at its hi-tech warehouse in Castle
Donington meant it was unable to deliver
them in time. Clothing and homewares sales
slumped 2.9%, while food sales fell 0.4%. Its
website grew by 3%, trailing rivals.
Postscript A boom year already?
COMPANIES
GKN rebu?s �n o?er
from turnaround ?rm
Amazon boss on top
of the wealth league
Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief
executive of online retailer Amazon,
was 54 last week. But one gets the
impression that he is enjoying a
birthday almost every day during 2018.
Just 10 days into the year and Bezos, a
thorn in the side of Donald Trump, has
seen his personal wealth soar by�$8bn.
As the man at the helm of the
sprawling empire ? which accounted
for an extraordinary 89% of online
Christmas trading among big US
retailers ? Bezos is now worth $106bn,
enough to cover Britain?s budget de?cit
twice over and still have change.
Officially, he is the richest man
on the planet ? the latest in a list of
plutocrats stretching all the way back
Bezos: because he?s worth it.
to Croesus, the king of Lydia in the
6th century BC, who was so rich he
became a byword for wealth. Only
once before has one man been worth
12 ?gures, when Bill Gates?s fortune hit
its peak of $100bn at the height of the
dotcom bubble in 1999.
Bezos overtook Gates last year and
the gap has widened almost daily.
The Microsoft founder is worth a
mere�$93bn.
Potential arms deal of the week goes
to GKN, the FTSE 100 aerospace and
automotive company, which issued
a shock pro?t warning in November.
On Friday it rejected an unsolicited
�n approach from rival Melrose and
unveiled plans to split in two.
A bid battle is now likely as Melrose,
which specialises in buying struggling
businesses, turning them around
and selling them at a pro?t with the
proceeds given back to shareholders,
will pursue its interest.
GKN?s shares jumped by more than
a quarter to an all-time high of 420p
on the news, above the initial 405p
cash-and-shares offer on the table
from燤elrose.
Analysts said the company could be
worth as much as 504p a share.
ECONOMICS
The longest spell of rising output from
Britain?s factories in 23 years has left
the economy on course to record its
fastest rate of growth since late 2016,
one of the country?s leading thinktanks
forecast last week.
The National Institute of Economic
and Social Research said it was pencilling in expansion in gross domestic
Manufacturing has helped the recovery.
product of 0.6% in the ?nal quarter
of 2017, up from 0.4% in the previous
three months and above the latest City
estimates.
Amit Kara, the thinktank?s head of
UK macroeconomic forecasting, said
activity had picked up in the second
half of last year, following a weak start
to the year in which GDP increased by
0.3% in the ?rst two quarters.
?The recovery has been driven by
both the manufacturing and the service
sectors, supported by the weaker
pound and a buoyant global economy,?
Kara said.
?In November, we had forecast ?nalquarter GDP growth at 0.5% and as
such, today?s revised estimate suggests
that activity has strengthened by more
than we had previously anticipated.?
The thinktank believes the performance of the economy, coupled with
above-target in?ation, will lead to the
Bank of England raising interest rates
by 0.25 points to 0.75% in May.
*
42 | BUSINESS
14.01.18
Carillion in crisis as outsourcing
The construction conglomerate ? one of the government?s
biggest contractors ? is hoping rescue talks taking place
this weekend will produce a solution to its cash woes and
halt a collapse putting pensions, public services, including
the NHS, and thousands of jobs at risk. Karl West reports
T
he vast Carillion construction and public services group
was ?ghting for survival this
weekend as management, the
government and lenders to the
stricken construction services
?rm were locked in rescue talks.
The company is bleeding cash from
several contracts that have turned sour
and it is struggling under the weight of
�5bn of debt, including a huge �0m
pension de?cit.
Professor Karel Williams at Manchester University noted that Carillion
had turned from a construction company into an outsourcing conglomerate,
which was, he said, ?a bad idea?.
Williams added: ?With outsourcing,
you have to continually bid for new contracts, and the stock market expects to
see continuous growth. But sooner or
later you take on a contract that makes
huge losses and the operation can?t sustain those losses.
?There are problems when you move
past being a specialist outsourcer. Many
conglomerates just churn through contracts and move into areas they don?t
understand, until their luck runs out.
This was an accident waiting to happen.?
Carillion employs 43,000 workers,
including nearly 20,000 in the UK,
and is one of the UK government?s biggest contractors. It works on the highpro?le HS2 project, it builds, maintains
and operates hospitals for the NHS, and
manages nearly 900 schools.
The crisis gained momentum in
recent days. On Wednesday, the company presented a potential rescue plan
to its lenders. On Thursday, there was
a meeting of key government ministers
to decide on contingency plans if collapse could not be avoided. On Friday,
there were more meetings with the pensions regulator, to assess the threat to
the company?s pensioners and pension
scheme members.
A collapse would be disastrous for
the government and, potentially, costly
to the public purse.
The threat to Carillion is so acute that
audit heavyweight EY was placed on
standby on Friday to step in as administrator if banks and the government could
not thrash out a deal to save the ?rm.
EY was said to be favoured by the
company?s directors, possibly because
Lee Watson, a partner at the audit giant,
is on secondment to Carillion, acting as
a director and as the contractor?s chief
transformation officer.
CARILLION
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The rescue plan shown to lenders
last week included handing back some
loss-making contracts, revamping others and accepting ?nancial support from
the爂overnment.
But it is understood that Carillion?s
main lenders ? Barclays, HSBC and
Santander UK ? have indicated they are
reluctant to provide additional funding because they are already exposed to
huge potential losses.
A solution could be a debt-for-equity
swap and the government guaranteeing
its loans, which would shield lenders
from losses in the event of a collapse.
The company?s parlous ?nancial state
was revealed last year, when it said bor-
?Many outsourcing
conglomerates go
into areas they don?t
understand. Carillion
was an accident
waiting to happen?
Professor Karel Williams
rowings were piling up and that it was
making losses on key contracts. That
meant it would have to write off �0m
and suspend its dividend. A plan to raise
�0m through sell-offs by the end of
2018 has so far only delivered �m.
The group?s market value has shrunk
from �n after it was formed from
the construction divisions of Tarmac,
Wimpey, Mowlem and Alfred McAlpine, to just �m at Friday?s close. The
shares, which just two years ago were
changing hands at around 300p, closed
on Friday at just 14.2p ? down nearly
30% on the day, as fears of total collapse爃eightened.
A construction industry expert said
part of Carillion?s problem had been
that it had lacked focus. He said: ?One
minute it?s pulling out of construction
altogether in order to focus on services.
Then it changes its mind when it thinks
it can make some money in construction
again. It?s been a bit of a mess.?
The group?s chief executive, Richard
Howson, quit last July, after the ?rst of
three pro?t warnings in four months.
Three public finance initiative
schemes, which are late and over
budget, are partly responsible for
the blow-up at Carillion ? the �0m
Midland Metropolitan hospital in Birmingham, the �5m Royal Liverpool
University hospital and the �5m
Aberdeen bypass.
In the case of the Royal Liverpool
hospital, it is at least a year behind
schedule. It was due to be completed
in March 2017 but, according to industry website Construction Enquirer, the
discovery last year of cracks in two concrete beams, which required signi?cant
remedial work, pushed the handover
date back.
Last week, it emerged the project
had been hit by a further setback that
means the new 28 February completion date will again be missed by the
contractor. At a time when the NHS
is at breaking point, the potential collapse of a key private partner is a shocking爌rospect.
According to Carillion?s website, it is
?one of the largest providers of facilities
management to the NHS?. It employs
about 8,000 people in the healthcare
division; its engineering teams carry
out about 200,000 maintenance tasks
on about 1m square metres of NHS
space; the buildings that Carillion is
responsible for include 200 operating
theatres, with 300 critical-care beds
and just under 11,500 in-patient beds;
it prepares more than 18,500 patient
meals per day; and the firm?s NHS
helpdesks manage more than 1.5m calls
each year.
The scale of its work for the NHS ?
without even considering work it does
for the Ministry of Defence or Prison
Service ? is enough to focus the minds
of ministers on a rescue deal. Williams
noted: ?The whole rationale for PPP
(public private partnership) ? where
Carillion has been a big player in the UK
? is that, notionally, you transfer risk to
the company that takes the contract.
But, fundamentally, the limit of that risk
is the balance sheet of the outsourcing
company. If you move beyond that, it
becomes a crisis for the爂overnment.?
Carillion, like many other outsourcing and service companies, relies on
long-term contracts. In the case of
building and operating a school or a
hospital, there is a lot of expense and a
lot of risk involved at the construction
stage. But contractors reap the rewards
on the 20- or 30-year management and
maintenance deals that follow, which
provide some comfort and clarity over
future earnings. Ideally, ?rms would
spread the work so that new deals
replace contracts that are just about
to爀nd.
However, this is rarely the case and
debt is often required to plug the gaps
in the lumpy cash?ow cycle. The danger
is that if something goes wrong with a
contract, and it doesn?t make as much
money, or even loses money, it suddenly
becomes more difficult to ?nance those
large borrowings.
Williams urged ministers to cast a
more critical eye over future outsourc-
Will AT&T call to drop Chinese
phone-maker end its US hopes?
by Charles Arthur
Amid the glitz and glamour of the CES
consumer electronics show in Las
Vegas last week, one piece of news
struck a particularly sour note for
Chinese phone-maker Huawei. Despite
months of preparation, the giant US
mobile carrier AT&T announced last
Monday that it was pulling out of a deal
to sell Huawei?s smartphones.
The decision was taken as a result
of political pressure on AT&T by
American politicians, who had written
to the telecoms regulator the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) ?
which must approve the sale of phones
and other devices in the US ? saying
they had ?long been concerned about
Chinese espionage in general, and
Huawei?s role in that espionage in
particular?. Richard Yu, chief executive
of Huawei?s consumer division, was
obliged to go through the motions at
CES of introducing his new Mate 10
phone, having seen planned marketing
spending of $100m and assurances of no
government interference turn to ashes.
For Huawei, it is a wearily familiar
story. Although its $75bn annual
revenues make it the world?s largest
maker of telecoms equipment, Huawei
has been repeatedly rebuffed in the
US over suspicions that its Chinese
origins make it untrustworthy. In US
politicians? eyes, the fact its founder
Ren Zhengfei was once a Red Army
officer is a stain that cannot be washed
away. Australia, too, has banned it from
providing network equipment.
But Huawei is not alone. Earlier
this month, the committee on foreign
investment in the United States
(CFIUS), which can block overseas
acquisitions, stopped Chinese ?rm
Ant Financial?s $1.2bn purchase of US
money transfer business Moneygram.
CFIUS was not convinced that US
citizens? data would be safeguarded.
Last autumn, the US Department of
Homeland Security told government
departments to stop using Kaspersky
Lab, the Moscow-based company
which provides antivirus and cybersecurity products, on the basis it was
?concerned about the ties between
certain Kaspersky officials and Russian
intelligence and other government
agencies?. It is too soon to say whether
this is a pattern under the Trump
administration, whose leader has
repeatedly said China is ripping the US
off, but then retreated from any action.
Whether the US would seek a quid
pro quo ? where Huawei might be
14.01.18
BUSINESS | 43
*
operation crumbles under debt
When private met public: the history
of a lengthy and tangled relationship
ANALYSIS
Interaction between the private and
public sectors can be a politically
charged process in the UK, not least
when the contracts that underpin
such a partnership go wrong. Here
are some recent examples of cooperation between public bodies and
private companies that have caused
controversy.
Scottish schools
A private ?nance contract to build a
series of Edinburgh schools became
a costly embarrassment after the new
buildings were found to be faulty and
one partly fell down. A report into the
deal found that the contractors had
used substandard concrete to build
the schools, all of which were considered unsafe and in need of substantial
repair. But a review by the council
found that the ?nancing behind the
Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP)
was not to blame. ESP is a private
?nance initiative (PFI), a popular
form of funding for projects whereby a
company pays the upfront construction
cost and is then paid back over time by
the government, which effectively pays
the constructor to lease the property.
However, the review did say there
were aspects of the way in which the
PFI methodology was implemented
that ?increased the risk of poor quality
design and construction?.
Virgin Health
Private ?rms scooped almost 70%
of the 386 contracts to run clinical
health services put out to tender
in England during 2016-17. They
Projects Carillion has been
involved with include, clockwise from top left, track
repairs for Network Rail;
Battersea Power station
redevelopment, Heathrow?s
Terminal 5 and the Beetham
tower in Manchester. Right, Virgin
Health owner Richard Branson.
Christopher Thomond, Andy Hall, PA
ing deals between the government and
private ?rms. ?We should have offered
them a management contract, because
the government can borrow more
cheaply,? he said. ?But the Treasury
doesn?t want the debt on the government?s books. So it passes the problem
to somebody else ? until it goes wrong.?
This weekend, it seemed to be going
wrong in spectacular style ? and thousands of jobs, pensions and key public
services now look to be at risk.
A 2012 House
Intelligence
Committee report
saw Huawei
banned from
selling telecoms
equipment, but not
smartphones
? until now.
Getty Images
allowed in if Google, Facebook and
Twitter can sell their services (via
advertising and social networks) inside
China ? is unclear.
The tenor of the actions, though,
seems more protectionist than bidopening. Ben Thompson, who runs
the Stratechery technology analysis
newsletter, thinks that the ChineseAmerican tensions are ?the ?rst salvo
of what is likely to be one of the biggest
stories in tech in 2018?.
included the seven highest-value
contracts, worth �43bn between
them, and 13 of the 20 most lucrative
tenders. Last year, Virgin Care, owned
by Richard Branson, sued six clinical trusts after it lost an �m bid. It
secured an out-of-court settlement.
It also went on to win �n worth of
contracts.
London Underground PPI
A series of public-private partnerships (PPPs) were signed by the last
Labour government in 2002 and 2003
to upgrade and carry out maintenance
on London?s tube network. Described
at the time by then tube boss Bob Kiley
as ?fatally ?awed?, by 2010 the process had unravelled. In exchange for
carrying out complex work on an ailing
network, the businesses behind the
contracts would receive a monthly payment that would increase or decrease
depending on whether they hit targets
for measures such as train cleanliness
and reliability of services. The process
became mired in endless rows over
costs; the biggest contractor, Metronet,
eventually went bust and the other,
Tube Lines, was bought out.
East coast rail
For the second time in a decade, the
secretary of state for transport has been
forced to bail out a private rail company
running the vital east coast mainline.
In 2009, the then Labour government
took the line under public control after
its private operator, National Express,
couldn?t pay out the �4bn promised
under the contract. The previous
holder of the franchise, GNER,
had already been stripped of the
route after its US parent ?rm was
struck by ?nancial troubles. Last
year, the government waived
the majority of payments
due under Stagecoach?s
�3bn contract to run
the London to Edinburgh
route. Whenever the
merits of rail privatisation
are debated, the east coast line
is a key argument for those in
favour of nationalisation.
Phillip Inman
CARILLION CV
History The business was built from the
construction division of Tarmac. It was
spun out of the Tarmac corporation in 1999
and then acquired several rivals, including
Mowlem and Alfred McAlpine. It also
acquired a number of Canadian businesses.
Based Wolverhampton
Employs 43,000 sta? (20,000 in the UK)
Last week?s rejection by AT&T
really matters to Huawei, because
it could drastically curtail its future.
It is already banned from selling
its telecoms equipment in the US
following a 2012 report from the US
house intelligence committee (HIC),
and had multiple takeovers blocked.
But it had hoped to make up some
ground in smartphones, which the
2012 report did not block.
Though it is the world?s thirdbiggest smartphone maker and the
biggest in China, the world?s biggest
market, growth there has slumped
with saturation: everyone who wants
one has one.
But the US, the world?s secondbiggest market, was effectively
untapped; selling through AT&T, the
carrier that originally offered the
iPhone in 2007, could have kickstarted
a new era and ful?lled Huawei?s
ambitions to overtake both Apple and
Samsung. Instead, it reaffirmed that
the old rules remain in place. Noncarrier sales in the US are less than 10%
of the overall 170m a year total, which
is part of the reason why Apple and
Samsung have 70% of the market: they
are sold by all the carriers.
The frustration for Huawei may
be ampli?ed by the success it has
had in the UK. When British officials
How the problems emerged A pro?t
warning on 10 July revealed an �5m
impairment charge in the construction
division. By the end of the summer
the shares were down more than 70%.
There were further pro?ts warnings in
September and November.
Major projects Carillion has been involved
expressed concern about Huawei
providing network equipment for
BT, on the basis that it might contain
?back doors? that would allow China
to carry out remote spying, or even
shut systems down, in November 2010
the company set up an office called
?The Cell? with oversight from GCHQ
where devices and software code could
be examined in minute detail for any
?aws. So far, that has salved concerns.
The company is not giving up,
though. In a statement after the AT&T
decision, Huawei said: ?While the
Huawei Mate 10 Pro will not be sold by
US carriers, we remain committed to
this market now and in the future.?
Yu addressed the topic directly
at that frustrating Mate 10 launch.
Standing in front of a slide reading
?Something I Want to Share?, he told
the audience that in six years the
company had gone from nothing in
terms of smartphone sales to No�globally, with more than 70爉illion
customers. Yu has previously stated
his ambition is to overtake Apple and
Samsung to become No 1.
He will have to hope that the next
six years will see Huawei overcome
the political obstacles as it overcame
technical obstacles. But ?ve years on
from the 2012 HIC report, it is clear
they are not going away.
in the construction of numerous highpro?le and prestigious projects, including
the GCHQ government communications
centre; the Beetham Tower in Manchester;
the London Olympics Media Centre; the
Rolls Building courts complex in London;
London Heathrow Terminal 5; the Library
of Birmingham; Liverpool FC?s An?eld
stadium expansion; the Battersea Power
Station redevelopment; and work on HS2.
Government contracts Include school
meals and cleaning at nearly 900 schools,
maintenance contracts at half of the UK?s
prisons, managing 200 operating theatres
and tra?c monitoring systems for the
Highways Agency.
44 | BUSINESS
*
Analysis
14.01.18
If the government doesn?t help out our high
streets, we?ll end up shopping in ghost towns
Even if bonds fall,
it?s hard to see an
end to this era
of cheap credit
BUSINESS LEADER
T
L
ife is tough for high street
retailers and likely to get
worse in 2018. That?s the clear
message following a difficult
Christmas for most shopping
chains and signals from the
banks that they aim to bring a threeyear bonanza of cheap consumer credit
to an end, or at least severely restrict its
further growth.
Supermarkets were among the
survivors as shoppers chose to spend
a few extra pounds on food to cope
with in?ation. But that meant cutbacks
elsewhere.
Clothing, shoes and furniture joined
a list of items shoppers decided they
could do without ? or, if they needed
them, they went online for a cheap deal.
Next was among the retailers to
enjoy a degree of expansion after it was
rescued by healthy online sales. Marks
& Spencer struggled to make any headway after its failure to entice customers
to its website.
If the health of the high street
depends on anyone, it is the big
discounters like Aldi and Lidl in the
supermarket wars and B&M, which
is the Primark of food shops, selling
household brands such as Kellogg?s
and Walkers at knock-down prices.
But few high streets can survive with
just discount shops to add to a smattering of charity outlets, bookies and
pawnbrokers.
Most towns vie with their neighbours to have at least one department
store on their high street or, failing
that, some national chains.
Not so long ago, when Debenhams
seemed like it would be turning up
in almost every corner of the country
with a new store, this dream appeared
to be coming true.
John Lewis was another department store that was talked about as a
candidate for aiding urban renewal in
the unlikeliest of places.
The rapid expansion of chains such
as New Look, TK Maxx and, more
recently, jeweller Pandora has helped
keep many smaller centres from looking down at heel.
Pandora has cheered up many high streets ? but now its profits are down. Photograph by Christopher Thomond for the Observer
Sadly, Debenhams had a disastrous
Christmas, as did House of Fraser, and
both have ditched any expansion plans
left over from the 2015 boom times.
Cutbacks are the order of the day. M&S
is already closing stores, mostly in
towns that shoppers have long since
started driving past.
New Look has seen sales fall, while
pro?ts at TK Maxx and Pandora
are down. John Lewis is doing well
although, like Next, all the improvement is online, not in its stores.
Soon, even more high streets outside
the big cities and successful market
towns will have a ghostly pallor.
At the root of the problem is the
decline in disposable incomes. With
in?ation at around 3% and wage rises
averaging 2.2%, households are strug-
gling to maintain their standard of living. In a post-EU referendum economy,
with uncertainty forcing companies to
delay investment, average wages don?t
look like rising strongly any time soon.
There was more bad news in the latest Bank of England study of consumer
lending. A survey of high street banks
found they were planning to severely
restrict the generosity displayed in
recent years that has pushed unsecured lending up by around 10% a year.
Credit-card balances will be cut back
and the length of interest-free periods
will be reduced. Cheap loans will be
limited to only the safest borrowers.
This move is a response to concerns
that the major banks had begun to lend
recklessly, repeating the mistakes that
led to the 2008 banking crash.
There can be no doubt that some
harsh words are welcome from the
?nancial regulator decrying bonuschasing bankers offering loans to every
Tom, Jane and Harriet.
However, they are not so welcome
if you are a shop owner or worker who
depends on consumers maintaining
their shopping habits.
MPs have largely ignored the subject
of healthy town centres, leaving the
problem to local authorities. Maybe
if more of them shopped in their
constituencies, they might notice the
changes going on.
It is possible that after another tough
year, and some more shop closures,
they might want the government to
start thinking about giving the worstaffected towns a fresh start.
Big brains of business enjoy curling up with a good book
O
n both sides of the Atlantic, book clubs have strong
associations with entertainment stars: Oprah Winfrey in
the US, for example, and Richard and
Judy in the UK. But now there is a
new genre of literary cheerleader: the
corporate燽ibliophile.
Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates
both publish reading lists and encour-
age readers to follow suit. Among the
titles recommended by both tycoons
are Yuval Noah Harari?s Sapiens
and The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Steven Pinker. The Gates and
Zuckerberg lists have won approval
from cultural peers, including the
managing director of Waterstones,
but there has been justi?ed criticism
of the apparent gender imbalance in
their reading. Books by men appear to
outweigh those by women.
Hopefully, the Facebook and
Microsoft founders will adjust their
bedtime reading piles accordingly.
That aside, it is surely a good thing
that two of the world?s most powerful
corporate ?gures are advocating the
attainment of written wisdom. Their
peers should take note. Literally.
here are some economic laws
that reassert themselves, and
some that are victims of changing
times. The likely path of borrowing costs ? that they rise in good times
and fall in bad ? is one such law that has
failed to conform to previous trends.
For 30 years now, interest rates have
been falling, making it cheaper and
cheaper to borrow money. This trend
has continued during booms and busts
on global stock markets, to which the
debt markets were previously tied. The
2008 crash accelerated the decline in
rates, but it was already well under way.
Today, central banks charge commercial lenders an almost zero rate of
interest, allowing mortgage lenders
to push loan rates down to historic
lows. Even the ?ve increases in the US
Federal Reserve?s base rates since 2015
have done nothing to alter the downward trend. US lenders, keen to win
business, have squeezed their margins
rather than pass on the higher cost of
borrowing from the Fed.
But there are several debt-market
gurus who think the latest signals from
the European Central Bank and the
central banks of Japan and China could
mark an end to this era of cheap credit.
The price of buying bonds, which
is the market?s way of packaging up
the debt issued by governments and
companies ? state and corporate borrowing, in other words ? is falling. The
interest rate ? referred to as the ?yield?
? on bonds rises as the price falls, and
last week the yield on a 10-year US government bond jumped to nearly 2.6%,
its highest level for almost a year.
If, as is being signalled, the central banks of China, Japan and the
eurozone start cutting back on their
purchases of bonds, then, the argument
runs, overall demand will fall and so
will the price: and such borrowing will
become more expensive.
But even if central banks end their
role as major bond purchasers, there
is still plenty of demand. The world?s
?nancial system is awash with money
looking for a home. Bonds remain
a popular choice ? cushioning any
potential fall in price and rise in yield.
We had a lot on our plate: Brexit was the last thing we needed
IN MY VIEW
EW
W
William
Keegan
O
ne of the many annoying
aspects of the Brexit referendum ?asco is that it has
diverted attention from so
many pressing domestic economic and
social problems.
Yet those of us who are unrepentant
Remainers still regard the struggle as
worthwhile. Brexiters may argue that
the prospect of short-term economic
damage was exaggerated during the
campaign, and, as I acknowledged in a
recent column, it was. But that this is a
case of ?so far, not so bad? is beside the
point. The damage will hit us if we go
ahead with leaving our largest market
and indulge the extreme Brexiters?
fantasy of contriving wonderful
new markets in far less important
countries from the trading point of
view ? markets, that, strangely enough,
already exist.
A point made by a number of us to
older Brexiters was, and still is, that
they were not being too mindful of
the interests of their children and
grandchildren, who have grown up
with the freedom to travel, work and
study throughout the European Union
and now see all this threatened.
But it is becoming more and more
obvious that the younger generation
are threatened not only by the prospect
of Brexit ? and I repeat, to the BBC
and others: it hasn?t happened yet! ?
but by an accumulation of economic
problems, epitomised by the depleted
condition of so many public services.
And not only the younger generation.
It seems to be widely accepted
that the referendum result was to a
considerable extent a protest vote
against the economic and social
problems ? housing, the health service,
social care, transport, you name it ?
that have resulted from neglect by
successive governments, and were
undoubtedly aggravated by the banking
crisis and post-crisis austerity.
Now, among my older friends who
are concerned about the state of the
nation now, and the prospects for
young and old alike, is the Cambridge
economist Robert Neild, who, at the
age of 93, is as sharp as ever.
Robert was chief economic adviser
to the Treasury in the 1960s ? repeat,
the 1960s ? and has seen a thing or
two. In a recent paper he has argued
forcefully that many of this country?s
problems with public services stem
from the simple fact that those services
are woefully underfunded.
Thus the ?tax take? in this country
amounts to 35% of gross domestic
product, whereas the average in the
European Union I still hope we won?t
leave is 40%. He points out that, since
public spending amounts to a third of
GDP, an increase in the tax take here to
the European average would ?nance a
14% increase in public spending, and
provide the wherewithal to answer all
those critics whose standard response
to any suggestion of higher public
spending is ?where is the money
coming from??.
At which point I cannot resist
noting that a prominent Conservative
Brexiter once admitted to me that he
A prominent Leaver
once admitted to me
that he liked France
because of the
health service
particularly likes France because of the
health service.
Which brings us to the present
outcries about the state of the
NHS. This is, as usual, against the
background of the prevailing view
in this country that we should have
Scandinavian levels of public service
while enjoying US levels of taxation ?
or, in the extreme rightwing Brexiters?
case, Singaporean levels of taxation.
The scale of the resistance to ?tax
and spend? in Britain was manifested
when Gordon Brown, as chancellor,
made Herculean efforts to prepare the
nation for a 1% increase in employer
and employee national insurance
contributions in an effort to bring
the health service up to continental
standards. Evidently, there is some way
to go.
More and more people, such as the
admirable anti-Brexit campaigner Lord
Adonis, are evoking the spirit of the
Attlee postwar government to address
the current crisis. It is a formidable
task ? as indeed it was for Attlee, who
met dreadful opposition at the time,
even though he has been sancti?ed by
modern historians. When it comes to
the rightwing press, there is nothing
new under the sun.
The current social crisis and
prospect would be less daunting if
Brexit were not piled on top of it. In
which context I could hardly believe
my ears last week when Chancellor
Hammond was quoted as telling our
fellow Europeans that it made no
sense to put in place ?unnecessary
barriers? to British demands. All the
?unnecessary barriers? have been put
in place by Britain?s bizarre decision to
leave the EU.
There is also a prevailing view that
the government is involved in some
kind of ?negotiation?. I fear that this
constitutes a gross misunderstanding
of the situation. When, after realising
that membership of the European
Free Trade Area was unsatisfactory,
successive British governments
applied for, and eventually succeeded
in obtaining, membership of what is
now the European Union, we had to
negotiate terms of membership.
Now, if this narrow and ill-informed
referendum decision is not reversed,
we have to leave the club. When
you leave a club, there is nothing to
negotiate: you pay what you owe and
you leave. Better to Remain!
Moreover, it is not as if our European
counterparts did not have enough
on their plates already. Our fellow
Europeans can be forgiven for asking
what planet the British think they
are爋n.
14.01.18
Media
*
I admire my old
BBC colleagues.
But some earn
far too much
John Humphrys
was earning more
than �0,000 ?
until taking a pay
cut this year. Rex
The row over corporation salaries is
actually three scandals in one: radical
action is needed, writes Robin Lustig
W
hen I started working
for the BBC nearly
30 years ago, what I
was going to get paid
never even came up
for discussion. I was
just starting out as a freelance radio
news presenter, with nearly 20 years?
experience as a journalist under my
belt (including more than a decade on
this newspaper), and I was simply paid
per programme. The BBC set the rate, I
accepted it, and that was that.
It never occurred to me that had I
been a woman, they might have offered
me less. My earliest records date from
1991, when I was paid �0 for presenting an edition of The World Tonight
on Radio 4, and �5 for Newshour on
the World Service. So if I had presented three programmes a week for
46 weeks a year, I would have earned
between �,430 and �,880 per
annum, roughly equivalent to between
�,000 and �,000 today.
Compare and contrast. John
Humphrys, king of Today, is paid more
than �0,000 a year ? or at least, he
was in the year up to last April, and that
did include his duties on Mastermind.
He says he has taken a sizeable pay cut
since then, although to judge by his
secretly recorded off-air comments to a
colleague, he did so less than willingly.
Jeremy Vine of Radio 2 is on more than
�0,000, and Eddie Mair of the PM
programme is on more than �0,000.
The BBC pay scandal is really three
scandals in one. First, there is the
gender pay gap, due to there being far
more men in senior positions than
women. Interestingly, many of the
most impressive bosses I worked for
were women, including the head of
audio and music, Jenny Abramsky; the
controller of Radio 4, Helen Boaden;
and the head of World Service news
programmes, Liliane Landor.
Second, as the Carrie Gracie episode
has revealed, there appears to be
gender discrimination, which would be
illegal and would result in women like
Sarah Montague and Ritula Shah being
paid substantially less than their male
counterparts for doing the same job.
And third, there is the undeniable fact that some of the BBC?s most
senior journalists, most of them men,
are being paid grotesquely in?ated
salaries for which there is absolutely
no justi?cation. It gives me no pleasure
to write this; they are, after all, my former colleagues and many of them are
extremely good at their jobs, but take
them into a quiet corner somewhere
and they will admit that I am right.
Full disclosure: when I left the BBC
in 2012, I was being paid �5,000 a
I did not complain
that I was overpaid
(does anyone?), nor
did I check whether
female colleagues
were on the same rate
BUSINESS | 45
year to present both The World Tonight
and Newshour. I did not complain that
I was overpaid (does anyone?), nor did
I check whether my female colleagues
were on the same rates. I now know
that they were not, and I deeply regret
that it never occurred to me to ask.
But nor did I ask how my pay compared with, say, Eddie Mair?s. If I had
known he was getting more than twice
as much as I was, I might well have felt
hard done by, even though I am among
his most devoted admirers.
So why has BBC journalists? pay
gone haywire, and what can be done
to put it right? Until recently, most
news presenters were freelances
who negotiated their own pay, either
directly or through their agents.
Correspondents, on the other hand,
were employees, on set salary scales.
It is no coincidence that the BBC?s
two male international editors, who
are both paid substantially more
than ex-China editor Carrie Gracie
or Europe editor Katya Adler, have
both worked previously as presenters
(North America editor Jon Sopel on
The Politics Show, and Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen on BBC Breakfast).
Neither will have taken a pay cut when
they returned to reporting. True,
Gracie has also worked as a presenter,
but only on the News Channel and the
BBC World Service, where pay levels
are far lower than on BBC1 or BBC2.
I used to have some sympathy with
the BBC?s argument that it has to pay
?market rates? to keep its best journalists on board ? but I have changed
my mind. If a senior BBC journalist
is offered a better-paid job by a rival
broadcaster, I now think the response
should simply be: ?Good luck.?
Did the BBC suffer grievous harm
when economics editor Robert Peston
jumped ship to join ITV? Or when both
Nick Robinson and his successor as
BBC political editor, Laura Kuenssberg,
moved brie?y from the BBC to ITV
before being enticed back again?
The truth is it managed just ?ne, for
the simple reason that there are dozens
of equally talented, younger journalists
only too happy to step into the breach.
Does Kuenssberg ?deserve? more
than �0,000 a year? Does Robinson,
now on the Today programme,
?deserve? more than �0,000?
Perhaps it is unfair to single them out.
So what about Andrew Marr on more
than �0,000? Or Huw Edwards on
more than �0,000?
I have worked with ? and respect ?
all of them, and although I have never
discussed pay with them (God forbid!),
I strongly suspect they would ?nd it
hard to defend what they are paid.
Humphrys, to his credit, admitted as
much when asked to explain his own
salary. ?I?m not sure I could explain it,
to be absolutely honest.?
So the answer is simple: full pay
transparency, and a pay cap for all
BBC journalists, male and female,
whether in the studio or in the ?eld,
of �0,000 a year, with extra allowances payable for exceptional difficulty
or danger (Bowen, Lyse Doucet, Orla
Guerin, Quentin Sommerville, and, yes,
Gracie). And with apologies to some
of my better-paid former colleagues,
if it means you have to take a sizeable
pay cut, by all means try your luck
elsewhere. It is time to stop trying to
defend the indefensible.
Robin Lustig is a former BBC news
presenter
46 | CASH
Personal ?nance
*
14.01.18
Editor: Shane Hickey cash@observer.co.uk
Virgin hits users
with a fee if they
move to areas
it can?t serve
Its network is only available to 50% of the
country. Yet there?s up to a �0 penalty to
end a contract early, as Anna Tims reports
W
hen Rick Llewellyn
moved house, he duly
noti?ed his cable and
broadband provider
Virgin Media of his
new address. To his
astonishment, he was told that Virgin
could not supply his new area and that
he would therefore have to pay �0.83
to terminate his contract early. He was
also required to return his Virgin equipment at his own expense, or face a further fee of �0.
?We have been with Virgin Media and
its predecessor, NTL, for 20 years and
wanted to continue receiving broadband
and cable service from them, and to keep
our Virgin email address,? he says.
?We raised a complaint, and were
told that when we had accepted an offer
of extra cable channels at a reduced
monthly charge 10 months previously,
we had entered into a new contract and
were liable to these fees, even if they
could not provide us with a service.?
Millions of Virgin customers could
find themselves similarly penalised if
they move home mid-contract, even if
they?ve been loyal customers for years.
Unlike the other major telecoms providers, which use Openreach?s nationally available infrastructure, Virgin
operates its own ?bre network which
is currently only available to 50% of the
country. Customers who relocate to an
area that is covered can transfer their
contract without charge. Those who discover that Virgin can?t supply their new
address are hit with fees of up to �0
for terminating their contract early.
Virgin argues that it is up to customers
to consider the length of a ?xed contract
before entering into it, but many fail to
realise that the contract is non-transferable to half the homes in the UK, and
its policy disproportionately affects the
most vulnerable who are forced to move
home unexpectedly because of eviction,
illness or ?nancial hardship.
Eighty-year-old Ann Squires of Leeds
was ordered to pay �6.88 when she
had to leave her family home of 40 years
and move into a ?at three miles away.
?I contacted them to give my change
of address, and expected my contract
to continue, but I was told that Virgin
Media provided no services at my new
address,? she says.
?Notwithstanding their inability to
ful?l the service, they charged me a termination fee. When I challenged this I
was served with a default notice under
the Consumer Credit Act.
?Leaving the family home was quite
stressful enough without this harassment and it was patronising and insult-
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ing to be told in their last letter that ?It
goes without saying that we deeply
value your relationship with us, and we
are committed to providing you with the
highest levels of service??.?
Virgin refunded Rick Llewellyn the
fee as a ?goodwill gesture? after the
Observer intervened, stating that his
complaint had been handled incorrectly,
but it refuses to budge in the case of Ann
Squires, who paid up after being threatened with court proceedings. She has
now referred her complaint to the alternative dispute resolution service Cisas.
The ?key facts? document supplied
with each Virgin contract states that
a termination fee is due if a contract is
ended before its minimum term, but few
dig down into the terms and conditions
to discover that this applies even if Virgin can no longer provide the service.
The telecoms regulator, Ofcom, is
investigating whether the charge is fair
and reasonable as required by the Consumer Rights Act.
Under the act, ?unfair terms? are not
binding on customers and if Ofcom ?nds
that Virgin is in breach of the rules, customers could be entitled to claim back
the fees they have paid.
The regulator expects to announce its
decision in April. In a statement Virgin
says: ?We note Ofcom?s investigation
?When I challenged
the termination fee,
I was served a default
notice under the
Consumer Credit Act?
Ann Squires, customer
into early termination charges and are
working with them during their inquiry.?
Because Virgin, unlike other providers, is not reliant on BT?s ageing copperbased network, it can offer higher speeds
at competitive prices and it is currently
investing �n in extending its ?bre network to 3m extra homes.
However, those tempted by its promise to ?change your everything? should
beware.
While other providers have access to
nationally available infrastructure and
can usually transfer customer contracts
when they move, there?s a 50% chance
that Virgin customers won?t be able to
take their service with them, and since
house moves are not always foreseeable
they face paying a three-?gure sum if
they are still mid-contract.
The personal ?nance website MoneySavingExpert deems Virgin?s charges
ridiculous. Exit fees must, by law, re?ect
the cost of work carried out and the loss
to the company if a contract is ended
early. Virgin is one of the only major telecoms ?rms to levy them when it can?t
provide the service at a new address.
?If a consumer wants to stay with
their internet provider, and the only
reason they can?t is that the provider
doesn?t supply the new address, it?s
ridiculous to hold the consumer liable
for breaking the contract,? says Helen
Saxon of MoneySavingExpert. ?However, we have heard of people successfully challenging their provider and
getting them to waive these fees, so if
you?re being charged it?s always worth a
try. Of course, it isn?t acceptable that the
onus is on the consumer to contact their
provider to do this. These unfair charges
should be scrapped.?
Virgin is the third-biggest broadband
supplier in the UK with almost 5.1 million subscribers. The largest is BT with
9.3 million, followed by Sky at 6.1 million. At almost 4 million, TalkTalk is the
fourth-biggest player.
Last month, the government
announced that British homes and businesses will have a legal right to highspeed broadband by 2020. Providers
will therefore have a legal requirement
to provide it to anyone who requests it.
A DISCONNECT WITH MOBILES, TOO
theguardian.com/money
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Failing to deliver: but Virgin Media still charges loyal customers to leave their contract when they move to an area it doesn?t cover.
Mobile phone customers of most
telecoms companies who move home
also face three-?gure fees to terminate
a contract if their supplier can?t provide
adequate reception at their new address.
Last year, 20% of complaints about
mobile phone providers received by the
online complaints tool Resolver concerned
exit fees. ?The most common issues are
where the service is total rubbish, but the
?rm still insists you pay an exit fee,? says
Resolver spokesperson Martyn James.
?We?d argue that if you aren?t getting
the service you?re paying for, they?ve
breached the contract. But by far the
most annoying examples happen when
people move, and there?s no coverage in
their new home. We?ve heard from lots of
people who still have to pay the fee. That?s
outrageous.?
According to the telecoms regulator,
Ofcom, companies can get away with
this provided the charges are made clear
in their terms and conditions and do not
exceed the remaining payments due
under the contract. In most cases, it says,
they should be less, to re?ect the money
the company saves in not having to
provide the service.
?If someone moves to a new property
mid-contract but their existing service
provider does not cover the new address,
they may be subject to a penalty for
leaving their contract early,? says a
spokesperson.
?The levying of early termination
charges in such circumstances may vary
from provider to provider, and we?d expect
providers to treat the home-movers fairly
and sympathetically.??
Of the four main providers, EE
hey suggest
and Three say that they
es such as
a number of remedies
wi? calling and signall boosters
ption
to resolve poor reception
ork, they
and, if these don?t work,
assess each requestt for early
e-bytermination on a case-bycase basis.
tion
O2 allows cancellation
e the
without penalty once
cost of the handset has been
onthly
paid o? under the monthly
price plan.
Vodafone states
d
that while broadband
el
customers can cancel
for free if they
move to an area with inadequate provision,
mobile phone customers normally have to
pay the exit fee even if poor signal issues
can?t be resolved.
Under the Consumer Rights Directive, a
contracted service must be provided with
reasonable care and skill. If you continue
to receive an inadequate or non-existent
service in and outside your new home, you
should write to the provider requesting
early termination without penalty,
due to sustained and prolonged
lack of service. Should they
refu
refuse, request a letter of
deadlock or wait eight weeks,
dea
tthen refer your complaint to
whichever dispute resolution
sscheme it?s registered with ?
e
either Ombudsman Services or
Cisas. It?s also worth informing
Ofcom. Although it can?t deal
O
w
with individuals? problems, it
can take action if it receives a high
of complaints about an issue.
volume o
Before committing to a contract
? or a ne
new home ? customers can
Ofcom?s mobile checker, which
use Ofco
shows an
and mobile coverage for all
UK addres
addresses.
14.01.18
Personal
Your problems
?nance
*
MORTGAGES
Anna Tims
We?re owed
�,500 ? but
feel powerless to
make SSE pay up
Two years ago, after reading about
compensation for electricity power
lines crossing private land, I applied
in respect of an SSE transformer in
my garden. The ?rm that handled
my claim negotiated �,500, which
I燼ccepted.
That was 10 months ago. Since
then, solicitors handling the legal
?deed of easement? have been unable
to obtain the payment, advising me
that it is the sheer volume of claims
that is delaying SSE.
Since this could go on inde?nitely,
shouldn?t ?rms have to ?nalise claims
within a stated period or face a ?ne?
NG, Stockbridge, Hants
It?s only in the last couple of years,
following a series of awards, that
householders have been able to claim
for electricity wires crossing their
property from wooden poles.
Previously, only homes blighted
by giant pylons were eligible. Tens
of thousands of homeowners are
now entitled to payouts if the pole is
on their property or the wires pass
directly over it.
It?s a lengthy process that can take
up to 18 months, but the delays in
your case seem unjusti?ed since the
time-consuming surveys and legal
negotiations were completed before
you accepted the offered sum.
SSE avoids answering whether
there?s a backlog. Instead, it says it
Lender
Type
Rate %
Term
Max
LTV %
Fee �
Contact
Yorkshire Building Society
?xed
1.24
29/2/2020
65
495
0345 1200 874
Hanley Economic Building Society
?xed
1.39
31/3/2020
75
549
01782 255 000
Sainsbury?s Bank
?xed
1.74
31/3/2020
85
0
0345 111 8010
Coventry Building Society
?xed
1.75
31/3/2023
65
999
0800 121 8899
Yorkshire Building Society
?xed
1.86
31/3/2023
75
995
0345 1200 874
Yorkshire Building Society
?xed
2.01
28/2/2023
85
995
0345 1200 874
Bath Building Society
?xed
3.29
3 years
95
800
01225 475 724
HSBC
bbr tracker + 0.74%
1.24
2 years
60
999
0800 030 4640
HSBC
bbr tracker + 0.84%
1.34
2 years
75
999
0800 030 4640
HSBC
bbr tracker + 0.99%
1.49
2 years
85
999
0800 030 4640
Barclays
o?set bbr tracker + 1.34%
1.84
2 years
75
999
0845 070 5090
Yorkshire Building Society
o?set ?xed
1.82
28/2/2021
75
995
0345 1200 874
endeavours to settle applications as
promptly as possible and advises thirdparty agents of the likely timescale.
By a remarkable coincidence, it
discovers, when the Observer gets
in touch, that it has received all the
necessary paperwork and that it will
pay up within eight weeks.
Your solicitor received the deed of
easement three days later.
apparently preventing photographs
was, in fact, gesturing passengers away
from the broken glass. When asked
why there was no apology, it invites
those affected to contact the company
for a refund. A gesture you?d think
might have occurred to it at the time.
No apology from City Cruises
after a boat hit a bridge
I read with interest about landlords
being able to claim six years? worth of
ground rent providing they complete
the appropriate demand form.
Now my freeholder has done just
that. Are they in breach of the rules
as they haven?t been sending annual
invoices? Or can they simply bill
six years in one go if they ?ll in the
correct form?
Post O?ce Money
Online Saver 28
Secure Trust Bank
120 Day Notice Account
Kent Reliance
Regular Savings Account 3
Aldermore
1 Year Fixed Rate Bond
KH, London
The Access Bank UK
I took a boat trip along the Thames
with City Cruises in November. The
boat collided with a bridge wall and
the impact broke four windows and
there was a smell of burning. The
crew put on life jackets but did not
give them to terri?ed passengers.
And at no stage was there an apology.
Can landlords really demand six
years? ground rent in one hit?
HB, London
Your ordeal bears worrying similarities
to another City Cruises boat that collided with a tug on the Thames in 2014,
injuring nine passengers. An investigation showed that the helmsman did not
hold a boat master?s licence.
Footage you took shows crew,
strapped into orange life jackets,
seemingly more interested in stopping
passengers from taking photographs
than in reassuring them.
City Cruises tells me there was
a fully licensed captain at the helm
and the maritime coastal agency is
investigating. As for the crew?s actions,
it explains: ?They are trained to put
on life jackets as soon as an incident
occurs so they are able to help deal
with the unknown. The incident was
swiftly assessed and it was deemed
unnecessary to provide passengers with
life jackets as they were not in danger.?
It claims the crew member ?lmed
CASH | 47
It depends on the terms on your lease
which probably sets out the dates on
which the ground rent becomes payable. According to Liberty Chappel,
real estate dispute resolution solicitor
at Pemberton Greenish, a landlord?s
entitlement to rent is covered by the
Limitation Act 1980, which states
the limitation period for recovery of
ground rent is six years ? that is, they
can claim payment at any time within
six years, unlike service charges which
must be demanded within 18 months of
costs being incurred.
Unfortunately, failure to issue
annual bills does not entitle you to
withhold payment, although you could
request an affordable payment plan.
If you need help email Anna Tims at
your.problems@observer.co.uk or write
to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings
Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.
Include an address and phone number.
SAVINGS
Provider
Account
NatWest
Savings Builder
Min �
Santander
123 Current Account
AA Savings
Easy Saver Issue 6
Gross
AER %
1
1.50
1.50 &
1 �per
month
100
1.32
1
1,000
Union Bank of India UK 2 Year Fixed Term Deposit
1.30
Notice
Notes
Contact
easy access
BATI
0800 255 200
0800 218 2352
easy access
AICD
easy access
BTI
theaa.com
easy access
BI
posto?ce.co.uk
1.56 120 days notice
I securetrustbank.com
25
3.00
easy access
AR
03451 220 022
1,000
1.80
1 year
IF
aldermore.co.uk
1,000
2.06
2 years
APF
020 7332 4250
5,000
2.25
3 years
PIF
01606 815440
Masthaven Bank
Sensible Savings 3Yr Fxd Term
Bond
48 Month Flexible Term Saver
500
2.23
4 years
PCF Bank
5 Year Term Deposit Issue 7
1,000
2.42
5 years
PIF
pcf.bank
AA Savings
Easy Access ISA Issue 14
100
1.16
easy access
IB
theaa.com
aldermore.co.uk
Aldermore
2 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA
NS&I
Direct ISA
3 Year Investment Gtee Growth
Bond
NS&I
NS&I
IF masthavenbank.co.uk
1,000
1.65
2 years
IF
1
1.00
easy access
TI
nsandi.com
100
2.20
3 years
IF
nsandi.com
1
2.25
no wdls until
18 yrs old
I
nsandi.com
Junior ISA
A branch opening; B rate includes bonus; C monthly fee applies; D based on �0 monthly spend; F ?xed rate; I internet
opening; P postal opening; R save �to �0 every month; T telephone opening. Please check rates before investing.
CREDIT CARDS
Provider card name
0% o?ers
Sainsbury?s Bank Nectar 31 months purchases
Purchase
Halifax Purchase Credit
30 Months Purchases
Card
Barclaycard Platinum With 38 Months Balance
Balance Transfer
Transfer
MBNA Platinum Credit
38 Months Balance
Card
Transfer
American Express PlatinumNone
Cashback
American Express PlatinumNone
Cashback Everyday
Type
Purchase
Purchase
Balance
Transfer
Balance
Transfer
Transfer fee % Repr APR
Cashback
na
18.9
not available
Contact
sainsburysbank.co.uk
na
18.9
Not Available
halifax.co.uk
1.40
19.9
Not Available
barclaycard.co.uk
1.44
19.9
Not Available
mbna.co.uk
28.2 1.0% Standard
+ Intro Bonus
Standard
22.9 0.5%
+ Intro Bonus
americanexpress.com
Cashback
na
Cashback
na
americanexpress.com
For the latest best buys on mortgages and savings check out our Money deals at http://theguardian.com/money
Table compiled 12/01/18. In case of late changes, always check rates and terms before transacting.
All above ?gures from independent ?nancial research company Defaqto (defaqto.com)
14.01.18
48 | TRAVEL
Five of the best Places to party in 2018
1. CTM Germany
1
4
The start of the year sees the return of
CTM Berlin, the ?festival for adventurous music and art?. This year, the
event, which takes place in venues
across the city, from Berghain to the
Kraftwerk building, and features artists from the German techno producer
and sound artist Recondite to Peruvian
electronic-psych band Dengue Dengue,
Dengue is on the theme of Turmoil ?
expect artistic responses to a growing
sense of global instability.
? 26 January-4 February,
ctm-festival.de
2. S髇ar Spain/Iceland
Sonar, which fuses music, creativity
and technology, celebrates its 25th
anniversary this year. Though the
festival?s birthplace was Barcelona,
this March sees the more intimate
spin-off event Sonar Reykjavik (16-17
March), which has a lineup including
Danny Brown, Bjarki and Nadia Rose.
Sonar Barcelona, however, (14-16 June)
guarantees an unforgettable weekend
of dancing around the city, with the
official programme ? this year headlined by Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem
and Richie Hawtin ?matched by the
countless fringe events of Off Sonar.
? Various, sonar.es
3. Rainforest World Music
Festival Borneo
The Rainforest World Music Festival,
held near Kuching, is a unique event
that brings some of the finest world and
indigenous musicians together, with
Mount Santubong providing the striking backdrop. The festival is structured
around a combination of workshops
during the day and performances at
TRAVEL CLASSIFIED
night and is an incredible way to experience the Malaysian state of Sarawak, a
wild region of the island, with stunning
beaches and caves.
? 13-15 July, rwmf.net
4. Lake of Stars Malawi
Expect a bumper year of music and arts
from Lake of Stars, a multi-genre festival held on the beaches of Lake Malawi
which is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2018. Past lineups have included
bands ranging from Young Fathers to
Oliver Mtukudzi. Founded in 2003
and drawing inspiration from festivals
such as Womad, Lake of Stars strives to
encourage people to visit beyond the
event itself, and explore the rest of this
friendly country.
? 28-30 September, lakeofstars.org
2
5. Lost Paradise Australia
5
3
Held every December, the Lost Paradise festival, an hour?s drive north of
Sydney, has a wide-ranging lineup and
plenty of attractions beyond music ?
from pop-up performances to massage
tents, disco yurts to speakeasies and
an artistic touch that culminates in a
colourful carnival parade. It?s staged in
an enviable natural setting too ? amid
lush woodland in the Glenworth Valley,
with a river at hand to help revellers
keep cool.
? Dates tbc, lostparadise.com.au
Will Coldwell
Photographs: Alamy; Corbis/Getty Images
To see the full list of places to
party in 2018, and thousands
more top 10s on everything from
the world?s best restaurants and
hotels to walks and beaches, visit
theguardian.com/travel
14.01.18
OBSERVER CLASSIFIED| 49
14.01.18
50 | OBSERVER CLASSIFIED
*
14.01.18
OBSERVER CLASSIFIED | 51
14.01.18
52 | OBSERVER CLASSIFIED
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14.01.18
*
3PM TODAY
9AM TODAY
992
(29.29)
SIX-DAY FORECAST
Mon
42
46
Orkney
988
(29.18)
8
8
(46F)
MODERATE
(46F)
HEAVY
1016
(30.00)
1000
(29.53)
992
(29.29)
1004
(29.65)
996
(29.41)
4
29
(39F)
1008
(29.77)
SLIGHT
Glasgow
6
41
(43F)
21
23
1000
(29.53)
1020
(30.12)
Edinburgh
Glasgow
MODERATE
5
Edinburgh
7
(41F)
3
(45F)
1004
(29.65)
MODERATE
7
Newcastle
(38F)
MODERATE
Newcastle
(44F)
Belfast
Belfast
1012
(29.88)
1008
(29.77)
5
(40F) Hull
MODERATE
Dublin
Manchester
3
(39F)
(37F)
(40F)
Norwich
Norwich
Birmingham
4
6
(39F)
Cardi?
(42F)
Gloucester
Bristol
16
3
1016
(30.00)
(37F)
London
MODERATE
5
Cardi?
Gloucester
Bristol
SLIGHT
6
(42F)
London
Brighton
8
Plymouth
(42F)
Brighton
Plymouth
(46F)
12
SLIGHT
SLIGHT
6
UK TODAY
Channel Is, Cent S England, SW England, W Midlands, Wales: Generally dry
today with broken cloud and sunny periods. A moderate southerly wind. Max
4-9C (39-48F). Becoming overcast tonight with periods of rain, mainly after
midnight in the south. Min 2-7C (36-45F).
SE England, London, E Anglia, E Midlands: Mainly dry today with overcast in the
morning then sunny breaks. A moderate southerly wind. Max 5-7C (41-45F).
Becoming overcast tonight with periods of rain, mainly after midnight, especially near the southern coast. Min 1-4C (34-39F).
Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, NW England: Largely dry today with broken cloud and
sunny intervals. A moderate to fresh southerly wind. Max 4-7C (39-45F).
Overcast tonight with periods of rain, heavy after midnight; watch for ?ooding.
Min 1-5C (34-41F).
4 Fair
3 Showers
3 Snow
4 Cloudy
3 Snow
4 Snow
4 Snow
3 Cloudy
4 Fair
Birmingham 10 Rain
5 Showers
6 Showers
6 Showers
4 Cloudy
5 Fair
Bristol
9 Rain
5 Showers
6 Showers
6 Showers
4 Cloudy
3 Fair
Cardiff
10 Rain
2
3
COLD
960
(28.35)
WARM
1008
(29.77)
Reykjavik
968
(28.59)
OCCLUDED FRONT
Helsinki
Stockholm
976
(28.82)
TROUGH
H
984
992
(29.29) (29.06)
1040
(30.71)
1000
(29.53)
Berlin
Paris
1032
(30.47)
1024
(30.24)
1032
(30.47)
Rome
L
1024
(30.24)
1024
(30.24)
7
5
6
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
16
17
18
20
22
SOLUTION NO. 1,162
C A L L E
A
I
L
N O N Z E
D
E
G
I O N I A
D
N
G I F T
C
N
A T F I R
M
I
I
E N D E D
R
E
O
A L L O F
19
21
23
D
M
R O
T
H
E
WR
S
S T
O
B
E
A
C
31?40?
F
87?104
26?30?
80?86
Warsaw
Athens
1040
(30.71)
5 Fair
6 Fair
3 Fair
3 Sunny
7 Snow
4 Snow
4 Snow
4 Showers
3 Cloudy
1 Fair
9 Rain
4 Showers
5 Showers
5 Fair
4 Flurry
2 Fair
Glasgow
Leeds
Liverpool
10 Rain
5 Snow
6 Snow
6 Showers
5 Rain
5 Fair
London
11 Rain
6 Fair
7 Cloudy
7 Fair
8 Fair
6 Rain
Manchester 10 Rain
5 Snow
5 Snow
4 Showers
3 Cloudy
3 Fair
Newcastle
4 Cloudy
4 Fair
4 Snow
3 Fair
4 Fair
9 Rain
Norwich
10 Rain
6 Cloudy
6 Windy
6 Rain
5 Fair
5 Fair
Oxford
11 Rain
6 Cloudy
7 Fair
6 Fair
5 Snow
3 Fair
Plymouth
11 Rain
7 Showers
8 Showers
8 Showers
6 Rain
7 Fair
Swansea
10 Rain
6 Showers
7 Showers
7 Showers
4 Rain
4 Fair
5 Cloudy
6 Fair
5 Rain
5 Rain
3 Fair
9 Rain
ABROAD YESTERDAY
癈
癈
癈
Aberdeen
6
r
Manchester 6
f
Algiers
16
f
Nairobi
26
f
Anglesey
7
r
Newcastle
6
c
Bangkok
26
f
New York
3
f
Belfast
s
8
r
Norwich
7
c
Beijing
9
s
Perth
37
Birmingham 6
c
Nottingham 6
c
Beirut
19
s
Rio de Jan
32
c
Blackpool
f
Oxford
8
c
Cairo
20
s
Riyadh
23
s
Bournem?th 8
c
Plymouth
8
r
Harare
29
f
San Fran
15
f
Brighton
7
c
Ronaldsway 7
r
Hong Kong 17
s
Santiago
27
f
Bristol
7
c
S?hampton 7
f
Istanbul
10
r
Sao Paulo
27
r
Cardiff
7
r
Scarbr?gh
5
w
Jeddah
30
s
Seychelles
28
f
Carlisle
7
c
Southport
5
c
Jerusalem
17
s
Singapore
25
r
Edinburgh
7
f
Stornoway 8
r
Jo?burg
31
s
Sydney
31
c
Exeter
6
r
Swanage
Glasgow
5
sh
Inverness
6
Jersey
Liverpool
7
6
c
Karachi
29
s
Taipei
17
f
Teignmouth 7
r
L Angeles
27
f
Tenerife
15
f
f
Tenby
5
c
Manila
30
f
Toronto
-10 f
7
f
Torquay
7
r
Miami
25
f
Vancouver
8
r
7
c
Weymouth 7
w
Mombasa
30
f
Washington 2
w
I T A D A Y
U
E
E
B E V E L
E
O
L
O R A T I O
E
W
A P P E D
A
R
R A B B I
V
I
B
R E W P U B
N
E
O
S U D D E N
ACROSS
DOWN
7 Uniform worn by menservants, chau?eurs,
etc, often part of a retinue (6)
8 Pause; discontinuity (6)
9 Wood-shaping tool (4)
10 19th century outlaw [1] (3,5)
11 Dilettante: bu? (7)
13 Upturned, as a box (2,3)
15/23 19th century outlaw [2] (5,3,3)
17 Minoan site on Crete (7)
20 One in Benedictine orders is not
alive? (anag) (8)
21 Flexible mineral found in igneous and
metamorphic rocks (4)
22 Remaining: inexperienced (6)
23 See 15
1 Crown (6)
2 Pond: simple (4)
3/14 Ba?ing or bewildering (someone) (5,2,2,5)
4/16 The Ocean State, capital Providence (5,6)
5/21 Have enough money to buy
essentials (4,4,4)
6 Fine soft plain-woven cotton fabric of
gauzy appearance (6)
12 Air, broadcast (8)
14 See 3
16 See 4
18 Family of ?owers with unusual shapes and
beautiful colours (6)
19 Read: den (5)
21 See 5
Stuck? For help call 0906 200 83 83. Calls cost �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).
Ankara
0542
New Moon
17 Jan
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
0%
50%
100%
WEATHER VIEW
Glasgow
London
Manchester
Newcastle
3
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
Plymouth
Aberdeen
Leeds
Oxford
2
2
3
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
癈 Wthr (Maximum temperature and overall condition)
Moscow
Belgrade
Madrid
7 Showers
4 Snow
EUROPE SIX-DAY FORECAST
1016
(30.00)
Pressure in millibars,
(inches in brackets)
London
4
Belfast
Birmingham
Bristol
Cardiff
1016
(30.00)
952
(28.11)
6 Showers
4 Fair
8 Snow
AIR POLLUTION
KEY
L
L
6 Showers
4 Snow
Edinburgh
Moon rises
SPEEDY CROSSWORD NO. 1,163
15
3 Showers
London
8
c
N Orleans 7
s
York
6
c
Wellington 24 f
NE England, SE Scotland, SW Scotland, NE Scotland: Broken cloud and sunny
Key: c=cloud, dr=drizzle, ds=dust storm, f=fair, fg=fog, g=gales, h=hail, m=mist, r=rain,
periods today with the odd shower early in the west. A fresh south to southsh=showers, sl=sleet, sn=snow, s=sun, th=thunder, w=windy. Forecast/readings for noon
westerly wind. Max 2-7C (36-45F). Overcast tonight with periods of rain and
snow in the mountains. Min -1 to 4C (30-39F).
SUNSET TO SUNRISE
WEATHER STATISTICS
W Isles, N Isles, NW Scotland: Overcast today with a few showers in the mornBirmingham
16.22
to
08.10
Weather last week
Weather this week
ing, then rain and mountain snow in the afternoon. A fresh south-westerly
Bristol
16.30
to
08.09
Warmest by day: Sule
London
Chance of rain
wind. Max -2 to 7C (28-45F). Overcast tonight with periods of rain and moun- Dublin
16.35
to
08.33
Skerry, Orkney Islands
Glasgow
16.15
to
08.38
(Tuesday) 13.0C
tain snow; rain will be heavy. Min -6 to 5C (21-41F).
Glasgow
Leeds
16.14
to
08.17
Coldest by night: Aonach,
Northern Ireland, Ireland: Overcast today with spells of rain in the afternoon in
Highland (Sunday) -13.0C
London
16.21
to
08.01
Wettest: Cardinham,
the north, otherwise dry. A fresh to strong south-westerly wind. Max 3-10C
Manchester
16.19
to
08.17
Dublin
Cornwall (Tuesday) 16mm
Newcastle
16.08
to
08.23
(37-50F). Overcast tonight with periods of rain and mountain snow. Min -1 to
Sunniest: Camborne,
Sun rises
0802
Moon sets 1429
8C (30-46F).
Cornwall (Sunday) 7.5hrs.
EUROPE TODAY
An area of low pressure will be o? the
coast of north-eastern Spain with periods of rain for southern France and
northern coastal Spain with mountain
snow. A weak low pressure system
will bring showers along the western
Dinaric Alps with periods of light
snow for the eastern Dinaric Alps into
western Bulgaria. Accumulation will be
several centimeters. Showers will be
across southern Italy. A warm front
will approach Scotland today with
periods of rain that will move southeastward during the overnight. Snow
will fall across the mountains. Periods
of light snow will fall across southern
Norway. A very strong area of high
pressure will be located in the Baltic
States that will bring dry and cold
weather to much of eastern Europe
into Germany and northern France.
Sat
7 Showers
癈
4
(45F)
Birmingham
5
Fri
7 Showers
Manchester
7
1012
(29.88)
Thu
Belfast
HOME YESTERDAY
(41F) Hull
MODERATE
Dublin
4
Wed
Aberdeen
York
5
Tue
癈 Weather (Maximum temperature and overall daytime weather conditions)
Orkney
996
(29.41)
1
TRAVEL | 53
WEATHER
Your forecast for the week ahead
Amsterdam
7 r
6 r
Athens
11 c
15 sh
Barcelona
6 sh
6 r
5 r
5 r
17 f
14 s
16 s
16 c
15 f
15 f
13 f
16 s
17 f
15 s
Berlin
2 f
5 r
3 c
4 r
3 sn
4 r
Copenhagen
3 c
4 r
3 c
3 r
2 r
3 c
21?25?
69?79
Geneva
7 f
8 r
5 r
7 r
5 r
6 r
16?20?
60?68
Madrid
9 f
12 f
12 f
11 s
12 f
11 f
11?15?
51?59
Oslo
-2 sn
0 c
-4 ?
-6 sn
-9 c
6?10?
42?50
Paris
9 r
10 r
7 sh
10 r
6 r
7 r
Prague
1 f
5 r
2 c
3 ?
3 c
Rome
12 f
14 w
16 sh
14 s
15 f
14 sh
Venice
6 f
5 c
8 c
8 s
9 r
8 r
1?5?
33?41
-20?0?
-4?32
0 sn
3 sn
Contestants take part in the annual show
sculpture competition in Harbin, northern China.
Forecasts and graphics provided
by AccuWeather, Inc �18
on, was
obliged to go through the motions at
CES of introducing his new Mate 10
phone, having seen planned marketing
spending of $100m and assurances of no
government interference turn to ashes.
For Huawei, it is a wearily familiar
story. Although its $75bn annual
revenues make it the world?s largest
maker of telecoms equipment, Huawei
has been repeatedly rebuffed in the
US over suspicions that its Chinese
origins make it untrustworthy. In US
politicians? eyes, the fact its founder
Ren Zhengfei was once a Red Army
officer is a stain that cannot be washed
away. Australia, too, has banned it from
providing network equipment.
But Huawei is not alone. Earlier
this month, the committee on foreign
investment in the United States
(CFIUS), which can block overseas
acquisitions, stopped Chinese ?rm
Ant Financial?s $1.2bn purchase of US
money transfer business Moneygram.
CFIUS was not convinced that US
citizens? data would be safeguarded.
Last autumn, the US Department of
Homeland Security told government
departments to stop using Kaspersky
Lab, the Moscow-based company
which provides antivirus and cybersecurity products, on the basis it was
?concerned about the ties between
certain Kaspersky officials and Russian
intelligence and other government
agencies?. It is too soon to say whether
this is a pattern under the Trump
administration, whose leader has
repeatedly said China is ripping the US
off, but then retreated from any action.
Whether the US would seek a quid
pro quo ? where Huawei might be
14.01.18
BUSINESS | 43
*
operation crumbles under debt
When private met public: the history
of a lengthy and tangled relationship
ANALYSIS
Interaction between the private and
public sectors can be a politically
charged process in the UK, not least
when the contracts that underpin
such a partnership go wrong. Here
are some recent examples of cooperation between public bodies and
private companies that have caused
controversy.
Scottish schools
A private ?nance contract to build a
series of Edinburgh schools became
a costly embarrassment after the new
buildings were found to be faulty and
one partly fell down. A report into the
deal found that the contractors had
used substandard concrete to build
the schools, all of which were considered unsafe and in need of substantial
repair. But a review by the council
found that the ?nancing behind the
Edinburgh Schools Partnership (ESP)
was not to blame. ESP is a private
?nance initiative (PFI), a popular
form of funding for projects whereby a
company pays the upfront construction
cost and is then paid back over time by
the government, which effectively pays
the constructor to lease the property.
However, the review did say there
were aspects of the way in which the
PFI methodology was implemented
that ?increased the risk of poor quality
design and construction?.
Virgin Health
Private ?rms scooped almost 70%
of the 386 contracts to run clinical
health services put out to tender
in England during 2016-17. They
Projects Carillion has been
involved with include, clockwise from top left, track
repairs for Network Rail;
Battersea Power station
redevelopment, Heathrow?s
Terminal 5 and the Beetham
tower in Manchester. Right, Virgin
Health owner Richard Branson.
Christopher Thomond, Andy Hall, PA
ing deals between the government and
private ?rms. ?We should have offered
them a management contract, because
the government can borrow more
cheaply,? he said. ?But the Treasury
doesn?t want the debt on the government?s books. So it passes the problem
to somebody else ? until it goes wrong.?
This weekend, it seemed to be going
wrong in spectacular style ? and thousands of jobs, pensions and key public
services now look to be at risk.
A 2012 House
Intelligence
Committee report
saw Huawei
banned from
selling telecoms
equipment, but not
smartphones
? until now.
Getty Images
allowed in if Google, Facebook and
Twitter can sell their services (via
advertising and social networks) inside
China ? is unclear.
The tenor of the actions, though,
seems more protectionist than bidopening. Ben Thompson, who runs
the Stratechery technology analysis
newsletter, thinks that the ChineseAmerican tensions are ?the ?rst salvo
of what is likely to be one of the biggest
stories in tech in 2018?.
included the seven highest-value
contracts, worth �43bn between
them, and 13 of the 20 most lucrative
tenders. Last year, Virgin Care, owned
by Richard Branson, sued six clinical trusts after it lost an �m bid. It
secured an out-of-court settlement.
It also went on to win �n worth of
contracts.
London Underground PPI
A series of public-private partnerships (PPPs) were signed by the last
Labour government in 2002 and 2003
to upgrade and carry out maintenance
on London?s tube network. Described
at the time by then tube boss Bob Kiley
as ?fatally ?awed?, by 2010 the process had unravelled. In exchange for
carrying out complex work on an ailing
network, the businesses behind the
contracts would receive a monthly payment that would increase or decrease
depending on whether they hit targets
for measures such as train cleanliness
and reliability of services. The process
became mired in endless rows over
costs; the biggest contractor, Metronet,
eventually went bust and the other,
Tube Lines, was bought out.
East coast rail
For the second time in a decade, the
secretary of state for transport has been
forced to bail out a private rail company
running the vital east coast mainline.
In 2009, the then Labour government
took the line under public control after
its private operator, National Express,
couldn?t pay out the �4bn promised
under the contract. The previous
holder of the franchise, GNER,
had already been stripped of the
route after its US parent ?rm was
struck by ?nancial troubles. Last
year, the government waived
the majority of payments
due under Stagecoach?s
�3bn contract to run
the London to Edinburgh
route. Whenever the
merits of rail privatisation
are debated, the east coast line
is a key argument for those in
favour of nationalisation.
Phillip Inman
CARILLION CV
History The business was built from the
construction division of Tarmac. It was
spun out of the Tarmac corporation in 1999
and then acquired several rivals, including
Mowlem and Alfred McAlpine. It also
acquired a number of Canadian businesses.
Based Wolverhampton
Employs 43,000 sta? (20,000 in the UK)
Last week?s rejection by AT&T
really matters to Huawei, because
it could drastically curtail its future.
It is already banned from selling
its telecoms equipment in the US
following a 2012 report from the US
house intelligence committee (HIC),
and had multiple takeovers blocked.
But it had hoped to make up some
ground in smartphones, which the
2012 report did not block.
Though it is the world?s thirdbiggest smartphone maker and the
biggest in China, the world?s biggest
market, growth there has slumped
with saturation: everyone who wants
one has one.
But the US, the world?s secondbiggest market, was effectively
untapped; selling through AT&T, the
carrier that originally offered the
iPhone in 2007, could have kickstarted
a new era and ful?lled Huawei?s
ambitions to overtake both Apple and
Samsung. Instead, it reaffirmed that
the old rules remain in place. Noncarrier sales in the US are less than 10%
of the overall 170m a year total, which
is part of the reason why Apple and
Samsung have 70% of the market: they
are sold by all the carriers.
The frustration for Huawei may
be ampli?ed by the success it has
had in the UK. When British officials
How the problems emerged A pro?t
warning on 10 July revealed an �5m
impairment charge in the construction
division. By the end of the summer
the shares were down more than 70%.
There were further pro?ts warnings in
September and November.
Major projects Carillion has been involved
expressed concern about Huawei
providing network equipment for
BT, on the basis that it might contain
?back doors? that would allow China
to carry out remote spying, or even
shut systems down, in November 2010
the company set up an office called
?The Cell? with oversight from GCHQ
where devices and software code could
be examined in minute detail for any
?aws. So far, that has salved concerns.
The company is not giving up,
though. In a statement after the AT&T
decision, Huawei said: ?While the
Huawei Mate 10 Pro will not be sold by
US carriers, we remain committed to
this market now and in the future.?
Yu addressed the topic directly
at that frustrating Mate 10 launch.
Standing in front of a slide reading
?Something I Want to Share?, he told
the audience that in six years the
company had gone from nothing in
terms of smartphone sales to No�globally, with more than 70爉illion
customers. Yu has previously stated
his ambition is to overtake Apple and
Samsung to become No 1.
He will have to hope that the next
six years will see Huawei overcome
the political obstacles as it overcame
technical obstacles. But ?ve years on
from the 2012 HIC report, it is clear
they are not going away.
in the construction of numerous highpro?le and prestigious projects, including
the GCHQ government communications
centre; the Beetham Tower in Manchester;
the London Olympics Media Centre; the
Rolls Building courts complex in London;
London Heathrow Terminal 5; the Library
of Birmingham; Liverpool FC?s An?eld
stadium expansion; the Battersea Power
Station redevelopment; and work on HS2.
Government contracts Include school
meals and cleaning at nearly 900 schools,
maintenance contracts at half of the UK?s
prisons, managing 200 operating theatres
and tra?c monitoring systems for the
Highways Agency.
44 | BUSINESS
*
Analysis
14.01.18
If the government doesn?t help out our high
streets, we?ll end up shopping in ghost towns
Even if bonds fall,
it?s hard to see an
end to this era
of cheap credit
BUSINESS LEADER
T
L
ife is tough for high street
retailers and likely to get
worse in 2018. That?s the clear
message following a difficult
Christmas for most shopping
chains and signals from the
banks that they aim to bring a threeyear bonanza of cheap consumer credit
to an end, or at least severely restrict its
further growth.
Supermarkets were among the
survivors as shoppers chose to spend
a few extra pounds on food to cope
with in?ation. But that meant cutbacks
elsewhere.
Clothing, shoes and furniture joined
a list of items shoppers decided they
could do without ? or, if they needed
them, they went online for a cheap deal.
Next was among the retailers to
enjoy a degree of expansion after it was
rescued by healthy online sales. Marks
& Spencer struggled to make any headway after its failure to entice customers
to its website.
If the health of the high street
depends on anyone, it is the big
discounters like Aldi and Lidl in the
supermarket wars and B&M, which
is the Primark of food shops, selling
household brands such as Kellogg?s
and Walkers at knock-down prices.
But few high streets can survive with
just discount shops to add to a smattering of charity outlets, bookies and
pawnbrokers.
Most towns vie with their neighbours to have at least one department
store on their high street or, failing
that, some national chains.
Not so long ago, when Debenhams
seemed like it would be turning up
in almost every corner of the country
with a new store, this dream appeared
to be coming true.
John Lewis was another department store that was talked about as a
candidate for aiding urban renewal in
the unlikeliest of places.
The rapid expansion of chains such
as New Look, TK Maxx and, more
recently, jeweller Pandora has helped
keep many smaller centres from looking down at heel.
Pandora has cheered up many high streets ? but now its profits are down. Photograph by Christopher Thomond for the Observer
Sadly, Debenhams had a disastrous
Christmas, as did House of Fraser, and
both have ditched any expansion plans
left over from the 2015 boom times.
Cutbacks are the order of the day. M&S
is already closing stores, mostly in
towns that shoppers have long since
started driving past.
New Look has seen sales fall, while
pro?ts at TK Maxx and Pandora
are down. John Lewis is doing well
although, like Next, all the improvement is online, not in its stores.
Soon, even more high streets outside
the big cities and successful market
towns will have a ghostly pallor.
At the root of the problem is the
decline in disposable incomes. With
in?ation at around 3% and wage rises
averaging 2.2%, households are strug-
gling to maintain their standard of living. In a post-EU referendum economy,
with uncertainty forcing companies to
delay investment, average wages don?t
look like rising strongly any time soon.
There was more bad news in the latest Bank of England study of consumer
lending. A survey of high street banks
found they were planning to severely
restrict the generosity displayed in
recent years that has pushed unsecured lending up by around 10% a year.
Credit-card balances will be cut back
and the length of interest-free periods
will be reduced. Cheap loans will be
limited to only the safest borrowers.
This move is a response to concerns
that the major banks had begun to lend
recklessly, repeating the mistakes that
led to the 2008 banking crash.
There can be no doubt that some
harsh words are welcome from the
?nancial regulator decrying bonuschasing bankers offering loans to every
Tom, Jane and Harriet.
However, they are not so welcome
if you are a shop owner or worker who
depends on consumers maintaining
their shopping habits.
MPs have largely ignored the subject
of healthy town centres, leaving the
problem to local authorities. Maybe
if more of them shopped in their
constituencies, they might notice the
changes going on.
It is possible that after another tough
year, and some more shop closures,
they might want the government to
start thinking about giving the worstaffected towns a fresh start.
Big brains of business enjoy curling up with a good book
O
n both sides of the Atlantic, book clubs have strong
associations with entertainment stars: Oprah Winfrey in
the US, for example, and Richard and
Judy in the UK. But now there is a
new genre of literary cheerleader: the
corporate燽ibliophile.
Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates
both publish reading lists and encour-
age readers to follow suit. Among the
titles recommended by both tycoons
are Yuval Noah Harari?s Sapiens
and The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Steven Pinker. The Gates and
Zuckerberg lists have won approval
from cultural peers, including the
managing director of Waterstones,
but there has been justi?ed criticism
of the apparent gender imbalance in
their reading. Books by men appear to
outweigh those by women.
Hopefully, the Facebook and
Microsoft founders will adjust their
bedtime reading piles accordingly.
That aside, it is surely a good thing
that two of the world?s most powerful
corporate ?gures are advocating the
attainment of written wisdom. Their
peers should take note. Literally.
here are some economic laws
that reassert themselves, and
some that are victims of changing
times. The likely path of borrowing costs ? that they rise in good times
and fall in bad ? is one such law that has
failed to conform to previous trends.
For 30 years now, interest rates have
been falling, making it cheaper and
cheaper to borrow money. This trend
has continued during booms and busts
on global stock markets, to which the
debt markets were previously tied. The
2008 crash accelerated the decline in
rates, but it was already well under way.
Today, central banks charge commercial lenders an almost zero rate of
interest, allowing mortgage lenders
to push loan rates down to historic
lows. Even the ?ve increases in the US
Federal Reserve?s base rates since 2015
have done nothing to alter the downward trend. US lenders, keen to win
business, have squeezed their margins
rather than pass on the higher cost of
borrowing from the Fed.
But there are several debt-market
gurus who think the latest signals from
the European Central Bank and the
central banks of Japan and China could
mark an end to this era of cheap credit.
The price of buying bonds, which
is the market?s way of packaging up
the debt issued by governments and
companies ? state and corporate borrowing, in other words ? is falling. The
interest rate ? referred to as the ?yield?
? on bonds rises as the price falls, and
last week the yield on a 10-year US government bond jumped to nearly 2.6%,
its highest level for almost a year.
If, as is being signalled, the central banks of China, Japan and the
eurozone start cutting back on their
purchases of bonds, then, the argument
runs, overall demand will fall and so
will the price: and such borrowing will
become more expensive.
But even if central banks end their
role as major bond purchasers, there
is still plenty of demand. The world?s
?nancial system is awash with money
looking for a home. Bonds remain
a popular choice ? cushioning any
potential fall in price and rise in yield.
We had a lot on our plate: Brexit was the last thing we needed
IN MY VIEW
EW
W
William
Keegan
O
ne of the many annoying
aspects of the Brexit referendum ?asco is that it has
diverted attention from so
many pressing domestic economic and
social problems.
Yet those of us who are unrepentant
Remainers still regard the struggle as
worthwhile. Brexiters may argue that
the prospect of short-term economic
damage was exaggerated during the
campaign, and, as I acknowledged in a
recent column, it was. But that this is a
case of ?so far, not so bad? is beside the
point. The damage will hit us if we go
ahead with leaving our largest market
and indulge the extreme Brexiters?
fantasy of contriving wonderful
new markets in far less important
countries from the trading point of
view ? markets, that, strangely enough,
already exist.
A point made by a number of us to
older Brexiters was, and still is, that
they were not being too mindful of
the interests of their children and
grandchildren, who have grown up
with the freedom to travel, work and
study throughout the European Union
and now see all this threatened.
But it is becoming more and more
obvious that the younger generation
are threatened not only by the prospect
of Brexit ? and I repeat, to the BBC
and others: it hasn?t happened yet! ?
but by an accumulation of economic
problems, epitomised by the depleted
condition of so many public services.
And not only the younger generation.
It seems to be widely accepted
that the referendum result was to a
considerable extent a protest vote
against the economic and social
problems ? housing, the health service,
social care, transport, you name it ?
that have resulted from neglect by
successive governments, and were
undoubtedly aggravated by the banking
crisis and post-crisis austerity.
Now, among my older friends who
are concerned about the state of the
nation now, and the prospects for
young and old alike, is the Cambridge
economist Robert Neild, who, at the
age of 93, is as sharp as ever.
Robert was chief economic adviser
to the Treasury in the 1960s ? repeat,
the 1960s ? and has seen a thing or
two. In a recent paper he has argued
forcefully that many of this country?s
problems with public services stem
from the simple fact that those services
are woefully underfunded.
Thus the ?tax take? in this country
amounts to 35% of gross domestic
product, whereas the average in the
European Union I still hope we won?t
leave is 40%. He points out that, since
public spending amounts to a third of
GDP, an increase in the tax take here to
the European average would ?nance a
14% increase in public spending, and
provide the wherewithal to answer all
those critics whose standard response
to any suggestion of higher public
spending is ?where is the money
coming from??.
At which 
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