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The Observer 17 December 2017

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MAGAZINE
THE NEW REVIEW
THOSE WE LOST IN 2017
John Hurt, Anita Pallenberg,
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Darcuss Howe and more
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www.observer.co.uk
Sunday 17 December 2017 �00
Call off Brexit
bullies or face
defeat, Tory
peers tell May
Is the Disney
y sale
his ?nal act??
PAGE 46 �
DECISION DAY
Party rebellion ?will spread to Lords?
? Attack on ?appalling? insults, threats
?
by Toby Helm and Michael Savage
1 2 A
*
Theresa May is warned today by Tory
peers that she will face a string of parliamentary defeats over Europe in the
House of Lords if she tries to ?bully?
members of the second chamber into
backing an extreme form of Brexit.
After 11 Conservative MPs joined
opposition parties to in?ict a humiliating
loss on the government last week, Tory
grandees are warning that the spirit of
rebellion will spread to the Lords unless
May shows she respects parliament and
decisively rejects those with ?extreme
views? in her own party.
Writing in the Observer, two Tory
peers, the former pensions minister Ros
Altmann and Patience Wheatcroft, a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph, say
they are appalled at the insults heaped
by hardline Brexit ers on MPs who
voted with their consciences, and at the
?strong-arm? tactics of the Tory whips.
They say it is vital to democracy that
parliamentarians are given the right to
assess the Brexit deal on behalf of the
British people without being threatened
or bullied, and suggest that the aggression of Tory party managers has helped
create a ?toxic atmosphere?, not only in
parliament but across the UK.
Altmann and Wheatcroft write: ?The
resulting appalling insults from Brexiters, calls for expulsion from the party,
and even death threats, are worrying
symptoms of the toxic atmosphere
which has been created in our country.?
They add: ?There are many moderate
Conservatives in both Houses who are
deeply concerned that some in our party
are so desperate to leave the EU, with or
without a deal, that they believe any cost
is justi?ed to bring Brexit. They maintain
?freedom is priceless? but this extreme
view does not re?ect public opinion.?
The two peers say Conservative members of the House of Lords, in which
there was a large pro-Remain majority,
will not take kindly to being told by the
Tory whips and the executive what to
think about Brexit and how to vote.
?Mindful of the monumental importance for future generations of getting
Brexit right, the Lords is unlikely to be
receptive to bullying over a restricted
timetable or vigorous whipping to toe
the party line,? they say.
?The people voted to ?take back control? but that has to mean control by parliament... It is parliament that must have
the ?nal say on whether the deal that is
negotiated ... is in the UK?s best interests.?
Labour?s former deputy leader Harriet Harman is to raise serious concerns in the Commons tomorrow about
ON OTHER PAGES
Outnumbered, defeated ... where next
for the hardline Brexiters? 24-25
Andrew Rawnsley Comment, 35
death threats issued against Tory MPs
who rebelled last week. Harman said
the atmosphere had been created by a
combination of the Brexit debate, social
media and pro-Brexit newspapers.
?We have to show that we do not think
it is right that people are afraid to vote
in parliament ... because they are afraid
they will face death threats,? she said. It
was up to everyone with responsibility ?
including internet service providers ? to
think about how they can work together
to preserve the democratic system.
The Tory MP Sarah Wollaston, one of
the 11 Tory rebels, has tweeted that she
has received ugly threats and said the
Daily Mail, which described the rebels
Continued on page 7
Winnie Mandela, former wife of the late president Nelson Mandela, with President Jacob Zuma, left, and his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa
at the ANC national conference in Johannesburg yesterday (Dispatch, page 4). Photograph by Mujahid Safodien/AFP/Getty
Automatic pension enrolment to start at 18
by Toby Helm
Political Editor
Young people aged 18 to 21 who are
earning �,000 or more will have to be
automatically enrolled into workplace
pension schemes for the ?rst time to
help them save for retirement, under
plans to be announced by ministers
tomorrow.
The extension of automatic
enrolment to teenagers and those in
their early 20s is seen as increasingly
necessary as life expectancy grows
and the length of time people spend in
retirement increases.
The move also re?ects concerns
within the Tory party that it has to do
more for the prospects of young voters
? who are struggling to make ends
meet, let alone save for retirement.
With housing costs rising, real
wages falling and many burdened
with student debt, employers are
being increasing called upon to help
young workers build pensions for the
future. David Gauke, the work and
pensions secretary, said last night:
?For an entire generation of people,
workplace爌ension saving is the
new爊ormal.
?And my mission now is to make
sure the next generation of younger
READ ONLINE
David Gauke explains his policy at
theguardian.com/uk/commentisfree
workers have the same opportunities.
We are committed to enabling more
people to save while they are working,
so that they can enjoy greater ?nancial
security when they retire.?
When the modern state pension
was introduced in 1948, a 65-yearold could expect to spend 13.5 years
receiving the state payment ? 23% of
their adult life. In 2017 a 65-year-old
can now expect to live for another
22.8 years, or 33.6% of their adult life.
Currently, unless an employee actively
opts out of the auto-enrolment
system, employers have to enrol any
worker aged 22 or over, and who is
earning over 10,000 a year, into an
approved scheme. Ministers now
want to legislate to reduce the age at
which enrolment starts to 18.
The changes, to be announced by
Gauke this week, will mean around
900,000 young people in the workforce
will soon ?nd themselves saving into a
workplace pension.
At present, employers must contribute 1.0% of an employee?s qualifying
earnings while employees pay in 0.8%
of earnings, although they enjoy the
bene?t of tax relief on contributions.
Explaining the changes in an article
on theguardian.com, Gauke says:
?Since 2012, automatic enrolment
has brought millions of people into a
workplace pension for the ?rst time,
Continued on page 8
INSIDE > WEATHER THIS SECTION PAGE 49 | CROSSWORDS SPEEDY, THIS SECTION PAGE 49; EVERYMAN, PAGE 40 + AZED, PAGE 41 IN THE NEW REVIEW
4 | NEWS
*
17.12.17
Magdalene Masifako outside her
home, where a blue plaque honours
Charlotte Maxeke, South Africa?s ?rst
black woman graduate. Photograph
by James Oatway for the Observer
Dispatch Kliptown
Inside the hall the ANC is deciding its future.
Outside 50 million are still waiting for change
While delegates gather in Johannesburg to
choose a new leader, people in a historic part
of Soweto grow impatient for life to improve
Jason
Burke
In Kliptown, morning comes early. By
six o?clock, the South African summer
sun is sending long shadows across the
railway tracks, smoke is rising from the
piles of ?aming garbage, tinny gospel
is blaring from a sound system, men
are already drinking and Magdalene
Masifako is cleaning her front step.
The 49-year-old part-time cleaner
was born when the repressive apartheid regime was at its strongest and
moved into her small two-bedroom
home 23 years ago ? the year white
rule ended and the African National
Congress (ANC), led by Nelson
Mandela, came to power.
Since then, her husband has disappeared and her son has grown up,
presidents have come and gone, and
free South Africa?s early dreams have
soured, but little has changed in her
part of Kliptown.
?We only ever see the politicians
when they come looking for votes. The
big important ones, we only ever see
them on TV. Even Mandela ? he knew
about us and he didn?t change life
here,? she says.
A short drive away, all those ?big?
politicians are meeting in South
Africa?s biggest conference hall. Since
dawn, coaches have been pulling up
outside the sprawling Nasrec centre
bringing 5,000 members of the ANC
together for the national elective conference, held every ?ve years.
They have come from every corner
of the country ? Limpopo, Free State,
KwaZulu-Natal ? to elect a new leader.
In the main hall, in the crowded car
parks, on sale in the makeshift market outside, there are ?ags, posters,
T-shirts and banners, all in the green,
black and gold of the party.
But beyond the colours of the party
the delegates share little; the ANC
is deeply divided. The run-up to the
conference was marred by ?st?ghts,
insults and multiple legal challenges as
factions scrapped for advantage.
The stakes are as high as they have
ever been. The choice made by the
conference will determine not just the
leader of the party but, given the ANC?s
declining but still substantial electoral
dominance, the next president of South
Africa too. The votes over this weekend
will chart the course of the ?Rainbow
Nation? over coming decades.
The ?ght to replace Jacob Zuma, the
incumbent ANC leader, pits his ex-wife
and party stalwart Nkosazana DlaminiZuma against Cyril Ramaphosa, deputy
president and wealthy businessman.
The results may be known as soon as
this morning.
The contrast between the two
candidates is dramatic. ?There is a real
choice here. This is not just about two
people but about two very different
styles of governance,? says Anthony
Butler, professor of politics at the
University of Cape Town.
Ramaphosa, 65, is personable in
public and is the favourite of reformers who prefer a moderate, socially
responsible capitalist model. He has
much support among the new middle
class, while overseas investors see the
former union leader with celebrated
negotiating skills as more likely to
boost South Africa?s ?agging economy.
Dlamini-Zuma is distant and
uncharismatic, a traditionalist who
promises radical measures to redis-
tribute wealth in this deeply unequal
country and has much support in rural
areas. ?She is going to take the money
back from the whites and give it to the
people who deserve it. She hasn?t been
bought out by white monopoly capitalism,? says Neville Delport, a delegate at
the conference from Western Cape.
In Kliptown, as in many urban
zones, support is solidly behind
Ramaphosa. With unemployment as
high as 50% among young people, job
creation is of huge importance.
?I am a revolutionary. I have led
marches, strikes. This is a revolutionary neighbourhood. But only Cyril
[Ramaphosa] is talking about creating
work for people, about opportunities for black people to get rich,? says
George Mokhala, a 35-year-old selfstyled community leader.
Few in Kliptown are unaware of its
long history of struggle against prejudice, poverty and oppression. This was
where the ANC adopted the Freedom
Charter at a mass rally in 1955, affirm-
?Young people don?t
know about what the
ANC has done for us
? everything is better.
You can?t compare?
Pastor Harry Matapedi, above
ing its belief in a multiracial, democratic South Africa.
The neighbourhood is part of the
urban sprawl of Soweto, site of the
famous uprising of 1976 and massive
violence in the 1980s as the apartheid regime sought to crush growing
protests. Ramaphosa, the son of a
policeman, grew up here and was twice
imprisoned for his activism.
The roads in much of Kliptown are
still dirt, as they were when Magdalene
Masifako ?rst moved in to her small
home, and there are no drains. Stolen
electricity ?ows through a tangle of
thick cables.
From the railway footbridge which
links Masifako?s small neighbourhood
to the rest of Kliptown, new developments are visible: a hotel, a distant
mall, concrete pillars commemorating
the reading of the Freedom Charter,
the skyscrapers of Johannesburg just a
few miles away.
Last year the municipality put up a
blue plaque on the wall of her home.
It describes an illustrious former resident: Charlotte Maxeke, the ?rst black
South African woman to get a university degree and the founder of a precursor of the ANC?s Women?s League.
Since then, the rare tour guides who
lead their charges into Kliptown have
made her home part of their itineraries.
Name
here
who are locals. ?They
Few of
the visitors
are all from overseas ? usually Europe
or the US. The white south Africans
don?t come here. They think they will
get robbed. But it?s not true. The gates
of Kliptown are open. But they are
building new walls, in their heads,?
said Ntokozo Dube, a local guide.
The scars of apartheid remain livid.
Many younger people blame the ANC
for ?selling out? in 1994, saying that the
party should have done more to redistribute wealth. Some even argue that
there were more jobs available under
racist white rule.
Harry Matapedi, the local seventh
day adventist pastor, says those people
do not know what they are talking
about. ?The young people don?t know
how it was then ? they don?t know
about what the ANC has done for us
Pul quote 16 on 17
dummy here to ?ll on
?ve or six lines
dummy to go here
?ve or six lines
all. Everything is much better. You cannot compare. But our democracy is still
young. There were hundreds of years
of oppression and then all of a sudden
it had gone. People are still getting used
to that,? Matapedi, 65, says.
Yesterday Jacob Zuma announced
massive state funding to allow most
South Africans free university education ? a promise which ful?ls a key
demand of young people but will place
a huge strain on public ?nances.
The bid to win over the youth vote
is an understandable political strategy
for a leader whose years in power have
seen multiple corruption scandals and
a widespread sense of betrayal among
the two-thirds of the population which
is under 35, as well as veterans of the
anti-apartheid struggle.
Tokyo Sexwale, who was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela in the
1980s and was once seen as a presidential candidate before making a
career as a successful businessman,
said that the plight of the party was
?depressing?.
?No right-thinking person who loves
the ANC could be happy at where we
are now,? says Sexwale, a non-voting
delegate at the conference. ?We are living on hope. We have to come together
here, make the right decision for 50
million South Africans. If we fail, the
lights will go out one after another for
the ANC.?
The people of Kliptown will be
watching the announcement of the
results of the leadership vote on televisions running off their illegal power
connections ? in the makeshift bars, at
home, or in the street.
Bobby Mbecheng, a 33-year-old
security guard who earns a 150 rand
(� daily wage, will be working in a
car park under Kliptown?s Freedom
Square, where the famous charter
was爎ead.
?These politicians are ?ghting each
other, eating each other like dogs. I am
trying to earn enough for my family
to have some dinner,? he says. ?I want
a leader who can help me, wipe my
tears, say: ?No Bobby, don?t cry, there is
freedom.??
17.12.17
NEWS | 5
*
Revealed: sketches that show inspiration
for Banksy?s ?alternativity? in Bethlehem
Artist?s one-o? show
will feature in BBC
documentary tonight,
directed by Danny
Boyle, writes Emma
Graham-Harrison
The traditional stage is familiar from
thousands of primary school Christmas celebrations. Mary kneeling by a
manger, angels with haloes on sticks, a
diminutive king with an outsize crown.
But behind the actors and audience
loom the menacing concrete slabs of a
vast barrier wall, and the spotlights of
the stage are augmented by searchlights
from a watchtower housing snipers and
machine guns.
The sketch, published exclusively in
the Observer, is part of the latest Palestinian territories project by Banksy, the
anonymous but ubiquitous street artist
who has spent more than a decade travelling to both the West Bank and Gaza
to make art and occasionally stir up
controversy.
This Christmas, he teamed up with
the Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle
and Palestinian Riham Isaac to stage a
nativity play in the shadow of Bethlehem?s barrier wall, the type of playful
but highly political art that has become
his trademark.
The one-off performance of an ?alternativity?, with angels who send their
tidings of great joy through text message rather than personal visitations,
was watched mostly by local families
and journalists.
But a documentary about the project
will run on BBC2 this evening, bringing
a much larger audience for the play and
the questions it raises about what the
Christmas message of peace means in a
region mired in con?ict.
Banksy rarely talks about the motivation behind his work but the sketch of
the stage, and a series of other images
shown here for the ?rst time, give some
clues to his inspiration and the evolution
of his artistic plans.
One set shows how he planned a
prominent new artwork for the wall.
The ?rst is just jottings on a photograph,
showing his ?rst thoughts on location
and shape; then a pencil sketch on tracing paper gives a better sense of the
design, two cherubs trying to prise apart
concrete panels with a crowbar.
In the ?nal piece, one angel hides its
face behind a bandana, and the other
wears a beanie. They ?oated just over
the mock security gate that the audience
had to pass through for the evening?s
show, after the Palestinian co-director
asked for Banksy to replace a looming
Trump mural.
In another black-and-white sketch,
a shepherd stands outside his modest
hut, gazing at a sprawling maze and the
looming barrier wall that hides his destination, a small mosque.
It is perhaps a nod to the many daily
frustrations and humiliations of life in
the Palestinian territories, where the
wall is just the most obvious physical
manifestation of the restrictions the
BORDER LINES
Two cherubs take a crowbar to the concrete barrier wall in Bethlehem (main picture). Above, sketches showing the evolution of the Bristol artist?s one-off retelling of the
Christmas story showing the indignities and restrictions faced by the town?s Palestinian residents. Images by www.banksy.co.uk
The documentary is
honest about local
ambivalence towards
Banksy, his hotel and
his latest project on
the West Bank
residents face, which Boyle explores in
the ?lm.
In a third drawing, tourists stream
out of buses into the nearby Church of
the Nativity, turning their backs on the
wall ? and the Walled Off hotel Banksy
opened beside it. A ?nal map shows borders of Gaza and the West Bank replaced
by barrier walls.
Banksy convinced Boyle to fly out
to Bethlehem to direct the play, probably one of the smallest productions the
Slumdog Millionaire director has worked
on in decades. The Bristol-born artist
presumably hoped that the combination of his name, Boyle?s reputation and
the unusual nativity show itself would
attract the kind of viewers who would
not normally settle down to an hour-long
programme about the Israel-Palestine
con?ict on a Sunday evening.
Whatever his reasons for taking part,
Boyle was an inspired choice. Engaging
and honest about how little he knows
about the region, he takes the viewer
with him on an exploration of the restrictions and indignities of life in Bethlehem
and other parts of the West Bank.
The documentary is also honest
about Palestinian ambivalence towards
Banksy, his hotel and his latest project,
which stops it from feeling like part
of the vast publicity machine that has
turned the artist into a virtual industry.
At the start of their collaboration,
Isaac warns Boyle that they may struggle
to ?nd actors, or even an audience, for
the play. Palestinians find the barrier
menacing and try to stay away, and parents worry about spending an evening
near a wall whose very existence some
have tried to hide from their younger
children.
Just before the performance, Banksy
left another Christmas message on a
doorway nearby. ?Peace on Earth?, with
a Christmas star beside it, noting that
?terms and conditions apply?.
Gaza crowds mourn Palestinian amputee killed in anti-Trump demo
Funeral held for Ibrahim
Abu Thuraya, shot dead
in wheelchair by Israelis
by Peter Beaumont
Jerusalem
The funeral has taken place of a
Palestinian wheelchair-user who
was shot dead on Friday during a
demonstration in the Gaza Strip
against Donald Trump?s recognition of
Jerusalem as Israel?s capital.
The death of Ibrahim Abu Thuraya,
29, came as US officials again pre-
empted negotiations over the disputed
city?s ?nal status. ?We cannot envision
any situation under which the Western
Wall would not be part of Israel,? a
senior official said.
Photographs showed the body of the
former ?sherman being carried on a
stretcher through Gaza City during his
funeral yesterday. Abu Thuraya, who
lost his legs in an Israeli airstrike in
2008, was one of four Palestinians to die
in clashes with Israeli security forces on
Friday in Gaza and the West Bank.
The Israeli military said it had ?red
?selectively towards main instigators?
of the protest in which Abu Thuraya
was reportedly hit, and that it was
investigating the circumstances of
Mourners carry the body of Ibrahim Abu
Thuraya through Gaza City on Saturday.
his燿eath. The Palestinian health
ministry con?rmed in a statement that
Abu Thuraya and Yasser Sokhar, 31,
were shot in the head in Gaza during
clashes with Israeli soldiers. According
to photographs and witness accounts,
Abu Thuraya had been pushed to the
fence in his wheelchair, before leaving
the chair and attempting to crawl
further forward.
Video footage from after he was
shot showed him being pushed back,
slumped in his chair, surrounded
by other shouting protesters. Two
days before his death he told a
video interviewer that he had been
protesting against the US decision.
?This land is our land. We are not going
to give up. America has to withdraw
the declaration it has made,? he said.
The Israeli military said about
3,500 Palestinians had demonstrated
near the Gaza border fence on Friday.
?During the violent riots IDF [Israel
Defence Force] soldiers ?red selectively
towards main instigators,? it said in a
statement. A military spokeswoman had
no immediate comment on the death of
Abu Thuraya, who was a regular at such
demonstrations.
In another deadly incident in
Ramallah on Friday, a Palestinian
wearing what appeared to be a suicide
belt stabbed and lightly wounded an
Israeli border police officer before
being shot and killed.
6 | NEWS
*
?Make schools pay ?ne? for
illegally excluding pupils
Governors who
abandon children
with special needs
must be punished,
charity tells ministers
by Michael Savage
Policy Editor
Ministers are being urged to fine
schools that are informally excluding
poorly performing pupils, amid mounting evidence that some institutions are
attempting to game the exam system.
Hundreds of cases of children being
removed from schools on tenuous and
potentially illegal grounds have been
reported to a charity offering legal advice
to parents. Experts blame the rise of socalled ?off-rolling? on schools that are
under pressure to improve performance.
Children with special educational
needs and disabilities are thought to be
the most affected by the informal methods designed to move them out of a school
without recording their departure燼s an
official exclusion. With pressure mounting on the Department for Education to
act, Anne Long?eld, the children?s commissioner for England, said some schools
were ?abandoning their responsibility? to
17.12.17
Vulnerable children
are falling through
the gaps in the
system, increasing
the chances that
they will then go on
to lead difficult
adult lives.
Photograph by
Barry Batchelor/
PA
give a decent education to their children.
She told the Observer it was ?increasingly clear that some schools are gaming
the system by taking children they think
won?t get good results off their rolls before
they sit their exams. Any school that does
this is abandoning their responsibility to
children, passing the buck to others who
are often ill-equipped and don?t have the
support they need to provide a good education. As a result, very vulnerable children are falling through the gaps in the
system, increasing the chances they will
then go on to lead difficult adult lives.
?I will be calling on the government to
set out what measures it will take, including looking at the possibility of ?nancial
penalties for schools, to ensure this practice stops now.?
Last week Amanda Spielman, the
Ofsted chief, described off-rolling as ?an
invidious example of where schools have
lost sight of the purpose of education?.
Richard Oldershaw, senior legal consultant of the Child Law Advice Service
(CLAS), run by the charity Coram, said:
?According to Department for Education data, the rate of schools exclusions
has stayed roughly the same since 2010.
However, evidence from CLAS suggests
the number of children excluded from
schools is likely to be signi?cantly higher
than this ?gure as unofficial or unlawful
exclusions by schools are not recorded in
government data.
?In the last 20 months, CLAS advised
about schools exclusions in 1,704 calls. In
a quarter of the calls relating to primary
schools, the adviser concluded that the
school may have acted unlawfully, either
by not complying with procedures or
?Some schools are
taking children they
think won?t get good
results o? their rolls
before they sit exams?
Anne Long?eld, commissioner
,
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because it did not adequately consider
the child?s special educational needs. An
exclusion may be necessary, if regrettable,
but an exclusion must be undertaken in a
fair and transparent manner.?
Research last year by the Education
Datalab thinktank found that 125 schools
would see GCSE pass rates drop by at least
?ve percentage points if they included
children who had left early. It identi?ed
a group of almost 20,000 children who
leave the rolls of mainstream secondary
schools, with only 6% recorded as achieving ?ve good GCSEs.
The Observer has been contacted by
several people claiming they are aware of
children being unfairly excluded in ways
that are not captured by official ?gures.
One child psychologist said they had
come across an ?astonishing? case in a
south-east comprehensive.
The student, currently living in care,
was excluded on a second warning without any consultation with their support
team in the first month following the
takeover of a school deemed to be failing.
The student was subjected to a so-called
?managed move? and shifted to a pupil
referral unit, where other students at
the unit were walking out of lessons and
insulting teachers. Repeated attempts to
meet the leadership at the pupil?s original
school were ignored.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said that an independent review
of exclusions was under way. ?Any decision to exclude should be lawful, reasonable and fair,? she said.
?While exclusion can be used as
a sanction for schools to deal with
poor behaviour, permanent exclusion
should only be used as a last resort, in
response to a serious breach, or persistent breaches, of the school?s behaviour
policy, and where allowing the pupil to
remain in school would seriously harm
the education or welfare of the pupil or
others. We will be launching an externally led review aimed at improving
practice in exclusions.?
ON OTHER PAGES
The inspection system is part of the
problem for schools
Letters, Comment 38
17.12.17
NEWS | 7
*
Butchers carve out a niche as shoppers opt
for indie stores to create their festive feasts
New survey shows
that we?re getting
more of our turkey,
beef and salmon from
local retailers, reports
Rebecca Smithers
David Lishman is taking a ?nal customer
order for his premium whole turkey.
In the trade it is known as New Yorkdressed, which means it is dry-plucked
and then left to hang with head, feet and
guts intact.
?It allows the bird to mature and
develop extra flavour,? the butcher
explains. ?It?s worth it for the taste,
which is exactly the opposite of massproduced, factory-produced turkeys
sold by the supermarkets.?
Lishman is one of thousands of independent local retailers up and down the
UK relying on the annual pre-Christmas trade to help them survive against
increasingly stiff competition from
supermarkets and internet providers.
This year Lishman ? owner of Lishman?s
butchers in the West Yorkshire town of
Ilkley ? can perhaps be buoyed by ?gures
that suggest more shoppers plan to head
to their local high street for their Christmas food.
Research for the digital marketing
agency Wunderman , conducted by
YouGov, found that half of the 2,000
British shoppers surveyed will shop
at places they don?t usually do so for
Christmas, that they are planning to
steer clear of online retailers and that
the biggest winners will be independent
butchers and ?shmongers. These were
followed by Christmas markets, independent bakers and farm shops.
The ?ndings will be well received in
Ilkley where, over three decades, eight
local butchers have dwindled to three ?
including Lishman?s ? since the arrival
of most of the major supermarkets.
?Let?s say we have had to change
our sails to accommodate the wind,?
says Lishman, who is national vicechairman of the Q Guild of butchers,
a group of more than 120 of the ?nestquality independent meat
at retailers in
Britain. ?We can?t compete
ete with the
supermarkets with their fancy, expensive brochures and advertising,
tising, but
we do offer top quality and value
for爉oney.?
He continues: ?Christmas
mas is
hugely important to us comommercially and the two weeks
ks
before it account for 10% of
our total turnover. We do
o
have customers that onlyy
come at Christmas but wee
Butcher Danny
Lidgate, above,
displays a goose
covered in edible
gold leaf, available
only for Christmas.
Left and below:
popular seasonal
centrepieces
include pheasant
and lobster.
Photographs by
Simon Jacobs,
Alamy
are delighted to see them [rather] than
not at all.?
Danny Lidgate owns C Lidgate, a
butchers in Notting Hill Gate, west London. He admits he is disappointed when
shoppers visit only for their Christmas
meats but says: ?The general retail trade
is tough. We would encourage consumers to get to know their butcher, as they
are a wealth of advice and can even help
you save money.?
Charles Clewlow of H Clewlow
Butchers in Nantwich, Cheshire, says
that at Christmas he sells a lot of beef
?Tinpot? Brexit thinktank is
accused of in?ating status
Companies House to
investigate use of the
word ?institute? in title
by Michael Savage
Policy Editor
A hard Brexit-supporting thinktank
faces being forced to change its name
or pay a ?ne after describing itself as an
?institute? without permission.
Use of the title is protected by law
and reserved for established organisations ?that typically undertake research
at the highest level, or are professional
bodies of the highest standing?. It can
only be used after permission has been
granted by Companies House and Greg
Clark, the business secretary.
However, it has emerged that the
Institute for Free Trade (IFT), which
has already become the thinktank of
choice for some leading Brexiters,
is facing an inquiry by Companies
House after adopting the term without
permission. The development is an
embarrassment for Daniel Hannan, the
Tory Eurosceptic MEP who set up the
organisation. Hannan has advocated a
Singapore-style Brexit that would see
the UK become a low-tax, low-regulation country to attract more business.
The IFT had already attracted controversy after Boris Johnson, the foreign secretary, allowed its launch event
to take place in the Foreign Office. The
public meeting took place in the FCO?s
Map Room. Guests included leading
cabinet Brexiters Johnson, Michael
Gove and Liam Fox.
The registered company name
for the IFT avoids using the word
?institute?, instead calling itself the
Initiative for International Trade Ltd.
However, Companies House said any
company that was trading under the
title needed permission. It said it was
aware of the IFT?s use of the term and
would be contacting the company.
?It is an offence to use a sensitive
word set out in regulations in a busi-
ness name without the prior approval
of the secretary of state,? a spokeswoman said. ?The offence is committed by the company and every officer
of the company. The person(s) guilty of
an offence is liable to a ?ne.?
Hannan and the IFT were contacted
for comment on Friday, but had not
responded at the time of publication.
Chris Bryant, a Labour MP and supporter of the pro-Remain Open Britain
group, said: ?Hannan, Johnson and all
those involved in the IFT have some
very serious questions to answer. The
word ?institute? is rightly reserved for
the use of serious organisations of long
standing ? not some tinpot hard Brexit
thinktank. Using the word in breach
of the rules shows utter disrespect
for the many institutes in our country
that conduct thoughtful public policy
research.?
A spokeswoman for the IFT said:
?Established as a not-for-pro?t earlier
in the year, the IFT now has a registered office and permanent staff, and is
taking advice from Companies House
regarding the trading name of IFT.?
ON OTHER PAGES
Outnumbered, defeated ? where
next for the hardline Brexiters?
In Focus, 24-25
rib and pork, as well as turkey. ?We ?nd
people bring in their recipes and ask for a
cut to be prepared in a certain way. This
service isn?t something you get outside
of a butcher?s shop.?
Hundreds of miles away in Devon,
Nick Legg of the Fish Deli in Ashburton
is preparing for what he describes as ?a
week of madness? as locals stock up with
fish and shellfish for their Christmas
feast. ?We have good year-round trade,?
he says, ?and then I see a lot of people at
Christmas I wouldn?t normally see, who
might be feeling a bit guilty.?
He is expecting to sell high volumes
of RSPCA Assured salmon, fresh lobster
from Cornwall and native oysters from
Falmouth or Colchester ? along with
?sh-pie mix, ?loads of smoked salmon?
and scallops, turbot and sea bass for the
Christmas centrepiece.
Shoppers who don?t have a local
greengrocer can support independent
vegetable growers by opting for a box
delivery service, from suppliers such as
Abel & Cole. It reports that 3,000 new
customers have placed a Christmas
order this year.
?One of the things our customers love
is that we wholeheartedly support small
suppliers and producers and help them
reach a broader market,? says Hannah
Shipton, managing director of Abel &
Cole. ?This year, our Christmas range is
made up of 45 of our suppliers.?
Pip Hulbert, the chief executive of
Wunderman UK, which put together
the festive retail report, says that people
turn to local shops at Christmas when
they are prepared to spend a bit more
on the best food and drink they can ?nd.
?It?s no surprise that specialist shops,
like butchers and bakers, are a popular
choice when shoppers have told us that
a major gripe at this time of the year is
poor customer service.?
Hulbert believes that supermarkets
could learn a lot from specialist retailers. ?Our research revealed that the biggest improvements shoppers want to
see are for stores to recruit more staff,
to爌rovide an online stock checker and
to offer more information about seasonal services.?
Back in Ilkley, Lishman is expecting
to sell 300-400 whole turkeys over the
Christmas period, though crowns and
boneless breasts that need no carving
are now more popular.
?Customers want short cuts and convenience, so now we make everything
from the pigs in blankets through to
ready-made stuffing,? he says. ?We do
all that and we do it very well.?
Tory peers warn May: Don?t
bully House of Lords on Brexit
Continued from page 1
as ?self-consumed malcontents? after
the vote, should think about the consequences of its actions and tone.
The Brexit withdrawal bill will head
to the House of Lords in the new year.
While peers will not seek to block or
delay Brexit, there is a growing view
that if the kind of cross-party co-operation that was achieved by opponents
of hard Brexit in the Commons is
repeated, they can push the lower
house?s change into a series of modi?cations to the bill. MPs say that the
Lords is likely to feel more emboldened
to ?ex its muscles because the government was defeated last week.
Labour peer Andrew Adonis said
last night: ?The withdrawal bill will
have a nightmare passage through
the Lords. We respect the fact that it
passed the Commons, so won?t reject
the principle of withdrawal. Our job is
to make withdrawal compatible with
the government?s own promises which
? even with the latest changes ? still
aren?t satis?ed in respect of a ?meaningful vote? on the ?nal terms, ?no hard
border? in Ireland and the rights of EU
citizens in the UK.
?We are facing the biggest con?ict in
the Lords since Irish Home Rule before
the ?rst world war.?
Another Tory peer, Charles Powell,
Margaret Thatcher?s former foreign
policy adviser, said he believed division
in the Tory party over Europe ran so
deep that it was ?more or less bound to
split at some point?.
He added there was more support
for a second referendum on Brexit in
the Lords than the Commons. ?There
is even less support in the Lords for
Brexit than in the Commons and they
will contest all those clauses contested
in the Commons. It can hardly not be
clear to the Lords that this was in the
manifesto and endorsed in a referendum and the case for the non-elected
house making an attempt that could
be seen as derailing it beyond what the
Commons does is not likely to go down
well in public opinion.?
8 | NEWS
*
Two-tier social care sees
elderly and poor lose out
17.12.17
CRIMSON TIDE
Council funding cuts have dramatically reduced help in deprived areas
Older people in England?s most deprived
areas are twice as likely to lack the help
they need for basic acts, like using the
toilet or taking medicine, compared with
those in the richest neighbourhoods,
according to ?gures that expose gross
inequalities in access to social care.
The official analysis is another sign
that years of cuts have damaged the ability of councils in poor areas to meet the
growing demand for care, potentially
putting signi?cant pressure on the NHS.
It comes on the back of the crisis over
social care that is still unresolved. There
have been a series of warnings about a
multibillion-pound funding black hole
and increasingly severe consequences
for the health service.
A third of men aged 65 and over in
the most deprived areas (33%) have an
unmet need for at least one so-called
?activity of daily living?, such as washing their face and hands or getting out
of bed. In the least deprived areas the
?gure falls to 15%. Meanwhile, 42% of
women over 65 in the most deprived
areas have an unmet need for at least
one such activity, compared with 22% of
their counterparts in the richest areas.
The inequalities were exposed in the
latest data from the official Health Survey for England. It used information on
income, employment, education, health,
crime, housing and living environment
to find the most and least deprived
neighbourhoods. Local authorities
with the highest proportion of deprived
neighbourhoods are in Middlesbrough,
Knowsley, Hull, Liverpool and Manchester.
A series of factors have led to poor
areas finding themselves at the sharp
end of the care crisis. Demand for help is
higher in more deprived areas, while the
councils catering for them have suffered
the most from central government cuts
and are the least able to raise extra funds.
The knock-on effects for the NHS see
elderly patients end up in hospital unnecessarily, while they cannot be discharged
unless they have adequate community
care in place. Among men, 30% in the
poorest third of households needed help
with an activity of daily living (ADL),
compared with 14% in the highest income
Izzi Seccombe, of
the Local Government Association,
predicts a funding
gap of �3bn for
adult care by 2020.
group. Among women, the need for such
help was 30% among the poorest third
and 20% in the highest third.
There is a growing army of unpaid
helpers, such as family and friends, propping up the system. Around two-thirds
of adults aged 65 and over, who had
received help for daily activities in the
past month, had only received this from
unpaid helpers, the ?gures revealed.
Spending on adult social care by local
authorities fell from �.4bn in 2009-10
to just under �bn in 2015-16, according
to the respected King?s Fund. It represents a real-terms cut of 8%. It estimates
there will be an estimated social care
funding gap of �1bn by 2019-20.
While an extra �n was provided
for social care over two years, a huge
gap remains after the latest budget
failed to address the issue. Theresa
May was forced to abandon plans to ask
the elderly to help pay for social care
through the value of their homes, after
it was blamed for contributing to her disastrous election result. The government
has promised to bring forward some new
proposals by the summer, but many Tory
MPs and Conservative-run councils are
desperate for faster action.
Ministers have dropped plans to put
a cap on care costs by 2020 ? a measure
proposed by Sir Andrew Dilnot?s review
of social care and backed by David Cameron when he was prime minister.
Izzi Seccombe, the Tory chair of the
Local Government Association?s community wellbeing board, said: ?Allowing
councils to increase council tax to pay for
social care, while helpful in some areas,
is of limited use in poorer areas because
their weaker tax base means they are less
able to raise funds.
?If we are to bridge the inequality gap,
we need long-term sustainable funding
for the sector. It was hugely disappointing that the chancellor found money for
the NHS but nothing for adult social
care in the budget. We estimate adult
social care faces an annual funding gap
of �3bn by 2020.?
ON OTHER PAGES
Old and vulnerable people and ?nancial
whiz-kids don?t mix
In Focus, page 29
�
?It
shouldn?t
just be
about
the way
I sound
when I
open my
mouth?
Actor Hayley
Squires on
the British
obsession
with class
pages 14-17
Observer
Magazine
by Michael Savage
Policy Editor
Participants in ?Run4All Santa?, a 5km run in seasonal fancy dress, head along Aberavon
promenade in south Wales yesterday. Photograph by Dimitris Legakis/Athena Pictures
Workplace pensions to start
at age 18 as qualifying age cut
Continued from page 1
thanks to the support of businesses and
employees across the UK.
?The impact has been felt far and
wide. For instance, in the private sector, the savings gender gap has been
closed and the number of people with
a workplace pension has increased by
23% since 2012. By 2019-20 an extra
�bn will have been saved as a result.
?Five years on, we want to build on
this success to make sure that automatic enrolment is truly re?ective of
modern working practices and that
everyone who could bene?t from a
workplace pension has the opportunity
to do so.?
In a further move that is likely to
be criticised as too costly and bureaucratic, particularly by small employers,
Gauke will also unveil plans to ensure
that people who are in multiple jobs,
but whose combined income totals
more than �,000, are also enrolled by
each of their multiple employers.
And whereas, at present, the
?rst �876 of their earnings is
excluded from their pensionable
income, ministers will push through
changes to ensure every pound is in
future included in the calculation of
contributions.
uto-enrolSince the launch of auto-enroler of
ment in 2012, the number
nsions
people in workplace pensions
n 9 milhas grown to more than
m under
lion, with many of them
the age of 30. However, around
dged to be
12 million people are judged
etirement.
under-saving for their retirement.
Jamie Jenkins, head of penrd
sions strategy at Standard
nt?s
Life, said the government?s
?Building on success?: pensions
secretary David Gauke.
plans were welcome: ?These measures will ensure that as many people
as possible have the opportunity to
start to build up pension savings. Since
auto-enrolment was introduced it has
enjoyed huge success and it is right this
is extended to include young workers,
and those who might not have a standard employment set-up.?
Chris Curry, director at the Pensions
Policy Institute, added: ?We all want to
be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement and to maintain our standard of
living. However, the review has shown
that one of our greatest challenges
remains that many people are still
under-saving. By removing the lower
earnings limit we?ll be enabling people
to contribute towards their pension
from the ?rst pound of earnings.?
But former pensions minister Steve
Webb, who is now director of policy
at Royal London, a leading mutual life
insurance and pensions company, said
the government was acting far too
slowly. ?There are some great ideas,
including starting pension saving at
age 18 and making sure that every
pound that you earn is pensionable.
But the proposed pace of change is
shockingly lethargic.
?Talking about having reforms in
place by the mid 2020s risks leaving a
gene
whole generation
of workers behind,?
Webb ?Those who never got
said Webb.
to join a ?nal salary pension and
who have only recently come into
pension through automatic enrolpensions
ment need urgent action to
hel them build up a decent
help
pension
pot.
pe
?This pedestrian pace of
r
reform
risks creating a ?lost
g
generation?
of people in
their
late 40s and 50s who
t
will
w be unable to afford to
retire.?
Sections of The Observer are carefully collated at our print site and by newsagents. If any section of today?s UK edition
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ISSN 0029-7712
17.12.17
NEWS | 9
*
Ammar Haj Ahmad,
John Pfumojena
and Mohammad
Amiri onstage at
the Young Vic in
The Jungle ? the
play by Joe Murphy
and Joe Robertson
about life in the
Calais camp.
Photograph by
Leon Puplett
From the ?Jungle? to London and Paris: UK
writers give new life to refugees? theatre
The venue that entertained the Calais camp?s
migrants will reopen in France ? as its
e
playwright founders ?nd acclaim at the
Young Vic, reports Vanessa Thorpe
When the tent in Calais that housed the
Good Chance Theatre came down in the
spring of last year, as the refugee camp
known as ?the Jungle? was cleared, the
two 25-year-old British playwrights who
set it up pledged that the story would not
?nish there. ?We know it is not the end,?
Joe Murphy told the Observer at the time.
This weekend, sure enough, a new
future is dawning. Not only has The Jungle, the challenging play that Murphy
wrote with Joe Robertson just opened
in London to admiring reviews, but ?the
Joes? have also revealed that their popup refugee theatre ? visited by leading
British actors such as Jude Law, Toby
Jones and Benedict Cumberbatch ? is to
rise again next month, this time in Paris.
?This is a really exciting development
for us,? said Murphy this weekend. ?We
hope this can become a model: a place in
a city for new people to ?nd each other
and come together.?
A big dome and a little dome ? two
temporary geodesic structures ? are
to go up on 23 January for an initial 10
weeks next to the Paris refugee reception site known as La Bulle, or ?the Bubble?. Situated in the north of the city, the
surrounding camp has welcomed close
to 20,000 people since it was opened by
the French charity Emma黶 Solidarit�
almost a year ago, on the suggestion of
the mayor, Anne Hidalgo.
From next month, at the invitation of
?the Joes?, three Paris-based curators
will work on a programme of entertain-
?We faced questions
about who we think
we are to come and
help. We?re conscious
we?re British?
Joe Robertson, playwright
ment that will bring in all forms of art.
?The curators will be running it alongside the refugees, and they are Elisa
Giovannetti, who we have worked with
before; Vincent Mangado of the Th殁tre
du Soleil, who I think we share a vision
with; and Jack Ellis, a British actor who
lives out there,? said Murphy.
?What we are trying to achieve is a
venue that can be autonomous,? he adds.
While the pair will be there putting on
shows, ?we feel it is very important that
it can exist beyond爑s?.
The Hope Show, a variety evening
which became one of the most popular
communal events in the Calais camp,
will also be back each Saturday night
and, importantly, is open to all Parisians. ?That is a crucial element for us,?
said Robertson. ?The camp is a mile
and a half from the centre of Paris, but
it might as well be another planet, so it is
vital we open it to everyone, from
our partners in the corporate
world to people from the
world of fashion.?
The original 11-metre
dome in Calais, named
?Good Chance? after the
slang phrase used in the
camp for finding
a way to get to
Britain, was taken
down when the
French authorities moved in to raze part
of the settlement in March 2016. The
theatre had been made legally exempt
from the clearance, but the facility was
pointless without its audience.
At the time Robertson described his
experience in Calais running the Good
Chance as ?at once the worst time and
the very best time?.
The new Paris theatre is the result of
a partnership with Emma黶 Solidarit�
that will allow it to offer a creative space
for the use of refugees and migrants,
who now reportedly arrive in Paris at a
rate of between 80 and 100 a day.
Robertson, from Hull, met Murphy,
who is from Leeds, when they were
both at university in Oxford. Writing
for the stage together, they went on to
work on director Stephen Daldry?s 2014
?lm Trash, about poverty in Brazil. They
first travelled to the camp
together in 2015, staying
for six months. It is the
naivety of their initial
reaction to the commu-
Playwrights
Joe Robertson, left, and
Joe Murphy.
nity they saw around them that is at the
centre of their new play, The燡ungle.
Now Daldry, fresh from launching
season two of his hit television show The
Crown, is directing The Jungle, alongside
Justin Martin, who also worked on The
Crown. A piece of immersive theatre that
attempts to recreate the camp for the
audience, the play was commissioned by
the National Theatre and is performed
with a vast refugee cast at the nearby
Young Vic.
Critics have applauded the ambition of
Daldry, Martin and the Joes. The verdict
of the critic on review site The Arts Desk
was that The Jungle ?is done with awesome integrity and total commitment?.
Set in a replica of one of the camp?s
Afghan restaurants, it features several
scenes ridiculing well-intentioned western volunteers and does not offer simple
solutions. ?From the beginning we faced
questions about who we think we are to
come and help,? said Robertson. ?We are
very conscious that we are British.?
?It was often the ?rst question in fact,?
added Murphy. ?Now, as well as launching the Paris Good Chance, we will be
working with refugee artists in Britain,
to help them develop their new lives.?
?Clearly the refugee crisis cannot be
solved by any one country,? said Robertson, ?but it is the responsibility of artists
to create new links between people.?
MoD intervenes to clamp down on fake ministerial Twitter acccounts
Social media giant
suspends accounts after
ministry?s protests
by Ben Quinn
It is a new struggle being quietly waged
by the Ministry of Defence ? one
where the battle?eld is a constantly
shifting one. In the era of fake news
and so-called infowars with Russia,
Britain?s military establishment has
launched a clamp-down on bogus Twitter accounts masquerading under the
official MoD banner.
At least three Twitter accounts ?
including one in the name of the new
defence secretary, Gavin Williamson,
and another in the name of his predecessor, Michael Fallon ? have been sus-
pended this year by Twitter following
protestations by the MoD.
Another, using the name of the Royal
Air Force, was also transferred to the
control of the department, according
to details released under the Freedom
of Information Act. It comes after a
complaint by the Foreign Office in September resulted in the suspension of a
Twitter account that was set up by RT,
the Kremlin-backed news channel formerly known as Russia Today, as part of
an extensive online project to mark the
Russian revolution?s centenary.
However, the MoD?s interventions
appear to have come too late to prevent
some from being taken in by the spoofs.
Alistair Bunkall, Sky News?s defence
correspondent, announced to his own
Twitter followers last month that Gavin
Williamson, the new defence secretary
would be using a new Twitter account:
@GwilliamsonUK.
Others suspected foreign involvement in the now suspended account,
with one user describing it as ?more
Russian than the Siberian tiger? and
others pointing out that it had wrongly
used the title ?Secretary of Defence?, as
well as American spellings.
Another account subsequently suspended following an MoD intervention,
@RTHonMFallon, still managed to fool
constituents and at least two regimental accounts which it followed.
?Welcome to Twitter and thanks for
the follow. I?ll keep you up to date with
Gavin Williamson,
appointed defence
secretary last
month, was the
subject of a bogus
Twitter account.
your local Infantry Regiment #FiercePride,? tweeted @rhqpwrr, which is
described as the official account of
Regimental Headquarters of the Princess of Wales?s Royal Regiment.
Following a MoD complaint, Twitter
initially ruled that @RTHonMFallon
was not in violation of its policies, but
the social media giant later relented.
A dormant account, @RoyalAirForce, was meanwhile transferred to
the MoD and has been awarded one
of Twitter?s blue ticks to con?rm its
authenticity.
The increased attention paid by the
MoD to fake accounts comes against
the backdrop of increasing concern
about Russian in?uence in British
politics. It emerged last month that
more than 400 fake Twitter accounts
believed to be run from St Petersburg
published posts about Brexit.
Researchers at the University of
Edinburgh identi?ed 419 accounts
operating from the Russian Internet
Research Agency attempting to in?uence UK politics out of 2,752 accounts
suspended by Twitter in the US. One
of the accounts run from the Kremlinlinked operation attempted to stir antiIslamic sentiment during the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack.
Twitter has also come under pressure to release examples of UK-related
postings linked to a Russian ?troll
factory?, with one senior MP citing
concern at possible ?interference by
foreign actors in the democratic process of the United Kingdom?.
Damian Collins, the chairman of the
Commons culture, media and sport
select committee, said he wanted to see
examples of posts about British politics after Twitter handed a list of the
2,752 accounts to the US intelligence
committee.
10 | NEWS | Eyewitness
*
17.12.17
Pound shops and pawnbrokers have taken over Ebbw Vale?s high street since the closure of the steelworks but the landscape retains its rugged beauty. Photographs by Richard Jones for the Observer
?There?s no life here at all?: a journey to the
heartlands of Britain?s precarious future
Author James Bloodworth spent six months
at the sharp end of our changing economy. In
Ebbw Vale, he ?nds the human cost of
the end of heavy industry ? and asks
what the next upheaval will bring
At the Ebbw Vale steelworks in the
south Wales valleys, thousands of men
once laboured to produce the steel that
helped to drive Britain?s industrial revolution. The steelworks closed for good 15
years ago, and today a familiar fare decorates the town?s mournful high street:
pound shops, arcades, bookies. On the
brief walk from one end to the other, I
count three pawnbrokers.
?It ain?t worth looking for any work up
here,? Rob Smyth, a youth worker tells
me. ?I tell you what ? I?m glad I?m old
because if I was young now I?d be struggling, you know? I know people who?ve
got degrees, and they can?t get work.
You?ve got to settle somewhere else and
make a life for yourself. There?s no life up
here, no life at all. I only live here because
it?s cheap, and it?s close to where I work.?
Ebbw Vale is the largest town in the
county of Blaenau Gwent. This autumn
the county was found to be the cheapest
place to buy a home in England and Wales
(averaging �7 per sq m in 2016, compared with �,439 for the most expensive, London?s Kensington and Chelsea).
It offers the second-lowest mean salary in
Britain, and its GCSE results are the worst
in Wales. Five food banks operate within
an area of about 42 square miles.
People here are struggling economically and physically. It?s a grim irony that
an area encompassing the former constituency of Aneurin Bevan, architect of the
National Health Service, should today
be facing a quietly unfolding health crisis. Some 12% of working-age residents
receive government support for disability or incapacity ? twice the national
average. Life expectancy is among the
lowest in England and Wales. Out of a
population of 60,000, one in every six
adults is being prescribed an antidepressant, according to NHS data from 2013.
?GPs haven?t got time to listen, to
talk to people, to ?nd out what?s going
on. They?ve got that ?ve- or 10-minute
slot, somebody?s in tears, they?re saying
they?re depressed,? Tara Johnstone tells
me at the Phoenix Project, the publicly
funded drop-in centre where she works
in nearby Brynmawr. It?s run by a local
charity, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent
Mind, and people come to chat about
their problems: anxiety, depression, illness, bereavement. Most stories revolve
around the same theme.
?It?s lack of work,? explains Trish
Richards, another Phoenix staff member. ?I?ve had people come to me on zerohours contracts. They don?t know where
they are from one week to the next. Can?t
plan. Can?t even plan to go to the dentist
in case they get called in to work.?
In the face of so many present-day
problems, it?s all too easy to become
wistful for a lost golden era of nationalised industry that brought secure jobs
and forged strong communities. The
low-paid jobs in call centres and distribution sheds, most located in bigger cities, that eventually arrived to replace the
noise and ?lth of the pits were cleaner
and safer, but they lacked the solidarity
and support networks. Soon they, too,
may disappear.
First globalisation, then austerity;
now automation looms on the horizon.
South Wales is particularly vulnerable,
being heavily reliant on exactly the lowskilled jobs which are easiest to send
offshore and automate out of existence.
If they go, then so too may the young
people who commute to these jobs from
places such as Blaenau Gwent.
?It?s the easiest thing in the world to
put your foot on someone?s head when
they?re drowning. And that?s what you
see around here,? Wayne Hodgins, an
independent councillor for Brynmawr,
tells me when we meet in one of the few
pubs that are still open. ?There was factories employing 100, 200 people. That
factory environment ? your friends,
your colleagues ? became an extension
of your family.?
The professionalisation of even entry-
?Over three or four
years I was sent
50 times to a
psychiatric ward?
Cath Jones is 31 and before she showed
up at the Phoenix Project looking for
help, she?d been in and out of mental
health institutions since she was 15. ?In
three, four years I had 50 admissions to a
psychiatric ward,? she tells me over a cup
of milky tea. ?I was on ?ve or six di?erent
antidepressants, antipsychotics, sleeping
tablets, diazepam. You name it, I was on it.?
She insists she?d have been ?six feet
under? were it not for the help and advice
she received at the Phoenix.
In terms of getting people ?t, well and ?
eventually ? back to work, Trish Richards
tells me that the Westminster government
is lukewarm about initiatives such as the
The stainless steel dragon in Ebbw Vale,
part of a �m renovation of the town.
Phoenix Project. ?They don?t see the fact
that somebody getting up in the morning,
getting dressed and coming here is a
big achievement,? she says. ?They want
outcomes, they want results, they want
little boxes ticked.?
level work has made it very difficult to
find employment without some form
of academic quali?cation or accredited
skill. Consequently, Hodgins says, people here can feel worthless because they
are ?getting rejection letters right, left
and centre ... They?ve got nothing to get
them out of bed in the morning.?
This, in many cases, can lead to a prescription for antidepressants. ?There?s a
lot of people on social [bene?ts], there?s
a lot ill,? says Allan Price, a former miner
who volunteers at the South Wales Miners? museum amid the slopes of the Afan
Valley, high above Port Talbot. ?Everybody in my village will tell you they know
them. And lots of them come from good
men and good families ? hardworking.?
The deindustrialisation experiment
in?icted on the valleys in the 1980s offers
a cautionary tale for the next big transition. The region stands as an example of
how not to move from one form of economic life to another ? the Thatcherite
omelette left many broken eggs.
?Automation is a risk to many occupations across Wales and the UK,? says
Professor Julie Lydon, chair of Universities Wales who recently wrote an article
entitled The Robots are Coming.
The key to avoiding a repeat of the
devastation caused when the mines and
But Jones stands as proof of what
schemes such as this can produce. Having
stabilised her life, she now volunteers at
the centre. She?s not alone: it has often
been former service users themselves
who helped to keep the project running.
?It?s people that have been there, done
it and got the T-shirt,? says Richards,
pointing proudly at Jones . ?She?s brilliant
at helping people because she?s been
there. She?s been at rock bottom.?
The project may o?er a lesson as to how
to rebuild the dignity of the south Wales
valleys. People can be knocked down by
the sweep of powerful economic forces,
but solidarity and compassion can help
them back to their feet.
?Another lady [who came to us] ? two
years ago she had planned how she was
going to kill herself, wasn?t going to tell
anyone,? Richards tells me as I leave the
Brynmawr community centre and head
back to the relative prosperity of Bristol,
just 50 miles away. ?She?s now got three
jobs in a school.?
WALE S
Blaenau
Gwent
Worcester
Gloucester
Swansea
Cardi?
BRISTOL CHANNEL
Bristol
Bath
20 miles
factories shut is investment in skills,
according to Lydon. ?Demand in Wales
for jobs that require higher-level skills
is increasing, and evidence shows these
jobs are less vulnerable to automation.
We must focus on developing skills
which make you more adaptable and
employable through your career. This
will mean building on existing collaboration between universities, employers
and colleges, and ?nding new ways to
provide these skills, such as through
degree apprenticeships.?
This will require government and
employers to take more action than they
have so far been prepared to do. Research
in 2014 indicated that employers in Wales
lagged behind the rest of the country in
offering training: just 62% said they had
done so in the previous 12 months, compared to the UK average of 66%.
Nick Smith, MP for Blaenau Gwent,
says some investment in road infrastructure has already arrived, and that the area
must revive its tourist industry. ?There?s
been �0m provided by the Welsh government. We?ve also had in the last 10
years a new railway line from Cardiff
to Ebbw Vale. If we improve transport
infrastructure, I think it will help Blaenau Gwent as a destination, to enjoy the
fantastic scenery. I?m a hiker, and there?s
nothing better than to get up there and to
?ll your lungs with the fresh air.?
Hired: Six Months Undercover in LowWage Britain (Atlantic Books) by James
Bloodworth is available to pre-order.
If you have experiences relating to this
article that you?d like to share, please
email us at inequality.project@theguardian.com. Follow the Inequality Project on
Twitter @GdnInequality
17.12.17
NEWS | 11
*
Your guide to a happy new year? by Dawn,
Eddie and other celebrity self-help gurus
Famous faces, many
of them formerly
troubled comedians,
are dispensing life
lessons in the latest
publishing trend, says
Vanessa Thorpe
Once the post-Christmas slump lifts
and 2018 looms, an unprecedented
crowd of well-known faces will be
waiting to take readers by the hand and
guide them into the new year. Following a tide of celebrity autobiographies,
celebrity novels and celebrity children?s
?ction, this year the book-shaped gift
under the tree is more likely to be a
celebrity self-help manual.
Comforting and instructive life manuals written by well-known entertainers
and performers are being heavily promoted this season as booksellers bank
on a public thirst for sincere advice from
familiar, if unexpected, stars.
Leading the pack is Dawn French?s
new journal, Me. You. A Diary, which
came out in hardback this autumn
ready for the Christmas market, but is
also selling well as an interactive ebook.
In its digital format, as well as in print,
French?s deliberately collaborative
effort invites each reader to make their
own comments on the author?s daily
tips for better living.
?This book is a way for us to tell
the story of a year together,? suggests French. ?Feel free to write your
appointments in it, lists, thoughts and
reminders of, say, who to kill, and when,
and in what order. By the end of the
year, I am hoping you will have a fatter,
scruffier book that is written by me but
totally personalized by you.?
The book is one of a number of literary counselling projects, each authenticated by a star name. And publishers
have clearly judged it is comedians
who make the best confidant s. The
acclaimed autobiography of Eddie
Izzard, Believe Me: A Memoir of Love,
Death, and Jazz Chickens, in which he
reveals the continuing impact on his life
of his mother?s death when he was six,
has picked up many admirers since its
launch this summer, and is still selling,
bolstered by a promotional tour, which
is now running in Paris until the end of
January, with US dates just announced
for February.
Comedian Sarah Millican?s How to Be
Champion, billed as ?a guide to surviving life?, also offers encouragement to
depressed readers who might be facing
up to a failed marriage or an unsatisfactory career. The message is summed up
in the author?s exhortation: ?Be yourself or else you?ll have to keep up the
pretence for ever.? Chapter headings
include Things My Dad Taught Me and
Ten Good Things About Being Overweight, and the life hints are mostly
modest and grounded with the occasional favourite cake recipe.
Dawn French and, from top left, her new book and competing titles from five other entertainers aiming to crack the self-help market. ITV, Rex, Shutterstock
?By the end of the year
I hope you will have a
scru?er book that?s
written by me but
personalised by you?
Dawn French
Millican describes how she eventually conquered the nerves that once
forced her to recite her own childhood
poetry from behind a curtain in the
living room of her South Shields family home. After her ?rst marriage fell
apart just over a decade ago, she began
to ?try-out? at standup comedy gigs,
partly as a form of catharsis. A successful solo run at the Edinburgh festival
fringe soon saw her established as a
leading light entertainment ?gure.
A trend among comics for revelatory, and even melancholy, solo shows
has been evident on the live circuit for
some time. Standup acts about mental
and physical illness, and on coping with
bereavement, are now as common as
traditional observational comic material. And while comedians regularly
gain notoriety for having a tougherthan-average ability to present their
world view, it seems a willingness to
expose a few personal insecurities is
now a de?nite bonus.
The commentator and columnist
Caitlin Moran could be considered to
have reinvented the self-improvement
publishing format with her bestselling
How to Be a Woman, published in 2011.
In this semi-ironic look at the advice
genre, Moran debunked many restrictive taboos surrounding femininity,
and some of its themes were followed
up this year in Daisy Buchanan?s How
to be a Grown-Up.
Last Christmas Davina McCall had a
hit with her candid book, Lessons I?ve
Learned , discussing the reliance on
drugs she once shared with her mother.
This summer the comedian Robert
Webb waded into equally deep waters
when he tackled the social construction
of masculinity in his honest memoir,
How Not to Be a Boy. A live tour based
on Webb?s book has just ended.
The wave of supportive celebrity
sharing has also crossed the Atlantic with the launch this winter of
Unqualified , by Hollywood sitcom
actress Anna Faris. She offers advice
on love and relationships, given added
piquancy by her high-pro?le breakup
with the film star Chris Pratt , who
writes the book?s foreword.
This celebrity foray into self-help
follows renewed interest in the whole
genre. In the last ?ve years, several major
British publishing houses have refreshed
imprints in this territory. Three years
ago Hodder & Stoughton launched
Yellow Kite, an imprint designed ?to
help you live a good life?, and shortly
afterwards HarperCollins relaunched
its Harper Thorsons brand for ?mind,
body and spirit? titles. Last year Penguin launched Penguin Life, aiming at
putting out 20 titles a year, and this year
Bloomsbury launched a health and wellbeing imprint called Green Tree.
Yellow Kite?s Liz Gough recently told
Glamour magazine she suspected that
readers? increasing interest in seeking emotional help from books was in
line with the popular phenomenon of
online TED talks. ?People are struggling to make sense of the world, and
they want to enrich their lives in some
way ? whether that?s going to a book
club or a poetry reading, or taking up
other methods of self-care such as yoga
or meditation,? Gough said. ?People are
looking for balance between the scienti?c and the spiritual.?
ON OTHER PAGES
The latest book reviews, including
Luke Harding on Putin?s Russia
The New Review, page 34
Banned gamblers still hooked on machines as bookies fail to enforce scheme
Undercover reporter is
allowed to use terminals
in 19 out of 21 shops
by Mark Townsend
A government scheme that is meant to
allow staff at betting shops to bar problem gamblers has drawn fresh criticism after an investigation found that
addicts are still being allowed to bet.
An undercover reporter posing as a
known problem gambler who should
have been ejected from bookmakers
when attempting to use ?xed-odds
betting terminals (FOBTs) was asked
to leave only two out of 21 betting爏hops.
The reporter had signed up to the
multi-operator self-exclusion scheme,
a Gambling Commission initiative that
helps problem gamblers by circulating their photograph and details to
betting shops in the area where the
gambler lives or works. This should
ensure the gambler is not served in
those燽usinesses.
The exercise, carried out by BBC
Five Live Investigates, raises questions over attempts by the gambling
industry to discourage addicts. It was
conducted in Grimsby, chosen because
the Lincolnshire town has one of the
highest concentrations of bookmakers
in the UK.
It took until the 17th visit to a betting
shop before the reporter was ?nally
recognised and asked to leave under
the self-exclusion scheme. The system
Fixed-odds betting terminals have been
called the ?crack cocaine? of gambling.
was introduced last year following
industry consultation to ?strengthen
social responsibility?.
Central to the debate was tackling
the spread of FOBTs, which are disproportionately found in poorer parts
of Britain and which in 2015 generated
�7bn in revenue for bookmakers.
Described by critics as the ?crack
cocaine of gambling ?, FOBTs allow
stakes of up to �0 to be laid on
machines every 20 seconds.
Rather than being ejected, the
reporter found that on several occasions he was offered tea and coffee to
help make his betting experience more
comfortable.
Responding to the ?ndings ? aired
on Radio 5 Live today ? the industry
regulator, the Gambling Commission,
said it was ?concerned?.
Sarah Gardner, executive director of the commission said: ?We are
determined to drive improvements in
behaviour across the industry in terms
of the effort they put in to reducing
gambling-related harm and it really
is getting to the stage where there is
nowhere to hide. What we would like
to see is much more emphasis from
gambling businesses on intervening at
an early stage.?
A statement from the Association
of British Bookmakers said: ?This is a
disappointing result, however it was
conducted in arti?cial circumstances,
involving a small sample, over a short
period of time and the individual concerned was not a problem gambler or
previously known to shop staff.
?By its very nature, those who selfexclude are normally known to the
staff in the shops they exclude from.?
It referred to an independent review
of the self-exclusion scheme which
found 83% of participants saying it had
been effective in reducing or stopping
their gambling activity.
17.12.17
NEWS | 13
*
Slashing queues, helping new mothers ?
NHS explores apps for care in a digital age
Doctors, tech experts
and scientists tested
new ideas at a health
?hackathon? last
month ? now a fund
aims to back the best
of them with cash,
reports Rachel Ellis
Imagine if there were an app that
reduced accident and emergency waiting times, ensured women are followed
up after childbirth and even identi?ed
when hospital patients need to be transferred to intensive care.
These were some of the innovative
ideas generated by more than 100 NHS
doctors, dentists, technology developers,
scientists and health economists at an
unprecedented blue-sky thinking event
that aimed to explore new possibilities
in care in the digital age.
The task at the NHS Ideas Lab hackathon was to ?nd 21st-century solutions
to problems facing patients, doctors and
the NHS. Issues addressed included long
waits for A&E, paper records that can get
mislaid and lengthy processes that slow
down patient care and increase the possibility of human error. A new innovation fund worth �0,000 has been set
up to support some of the best ideas.
Dr Umar Ahmad, an A&E doctor at
the Royal London hospital, was part of a
team at the hackathon that came up with
the idea of an app to speed up A&E waiting times. He said: ?We need to streamline processes by using new technology,
while at the same time maintaining high
standards of patient care.
?In 15 years? time artificial intelligence will be part of the NHS, but there
are things we can do now to make our
jobs a little bit easier and better for
patients爐oo.?
Anaesthetist Dr Tim Knowles, who
also attended the event, added: ?The
technology is moving forward but we
have hundreds of legacy systems. This
means everything gets patched together
with the electronic version of Sellotape
but it doesn?t work very well. Clinicians have ideas about how to improve
systems but the hackathon gave us the
opportunity to find out realistically
what is possible and understand how
apps爓ork.?
The hackathon, which took place
in London last month, is the first to
be organised by the pharmaceutical
company Boehringer Ingelheim since
THREE WAYS TO IMPROVE PATIENT CARE
? REDUCING A&E WAITING TIMES
Lengthy waits for A&E are commonplace
in the NHS. With two million patients each
month, the NHS target of treating 95% of
patients within four hours has not been
met since 2015.
According to Dr Umar Ahmad, an A&E
doctor at the Royal London hospital, part
of the problem is the delay getting medical
test results back: it takes a lab about an
? MONITORING NEW MUMS
Around a third of women will have an
epidural ? a local anaesthetic administered
into the back ? to relieve the pain of
childbirth. Although the treatment is
very e?ective, there can be side-e?ects
such as headache and nerve damage, so
there should always be a follow-up before
mothers are discharged from hospital.
According to Dr Tim Knowles, in some
cases notes about patients are simply
written in a diary for the next shift for follow
up, or entered on databases managed by
individual doctors. ?There are lots of points
of failure in the system,? he said. To improve
patient safety and generate useful patient
data on complications, he and the epidural
anaesthetics team came up with the idea
of an app that stores all information about
epidural follow-ups to a central dashboard.
becoming a sponsor this year of the NHS
clinical entrepreneur programme, set
up by NHS England and Health Education England two years ago to offer doctors and other health professionals the
chance to develop their entrepreneurial
aspirations while continuing to work in
the NHS.
Professor Tony Young, national clinical lead for innovation at NHS England,
said: ?It was a remarkable success, and
directly supports our programme to
support clinical entrepreneurs, which
offers opportunities for doctors and
other health professionals to develop
their innovative aspirations.
?We are committed to finding new
ways to improve care so patients can
directly bene?t from the creativity and
talent of our workforce.?
? EARLY WARNING SYSTEM FOR
DETERIORATING PATIENTS
When patients in hospital take a turn for
the worse, their condition should be picked
up by the national early warning score
(NEWS) system. However, this mostly
paper-based system relies on patients?
observations and the NEWS score being
correctly calculated, and then ?nding
appropriate medical sta?.
Managed by the Apperta Foundation,
a not-for-profit community interest
company set up by health professionals in 2015 to improve technology in
health and social care, the fund is open
to social enterprises looking to improve
health outcomes, address unmet needs
and enhance the care and experience of
patients with long-term conditions.
Sabine Nikolaus from Boehringer
hour to process a blood test. He and his
team came up with the idea of an app that
identi?es which tests a patient needs as
soon as they arrive in A&E.
The algorithm generates a barcode
that the patient can scan using their
mobile phone and this directs them to the
right part of the A&E department to get
tests done. The idea is that, by the time
their turn comes, doctors have all the
information they need to make a diagnosis.
According to anaesthetist Dr Jakob
Mathiszig-Lee, even if every stage is
carried out correctly, it can take more than
an hour to get deteriorating patients to
critical care.
?Identifying patients who are
deteriorating from sepsis and other
serious conditions and then ?agging it
up appropriately is a problem in the UK,?
explained Mathiszig-Lee. ?There are cases
when by the time I get told about a patient,
their condition is irretrievable.?
He and his team came up with the idea
of VitalFlag ? a real-time text alert system
to warn critical care sta? directly that a
patient is deteriorating.
?Our idea was to ?nd a way to speed up
the process,? he said, ?going directly from
entering the patient?s data to ?agging it up
with the critical care team.?
Photographs by David Sillitoe,
Getty, Alamy
Ingelheim said: ?By making the most of
the intellectual capital in the NHS and
technology sector, we can unearth new
concepts which can make a difference
to patients, the NHS and all those who
deliver healthcare.
?We are thrilled with the ideas that
emerged at the hackathon and can?t wait
to see the best of these stand the chance
of adoption in clinical practice.?
Out of the fog: ?missing? Monet found through the power of the web
Painting of artist?s rural retreat, unseen in exhibition
since 1895, will now go on show at National Gallery
by Dalya Alberge
Tracking down lost works of art
usually involves poring over obscure
documents in galleries, archives and
libraries, searching for clues. But the
curator of a forthcoming National Gallery exhibition on Claude Monet will be
featuring a ?missing? painting that he
found through a startlingly straightforward route ? a Google search.
The art historian Richard Thomson
knew the painting, Effet de Brouillard,
from a postage stamp-sized image in
the de?nitive catalogue of works by the
impressionist master. It was listed as
being in a private collection.
Thomson, who is Watson Gordon
professor of ?ne art at Edinburgh University, told the Observer: ?It?s a picture
that?s been off the beaten track, off the
radar, and we?re going to have it in the
show. Its whereabouts weren?t known.?
Effet de Brouillard is an atmospheric
scene that depicts Argenteuil, near
Paris, the rural retreat where Monet
lived between 1871 and 1878. It was
here that he produced some of his
most sublime masterpieces. Thomson
thought that the 1872 painting, a hazy
view of houses shrouded in fog, would
be perfect for his exhibition, Monet &
Architecture. He had already secured
loans from private and public collections, and this seemed like a missing
piece in the jigsaw.
To his astonishment, some Googling
revealed that the painting had just been
sold in America, by a New Orleans
dealer. Art historians had apparently
also missed its 2007 sale by Christie?s,
whose catalogue entry notes just three
previous exhibitions, in 1874, ?possibly?
in London, and in 1895, in Boston and
New York.
The New Orleans dealer put Thomson in contact with the new owners,
who were happy to see their painting
displayed in the National Gallery.
According to Thomson, the work
was featured in Paul Hayes Tucker?s
Effet de Brouillard (1872)
depicts Argenteuil, near
Paris. Joseph D Cont� and
Lynn Von Freter Cont�
?I?ve done my time
buried away in
archives. Every now
and then one has to
use other options?
Richard Thomson, art historian
1982 book Monet at Argenteuil, in black
and white, and in a 1990s catalogue in
colour, where it was ?only the size of
a Christmas-card postage stamp?. He
joked: ?I?ve done my time buried away
in archives and libraries. Every now
and then one has to use other options.?
Effet de Brouillard will be among 75
works in the National Gallery exhibition, which opens in April. It will
include 10 paintings of Argenteuil and
the Parisian suburbs, seven Rouen
cathedrals and eight London paintings.
A substantial proportion of the loans
? about a quarter ? are from private
collections. ?There are some fantastic
unknown pictures,? Thomson said.
The exhibition will re?ect how,
through buildings, Monet explored
?the play of sunshine, fogs and re?ections?. As the artist put it in 1895:
?Other painters paint a bridge, a house,
a boat ? I want to paint the air that
surrounds the bridge, the house, the
boat ? the beauty of the light in which
they exist.?
While Monet is typically portrayed
as a painter of landscape, of the sea, and
in his later years, of gardens, an exhibition focusing on his work in terms of
architecture had not been undertaken
until now, the National Gallery said.
The artist is a huge draw for the public. The Royal Academy?s 1999 blockbuster show, Monet in the 20th Century,
attracted more than 700,000 visitors.
14 | NEWS
*
Revealed: millions battle
to afford life in London
More than a quarter
of households hit by
?perfect storm? of low
bene?ts and wages
and return of in?ation.
Ben Quinn reports
Pensioners and poorer families with
children in London are bearing the brunt
of a ?perfect storm? created by the return
of in?ation, inadequate welfare bene?ts
and sky-high costs for essentials such
as childcare, according to a major new
report.
It reveals how more than a quarter of
households in London get by on incomes
that leave them unable not only to afford
essentials such as a warm home but also
unable to pay for items deemed important for social inclusion, such as eating
out occasionally.
Safety-net bene?ts also fail to provide
for Londoners? minimum needs, leaving
those in inner boroughs facing a shortfall
of �.77 a week between housing bene?t and their rent.
Life is a struggle even for those working on the national living wage ? a compulsory rate introduced last year. Few
London households with someone earning the national living wage full-time
were able to reach the income needed
for a minimum standard of living, even
though the wage rose by 4% in April.
The research by the Trust for London
17.12.17
London street
markets can offer
food bargains to
the 39% of the
city?s residents
who have
an income below
that deemed the
minimum necessary by researchers. Rex
charity and Loughborough University?s
Centre for Research in Social Policy
is based on detailed discussions with
members of the public about goods and
services needed to achieve a socially
acceptable standard of living. It uses a
?minimum income standard? (MIS) for
four types of London households, compared with the rest of the UK. Some 39%
of Londoners have an income below the
MIS, against 30% in the UK as a whole.
The proportion of Londoners falling
below the standard has dropped slightly
over the past two years, but 3.3 million are still on incomes below what is
needed for a decent standard of living.
Among its conclusions ? likely to be
seized on by those pressing for government action on housing bene?ts, public
sector pay and housing ? is that higher
costs such as housing and childcare
mean that reaching a minimum decent
standard of living is between 16% and
53% more expensive in London than it
is in the rest of the UK.
One relatively overlooked group in
an increasingly precarious position are
pensioner couples in inner London. Over
the past seven years, the proportion unable to afford a decent standard of living
has increased from 23% to 32%.
?Governments have suggested that
pensioner poverty is largely a thing of
the past,? said Matt Padley, the report?s
author. ?But even with the triple lock on
pensions and linking of increases to rises
in earnings and in?ation, incomes for
pensioners in the city have not kept up
with increasing prices, and are becoming
less and less adequate.?
For single people of working age, pensioner couples, lone parents with one
child and couples with two children ?
the report found the cost of a minimum
budget had risen since 2016 owing to the
return of in?ation.
?The national living
wage gives only half
the income needed for
a single working-age
Londoner?
Mubin Haq, Trust for London
While there has been a considerable focus on family ?ight from London
because of factors such as housing costs,
Padley said evidence for this was patchy.
?People make a lot of sacri?ces because
what they get from living in London ?
such as the social and cultural experience ? just about outweighs additional
costs, so there was an offsetting.
?That said, you could now imagine a
situation that if something is not done
to sort out problems with the supply
of housing, families with children are
going to be more and more squeezed as
the cost of childcare rises.
?Add all those things together and you
have a perfect storm for more people
who we think will begin to decide: ?It?s
just not worth it. What I am living on in
London is just not enough in terms of
living standards.??
The report says housing costs in London within the designated MIS budgets
for families with children are based on
social rents, but access to social housing for families is becoming increasingly restricted. ?A growing proportion
of families will be exposed to the often
substantial additional housing costs of
renting in the private sector,? it warns.
Mubin Haq, of Trust for London,
said there had been a slight improvement in the number of Londoners with
too little to live on, but that the ?gure
remained ?worryingly high?, and that
many recently moving into work were
in low-pay sectors. The government had
tried to boost earnings with the national
living wage, but it provided only half of
the income needed for a single workingage Londoner working full-time.
?Outside London, it provides over
three-quarters of income required. The
high cost of living in the capital is not
reflected in the national living wage.
This has harsh consequences for those
earning the bare minimum.
?London can pay a higher rate, and
will struggle to recruit and retain staff if
the disconnect between the cost of living
and wages continues.?
17.12.17
| 15
*
Barbara Ellen
If our nurses are
homeless, we?ve
crossed the line
W
hen is the official end of
days? Perhaps when there
are homeless nurses.
In a report on English
homelessness, the local government
and social care ombudsman said that
even people with stable jobs were now
struggling to ?nd somewhere affordable to live. This included people from
many different walks of life ? council
workers, taxi drivers, hospitality workers and nurses, who were among the
people who?d been placed in emergency accommodation, sometimes for
unlawful amounts of time, and who?d
ended up seeking advice about their
unsafe, insanitary and otherwise unacceptable conditions.
As the ombudsman pointed out,
this further undermines the notion
that homelessness is only suffered by
people with chaotic lives, drunk/drug
habits, and no steady jobs. This is the
whispered subtext of certain attitudes
and rationalisations about homelessness ? that it only happens to Other
People. This distancing may have
contributed to the Home Office feeling
justi?ed in rounding up, detaining, and
even deporting east European rough
sleepers. (The high court has just ruled
that this is illegal and discriminatory.) On a human level, an emotional
detachment regarding the homeless
may explain how it becomes possible to
walk past people, young and old, huddled in shop doorways; to buy into the
narrative that, in every case, they have
not only unfortunate, but also incomprehensible and messy lives, or have
simply brought it upon themselves.
Now, however, homelessness has
gone mainstream, so to speak. It not
only affects ?normal? families, it even
affects those with jobs ? likee nursing
u
g
? that are traditionally respected
pected by
society. This seems almost unfathomable. How could it be possible,
ossible,
in a civilised country, that nurses can
n
spend their working days caring for
the sick, and yet still be unable
able
to afford a secure place for
themselves, and, too often,
their families?
The complicated answerr
certainly encompasses
A job as a nurse no longer
guarantees basic security.
nursing pay. With each successive
decade, it?s becoming increasingly
clear that nurses are considered to be
?angels?, except when they start entertaining grand ideas about being paid
properly. In this way, nurses becoming
homeless is much easier to understand. Take away the typical instinctive
response to nurses, the gratitude and
affection in which they?re still widely
held, and it becomes clear that, on their
average pay scales, they would be as
vulnerable as many others to getting
into difficulty with rent, bills, and debt.
Add to this more generalised factors,
including the twin behemoths of the
decline in available social housing, and
the rise of the private landlord. Private
landlords are not only becoming more
loath to accept homeless tenants from
councils (or anybody who may be
reliant for a period on insufficient or
non-existent housing bene?t), they?re
increasingly inclined to evict existing
tenants in the hope of charging higher
rents. Obviously, just like anyone else,
nurses could get caught up in this ?
their jobs don?t render them magically
immune to unscrupulous behaviour, or
to the high cost of living.
Then there?s the wider, scarier
narrative ? that this is a country that
not only has rising numbers of homeless people (bad enough), it even has
homeless nurses. And, it would appear,
enough of them for an ombudsman to
feel the need to make speci?c mention.
Some might say that all homeless
people, whatever their stories and
circumstances, deserve sympathy and
support, and they?d be right. However,
homelessness among nurses might still
represent a troubling societal shift ? a
wake-up call that something very bad
is being
right under our
be g normalised
o
noses. While no one is trying to stage
a moral competition
in suffercom
ing, if the idea
ide of homeless nurses
becomes acceptable,
then what
acc
next? If a job such as nursing can?t
guarantee
an individual the
guara
most basic levels of security
mos
and
an dignity, can?t even
give
gi them an affordable
place
to live, then it?s not
p
a case of worrying when
and how will be the end
of days. It?s happening
o
rright now.
Christmas cheer: middle-class families are more likely to introduce their young to alcohol before the age of 14. Alamy
Academic studies are the curse of the drinking classes
A
study of 10,000 UK children
by University College London and Pennsylvania State
University reports that socially
advantaged parents were the most likely
to allow their children to drink alcohol
before the age of 14.
Of course, this wouldn?t be about
buying kids a six-pack and telling them
to get bladdered. It would be a glass of
watered-down wine at evening meals,
�
?Bring a
double
sleeping
bag and
we?ll
share it?
to get them acquainted with a more
?continental? approach to civilised
drinking. However, evidence suggests
that even small amounts of alcohol
are dangerous to children before
they?re fully grown. Then there are
boundaries to consider. If you take away
a teenager?s chance to sneak an illicit
sip, then how much alcohol, how many
drugs, might it take for them to feel that
they?ve rebelled? Is this really about
teaching responsibility around alcohol,
or about certain parents signalling their
own sophistication?
Most of those socially advantaged
children, washing down their pesto
pasta with a slurp of Chablis, would
probably end up drinking a tad more
exuberantly outside the family home
anyway. Of course, I could be wrong.
Get back to me when all the university
bars are closing for want of business.
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Memories
of Robbie
Williams
during a
Take That
phone-in
page 31
T
he Bollywood actor, and potential bridesmaid to Meghan
Markle, Priyanka Chopra, has
been revealed to have more than
a quarter of a million (257,623) unread
emails on her smartphone. Chopra?s
actor friend, Alan Powell, ?outed? her,
wondering if anyone could beat it? The
short answer seems to be: erm, nope.
Although people seemed happy to
admit to hundreds, even thousands, of
disregarded emails.
Jeez, give the emails to me ? I?ll read
them for you, including the helpful
hints for enlarging your penis. Chopra
could be missing important messages
from Markle. (?Where r u? U wanna
be bridesmaid or not? Don?t u think
?H? is gud enuff 4 me? LOL!?). More
generally, I had no idea that nonrelationship-based email ghosting
was a thing.
Personally, I?m not up to it. My email
accounts take it in turns to collapse.
I have two: one of them gets all the
attention, while the other is like a
neglected gold?sh that?s always at
the brink of going belly up. Whenever
I check on the neglected gold?sh
account, I end up berating myself
for being so rude as to leave an email
unanswered ? for three whole days!
Meanwhile, others serenely ignore
mountains of emails, and not all of
them would be spam. You could
say that it?s just good old-fashioned
rudeness, but I?m not so sure. It
could be more about healthy levels of
con?dence: people who are so sure of
themselves that they don?t think they
need to instantly deal with every social
or professional overture or their lives
will burn down around them.
Whereas I?m the type who?d
apologise to a Viagra ad for not getting
back to them quickly enough.
So, in a way, good for Chopra ? for
having enough self-assurance to ignore
the relentless prattle of the modern
world.
Observer
Magazine
Emails have a lot to answer for
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16 | NEWS
*
17.12.17
Last chance for
a graceful hunter
as Asia?s cheetahs
stand on the brink
Once widespread across a continent, only 50 cheetahs now
cling on in Iran. With UN funds being cut this month, wildlife
experts are now calling for an 11th-hour e?ort to save them
Robin
McKie
SCIENCE
EDITOR
Conservationists have warned that
the燗siatic cheetah is on the threshold of extinction following a UN decision to爌ull funding from conservation
efforts to protect it.
Fewer than 50 of the critically endangered carnivores are thought to be left in
the wild ? all of them in Iran ? and scientists fear that without urgent intervention there is little chance of saving one of
the planet?s most distinctive and graceful
hunters.
?Lack of funding means extinction
for the Asiatic cheetah, I?m afraid,?
the Iranian conservationist Jamshid
Parchizadeh said. ?Iran has already
suffered from the loss of the Asiatic
lion and the Caspian tiger. Now we
are about爐o see the Asiatic cheetah go
extinct as well.?
The Asiatic cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus venaticus, is slightly smaller and
paler than its African cousin. It has a
fawn-coloured coat with black spots on
its head and neck, and distinctive black
?tear marks? running from the corner of
each eye down the side of its nose.
Cheetahs ? both African and Asian
? are the fastest land animals on Earth,
using their speed to bring down antelope, gazelle and other moderately large
prey. Asiatic cheetahs were once widespread across the continent but were
eradicated in India, where they were
hunted for sport. The spread of farming
also greatly reduced numbers in the 19th
and 20th centuries.
Eventually the animal was wiped
out in all the nations of Asia to which
it was once native ? with the exception
of a爁ew areas of Iran. Conservationists
have battled to keep numbers stable
in these areas. They have faced severe
problems, however.
?There have been all sorts of threats to
the Asiatic cheetah,? said the conservation biologist Sam Williams of the University of Venda, in South Africa, who
The Asiatic cheetah, which is smaller
and paler than its African cousin, now
faces extinction. . Photograph by
Vahid Salemi/AP
is an expert on large carnivores. ?For
example, they are hunted and killed
by local herders ? of sheep and goats ?
because cheetahs will occasionally kill
and eat one of their animals.?
In some cases, farmers hunt cheetahs
with dogs. Alternatively, they may use
traps. In addition, the animals are known
to roam over considerable areas of Iran
and cross highways, where they are run
over. Dozens have been killed despite
signs being erected along the sides of
roads, highlighting the risk. The opening up of new mining operations has also
restricted their territories.
In recent years several measures
have been introduced to help raise
awareness of the cheetah?s plight. In
17.12.17
NEWS | 17
*
FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL
Compared with its Asiatic cousin, the
African cheetah ? the most widespread
subspecies of cheetah - is in relatively
good health. It still faces major problems,
however.
It is reckoned that there are around
7,000 in the wild and, according to the
Red List of the International Union for
Conservation of Nature, its status is
classi?ed as ?vulnerable?.
Many scientists and conservationists
believe this categorisation is in fact
incorrect and that the pressures placed
on the animal mean its status should be
rated as endangered.
In some regions, young cheetahs are
caught and sold as pets, and the animal
is hunted by farmers, who see it as a
threat to livestock. It is estimated that
its population plummeted by more than
90% during the 20th century.
Even when protected inside game
parks, cheetahs face a struggle to
survive. They can be bullied into the
margins by lions, which are far stronger
both in body and number.
2014, the Iranian national football team
announced that their World Cup and
Asian Cup kits would be printed with
pictures of the Asiatic cheetah. In addition, a crowdfunding conservation project was set up, and this year 31 August
was declared national Cheetah Day.
Despite this, the animal?s decline
has continued. ?There were three main
?Only in one protected
area are there signs of
enough cheetahs to
maintain a population?
Urs Breitenmoser, zoologist
protected areas in which we used to ?nd
cheetahs,? said Urs Breitenmoser, of the
Cat Specialist Group, based in Bern,
Switzerland. ?There are now none left
in the western area, at Kavir, while in
the southern region the animals are too
thinly spread for enough to meet and
breed. Only in the north, around Touran
and Miandasht, are there any signs that
there are enough cheetahs to maintain
a爌opulation.?
Implementing measures to protect
these last vestiges of cheetah territory
has proved extremely difficult. ?Iran
has faced heavy international economic
sanctions since 1980, and international
agencies have been encountering a lot
of problems transferring money into the
country for many years,? said Williams.
?The crucial point is that that money
could have been used for the implementation of conservation strategies.?
This problem has been compounded
by cuts made by the Iranian government
to the budget of its department of the
environment, which has responsibility for protecting the country?s threatened animals. Fortunately, the United
Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) was able to support the Asiatic
cheetah conservation project, because
as a UN agency it was able to get money
into Iran relatively easily. ?Its aid was
crucial,? said Williams.
But now that last piece of support
has disappeared because the agency has
had to make major cuts in its budgets.
Last month Anne Marie Carlsen, the
programme?s deputy resident representative in Iran, announced that the
organisation would not be extending
its support for the cheetah project after
December and said that Iran should now
run the project single-handedly.
A UNDP spokesman told the Observer
that the agency had committed around
$800,000 to the cheetah project over
the past few years. ?The conservation
of the Asiatic cheetah project was established in 2001 to save it from extinction.
As a result of the project, we now have a
better understanding of how many Asiatic cheetah are left and have increased
the number of protected areas where
they live. We have got the communities
involved in the project.
?The second phase of the project,
which commenced in 2009, is scheduled to end December 2017. Unfortunately, due to budget challenges, UNDP
is unable to extend the project beyond
this time.?
Parchizadeh and Williams, in a joint
letter to the journal Nature this month,
warn that without the agency?s support,
there is little hope for the Asiatic cheetah. ?Management of the project will
now fall mainly to Iran?s department
of the environment, the head of which
has declared the cheetah ?doomed to
extinction? on the basis of its declining
numbers since 2001. We urge Iran?s government not to give up on cheetah conservation,? they write.
This point was endorsed by Breitenmoser. ?We need to give as much support as we can to Iran. Every other
country in which the Asiatic cheetah
once roamed allowed it to disappear.
Iran managed to save it ? until now. So
we need to get international agencies to
get help to the country?s conservationists as soon as possible.
?The alternative is straightforward.
Unless something is done within the
next couple of years, it will not be possible to save the Asiatic cheetah. It is
now爁ive minutes to midnight for the
species. Soon it will be midnight ?
and爀xtinction.?
17.12.17
Christmas appeal | NEWS | 19
*
Emergency helpline saves invisible young
homeless from wretched life on the streets
The helpline has
been called by
more than 1,600
young people in its
first six months.
Photograph by
Martin Godwin for
the Observer
CHARITY APPEAL
2017
David Brindle learns
how Centrepoint?s
latest service o?ers
instant advice to
sofa-surfers after
family breakdowns
The email is brief and to the point. ?I
am at risk of being homeless as my
?ance is kicking me out,? it starts. ?I
have lots of cuts and bruises from ?ghts
we have. I am scared. If he evicts me
I have nowhere to go. I can stay at my
nan?s until Sunday, but after that I have
nowhere. I don?t know what to do. The
violence is horrible.?
The plea from a young woman
arrives on a bank of screens in a basement office, loaned to the organisation in central London, where staff
and volunteers operate a helpline
for the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint. It?s not exceptional:
one in every 20 calls or emails are
prompted by domestic abuse, another
three in 20 by relationship breakdown.
Most often, though, young people get
in touch because they can no longer
stay with their families.
?We ask them if they have evidence
they have been shut out by their
parents,? says Paul Brocklehurst, who
manages the service. ?For example,
texts from their mum saying, ?You can?t
come home?.?
Such advice can sound shockingly
clinical, but the Centrepoint team
is skilled in knowing what evidence
homeless young people need to make
a case to local councils to get access
to housing. The odds are stacked
against them, and the chances of being
assessed as having priority need are
slim, but applicants are more likely to
be successful if they can prove they
are at risk or have a health condition.
Often they may be reluctant to disclose
a diagnosis, or unaware of the importance of doing so.
?I had a young guy last week who
had been evicted and had severe mental health issues and had attempted
suicide,? recalls Nina Calder, an experienced advice worker on the helpline.
?It only came out later in the conversation that he was also diabetic and
insulin-dependent. That could make
all the difference to his case because
insulin has to be kept in a fridge.?
Giving young people direct access to
such specialist knowledge and practical assistance is why Centrepoint set
up the helpline this year. The charity,
one of three supported by this year?s
Guardian and Observer appeal, is better
known for providing long-term accommodation and support for homeless
under-25s. But it realised there was a
pressing need for a service that could
offer instant advice and help, and build
a better picture of a growing problem
that becomes visible only when young
men and women end up on the streets.
Of more than 1,600 young people
who contacted the helpline in its ?rst
six months, one in ?ve were sleeping
rough. About the same number were
still in the family home, anticipating
leaving, but the biggest group ? almost
a third ? were sofa-sur?ng with their
friends or relatives and exhausting
their welcome.
Just such a call comes in to Calder.
It?s a young man, let?s call him Rakesh,
who is staying at a friend?s ?at in east
London but can no longer afford to
contribute to rent or bills. He had been
in local authority care until he turned
21 this year, and says he was at that
point offered a ?at, but turned it down
because he was going overseas for an
extended break. His personal adviser,
allocated by the council, had quit and
he had acted without any advice.
Calder?s expression speaks vol-
umes, but she makes no comment and
patiently sets out Rakesh?s immediate
options: he should ask the council if
it owes any continuing duty of care to
him, which is probably unlikely, but he
must also make a homelessness application and, if he is assessed as having
no priority need, be sure to ask for a
housing referral anyway. That may be
unlikely, too, so she also advises him on
?We ask them if they
have evidence. For
example, texts from
mum saying, ?You
can?t come home? ?
Paul Brocklehurst, Centrepoint
local housing organisations to which
he can self-refer.
Rakesh sounds grateful for the
tips and for Calder?s calm counsel,
if bemused by the system he has to
wrestle with. You sense he will be back
in touch.
Grace Ogunyemi, the helpline team
leader, says the system is intimidating
at the best of times, let alone when a
young person is under great stress. It is
vital, for instance, that they insist on a
written decision from the local council
on their eligibility for priority-need
housing, rather than accept a verbal
rejection. Once they have that piece of
paper, legal avenues can be explored.
Most of the calls and emails to the
helpline come from young people in
towns and cities, but problems can be
just as severe in rural areas. Ogunyemi
recalls a recent contact from Cornwall,
where locals face an uphill battle for
accommodation, with many properties
used as holiday homes. A young man
had received a negative decision letter
but found that local lawyers wanted
payment ? �0 is typical ? even to
consider his case. Ogunyemi spent
hours searching for a solicitor who
would give him an hour for free.
Did she succeed? ?Oh yes,? she says.
?I was proud of that one.?
ON THE WEB
CHARITY
APPEAL
2017
Find out more
about this year?s
charities: Depaul,
Centrepoint and
Naccom (the No
Accommodation
Network)
gu.com/guardianobserver-charityappeal
k� 蕑� xx /� �緆k侣
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司@Y� �� 譳` @c� x緆k�
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*
17.12.17
World
Black voters, twentysomethings
Deep South to cast off Trump?s
Last week?s shock Senate victory in the
Republican bastion of Alabama gave
fresh impetus to a party shattered by
Hillary Clinton?s defeat. Can it now build
on this grassroots coalition and
sweep to national success?
By David Smith in Birmingham
Jordan Crenshaw was home-schooled
in smalltown Alabama. ?You waved at
people at stop signs,? she recalls. ?Your
community was completely re?ective of
your church. It was a very conservative
upbringing, politically and religiously.?
Crenshaw?s father voted for Donald
Trump in last year?s US presidential election. But when fellow Republican Roy
Moore, an alleged paedophile, looked on
course for victory in last week?s US Senate race in Alabama, Crenshaw turned to
her husband and said: ?Can we live here?
Can we raise our children here??
It did not come to that. Moore suffered a stunning defeat by Doug Jones,
the ?rst Democrat to take a Senate seat
in Alabama for a quarter of a century. At
Jones?s election night party in the ballroom of a Birmingham hotel, the sense
of joy, relief and release was palpable
in hugs, tears and high-?ves: it felt like
the ?rst time since November 2016 that
America had broken the Trump spell.
For many, the past year has served
up what feels like a bruising, bewildering assault on institutions, decency and
truth itself. When Trump endorsed
Moore, a Christian fundamentalist
accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls, it seemed the pit was bottomless. But here, in the unlikeliest of states,
came resistance forged from a coalition of women, African Americans and
university-educated suburbanites ? and
millennials such as Crenshaw.
Next day, the 28-year-old was out
celebrating with fellow college admissions workers Amy Hayes and Jessica
Rager at the Atomic, a trendy cocktail
bar in downtown Birmingham featuring a Sgt Pepper-style collage and a giant
image of local heroine Angela Davis, the
civil rights activist. They reflected on
how Moore had hammered away at the
old conservative taboos of abortion and
homosexuality but that, for a new generation of Christians, such issues carry
less weight than they once did.
?Growing up in an evangelical household, and feeling pulled in a different
direction, wondering why my parents
are supporting a conservative, I?ve
always been fascinated by the disconnect,? Crenshaw said. ?One of the things
that ?rst pulled me from conservative
views to more progressive views was
thinking: ?Are we really making abortion the top priority? Can we talk about
poverty in our state?? When I saw that
was becoming most of the rallying cry
of the Republican party, instead of a
spread of issues, that was the start of
the turn.?
Rager, 28, agreed: ?I?m from Georgia
and a lot of my friends are still pro-life
but they don?t believe laws are the way
to do it. They?re pro taking action that
will help reduce the need for abortions.?
Since leaving home, getting married
(to an atheist), ?nding a job and moving
into her own home, Crenshaw has felt
able to have more open conversations
with her parents about politics. ?They
were born in Alabama but they?re now
asking: should we go to a church that
doesn?t support LGBT rights? I marched
with my church in the Pride parade this
year: to see such a group energised and
excited is really cool.?
Hayes, 29, added: ?My dad voted for
Trump but this time he said: ?I?m not
going to do that to America again; I won?t
be stubborn again.? He voted for Jones.
A disappointing performance among
millennials was one of the reasons that
Hillary Clinton lost to Trump last year.
According to exit polls, Jones won voters
aged 18-29 by a margin of 60% to 38%.
This was a dramatic turnaround from
the 2012 presidential election, when
Barack Obama lost Alabama voters aged
18-29 to Republican Mitt Romney by
four percentage points.
With the help of targeted text messages and digital advertising, Democrats
enjoyed a particular surge in college
areas. In Tuscaloosa county, home to the
University of Alabama, Jones won 57.2%
of the vote ? 19 points better than Clinton
managed. In Lee county, home of Auburn
University, Jones took 57.4%, which was
21.5 points more than Clinton.
Issues such as abortion and gay
marriage are losing purchase, said
Jake Carnley, 27, founder of a candle
shop in Birmingham. ?This election
showed they are fading. The propaganda machine has been able to hijack
the conservative agenda by pretending
these issues swing on elections when
in fact they are already protected by the
government. They suggest it?s still up in
the air when it?s not.
?The priorities have definitely
changed to the economy and, in this
election, simple decency. As this administration gets more zany, people have
to燿ecide where they?re at on decency
and choose empathy or ignorance,
ALABAMA IN NUMBERS: KEY FIGURES BEHIND DOUG JONES?S VICTORY
Since 2004, the Republicans had won the
state by a margin of at least 20 points.
In the 2016 presidential election, Donald
Trump won 62.9% of the vote. Hillary
Clinton received 34.6% of the vote.
Last week, Democratic candidate Doug
Jones won by 49.9% to 48.4%. In each
county in Alabama, he won a greater share
of the vote than Clinton in 2016, winning 12
counties where Clinton had lost.
The majority (60%) of young voters aged
18-29 supported Jones. Among over65s, 59% voted for Roy Moore.
2012, when 95% supported Obama. Of
black women, 98% voted for Jones.
Among white voters, 30% supported
Doug Jones ? far higher than in 2012,
when 15% of white voters supported
Obama. White women were more likely to
vote for Jones than white men.
Alabama?s better-educated cities tended
to vote Democrat whatever their racial
makeup. Jones won the well-educated
Madison county by a margin of 57-40.
In 2016, the county voted for Trump by a
margin of 55-38.
According to an exit poll, 96% of AfricanAmerican voters backed Jones, similar to
Source: Edison Research, US Census
Bureau
empathy or issues that could really
divide us. As爉illennials we?ve made a
conscious choice.?
Carnley added: ?I think one reason
we are able to choose empathy is that
we know gay people and we know black
people. We are locking arms with people
in this ?ght and have real stakes in it and
that?s perhaps something our parents
and grandparents never had. For millennials, it?s about being able to put a face
and a personality to an issue rather than
just an idea.?
Neil Sroka, a millennial and political
activist originally from Detroit, said:
?We are having families now and buying homes; we are not college students
any more. The parties are going to start
recognising that. Doug Jones stood up
for choice [on reproductive rights] ? he
won not in spite of that conviction but
because of that conviction.?
Stung by the enthusiasm gap of 2016,
the Democratic National Committee
(DNC) was quick to claim credit for
getting out the youth vote this time. Its
chairman, Tom Perez, told a conference call: ?We went to college campuses
because we knew that Doug?s message
would resonate with millennial voters.?
The DNC revealed after the election
that it ploughed nearly $1m into boosting millennial and African American
voter turnout. It said this contributed
to more than 1.32m phone calls, 325,000
doors knocked in the past seven weeks
and more than 1m texts to volunteers
and voters in across the state.
Even Steve Bannon ? the Breitbart
News executive chairman and former
White House chief strategist who suffered humiliation after backing Moore
to the hilt ? praised Democrats for their
?ground game?.
He told Breitbart News radio: ?If you
get outworked, you?re going to lose, and
I?ve got to tell you, their ability to get out
votes ? that?s what it comes down to.?
But while Republicans looked for
ways to stem the bleeding, there were
17.12.17
WORLD | NEWS | 21
*
and white women unite in the
spell and give Democrats hope
Main photograph
and right: the
sense of relief
was palpable at
the Democrats?
election-night
party in Birmingham, Alabama.
Photographs by
Marvin Gentry/
Reuters, Rex
lessons for Democrats, too. Before
this election, the party was divided,
neglected and moribund in Alabama.
Giles Perkins, Jones?s campaign chairman, said: ?They don?t have a lot of
infrastructure. We ran and funded our
own campaign.?
There are reasons to believe that it
was the Jones campaign, national progressive networks such as Indivisible
and the Human Rights Campaign and,
above all, hyperlocal grassroots activism
that won the day, not the party central
command. African American turnout is
a prime example.
Alabama was a crucible of the civil
rights struggle and, in a state where
African Americans make up 26% of
the population, they made up 29% of
the electorate, according to exit polls
? slightly more than the percentage of
black voters in the state who turned out
for Barack Obama in 2012. They backed
Jones by a margin of 96% to 4%, including 98% of African-American women,
?My dad voted for
ut this time
Trump but
he said: I?m not going
at to America
to do that
again. I won?t be
stubborn
n again?
Amy Hayes, Alabama voter
Democratic victor:
Doug Jones ?ran a
smart campaign?.
prompting Perez to describe them as
?the backbone of the Democratic party?.
But Charles Barkley, a former basketball star from Alabama, told CNN that
Democrats ?have taken the black vote
and the poor vote for granted for a long
time. They?ve always had our votes and
they?ve abused our votes. It?s time for
them to get off their ass. This is a wake
up call for Democrats to do better for
black people and poor white people.?
The turnout arguably owed much
more to three major grassroots organisations ? BlackPAC, Black Voters Matter and Woke Vote ? that were all led by
black women.
DeJuana Thompson, founder of Woke
Vote, said it worked with black businesses, churches and universities and
did not receive Democratic funding.
Rather than just advertising in churches,
the group organised 120 ?face captains?
who could interact with worshippers
directly and reached an estimated
300,000 people. It worked on every historically black college and university in
the state plus three more, with an organiser on each campus backed by text messages and Facebook posts, committing
more than 10,000 students to vote.
In addition, more than 270 canvassers knocked on more than 14,000 doors
on the Sunday before the election, committing 6,000 voters on that day alone.
The� group made more than 100,000
phone calls and received more than a
million impressions on its Facebook
account. One programme reached into
prisons and gave at least 2,000 incarcerated people the opportunity to cast
absentee ballots.
Thompson said: ?If anybody is saying
the grassroots strategy was not crucial
to moving the vote, their eyes need to
be爋pened. We have shown that when
we show up, we deliver for the Democratic party.?
Democratic operatives tend to parachute in late and with little awareness of
suggested. ?There?s
local dynamics, she sug
nothing stronger than a knock on the
misses the
door, but I think the party
p
intentionality. If I?m from California
door in Alabama
and I knock on a d
and I don?t look like the person
and don?t know anything about
the community,
that?s going
commu
to have a different feel
from ssomeone who?s
local, or at least who?s
from the south.
?We
?W built our programmes
around
gr
the
th idea that there
could
coul be black liberation by
b black people.
When we asked people at
the door about
abo black power,
them
that?s what motivated
m
rather than Doug Jones or
We went to some
Roy Moore. W
doors wher
where people didn?t
know there was an election.?
Woke Vote used social media to
reinforce this narrative, Thompson
added. ?A lot of our digital content was
people on the ground. They were seeing themselves on Facebook and in ads.
Senator Cory Booker did come, and
Congressman John Lewis did make an
ad, but 99% of the imagery was from the
ground.營t was our own people and that
was impactful.?
The Democrats, often accused of
taking black voters for granted and not
addressing their specific needs, still
have much work to do in future elections, she believes.
?A lot of the time in communities the
party turns up at the last minute,? said
Thompson. ?If you?re not speaking to
local churches and local leaders, you
don?t know.
?The party needs to put money in
on the ground for the building of infrastructure and relationships and the projects that need to happen. Two or three
weeks before an election doesn?t work.
?Is there a sentiment right now
where black people feel they need to
create their own structures to advance
the interests of black and brown
100 miles
MISSISSIPPI
TENNESSEE
Huntsville
Birmingham
ALABAMA
Atlanta
GEORGIA
Montgomery
FLORIDA
communities? Absolutely. I think it?s
already happening. People should get
ready.?
Black Voters Matter raised enough
money to deploy in 18 Alabama counties
and make mini-grants to more than 30
local community-based organisations to
get out the vote, along with stipends for
about 400 paid organisers.
LaTosha Brown , the fund?s cofounder, said: ?I saw articles saying the
DNC put boots on the ground; that?s not
what happened. At least they put some
money into Alabama ? they normally
don?t ? but a lot of it went to DC-based
consulting ?rms and pretty mailings that
did nothing.?
One mailing in particular was seen
as unhelpful. It featured a picture of
a black man twisting his face into a
comical expression and sought to draw
attention to Moore?s scandals by asking:
?Think if a black man went after high
school girls anyone would try to make
him a senator?? Brown opined: ?The
messaging was all wrong.?
Like Thompson, she argues that a
deep appreciation of local subtleties is
crucial for a political campaign. ?In the
south, culture will eat strategy for breakfast. We?ve got relationship capital on
both the black and the white side. Don?t
just utilise technology and ?ood the TV
ads but also go from door to door and use
the existing infrastructure. We saw that
worked in the Obama campaigns.?
Democracy for America, a liberal
political action committee, raised more
than $71,000 for the Jones campaign and
mobilised thousands of members in Alabama to help with contributions, doorknocking, phone-banking and texting
get-out-the-vote operations. Sroka, its
communications director, shares the
concerns and warned against Democratic
complacency.
?The party got very lucky in having
a candidate as strong as Doug Jones,?
he爏aid. ?If Jones hadn?t run, there would
have been no way we could have challenged Moore because there was no
bench. We don?t have candidates that are
battle-tested and a strong infrastructure
that can be built on. Jones ran a smart
campaign, but the real story of the election is how many black voters turned
out and that was a result of grassroots
organisations that were built up during
the campaign.?
Jones also had the advantage of being
up against a uniquely toxic candidate,
an alleged sexual predator. Sroka added:
?This is one of those instances where
everything worked out in Jones?s favour.
It wasn?t a matter of luck: everything had
to be done perfectly, and it was.
?But as a party, relying on perfection
isn?t a winning strategy. I think next time
in Alabama they?re probably not going to
put up the alleged child molester again.
?We?ve got to build robust infrastructure all across the country that?s capable
of winning races. The grassroots energy
we?re seeing across the country gives us
an opportunity to build that infrastructure. Historically as a party we have not
invested enough in black and brown voters. This should be a tremendous wakeup call that if you invest in these communities, you can win.?
The upset in Alabama handed Trump
and Bannon their most humiliating
political defeat. The writing is on the
wall for Republicans in next year?s midterm elections. The president?s approval
rating continues to crater while progressives are motivated and organised in
ways that mirror the rightwing Tea Party
backlash against Obama in 2010.
Henry Olsen, a political analyst and
senior fellow at the Ethics and Public
Policy Center, described Alabama as ?a
perfect storm? but with wider implications. ?It bodes very poorly for the GOP,?
he said. ?If Bannonism cannot win in
Alabama, Bannonism cannot win anywhere. Unless there?s a dramatic course
reversal, or events intervene, 2018 is
going to be a wipeout for Republicans. It
would be consistent with losing 30 seats
in the House.?
Back in Birmingham, there was relief
among liberals that, after decades in the
wilderness with their state often seen as
a byword for backwardness and object of
derision, Alabama suddenly had something to shout about.
Hayes said: ?Today, walking out of
my house, standing in line at Starbucks,
I felt the chills. Everybody is walking
taller today in Birmingham.? Crenshaw
added: ?We?ve got Harper Lee, Tallulah
Bankhead and Condoleezza Rice. We
can rock it when we want to.?
ON OTHER PAGES
Conspiracies, crises and the Kremlin
Books, The New Review, 34-35
22 | NEWS | WORLD
Paris bids adieu
to Colette, the
cutting-edge
fashion boutique
*
17.12.17
TOP CLIENTELE
The avant garde shop that rede?ned street
style, and was beloved by celebrities and
designers, calls it quits after two decades
After 20 years in service, the Paris concept store Colette is due to close its doors
on Wednesday, marking the end of an era
in which it radically revamped the face
of French art de vivre, made streetwear
high fashion, and rede?ned what shops
could be.
Situated on the Rue Saint-Honor�,
it was opened in 1997 by Colette Rousseaux and her daughter, Sarah Andelman. Back then, it faced a city that was,
according to Andelman, ?totally dead.
Today it feels totally natural to mix fashion, food,爈ifestyle.?
When the store opened, it made a startling impact, with a style in direct contrast to the country?s fashion history and
its couture houses. But this, say fans, was
precisely its draw. The Chanel designer
Karl Lagerfeld said last year that it was
the only shop he frequented, ?because
they have things no one else has?.
The week before it closes is quite a
scene. The usual clientele ? hip young
things, looking to stock up on rare Balen-
ciaga merchandise ? havee been
replaced by a clientele broader
hop assisthan ever before. The shop
ke a ?tourist
tants tell me it feels like
om to move
attraction?. There isn?t room
beside the coffee-table books, and the
sense of urgency is palpable. Most popular are items with the famed Colette bluee
dots logo ? T-shirts, baseball caps, key
rings, lighters. They are all ?flying off
the shelves?, the staff explain. No doubt
these items will reappear online at outrageous prices soon after, all to be collectors? items.
?I can?t believe it is closing ? Colette
felt so ingrained in the Parisian landscape. It had brought a sense of the
avant-garde that the local fashion scene
had never seen before, and which no
other boutique can offer in the same
way to this day,? said M閘ody Thomas, a
Paris-based journalist who writes for the
likes of fashion magazines L?Officiel and
Jalouse, and went to the store a few days
ago looking for Glossier beauty products,
which Colette stocks exclusively.
?I had never seen the place as full,
you could barely move. People who
From left, Zlatan
Ibrahimovi?,
Pharrell Williams
and Karl Lagerfeld
frequented and worked
with Colette. Rex
?It brought in the idea
of collaborations, and
unique, temporary
products that could
only be found here?
Natalie Yuksel, stylist
�
?Thou shalt
not serve
Christmas
pudding.
Nobody
likes it?
Jay Rayner?s
10 Christmas
commandments
page 7
m
might
not even have been aware of it
suddenly wanted to catch a glimpse of
it before it closed,? she added. One of
the things she would miss the most is
the global magazine section, a point of
reference for journalists.
Colette?s success has, in part, been
about its evolving approach to fashion.
Using a stream of collaborations and
launches ? the shop windows became
tantamount to a shrine, usually changing
on a Sunday ? it is thought the windows
have hosted more than 2,000 displays. It
also de?ned what a concept store was,
setting the tone for shops like Dover
Street Market in London.
?Rather than a static boutique, the
place was thought of like a style magazine: the windows that changed regularly were like the cover, the ground ?oor
?lled with accessories like the opening
pages, the top floor with fashion, the
bottom with food: the idea was a place
of life rather than a place of luxe,? said
Guillaume Salmon, Colette?s head of
communications, who has been working
at the company for 18 years. ?The idea
was to have a wide enough offer to allow
a diverse crowd to mix harmoniously.?
In terms of style, not only did it epitomise the idea of streetwear as high
fashion, but it also crystallised the idea
of ?one-offs? ? exclusive, but not necessarily unaffordable, pieces. Fashion as
collectors? items. There was the launch
of musician Pharrell Williams?s exhi-
bition collaborations (ranging from a
team-up with Comme des Gar鏾ns and
Colette for a perfume to, more recently,
sneakers jointly produced with Adidas,
Chanel and Colette). Other events have
included a public funfair at the Tuileries
for the store?s 15th anniversary, a book
signing by famed Vogue editor Grace
Coddington, and an exhibition by stylist
Giovanna燘attaglia.
?It brought in the idea of then rare
collaborations, and the idea of single,
unique, temporary products that could
only be found here, all packed with an
overall sense of rush, excitement and
ongoing cultural events,? said Britishborn, Paris-based stylist Natalie Yuksel,
who started working at the store aged
18 as an intern, and spent ?yonks? at
every single one of the events Colette
would throw.
More signi?cantly, Colette delivered a
message of cultural diversity: when Paris
rapper Booba offered private showcases,
he insisted on Colette; the entire shop
was dedicated to Paris Saint-Germain
FC and its former star striker, Zlatan
Ibrahimovi?, when he launched his perfume. All of this projected sporty, nonelitist expressions of Frenchness into
an avant-garde sphere that became the
store?s greatest asset. ?This hybridity
is perhaps what I?m proudest of,? said
Salmon. ?Something a bit more democratic, that stretched the image people
might have of France.?
Catalan left seeks victory by
sidelining independence call
by Stephen Burgen
Barcelona
Food
Monthly
by Alice Pfei?er
?They say there are 40% in favour and
40% against independence, but what
they don?t say is that the progressive
left makes up 60%.? That was the message yesterday from Xavier Dom鑞ech,
candidate for the leftwing Podemos
party, as he addressed a packed outdoor
meeting in Barcelona ahead of this
week?s de?ning election in Catalonia.
Speaking among palm trees and
tower blocks in the working-class
district of Nou Barris, Dom鑞ech
called for a three-way left coalition
made up of the pro-independence
Esquerra Rep鷅licana (Republican
Left), the Socialists and his own party,
the Catalan version of Podemos, named
Catalunya en Com�-Podem.
?We are the key, so that people don?t
have to choose between one bloc or
another,? said Dom鑞ech. ?We are not
going to play Russian roulette with
our country, we will create a government that represents all Catalans,?
he added, promising a new start after
last October?s unilateral declaration of
independence, which plunged Spain
into a constitutional crisis.
There was little nationalist sentiment on display at the meeting where,
rather than the ubiquitous proindependence ?ags, people carried
the red, gold and purple ?ag of the
second republic that was overthrown
by General Franco in 1939. For the last
big meeting before Thursday?s election, Com� brought out the big guns
to support Dom鑞ech, among them
the Barcelona mayor, Ada Colau. She
said: ?People power is what counts. We
are unstoppable. We know what the
polls say, but we might surprise them.
All the polls were against us when we
were running for mayor, but we won.?
She condemned ?the irresponsible
unilateralists who have brought nothing but pain and sorrow to Catalonia.
This campaign is an opportunity to
recognise that error. Never again must
Catalonia be driven to the precipice.?
When Colau ran for mayor in 2015
she made it clear that she did not favour
independence but instead appealed
to Barcelona?s long and deep tradition
of radical, communitarian politics.
The message appeared to resonate.
Dom鑞ech, a historian with a radical pedigree, hopes that a campaign
focused on social, not sovereignty,
issues will have the same resonance.
Pablo Iglesias, the leader of Podemos
in Spain, said: ?We need to stop treating
the issue like it was a football match
between Bar鏰 and Real Madrid. Spain
... is a complex country made up of
different identities, and the issue can?t
be solved with judges and the police.
Spain is pluri-national.?
17.12.17
WORLD | NEWS | 23
*
Anti-poaching unit member
Primrose Mazliru, 21, is reunited
with her daughter after patrol.
Mazliru bought a small plot of land
with her wages
. Photographs by Adrian Steirn for
Alliance Earth
The ?brave ones? of Zimbabwe: the women
saving elephants and forging a better life
Abused and disadvantaged mothers and
daughters are being honed into a squad of
sharpshooters to help wildlife. Je?rey Barbee
travels into the Zambezi valley to meet them
The black metal of the AR-15 ri?e has
worn silvery and shiny in parts after
years of use. More manageable than
an AK-47 in close-quarter combat, the
weapon is precise enough to bring down
an enemy target at 500 metres. Used for
decades by anti-poaching units throughout Africa, today this gun is not carried by a typical swaggering male ?eld
ranger; this one is cradled securely and
pro?ciently by Vimbai Kumire. ?This job
is not meant just for men,? she says, ?but
for everyone who is ?t and strong.?
Kumire is a 32-year-old single mother
whose husband ran off with a younger
woman while she was pregnant with her
second child. She is practising setting up
an ambush in the early morning in Zimbabwe?s lower Zambezi Valley, nestling
deep into the green undergrowth like a
dappled shadow.
This is Africa?s poaching frontline, and
these are not just regular female game
rangers. If the team behind Kumire?s
new job have anything to do with it, these
women are a growing squad of environmental shock troops for a new type of
community development offensive.
According to conservation biologist
Victor Muposhi of Chinhoyi University
of Technology, the lower Zambezi Valley has lost 11,000 elephants in the past
10 years. But he believes that hiring and
training female rangers such as Kumire
directly from the local communities is a
game-changer.
?Developing conservation skills in
communities creates more than just
jobs,? says Professor Muposhi. ?It makes
local people directly benefit from the
preservation of wildlife.? And that, he
says, can save not only landmark species
such as elephants but entire ecosystems.
Women?s empowerment is at the core
of the programme, named Akashinga,
which means the brave ones. ?This is a
true empowerment programme,? says
Muposhi, ?because you are dealing with
a highly vulnerable and damaged group
of young ladies.? Sitting on a rock looking north over one of Africa?s last great
wildernesses, Muposhi explains that his
early research shows the ?ve-month-old
programme is helping change these formerly unemployed single mothers into
community leaders.
Primrose Mazliru, 21, stands in the
gathering dusk near their camp among
the new grass, bright green with the
recent rains. Ramrod straight, shoulders back and proud, she smiles despite
the vivid scar that runs across her upper
lip, where her ex-boyfriend beat her in a
drunken rage. ?I can testify to the power
of this programme to change my life,
and now I have the respect of my community, even as a young single mother,?
she explains.
Mazliru has already bought a small
plot of land with her wages as a field
ranger. ?I don?t need a man in my life to
pay my way for me and my child,? she
says, a glint in her eye.
Like most countries in southern
Africa, Zimbabwe uses game management areas around famous national
parks such as Victoria Falls or Mana
Pools as ?buffer zones? to protect the
animals. These buffer zones are huge
tracts of land much larger than the parks
themselves, originally created to bene?t
the surrounding communities by allowing limited trophy hunting by high-dollar foreign clients such as Walter Palmer,
the American dentist who attracted
worldwide condemnation after killing
Cecil the lion on a hunt in 2015.
There are no fences between the
hunting areas, or between the wildlife
and the estimated 4 million people living
on the borders of these protected lands.
Some profits from the hunting have
gone爐o support the communities which
live in the wilderness areas designated
for trophy hunting ? almost 20% of
Zimbabwe?s land.
According to Muposhi, these precious
ecosystems are now under grave threat
due to the collapse of commercial hunting, in part because of a growing ethical
backlash. ?Cecil the lion marked the
birth of the greater debate around the
issues of morals and ethics in hunting
and whether it is sustainable or not.?
Revenues are plummeting and human
populations around parks growing. ?Five
years from now,? says Muposhi, ?if we do
not have other options, then it will not be
viable to save these areas.?
Damien Mander, the founder of the
Akashinga initiative, is a tall, Australian,
military-trained sniper, who would look
very much at home in the centre of a
rugby scrum. Mander was inspired by the
story of the Black Mambas, the world?s
?rst female, unarmed anti-poaching unit,
who work near South Africa?s Kruger
National Park. Having met some of the
women on a fundraising trip to New York,
Damien Mander, founder of the initiative,
trains with the anti-poaching unit.
?I have the respect of
my community, even
as a young single
mother ... I don?t need
a man in my life.?
Primrose Mazliru, ranger
where they were giving a talk, he saw the
international support and interest they
received and thought a similar project in
Zimbabwe might be a good way to raise
the pro?le of his own project, the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF).
What transpired went way beyond those
modest ambitions.
?Thirty-six women started our training, modelled on our special-forces
training, and we pushed them hard,
much harder than any training we do
with men,? he explains from his tented
camp at a secret location in the Zambezi Valley. ?Only three dropped out. I
couldn?t believe it.?
From the very ?rst day of the women?s training, he saw that something very
special was happening. He realised that
women were the missing link to successful conservation and anti-poaching
initiatives. ?We have turned a security
need into a community programme,?
he said. In only ?ve months, according
to Mander, this pilot project is already
putting more money per month into the
local community than trophy hunting
did per year.
Important people are noticing. Tariro
Mnangagwa is a 32-year-old professional photographer who is visiting and
training with the International AntiPoaching Foundation?s Akashinga ?eld
ranger unit. She is also the youngest
daughter of Zimbabwe?s new president,
Emmerson Mnangagwa.
?These women show me hope,? she
says. She heads to a beaten-up Land
Rover to visit a community in search of a
former poacher who wants to talk.
Annette H黚schle, a senior researcher
and post-doctoral fellow at the University of Cape Town, believes that the
Akashinga model could still be a great
solution. While many western governments and conservation organisations
take decisions in London, New York and
Geneva, the people most affected are usually women in communities adjacent to
protected areas in Africa. Communitydriven conservation programmes based
around empowerment and training for
women such as Kumire and Mazliru offer
a potential solution to the end of hunting.
Mander, and all his rangers, live on
a vegan diet. His TED talk on veganism has been seen by millions of people
around the world. He stopped eating
animal products ?ve years ago. ?I was
wandering around in the bush, protecting one group of animals and coming
home and eating another. I could not
live with the hypocrisy of that any more.?
The Akashinga have embraced it with
gusto. ?It?s great,? says Kumire with a
huge smile, as she stands in the light of
the cooking ?re steaming with pots of
beans and spinach-like greens. ?I don?t
miss meat at all, when I go home for
leave and people try to feed me meat I
can?t eat it because my stomach hurts if
I do, and I tell people no, don?t give me
meat, I am vegan!? The women around
her smile and nod in agreement.
Muposhi, himself a vegan for 13 years,
argues that showing communities they
don?t need bushmeat is about setting an
example, one that stops poaching and
reduces the need to farm animals in wilderness areas ? a driver of habitat loss.
Muposhi is excited to see the project
grow. ?It is happening right in the middle
of nowhere in the Zambezi Valley, and it is
part of a greater movement,? he says. ?We
are going to develop it to become one of
the best models of conservation of wildlife based on women?s empowerment.?
As the training exercise unfolds, the
female rangers are hidden from sight,
the muzzles of their AR-15s poking from
tufts of grass. Slowly the two scouts designated as ?poachers? walk down the
animal track. When they get to the right
spot the women explode into action,
shouting ?Get down! Down! Now, now,
now!? Within moments they have the
suspects handcuffed. When asked why
the pretend ?poachers? are shaking,
Kumire says that suspects always lay
?shaking on the ground?, she laughs.
Mander ends the exercise, the women
help their friends up with smiles, and
together they quietly fall into formation
and disappear back into the bush.
Travel and accommodation for this story
was paid for by www.allianceearth.org
ONLINE GALLERY
See more extraordinary photographs of
the female sniper squad by Adrian Steirn,
visit www.theguardian.com/inpictures
* 17.12.17
In Focus
THE HARDLINERS
ANDREA
LEADSOM
Demanded that
broadcasters be
more ?patriotic? in
their coverage
of Brexit.
BERNARD
JENKIN
Criticised the EU
for delay tactics and
advocated walking
away from talks in
early 2018.
JACOB
JAC
COB
REES-MOGG
REES-M
MOGG
Warned
W
Warn
Wa
arn
ned
ed tthat
hat a tw
ha
twoo
oyear
transition
y
ye
a Brexit
ar
Bre
exi
xitt tr
tran
an
a
nsi
siti
siti
tion
on
could
Britain
co
oul
uld
d turn
tu
urn B
riita
tain
in
in
nto
o a ccolony
olon
ol
ny of
into
the E
EU
U.
the
EU.
BORIS
JOHNSON
Pressed PM not to
sign a deal that limits
ability to take control
of border, money
and laws.
Outnumbered, defeated ? where
It was the week when the Tory rebels ? branded mutineers and
traitors by the right ? helped to in?ict a dramatic defeat on the
government. Now it?s extreme Brexiters who are outmanoeuvred
and at a disadvantage. Report by Toby Helm and Michael Savage
A
t 6pm last Wednesday, the
Tory MP for Eddisbury,
Cheshire, Antoinette
Sandbach, rose to her feet
in the Commons and called
on her Labour counterpart
Chuka Umunna, who was progressing serenely through a speech, to offer
her some badly needed support. ?Does
the honourable gentleman agree that
it is deeply insulting for those who
have time and again voted against their
prime minister and their government
to suggest in this crucial bill, which
will help to set the future course of this
country, that it would be wrong for us
to do the proper scrutiny and to apply
for votes in this house??
It was a remarkable moment. Here
was a Tory MP asking a senior Labour
member to condemn some of her fellow Tories for behaving shamefully and
hypocritically. Umunna duly obliged.
The Commons had been debating
Brexit for ?ve hours. Tempers were
fraying. At times there was more unity
breaking out between members of
different parties than there was within
them. Minutes earlier the Conservative
veteran Bernard Jenkin, a hard
Brexiter and formerly a serial rebel
against the Maastricht treaty (which he
had argued in the early 1990s represented a grave threat to the sovereignty
of parliament), had accused some MPs
on his own side of ?trying to delay? the
UK?s exit from the EU by arguing for a
vote on the eventual Brexit deal.
The likes of Sandbach ? one of those
branded ?mutineers? over the previous weeks by the pro-Brexit Tory press
? were not prepared to sit back and
take it any longer. If Jenkin and others
had made it their life?s work to defend
parliamentary sovereignty from the
clutches of Brussels, how could they be
arguing now that the same parliament
should be denied a right to scrutinise
and vote on the most important issue to
have come before it in decades?
Despite the best efforts of the
Tory whips to force their rebel MPs
into line, discipline in the party had
disintegrated. Principle was beginning
to trump party loyalty and the threats
of the increasingly ineffective whips
counted for nothing.
?The whips tried to tell us we?d be
responsible for landing the country
with a Marxist government under
Jeremy Corbyn � la Daily Mail. What
bollocks,? said one rebel. ?No one really
thinks that defeats over Brexit will
bring down the government. The DUP
will have to desert before that happens
and they won?t because there is only
one thing the DUP wants less than a
hard border in Ireland ? and that is
Corbyn.?
Less than an hour and a half after
Sandbach rose to her feet, she and 10
other Conservative opponents of a hard
Brexit held their nerve and rebelled.
The 11 voted with the opposition parties in support of an amendment tabled
by the former Tory attorney general
Dominic Grieve that will ensure (unless
ministers succeed in removing it later
in the parliamentary process) that MPs
have a vote to approve the eventual
deal. The pro-Brexiters fear it will, in
effect, give MPs a veto.
The dramatic events saw Theresa
May?s ?rst defeat over the Brexit bill in
the Commons and, seemingly, represented a terrible humiliation for her.
But, maybe more important, they also
marked a shocking, sobering reverse
for the hardline, hard-Brexit Tory right.
Has the tide turned against them?
All the hardline Brexiters could do in
the following hours was to launch fresh
assaults on the 11 rebels, accusing them
(wrongly) of celebrating wildly and
toasting their success with champagne
in the Pugin Room at Westminster.
The reality was that they had gathered,
exhausted, over a glass of wine for a
very sombre post-match analysis of
where events of the last few hours had
left them, the country, and the tangled
mess that is Brexit.
Next morning, as the recriminations
gave way to more sensible re?ection,
many agreed a vital corner had been
turned. One senior Tory MP said that
it had not been so much a humiliation
for May as her liberation. ?What the
vote showed was that there is nothing
to be gained for her from continuing
to appease the hardline Brexiters. She
has done that for too long. She was
imprisoned by them. Now it must be
clear to her that if she continues along
that road, she will be defeated again
and again. The hard Brexiters are not
important any more. They are outnumbered. The collective view of parliament is what is important, not one
extreme faction within. The only way
to make progress towards a sensible
Brexit is to go with the majority.?
Umunna, who had been instrumental in marshalling cross-party support behind the Grieve amendment,
said that attempts to intimidate Tory
MPs, not least by the Tory press, had
THE BATTLE BEYOND PARLIAMENT
Big business
Major groups had focused on securing
the transitional agreement. They will want
that ?nalised early in the new year, before
turning their attention to the ?nal deal.
The CBI says the UK should be as close as
possible to current arrangements, with
immigration to be a key battleground.
The City
Britain?s huge ?nancial services sector will
hope the UK achieves a ?rst by securing an
EU trade deal with a high degree of access
for ?nancial services ?rms. Many accept
they will not get full access (?passporting
rights?), and are preparing contingency
plans in case of a hard Brexit. They expect
the Treasury to ?ght their corner.
The media
The Brexit-supporting press mostly
backed May, as she secured trade talks
largely by conceding ground over money,
the role of the European court of justice
and the Irish border. It suggests they will
not push her towards hard Brexit, and will
back her against rebel MPs.
Popular campaigns
Popular movements on both sides are
likely to become noisier. Leave donor Arron
Banks has vowed to fund a pro-Brexit
movement. Remain rallies will pressure
wavering MPs for a softer Brexit as crunch
votes in the Commons approach. Prepare
for a year of marches.
back?red and had merely emboldened
the rebels. ?The use of in?ammatory
and threatening language by elements
of the rightwing press against these
parliamentarians ? who have committed the crime of disagreeing with
others? views on the national interest ?
is grossly irresponsible, dangerous and
has a whiff of the 1930s about it.?
Other Labour MPs heaped praise
on the Tory rebels, particularly Grieve,
hailing them as national heroes. One
said: ?What he did was bold and brave
in the face of a torrent of abuse and his
motives continually being questioned,
ironically by Tory MPs who have a history of extreme disloyalty towards Tory
leaders. Had he not held his nerve, the
whole rebellion would have disintegrated. He has done a huge service to
the country and his constituents.?
This weekend, as the rebels reel from
Twitter death threats and insults from
those angered by their actions in the
country, they are vowing in private to
carry on and impose more defeats on the
government if needs be. Already it seems
they have forced May to compromise
over her plan to insert a ?xed date for
Brexit into the withdrawal bill, to avoid
another Commons defeat this week.
While the date will remain in place,
it is understood that allowance will
be made for it to be shifted back if
more time is needed to complete
negotiations. Pro-Brexit MPs on Tory
and Labour benches are worried that
they are losing the in?uence, and key
arguments. Labour?s Frank Field said
he was very uneasy about the socalled compromise, as Tories of like
mind would be. ?Any wriggle room
like this will just be exploited by the
Remainers,? he said.
For the moment, the argument is
slipping away from the hardliners in
favour of moderate Brexiters. Nothing
demonstrated this more vividly than
May?s trip to Brussels on Friday when
she signed off an agreement with the
27 other member states that will allow
17.12.17
| 25
*
THE PEOPLE?S
CHAMPION
Anthony Joshua: the
fighter who turned
his life around 27
NADINE
DORRIES
NIGEL
LAWSON
Called for Tory MPs
who have rebelled
over Brexit to be
deselected.
Called for the
sacking of chancellor
Philip Hammond for
his attempts to
soften Brexit.
MICHAEL
GOVE
Vowed that if voters
did not like Brexit
deal, they could vote
for someone to
change it.
next for the hardline Brexiters?
trade talks to begin ? but in return for
her agreeing, in effect, that the UK
will sign up to what will be another
two years of EU membership beyond
March 2019.
If there is to be a two-year transition
deal, which May insists there must
be, it will be on the EU?s terms, with
European Court of Justice oversight
and freedom of movement continuing
to apply to the UK.
This weekend, with the tide turning
against their vision of a fast and clean
Brexit, the Tory hardline Brexiters are
desperately trying to regroup ? both in
the cabinet and on the backbenches.
In recent years they have got used to
having things their way, to forcing
?The whips tried to tell
us we would land
the country with a
Marxist government.
What bollocks?
Tory rebel MP
Tory prime ministers to bow to their
will. They pushed David Cameron into
committing to a Brexit referendum
in the ?rst place, then persuaded the
country to back leaving the EU. Under
May they thought they had secured her
commitment to a hard Brexit. But now,
most moderate MPs believe, they may
be losing sway just as the real arguments approach over the precise shape
that Brexit will take.
So if the numbers are not there in
the Commons, and as the largely proRemain House of Lords prepares to
scrutinise the withdrawal bill, where
do the hard Brexiters go now to claw
back the initiative?
Some at the extreme end of the
spectrum seem intent on whipping
the country up into a frenzy of anger
against the ?traitors? ? hoping to foster
a hard Brexit revolution in the nation
at large. One hardline Brexiter told
the Observer that the rebels had got
themselves into such trouble in their
constituencies that they were at serious risk of de-selection. The only way
forward was to show them compassion. ?We have to feel sorry for them,?
he said. ?We gave them this compromise over the date of Brexit because
they were in a terrible position and
they needed our help. It was a way to
help get them off the hook.?
The reality is that it is the hard
Brexiters who should be most worried.
Senior ?gures among them, including
their leaders in the cabinet, Michael
Gove and Boris Johnson, seemed
determined to give the impression of
calm, as they prepare for a series of
cabinet meetings, which begin this
week, on the ?end destination? of
Brexit. The key phrase being deployed
among senior Brexiters is: ?Eyes on
the prize.? Just ensure Brexit happens.
Everything else can be dealt with later.
Ironically, given the difficulties that
Ireland has created for the process, one
Brexit tactician explained that they
were taking lessons from Irish independence. Once the Irish free state was
declared in 1922, they say, there was a
momentum that inevitably led to a full
republic being declared by 1949, ending
any British involvement.
?There is a ratchet effect to having
your own state,? said one in?uential
Brexiter. ?One by one, the things that
weren?t acceptable to the sovereignty
of the Irish free state got cut away,
stage by stage. That?s what we need to
do. The moment we are out of the EU,
everything will be in our own hands.
People try to say that our hands will be
bound. In the end, they won?t be.?
IN COMMENT
Those accused of abuse are still among us
Jess Phillips, page 33
Rebels are emboldened. They won?t stop
Andrew Rawnsley, page 35
Insults and even death threats are worrying
symptoms of a toxic atmosphere in Britain
COMMENTARY
Patience Wheatcroft
and Ros Altmann
We are shocked at the vili?cation
heaped on our Conservative colleagues
who voted to ensure that parliament
will have a meaningful vote before
Britain leaves the EU.
Despite the strong-arm tactics of
the whips, the MPs followed their
consciences and the belief that, before
Brexit is ?nalised, parliament must
have the chance to assess the terms
of any deal. The resulting appalling
insults from Brexiters, calls for their
expulsion from the party and even
death threats are worrying symptoms
of the toxic atmosphere in our country.
These MPs have been staunch supporters of their party; some have never
rebelled before and were desperately
disappointed to ?nd it necessary. Yet
they believe their role is to act in the
national interest and uphold our parliamentary democracy. They believe in
party loyalty, but not blind obedience.
There are many moderate
Conservatives in both houses of parliament who are deeply concerned that
some in our party are so desperate to
leave the EU, with or without a deal,
that they believe any cost is justi?ed
if it brings Brexit. They maintain that
?freedom is priceless? but this extreme
view does not re?ect public opinion.
The British people voted to leave the
EU and parliament has been respecting that vote, triggering article 50 and
empowering the government to try
and negotiate the ?deep and special?
future relationship with the EU that the
Leave campaign promised. But many
Conservatives are deeply disturbed
by the rhetoric that ?No deal is better
than a bad deal?. They fear that, as
the Lords EU committee concluded
a few days ago, leaving without a deal
could be disastrous, resulting in job
losses across the country, dislocation
for vital industry sectors and putting at
risk the hard-won peace agreement on
the island of Ireland. They believe it is
essential that parliament should have a
meaningful say before the country takes
such a potentially momentous step.
That the government should be
intent on depriving parliament of its
rightful role would be remarkable if it
were not consistent with the approach
that has characterised its handling of
Brexit from the start! It is not how our
democracy is supposed to work.
The amendment the brave Tory
?rebels? supported was not about
stopping Brexit, nor did it indicate,
as some of the more hysterical critics
have shrieked, a welcome for a future
Corbyn government. On the contrary, a
government which bypasses parliament
might be the catalyst for an election
result for which we would never wish.
Dominic Grieve and his colleagues
were merely calling for parliament to
control Brexit and not the reverse.
We are relieved that the government has moved towards a compromise
rather than face a second defeat in the
Wheatcroft, left, and Altmann.
Commons over its determination to
enshrine the date of leaving the EU on
the face of the bill. Committing to the
date in legislation was not only in?ammatory but it removed vital ?exibility
from our ability to negotiate, playing into
the hands of those who favour no deal.
Next year the withdrawal bill will
arrive in the Lords. The job of the upper
house is to scrutinise and amend legislation the Commons sends us to achieve
the best result. This bill will be subject
to that process. If we believe something
in the legislation is wrong, it is our duty
to send it back to MPs and ask them to
reconsider. Mindful of the importance
for future generations of getting Brexit
right, the Lords is unlikely to be receptive to bullying over a restricted timetable or whipping to toe the party line.
The British people voted to ?take
back control?, but that has to mean
control by parliament, not a small
group with extreme views or an executive that will brook no challenge. It is
parliament that must have the ?nal say
on whether the deal that is negotiated for breaking away from the EU is
acceptable as in the UK?s best interests.
We are deeply disappointed that colleagues who have rarely if ever rebelled
before but want the best for their
country are being lambasted for standing up for their beliefs on this crucial
issue. It is deeply ironic that the most
ardent Brexiter Tory MPs, who are now
rounding on the brave 13, have themselves a history of voting against their
party on numerous occasions, often in
pursuit of their Brexit燼mbitions.
Baronesses Wheatcroft and Altmann are
Tory peers. Wheatcroft is a former journalist and Altmann a former Department
for Work and Pensions minister
26 | IN FOCUS
*
Fashion
17.12.17
The secret?s out: empowered women
are driving trends in luxury lingerie
Underwear model
Adriana Lima spoke
last week of her role
as ?an empty cause?.
Yet millions are
buying the fancy lines
s,
she promotes,
reports
Karen Kay
A
mid the scantily clad world
of lingerie modelling, a pair
of Victoria?s Secret angel
wings are the ultimate
accessory. Heavily laden
with an elaborate concoction of feathers, crystals and other
?amboyant embellishments, the coveted wings are awarded to a handful of
the 50 or so models who appear in the
brand?s annual catwalk extravaganza.
And, for those Angels charged with
showcasing the US company?s latest
collection of fripperies, the ?nancial
rewards are heaven-sent. So when
the Brazilian model Adriana Lima, a
Victoria?s Secret Angel since 1999, and
one who has banked $10.5m this year,
announced last week on social media
that she would not take off her clothes
any more ?for an empty cause?, it
caused quite a stir.
With 11.5 million Instagram followers, Lima?s proclamation was big news
? and an apparent U-turn in her professional aspirations and allegiances.
Only last month, she appeared in her
18th Victoria?s Secret runway show ?
live-streamed from Shanghai to almost
70 million people around the globe.
In a backstage post-show interview,
the 36-year-old model talked of her
aspirations to continue working for the
brand: ?Two more years. Maybe more,
I don?t know. It?s nature. I?m working
out, I?m being healthy, so let?s see how
the body is going to turn out. But I
enjoy it. So, let?s say 20.?
A week down the line, and Lima?s
social media post alluded to a major reevaluation: ?Every day in my life I wake
up thinking, how do I look?? she wrote.
?I thought that?s not a way of living
and beyond that ? that?s not physiealthy,
cally and mentally healthy,
so I decided to make that
ke [off ]
change. I will not take
for [an]
my clothes any more fo
irred
e of
empty cause ? I am tir
tired
the impositions, we
?as [women]? can?t
be continuing living in
a world with such
super?cial values.?
The ensuing
furore around
angin
i g
whether Lima was hanging
up her wings saw herr spokesn
person rapidly try to shut down
the rumours, saying that the
en asked to
model had simply been
oot that she
appear in a video shoot
wasn?t comfortable with, and that
o be able to
?Adriana is blessed to
work with all of the brands she does,
including Victoria?s Secret?. It was,
d People, Lima?s
the spokesperson told
intention to share ?a message of female
empowerment?.
So what is the difference between
es gratuitously
taking off your clothes
for an ?empty cause? and parading in
he name of female
your underwear in the
empowerment?
?Victoria?s Secret has been responsies in how we view
ble for a lot of changes
women in lingerie,? says Professor
hologist working
Carolyn Mair, a psychologist
ry. ?Their runway
in the fashion industry.
ion of women, and
shows are a celebration
the models look like they are having
o it?s aspirational
fun on their terms, so
and empowering to see. I can look at
eciate their beauty,
the Angels and appreciate
and know that I will never look like
that ? although I do think for women
Brands like
Victoria?s
Secret, which
opened its first
UK store in
2012, brought
high-end
lingerie to the
mass market.
Alamy
?If certain styles of
lingerie help enhance
a sense of sexual
attractiveness,
that is empowering?
Carolyn Mair, psychologist
?Angel? Adriana
Lima has now
?re-evaluated?
her work. Getty
with low self-esteem and a tendency
to compare themselves to others, that
could be quite damaging.
?It?s when you see women in sexually provocative images, wearing just
underwear, that it feels like they are
being objecti?ed. And that changes the
meaning: it is no longer empowering in
the feminist sense.?
Mair says the nature of our undergarments has evolved dramatically in
the past few decades, progressing from
purely functional to fashionable and
fun, and that has created a very different
relationship with our intimate apparel.
?The idea that we build subliminal stories around the cl
clothes we wear means
many women now enjoy putting on
beautiful underwear,?
underw
she says.
symbolis of those choices is
?The symbolism
important, and ca
can affect how we feel.
In truth, I believe that true sex appeal
comes from being comfortable in your
skin, not from what
wh you put on it, but
making the decis
decision to wear certain
styles of lingerie can nevertheless
make you feel great
gre and really boost
your燾on?dence.?
It was in the lat
late 1960s that designer
Janet Reger took the bold step of
la
launching
a ?edgling
lin
lingerie
collection that
focu
focused
as much on style
and colour as it d
did on ?t and form.
?She was going ag
against the tide when
she set out with h
her new label,? says her
daughter Aliza, w
who took over as chief
executive of the J
Janet Reger brand following her mothe
mother?s death in 2005. ?In
those days, unless you were a certain
kind of woman, yyou simply wore practical undergarmen
undergarments: lingerie wasn?t for
?nice girls?. At tha
that time, there was a
lot of bra-burning going on as part of
the women?s lib m
movement, but Janet
believed that inde
independence and equality was about earn
earning your own money
and having the fre
freedom to be sexually
liberated. She ma
made beautiful, feminine
pieces that wome
women wanted to wear and
looked fabulous iin.?
Reger?s eponym
eponymous line was highend luxury and ca
came with a premium
price tag, but tod
today the business focus
has shifted towar
towards a more affordable
collection, sold in Debenhams department stores. ?The most empower-
ing thing is for women to have the
choice of what they want to wear,?
says Reger. ?We are all multifaceted
individuals with many elements to our
lives: there are some days when we
want to wear stretchy cotton and others when we want to slip into stretch
satin and lace. There is no doubt that
women love beautiful lingerie and
the sensation it creates when you
put it on: our bestseller this season is
the Ella Rose range, a dark-grey-andblush-pink collection embellished
with Swarovski crystals, but we have
democratised it by making the highest
price point �, so it is more accessible and affordable.?
Since Janet Reger introduced
women to the concept of foundation wear as fashion, we have seen
Madonna dancing on stage in conical corsets and the Pussycat Dolls
parading in little more than their
bras and knickers. Brands such as
Agent Provocateur, Coco de Mer, Ann
Summers and, of course, Victoria?s
Secret (which launched in the UK in
2012) have brought once-taboo styles
to the high street, introducing us all
to half-cup bras, peep-hole knickers
and bondage-style straps on bodysuits.
Saucy styles are no longer the preserve
of naughty girls.
The advent of online shopping has
meant we can shop and try on clothes
in the privacy of our homes, avoiding
the potential embarrassment of browsing in store. And, while many of us
wear sombre hues and classic shapes in
our everyday wardrobes, the temptation to experiment with the fripperies
beneath has seduced us, with bold colour choices and fashion-forward styles
proving popular.
Nowhere is the shift in our relationship with lingerie more evident than
Marks & Spencer. With a 32% share
of the UK knicker market, the chain
sells more than 60m pairs a year ? and
they?re not all granny pants. In fact,
its ?irty black stretch lace Glamour
Unwrap Brazilian Knickers, with tantalising satin bows on each hip, epitomise how far we have come in embracing a cheekier style of undergarment.
?I?ve seen vast changes in the
lingerie market in the last couple of
decades,? says Soozie Jenkinson, who
has worked as head of lingerie design
at M&S for 20 years. ?Yes, there have
been trends, and we cater for those,
but the key is that women now have
a wardrobe of lingerie styles to suit
their lifestyle and their stage of life. So
we have sports bras ? many of which
women are choosing to wear as their
everyday bras ? smooth T-shirt bras,
uplifting balconette styles, backless or
strapless styles, and so on. While you
want the underwear to complement
and create a streamlined look to work
with your out?t, there are emotional
connections to the choices you make
every time you put your underwear on.
It?s an intimate layer next to the skin,
and because we?ve bene?ted from a
technological revolution that means
we can manufacture wonderful stretch
pieces, or seamless styles in beautifully sensual fabrics, the designs are
so much more appealing than those of
yesteryear.?
One of the more interesting developments in the M&S lingerie offer is the
result of a collaboration with British
model and former Victoria?s Secret
Angel Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.
Designed ?by women, for women?, the
collection has been a runaway success and has challenged the popular
perception of M&S as a provider of
everyday bras and knickers. Launched
?ve years ago, around 11m Rosie for
Autograph items have been sold.
?Rosie has a passion for vintage style
and luxurious materials, such as silk and
French lace, and right from the start we
wanted the collection to be feminine,?
says Jenkinson. ?That has helped us
develop the DNA of the designs and
informed the sophisticated colour
palette. It is a premium range, featuring ?attering shapes and styles such as
camisoles, slips, French knickers and
different bra shapes, and it has resonated with con?dent, modern women
who want seductive, tactile garments.?
It is, says Mair, a simple fact that
?human beings crave desirability, and
wanting to look alluring is perfectly
normal. If certain styles of lingerie
help enhance that sense of sexual
attractiveness, then that is ultimately
empowering.?
17.12.17
Sport
*
IN FOCUS | 27
The teetotal
chess fan who
packs a punch
is the people?s
champion
Anthony Joshua is hot favourite to be named
BBC sports personality of the year tonight.
Andrew Anthony hails the ?ghter
who turned his life around ? and took
his sport back to the mainstream
A
nthony Joshua used to run
a stall at Wembley market
that sold what his promoter
Eddie Hearn has called
?dodgy belts?. Heavyweight
boxing, the sport in which
Joshua has made a name and a great
deal of money, has long had a problem
with dodgy belts.
There are currently no fewer than
six world heavyweight belts, each
sanctioned by a different organisation,
of which Joshua is in possession
of three: the WBA, the IBF and the
IBO. But from tonight, he may also
be holding an award that, while
no stranger to dispute, is at least
dispensed according to public vote.
Joshua is hot favourite to land
the BBC sports personality of the
year award, previously held by such
luminaries as Steve Davis, Torvill and
Dean, Zara Phillips, Andy Murray and
Kelly Holmes. To win it as a boxer,
these days, is no small achievement.
It?s not just that boxing is a sport
frequently viewed as suspect, for both
its inherent violence and its murky
double-dealings. It?s also because
heavyweight boxers seldom ?ght, and
when they do meet in any signi?cant
bouts they are usually only available on
pay-per-view on satellite television.
All of which means he public does
not get much opportunity to assess
the personality of the sportsman or
sportswoman in question. But that has
not been a problem with the amiable
Joshua, whose sunny disposition
transcends his limited TV coverage.
Now 28, Joshua took up boxing
only 10 years ago, as a rather wayward
18-year old who had spent time in
Reading prison on remand for a crime
he has described as ??ghting and other
crazy stuff ?. Apparently he was looking
at a maximum 10-year sentence, which
suggests the stuff was indeed crazy,
but the judge showed leniency and the
?ghter only had to wear an electronic
tag for a year.
He says that the tag, boxing and an
interest in reading turned him around.
And, by his early 20s, he was ?ghting
as an amateur at the 2011 European
Championships. He lost in the quarter?nals, owing to a lack of training,
because he had been arrested the year
before after the police found him with
8oz of cannabis. He was wearing his
Team GB tracksuit at the time. He was
charged with intent to supply, which
could have brought a substantial prison
sentence. In the event, he received a
temporary ban from boxing and, after
admitting the charge, was sentenced to
100 hours community work.
?The arrest changed me a lot,? he
said later. ?It forced me to grow up and
to respect my responsibilities. I?m not
happy that I did what I did and there?s
no way that kind of thing will ever
happen again but, in a way, I?m glad it
did because it woke me up.?
The following year he won the gold
medal in super heavyweight division
at the London Olympics. It was an
extraordinary turnaround in fortunes
but Joshua has not looked back. While
some Olympic champions ? notably
Muhammad Ali ? have gone on to
stellar careers in the professional
ranks, it?s by no means a guarantee.
Britain?s previous Olympic winner in
the super heavyweight division, Audley
Harrison, failed to make the grade at
the elite level. But Joshua was made of
sterner stuff. His ?rst few ?ghts after
he turned pro in 2013 were not unlike
Harrison?s early bouts ? easy victories
within a couple of rounds.
But as the quality of opponent
steadily increased, the lengths of the
?ghts did not. It was not until his 15th
?ght that Joshua was taken past the
third round. At 6ft 6in and 18 stone,
Joshua is formidable. But unlike many
boxers of that weight, he does not
appear to have a spare ounce of fat.
Indeed, he has the kind of six-pack that
could make a Men?s Health model pull
his expensively arranged hair out.
His looks, ease in the spotlight and
a winning lack of arrogance make for
a highly marketable combination.
And perhaps it is no surprise that he
has been the subject of much female
attention. He split up with the mother
of his son not long ago, and was
mistakenly cited by the boxer Amir
Khan as his estranged wife?s lover ? an
accusation that Joshua corrected with
typically good humour: ?Bantz aside,?
he tweeted. ?I hope you guys can
resolve your situation or this is a hack as
we have never even met! Plus I like my
women BBW [big beautiful women].?
In the end, however, it all comes down
to delivering in the ring. You can make
magazine covers, appear on talk shows
and be tweeted about by all manner of
people, but if you do not have what it
takes to stick it out when the going gets
tough, then boxing is not the sport in
which to seek fame.
LIFE AND TIMES
Born in Watford, Hertfordshire, on 15
October 1989. His parents split up when
he was about ?ve.
After leaving school at 16, he began
training at Finchley amateur boxing club,
north London, with his cousin. Within
three years he had been fast-tracked to
the GB Olympic squad.
Worst of times In 2010, he was
arrested for being in possession of
8oz of cannabis, while wearing his
Team GB tracksuit.
Best of times Beating Wladimir
Klitschko to win the world heavyweight
title at Wembley stadium in April this
year, in front of 90,000 people.
Anthony Joshua in April, a few weeks before his epic victory over Wladimir Klitschko. Below, in Cardiff in October, defending his titles
against Carlos Takam in front of 80,000, the biggest crowd ever for an indoor bout. Photographs by Leon Biss for the Observer, PA
Many boxing pundits looked at
Joshua and saw a powerful puncher
but a limited mover, someone who
would get caught by a top-class
opponent ? and only then would it be
revealed whether he had true staying
power.
Although he was tested by a fellow
Briton, Dillian Whyte, who had beaten
him as an amateur, Joshua did not
come up against a world-class boxer
until he met Wladimir Klitschko at
Wembley stadium in April this year. By
then he was already IBF (International
Boxing Federation) world champion,
having defeated the holder Charles
Martin inside two one-sided rounds.
But the equally towering Klitschko
was an entirely different prospect.
Although he had just turned 41, the
Ukrainian was still thought of as a
world-beater. He had held various
crowns for more than 15 years, only
losing to the Briton Tyson Fury two
years ago. But with Fury suffering
from depression and a positive cocaine
sample, the title was back up for grabs.
Fury and Joshua make for a revealing
comparative study. From Irish Traveller
heritage, Fury was also nominated
for sports personality of the year back
in 2015, after defeating Klitschko.
He ?nished fourth, having created
controversy with a series of remarks
deemed homophobic and sexist.
Fury appeared clueless in front of
the camera, as if it represented the
same attack-or-be-attacked threat as
boxing. Joshua, by contrast, seems
instinctively to grasp that television is
his friend, the means of reaching his
?The arrest changed
me a lot. It forced me
to grow up. I?m not
happy I did what I did
? but it woke me up?
fan-base and extending it out to those
people who could not be less interested
in boxing.
But the night when Joshua met
Klitschko was one for true boxing
enthusiasts: 90,000 of them were
packed into Wembley to see the
Ukrainian put Joshua on the canvas in
the sixth round. The boy from Watford,
Hertfordshire, the son of a Nigerian
mother and a British-Nigerian father,
the young man who had taken up
boxing to escape crime, suddenly
looked as if he had met his match and
?nished second best.
He was wilting, maintaining
a vertical stance through sheer
willpower alone. But much to the
surprise of seasoned observers, he
gritted it out and put Klitschko down
twice in the 11th round before the
referee stopped the ?ght.
It was an epic match, and Joshua
announced himself as not just a
talented and powerful boxer but also
a ?ghter of immense courage and
determination. He showed something
else, too, that does not always ?nd its
way into the boxing ring: humility.
He was generous in his praise of
Klitschko and neither man had stooped
to the kind of badmouthing antics that
boxers sometimes engage in to sell
tickets. The boy who once wore an
electronic tag now has his own hashtag
#Stayhumble.
?It doesn?t mean don?t aspire,?
Joshua has said. ?Every parent wants
their children to better themselves.
Staying humble, for me, means treating
everyone with the same respect. I make
time for the person who is homeless
on the streets and the people who I
meet on the Graham Norton Show,
and I balance it out. That?s how I stay
humble. Connecting with people.?
And connect with people Joshua
certainly has. It is the reason that,
barring the kind of voting upset that
post-Brexit and post-Trump we can?t
afford to dismiss, he is highly likely
to become the nation?s favourite
sportsperson for 2017.
If it does happen, it also seems a
safe bet that the feet of the teetotal,
chess-playing Joshua, who lives with
his mother in their old council ?at in
Golders Green, north London, will
remain ?rmly on the ground.
Politics
From protest
in London
to atrocities
in Africa,
50 years in
the dramatic
history of
US embassies
In the age of American superpower,
its outposts across the globe have
often been at the centre of seminal
events. When an anti-Vietnam war
protest turned violent outside the US
embassy in London in 1968, Grosvenor
Square became famous worldwide.
Now the US is preparing to swap
Mayfair for a tower-block fortress in
Vauxhall, breaking a link that dates to
1785. Emma Graham-Harrison looks
back over half a century at the
bloodstained history of these
symbols of power ? from Saigon to
Tehran and from Beijing and
Nairobi to Benghazi in Libya
1
GROSVENOR SQUARE, LONDON
1968
The embassy that the US is now leaving behind, and which will become a
luxury hotel, acquired worldwide fame
in 1968, when a demonstration against
the Vietnam war turned violent.
About 8,000 mostly young protesters had marched from a demonstration in Trafalgar Square on 17 March,
accompanying the actress and activist
Vanessa Redgrave, who wanted to
deliver a letter to the embassy.
Protesters entered an already
crowded square. More than 1,000
police were waiting, and perhaps 2,000
other spectators, including conservatives who shouted ?treason? and prowar slogans such as ?Bomb, bomb the
Vietcong? at the marchers.
A ?erce battle broke out and raged
for over an hour. Demonstrators who
had broken into embassy lawns hurled
mud, stones, ?recrackers and smoke
bombs. Police hit back, with mounted
officers launching charges.
More than 80 people, police and protesters, were injured, and there were
more than 200 arrests. The violence in
one of London?s most staid, upmarket
areas was a shocking moment in a wave
of worldwide protests against the war
that added to domestic pressure on US
governments to leave Vietnam.
2
SAIGON
VIETNAM, 1975
The picture of desperate crowds
scaling a metal ladder to board a CIA
helicopter leaving Saigon, captured by
a Dutch photographer on 29 April 1975,
became one of the de?ning images of
the Vietnam war.
About 7,000 people, only a minority of them American, were ?own out
from the embassy and other sites in
Saigon in the hours before the city fell.
Helicopters landed amid clouds of
smoke from roof-top incinerators, as
officials frantically burned classi?ed
documents, and a swirl of fragments
from shredded documents.
Their retreat summed up the
frantic chaos of the US withdrawal
and became symbolic of wider policy
failings in a war that claimed the lives
of millions of Vietnamese civilians and
soldiers and nearly 60,000 US troops.
Not captured in the picture of the
helicopter, but widely documented
elsewhere, were even more desperate
throngs of mostly Vietnamese civilians
gathered around the embassy gates,
hoping to make it out. As the North
Vietnamese troops closed in, reports
were circulating of mass graves in
towns they had captured.
After the fall of Saigon, the embassy
was closed for two decades. When
1
GROSVENOR SQUARE, 1968
3
TEHRAN, 1979
4
BEIJING, 1989
diplomatic ties between the US and
Vietnam were re-established in 1995,
the Vietnamese capital had shifted
north to Hanoi. The former embassy
was handed back to the US, but the old
building was demolished and the site
now forms part of a park inside the
grounds of the US consulate general in
what is now Ho Chi Minh City.
3 TEHRAN
IRAN, 1979
In November 1979, the US embassy in
Tehran became the centre of a drama
that would trans?x the world, overshadow and perhaps hasten the end of
Jimmy Carter?s presidency, and poison
relations with Iran for decades.
Student militants overran the
embassy building and seized diplomats
in an occupation originally planned to
last a few days. But news of the takeover raced around Iran and the world,
and even as photos of blindfolded
Americans stumbling from the building sparked international outrage, it
was clear that domestically the student
invasion was popular.
The government took over management of the crisis from students, and
although 14 hostages were released
near the start of the ordeal, another 55
were held for more than a year in grim
conditions. They endured solitary con-
2
17.12.17
SAIGON, 1975
5
?nement, humiliation and even mock
executions, among other privations,
until they were released in January
1981, hours after Ronald Reagan
became president. That timing was
widely seen as one last snub to Carter
from Iran.
There could have been even more
people affected, but the embassy
staff had been reduced to a minimal
team after it was attacked and brie?y
occupied in February that year. Six
other US diplomats who were outside
the embassy when it was stormed took
shelter with Canadian counterparts
and were smuggled out in a daring
operation dramatised in the ?lm Argo.
The embassy building was never
returned to the US. It has been turned
into a museum with exhibitions on
spycraft that Iran says was practised
inside and a ?Museum-Garden of AntiArrogance?. Demonstrations are held
annually outside on the anniversary
of the hostage-taking, with cries of
?Death to America?.
SQUARE, BEIJING
4 TIANANMEN
CHINA, 1989
The day after tanks silenced the prodemocracy protests in Tiananmen
Square in early June, and students ?ed
back to their homes and dormitories,
one of China?s most famous dissidents
NAIROBI, 1998
left his own university to seek refuge in
the US embassy in Beijing.
Physicist Fang Lizhi and his wife,
Li Shuxian, were, say reports, No 1
and No 2 on a government list of those
wanted for their role in fomenting
the ?counterrevolutionary rebellion?.
Overcoming initial concerns of its
diplomats, Washington ordered the
embassy to take the couple in.
They stayed on in the American
embassy for nearly a year, somewhat
awkward guests for an administration
worried about keeping Beijing on side
as an anti-Soviet ally. Diplomats worried about getting Fang out of China,
but also feared the government would
break international laws and mount a
raid to seize him.
A respected scientist as well as a
prominent intellectual, he continued
publishing research while, in effect,
under house arrest. He also wrote a
poignant essay arguing that the uprising would soon be largely forgotten
in China because of the Communist
party?s control of media and education,
an insight that proved largely true.
The negotiations to get the couple
out of China eventually involved Henry
Kissinger, the seasoned US diplomat,
and the Japanese government, which
promised to restart loans if the ?Fang
Lizhi problem was solved?. He was
?own to the US, where he spent the
rest of his life.
AP, GETTY IMAGES
28 | IN FOCUS
*
17.12.17
VIEWPOINT | 29
*
Old and vulnerable
people and ?nancial
whiz-kids don?t mix
Sonia Sodha says it is
time to stop private
equity owners
imposing huge debts
n
and demands on
a vital service
Y
6
5
NAIROBI AND DAR ES SALAAM
KENYA, TANZANIA, 1998
The US embassies in the Kenyan and
Tanzanian capitals were devastated by
near simultaneous truck bombs on the
morning of 7 August. The attacks killed
224 and injured more than 4,000, and
remain the bloodiest peacetime attacks
on any US mission.
They also brought the name of
an ambitious Saudi exile ? Osama
bin Laden ? and his terrorist group
al-Qaida to the attention of both the
wider US public and Islamist militants
around the world.
Bin Laden had previously been
linked to a suicide attack on the
guided-missile destroyer USS Cole.
But after the devastation in east Africa,
US authorities put up a $5m award for
information leading to his arrest and
added him to their ?most wanted? list.
The attacks had been planned meticulously and their scale, sophistication
and violence surprised US intelligence,
the New Yorker reported. Although the
targets of both attacks were the respective US embassies, the vast majority of
the victims were Kenyans. The Nairobi
blast collapsed a neighbouring building
and the heat from the explosion was
channelled down a narrow alley, incinerating a bus full of commuters.
The Nairobi embassy had received a
BENGHAZI, 2012
warning of the attack and the ambassador had tried to move to safer premises, it was later revealed.
The bombings ushered in a new era
of defences and forti?cations, with
even US missions far beyond war zones
ramping up protections. The Nairobi
embassy was moved to a safer location.
6 BENGHAZI
LIBYA, 2012
On 11 September, the US mission in
Benghazi ? a consulate rather than
an embassy, because it was not in the
capital ? was attacked and burned, in
a raid that killed US ambassador Chris
Stevens and three other Americans.
It was initially treated as an attack by
an angry mob who had been incensed
by an Islamophobic ?lm, but later
deemed a terror attack. A militia leader
was convicted earlier this year in a US
court for his role in the violence.
The attack came to dog Hillary
Clinton?s bid for the presidency,
because she was secretary of state at
the time of the deaths. She was cleared
by a ?ercely partisan congressional
panel after a $7m investigation but
critics, including Donald Trump, continued to attack her both for perceived
failings and for alleged cover-ups.
The raid diminished western
appetite for intervention in the region,
where the hope of democracy and justice unleashed by the Arab spring was
being clouded by violence, from Syria
to Libya.
Stevens arrived in Syria the year
after the revolution that deposed
Muammar Gadda?, but the country
was already riven by violence and
extremely unstable.
In the attack, militia stormed a
compound where Stevens was staying.
Although he retreated to a safe room
with fellow Americans, he was killed
by smoke inhalation from a blaze that
had been set outside. The smoke also
killed a fellow diplomat, Sean Smith,
and a mortar attack on a CIA annexe
later that evening killed two officers.
ON OTHER PAGES
A very diplomatic America on Thames:
Rowan Moore on the new US embassy
The New Review, pages 24-25
ou would be forgiven for
thinking that any connection
between wealthy ?nanciers and
Four Seasons would involve
luxury hotel chains. But last week the
relationship of rich investors with a
very different type of property has been
making headlines. The private equityowned care home business Four Seasons, which cares for 17,000 older and
vulnerable residents, has been teetering
on the brink of collapse.
It has been a long time coming:
loaded with more than �0m of debt
by its owners, its �m-a-year interest payments have become unsustainable. An 11th-hour intervention
from the regulator, the Care Quality
Commission (CQC), resulted in an
agreement with the hedge fund that
owns much of its debt. But how long
will it be before we are here again?
In the last 20 years the in?uence of
private equity in the UK?s care home
chains has grown. Southern Cross,
once the UK?s largest provider, collapsed in 2011 when it could no longer
service its debt. The demise came after
its owners sold and leased back the
care homes they ran and used the cash
to ?nance overly aggressive expansion.
These cases raise serious questions about our care homes, home to
hundreds of thousands of vulnerable
people. What would happen if another
care provider collapsed, and other
providers weren?t willing to take over
homes the way they did for Southern
Cross? How have the worlds of private
equity ?nance and state-?nanced older
care come to collide, with potentially
disastrous consequences for the people
who live under their care?
To understand how we got here, we
need to go back 30 years, when more
than 90% of care homes were owned
and operated by local councils. But
from the 1980s onwards councils were
incentivised to subcontract care to
privately run homes. Today 92% of care
home beds are supplied by the independent sector; eight in 10 by for-pro?t
companies, and just over one in 10 by
the not-for-pro?t sector.
?There has been a major shift in care
provision from the public to the private
sector,? says Richard Humphries, senior fellow at the King?s Fund thinktank.
?This has happened by stealth ? there?s
been no public debate.? The state,
however, remains by far the biggest
buyer: only 40% of care home residents
wholly fund themselves.
In the age of austerity, that government funding has been in steep decline.
This means fewer people are getting
state help with the costs of care. But it
also ?lters down into the lower rates
councils are paying care homes.
Jane Townson, chief executive of
Somerset Care, a not-for-pro?t social
enterprise that runs 28 homes, says:
?Providers like us are up against it due
to a toxic combination of unviable local
authority rates and rapidly escalating
costs that include the ?national living
wage?, the new apprenticeship levy,
higher regulatory fees and in?ationary
pressures.? She says council fees cover
at best 70% of her costs. She would like
to pay her staff more than the national
living wage, but cannot afford to.
The CQC warned last year that the
care market was approaching a tipping point. Many providers have been
cross-subsidising state-funded care
home places by charging private payers
more: self-funders are paying on average �,000 a year more than councils. Some are opting out of providing
state-funded care, leading to fears of
a two-tier system. Care homes rated
as outstanding by the CQC have a signi?cantly higher proportion of private
payers than those rated inadequate.
For the majority of smaller ?ma-andpa? operators, the ?nancial squeeze
starts and ends there. But when it
comes to the UK?s largest for-pro?t
chains, there is a darker side to the tale.
Private equity ?nance has ?ooded in
since cheap debt became available in
the 2000s, with funds buying up chains
such as Southern Cross, Four Seasons
and HC-One. They have introduced
opaque ownership structures, including offshore subsidiaries.
Professor Karel Williams at
Manchester Business School argues
there is a fundamental mismatch
between the risky, high-return world of
private equity and care homes, which
are more suited to low-risk, low-return,
long-term ?nancing. Private equity
?nanciers typically expect returns of
12%. This sort of ?gure simply becomes
impossible in the crunch situation of
falling state funding and rising costs.
?In the event of liquidation, the owner
can walk away after losing only a small
amount of equity, offset by any cash
extracted since purchase, and the state
is left with responsibility for the residents,? Williams says.
The state could borrow far more
cheaply than these businesses. Four
Seasons is paying interest in excess of
12% on a chunk of its debt; in 2008 its
debt repayments were estimated to
be adding �0 to the weekly cost of
a care home bed. This is money that
could be spent increasing wages in
what is a very low-paid sector, or on
provision for residents.
?This ?nancial
engineering [means]
that private gain
comes at the expense
of costs for residents,
sta? and the state?
Professor Karel Williams
?This ?nancial engineering is a
major contributor to chain fragility and
care quality problems, so that private
gain comes at the expense of costs
for residents, staff and the state,? says
Williams. He also believes it sti?es
innovation: ?The chains rebuild care
homes in a standard institutional style
with 60-plus beds, driven by an operating model which requires care homes
large enough to pay management overheads and make a return on capital.?
Everyone agrees the care system
needs more cash. ?What?s been happening at Four Seasons is the price we
have to pay for a lack of public funding,? says Humphries.
But Williams points out that, in
the private-equity-owned slice of the
sector, extra state funding is more
likely to ?nd its way to hedge funds via
interest payments than being spent on
care delivery: ?Giving the ?nancialised
chains more money is like pouring
water into a leaky bucket.?
So more money will not, by itself,
be enough. The government must also
unravel the ?nancial engineering that it
has allowed to balloon in the provision
of a vital service on which vulnerable
people?s lives depend.
There is a glaringly obvious answer
to this conundrum. Care homes provide the sort of low-risk, steady returns
that make them ideal candidates not
just for long-term investors but for the
state. The majority of care home stock
will need replacing in years to come.
Like affordable housing, it is something
in which the government should be
borrowing to invest.
Instead it has, by omission, taken
the crazy decision to hope that private
equity will do it for us, borrowing at
three times the rate available to the
government, regardless of the cost to
taxpayers and residents. It?s high time
to sever the link with the ?nanciers.
*
32 | THE OBSERVER PROFILE
17.12.17
Rupert Murdoch
Will this prove to
be the media
king?s last act?
After a lifetime of relentlessly expanding his
empire, selling most of 21st Century Fox to
Disney seems out of character. Tim Adams
asks if he has accepted his waning in?uence
or is simply consolidating his family?s power
I
n the 64 years since Rupert Murdoch inherited the Adelaide News
from his father, Sir Keith, the word
?retreat? has never seemed part of
his vocabulary. His mother, Dame
Elisabeth, the Melbourne philanthropist and ornamental gardener, who
lived to be 103, used to tell her only son:
?Don?t lead a ?what if?? life.?
He took her at her word. News
Corporation, the company Murdoch
fashioned in his own attention-de?cit
image, has rarely been troubled by
might-have-beens. In 1994, when the
playwright Dennis Potter memorably
named his pancreatic tumour ?Rupert?
for its insatiable colonising qualities,
he was thinking mainly about News
Corp?s snaking tendrils in British public
life; since then, Murdoch?s interests
and in?uences have only metastasised
across the globe.
It was for this reason that last week?s
announcement that he was selling to
Disney many of his prized assets felt so
out of character. Most of 21st Century
Fox, and his 39 per cent stake in Sky
would be offloaded for $52.4bn. A bold
interviewer, on Sky News on Thursday,
asked if this was the beginning of the
end for the most rapacious media baron
in history: ?Rupert Murdoch doesn?t
sell, he buys??
Murdoch has not looked as
magnanimous before a camera since
he ever so ?umbly appeared before the
Leveson inquiry to answer revelations
of phone hacking at his newspapers
(?Who sir? Me sir? No sir?). He halfsmiled behind his 86 year-old jowls:
?We do both. We are just returning to
our roots: news and sport.? (To investors
he had earlier said: ?Are we retreating?
Absolutely not. We are pivoting at a
pivotal moment.?)
One way of thinking about the phases
of Murdoch?s insatiable career is in
terms of his marriages (none of which
ever really pleased his mother). The
?rst, to Patricia Booker, a shop assistant
and air hostess from his home city,
saw him go as far as he could with his
Australian business. The second, and
longest, to the Glasgow-born Anna Torv,
a trainee in his Sydney newsroom who
shared his empire-building ambition,
coincided with his initial move to
London and the purchase of the News of
the World and the Sun in the late Sixties
(the years brilliantly brought to life in
the West End play Ink). These moves
established the subsequent pattern
of ruthless acquisition to create his
eventual American stronghold.
When Wendi Deng collared Murdoch
as his interpreter on a business trip to
Shanghai in 1997, the self-made Yale
MBA looked a lot like the symbolic
answer to the question that had long
dogged him: how to conquer China.
Deng?s in?uence on Murdoch was
faintly ridiculous. He started wearing
Prada suits, dining with Jared Kushner
and Ivanka Trump and dyeing what
was left of his hair. (His eldest daughter,
Prudence, who has always been the
bluntest of his children, was horri?ed
by the burgundy results. ?He insists on
doing it over the sink because he doesn?t
want anybody to know. Well, hello!
Look in the mirror.?)
When Murdoch?s marriage to Deng
collapsed amid revelations of her
crush on Tony Blair, his life looked
brie?y like it might descend into one
of his patented tabloid soap operas.
He had got into the habit of Twitter,
and the effect was to diminish him: his
unguarded thoughts made him seem
like the Wizard exposed behind Oz?s
curtain, a small man with a megaphone
pressed to his lips, rattling on about
who he met for lunch. Tellingly,
Murdoch signed off from that habit on
the day before his unlikely wedding to
Jerry Hall in March 2016: ?No more
tweets for 10 days or ever! Feel like the
luckiest AND happiest man in world.?
He has kept to that resolution. One
effect of his fourth marriage seems to
be a retrenchment of his no-nonsense
conservatism; he no longer wants to be
what he is not.
The New York Times called the
sale of Fox a ?King Lear? moment, an
acceptance of mortality and legacy.
Rather than an acknowledgement
of waning in?uence, however, it
looks more like a deliberate last-act
concentration of it. Murdoch has
never been much interested in the ?lm
business; he saw no way to get hands-on
involved, in the way that he had always
done with his news operation.
M
ichael Wolff, his
chosen biographer
and most compulsive
analyst, sees the sale
as the consummate act
of the arch pragmatist.
Murdoch has rarely been slow to see the
stars aligning against him. He has long
suspected that the bid for total control
of Sky, on which the expansion of his
entertainment empire was based, will
not be sanctioned by Theresa May?s
government (which is more in thrall to
the Daily Mail than his newspapers).
The sale acknowledges, too, that
the ?lm business is being rapidly
transformed by Net?ix and Amazon.
More urgently, perhaps, the seen-it-all
boardroom schemer was aware that
his position at Fox was suddenly not
as secure as it had been. Alwaleed bin
Talal, the Saudi royal billionaire and
major investor in the company, has long
acted as his guarantor. In November,
in the shake-up of the House of Saud,
Alwaleed was among those arrested by
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
That is not the only consideration
that Murdoch will have brought to bear
on his decision to sell. Ever since he
manoeuvred his own mother and three
sisters out of his business in 1994, he
has had one eye on succession at his
company. He has a rheumy patriarch?s
fascination with dynasties. His older
children ? Lachlan, 46, and James, 44,
their sister Elisabeth, 49, and half-sister
Prudence, 59 ? share equal voting
He shares with Trump
a de?ning belief in
himself as a
buccaneering and
self-made outsider
interests in the Murdoch Family Trust.
They divide their ?nancial interest
with their younger half-siblings, Grace,
16, and Chloe, 14, Murdoch?s children
with Deng. Ever since Murdoch?s older
kids came of age, many of his business
decisions can be traced to his desire to
work out ways to have them involved.
One school of thought suggested that
Murdoch would let Lachlan and James
scrap it out between themselves over
the eventual succession. A keen student
of the ways in which dynasties fail,
however, Murdoch knew the dangers
of that situation. (It was his knowledge
of the fracturing of the Bancroft family,
which owned the Wall Street Journal,
that allowed him to eventually buy that
title in 2007, his indulgent $5bn gift
to himself ). The sale to Disney seems
designed to avoid factionalism with the
oldest of solutions: primogeniture. Like
a toff wanting to preserve the stately
home, it appears that the stage is now
set for Lachlan to take over the lot.
There is perhaps one other reason
why Murdoch has chosen this moment
to concentrate on what he loves best:
exercising political in?uence to advance
his commercial aims. He has never
been closer to the White House (some
reports of Trump?s time in office suggest
Murdoch as his most regular con?dant).
Although he has not refrained from
criticising a few of Trump?s excesses,
Murdoch has more in common with
THE MURDOCH FILE
Born Keith Rupert Murdoch on 11 March
1931 in Melbourne, Australia. Educated at
Oxford, he returned home to take charge
of the family?s ?nances in the early 1950s.
Married three times; six children.
Best of times Many, but acquiring Times
newspapers in 1981 meant, for him,
planting himself ?rmly in the British
establishment, and gaining power broker
status.
Worst of times His media empire came
close to collapse in the mid-1990s. At
the Leveson inquiry in 2012, he appeared
very frail.
What he says ?Money is not the
motivating force. It?s nice to have money,
but I don?t live high. What I enjoy is running
the business.?
What they say ?His training ground [was]
the world of the newspaper war ? a
zero-sum game, where you wrestle
market share from the other guy.? ?
Michael Wol?, his biographer
the 45th president than he might admit
to himself. He shares a de?ning belief
in himself ? despite both being handed
fortunes by their fathers ? as a selfmade and buccaneering outsider. Both
men have become primary examples of
that contemporary tragic hero (tragic
more for the rest of us than for them) ?
the tax-avoiding billionaire plutocrat,
with overwhelming dynastic urges, who
looks in the mirror and wants above
all to see a man of the people, ?ghting
entrenched elites.
One of the effects of the latest deal is
to make Fox News a cornerstone and
prime cash cow of the Murdoch empire.
On his telephone call to congratulate
Murdoch on the Disney sale, Trump
was no doubt keen to affirm that his
cheerleading news channel was not
going anywhere. Over two decades, Fox
News has done the most to make the
bigoted and divisive tone of a Trump
presidency possible, just as in Britain
in the 1980s, it was Kelvin MacKenzie?s
thuggish Sun wot won it for the
polarising extremes of Thatcherism.
By reverting to what he knows and
loves, Murdoch seems less King Lear
than Coriolanus, gearing up for one last
assault. At the then News International,
when the boss was in his ?fties,
executives used the euphemism ?in 30
or 40 years? to describe a post-Rupert
future. By some accounts, that phrase
persists. We may be in Late Period
Murdoch, but the end is not in sight.
17.12.17
| 33
*
Comment
CATHERINE
BENNETT
A tale of bad sex?
Need I relate to it for the
story to work? Page 37
Stunning gene therapy breakthroughs
are a riposte to our truth-tarnished times
We need more than ever to celebrate advances in medical science ? though they may take years to emerge
Robin
McKie
Science Editor
T
here has been a surprising outbreak of the
use of the c-word among medical researchers over the past few days. Normally
cautious in their language, they have
nevertheless been wielding the term ?cure? when
discussing the long-term potential of two separate treatments for inherited ailments that were
announced last week. Such enthusiasm is striking.
In one case, scientists based at St
Bartholomew?s, London ? who have been working on the inherited bleeding disorder haemophilia A ? outlined how they had used a virus to
carry the gene for the blood-clotting chemical,
factor VIII (which patients lack) to their livers.
Production of the missing chemical was restored
and their bleeding halted. The development,
according to the World Federation of Hemophilia,
now points ?the way to a cure? for the condition,
which affects around 400,000 people worldwide.
In the other case, scientists led by Professor
Sarah Tabrizi, of University College London,
revealed they had found a way to suppress the
build-up of harmful proteins in patients suffering from the incurable degenerative condition,
Huntington?s disease. Injections of the drug
Ionis-HTTRx destroyed genetic messengers
that directed the manufacture of these proteins. Dementia experts hailed the news as a
?tremendous step forward? because it could
be used not only to target proteins involved in
Huntington?s but in other neural conditions, such
as Alzheimer?s disease.
Please note: neither the work on haemophilia
or the work on Huntington?s can yet be termed as
cures, but they point to the prospect of effective
treatments being developed in future. Hence the
outbreak of the use of the c-word last week. It is
also worth noting that both techniques are forms
of gene therapy, in which a mutated gene is either
replaced with a healthy copy (as with the haemophilia trials) or is inactivated or ?silenced? (as
with the Huntington?s work). And that development is also worthy of note.
Twenty-?ve years ago, as molecular biologists ?rst honed the tools that now allow them
to manipulate DNA at will, it was claimed that
gene therapy could soon free humanity from the
misery of countless conditions including haemophilia, Alzheimer?s and some cancers ? simply
by altering a person?s genetic make-up. It proved
to be an overly ambitious goal, as gene therapy
pioneer Professor Eric Alton, of Imperial College
London, acknowledged. ?Over the past couple of
decades, the reputation of gene therapy has gone
from being a cure for all known diseases to something that you wouldn?t give your dog.?
Part of the problem lay with the deaths of some
patients during trials of different gene therapies.
However, the main reason for gene therapy?s fall
from grace was its simple failure to produce the
goods as quickly as predicted. Fiddling with our
genes proved to be a lot trickier than anticipated
by some scientists.
This point is acknowledged by Professor James
Gusella, the Harvard University geneticist who
?rst pinpointed the gene that causes Huntington?s
and who was always cautious about the likely rate
of developing gene therapy. ?You have to appreciate that the symptoms of the disease, like any
other illness, are the end result of a long series of
processes that take place inside the body,? he said.
And it takes time to understand that pathway.
It begins with the cause of a particular disease
? an infection or the inheritance of a gene ? and
then leads through a series of knock-on effects
that eventually produce symptoms. Researchers
then have to pinpoint which stage is the one most
susceptible to intervention. It has taken 25 years
to get to this position with Huntington?s disease.
A
lton agreed progress has been slow. For
decades, his team has been developing gene therapy treatments for cystic
?brosis ? an inherited lung and digestion
disorder that affects 10,000 people in Britain ? and
only now is it emerging as a potential treatment.
?However, the crucial point is that we getting
there.?
And that point needs stressing. Others may
have dismissed the prospects of gene therapy,
after its initial hyping, but its advocates still
ploughed on, bouncing back after each setback,
until success was eventually achieved. Apart from
last week?s developments, gene therapy has also
helped treat immune conditions and some forms
of blindness. In each case, it has taken a great deal
of hard graft to reach these goals.
This is the way that science progresses, of
course ? not along an unswerving trajectory
towards the truth but by staggering through
disappointments, reversals and reappraisals.
?Progress is usually a very slow, drawn-out business that features many setbacks and occasional
small advances,? says Professor Robert Lechler,
of King?s College London. Eureka moments of
triumphant discovery are certainly the exception.
The fact that science is rarely presented this
way has much to do with the natural enthusiasm
of scientists for their particular projects and
with the tendency of journalists like myself to
push them into guessing when their work might
be ready for clinical use. Five years is the usual
answer I get, no matter what the trials involve.
In the case of gene therapy, the answer should
have been about 25 years ? though I would have
Science
progresses
through
reversals
and
reappraisals,
rarely
through
eureka
moments
had difficulty selling such a remote prospect as a
story to my newsdesk, while the poor scientists
would have found it hard to acknowledge how
long they still had to toil to achieve their goal.
Hence those over-optimistic claims.
That last issue should be kept in mind when
considering other medical developments that are
being worked on, added Lechler. ?Both stem cell
science and gene editing have been highlighted as
having enormous potential to treat illnesses ? and
of course they do. However, it may take longer
than we expect ? certainly if the example of gene
therapy tells us anything. We shouldn?t disparage these technologies if they don?t reach fruition
straightaway, however.?
Scientists are human and are sometimes prone
to exaggeration and a bit of self-deception for
good measure. But they do seek the truth. Even in
relatively sane periods, that urge should be cherished. In today?s truth-tarnished times ? assailed
as we are by the egregious advocates of unreason
who promote climate change denial, vaccine
repudiation and other deceptions ? we have never
needed an example of dedicated, effective science
so desperately. Researchers ? working in the face
of setbacks for decades ? have now come close to
?nding treatments for some truly terrible conditions and have rightly been hailed for their work.
Their achievements should also be borne in
mind the next time someone challenges a scienti?c truth just because it is inconvenient. That
truth, no doubt gained at some personal cost, is
something to be treasured, not denied.
Twenty-five years ago,
molecular biologists first
honed the tools that
now allow them to
manipulate DNA at will.
Getty
At Westminster, those accused of abuse still walk among us
Jess
Phillips
@jessphillips
T
he voting lobbies in Westminster are crowded. One of the
doorways which leads straight
from the chamber of the House
of Commons demands that you stand in
a very narrow winding stairway. Six or
seven people can ?t uncomfortably on
these stairs.
Last week I was squished on one of
those stairwells, forced into almost full
bodily contact with a man I know horrible stories about. A man about whom
I have listened to someone crying on
the phone.
Every ?bre of my body feels repelled,
I close my eyes, hold my breath as if preparing to dive into deep water. I manage
to surge forward quickly into the scrum.
But it?s not safe. I am again presented
with others who don?t want to catch my
eye, or those who don?t give a toss if they
do because they have grown used to
making people feel uncomfortable.
There are others who look notably
sorry, sad and repentant. I am certain
that none of them feel as uncomfortable
as I do. They only have to deal with me
knowing and maybe one or two others.
I know all of the stories. When I?m surrounded, I feel like Whoopi Goldberg
in the ?lm Ghost as she ?ghts through
the clamour of the needy dead. I break
free and push through the crowd to
head back to my office. I?m forced to
bow my head, to push through in a way
that means I don?t encounter the men
from the other side whose skeletons are
jangling in my mind.
As I walk down the corridors, I slow
my pace to avoid people who have been
referred to the police. I wait for the next
lift, ?nd a different table to sit at and
stay in my office as much as possible.
The irony that I am the one who
alters her behaviour is not lost on me. I
notice Damian Green still ?rmly in his
seat by the prime minister in PMQs,
as she dares to say: ?I want a world in
which women and girls have the con?dence to be able to be what they want.?
It seems some of us don?t need to ?nd
somewhere else to sit.
It is months since the start of the
Westminster sexual harassment scandal. To quote Mrs May again, ?nothing
has changed?. Except this time when I
say nothing has changed, I?m not lying.
Last week, a young woman told me that
that week a special adviser she met at
a lobby event had drunkenly asked her
if she had a boyfriend, and when she
replied no, he asked: ?Are you a lesbian,
what?s that like?? As you can see, really
appropriate behaviour has broken out.
When I look down the list of
Hollywood directors, British TV and
radio stars and US politicians (with a
notable exception), I see people forced
to resign or sacked because of their
alleged behaviour. British politics has no
intention of following suit. Parliament
and those on the cross-party working
group set up by the prime minister to
tackle this are working hard to clean up
the processes. I commend them.
Political parties are similarly trying to
make their processes for victims better
and more robust at handling complaints. But when it comes to actually
clearing out the problem, I am certain
that I?ll be packed into crowded lobbies,
taking the stairs instead of the lift and
listening to tearful conversations for
many more years.
When the vote number matters
more than anything else, byelections
must be avoided. Women and men in
Westminster said ?me too?, but British
politics replied, ?So what??.
Jess Phillips is Labour MP for
Birmingham Yardley
34 | COMMENT
*
17.12.17
Established in 1791
Issue No 11,795
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Telephone: 020 3353 2000 Fax: 020 3353 3189
email: editor@observer.co.uk
INTERNATIONAL LAW
T
World justice is failing the innocent
when tyrants kill with impunity
he recent conviction of Ratko Mladi?,
the former Bosnian Serb commander,
on charges of genocide, war crimes and
crimes against humanity committed in
the 1990s may come to be viewed as a highpoint for global justice. Mladi??s life sentence
for his leading role in ethnic cleansing operations in Bosnia, the battle for Sarajevo, and the
massacre of Muslims at Srebrenica was fully
deserved. But this symbolic success cannot
hide the fact that the international criminal
justice system is under siege from within and
without. In 2017, its problems grew worse.
Mladi??s conviction followed the successful prosecution of another high-pro?le ?gure,
the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karad?i?, in
addition to nearly 160 other criminal indictees.
All this is the work of the international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY),
created by the UN security council in 1993.
At the time, there was scepticism that the
new court could function while the war still
raged. To this day, many people in the western
Balkans remain critical of its performance.
But broadly speaking, the ICTY ? which will
be dissolved at the end of this month ? may
be judged a success. It brought justice, if not
perfect closure, where mayhem and murder
once reigned unchecked.
The ICTY precedent has had an impact
reaching far beyond south-eastern Europe. In
1994, the UN created a sister court ? the international criminal tribunal for Rwanda ? to
prosecute those responsible for the genocide
in that country. The ?special court for Sierra
Leone?, founded in 2002, was a variation on
the theme. The ICTY measurably reinforced
the concept of supranational justice applied
over the heads, if need be, of national leaders
and governments. And its inception undoubtedly smoothed the way for the founding,
under UN auspices, of a permanent international criminal court (ICC) with global
jurisdiction. The ICC is the world?s court of
last resort, speci?cally tasked with investigat-
ing genocide, war crimes and crimes against
humanity. It began work in The Hague in
2002, when the Rome statute came into force.
It is backed by 123 state parties, including
Britain, out of a possible total of 195. Member
states voted last week to signi?cantly widen its
jurisdiction, from next year, to include stateon-state crimes of aggression.
So far, so good. Or perhaps not. From its
earliest days, the ICC faced accusations that
it was unduly focused on Africa, where nearly
all its investigations have taken place. Fatou
Bensouda, of Gambia, the current chief prosecutor, has worked to dispel these suspicions.
But a degree of disillusionment persists. This
year, Burundi became the ?rst ever state to
quit the court, claiming it was an ?instrument
of the west?. South Africa tabled legislation
last week that, if enacted, would make good its
previous threat to pull out. And African Union
states have backed a non-binding proposal for
mass withdrawal.
Bensouda has taken concrete steps to
broaden the ICC?s scope. Relatively new ?preliminary examinations? now include Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Ukraine. This means
American troops who have been ?ghting the
Taliban, and killing Afghan civilians, inadvertently or otherwise, since 2001 are coming
under belated legal scrutiny. Likewise, the
actions of Israeli security forces in the occupied territories and Russian-backed troops
in Ukraine will be examined. The behaviour
of members of the British armed forces in
Iraq following the 2003 invasion, the subject
of much domestic litigation, forms part of
another ICC examination.
There is much to investigate in all these
situations. The question is whether the ICC
can act effectively. Palestinian human rights
groups, for example, submitted evidence to
the ICC in September alleging war crimes and
crimes against humanity by Israeli officials in
the West Bank and Gaza. Last year, Human
Rights Watch called on the ICC to investigate
the 2014 Gaza war and the expansion of Jewish
settlements, illegal under international law.
But while the Palestinian Authority joined the
Rome statute in 2015, Israel rejects ICC jurisdiction. Israeli nationals could, in theory, be
prosecuted for crimes committed on Palestinian soil. But Israel?s government has no obligation to surrender them to the court. The US,
China and Russia, which also boycott the ICC,
afford similar protections to their nationals,
wherever they may be, whatever they may do.
This continuing refusal of major global
powers to support the international criminal
justice system, represented at its apex by the
ICC, seriously undermines its credibility. The
failure of ICC members to enforce their own
rules, as in the case of Omar al-Bashir, the
Sudanese president indicted for genocide and
war crimes in Darfur, has also done great damage. When Bashir visited South Africa in 2015,
Jacob Zuma?s government ignored its legal
obligations and declined to arrest him.
I
n her annual report this month, Bensouda
said it was imperative to close what she
called the impunity gap. ?What is required,
today more than ever, is greater recognition of the need to strengthen the court and
the evolving system of international criminal justice. It is up to state parties, ?rst and
foremost, as custodians of the Rome statute, to
stand ?rmly by its values and further foster its
positive impact in practice,? she said.
The Mladi? case aside, developments in
2017 suggest Bensouda?s call may fall on deaf
ears. In Syria, not a state party to the ICC, horri?c war crimes have continued unchecked. In
the failed state of Yemen, also not a member,
a similar tragedy has played out. Much of the
killing in both countries can be attributed to
Russian and Saudi forces, respectively, who
are beyond the ICC?s purview.
In Myanmar, tens of thousands of Rohingya
Muslims have suffered what the US terms
ethnic cleansing ? but neither the Trump
administration, the UN, nor a hamstrung ICC
have done much about it. The same goes for
the North Korean regime?s systemic abuses of
its citizens. The focus there is on missiles, not
misery. In truth, Bensouda?s ?impunity gap?
widened into a chasm in 2017.
This ongoing failure to consistently and
comprehensively pursue, prosecute and
punish individuals guilty of the worst crimes
known to humanity is universally shaming.
It is reprehensible that great powers aspiring
to global leadership, such as China and India,
shirk their responsibilities with self-serving
arguments about national sovereignty.
It is shocking that the US, a once proud beacon of liberty and justice, also continues to fail
the international community in this regard.
And it is unacceptable that notorious malefactors, such as Syria?s Bashar al-Assad, appear
beyond the reach of the of the law. A special
tribunal set up by the UN has been compiling
reports on Syria for years. There is no shortage
of damning evidence. But only the UN security
council can refer Assad to the ICC. And it has
not done so because Syria?s ally, Russia, would
veto any such move.
The wider political environment has deteriorated, too. The rise of Donald Trump and
inward-looking, nativist and populist forces in
the western democracies has further undermined faith in transnational institutions such
as the European court of justice and World
Court.
Lack of leadership, lack of vision and lack of
a sense of common purpose are among many
contributory factors. But only one conclusion
is possible. Nearly a century after the 1919
Paris peace conference set up a ?Commission
on the Responsibility of the Authors of the
War and on Enforcement of Penalties?, it is a
scandal that an under-powered, ill-supported
international criminal justice system still
struggles, and often fails, to bring the world?s
worst offenders to book.
NET NEUTRALITY
The internet is fundamental. It must not become a
two-tier service ? one for the rich, one for the poor
O
bamacare for the internet. That was how,
at the height of the 2014 primary season,
the Republican presidential hopeful, Ted
Cruz, referred to the net neutrality rules
proposed by the Obama administration. Designed
to safeguard equitable access to the internet, they
were enacted the following year. But they suffered
a signi?cant, albeit expected, blow when the US
telecoms regulator, chaired by a Trump appointee,
voted to ditch them last Thursday.
Net neutrality is the principle that internet
service providers should not be able to charge
different content providers different prices for
transmitting data to their consumers. Strong net
neutrality rules would prevent a big company such
as Net?ix from paying an ISP to guarantee faster
access to its content than its competitors, or offer
unlimited data access to Net?ix bundled in as part
of a broadband or mobile contract.
Scrapping net neutrality could make the already
uncompetitive US broadband market even less
competitive. The majority of American consumers
only have one choice of broadband provider offering acceptable speeds. Allowing ISPs to bundle
different deals with unlimited access to different
platforms risks leading to hundreds of confusing
packages being offered to deliberately obfuscate
price competition.
But the anticompetitive reach extends way
beyond the United States. Allowing large and
dominant content providers to pay more for better
access to consumers will make it harder for the
new tech upstarts in Silicon Valley to compete.
This will dampen competition and choice the
world over, including for us here in Britain.
The internet is a modern natural monopoly:
companies such as Net?ix and Facebook need a
critical mass of users in order to be economically
viable. The more dominant they are, the harder it is
for their competitors to get to that critical mass.
Like any rational monopolist, these companies
will exploit a lack of net neutrality to maintain
their dominance to the detriment of consumers.
Facebook has publicly come out in favour of net
neutrality in the American public debate. But it is
aggressively capitalising on the absence of net neutrality in the developing world, where it is seeking
to quickly expand its eye-watering consumer
reach encapsulated in the fact that a quarter of the
world?s population now have a Facebook account.
It has been pressuring mobile network providers to
offer free access to a very limited slice of the internet, including Facebook, for consumers who cannot afford to pay for internet access, and without a
hint of irony, self-labelling it ?philanthropy?.
Internet service providers point to the fact that
YouTube and Net?ix between them consume half
of internet bandwidth. How are they supposed to
future-proof our broadband infrastructure if they
can?t charge them for access to their customers?
T
his argument is a sham. The fundamentally
uncompetitive broadband market means
any extra revenues are far more likely to be
pocketed by shareholders than invested in
improving the infrastructure. And consumers are
anyway already paying considerably for that data
through their broadband packages.
That?s not to say that we don?t have a problem
with a creaking infrastructure. Here in the UK,
almost one in 10 households do not have access to
acceptable broadband speeds, rising to over half
in rural areas. Just 2% of UK households have the
hyperfast direct ?bre connections to the broad-
band network; in South Korea, Japan and Spain it
is more than 60%. This is because the structure of
our broadband market ? while more competitive
than the very low bar set by the US ? provides too
few incentives for long-term investment. While
government has historically under-invested in the
UK?s physical infrastructure, the problem is even
worse for our digital infrastructure. Extending
superfast broadband to Devon so it can be accessed
by small businesses there would for many result in
as profound an economic boost as investing in the
railway lines linking the region to London.
So the ?ght for net neutrality must be seen in the
context of an even bigger debate. Is the internet
something to be ruled over by all-mighty private
companies with little oversight from the state?
Or do we recognise it as too fundamental to our
security, to the way we communicate, and to our
economy, to leave it vulnerable to the cowboy
tactics so often deployed when the private sector
spots an unregulated monopoly? The worldwide
web?s founder, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, worries that
?the system is failing?. He?s right. It?s time to ?nally
treat his invention like the public utility it has
de?nitively grown to become.
17.12.17
COMMENT | 35
*
RIDDELL?S VIEW
The Tory rebels are emboldened by
their success. They won?t stop now
It will be increasingly di?cult to contain MPs who are developing a taste for voting with their consciences
Andrew
ew
Rawnsley
nsley
@andrewrawnsley
wnsley
T
he spectacle of a control freak losing
control is generally satisfying, but not to
Tories爓ho are angry about the government?s ?rst major defeat in parliament
since the election. Casting around for places to
allocate the blame, some ?ngers are being pointed
at Julian Smith.
The relatively new chief whip is being accused
of misreading and mishandling the rebellion that
saw Tory MPs combine with the opposition to
insert a legal guarantee that parliament will have
a vote on the eventual Brexit deal. ?The ?rst job of
the chief is to be able to count,? complain some of
his colleagues, echoing Lyndon Johnson?s famous
saying about what most matters in politics.
It is obvious that the Tory whipping operation
didn?t work, since it is rule number one not to lose
a vote. Gavin Williamson, Mr Smith?s predecessor
as chief whip, liked to boast that he never lost a
single division in the Commons, although he only
kept that record intact by swerving any vote that
came with the risk of defeat and getting himself
promoted to defence secretary before the parliamentary slog over Brexit became seriously heavy.
In truth, Mr Smith?s skill, or lack of it, at
whipcracking is not the important reason why the
government was defeated this time and will likely
lose again in the future. The important reasons
are these. The prime minister lacks authority. She
may often behave as if she has a steamroller mandate, but she only has a slender parliamentary
majority bought from the Democratic Unionist
Party. That would make life difficult enough even
without Brexit. This requires gargantuan slabs
of legislation which has created a parliamentary
battleground in which ?ercely held principles are
contested and high passions are aroused.
This combination of prime ministerial weakness, precarious parliamentary arithmetic and
complex and contentious legislation on a hugely
divisive issue is compounded by a longer term
trend which makes whipping still more difficult.
Parliamentarians of all parties have been growing more rebellious over the years. We know this
from the valuable work of Philip Cowley, a political scientist at Queen Mary University of London,
and his colleague Mark Stuart. They have made a
speciality of recording and analysing the trend.
Mutiny by government backbenchers, a rarity
in the 1940s and 1950s, has increased over the
decades since. Labour MPs became steadily more
rebellious after their party came to power in
1997. This was often disguised by the size of Tony
Blair?s majorities, but not always. Even when he
had a landslide majority, he came within four
votes of a defeat on tuition fees.
One Jeremy Corbyn voted against the whip
on 428 occasions when his party was in power
? and a further 189 times when it was in opposition ? making a career total of 617. It is probably
an encouragement to rebels of all parties that he is
now Labour leader and, for some of his supporters at least, his record is taken as a signi?er that
he is a man of principle and authenticity. He does
not wear his past disloyalty to the party whip as a
mark of shame, but as a badge of pride. The Tory
MPs who rebelled against Mrs May do the same.
That would worry me if I were the prime minister.
Tory MPs developed a taste for rebellion during
Sir John Major?s tormented government in the
1990s. In those days, the revolts over Europe came
from the phobic right of the party. The last people
in a position to demand that loyalty to party ought
to prevail over conscience are Brexiters of that
vintage, some of whom were dubbed ?bastards?
by Sir John as they ate his government alive. What
is sauce for the goose.
There was even more Tory rebellion during the
coalition years. In one of the coalition?s parliamentary sessions, approaching half of divisions
saw one or more government MPs vote against
the government.
One explanation for this rising tide of backbench rebellion is that whips have lost many of
the tools they once used to coax and cow their
MPs. They were deprived of valuable patronage
power when they had to surrender control of
appointments to select committees. Arm twisting
of potential rebels is more dangerous than it was
in the old days when bullying was regarded as a
legitimate weapon in the whips? armoury. MPs
who are leant on are much more likely to complain about it and to do so publicly. Whips can
still menace a backbencher?s career prospects, but
that doesn?t work terribly well if a rebel-inclined
MP has already been a minister, and there are
quite a lot of ex-ministers sitting on the Tory
backbenches. It is notable that the majority of last
week?s rebels were former ministers. ?You?d be
unwise to cross the prime minister? might have
worked as a threat when Mrs May looked like the
queen of all she surveyed. It doesn?t have so much
traction when it is the working assumption of
most Tories that she won?t be their leader by the
time of the next election.
Some of the Tory press have tried to intimidate
the rebels by vilifying them as ?malcontents? and
?traitors?. There have also been a few hysterical bellows for de-selection. That is nasty. It also
appears to be pleasingly counter-productive
for the government. Some of the rebels say that
the attempted character assassinations only
served to strengthen their resolve and cement
their comradeship. Voters usually tell interviewers that爐hey don?t like lobby-fodder MPs
and express燼 preference to be represented by
independent-minded parliamentarians who
stick to their principles. Which is precisely what
One veteran rebel said:
?It?s like murder is said to
be. The ?rst time is the
hardest. The more often
you do it, the easier it gets?
Dominic Grieve and his fellow rebels were doing
when they insisted on proper parliamentary
scrutiny of Brexit.
That leaves the whips with one ultimate threat
? the nuclear weapon ? which I expect they will
be rolling out in future because there will be a lot
more tight ?ghts and close calls over Brexit legislation down the line. The big bogey is to try to terrify potential rebels with the idea that defeating
Mrs May on anything signi?cant could collapse
the government and precipitate an election.
The trouble with this as a frightener is that it is
very hollow. No amount of amending of the various pieces of Brexit legislation can, by itself, cause
an election. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments
Act, there are two mechanisms for removing the
government. One way would require either the
DUP or some Tory MPs to join the opposition
in support of a motion of no con?dence in the
government. The Queen would then ask Jeremy
Corbyn to see if he could form a government
which commanded the support of parliament. If
he couldn?t, an election would follow. I guess we
should never say never to anything these days, but
it is extremely hard to see the DUP or any Tory
MP voting to set off that chain of events.
The alternative mechanism for ending the
government would require the DUP and a wedge
of Tories to vote with the opposition on a motion
to call an election. Again, you have to say never
say never. Again, you have to think that this looks
a bit less likely than Lord Lucan turning up in
Parliament Square riding Shergar. I say that not
just because the DUP can?t stand the idea of Mr
Corbyn in Number 10. I say it also because a hung
parliament really suits them because it gives them
leverage worth �n and counting so far.
T
he precise effect of the rebel amendment
on the Brexit process is as yet unknown.
What we can say now is that it is not a good
look for a government to lose a vote on ?agship legislation. It is also cheering for the opposition, literally so. Cheer they did, Labour, Lib Dem
and Nationalist MPs when the tellers read out the
numbers on Wednesday night.
Rebellions in the Commons have another
effect, which is that they tend to embolden the
House of Lords to be difficult. It has long been
thought in government that the Brexit legislation will face its roughest passage when the bills
reach the upper house. The majority of peers
were opposed to Brexit. Tory lords and ladies
are less than a third of the total population of the
upper house. They are easily outnumbered by
opposition peers and the crossbenchers. For the
government to get its way, ministers were relying
on the unelected upper house?s traditional reluctance to defy the clearly expressed will of the
Commons. If the government is being defeated in
the Commons, peers are more likely to stand ?rm
on their objections to the Brexit legislation.
A ?nal reason for Mrs May and her whips to
worry about this defeat is that rebellion can be
contagious. As one veteran rebel against his party
once put it to me: ?It?s like murder is said to be.
The ?rst time is the hardest. The more often you
do it, the easier it gets.?
The EU withdrawal bill is only the ?rst course
of the groaning menu of Brexit legislation that
will be served up to parliament over the coming
months. There are at least eight more bills to be
chewed through. Mrs May and her whips had
better get accustomed to the sour taste of defeat
because this ?rst one is unlikely to be the last.
36 | COMMENT
*
17.12.17
Spare us the moral hysteria that
threatens a new age of censorship
From stage to screen to gallery, we need free expression in the arts ? not fear and timidity,
after it was published, I did not receive a single
supportive message from the sisterhood). But we
need to be careful. This is a dangerous moment as
well as an important one. You don?t have to look
hard to see that we?re beginning to con?ate sexual
mistakes of all kinds with abuse, that beneath the
surface of this debate conservative forces are at
work, as well as reforming, liberal ones.
In the New Republic recently, a writer described
a happy, consensual relationship she had had with
her university tutor. Buried in the middle of her
account was a line about extramarital affairs that
terri?ed me. She spoke of the way ?transgressors?
who leave their partners are ?forgiven? if they go
on to remarry and have children: ?a toxic concept?,
she said. What? Are we going to outlaw love affairs
now? Isn?t forgiveness supposed to be a good
thing? (I write as someone who has had to do quite
a lot of forgiving down the years.)
Rachel
Cooke
@MsRachelCooke
T
o the casual eye, George Devine made for an
unlikely-seeming revolutionary. In Howard
Coster?s 1934 photograph, in the collection
of the National Portrait Gallery, he looks like
nothing so much as a master at Greyfriars School,
his spectacles horn-rimmed, his hair neatly oiled.
Only the ?amboyant angle of the hand that holds
his cigarette suggests the reality: this was the actor
who, as the director of the English Stage Company
at the Royal Court Theatre, would produce John
Osborne?s 1956 play Look Back in Anger.
According to Irving Wardle, the nearest thing
he has to a biographer, Devine was ?personally
inconspicuous?. If creating an ?open space? for
?rebel artists? took courage ? it?s difficult to grasp,
now, how incendiary Osborne?s words seemed at
the time ? it also involved a certain quietness. The
work would speak for itself.
Last Friday, the Royal Court?s current director,
Vicky Featherstone, showed a little of the same
quiet courage. Twenty-four hours after cancelling
a production of Andrea Dunbar?s Rita, Sue and Bob
Too in the wake of the news that its original codirector, Max Stafford-Clark, had stepped down
following allegations of sexual harassment, she
issued a statement in which she admitted to having
been shocked by the claims of censorship levelled
at her, and had changed her mind. The Court will
stage the play, with its themes of ?grooming? and
?male power? (its words, not mine).
It is a measure of the current atmosphere that
so uncontroversial a move ? the production has
been touring since September, and the play, with
its wild, working-class teenage heroines, has been
loved and admired ever since Stafford-Clark discovered its 19-year-old author in the early 1980s ?
seemed weirdly momentous: signi?cant enough to
make the main news bulletins. When I heard about
it, I poured myself another drink.
Of course, it should have been obvious to everyone involved right from the beginning that the
Royal Court, like all subsidised theatres, is required
to be the polar opposite of a so-called ?safe space?
in artistic terms; plays, all you babies out there,
don?t groom people ? although I do take the point
of the friend who joked to me that she?d once been
harassed by some late-period Tom Stoppard. But
then, it?s hardly as if the Court is alone when it
comes to being lily-livered. This is just one in a long
So, who
chooses the
artists with
morals so
impeccable
they will
take the
place of
those we?re
going to
throw under
our bus?
line of instances of mimsy self-censorship in the
arts and, in the months and years ahead, I predict
many more, the fear and trembling among institutions growing exponentially as further cases of harassment and abuse are revealed, and some of those
we know about already pass through the courts.
Anxiety in this matter should not, moreover,
be a new thing. Although it gives me no pleasure
to say so, I saw all this coming. Last April, when
Harvey Weinstein was still protected by his ghastly
network and the liverish glow of his formerly
high-wattage power, I wrote a long piece about the
nervous attitudes of galleries to ?difficult? work
in which I speculated that, among other artists,
Balthus, some of whose subjects are pubescent
girls, would probably soon ?nd himself in trouble. And so it came to pass. Earlier this month, a
woman called Mia Merrill launched an online petition calling on the Metropolitan Museum of Art to
remove his 1938 painting, Th閞鑣e Dreaming. More
than 11,500 people signed it, on the grounds that
they ?nd it ?disturbing? (Th閞鑣e sits in such a way
that her underwear can be seen). Again, it tells you
something that while the petition didn?t surprise
me, the fact that the Met held its nerve did.
People talk of a ?reckoning?. At last, they say,
women need no longer be silent about what
they?ve suffered at the hands of men; our idea of
what constitutes sexual assault has changed forever. I have no problem with this. I wrote my own
#MeToo column ?ve years ago, when people were
wondering how Jimmy Savile had got away with
his crimes for so long. (Not that anyone noticed:
More than 11,500 people
signed a petition calling
on the Metropolitan
Museum in New York to
remove Balthus?s 1938
painting, Th閞鑣e
Dreaming. The museum
refused. Alamy
T
he effect of this muddle on relationships is
a subject for another time, another column.
But its effect on the arts is going to be ? this
is my bet ? grim. The mob can be whipped
up in as long as it takes to hit a keyboard; institutions are risk averse, worrying about funding and
audience development with freedom of expression
seen as mere tinsel atop the tree. Pressure comes
from the police, who can?t afford to protect those
who refuse their ?advice? when they deem something to be in?ammatory, and from both left (take
a look at the behaviour of some Momentum types)
and right (the Daily Mail). Add the febrile mood
surrounding Weinstein and co to this and you see in
which direction we?re heading.
The line between art and biography has long
been fraught; I?ve written about it with reference
to Philip Larkin and Eric Gill. But let me ask the
question once again: who chooses the artists with
morals so impeccable they will take the place of
those we?re going to throw under our hurtling bus?
There are endless reasons to resist censorship, most so manifest I can hardly be bothered to
articulate them (start with the idea that art is supposed to make us think, and work your way from
there). But when it comes to old art, rather than
new, there?s rarely any good reason to expunge it
from the record. Read a book or watch a play, and
see how you/we have changed. Prescience isn?t a
straightforward thing; rather magically, art sometimes updates itself. In the 21st century, Osborne?s
anti-establishment hero, Jimmy Porter, appears to
us as a conservative ?gure, a man whose diatribes
against the status quo don?t quite hide the fact that
part of him clings to it. An update might have him
supporting Brexit, and that in itself would be a
reason to see it ? though, alas, I have to tell you that
he?ll never not be a sexist pig.
Victoria Coren Mitchell My Christmas present to you
Hate gift guides?
Here?s an
n
alternative
ve to
all those that
insult you
u
with dull
ideas
T
he gift guides are out again!
Regular readers will know how
infuriated I am by those Christmas gift guides. Pages and pages
of newsprint, all given over to the advice
that we should consider buying our relatives a pair of socks or a bottle of wine.
Adding insult to insult, they invariably divide these ?ideas? into relatives (?A lipstick for your wife! A book
for your mum! A bottle of wine for
Grandpa!?) just to make sure that
nobody shops beyond the boundaries
of age and gender stereotype. Not
only must we buy the same old stuff
every year, we must make the same old
assumptions. Women love clothes. Kids
love sweets. Men love golf calendars.
In defence of the Daily Mail (a phrase
I hear myself using more often, these
days, than I would ever have predicted),
at least they made their 2017 gift guide
?plastic free?. This is a refreshing and
useful campaign. Unfortunately, it?s a
list of plastic-free really boring things.
It?s still just booze and bath salts for
the爑sual suspects: cardboard bottle of
gin for him, bamboo make-up palette
for her.
But regular readers will remember
with a thrill of joy that I have been
publishing my own gift guide for more
than 10 years, helping to personalise our
relations a little more.
In my guide, I recommend appropriate presents for major celebrity
names from the year. Thus, instead
of forcing loved ones into the pigeon
holes provided by the more traditional
gift guides, readers can simply scroll
down to ?nd the perfect present for
whichever of their uncles most closely
resembles Lady Gaga.
Despite its longevity, I haven?t
actually published the VCM-patent
Excellent Gift Guide for a couple of
years. If none of the above rings a bell,
that suggests you have only recently
discovered the Observer, or you have
avoided my contributions to it more
successfully in the past than you have
today, or ? like me ? you?ve long forgotten anything you?ve ever previously
read or seen and it?s as much as you can
do to remember what day you?re meant
to put the bins out.
I didn?t write one in 2015 because
I was on maternity leave. And I didn?t
write one in 2016 because everyone
was dead. Every name that sprang to
mind, of a person that had loomed large
last year, was a name on a memorial:
Victoria Wood, David Bowie, Terry
Wogan, Alan Rickman, Ronnie Corbett,
Prince?
2016 really was a bloody terrible year.
All those deaths, of all those brilliant
and lovable people, seemed to presage
an annus horribilis all over the world.
Everything felt suddenly terrifying
and doomed. The piece I ?led last
December instead of the ?gift guide?
may be the bleakest thing I?ve ever written ? and I?ve written my phone number
on a stripper?s bicep.
Reading that column back now, I?m
cheered to discover that, however awful
2017 has intermittently been, it felt a
lot worse last year. We?re on the up! Or
we?ve got used to the constant relentless
down! Merry Christmas!
So let?s crack on with a cheery gift
guide for this season, in hope of a happy
new year.
Retired grandpa
Your grandad ?nally retired this year.
His creaky old bones and increasing
deafness were creeping up on him; the
time has come to step back, smell the
roses and meet new people. Or meet the
roses and smell new people. Grandpa
was always open-minded about that
sort of thing.
For Usain Bolt: an evening course in
duplicate bridge.
Di?cult neighbour
He?s noisy, obstreperous, confused and
vulgar, but what can you do? There he
just is. You still don?t really understand
how he came to be there. The council
says they can evict him but it may take
another seven years. For as long as
he?s in situ, you have to try to get on.
If you can forge a special relationship
then, while he will inevitably piss on
your lawn when it suits him, at least he
won?t爌ut a petrol bomb through the
letter box.
For Donald Trump: a cup of sugar.
Successful sister
Socks again? Not if you turn out to be in
the obstructive colleague category.
She?s always been more successful than
you, ever since the ?rst time her Mr
Potato Head got a round of applause and
yours fell in a bin. After Christmas, she?s
starting another amazing new job. But
she?s nervous; it?s a high-pressure post
and she?s got big shoes to ?ll. After a
jealous history, you want to be uncomplicatedly supportive. You want a gift
that is loving and heartfelt, that re?ects
her individuality, that spells: I?m proud
of you! You will succeed on your own
terms! You will make this role your own!
For Jodie Whittaker: a lovely, warm,
multicoloured woollen scarf.
Obstructive colleague
Cocky, disrespectful, constantly trying
to undermine you, this guy needs taking
down a peg or two. He needs his con?dence dented. He needs his self-esteem
whittled away. Ultimately, he needs to
be completely demoralised and made to
feel like an idiot.
For Grant Shapps: Only Connect,
The Official Quiz Book. That?ll take the
spring out of anyone?s Christmas.
Unexpected guests
It?s always important to have something
to hand in case of surprise additions
to the list. Someone turns up that you
weren?t expecting to see, or someone
turns up bringing someone that you
weren?t expecting to see? A new twist
can bring all sorts of joy and amusement
? the more the merrier! ? so be sure to
have a little something up your sleeve
to make them feel welcome. Something
appropriate that they?re bound to want.
For Prince Harry and Meghan
Markle: a 17th-century, 24-bedroom
manor house in Gloucestershire.
17.12.17
COMMENT | 37
*
A tale of bad sex?
Need I relate to it for
the story to work?
When a piece of ?ction went viral, readers queued up
to claim they recognised themselves in the heroine
Catherine
Bennett
@Bennett_C_
P
ossibly not since Dickens fans in New
York shouted, at disembarking English
passengers, ?Is Little Nell dead??, has any
piece of ?ction aroused as much interest,
as speedily, as Cat Person, a skilful short story by
Kristen Roupenian.
Published in the New Yorker, it went viral
within days, and con?rmed, if nothing else, that
Twitter still has far more to offer than the now
routine ganging-up and self-promotion. For a
time, last week, that platform felt more like a
massive, fantastically welcoming book group ?
albeit a book group in which most of the members
were saying the same thing. Before I?d even read
Cat Person, an engrossing account of a delusional
romantic encounter, I knew that thousands of
women admired it as, above all, ?relatable?.
Told from the perspective of 20-year-old
Margot, Cat Person relates her ?irtation with
Robert, a 14 years older, faintly creepy-sounding
man, whom she rapidly ? though not quite rapidly
enough ? comes to ?nd repulsive. But getting shot
of Robert is complicated by another impulse, so
familiar among women that it may be the main
reason for the story?s lightning soar through
social media: that of not hurting his feelings.
Responding to the story, women exchanged
comments such as, typically: ?JFC this is the most
painfully relatable thing I?ve read in the New
Yorker in the last 10 years and I?m totally not crying in the bathroom at work over it or anything.?
Or: ?It?s like an excerpt from my imaginary memoir.? And even when it didn?t evoke memories of
near-identical disasters, Cat Person?s depiction
of unwanted but politely endured sex accorded
with the bigger picture being created by #MeToo
disclosures, of the relentless pressure on young
women sexually to submit or, less dramatically, to
keep men from getting upset.
Maybe, given this widespread reading of the
story as politically, as well as emotionally, affirmative, it was inevitable that readers of a more
witch-hunt/?it?s all gone too far? mindset, would
promptly declare themselves alienated.
Relatable, increasingly used as a prime measure
of literary value, plainly has its downside, and
only partly because, like its cousin, ?likeable?,
it shuts down so much literature, from Beowulf
to Conrad, Nabokov, Roth, Highsmith, Pamuk,
Kureishi. Not many women, as was pointed out
when the latter published Intimacy, were likely to
see their experiences re?ected in Kureishi?s Jay,
an instructively ignoble shagger of a husband.
Shortly after the word began to gain currency
in the US, a theatre critic warned that a production of King Lear, though competent enough,
fell short of what he, personally, found relatable.
The reviewer just wasn?t the kind of person, you
gathered, who would ever disinherit his favourite
daughter or get mad in a rainstorm. Classic drama
is notoriously short on protagonists as provenly
(con?rmed by polls) relatable as Jeremy Corbyn.
Even for a current literary phenomenon like
Cat Person, if relatable is its most prized quality
then that probably diminishes its chances with
readers lucky enough never to have had stoical
sex with someone whom they?ve already gone off.
The role of self-deception in Margot?s behaviour,
as she pursues an encounter with a man who
plainly has his own reservations, did not placate male readers who felt, just as plainly, got at.
Someone started an anti-Cat Person group.
Why, some disappointed readers wanted to
know, was the story all about Margot anyway?
What about poor Robert? Where was the validation for awkward single men? At the BBC, this
seemed such a staggeringly important literary
point, that it decided to make good Roupenian?s
oversight with a new story (writer unknown)
called, Cat Person: What Robert (probably)
thought. Maybe to even things out, it also downplayed the identity of Cat Person?s author. ?The
New Yorker told Margot?s story,? it said, ?Here?s
Robert?s.? The protracted exercise showed that
Robert could de?nitely have been the main character in a story, if the New Yorker could have been
bothered to make up a different one.
In the absence of any rationale for this
intervention we can only speculate on whether,
given the authorial bias in all too many works of
Illustration by
Dominic McKenzie.
?ction, the BBC?s revision of Cat Person is just
the ?rst in a series correcting women writers.
Emma: What Mr Knightley (probably) thought.
Middlemarch: what Mr Casaubon (probably)
thought. Mrs Tiggy-Winkle: What Cock Robin
(probably) thought. All of them keenly anticipated if the BBC really does reinterpret its commitment to impartiality to embrace, henceforth,
products of the imagination.
Its unwillingness to privilege Margot over
Robert certainly suggests that, just months after it
apologised for presenting Nigella Lawson?s father
as a major challenge to the scienti?c consensus,
prominent writers can expect, like any other
experts, to have their work balanced, at the BBC
at least, by hostile, ignorant, or completely irrelevant contributions.
S
imilarly, last week?s Today item featuring
a man who dislikes reading Jane Austen,
debating another man who does like
reading Jane Austen, signalled with the
accompanying tweet, ?Do you hate Jane Austen??,
hearty approval of Twitter?s binary approach to
literary criticism. The manly ding-dong, even with
its accidental misrepresentation of Austen?s literary predecessors, was a reminder to guardians and
revisers of the literary canon to take nothing for
Relatable has its downsides
? partly because, like its
cousin ?likeable?, it shuts
down so much literature
granted. To the pressing questions already raised
by trigger warnings and anti-imperialist challenges, university English departments may now
want to ask, about any supposedly key text: would
it appeal to a fatphobic Esquire contributor from
north London?
As for readers whom ?do you hate Jane
Austen?? was designed by the BBC to enrage,
not a few will have been reminded of what they
love. My copy of Pride and Prejudice fell open,
by chance, on one of the pages where Austen
uses reading habits to reveal character ? another
damning example appears, most respectfully, on
the � banknote. Ghastly Mr Collins (his status,
improbable as it now sounds, deriving entirely
from a chance of inheritance) is invited to read
aloud. ?A book was produced; but, on beholding it (for everything announced it to be from a
circulating library), he started back, and begging
pardon, protested that he never read novels.? A
reaction that might be quite relatable, in fact, for
some of the men who have been heaping scorn on
Cat Person, and on its fans. ?I can?t believe,? writes
one, ?we?re talking about short stories as if they?re
relevant.?
In comparison with ?do you hate Jane
Austen??, much of the online debate about Cat
Person has indeed projected an excitement about
the text, and an interest in authorial intention,
which may be as welcome to publishers, libraries
and English teachers as it is to Roupenian?s agent.
For once, social media was cultivating reading,
and talking about reading, and not the opposite. Can the great Cat Person book group keep
going? Even attract a whole new audience to
accomplished ?ction? The more the responses
to Cat Person dwell on its relatability ? its spooky
insights into the reader?s own experience, its
amazing #MeToo timeliness ? the more the
whole thing looks like a brilliant one-off. But at
least it happened.
In losing religion we lose touch with each other
Nick
Cohen
@NickCohen4
H
allmark is the most traditional
of British greeting card makers.
It produces the pictures the
elderly buy for their grandchildren and vice versa. There?s no nudity
or jokes about sex and alcohol, just
old-fashioned images of robins, Santas,
snowmen and ice skaters. The most
traditional images of all, however, have
virtually vanished.
Hallmark is offering 376 Christmas
cards this year. By my count, only ?ve
are religious: three featuring Mary and
Joseph in the stable and two Madonnas
with child. Admittedly, Hallmark?s bestseller is called ?little angels?, but they are
simpering cherubs in a picture that carries no reference to the Christian story.
In November, the peak time for buying Advent calendars, I checked the
stock on Amazon. Once again, Mary,
Joseph, the shepherds and wise men
had disappeared to the margins. There
were more Star Wars than religious calendars ? apparently, the Force is more
powerful than the Holy Spirit today. If
you were prepared to spend hundreds
of pounds, you could buy calendars
with doors which open to reveal gin
miniatures, jewellery, make-up, sex toys
? Everything and anything except a
nativity scene.
We document the decline of religion with statistics. Attendance at the
Church of England is down to 780,000
and is falling by 20,000 a year. The
percentage of the population describing itself as having no religion in the
broadest sense rose from 31.4% to 50.6%
between 1983 and 2013.
A few religious apologists try to duck
the decline in faith by saying immigrants and ethnic minority communities are noticeably more religious than
the rest of the population. Given that
last week the chief inspector of schools,
from a state bureaucracy which has
been indifferent to the point of negligence about bigotry in minority communities, warned that Muslim, Jewish
and Christian private schools were
encouraging the subjugation of women
and hatred of homosexuals, that is not
a defence any moral person can rely on.
In any case, there is no guarantee that
minorities won?t abandon the observance of their faith. British Jews have
been doing so for years.
Blocked from that avenue of escape,
apologists then say Britain and the
wider west is still culturally Christian,
whatever the church attendance ?gures
show. This is true in a vague way. You
won?t understand your country?s past
and a part of yourself unless you understand Christian history. But as Christian
culture is now collapsing, a good guide
to the past has become a hopeless
guide to the future. In truth, cultural
Christianity in Britain is going the way
of the Greek myths. A writer or artist
could once assume that readers grasped
classical references. In 1821, Byron
began his protest against the Ottoman
occupation of Greece with:
The isles of Greece! the isles of Greece
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose, and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.
Byron was not only writing for
the elite. His poetry was so loved by
Europe?s worker and radical movements
in the 19th century Friedrich Engels
could say ?Byron and Shelley are read
almost exclusively by the lower classes?.
Today, how many from the educated
elite understand his references to Delos
and Phoebus, or even Sappho?
Classical culture survives in a few
phrases yanked from their moorings:
Herculean task, Trojan horse, Pandora?s
box. Little else remains. Christian
culture is close to becoming as obscure.
Writers can use Judas, 30 pieces of silver, prodigal son, and David and Goliath,
and still expect to be understood. But
most editors I know wouldn?t allow you
to mention the parable of the talents or
of the wise and foolish virgins without a
long explanation previous generations
would have found patronising. It?s not
just that the National Gallery has to run
courses on how to decipher ?puzzling?
Christian art or that few modern readers can tackle Paradise Lost, ordinary
writing from the recent past has, quite
suddenly, become difficult to navigate.
Here is George Orwell from 1944:
?Throughout the Protestant centuries,
the idea of rebellion and the idea of
intellectual integrity were mixed up.
A heretic ? political, moral, religious,
or aesthetic ? was one who refused to
outrage his own conscience. His outlook
was summed up in the words of the
Revivalist hymn: ?Dare to be a Daniel/
Dare to stand alone.?
Modern readers might remember
something about Daniel being in a lion?s
den. Only a few will know the Biblical
story of his de?ance or understand the
differences between Protestant and
Catholic culture.
R
evolutions that change the
world are rarely just political. Set against the advance of
secularism and the emancipation of women, Brexit and the Trump
presidency are trivial events. As a private
atheist ? who believes all gods are inventions from humanity?s childhood ? and
a public secularist ? who insists that
religious freedom does not allow the
religious to use coercive power to impose
their views ? I ought to be delighted.
But all revolutions have costs. In
publishing, broadcasting and journalism, a limited range of acceptable refer-
ences and sparse, literal language have
become the norm. Conservatives blame
political correctness and multiculturalism. While it is true the BBC engages
in dreary circumlocutions to avoid the
faintest risk of causing offence, the
charge that PC is the sole cause of the
cramping of language does not work.
Most people in the majority culture
have never shown the smallest interest
in learning about Islam, Hinduism or
Judaism, and carry on talking and writing as if they don?t exist.
You can?t blame teachers, either.
The decline in the most elementary
knowledge of Christianity has come
despite the number of faith schools
growing to 37% of all primaries and 16%
of all secondaries. If they can?t interest their captive audience in religion, it
is hard to see how teachers in secular
schools can do better, even if the notion
of schools creating a common culture
were not an impossibility when the web
has smashed the national audience into
thousands of fragments.
People now write for and talk to
each other with rich variety when they
are in their niches. But a paradox of
diversity is that they communicate with
an insulting simplicity when they try
to address a general audience. They
fear that anything more complicated
or colourful, more sweeping in its
range of allusions or bolder in its use of
metaphor, will not be understood. The
disappearance of Christian imagery tells
you they are right.
38 | COMMENT
*
17.12.17
Why business could prosper under a Corbyn government
Ann
Pettifor
@AnnPettifor
W
hile the Daily Mail, with
Pavlovian regularity,
persists in ringing the
?Marxist? alarm bell, the
Financial Times is a little more measured. ?Labour has a fair wind? with
business leaders, the paper argued this
month, ?with many terri?ed of a hard
Brexit?. At the CBI?s annual conference
in November, leaders of industry gave
Jeremy Corbyn a distinctly warmer welcome than they gave Theresa May.
That should come as no surprise,
given the destabilising extremism of the
Conservative Brexiters. Their echoing
of hard-right American Republican
ideology and advocacy of a hard Brexit
is based on the belief that the UK?s
economic interests, in particular the
NHS and public services, would bene?t
from subjugation to American oligopolistic capital. Hence the calls for the UK
to join the North American Free Trade
Agreement. Yet, at the same time, polling shows that the British people are
disillusioned with the privatisation of
key sectors, and favour nationalisation.
They seek protection from the impact of
deregulated market forces on their lives
and livelihoods and on their children?s
prospects.
Business leaders have been made
aware ? by the IMF, the OECD and the
Bank for International Settlements
? that the Conservatives? dependence
on what David Cameron called his
government?s ?monetary radicalism
and ?scal conservatism? has gone too
far. There is now real concern about the
long-term impact of quantitative easing
which, coupled with austerity, has led
to rocketing asset prices, falling wages
and rising inequality. Those with access
to central bank largesse have been
enriched as the prices of assets have
risen; while those without assets and
dependent on earnings have suffered as
incomes have fallen in real terms.
Falling incomes and spare capacity have not been good for business.
Howard Bogod, who runs a business
with a turnover of under �m, wrote
recently: ?Economic models have
failed to explain why wages have not
increased as unemployment has fallen
so low. These same models are incorrect
in their conclusions about productivity
growth ? indeed these two failures are
linked. My conclusion based on observing actual businesses is that if nominal
demand were to continue to grow then
both productivity and real wages would
start to grow more quickly.?
There is, nevertheless, anxiety over
the scale of Labour?s public investment
plans and their impact on the UK?s
credit rating. But Labour has a record,
in key respects, of being more ?scally
conservative than Conservatives. For
example, a review by economists at
Policy Research in Macroeconomics
of current budget de?cits or surpluses
(that is, excluding public investment)
for the whole period before the global
?nancial crisis, from 1956 to 2008,
reveals that Conservative governments
Letters+emails
THE BIG ISSUE OFSTED
Ken Hall
Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
Some real-life context is urgently
required for Ofsted?s annual report
on the education system?s treatment of vulnerable children and the
Observer?s coverage of it (?Vulnerable
pupils abandoned by school system,
Last week?s
Observer
editorial on
Ofsted.
Jane Price
Minehead, Somerset
says Ofsted chief?, News, last week).
In both of those, and in Lord Adonis?s
comment on ?the cancer of school
expulsions?, the reality is ignored of
school provision for all pupils enduring
prolonged cuts and damaging change.
Your editorial fully endorsing this
?champion of the deprived? accepts
that expulsions are linked to league
tables; it assumes that schools are simply cynically gaming the system.
Is it really not apparent that teachers, as well as parents, are now ?illequipped? to meet these children?s
needs? Let the child and adolescent
mental health services and the counsellors, teaching assistants, special
educational needs budgets, pastoral
workers and specialist teachers that
have been removed, be restored, then
assess who has ?lost sight of the purpose of education?.
League tables build in comparisons
of schools with huge, incurable, widening disparities, automatically disadvantaging some by the nature of their
location and the effects of austerity.
How can Ofsted be regarded as independent when it furthers this government?s agenda of academisation and,
FOR THE RECORD
Scientists at the Getty Conservation
Institute in Los Angeles are working to
stop painted images peeling away from
ageing Disney animation celluloid,
not ?the conservation department of
the Getty Museum in the Los Angeles
hills?, as we had it last week. And they
are using a raised relative humidity
process, not the heating process we
described (?As Snow White turns 80,
inspiring images of gentle innocence
go on sale in the Big Apple?, News, last
week, page 13).
In ?Palestinians set to reject meeting
with Trump? (World News, last week,
page 23) we said the US president had
?greeted his guests to mark the Jewish
new year?. The Jewish new year was in
September. We meant Hannukah.
ultimately, privatisation? This government is surely the power to whom
truth must be spoken, not the system it
is decimating.
Amanda Spielman?s denunciation
of the treatment of disadvantaged
children is welcome, especially her
comments on the practice of ?offrolling?. However, two things seem to
be missing.
First, schools are under pressure to
conform to the standards laid down
by whichever secretary of state most
recently left his or her mark on the
assessment criteria. If schools are to
be passed or failed on some formula
for GCSE results, is it any wonder that
they game the system to maximise
their scores? And would Spielman not
accept that Ofsted has some responsibility for establishing and sustaining
the climate in which schools operate,
and hence for demagnetising their
moral compass?
Second, Spielman acknowledges
that ?dealing with students of different
needs isn?t always easy?. No, and it isn?t
cheap either, because such children
often need one-to-one support and
specialist input. Suppose a headteacher
decides to keep and nurture every
student, resisting the results pressure
from Ofsted, not to mention the pressure from parents of other children;
decides, in Spielman?s words, ?to do
what?s right by children?. Fine, but
where is the money to come from?
John Filby
Ashover, Derbyshire
TOP 10 ONLINE LAST WEEK
A panel in our report on West Ham?s 1-0
victory over Chelsea last week, headlined ?Day of Firsts? (Sport, page�
included a panel that said incorrectly
that it was West Ham?s ?rst win in nine
games, ?ending a run of 11 successive
home games without a win?. West Ham
have played seven home games this
season and won three. This was an editing error: we meant that Saturday?s win
ended manager David Moyes?s run of 11
successive league home games without
a win (since Sunderland?s victory over
Watford in December last year), rather
than West Ham?s.
Write to Stephen Pritchard, Readers?
Editor, the Observer, York Way, London
N1 9GU, email observer.readers@
observer.co.uk tel 0203 353 4656
Read them at observer.co.uk
1. Global powers lobby to stop special
Brexit deal for UK
2. Mark Kermode?s best ?lms of 2017
3. I love my girlfriend, but I want to have
a threesome Dear Mariella
4. Want a tip on weight loss? Don?t ask
Mick Jagger David Mitchell
5. What would it it take for Labour?s
moderates to revolt? Nick Cohen
6. Bill Bailey: ?We?re an island race, no
wonder we don?t like Europe?
7. Palestinians to reject meeting Trump
8. England?s Duckett dropped for
pouring drink overAnderson in bar
9. Theresa May faces ?rst Brexit bill
defeat, say Commons rebels
10. Bradley Wiggins? Olympic rowing bid
hits rocks on indoor debut
public debt, as is well understood, is to
ensure that prosperity generates the
jobs and tax revenues that will, in turn,
balance the government?s books.
In 2016, UK investment remained
pitiably low ? 116th out of 141 countries in terms of capital investment as
a percentage of GDP. Labour?s public
spending plans will boost investment,
with contracts that largely bene?t the
?timid mouse? (as Professor Mariana
Mazzucato characterises it) that is the
private sector. In other words, the ?roaring lion? that is a government backed
by a central bank, will, under Labour,
at last take action to stimulate a private
sector that has signi?cant spare capacity; one not yet fully recovered from the
catastrophic impact of the great ?nancial crisis and that still lacks con?dence.
Business leaders know their biggest
problem is spare capacity and a shortage
of customers coming through the door.
That is why they have been willing to
listen to the shadow chancellor.
Ann Pettifor is director of Policy Research
in Macroeconomics (Prime)
WRITE TO US
Letters, which may be edited, should include a full name and postal address and be sent to:
Letters to the Editor, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU (to be received by
noon Thursday). Fax: 020 3353 3189. Email: observer.letters@observer.co.uk (please insert
Letters to the Editor in subject ?eld). For conditions go to http://gu.com/letters-terms
Corbyn?s liking for Cuba has no
relevance to Britain?s problems
The inspection system is part
of the problem for schools
Your editorial, ?Champion of the
deprived? (last week), speaks of
Ofsted?s annual reports as ?an important vehicle for airing difficult truths?,
and lauds them for exposing the education system?s failure with the most
disadvantaged pupils.
In 36 years in the system, I have
observed the behaviours you highlight.
However, your championing of Ofsted
does not mention its own central role
in creating this environment in the
?rst place. With performance table
data being the major determinant
of Ofsted outcomes, the inspection
system fuels the behaviours it condemns. Additionally, many schools
remain uninspected for years and are
in a position to pursue ?performance?
at whatever cost ? that cost often being
passed on to other schools.
What is needed is a broader
approach to inspections that recognises (via Ofsted outcomes) the
brilliant work of the many inclusive
schools that, because of their reluctance to move disadvantaged students
on and their willingness to accept those
moved on by other schools, might not
always hit the thresholds held so dear
by the inspection framework. Let?s
hope that Amanda Spielman will use
her new role to ?walk the talk? in this.
had an average annual surplus of 0.3%
of GDP, while Labour governments had
an average annual surplus of 1.1%.
The shadow chancellor John
McDonnell?s plans include a commitment to a ??scal credibility rule? ? the
state would only borrow to invest in
capital projects which will, over time,
pay for themselves. In the event of a
recession, this rule would only be suspended when technocrats at the Bank
of England decide monetary policy
can no longer operate with interest
rates around 0%. By contrast, George
Osborne and Philip Hammond?s ?scal
rule gives the chancellor more discretion in the ?event of a signi?cant negative shock? quite broadly de?ned.
Here I must acknowledge a disagreement with Professor Simon WrenLewis, of Oxford University, who
advised Labour to adopt a ?scal rule
that once again prioritises monetary
policy. I would prefer a ?scal rule aimed
at using government (and central bank)
?repower to secure the UK?s economic
security and prosperity, ?rst and foremost. The best way to cut the de?cit and
Nick Cohen?s excoriation of Jeremy
Corbyn?s Labour (?What would it take
for Labour?s members to revolt??,
Comment, last week) begins with a
kind of political algebra ? that if we
attack Donald Trump for apparently
endorsing extreme rightwing groups,
and communism has killed more people than fascism, then it follows that
it must be worse to endorse extreme
leftwing positions.
This misunderstands the nature of
opposition to Trump?s pandering to the
alt-right and apparent endorsement of
Britain First, which should be opposed
not because those groups have fascist
connotations, but because they promote segregation and hatred based on
skin colour in our world today. There
is no comparable impact in Corbyn?s
sympathy for Cuba.
Corbyn?s Labour attracts support,
not because of his views on other governments, past or present, but because
people believe he will tackle problems
in Britain today, whether underfunding
of the NHS, welfare and transport systems, the creeping privatisation of the
state, the ongoing failures of austerity
or foreign wars of aggression.
If Labour?s moderates want to regain
control of their party, they would do
better to concentrate on presenting a
credible vision that engages with these
issues than to attempt to smear the
current leadership by association with
their supposed ideological bedfellows.
Ned Harrison
Ipswich
Psychiatry still too custodial
Barbara Ellen reminds us that anorexia
is a mental illness and we should treat
it properly (Comment, last week),
while you report well-justi?ed ?alarm
at use of force in mental health units?
(News, last week).
It is greatly to the credit of NHS
Digital that ?gures about restraint are
published and it is encouraging that
use of face-down restraint has fallen.
Overall, though, use of restraint is rising and psychiatry remains too custodial. The rate of involuntary admission
in England is more than double that in
Ireland.
Mental illnesses are real and should
be treated properly. With high-quality
timely services the proportion of
people with mental illness who require
involuntary admission and restraint
should be tiny.
Brendan Kelly
Professor of psychiatry
Trinity College Dublin
A gift from the Greeks
In the Lord?s Prayer, the word ?temptation? is a straightforward translation
of peirasmos, the Greek word used by
Matthew and Luke. (?Sorry Francis,
but you haven?t got a prayer?, Barbara
Ellen, last week).
In the Septuagint ? the ancient
Greek translation of Jewish scripture used by the authors of the New
Testament ? the same word is used
to translate Hebrew that appears to
mean ?testing? rather than ?temptation? (Exodus 17.7). What the pope is
questioning therefore is not those who
have translated the Lord?s Prayer, but
the ancient scholars who translated
the Old Testament into Greek ? and the
gospel writers themselves.
Peter McKenna
Liverpool
Jerusalem?s role is vital
In making his case against the
American decision to recognise
Jerusalem as Israel?s capital, Raja
Shehadeh (Comment, last week) lists a
set of grievances.
It is worth highlighting two crucial
facts that he omits:
1. Since Jerusalem was reunited in 1967,
religious freedom has been rigorously
maintained, with all the sacred sites
staunchly protected. These protections
are enshrined in law and ensured in
practice, with each faith administering
their respective holy places: Muslim
sites are overseen by the Islamic Waqf,
Christian sites by their respective
churches, and the Jewish sites by the
Rabbinate.
2. When asked their opinion,
Jerusalem?s Arab population ? who
make up approximately one third of
the city ? have consistently expressed
a preference for Israeli citizenship
over that of a future Palestinian state.
Freedom of worship and the protection
of holy sites is undoubtedly one reason
among many behind this.
Shehadeh would do well to remember that in a volatile and violent Middle
East, where religious minorities have
been forced to ?ee and holy sites have
been desecrated ? including in the
Palestinian Territories ? Israel?s capital
stands out as a shining example of
diversity and pluralism.
Mark Regev
Israeli ambassador to the UK
London W8
No rowing back now
Congratulations, Bradley Wiggins.
There is nothing quite like a celebrity
to take indoor rowing from comparative obscurity to national prominence.
To me, he was just another performer
with the expectations and anxieties of
being in his ?rst indoor rowing race?
and the inevitable disappointments
that result. (I suspect, like me at the
end of my ?rst race, he left immediately
afterwards because he was personally
embarrassed with his performance.)
The delight shown in his comparative failure is typical of the British. We
just love the people we set up as heroes
to subsequently fall from grace, providing us with a satisfying opportunity to
make snide remarks about them.
Keep on racing, Bradley.
V Gilbert (80-84 heavyweight)
Pathhead
Midlothian
17.12.17
*
Contact us Email financial@theguardian.com
Phone 020 3353 4791 Fax 020 3353 3196
| 39
Business
Agenda Unusual gifts for the ?nancier
MAKING THE NEWS
Bring Christmas cheer
with a cryptocurrency
What do you buy the person who has
everything? How about bitcoin, the
cryptocurrency that has hardly been
out of the headlines in the past few
weeks? Of course there is a problem,
and that is that a surge of interest has
seen its price increase by a factor of
17 this year and by more than 15% last
week alone.
But if you are really determined to
take part in the volatility, there are
other ways. Part of last week?s interest
came because bitcoin effectively
entered the mainstream, with the
Chicago Board Options Exchange
launching contracts allowing investors
to bet on the future price of the
currency. This weekend, Chicagobased CME follows suit, albeit with
higher margin requirements ? how
much investors have to set aside as
collateral ? than its rival?s.
But if ever there were a case of
caveat emptor, it?s here. There have
been a number of comparisons with
17th century tulipmania, and warnings
of a bubble that could easily burst.
Howard Davies, chairman of the
Royal Bank of Scotland, JP Morgan?s
Jamie Dimon, the European Central
Bank and America?s Securities
and Exchange Commission have
all expressed varying degrees of
scepticism, with several calls for
increased investor protection. So it?s
probably not a good Christmas present
for燼ny of them.
Carney: another trip to parliament.
Little rest for Carney
after Brexit stress test
Even in the run-up to the festive
celebrations, Mark Carney remains
busy. After last week?s interest rate
meeting and a weekend trade trip to
China, the Bank of England governor
is up before MPs at the Treasury select
committee on Wednesday to discuss
last month?s ?nancial stability report.
B NICK
BY
FLETCHER
FL
FAIRER WINDS
Carney, along with deputy governor
Sam Woods and two members of the
?nancial policy committee, will be
quizzed about the report, the latest
health check on the state of Britain?s
banks. It concluded that high street
banks would be able to withstand a
disorderly Brexit ? unless another
crisis happened at the same time.
The Bank?s health check tested
for resilience if Britain?s GDP fell by
4.7%, unemployment rose to 9.5%, and
residential property prices dropped by
33%. Other factors included sterling
plunging and interest rates soaring to
4%. All banks passed these stress tests,
although RBS and Barclays only just
struggled over the necessary hurdles.
The Bank had also been keen to put
across its view that there should be a
Brexit transition deal by Christmas.
The way things are going, MPs might
legitimately ask on Wednesday which
Christmas it meant.
LSE still reeling from
angry exchanges
A bust-up at the London Stock
Exchange is set to come to a head this
week: investor TCI wants to oust the
company?s chairman, Donald Brydon,
over his handling of the departure of
chief executive Xavier Rolet.
To recap: the LSE said in October
it was looking for a successor to Rolet
after it emerged he would leave by
the end of next year. But a surprise
statement a month later said he would
in fact step down with immediate
effect, at the board?s request. TCI had
wanted him to stay on and Brydon to
go, and had put forward resolutions to
that effect. After the news of Rolet?s
immediate departure, it gave up on
getting him to stay but is pressing on
with its demands for Brydon?s head.
Shareholder advisory group Pirc is
not convinced by the LSE?s actions.
Pirc said: ?[Rolet?s] sudden departure
requires further transparency and
information. The lack of disclosure
is troubling and demonstrates
substandard corporate governance ?
Donald Brydon has therefore failed to
maintain good governance standards.?
But Brydon looks likely to survive
the vote. TCI holds 5% of the LSE
but the Qatar Investment Authority,
a 10.37% shareholder, is backing the
board. Brydon is due to step down in
2019 in any case, but you couldn?t rule
out a repeat performance next year.
As we head into Christmas with the usual
uncertain weather, our thoughts might
turn to the prospect of a relaxing cruise.
That?s what Carnival will be hoping, at
least. One of the world?s biggest cruise
companies has faced a number of difficulties during the year, including hurricanes
in the Caribbean, terror attacks affecting
tourism and concerns about the Chinese
VITAL STATISTIC
market. There has also been an increase
in fuel costs as the oil price continues to
recover from its lows. Even so, the company?s full-year results are expected to show
a rise in earnings from $4.8bn (�6bn) to
$5bn, according to Credit Suisse.
And a survey by Morgan Stanley showed
strong demand for cruises in November as
the disruption from storms and high winds
PEOPLE
Quote of the week goes to Jaap Tonckens,
chief ?nancial o?cer at Unibail-Rodamco,
which is paying �bn for the West?eld
shopping centre group:?Younger people
do their research on their phones and then
go to malls ... You are talking about people
wanting an experience.?
VALIRX
Share price, pence
80
60
40
20
0
2013
2014
2015
eased. Morgan Stanley said: ?Usually a
slow month for bookings, November saw
a rapid booking pace, recovering from the
October lows as the Caribbean returned to
normal after the hurricanes, and demand
for Europe and Alaska continued to remain
robust. Last-minute promotions seem
to have slowed, and the booking window
continues to extend.?
2016
2017
Biotech company ValiRx has finally seen
its share price rise after some positive
clinical trial results in lung cancer patients
for the compound it has developed with
Tangent Reprofiling.
A good week for
Stuart Gulliver,
HSBC?s outgoing chief
executive. The bank
avoided the threat of prosecution in the
US over allegations that its lax controls
allowed Mexican drug tra?ckers to launder
cash through the bank. The risk of legal
action had been hanging over HSBC for the
past ?ve years after it paid $1.9bn to US
authorities to settle the claims.
A bad week for
Wilf Walsh. The
Carpetright chief
executive unrolled
a slump in half-year pro?ts from �1m to
�1m and said full-year results would be
at the bottom end of expectations. The
company, which is very much dependent
on the housing market, has been hit by the
squeeze on household spending.
Postscript The squeeze goes on
COMPANIES
Unseasonal bad news
at Palmer & Harvey
Is Carphone starting to
look at its warehouses?
Walk down any high street and there
always seem to be an unnecessary
number of mobile phone shops.
But things may be changing, at least
at Dixons Carphone. After its half-year
results last week, analysts suggested
the retailer could be looking at closing
some of its phone stores.
In its statement, Dixons chief
executive Sebastian James said: ?We
believe we can, over time, reduce the
complexity and capital intensity of our
mobile business model.? Neil Wilson,
senior market analyst at ETX Capital,
said: ?For simpler and less capitalintensive, read store closures.?
James himself, in later comments
to analysts, said: ?We have a high cost
Dixons Carphone: downsizing, perhaps.
base and we need to address that, and
we always look at our store estate.?
However he played down the prospect
of immediate or widespread closures.
Dixon?s half-year pro?ts dropped
60% to �m, with total sales edging up
3%. But like-for-like sales at the mobile
business fell 3%. Customers were
holding on to handsets for longer, said
James, as prices rose and the latest tech
advances proved minimal.
Any store closures of course inevitably
mean job losses, unfortunately. And so
does administration. So spare a thought
for the 400 workers at the division of
wholesalers Palmer & Harvey that sold
confectionery and drinks direct from
vans to convenience stores.
Since the parent company failed
last month with the immediate loss of
2,500 jobs, administrators have been
attempting to sell off the remaining
parts of the business. But last week
they gave up on the van delivery
division, putting its staff out of work
just before Christmas.
But there was some good news at
P&H. The group?s little-known retail
chain, Central Convenience, was sold
to Bargain Booze owner Conviviality
for �m, safeguarding 1,300 jobs.
ECONOMICS
Bad news for motorists: they could
be paying an extra 3p a litre more for
fuel in the run-up to Christmas after
a crack in a North Sea pipeline led to
its shutdown and a jump in oil prices,
according to the RAC. Ineos, owner
of the Forties pipeline, said it could be
weeks before it reopens.
The pipeline shutdown was not the
Will rising pump prices affect inflation?
only disruption to energy supplies.
An explosion at Austria?s Baumgarten
gas hub killed one person and led
Italy to declare a state of emergency
over energy supply fears. Meanwhile,
Norway?s Statoil said it was reducing
gas ?ows from Troll, Europe?s biggest
offshore gas ?eld.
All this could also be bad news, too,
for Mark Carney. The Bank of England
governor already has to write a letter to chancellor Philip Hammond
explaining why in?ation hit 3.1% in
November and is now more than one
percentage point above the target of
2%. Although there is much talk of this
being the peak for price rises, there are
still plenty of in?ationary pressures
out there, and a jump in the cost of fuel
is one of the last things Carney needs.
He must have been relieved to hear the
government warn oil companies not to
use the Forties shutdown as an excuse
to push up pump prices. But he will
also be hoping they pay attention.
*
40 | BUSINESS
17.12.17
Global shopping centre giants go
Two huge mergers, announced within
days of each other, have brought a
wave of consolidation to the world of
big retail property. But these deals are
not born of ambition: they are a sign
that even the largest malls are feeling
the economic chill, writes Zoe Wood
W
ith Christmas just
eight days away,
more than 200,000
shoppers will brave
the crowds to trawl
Westfield London?s
300-plus stores for gifts this weekend.
The gleaming centre, which lights up
the west London skyline, is one of the
?supermalls? that now tower over the
UK retail sector, pulling in millions of
shoppers thanks to a magnetic mix of
high street and luxury brands, as well as
more upmarket restaurants and cinema
screens than your average town centre.
Yet, as if West?eld London?s current
near-two-mile run of shops were not
enough to exhaust even the most energetic Christmas shopper, visitors can
see the shell of a �0m extension that,
come spring, will turn it into Europe?s
biggest mall, with John Lewis and Primark among the new arrivals unveiling
branches next year.
However, the new wing looks like
madness in the current economic climate. British households are facing the
biggest squeeze on living standards since
records began, while the trend for online
shopping is prompting many retailers to
close, rather than open, stores.
This tough environment is what
sowed the seeds for this month?s game
of shopping-centre Top Trumps, with
two blockbuster deals announced within
days of each other.
British property group Hammerson
said it was buying smaller rival Intu for
�4bn, then Australian billionaire Sir
Frank Lowy pulled a rabbit out of the hat
by agreeing to sell his family?s West?eld
shopping centre empire, including its
two London malls, to France?s UnibailRodamco for �bn.
?There are so many things going on
in the world of property at the moment,
but with these deals we are seeing them
all collide,? said James Findlater, head of
shopping centre investment at Colliers
International. ?There is a structural
change because of the shift to online, but
also macro issues ? notably consumers?
ability to spend when they haven?t had a
pay rise for 10 years.
?There is probably 30% too much
retail, and it is still being built.?
Findlater says owners of older shopping centres are struggling to attract
retailers, who are more interested in
being in the country?s top-tier malls
such as West?eld: ?Outside of the core
dominant shopping centres, there have
been deals done post-recession where
retailers are paying no rent. Landlords
don?t want to be saddled with covering
occupancy costs on vacant stores.?
There are around 550 shopping centres in the UK; and while 10 years ago
retailers would have had to open 250
stores to cover the country, these days
that figure is just 100 plus a website.
In this climate, the strongest shopping
malls have more power, creating a huge
headache for the owners of centres in
secondary locations, who are facing a
vicious circle of decline.
Intu?s chairman, John Strachan,
hailed the company?s takeover as the
?most signi?cant transaction in British
real estate in a generation?, while Hammerson boss David Atkins said that, in
a changing retail market, only centres
with a ?sensational brand mix and leisure offer? would succeed.
Leisure has become an increasingly
important part of the shopping-centre
experience, as families spend the day
shopping, eating and then heading to
the cinema or bowling alley, all under
one roof. Last year, West?eld went as far
as hiring Grammy-, Tony- and Emmywinning theatre and ?lm producer Scott
Sanders to create spectacular events
incorporating theatre, music, dance,
food and fashion in its centres.
Both Hammerson and Intu have
worked hard to pull in shoppers in a
digital age, developing their websites
and enhancing their centres with wi?
and apps to make it easier for shoppers
to get what they want.
But the shares of property companies
have been hit by investor concerns that
the market has peaked and that they
can no longer bank on rising asset values. Hammerson is paying 253.9p per
share for Intu, which is a third less than
the value of its centres. Analysts say the
numbers re?ect a new reality as optimistic centre valuations, arrived at in good
times, are questioned.
The deal will give Hammerson a stake
in 12 of the UK?s 20 supermalls ? those
bigger than 20 million sq ft in size and
attracting more than 20 million visitors
a year ? including Birmingham Bullring,
Intu Trafford and Manchester Arndale.
While smaller shopping centres and high
streets are suffering, spending in British supermalls is expected to increase
7.2% over the next ?ve years to �.3bn,
according to analysts at GlobalData.
Atkins indicated the combined group
would look to sell �n worth of its UK
properties and save �m in running
costs by pooling head offices and procurement of services like cleaning and
security. While Intu owns more centres
in the UK top 10 than Hammerson, others within its portfolio, such as those
in Uxbridge and Nottingham?s Broadmarsh, score much worse in industry
league tables and are expected to be on
the list of disposals.
?Intu own some dreadful assets that
have fallen foul of changing shopper
patterns,? said one source, who suggested the timing of the deal was good
for Intu as weakening consumer con?dence pointed to a tough 2018 for retail-
ers, many of whom are looking to exit
their least pro?table stores. The source
claimed Intu had bolstered occupancy
levels in struggling centres by letting
stores on a temporary basis.
Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and
Toys R Us are among the chains who
have announced plans to close branches,
while many former BHS premises
remain empty. There is also speculation
in property circles that big high street
names such as House of Fraser could be
Is the global desire to buy British
a bad thing for our tech sector?
by Alex Hern
Apple?s acquisition of music-recognition app Shazam, for a reported $400m
(�0m), is just the latest in a string of
major acquisitions of British technology companies by overseas suitors.
The purchase is Apple?s biggest since
2014, when it spent $3bn on headphone manufacturer Beats Electronics,
and is one of the largest acquisitions
this year for the British tech sector.
It follows the sale of Imagination
Technologies, which makes the graphics processors used in iPhones and
iPads, to a Chinese private equity ?rm
for $550m (�2m) in September.
Both purchases pale in comparison to a pair of acquisitions made in
2016, however. Flight comparison
site Skyscanner sold itself to Chinese
tourism group Ctrip for �4bn in
November of that year, while shortly
after the EU referendum, the chip
designer ARM accepted a �.3bn offer
from Japanese group SoftBank.
The ARM deal was the secondlargest foreign takeover of a UK-listed
company ever, behind only ABInBev?s
deal to buy SABMiller.
That acquisition also serves as a
counter to one popular explanation for
the spate of buyouts: that it?s simply
a function of the devaluation of the
pound following Brexit. Yes, the pound
plummeted against the yen after the
referendum ? but ARM?s share price
rose by a corresponding 17%, as the
company makes most of its revenue
in dollars. That meant that the actual
price SoftBank paid for ARM rose in
the weeks following the referendum.
More generally, big mergers and
acquisitions are often laid in place
far too far in advance for the vagaries of the foreign exchange market to
affect them, says Paul Hollingsworth,
the senior UK economist at Capital
Economics. ?Whether we?re seeing any
sort of Brexit or pound effect, it?s a bit
too soon ? it?s really going to be a couple of years before any effect appears.?
Sriram Prakash, the lead for innova-
Japan?s Softbank paid �.3bn for ARM.
tion M&A at Deloitte, agrees. ?First
and foremost, in any M&A transaction you buy a company not because
it?s cheap, but because it?s good. And
then, it might be cheap because of currency devaluations or whatever, and
that might add to the speediness [and
attractiveness] of the transaction, but
the fundamentals are important.?
For British ?rms, then, it?s all about
the fundamentals. Those making the
headlines for the size of their valuation
aren?t acquired for the revenue they
bring in, or the size of their existing
customer base, but for their worldleading grasp of basic technologies,
says Priya Guha, the general manager
of startup accelerator RocketSpace.
?What it comes down to is the UK
17.12.17
BUSINESS | 41
*
on a big Christmas buying spree
VIEW FROM AMERICA
Mall operators must buy into
e-retail and new use of space
Department
stores such as
Macy?s, often
the anchor
tenants of
major malls,
are seeing big
brands such as
Nike scaling
down their
in-store
presence.
Photograph
by Bebeto
Matthews/AP
Westfield?s centre in Stratford,
east London, on its opening day in
2011. The firm is being sold for
�bn. Photograph by Suzanne
Plunkett/Reuters
?There are so many
things going on in
property at the
moment, but with
these deals we see
them all collide?
James Findlater, analyst
strength in deep tech,? Guha says. ?The
UK still has some of the most amazing
academic research coming out of its
universities. And that is being commercialised at a rate that much higher than
elsewhere in the EU and getting close
to what happens in the States.?
?So what that means is you have
some of the most groundbreaking new
technologies being developed right
here in the UK. And yes, of course, that
becomes a very appealing target for US
companies who need that technology
to be able to scale or just own a new
direction for their own business.?
Perhaps the poster child for that sort
of acquisition is DeepMind, acquired
by Google in 2014 for $650m: the company, co-founded by UCL researcher
Shane Legg, with Demis Hassabis and
Mustafa Suleyman, retains strong links
to the London university today.
Even more emblematic of how a
strong research background enables
Britain to punch above its weight is
Twitter?s acquisition in June 2016 of
machine learning-based image and
video compression ?rm Magic Pony
Technology. The company had just
11 staff at the time, and while its core
technology was wowing investors, it
had no revenue, nor a plan of how to
get any. Yet it was acquired for $150m
and now forms the core of Twitter?s
among retailers considering a company
voluntary arrangement ? an insolvency
procedure used by retailers to reduce
their rent liabilities or close stores.
The Hammerson-Intu marriage,
which has more signi?cance for the UK,
was upstaged by the sale of West?eld to
Unibail-Rodamco, the European group
whose centres include owns Forum des
Halles in Paris. One property source
described the West?eld deal as being in a
different stratosphere, as the company?s
only exposure to the struggling UK retail
market is in London ? where its centres
in Stratford and Shepherd?s Bush rank in
the country?s top three.
The decision to expand the West?eld London site with more stores and
more leisure venues, including Ichiba,
Europe?s largest Japanese food hall, and
a boutique bowling venue, looks bold in
the current climate. But from its position
at the top of the tree, West?eld knows it
is giving shoppers what they want.
machine-learning project, Cortex.
While such a string of acquisitions
certainly represents a massive inward
?ow of cash to Britain, it could have its
downsides. If Britain?s most promising startups always pick guaranteed
cash now, over the prospect of a much
bigger payoff later, then the nation will
never have its own tech giants to rival
Apple, Google and Facebook.
Take Snapchat: it could have
accepted Facebook?s $3bn offer in
2013, but chose to reject it and try to
build something that could become a
Facebook competitor. Even now, after
a rocky year following its initial public
offering, the company is worth almost
$20bn. Is Britain doing itself out of the
chance to lead the world?
Guha thinks not. ?No one would
suggest that DeepMind has lessened
its global impact by being part of
Google,? she notes. ?Despite being
part of the bigger Alphabet machine,
DeepMind is renowned in its own
right.? And, she adds, if there is going
to be a UK rival to the US giants, ?it
was not going to be Shazam. For others
in the market, M&A can be a really
good outcome.?
Prakash says he is ?empathetic to
both sides. On one hand, every country
needs a strong tech scene, and today
Britain?s looks a bit fragile if you note
the amount of tech companies in the
FTSE 100 and 250. But these companies
cater for global markets. To be global
you have to be acquired, or see whether
you can scale up to that level yourself.
If you can?t, what are your options??
Perhaps those who hope British
companies would hold out a bit longer
before being acquired should be careful what they wish for. Depending
on how Brexit progresses, there is
the potential for many of Britain?s
strengths, from its world-leading
universities to an immigration system
that is comparatively open to skilled
migrants, to be erased.
?Clearly,? says Hollingsworth, ?the
pound?s drop makes it a more attractive proposition to buy UK companies,
but you have to weigh that against the
domestic political uncertainty.?
?The pound?s drop
makes it more
attractive to buy UK
?rms but you have to
weigh that against
political uncertainty?
Paul Hollingsworth, economist
The death of the American shopping mall
has been long predicted but, despite their
many problems, malls remains a focus of
retail shopping and social interaction for
millions of Americans.
The process of reorganisation in a
digital age, however, has been painful. It
has been three years since a major new
shopping mall opened in the US, leading
some operators to speculate that the last
one has already been built.
According to Bloomberg, more than
10% of US retail space, or nearly 1bn
square feet, may need to be closed,
converted to other uses, or renegotiated.
Nearly 9,000 stores are estimated to
close in 2017, a third more than during
the crash of 2008. The rapid collapse of
bricks-and-mortar retail has left mall
owners and retail property owners on
main street USA in a Darwinian struggle
to think up new ways to ?ll retail space and
keep consumers coming.
Malls are confronting erosion on two
fronts: retailers are looking for better
control of their brands, and to reduce
their exposure to bricks-and-mortar
retailing. More than 300 retailers have
?led for bankruptcy so far this year, up
31% from last year. In addition, brands
like Nike, Canada Goose and Michael Kors
are ?eeing mass-market department
stores, typically the anchor tenants of
major US malls. In October, Nike chief
executive Mark Parker announced
that out of Nike?s global universe of
more than 30,000 retail partners, the
company would now focus on just 40
?strategic wholesale partners?.
Mass-market retail spaces, explains
the Business of Fashion, ?have
increasingly become like kryptonite. In a
world constantly seeking what?s next,
new or special, mass retail has become
toxic in its overexposure.?
Mall owners have recognised that they
had become too dependent on clothing.
According to Louis Conforti, the chief
executive of mall operator Washington
Prime, more than 40% of merchants were
selling junior fashion and accessories.
?Unless four out of 10 of my customers
are wearing a midri? T-shirt, this has been
a reactive and lazy industry,? Conforti told
the Observer.
Mall operators, Conforti says, are
now more aggressive in their e?ort to
introduce more food and beverage outlets
and more home furnishings and home
goods retailers. The drive includes tie-ins
and ?real-time incentives?, including
fashion shows or selling the wares from
a local craft brewery, and tie-ins with
e-commerce platforms.
?We need to create common area
installations that bene?t existing tenants.
We need a lot more eventing. The idea
that common areas are relegated to
kiosks is over. We could have club chairs
[armchairs] and artisanal sandwiches,
and it?ll be a di?erent thing if you?re in
Sacramento or in Kansas City.?
Another part of the drive is to partner
with e-commerce, including Amazon.
As the e-commerce giant begins
developing its own line of physical stores,
mall operators are optimistic that the
two will ultimately combine, creating a
class of ?experiential merchants? using
bricks-and-mortar and online assets
to create a new, more personalised
consumer experience.
?Whoever doesn?t realise that there
is a symbiotic relationship between
e-commerce and physical space is
moronic, and playing the ostrich does no
good for anybody,? says Conforti.
Ed Helmore
17.12.17
Analysis
*
BUSINESS | 43
Britain?s jobs engine isn?t working ? and we
need the economic tools to get it up to speed
Ryanair boss in
a good position to
indulge in some
Christmas spirit
BUSINESS LEADER
A
P
iece by piece, Britain?s jobscreating machine in the years
of economic recovery since
the ?nancial crisis appears to
be coming unstuck.
Dating back to early 2012,
the number of people in employment
has been on an upward curve ? to
fanfare from the Conservatives, who
readily quote the 3 million jobs created
since they came to power in 2010. But
Theresa May should be worried, after
?gures from the Office for National
Statistics last week showed the jobs
engine has now chugged into reverse.
The number of people in work
across Britain fell by 56,000 during
the three months to October to stand
at just over 32 million ? the steepest
drop since mid-2015. It also followed
a smaller fall of 14,000 in the three
months to September.
Although the UK still has an employment rate much higher than some of its
major European peers, at about 75%,
the gradual breakdown of Britain?s
jobs machine is worrying as it comes
at a time of sluggish wages, slowing
economic growth, rising in?ation and
political uncertainty amid talks with
Brussels to leave the EU.
Economists have argued a slowing
economy and the political maelstrom
around Brexit will make ?rms reluctant to hire workers. Paying to take on
more staff just as your business slows
? in Europe, as a result of potential
trade barriers, and at home, as rising
in?ation erodes the spending power of
consumers ? doesn?t add up.
But there?s another potential spanner in the works. The economist John
Philpott reckons the decline comes as
a result of weakness in the supply of
employable people, as opposed to an
outright drop in demand among ?rms
to take on new staff. That?s borne out
by the number of vacancies: 798,000
? the highest level since comparable
records began in 2001. One of the main
reasons here was the falling numbers
of people arriving for work from central and eastern Europe since the EU
referendum, he added.
UK needs more investment in training as lack of skilled workers will damage growth. Photograph by Sarah Lee for the Observer
That should be worrying for the
road ahead ? putting greater emphasis
on ministers to increase spending on
skills and training to boost the domestic workforce. Lobby groups, including
the British Chambers of Commerce,
are already warning that shortages of
skilled workers will damage growth.
Despite the fall in employment, the
proportion of people out of work has
remained at the lowest levels since the
mid-1970s. There were 1.43 million
people out of work ? with the unemployment rate standing at 4.3%.
However, this record low for
unemployment is failing to boost the
pay of workers, despite expectations
among economists for greater levels
of bargaining power to ask for a pay
rise, leading to higher wages. Average
weekly earnings increased at a rate of
2.3%, according to the latest ?gures.
That should worry the Bank of
England, which kept interest rates on
hold on Thursday but said it was still
considering raising the cost of borrowing after the ?rst increase in a decade
last month. Threadneedle Street has
been watching closely for higher wages
to justify its actions, although pay
growth still appears to be sluggish.
In?ation ?gures last week also
show prices are rising at a faster pace
than wages ? at 3.1%, eating away at
household incomes ? driven by the
weak pound pushing up the cost of
imported goods since the referendum.
The Resolution Foundation thinktank
reckons average pay may not return
to its pre-?nancial crisis peak until at
least 2025.
There are worrying implications for
poverty and inequality. The Joseph
Rowntree Foundation estimates
3.7爉illion people with a job do not
earn enough to meet minimum needs,
and that low wage growth and rising in?ation will make it harder for
them to escape poverty. As well as the
social and political rami?cations, this
sounds another alarm over the future
health of the economy, as dwindling
household incomes make it harder for
a family to keep on buying goods and
services ? one of the key drivers for
growth.Britain?s jobs machine needs
?xing fast.
Time for Persimmon to rebuild the board?s image
T
here is corporate excess and
then there is the Persimmon
bonus scheme. It is astonishing, nearly a decade on from
the nadir of the credit crunch, that a
FTSE business is paying out �0m to
150 executives. Top of the pile is chief
executive Jeff Fairburn, who between
now and New Year?s Eve ? when the
bonuses start paying out ? has the
chance to declare that he will donate
some of the money to charity. His
chair, Nicholas Wrigley, who resigned
over the scheme, is said to have put
pressure on his chief executive to
make a donation to charity. Fairburn
needs to do the right thing for himself
and the reputation of British business.
s Groucho Marx famously said:
?Those are my principles, and if
you don?t like them, well, I have
others.? After 30 years of deriding unions and occasionally insulting his pilots, Ryanair chief Michael
O?Leary has made a dramatic volte face.
As if visited by some Dickensian
nocturnal spectre, just three days after
vowing to face down pilots, O?Leary
said Ryanair would instead recognise
their unions to avert a strike.
The abrasive billionaire has form
for Damascene conversions ? just four
years ago, the concept of being ?nice? to
passengers in?ltrated company policy.
Had he known how good niceness was for business, O?Leary has
remarked since, he would have started
years earlier. A shift on unions will
similarly stem from business necessity, rather than any late-?owering
Corbynism, and reps are right to read
the offer with scepticism.
Pilots have picked their moment to
strike, with Ryanair having ordered
an abundance of planes at a time
when there?s a shortage of people to
?y them. Yet this Ryanair concession,
like its changed attitude to customers,
is ultimately testament to the airline?s
strength, rather than weakness.
The kind of practices that ruthlessly
kept costs down through its growth as
an upstart airline can no longer sustain
a market leader in countries across
Europe. It is not challenger but incumbent: a pro?t-spewing giant, whose
scale and unit costs are low enough
to afford to invest in contented staff,
rather than alienated contractors.
Having cancelled a wave of ?ights
this winter, Ryanair was expecting to
fork out to attract and retain pilots.
The airline may yet ?nd a discount in
respecting their rights, and maintaining separate negotiations across 33
countries? unions, rather than a panEuropean network that was evolving.
O?Leary said it was a moment of
radical change ? but the test of principle will be if the same olive branch is
extended to its cabin crew, who have
been warned of collective sanctions
should any individual join a strike.
There is hope: Brexit has few zealots and many ?oating voters
IN MY VIEW
EW
W
William
Keegan
M
y football team, AFC Wimbledon, may be languishing down
in the third division, as it was
once called, but the Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Stephen
Hammond, showed himself to be in the
Premier League last week.
In that refreshing, surprising vote on
Thursday, he and his fellow Tory rebels
stood up to be counted in the cause of
parliamentary democracy. By voting
against Theresa May?s plan to prevent
parliament from having the last say
on whether the terms of any Brexit
deal should be accepted, they joined
the noble ranks of ?mutineers? and
?enemies of the people?.
As regular readers know, I still
hope that things will not get that far,
and that, somehow or other, sense
will prevail as the size of the potential
disaster of a Brexit sinks in. And
already the deleterious economic
impact of the referendum-induced
devaluation is becoming apparent.
Incidentally, may I respectfully
remind people that Brexit has
not happened yet? Even seasoned
interviewers on Radio 4 make the
mistake of confusing the referendum
with Brexit.
The hope among us unashamed
Remainers is that opinion will shift
sufficiently for the development of a
burgeoning realisation that the country
made a serious mistake on 23 June last
year, not least because enough voters
were misled by the blatant lies of Boris
Johnson and his ilk. Also, it has to be
said, the Remain campaign failed in its
patriotic duty to explain the economic
and strategic bene?ts of the European
Union ? a failure pinpointed in Gordon
Brown?s book Britain: Leading, Not
Leaving, where he says of our role in
the union: ?Britain can argue for, and
achieve, the best balance between
national autonomy and international
cooperation for the 21st century.?
And in his recently published
memoirs, Brown also tells us that,
when he addressed the European
parliament in March 2009 on the need
for the collective economic stimulus
which did indeed ?save the world?, the
only hecklers were those British founts
of Eurosceptical bile, Nigel Farage and
Daniel Hannan.
They are a curious mixture, the
Brexiters. There are the neoliberal
ideologues, such as my old friend Lord
Lawson, who unashamedly wish to
bury the security and protection of
Enlightenment values afforded by
the EU and, in Lawson?s words, ?nish
the ?Thatcher revolution? ? as if that
revolution had not ?nished off enough
people?s hopes already.
But the ideologues themselves
are a relatively small band ? the
tail that wags the dog, as it were. I
am continually surprised, indeed
shocked, by the frequency with which
I encounter people who have not
been ?left behind? but who, for minor
prejudicial reasons, voted to Leave ?
often on the not-so-safe assumption
that Remain was going to be
triumphant and a protest vote would
do no harm. Some hope!
Lord Lawson wants to
?nish o? the Thatcher
revolution ? as if that
had not ?nished o?
enough hopes already
Which brings us to the real problem
that has engulfed otherwise sensible
Remain MPs: most of them have been
so pusillanimous in the face of their
?left behind? constituents that they
have forgotten Edmund Burke?s dictum
that their duty is to be representatives,
not delegates ? to apply their
judgment, not act as conduits for
prejudices they do not share.
My impression is that the despair,
indeed anger, felt by ?left behind?
Brexit voters is the accumulated result
of the Thatcher regime?s neglect
of the north and manufacturing,
compounded by the impact of
globalisation: as analysts are pointing
out a lot these days, the losers from
globalisation have simply not been
compensated from a pot whose
proceeds should have been distributed
more equitably.
Now, Lawson has proclaimed in his
Thatcher lecture that ?the time has
come to call an end to this demeaning
process?. The process to which he
refers is May?s attempts to square
the circle of the Conservative party?s
con?icting demands from Brexit.
No, Lawson wants to leave the EU
now, and rely on starting all over again
in the World Trade Organisation
? a WTO whose very function,
and therefore future, is now being
questioned and threatened by the
egregious Donald Trump. I am not
making this up.
The truth is that the time has
come to call an end to the demeaning
process that has been set in train by
a misleading and badly conducted
referendum. MPs and others need
to tell it as it is. If the governor of the
Bank of England can, so can they.
Already, enlightened MPs tell me
the ground is shifting slowly in the
direction of Remain. One recent poll
showed 53% for Remain, against 47%
Leave. There seems to be a consensus
that if this became 60% versus 40%,
that could be decisive.
As the veteran pollster Sir Robert
Worcester recently reminded me,
beneath a seemingly small shift in
polling there can lie a lot of what he
calls ?churning?: in other words, a net
shift of one percentage point may be
the result of 6% of people changing
their minds one way, and 7% the other.
Can it be beyond the bounds of
possibility that, as the economic
horrors dawn, the churn begins to
favour Remain after all? Meanwhile,
the message has to be got across to
those ?left behind? who said they had
nothing to lose that, almost certainly,
if they don?t change their minds, they
have even more to lose.
44 | BUSINESS
*
Media
Suddenly, the
mighty Murdoch
is just another
middleweight
PRESS AND
BROADCASTING
Peter
Preston
L
et?s be clear. The Murdoch
equation has changed utterly
as Rupert and sons bail out of
Hollywood, movies, archives,
Star of India and Sky. That
empire will belong to Disney
now. And what the family has left is
much smaller: Fox News, some US
sports and business channels, some TV
stations. Not a shrimp beside Disney?s
whale, but just one more middling ?at?sh in the seas of the Blue Planet.
That doesn?t mean penury, of course.
Fox?s cable interests made more than
$16bn last year. The sale to Disney ? a
complexity of share dealing ? hits
$66bn. But it is retreat, not advance. It
is also a tad more fragile than it appears.
Fox News may be cock of the cablenews walk, but (shades of Alabama)
its narrow ploughing of an extreme
rightwing audience ? as that audience,
average age more than 70, dies ? is
vulnerable to the changing winds of
political fashion. Sports cable is
under pressure as the price of the
events meets consumer resistance. Television stations without
their own tame Hollywood
content factory aren?t
exactly the future of mass
entertainment.
Meanwhile, the
disentangling of News
Corp from 21st Century Fox ? a penalty of
public disgust about
phone hacking ? is
over, to be followed, surely, by a re-tangling of the Wall Street Journal, London
Times et al in a new ?news oriented?
Fox. Since Mr M has been complaining lately that most of his papers are
struggling to make money, that doesn?t
seem like prime pro?t-centre stuff ?
especially since News Corp?s overall
digital performance appears a little
below par, uncertain where and when
to build paywalls.
There?s a profound change of direction here, then. What son James does
best has been sold off ? with James
looking for work elsewhere. Son
Lachlan, by default, is the inheritor.
Dad has more money than he knows
what to do with, but the edge of his
appetite has gone. In UK terms, his
three remaining papers sit alongside
the Mails and the Telegraphs in the
clout premiership. His Sun is a sore
problem. The Guardian and Observer
stand taller on the worldwide web.
When and if Disney decides that
Sky News chips away at Sky pro?ts
for no good entertainment reason
(the very reverse of Murdoch policy),
there will no doubt be wails of parliamentary anguish. Seldom have so
many competition regulators toiled to
no purpose. Seldom have Murdoch?s
printed papers and websites faced a
more testing decade.
What do you do with untold billions
in this residual neck of the Fox woods?
Rupert (pictured), post-Disney, has
the cash. But does he have the ideas,
or the hunger? Fox News can feed the
Wall Street Journal for years, and succour other papers from Sydney to the
Shard. Yet there needs to be a vision
in play.
The old Rupert (only two
months back) was always
striking out in search of that
vision, buying, experimenting, throwing away. This old,
old Rupert seems content
to try to shape what he has
left. Time to stop quaking.
This is wholly new territory.
17.12.17
Blend of stupidity
and seriousness
does BuzzFeed
few favours
T
Paul Dacre: paid five times what the BBC DG gets. Photograph by Chris Ratcli?e/Rex
How best to spend the Mail millions?
T
he question all thoughtful editors ought to ask themselves is:
how much am I worth? If I?m,
say, Paul Dacre at the Mail, am I
worth nearly �5m a year?
The answer isn?t as easy as it may
seem. Paul sits on a highly paid group
board. His editorship, over 25 years, has
brought much pro?t as well as awards
? as well, these days, as some wonderfully bonkers Brexit front pages.
Does he stand ostentatiously to
one side while other salaries soar
and thus create the impression that
editorial isn?t an important part of
the business? Surely such reticence
wouldn?t strengthen his team or his
clout with colleagues who link pay and
power爐ogether.
And yet �5m ? roughly ?ve times
what we pay the Mail-reviled director
general of the BBC. Doesn?t that create
the impression that the editor is more
interested in personal riches than journalism that serves his readers? Doesn?t
it cut him off from those readers and
their preoccupations? Couldn?t he use
� of that �5m to pay for more staff,
more investigations, more journalism
(a trade that can?t be de?ned by cash)?
My vote goes to option two. But I?d
never pretend that it?s an open-andshut case. No front page denouncing
these greedy men.
Nods and winks put things right at C4
T
here was a fuss last year when
Althea Efunshile, former deputy
chief exec of Arts Council England, was an Ofcom-nominated
candidate for a seat on the Channel 4
board who found herself vetoed by the
Department of Culture, Media and Odd
Fiat. That meant only four women ? out
of 13 members ? around the C4 table,
no black faces in sight.
Well, perhaps justice is done now as
Ofcom puts Efunshile in a new batch of
nominations that the DCMS graciously
accepts, old defences about ?tokenism?
and the rest duly ?attened. But there is
a very loose end ?apping around here:
the tattered illusion that appointments
to very sensitive media operations are
hands-off, saintly and pure.
Traditionally, the DCMS appoints
Ofcom?s leadership and Ofcom
appoints C4?s board. But see here.
Efunshile wouldn?t have tried a second
time unless she knew she?d get the job,
and Ofcom, similarly, wouldn?t have
backed her candidacy. In other words,
nodding and winking, the DCMS was
very hands-on here.
he essentials of digital media
success are clear enough: devise
a new formula for news and a
subtly delineated new audience.
Win golden City opinions. Raise funds
and more funds. Show revenue rising,
preferably exponentially. Float on
the exchanges or sell. Result:
total爃appiness.
But there?s one critical test here that
must be passed. If you keep expectations and optimism high, if you soar
forward on a balloon of con?dence,
then all is well. Con?dence is king.
So when BuzzFeed, once collector of golden opinions, threatens to
fall 15% or more short of its revenue
targets; when a sweep of redundancies
covers nearly a third of the UK news
site; when that site shows unique use
falling over the last 20 months, what
are we supposed to conclude? Nothing
very燾on?dent.
Costs have soared in the traditional
fashion. Staffing is up by almost
�m. A current combination of
advertising downturn and audience
shrinkage means squeeze. There?s
de?ant company talk about ?pursuing
great journalism and reporting
in global coverage of politics,
media, social justice, world news,
and爄nvestigations?.
All of which seems fair enough.
BuzzFeed is a news force to be reckoned with. The trouble is that it?s also
a daily compendium of jokes, silly
questions and fun for the young, a
formula that pulls against its scoops
and investigations. If you?ve grown
out of the blend, you may have grown
out of BuzzFeed (as its investors
grow爐witchy).
There?ll be no ?reworks and no
Fleet Street raids when the new
BBC head of news emerges from
the interviewing mists. Fran Unsworth, head of the World Service
group, gets the plum. Gavin Allen,
head of daytime news programmes,
and Jonathan Munro, head of
news gathering, don?t make it. In
short, an inside job. The fashion
of bringing in top operators from
newspapers ? James Harding from
the Times, Ian Katz from the Guardian ? appears to have been just that:
a fashion that fades.
17.12.17
*
Editor: Shane Hickey cash@observer.co.uk
Personal ?nance
CASH | 45
Would-be models duped by ?platforms?
promising easy route to fashion world
Online ?rms continue
to promise the ticket
to a modelling career
by conducting a test
photoshoot ? but the
only thing they bring
with them is a hefty
bill, writes Anna Tims
Tracy Baker
agreed to do a
photoshoot while
grieving over the
death of her father,
who had always
wanted her to try
modelling. She paid
�500 for a series
of ?unflattering?
pictures.
Photograph by
Andrew Fox
for the Observer
A
the Association of Modelling Agents.
?I?ve been in the industry 20 years and
it?s a problem that?s been getting worse
since the government stopped licensing
agencies in 1994.?
In 2010 modelling agencies were
banned from charging upfront fees and
a mandatory 30-day cooling-off period
was introduced before charging for photographs. However, the rules don?t apply
to agencies representing actors or extras,
which allows opportunist ?rms to claim
they do. Others, like The Studio Collective, have got around the law by calling
themselves modelling ?platforms?.
Last year, acting and modelling agencies were behind 19% of complaints to
the Employment Standards Agency
?It?s appalling ?
I estimate we get
about 700 emails a
year from victims of
some dreadful stories?
John Horner, industry expert
Inspectorate, overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy, but the government says it has
no plans to reintroduce licensing. And,
despite the fact that modelling ?platforms? are touting themselves as agencies in all but name, the Inspectorate and
BEIS refuse to get involved, referring
complainants to Citizens Advice and
Trading Standards.
Those misled into paying tend to be
the young and the vulnerable, often with
a poor command of English. Teaching
assistant Tracy Baker was grieving over
the sudden death of her father when an
ad for The Studio Collective popped up
on her Facebook page.
Her father had wanted her to try modelling so she applied and was invited for
an assessment for which she had to pay
WARNING SIGNS
Reputable modelling agencies earn
their money from commissions paid by
the advertising and fashion ?rms who
employ their models. They are forbidden
by the Conduct of Employment Agencies
Regulations 2010 to charge an upfront
fee, including a deposit to secure an
appointment or an administrative charge
to add you to their website. They can
charge a fee for photo services, but only
after a 30-day cooling-o? period.
Steer clear of companies that:
Describe themselves as ?platforms?
and o?er to assess your chances of being
accepted by a modelling agency.
Ask for a refundable fee to ensure you
turn up for an assessment.
Claim that you need a portfolio to break
into the world of modelling.
Tell you after a photoshoot you have
potential, and introduce you to an adviser.
Insist that the photos will be deleted
unless you buy them there and then.
If you feel you have been scammed,
contact Citizens Advice consumer
service on 0345 404 0506.
a � deposit. She ended up parting with
�500 for a portfolio of what she says
were un?attering photographs.
?They were displayed very quickly
on a screen and I was told they would
be deleted if I didn?t buy them there and
then,? she says.
The studio told her that she would be
supported in ?nding work, but says all
she received was contacts for six agency
websites, all of which required joining fees. She signed up to two, paying a
further �0, but has received no offers.
?I wanted to do this for my Dad and
all I have done is make a fool of myself
thinking anyone would actually want a
woman of 50 looking like I do,? she says.
In 2015 Fusion Studios, which operates from the same Manchester address
as The Studio Collective, was forced to
apologise after a mother with learning
difficulties was allegedly talked into
signing a �000 credit agreement for
substandard shots of her daughter. It
refunded her after media pressure.
Fusion and The Studio Collective
are owned by Michael Hannah, who
also runs similar modelling ?platforms?
under different names ? Luxe, Kube and
Startup Models. All take care to point
out they are not agencies, but offer applicants a ?route? into modelling. Costs
aren?t speci?ed on the websites.
Last year Hannah was exposed by
the BBC?s Rogue Traders for selling lowgrade portfolios to undercover applicants and promising potentially lucrative contacts.
The Studio Collective told the
Observer that prices for its portfolio
packages start at �9 and that the different options are explained to applicants before their appointment. It says
that its customers have a 14-day coolingoff period but does not say whether this
is also explained.
?�500 is a lot of money for the vast
majority, but we, like almost every company, have larger, more expensive, packages for those that want to spend,? says
a spokesperson who refuses to give a
name. ?Why would we not? We are a
business like any other.?
Although the con?rmation email sent
to Mendes promised that it provides
models to ?many industry-established
agencies?, the company declines to name
any of them or to confirm how many
applicants it helps into work. Instead,
Mendes was referred to four web-based
?rms. All require a high registration fee
and one describes itself as a ?platform?
offering the same high-price ?services?
as The Studio Collective.
The Observer showed ?ve of Mendes?s
portfolio photos to Karen Diamond,
head scout at Models 1, a 50-year-old
agency which has represented top mod-
els including Twiggy, Linda Evangelista
and Yasmin Le Bon. She concluded that
none would be suitable for a professional
portfolio because of poor cropping,
lighting and styling. ?Two could have
been taken on a phone,? she says.
Online forums abound with complaints. Many of the companies are based
in Manchester. Manchester Trading
Standards declines to comment on how
many they have received or whether it
is investigating speci?c companies. ?We
would encourage anybody affected by
these rogue operations to report their
concerns to Citizens Advice,? says councillor Nigel Murphy of Manchester City
Council. ?They will provide the intelligence to the most appropriate trading standards service. In Manchester,
our trading standards team investigates
reports of companies trading illegally
�
?Thou shalt
have a
meltdown
if thou
wants to?
Jay Rayner?s
10 Christmas
commandments
page 7
Food
Monthly
minata Mendes* has dreams
of a modelling career to
support her struggling
family. An invitation to a
photoshoot by a company
describing itself as the UK?s
largest studio group promised to be the
breakthrough. ?My family and I are
recent immigrants from west Africa and
they told me that my modelling potential could help support my family ?nancially,?? says the 18-year-old student, who
has lived in Flintshire in Wales since
arriving from Guinea-Bissau last year.
The company, The Studio Collective,
duly took a series of photographs which
Mendes says she was given to believe was
a test shoot. It then demanded �500 for
30 digital images, a photographic business card and a basic website.
?They told my father and me that
because they were busy we had to decide
immediately,? she says. ?My father was
emotionally pressured to not let me
down and I was pressured to help my
family, so we paid �0 deposit and
signed a credit agreement.
?We later found out that a fair price
for the photographs would have been
around �0 and that I have no real
chance of becoming a model because I
am several inches too short.?
The family is now struggling to
afford the repayments. Mendes?s father,
who earns �200 a month as a factory
worker, is working overtime to raise the
money and Mendes has taken a parttime factory job to make up the shortfall.
The Studio Collective, which advertises premises in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Miami, is one of
a multitude of ?rms seeking to cash in
on the aspirations of would-be models.
Many trade under several names simultaneously and the sales pitch is always
the same. Those who wind up on the
websites are asked to submit an online
form that merely asks for their name
and address and a photograph. They are
told that, if they are accepted, the team
will help develop their potential and win
contracts in the modelling industry.
Almost everyone, it seems, is told
they have what it takes. Typically, they
are required to pay a deposit to secure
an appointment and are then pressured
into paying extortionate sums for mediocre photographs, with extra charged for
copyright and prints. It is impressed
upon them that a photographic portfolio is a necessary passport into the
fashion world and that, because of their
unique selling points, jobs worth up to
�000 may follow. In fact, reputable
agencies only require an unstyled sel?e,
then organise photos free if they detect
potential. They do not require deposits
or charge registration fees.
?It?s an appalling situation and I
would estimate we get about 700 emails
a year from victims with some dreadful
stories,? says John Horner, a director of
and will not hesitate to prosecute those
operating outside the law.?
Citizens Advice says it advised 71 victims of modelling scams between January
and March 2017. ?We have seen a number
of scams that target and pressure models to pay upfront for photos at highly
in?ated prices,? says its consumer expert,
Jan Carton. ?Often these photos are poor
quality or the scammer may disappear
even before taking them. Scammers will
often use pressure selling techniques to
get you to part with your money such as
threatening to delete the photos if you
don?t buy them at a certain price. You
should not agree to pay for any photos
upfront. You should also be wary of being
contacted out the blue or receiving an
offer that sounds too good to be true.?
* Name has been changed
46 | CASH
Personal
Your
problems
?nance
MORTGAGES
Anna Tims
How can Virgin
Trains admit its
app was faulty but
deny me a refund?
I have used Virgin?s west coast
service every week for the last ?ve
years, booking tickets 12 weeks in
advance to get the cheapest advance
fare, which currently stands at �.
Recently, Virgin brought out an app
and, from the off, it caused problems.
When I ?rst used it to book two ?rstrelease advance tickets the fare was
� instead of �. I queried this with
Virgin on social media.
It eventually admitted that there
was a fault on the app but that tickets
were available at the station for �.
But, by the time I got the reply, I?d
already paid the extra before the
advance discount ended.
I have been trying to get a refund
for what I?ve been overcharged and
it has been refused. It claims I have
been charged the ?cheapest? fare
possible, even though it has admitted
the price on the app was incorrect.
HM, Liverpool
You are to be congratulated on your
tenacity. Time and time again over
Twitter, live chat and emails you were
told that you had not been overcharged.
Even a letter from the managing
director?s office insisted on the fact.
Then, hey presto, you invoke the media
and as soon as I contact Virgin it suddenly makes a discovery.
There was, indeed, a fault on the app
which, yes, did overcharge you. It has
now decided to refund what you had
overpaid for two tickets using a Two
Together Railcard. There?s no hint
of an apology in the response and it?s
merely ?a gesture of goodwill? that it?s
adding two standard return tickets for
a journey of your choice.
Who knows how many other passengers were fobbed off thanks to this
lucrative technical error?
The only job I got from this
website is tackling spam emails
I recently sent my CV to an online
recruiter called Nationwide Placements. I?ve since realised it is a fake
company selling on personal details.
As a result, I am receiving multiple spam emails. What can I do to
protect myself from identity fraud or
other issues, now that I?ve shared my
personal details in this way?
KQ, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire
You found Nationwide Placements on
the job-search platform Indeed where
reviews tell a similar story. Instead of
receiving details of suitable vacancies,
applicants report being bombarded
with phishing calls and emails.
The website strives to imply it?s
pukka, with the Palace of Westminster
spread across its home page and links
to jobs with well-known brands.
Clearly, though, it prefers to harvest
information than give it. An answer
machine stated that no one was available to take calls.
Soon afterwards, the number was
removed from the website, leaving only
a web form as a contact. There?s no
address and my message vanished into
the ether.
Indeed says it has removed the
company?s ad and reported it to
17.12.17
*
SAFERjobs, which supports jobseekers and agency staff who are victims
of fraud.
The company appears to be based in
Bracknell and trading standards says it
is aware of it but can?t comment ?due to
ongoing inquiries?.
You should ?ag up your concerns to
the Information Commissioner?s Office
which enforces data protection and
investigates whether individuals? personal information has been misused.
Meanwhile, ensure you have
changed all your online passwords so
your accounts can?t be accessed and
run a check on your credit reports,
which will be among the ?rst indicators as to whether you have fallen
victim to ID fraud.
Putting customer care in focus
Can I highlight a surprisingly excellent
example of customer care. More than
10 years ago I bought an expensive
pair of Bushnell binoculars, and this
summer they were damaged when I
knocked them off my desk. I sent them
to Bushnell Europe for repair, telling
them it was my fault, and was told a
usual repair price would be about �.
Then I got an email to say that, as
they didn?t have the part to repair
them in stock, they would replace
them with a new pair at no cost, which
duly arrived. I have no connection
with Bushnell but wanted to highlight
a company that obviously does care
about customer service.
SH, Manchester
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.
Lender
Type
Rate %
Term
Max LTV %
Fee �
Contact
Yorkshire Building Society
?xed
1.24
29/2/2020
65
495
0345 120 0874
Sainsbury?s Bank
?xed
1.34
31/3/2020
75
745
0345 111 8010
Sainsbury?s Bank
?xed
1.74
31/3/2020
85
0
0345 111 8010
Coventry Building Society
?xed
1.75
31/3/2023
60
999
0800 121 8899
Sainsbury?s Bank
?xed
1.91
31/3/2023
75
745
0345 111 8010
Coventry Building Society
?xed
2.05
31/3/2023
85
999
0800 121 8899
Bath Building Society
?xed
3.29
3 years
95
800
0122 547 5724
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
1.79
28/2/2021
75
995
0345 120 0874
SAVINGS
Provider
Account
NatWest
Savings Builder
Min � Gross AER %
Santander
123 Current Account
RCI Bank
Freedom Savings Account
Post O?ce Money
Online Saver Issue 28
Secure Trust Bank
120-Day Notice Account
Kent Reliance
Regular Savings Account 3
United Trust Bank Ltd
1-Year Personal Deposit Bond
Secure Trust Bank
2-Yr Fixed Rate Bond (23.Dec.2019)
The Access Bank UK Ltd Sensible Savings Fxd Term Bond
Masthaven Bank
48 Month Flexible Term Saver
1
1.50
Notice Notes
easy access
Contact
BATI
080 025 5200
easy access AICD
0800 218 2352
1
1.50 & �a
month
100
1.30
easy access
I
rcibank.co.uk
1
1.30
easy access
I
posto?ce.co.uk
1,000
1.56
120 days
notice
I
securetrustbank.
com
25
3.00
easy access
AR
0345 122 0022
500
1.87
1 year
IF
utbank.co.uk
1,000
2.06
2 years
IF
securetrustbank.
com
5,000
2.25
3 years
PIF
0160 681 5440
500
2.23
4 years
IF
IF
masthavenbank.
co.uk
securetrustbank.
com
Secure Trust Bank
5-Year Fixed Rate Bond (22.12.22)
1,000
2.51
5 years
Shawbrook Bank
Easy Access Cash Isa 1
1,000
1.10
easy access
I
shawbrook.co.uk
Aldermore
2-Year Fixed Rate Cash Isa
1,000
1.65
2 years
IF
waldermore.co.uk
NS&I
NS&I
Direct Isa
3-Year Investment Gtee Growth
Bond
NS&I
Junior Isa
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
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
Type
Sainsbury?s Bank Nectar
31 months
Purchase
Santander Everyday
30 months
Purchase
Santander All in One
39 months
Barclaycard Platinum
38 months
Balance
Transfer
Balance
Transfer
Transfer fee %
Repr APR
Cashback
Contact
na
18.9
Not Available
sainsburysbank.co.uk
na
18.9
Not Available
santander.co.uk
0.00
21.7
Not Available
santander.co.uk
barclaycard.co.uk
1.40
19.9
Not Available
American Express Platinum None
Cashback
na
28.2
American Express Platinum None
Everyday
Cashback
na
22.9
1.0% Standard americanexpress.com
+ Intro Bonus
0.5% Standard americanexpress.com
+ Intro Bonus
For the latest best buys on mortgages and savings check out our Money deals at http://theguardian.com/money
Table compiled 15/12/17. In case of late changes, always check rates and terms before transacting.
All above ?gures from independent ?nancial research company Defaqto (defaqto.com)
17.12.17
TRAVEL | 47
Five of the best Michelin-rated Bangkok restaurants
1. Go Ang (Bib Gourmand)
1
4
On a strip of Phetchaburi Road best
known for its endless shopping malls,
three modest khao man gai shops offer
classic Hainanese chicken rice (boiled
chicken over rice cooked in the broth
of the chicken) with chilli and garlicinfused dipping sauce. Known by their
colours (hot pink, orange or sky blue),
the juiciest and most fragrant of the
lot is the pink shop, Go Ang. Expect
orderly queues, but turnover is quick.
From �per plate, 960-962 Phetchaburi Road, no website
Too many cooks do not spoil the broth;
quite the contrary in this collaborative
kitchen, where four young chefs turn
out innovative food in Talad Noi, one
of the city?s hottest neighbourhoods.
The look is post-industrial, but this is
no ordinary hipster joint. A beef tartare
with roasted chilli is one of the highlights of the new menu, while a tender
lamb heart salad is moreish. An ambitious cocktail list mixes Thai spirits
with tastes such as sour tamarind and
other native aromatics.
Dishes from � on Facebook
2. Jae Oh (Bib Gourmand)
Be prepared to take a number and wait
for an hour or more at this popular
night-time student hangout on the
edges of Chulalongkorn University.
What do people come for? Duck dishes,
fried ?sh, stir fries and shared bubbling
tureens of spicy tom yum soup. The
garnish of choice? Instant Mama?
noodles. Go for mama moo sab (minced
pork balls) or mama talay ruam (mixed
seafood). Michelin-rated instant
noodles? You heard it here ?rst.
Dishes from �20, 113 Soi Charat
Mueang, Pathum Wan, no website
3. Mr Joe (Bib Gourmand)
Rolled rice noodles in broth are the
signature dish of this shop-house. But
really, everyone comes for the moo krob
(crispy pork belly) that garnishes the
soup. The crunch of the crackling is
the perfect foil for the soft noodles in
peppery broth; but it?s hard to resist an
extra plate of delectable meat on the
side. Add a sprinkle of vinegar and a
pinch of fried chilli flakes.
Soup from �40, additional plates of
meat from �30, on Facebook
TRAVEL CLASSIFIED
4. 80/20bkk (Michelin Plate)
5. Err (Bib Gourmand)
2
5
3
Chefs Bo Songvisava and Dylan Jones
of Bo.lan were pioneers in taking Thai
food seriously and developing sustainable practices in the kitchen. At
Err, the chefs let their hair down and
embrace fun food. A cocktail list that
highlights traditional Thai spirits, such
as Chao Pra Ya (a spirit made from
sticky rice, ginger, mandarin vodkas
and bitters), is the perfect foil for bar
snacks like home-cured pickles and a
clever, crisp whole chicken skin. More
substantial dishes include tom kamin
gai baan, a spicy turmeric soup made
with free-range chicken, or gaeng krau
sii krong moo, pork ribs in a sinusclearing curry.
Dishes from �50, errbkk.com
Vincent Vichit-Vadakan
To see the full list of Bangkok
restaurants, and thousands more
top 10s on everything from the
world?s best bars and hotels to
walks and beaches, visit
theguardian.com/travel
48 | OBSERVER CLASSIFIED
OVERSEAS TRAVEL
17.12.17
17.12.17
9AM TODAY
1004
(29.65)
1008
(29.77)
1008
(29.77)
1012
(29.88)
3PM TODAY
SIX-DAY FORECAST
Mon
30
25
1016
(30.00)
Orkney
Orkney
7
(49F)
MODERATE
6
24
Glasgow
MODERATE
8
19
(43F)
1016
(30.00)
(44F)
MODERATE
(46F)
23
Edinburgh
1020
(30.12)
7
Glasgow
MODERATE
22
Edinburgh
8
(45F)
(46F)
7
8
SLIGHT
Newcastle
(45F)
Belfast
2
1020
(30.12)
6
(36F) Hull
SLIGHT
Dublin
8
(47F)
Norwich
Norwich
Birmingham
Birmingham
7
9
(45F)
23
(48F)
Gloucester
Cardi?
Bristol
19
1
7
Gloucester
7
(45F)
London
MODERATE
Brighton
Brighton
10
Plymouth
(45F)
Plymouth
(50F)
1024
(30.24)
8
SLIGHT
SLIGHT
19
UK TODAY
Channel Is, Cent S England, SW England, W Midlands, Wales: Mainly cloudy today with showery spells, mainly in the afternoon. A moderate south-westerly
wind. Max 6-12C (43-54F). Generally dry tonight with broken cloud and clear
spells. A moderate north-westerly wind. Min 0-10C (32-50F).
SE England, London, E Anglia, E Midlands: Mainly cloudy today with showery
spells in the afternoon. A light to moderate south-westerly wind. Max 6-10C
(43-50F). Generally dry tonight with broken cloud and clear spells. A light
north-westerly wind. Min 0-5C (32-41F).
Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, NW England: Mainly cloudy today with showery
spells, mainly in the afternoon. A moderate south-westerly wind. Max 5-9C
(41-48F). Largely dry tonight with broken cloud and clear spells. A light northwesterly wind. Min -1 to 4C (30-39F).
2
3
4
1000
(29.53)
OCCLUDED FRONT
Helsinki
1008
(29.77)
Stockholm
TROUGH
1016
(30.00)
Moscow
Berlin
Paris
Belgrade
Rome
Madrid
16
1024
(30.24)
7
17
18
19
20
SOLUTION NO. 1,158
21
22
23
24
F
87?104
26?30?
80?86
25
26
27
ACROSS
DOWN
1 In maths, the third power of a quantity (4)
3 Existing everywhere (8)
9/10 Listening sympathetically or
attentively (7,2,3)
11 Edit; make alterations to a draft (5)
12 Plant ?bre used in weaving (6)
14 Sun shade (6)
16 Roofed porch or gallery with open sides along
the front or side of a building (6)
19 Arctic region of permafrost (6)
21 Bring up (5)
24/25 Clarify, help to explain (5,5,2)
26 Brightest star in Ursa Minor; northern axis of
the earth points toward it (8)
27 Rain heavily (4)
1
2
4
5
6
7
8
13
15
17
18
20
22
23
D
E
A R M S A
A
C
I MM O B
R
T A N T R
D
E D I T H
I
A
I T C H
I
I
N O R T H
N
I
7 Fair
11 Cloudy
9 Cloudy
8 Fair
9 Cloudy
Bristol
7 Fair
9 Cloudy
10 Cloudy
10 Showers
7 Cloudy
9 Cloudy
Cardiff
9 Fair
11 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
10 Showers
9 Cloudy
10 Cloudy
Edinburgh
6 Fair
11 Cloudy
9 Showers
8 Fair
8 Fair
Glasgow
7 Fair
12 Cloudy
10 Showers
8 Cloudy
8 Cloudy
9 Cloudy
Leeds
6 Fair
10 Cloudy
11 Showers
8 Showers
8 Cloudy
9 Cloudy
Liverpool
8 Fair
11 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
10 Showers
9 Cloudy
10 Cloudy
London
7 Fair
9 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
10 Showers
9 Cloudy
10 Cloudy
Manchester
6 Fair
10 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
9 Showers
8 Rain
10 Showers
Newcastle
5 Fair
11 Cloudy
11 Showers
7 Showers
8 Cloudy
8 Cloudy
Norwich
7 Fair
7 Cloudy
10 Cloudy
9 Showers
8 Fair
8 Cloudy
9 Cloudy
9 Rain
7 Fair
9 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
11 Showers
8 Cloudy
9 Cloudy
Plymouth
10 Fair
11 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
11 Showers 10 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
Swansea
9 Fair
11 Cloudy
11 Cloudy
11 Rain
10 Cloudy
York
5 Fair
10 Cloudy
11 Showers
8 Cloudy
8 Showers
8 Fair
9 Cloudy
ABROAD YESTERDAY
癈
癈
Aberdeen
2
s
Manchester 3
Anglesey
6
f
Newcastle
2
Belfast
5
f
Norwich
Birmingham 6
f
Oxford
癈
Algiers
16
f
Nairobi
27
f
s
Bangkok
32
f
New York
4
f
4
s
Beijing
0
s
Perth
27
s
Nottingham 3
s
Beirut
20
s
Rio de Jan
31
f
7
f
Cairo
22
s
Riyadh
18
s
Harare
sh
6
sh
Bournem?th 8
s
Plymouth
8
sh
29
c
San Fran
17
s
Brighton
5
s
Ronaldsway 7
f
Hong Kong 18
f
Santiago
25
s
Bristol
8
s
S?hampton 6
s
Istanbul
17 w
Sao Paulo
30 st
Cardiff
7
sh
Scarbr?gh
4
s
Jeddah
32
s
Seychelles
29
f
Carlisle
1
f
Southport
5
s
Jerusalem
17
s
Singapore
31
f
Edinburgh
2
f
Stornoway 3
sh
Jo?burg
27
s
Sydney
29
f
Exeter
7
f
Swanage
f
Karachi
24
s
Taipei
20
r
Glasgow
3
s
Teignmouth 7
f
L Angeles
21
s
Tenerife
18 sh
Inverness
3
f
Tenby
6
f
Manila
28
c
Toronto
-4
f
Jersey
9
f
Torquay
7
f
Miami
27
f
Vancouver
6
c
Liverpool
7
sh
Weymouth 7
w
Mombasa
31
f
Washington 8
f
E
O
N D T H
V
T
I L E
O
R
U M
D
S
E
U N K
C
S
H A N D
O
A
C A R O
K
E
N
T
E M A N
S
K
T E E N
L
A
E R B Y
O
N OWN
U
B I L L
I
E
L I N A
E
S
Block end; no through road (3,2,3)
Occasion for excessive eating or drinking (5)
Heavenly dwelling of the Norse gods (6)
Gimli, for one (5)
Gathering (7)
Hair piece; ?ick up (4)
Unter den ------, iconic boulevard in Berlin (6)
John --------, 16th-century English composer:
one who frequented an inn of old (8)
A runlet? (anag) (7)
Fidgety, nervous (2,4)
Showy bloom (6)
North or south, two features of chalk upland
in England (5)
Go one better than (5)
At the summit of (4)
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
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
0651
7
New Moon
18 Dec
Essex (Tuesday) 6.6hrs.
0%
50%
100%
WEATHER VIEW
Glasgow
London
Manchester
Newcastle
Mon
Amsterdam
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
Plymouth
Aberdeen
Leeds
Oxford
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
8 f
7 f
8 c
9 r
8 c
8 c
Athens
15 c
13 f
11 c
11 f
13 s
15 s
Barcelona
14 s
12 s
13 f
11 s
12 s
14 f
Berlin
2 r
2 c
5 c
7 r
7 r
5 c
Copenhagen
3 f
4 c
7 c
7 c
6 f
5 s
21?25?
69?79
16?20?
60?68
Madrid
11 s
11?15?
51?59
Oslo
-2 f
0 c
6?10?
42?50
Paris
8 c
5 f
Prague
0 sn
1 ?
L
Athens
13
15
C
31?40?
H
12
14
8 Cloudy
Birmingham
6 Rain
癈 Wthr (Maximum temperature and overall condition)
Warsaw
London
6
8 Cloudy
EUROPE SIX-DAY FORECAST
1016
(30.00)
Pressure in millibars,
(inches in brackets)
10
11
WARM
Reykjavik
8
9
Belfast
Birmingham
Bristol
Cardiff
COLD
L
5
7 Cloudy
7 Fair
AIR POLLUTION
L
SPEEDY CROSSWORD NO. 1,159
1
6 Fair
9 Showers
Moon rises
KEY
1032
(30.47)
7 Showers
6
r
N Orleans 15 f
York
3
s
Wellington 22 f
NE England, SE Scotland, SW Scotland, NE Scotland: Mainly cloudy today with London
showery spells, mainly in the morning. A moderate south-westerly wind. Max Key: c=cloud, dr=drizzle, ds=dust storm, f=fair, fg=fog, g=gales, h=hail, m=mist, r=rain,
sh=showers, sl=sleet, sn=snow, s=sun, th=thunder, w=windy. Forecast/readings for noon
2-9C (36-48F). Generally dry tonight with clear spells. A light to moderate
south-westerly wind. Min -2 to 3C (28-37F).
SUNSET TO SUNRISE
WEATHER STATISTICS
W Isles, N Isles, NW Scotland: Mainly cloudy today with rainy periods, espeBirmingham
15.54
to
08.13
Weather last week
Weather this week
cially in the morning. A moderate south-westerly wind. Max 1-10C (34-50F).
Bristol
16.03
to
08.12
Warmest by day: Isles of
London
Chance of rain
Largely dry tonight with broken cloud and clear spells. A light south-westerly
Dublin
16.06
to
08.37
Scilly, Cornwall (Sunday)
Glasgow
15.44
to
08.45
13.0C
wind. Min -4 to 6C (25-43F).
15.45
to
08.21
Coldest by night: Lochnagar, Glasgow
Northern Ireland, Ireland: Mainly cloudy today with showery spells. A moderate Leeds
Aberdeenshire (Sunday)
London
15.53
to
08.03
-13.0C
to fresh south-westerly wind. Max 5-11C (41-52F). Mainly dry tonight with
Manchester
15.51
to
08.21
Dublin
Wettest: Jersey, Channel
Newcastle
15.38
to
08.28
broken cloud and clear spells. A light to moderate westerly wind. Min 0-9C
Islands (Monday) 49mm
Sun rises
0803
Moon sets 1549
(32-48F).
Sunniest: Southend-on-Sea,
EUROPE TODAY
An area of low pressure near Iceland
will move east and deepen with a cold
front to the south across the United
Kingdom. The front will bring showery
spells for most, with rainy periods
across north-western Scotland. Most
showers will clear to the south and
east by Sunday night. High pressure
north-west of Spain will bring dry
weather to much of Portugal, Spain
and northern France. The odd rain
or snow shower will occur across
eastern France, Switzerland, southern
Germany and western Poland. Much
of Scandinavia will be dry with high
pressure in the area. It will be generally
dry across central and northern Italy
into Austria. An area of low pressure
near southern Italy will bring showery
spells to southern Italy and the
Balkans.
10 Cloudy
12 Cloudy
Blackpool
Bristol
London
MODERATE
Cardi?
1024
(30.24)
(34F)
Sat
8 Cloudy
癈
8
(50F)
(39F)
Fri
6 Fair
Manchester
10
4
(46F)
Thu
Belfast
HOME YESTERDAY
(43F) Hull
SLIGHT
Dublin
Manchester
Wed
Aberdeen
Oxford
MODERATE
Newcastle
(46F)
Belfast
Tue
癈 Weather (Maximum temperature and overall daytime weather conditions)
9
1012
(29.88)
TRAVEL | 49
WEATHER
Your forecast for the week ahead
*
1?5?
33?41
-20?0?
-4?32
Geneva
3 sn
4 f
3 s
5 f
6 c
5 s
14 f
12 s
11 s
13 f
12 f
2 c
1 f
-1 s
-3 c
7 c
9 c
9 c
9 r
2 c
4 r
5 c
4 f
Rome
10 s
11 f
10 s
11 s
13 c
14 f
Venice
4 f
6 f
5 s
5 s
6 f
7 c
The sun sets over the Pacific after a glorious
day in Zipolite, Oaxaca state, Mexico.
Forecasts and graphics provided
by AccuWeather, Inc �17
aid James Findlater, head of
shopping centre investment at Colliers
International. ?There is a structural
change because of the shift to online, but
also macro issues ? notably consumers?
ability to spend when they haven?t had a
pay rise for 10 years.
?There is probably 30% too much
retail, and it is still being built.?
Findlater says owners of older shopping centres are struggling to attract
retailers, who are more interested in
being in the country?s top-tier malls
such as West?eld: ?Outside of the core
dominant shopping centres, there have
been deals done post-recession where
retailers are paying no rent. Landlords
don?t want to be saddled with covering
occupancy costs on vacant stores.?
There are around 550 shopping centres in the UK; and while 10 years ago
retailers would have had to open 250
stores to cover the country, these days
that figure is just 100 plus a website.
In this climate, the strongest shopping
malls have more power, creating a huge
headache for the owners of centres in
secondary locations, who are facing a
vicious circle of decline.
Intu?s chairman, John Strachan,
hailed the company?s takeover as the
?most signi?cant transaction in British
real estate in a generation?, while Hammerson boss David Atkins said that, in
a changing retail market, only centres
with a ?sensational brand mix and leisure offer? would succeed.
Leisure has become an increasingly
important part of the shopping-centre
experience, as families spend the day
shopping, eating and then heading to
the cinema or bowling alley, all under
one roof. Last year, West?eld went as far
as hiring Grammy-, Tony- and Emmywinning theatre and ?lm producer Scott
Sanders to create spectacular events
incorporating theatre, music, dance,
food and fashion in its centres.
Both Hammerson and Intu have
worked hard to pull in shoppers in a
digital age, developing their websites
and enhancing their centres with wi?
and apps to make it easier for shoppers
to get what they want.
But the shares of property companies
have been hit by investor concerns that
the market has peaked and that they
can no longer bank on rising asset values. Hammerson is paying 253.9p per
share for Intu, which is a third less than
the value of its centres. Analysts say the
numbers re?ect a new reality as optimistic centre valuations, arrived at in good
times, are questioned.
The deal will give Hammerson a stake
in 12 of the UK?s 20 supermalls ? those
bigger than 20 million sq ft in size and
attracting more than 20 million visitors
a year ? including Birmingham Bullring,
Intu Trafford and Manchester Arndale.
While smaller shopping centres and high
streets are suffering, spending in British supermalls is expected to increase
7.2% over the next ?ve years to �.3bn,
according to analysts at GlobalData.
Atkins indicated the combined group
would look to sell �n worth of its UK
properties and save �m in running
costs by pooling head offices and procurement of services like cleaning and
security. While Intu owns more centres
in the UK top 10 than Hammerson, others within its portfolio, such as those
in Uxbridge and Nottingham?s Broadmarsh, score much worse in industry
league tables and are expected to be on
the list of disposals.
?Intu own some dreadful assets that
have fallen foul of changing shopper
patterns,? said one source, who suggested the timing of the deal was good
for Intu as weakening consumer con?dence pointed to a tough 2018 for retail-
ers, many of whom are looking to exit
their least pro?table stores. The source
claimed Intu had bolstered occupancy
levels in struggling centres by letting
stores on a temporary basis.
Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and
Toys R Us are among the chains who
have announced plans to close branches,
while many former BHS premises
remain empty. There is also speculation
in property circles that big high street
names such as House of Fraser could be
Is the global desire to buy British
a bad thing for our tech sector?
by Alex Hern
Apple?s acquisition of music-recognition app Shazam, for a reported $400m
(�0m), is just the latest in a string of
major acquisitions of British technology companies by overseas suitors.
The purchase is Apple?s biggest since
2014, when it spent $3bn on headphone manufacturer Beats Electronics,
and is one of the largest acquisitions
this year for the British tech sector.
It follows the sale of Imagination
Technologies, which makes the graphics processors used in iPhones and
iPads, to a Chinese private equity ?rm
for $550m (�2m) in September.
Both purchases pale in comparison to a pair of acquisitions made in
2016, however. Flight comparison
site Skyscanner sold itself to Chinese
tourism group Ctrip for �4bn in
November of that year, while shortly
after the EU referendum, the chip
designer ARM accepted a �.3bn offer
from Japanese group SoftBank.
The ARM deal was the secondlargest foreign takeover of a UK-listed
company ever, behind only ABInBev?s
deal to buy SABMiller.
That acquisition also serves as a
counter to one popular explanation for
the spate of buyouts: that it?s simply
a function of the devaluation of the
pound following Brexit. Yes, the pound
plummeted against the yen after the
referendum ? but ARM?s share price
rose by a corresponding 17%, as the
company makes most of its revenue
in dollars. That meant that the actual
price SoftBank paid for ARM rose in
the weeks following the referendum.
More generally, big mergers and
acquisitions are often laid in place
far too far in advance for the vagaries of the foreign exchange market to
affect them, says Paul Hollingsworth,
the senior UK economist at Capital
Economics. ?Whether we?re seeing any
sort of Brexit or pound effect, it?s a bit
too soon ? it?s really going to be a couple of years before any effect appears.?
Sriram Prakash, the lead for innova-
Japan?s Softbank paid �.3bn for ARM.
tion M&A at Deloitte, agrees. ?First
and foremost, in any M&A transaction you buy a company not because
it?s cheap, but because it?s good. And
then, it might be cheap because of currency devaluations or whatever, and
that might add to the speediness [and
attractiveness] of the transaction, but
the fundamentals are important.?
For British ?rms, then, it?s all about
the fundamentals. Those making the
headlines for the size of their valuation
aren?t acquired for the revenue they
bring in, or the size of their existing
customer base, but for their worldleading grasp of basic technologies,
says Priya Guha, the general manager
of startup accelerator RocketSpace.
?What it comes down to is the UK
17.12.17
BUSINESS | 41
*
on a big Christmas buying spree
VIEW FROM AMERICA
Mall operators must buy into
e-retail and new use of space
Department
stores such as
Macy?s, often
the anchor
tenants of
major malls,
are seeing big
brands such as
Nike scaling
down their
in-store
presence.
Photograph
by Bebeto
Matthews/AP
Westfield?s centre in Stratford,
east London, on its opening day in
2011. The firm is being sold for
�bn. Photograph by Suzanne
Plunkett/Reuters
?There are so many
things going on in
property at the
moment, but with
these deals we see
them all collide?
James Findlater, analyst
strength in deep tech,? Guha says. ?The
UK still has some of the most amazing
academic research coming out of its
universities. And that is being commercialised at a rate that much higher than
elsewhere in the EU and getting close
to what happens in the States.?
?So what that means is you have
some of the most groundbreaking new
technologies being developed right
here in the UK. And yes, of course, that
becomes a very appealing target for US
companies who need that technology
to be able to scale or just own a new
direction for their own business.?
Perhaps the poster child for that sort
of acquisition is DeepMind, acquired
by Google in 2014 for $650m: the company, co-founded by UCL researcher
Shane Legg, with Demis Hassabis and
Mustafa Suleyman, retains strong links
to the London university today.
Even more emblematic of how a
strong research background enables
Britain to punch above its weight is
Twitter?s acquisition in June 2016 of
machine learning-based image and
video compression ?rm Magic Pony
Technology. The company had just
11 staff at the time, and while its core
technology was wowing investors, it
had no revenue, nor a plan of how to
get any. Yet it was acquired for $150m
and now forms the core of Twitter?s
among retailers considering a company
voluntary arrangement ? an insolvency
procedure used by retailers to reduce
their rent liabilities or close stores.
The Hammerson-Intu marriage,
which has more signi?cance for the UK,
was upstaged by the sale of West?eld to
Unibail-Rodamco, the European group
whose centres include owns Forum des
Halles in Paris. One property source
described the West?eld deal as being in a
different stratosphere, as the company?s
only exposure to the struggling UK retail
market is in London ? where its centres
in Stratford and Shepherd?s Bush rank in
the country?s top three.
The decision to expand the West?eld London site with more stores and
more leisure venues, including Ichiba,
Europe?s largest Japanese food hall, and
a boutique bowling venue, looks bold in
the current climate. But from its position
at the top of the tree, West?eld knows it
is giving shoppers what they want.
machine-learning project, Cortex.
While such a string of acquisitions
certainly represents a massive inward
?ow of cash to Britain, it could have its
downsides. If Britain?s most promising startups always pick guaranteed
cash now, over the prospect of a much
bigger payoff later, then the nation will
never have its own tech giants to rival
Apple, Google and Facebook.
Take Snapchat: it could have
accepted Facebook?s $3bn offer in
2013, but chose to reject it and try to
build something that could become a
Facebook competitor. Even now, after
a rocky year following its initial public
offering, the company is worth almost
$20bn. Is Britain doing itself out of the
chance to lead the world?
Guha thinks not. ?No one would
suggest that DeepMind has lessened
its global impact by being part of
Google,? she notes. ?Despite being
part of the bigger Alphabet machine,
DeepMind is renowned in its own
right.? And, she adds, if there is going
to be a UK rival to the US giants, ?it
was not going to be Shazam. For others
in the market, M&A can be a really
good outcome.?
Prakash says he is ?empathetic to
both sides. On one hand, every country
needs a strong tech scene, and today
Britain?s looks a bit fragile if you note
the amount of tech companies in the
FTSE 100 and 250. But these companies
cater for global markets. To be global
you have to be acquired, or see whether
you can scale up to that level yourself.
If you can?t, what are your options??
Perhaps those who hope British
companies would hold out a bit longer
before being acquired should be careful what they wish for. Depending
on how Brexit progresses, there is
the potential for many of Britain?s
strengths, from its world-leading
universities to an immigration system
that is comparatively open to skilled
migrants, to be erased.
?Clearly,? says Hollingsworth, ?the
pound?s drop makes it a more attractive proposition to buy UK companies,
but you have to weigh that against the
domestic political uncertainty.?
?The pound?s drop
makes it more
attractive to buy UK
?rms but you have to
weigh that against
political uncertainty?
Paul Hollingsworth, economist
The death of the American shopping mall
has been long predicted but, despite their
many problems, malls remains a focus of
retail shopping and social interaction for
millions of Americans.
The process of reorganisation in a
digital age, however, has been painful. It
has been three years since a major new
shopping mall opened in the US, leading
some operators to speculate that the last
one has already been built.
According to Bloomberg, more than
10% of US retail space, or nearly 1bn
square feet, may need to be closed,
converted to other uses, or renegotiated.
Nearly 9,000 stores are estimated to
close in 2017, a third more than during
the crash of 2008. The rapid collapse of
bricks-and-mortar retail has left mall
owners and retail property owners on
main street USA in a Darwinian struggle
to think up new ways to ?ll retail space and
keep consumers coming.
Malls are confronting erosion on two
fronts: retailers are looking for better
control of their brands, and to reduce
their exposure to bricks-and-mortar
retailing. More than 300 retailers have
?led for bankruptcy so far this year, up
31% from last year. In addition, brands
like Nike, Canada Goose and Michael Kors
are ?eeing mass-market department
stores, typically the anchor tenants of
major US malls. In October, Nike chief
executive Mark Parker announced
that out of Nike?s global universe of
more than 30,000 retail partners, the
company would now focus on just 40
?strategic wholesale partners?.
Mass-market retail spaces, explains
the Business of Fashion, ?have
increasingly become like kryptonite. In a
world constantly seeking what?s next,
new or special, mass retail has become
toxic in its overexposure.?
Mall owners have recognised that they
had become too dependent on clothing.
According to Louis Conforti, the chief
executive of mall operator Washington
Prime, more than 40% of merchants were
selling junior fashion and accessories.
?Unless four out of 10 of my customers
are wearing a midri? T-shirt, this has been
a reactive and lazy industry,? Conforti told
the Observer.
Mall operators, Conforti says, are
now more aggressive in their e?ort to
introduce more food and beverage outlets
and more home furnishings and home
goods retailers. The drive includes tie-ins
and ?real-time incentives?, including
fashion shows or selling the wares from
a local craft brewery, and tie-ins with
e-commerce platforms.
?We need to create common area
installations that bene?t existing tenants.
We need a lot more eventing. The idea
that common areas are relegated to
kiosks is over. We could have club chairs
[armchairs] and artisanal sandwiches,
and it?ll be a di?erent thing if you?re in
Sacramento or in Kansas City.?
Another part of the drive is to partner
with e-commerce, including Amazon.
As the e-commerce giant begins
developing its own line of physical stores,
mall operators are optimistic that the
two will ultimately combine, creating a
class of ?experiential merchants? using
bricks-and-mortar and online assets
to create a new, more personalised
consumer experience.
?Whoever doesn?t realise that there
is a symbiotic relationship between
e-commerce and physical space is
moronic, and playing the ostrich does no
good for anybody,? says Conforti.
Ed Helmore
17.12.17
Analysis
*
BUSINESS | 43
Britain?s jobs engine isn?t working ? and we
need the economic tools to get it up to speed
Ryanair boss in
a good position to
indulge in some
Christmas spirit
BUSINESS LEADER
A
P
iece by piece, Britain?s jobscreating machine in the years
of economic recovery since
the ?nancial crisis appears to
be coming unstuck.
Dating back to early 2012,
the number of people in employment
has been on an upward curve ? to
fanfare from the Conservatives, who
readily quote the 3 million jobs created
since they came to power in 2010. But
Theresa May should be worried, after
?gures from the Office for National
Statistics last week showed the jobs
engine has now chugged into reverse.
The number of people in work
across Britain fell by 56,000 during
the three months to October to stand
at just over 32 million ? the steepest
drop since mid-2015. It also followed
a smaller fall of 14,000 in the three
months to September.
Although the UK still has an employment rate much higher than some of its
major European peers, at about 75%,
the gradual breakdown of Britain?s
jobs machine is worrying as it comes
at a time of sluggish wages, slowing
economic growth, rising in?ation and
political uncertainty amid talks with
Brussels to leave the EU.
Economists have argued a slowing
economy and the political maelstrom
around Brexit will make ?rms reluctant to hire workers. Paying to take on
more staff just as your business slows
? in Europe, as a result of potential
trade barriers, and at home, as rising
in?ation erodes the spending power of
consumers ? doesn?t add up.
But there?s another potential spanner in the works. The economist John
Philpott reckons the decline comes as
a result of weakness in the supply of
employable people, as opposed to an
outright drop in demand among ?rms
to take on new staff. That?s borne out
by the number of vacancies: 798,000
? the highest level since comparable
records began in 2001. One of the main
reasons here was the falling numbers
of people arriving for work from central and eastern Europe since the EU
referendum, he added.
UK needs more investment in training as lack of skilled workers will damage growth. Photograph by Sarah Lee for the Observer
That should be worrying for the
road ahead ? putting greater emphasis
on ministers to increase spending on
skills and training to boost the domestic workforce. Lobby groups, including
the British Chambers of Commerce,
are already warning that shortages of
skilled workers will damage growth.
Despite the fall in employment, the
proportion of people out of work has
remained at the lowest levels since the
mid-1970s. There were 1.43 million
people out of work ? with the unemployment rate standing at 4.3%.
However, this record low for
unemployment is failing to boost the
pay of workers, despite expectations
among economists for greater levels
of bargaining power to ask for a pay
rise, leading to higher wages. Average
weekly earnings increased at a rate of
2.3%, according to the latest ?gures.
That should worry the Bank of
England, which kept interest rates on
hold on Thursday but said it was still
considering raising the cost of borrowing after the ?rst increase in a decade
last month. Threadneedle Street has
been watching closely for higher wages
to justify its actions, although pay
growth still appears to be sluggish.
In?ation ?gures last week also
show prices are rising at a faster pace
than wages ? at 3.1%, eating away at
household incomes ? driven by the
weak pound pushing up the cost of
imported goods since the referendum.
The Resolution Foundation thinktank
reckons average pay may not return
to its pre-?nancial crisis peak until at
least 2025.
There are worrying implications for
poverty and inequality. The Joseph
Rowntree Foundation estimates
3.7爉illion people with a job do not
earn enough to meet minimum needs,
and that low wage growth and rising in?ation will make it harder for
them to escape poverty. As well as the
social and political rami?cations, this
sounds another alarm over the future
health of the economy, as dwindling
household incomes make it harder for
a family to keep on buying goods and
services ? one of the key drivers for
growth.Britain?s jobs machine needs
?xing fast.
Time for Persimmon to rebuild the board?s image
T
here is corporate excess and
then there is the Persimmon
bonus scheme. It is astonishing, nearly a decade on from
the nadir of the credit crunch, that a
FTSE business is paying out �0m to
150 executives. Top of the pile is chief
executive Jeff Fairburn, who between
now and New Year?s Eve ? when the
bonuses start paying out ? has the
chance to declare that he will donate
some of the money to charity. His
chair, Nicholas Wrigley, who resigned
over the scheme, is said to have put
pressure on his chief executive to
make a donation to charity. Fairburn
needs to do the right thing for himself
and the reputation of British business.
s Groucho Marx famously said:
?Those are my principles, and if
you don?t like them, well, I have
others.? After 30 years of deriding unions and occasionally insulting his pilots, Ryanair chief Michael
O?Leary has made a dramatic volte face.
As if visited by some Dickensian
nocturnal spectre, just three days after
vowing to face down pilots, O?Leary
said Ryanair would instead recognise
their unions to avert a strike.
The abrasive billionaire has form
for Damascene conversions ? just four
years ago, the concept of being ?nice? to
passengers in?ltrated company policy.
Had he known how good niceness was for business, O?Leary has
remarked since, he would have started
years earlier. A shift on unions will
similarly stem from business necessity, rather than any late-?owering
Corbynism, and reps are right to read
the offer with scepticism.
Pilots have picked their moment to
strike, with Ryanair having ordered
an abundance of planes at a time
when there?s a shortage of people to
?y them. Yet this Ryanair concession,
like its changed attitude to customers,
is ultimately testament to the airline?s
strength, rather than weakness.
The kind of practices that ruthlessly
kept costs down through its growth as
an upstart airline can no longer sustain
a market leader in countries across
Europe. It is not challenger but incumbent: a pro?t-spewing giant, whose
scale and unit costs are low enough
to afford to invest in contented staff,
rather than alienated contractors.
Having cancelled a wave of ?ights
this winter, Ryanair was expecting to
fork out to attract and retain pilots.
The airline may yet ?nd a discount in
respecting their rights, and maintaining separate negotiations across 33
countries? unions, rather than a panEuropean network that was evolving.
O?Leary said it was a moment of
radical change ? but the test of principle will be if the same olive branch is
extended to its cabin crew, who have
been warned of collective sanctions
should any individual join a strike.
There is hope: Brexit has few zealots and many ?oating voters
IN MY VIEW
EW
W
William
Keegan
M
y football team, AFC Wimbledon, may be languishing down
in the third division, as it was
once called, but the Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Stephen
Hammond, showed himself to be in the
Premier League last week.
In that refreshing, surprising vote on
Thursday, he and his fellow Tory rebels
stood up to be counted in the cause of
parliamentary democracy. By voting
against Theresa May?s plan to prevent
parliament from having the last say
on whether the terms of any Brexit
deal should be accepted, they joined
the noble ranks of ?mutineers? and
?enemies of the people?.
As regular readers know, I still
hope that things will not get that far,
and that, somehow or other, sense
will prevail as the size of the potential
disaster of a Brexit sinks in. And
already the deleterious economic
impact of the referendum-induced
devaluation is becoming apparent.
Incidentally, may I respectfully
remind people that Brexit has
not happened yet? Even seasoned
interviewers on Radio 4 make the
mistake of confusing the referendum
with Brexit.
The hope among us unashamed
Remainers is that opinion will shift
sufficiently for the development of a
burgeoning realisation that the country
made a serious mistake on 23 June last
year, not least because enough voters
were misled by the blatant lies of Boris
Johnson and his ilk. Also, it has to be
said, the Remain campaign failed in its
patriotic duty to explain the economic
and strategic bene?ts of the European
Union ? a failure pinpointed in Gordon
Brown?s book Britain: Leading, Not
Leaving, where he says of our role in
the union: ?Britain can argue for, and
achieve, the best balance between
national autonomy and international
cooperation for the 21st century.?
And in his recently published
memoirs, Brown also tells us that,
when he addressed the European
parliament in March 2009 on the need
for the collective economic stimulus
which did indeed ?save the world?, the
only hecklers were those British founts
of Eurosceptical bile, Nigel Farage and
Daniel Hannan.
The
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