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The Observer 26 November 2017

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FREE MAGAZINE
CHRISTMAS FOOD SPECIAL
STARRING
Nigel Slater?s guide to
turkey, goose & potatoes
PLUS!
The ultimate
vegetarian
feast
The best in food & drink | November 2017 | NO 198
+
NIGEL SLATER?S
GUIDE TO
CHRISTMAS
LUNCH
BRUNO LOUBET?S
VEGETARIAN
FEAST
THE 50 BEST
WINES &
50 BEST GIFTS
It?s the ultimate,
panto-themed OFM
Christmas taste test!
Starring
Olia Hercules as Cinderella
godmother
Andi Oliver as the fairy
sisters
Turner as the ugly
Jeremy Lee and Richard
?
76
PAGE
SPECIAL
ISSUE
?
E
TASTT
TESines and
st w
The becheese and
?zz, , puddings
s
biscuit d chocs
an
uide
+ Gift g
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www.observer.co.uk
Sunday 26 November 2017 �00
Irish warn May:
change course or
risk Brexit chaos
PAGE 28�
A TOUCH OF FROST WINTER?S HERE
Single market pledge ?would solve border crisis?
? Ireland will play tough to the end - top o?cial
?
by Michael Savage
and Toby Helm
Ireland?s European commissioner has
urged Theresa May to change her Brexit
plans dramatically to prevent a mounting crisis over the Irish border from
derailing her hopes of an EU trade deal.
The threat of a hard Irish border
has emerged as the major obstacle to
the prime minister?s aim of securing
the green light for Brexit trade talks at
a crucial summit only weeks away. She
has effectively been handed just days to
give stronger guarantees over the issue.
Phil Hogan, the EU?s agriculture commissioner, told the Observer that it was a
?very simple fact? that remaining inside
the single market and customs union,
or allowing Northern Ireland to do so,
would end the standoff.
Hogan warned there was ?blind faith?
from some UK ministers that Britain
would secure a comprehensive Brexit
free trade deal. He warned that Ireland
would ?continue to play tough to the
end? over its threat to veto trade talks
until it had guarantees over the border.
?If the UK or Northern Ireland
remained in the EU customs union,
or better still the single market, there
would be no border issue,? he said.
?That?s a very simple fact. I continue to
ON OTHER
PAGES
DUP de?es the
?Dublin cowboys? 5
Fintan O?Toole
Comment 31
Irish border farce
sums up Brexit
Observer
Comment 32
be amazed at the blind faith that some in
London place in theoretical future free
trade agreements. First, the best possible FTA with the EU will fall far short of
the bene?ts of being in the single market.
This fact is simply not understood in the
UK. Most real costs to cross-border business today are not tariffs ? they are about
standards, about customs procedures,
about red tape. These are solved by the
single market, but not in an FTA.?
The Irish government wants a written
guarantee that there will be no hard border with Northern Ireland, something
Dublin believes can only be achieved, in
effect, by keeping the region within the
single market and customs union. However, the Democratic Unionist party,
whose support is propping up May?s
government, warned yesterday it would
never accept a post-Brexit deal that
would effectively see a customs border
pushed back to the Irish Sea. May has
repeatedly made clear Britain will leave
the single market and customs union.
The Irish crisis came as Britain?s former EU ambassador, Sir Ivan Rogers,
warned May?s Brexit strategy was ?an
accident waiting to happen?. Speaking after a speech at Hertford College,
Oxford, he said completing the Brexit
process was ?guaranteed? to take a
Continued on page 5
A stag at sunrise in Richmond Park, west London, yesterday. Temperatures fell below freezing in many areas on
Friday night, and the cold weather is expected to linger today (Details, 49). Photograph by Ben Cawthra/LNP
Vote Leave spending inquiry intensi?es
by Carole Cadwalladr
Vote Leave, the official campaign to
quit the EU, faces fresh questions over
controversial payments it made to
other anti-Europe movements during
its successful referendum battle.
The Electoral Commission has
denied a claim by Vote Leave?s chief
strategist, Dominic Cummings, that
it had given them ?a letter of permission? to make the donations to other
campaigns, which are now under
investigation.
The commission announced a
new investigation last week into dona-
ON OTHER
PAGES
The mystery letter,
the dark ads ? and
the data guru of
Vote Leave 8-9
Who will step in
after dissenters
are silenced?
Letters 36
tions Vote Leave made of �5,000
to BeLeave and �0,000 to Veterans
for Britain, and whether the officially
sanctioned organisation had exceeded
its official spending limits.
Cummings had previously claimed
that the Electoral Commission gave
them permission ?in writing? to make
the donations. However, following
months of Freedom of Information
requests, the commission has now
said it had no record of it. It said it had
looked at all correspondence between
Cummings/Vote Leave and the commission during the regulated period of
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
*
1 2 A
*
2 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
Women passengers are becoming more common on the streets of Delhi, where many of the 100,000 taxi and rickshaw drivers are now being educated to respect female customers. Photograph by Harish Tyagi/EPA
Dispatch Delhi
Gender classes for city rickshaw drivers:
India?s ?ghtback against sexual violence
Five years after a notorious rape and murder,
100,000 taxi drivers are being conscripted in
the battle to change traditional male mindsets
Michael
Sa?
In the dim classroom, the low lights
form a halo around Achyuta Dyansamantra as he strides back and forth
before a whiteboard, intoning into the
microphone like a preacher.
?If you stare at a woman for more
than 14 seconds, that can land you in
jail,? he tells the audience. Singing
to women in public or passing lewd
remarks is also banned, he says.
?Whether you agree with it or not, the
law is the law.?
About 100 faces stare back, many
scribbling notes, some toying with their
phones. These men in grey-blue safari
suits are some of more than 100,000
commercial drivers who operate taxis
and rickshaws in the teeming Indian
capital, Delhi.
Since a gang rape and murder ?ve
years ago incensed the nation, such
?gender sensitisation? classes have
become mandatory to renew commercial driving licences in the city.
As the anniversary of the death of
physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh
approaches, advocates for Indian
women say these classes are helping to
change a patriarchal culture, one that
has proved more stubborn to reform
than the country?s laws against sexual
harassment and assault.
One thickly-bearded and turbaned
driver has been raising his hand
patiently during the class. ?Generally,
all the rape happens in India and not in
foreign countries,? he says when ?nally
called on. ?Why is that so?? The man
answers himself before Dyansamantra
can speak. ?In this country, if you want
to have sex, you cannot do so ? that?s
why there is rape,? he says.
Dyansamantra frowns. ?We will discuss this later on,? he says. (Delhi does
have a red-light district, he adds.)
The city?s army of rickshaw and taxi
drivers pose no particular threat to
women. As in other cities, sexual violence in the capital is most frequently
committed by men known to their
victims. ?If drivers were a problem,
the Delhi transport system would have
come to a stop,? says Rutika Sharma,
a social worker who helps run the
schemes, developed by the Delhi-based
Manas Foundation, a mental health
group.
But as growing numbers of women
venture out to work and simply live
their lives, they are coming into more
frequent contact with commercial
drivers ? some from backgrounds
ndependent
where the idea of an independent
woman is still relatively
ly new. ?We
are trying to explain things
hings in 40
hat they have
minutes or one hour, that
rs,? Sharma
been seeing for 40 years,?
says.
Changing regressivee mindsets is
the aim of the class. ?Clothing
Clothing is
harma
a major argument,? Sharma
says. ?Some drivers sayy
fashion ? what the
girls are wearing ? is
not Indian culture.
?What they are teaching
g
is right,? says Delhi taxi
driver Kanak Mandol.
They say we are copying other countries.? Inevitably, some raise this kind
of clothing as a contributing factor to
sexual harassment or assault. ?We tell
them rape cases are increasing with
girls aged six months or two years old,?
says Dyansamantra. ?Or we show them
stories of an 82-year-old lady being
raped by some man. We ask the drivers:
what was she wearing? And they realise
? everything is a mindset.?
Women drinking is also a big issue,
says Sharma, especially in Hauz Khas
Village, a south Delhi neighbourhood
of bars and restaurants. ?If a girl goes to
Hauz Khas, she is a not a good girl. It?s a
bad place, where a girl cannot go. That is
their mindset,? she says.
Drivers frequently push back. ?They
say: you are modern children of Delhi
universities, so you can talk like this,
but we can?t. We are deep-rooted
Indians,? she says. ?But we tell them
everything is changing. Now your taxi
needs an AC. You have good phones.
You are sending your own daughters to
school, which you didn?t do before. You
are giving your children this change, so
why don?t you accept it??
Where moral persuasion fails, an
appeal to the pocket can be effective.
?We tell them 70% of their passengers
are women. We run their business,?
Sharma says. ?So if we won?t come out,
how will the drivers earn??
At the end o
of each class, drivers
receive a sticker for their vehicle.
?Along with my taxi, I also drive
cam
a campaign
to end violence
again women?, one declares.
against
Anoth says: ?Women?s
Another
respect
respec and safety is my honour and duty?.
Outsi the training centre,
Outside
Subhash Chander is reclined in
back
the backseat
of his rickshaw,
smoking
smokin a cigarette. ?Of course
hav to respect women,?
you have
say ?But I?m an old man.
he says.
Why do I need to attend such
clas Much has changed in
a class??
fo decades he has driven
the four
rickshaws in Delhi. ?When I started,
there were few women passengers,? he
says. ?Now every office has women, and
most of them take autos.?
It is not a development he welcomes.
?Generally, 99% of women behave
wrongly,? he says. ?They are having
mobiles and all these things. They don?t
know how to talk to elders.?
Another driver, Kanak Mandol,
arrived in Delhi a year ago from a
village in Bihar state. ?What they are
teaching is right,? he says of the classes.
?But the passengers are wrong.? The
day before, a young couple he was
driving pulled the leather curtain of his
?We tell them 70%
of their passengers
are women. If we
won?t come out,
how will they earn??
Rutika Sharma, social worker
rickshaw down and began to kiss in the
backseat. ?The girls and boys we pick
up do mischief,? Mandol, 24, says. ?If
they did that in my village they?d break
their legs.?
Mohammad Sajjid is more sanguine
about how women in Delhi compare
with those in his village in western
Uttar Pradesh state. ?Here women
are educated, they take up the whole
rickshaw,? he says. ?They pay independently.? That is good for business.
?Without women, how will we make
money?? I ?nd [the classes] very good. I
am involved in religion, so I agree with
what they say.?
A report from Human Rights Watch
this month found Indian laws for
protecting women had signi?cantly
improved in the last ?ve years. Degrading ?two-?nger? tests ? in which doctors insert their hands into women?s
vaginas to determine a woman?s virginity ? were outlawed in 2013. Offences
such as stalking, voyeurism and sexual
harassment are now included in the
Indian penal code.
What holds back progress is attitudes: too often, especially outside big
cities, the implementation of the new
laws is stymied by judges, police and
village leaders, the report said.
Changing behaviour is harder than
amending the law, says Swati Maliwal,
the Delhi commissioner for women.
But it is possible, she says. ?It is about
systems and deterrence and changing
mindsets.?
As an example, she points to another
form of transport, the Delhi metro, a
strikingly clean and efficient system
in a city renowned for dirt and chaos.
?People come from all over to use [the
metro],? she says. ?Villagers, city dwellers, and people of all classes. But they
behave themselves and keep it clean
and follow the rules.?
Dyansamantra and his colleagues at
the Manas Foundation know the daily
struggle involving in changing mindsets. But he insists they are making
progress. ?Yesterday one driver told
me that girls shouldn?t laugh loudly
in India. They shouldn?t show their
teeth,? he says.
?And the other drivers shouted
at him. ?What kind of nonsense are
you telling people?? they said. When
I talked to him afterwards, he said,
?I think I was wrong, please forgive
me.? The drivers are starting to listen.
They?re hearing and countering each
other. That?s the best thing.?
The instructors are learning too.
Sharma smiles as she recalls the advice
an older driver gave her in a recent
class. ?Daughter, you are trying to light
small lamps,? he said. ?In this class of
100 people, some are sleeping, some
are saying India is modernising and
forgetting its culture and these girls are
wild. But if in this class of 100 people, 15
or 20 will try to understand what you?re
talking about, then 15 or 20 lamps will
light. If you reach 20 people in a class of
100, there will be change.?
26.11.17
NEWS | 3
*
Millennials discover the joys of ?mindful
drinking? as party season gets under way
Young people are
revelling in a new
range of alcohol-free
drinks ? and a series
of books aims to
convert the rest of us,
writes Sarah Hughes
It?s 6.30pm on a Friday evening and Spital?elds market in east London is ?lled
with people of all ages, drinking, dancing
and laughing. There?s the typical end-ofthe-week ?let your hair down and relax?
feeling in the air. Only one of the usual
ingredients to a weekend night is missing: alcohol.
This is Club Soda?s second mindful
drinking festival (the first was in
Bermondsey in the summer). Everyone
from the cheerful crowds queuing
to sample the Big Drop Brewing
Company?s alcohol-free beer to those
shaking their stuff at Morning Gloryville?s alcohol-free pop-up party seems
to be having a blast.
?I already came down here at lunchtime and tried most of the drinks on
offer,? says Lee, 33, who works in an
office nearby. ?It?s a great idea ? I really
overdid it on Wednesday so coming here
and having a good time without drinking
seemed like a good one.?
Hannah Suvanto, 35, a movement
physiotherapist and dance teacher from
Finland, agrees. ?There is quite a big
drinking culture in London so I thought
it would be interesting to come somewhere where alcohol wasn?t on offer
and dance,? she says. ?I?ve tried some
interesting drinks and people seem to
be having a good time.?
The committed Friday night boozers
spilling out of the pubs down the
road might raise an eyebrow at that,
particularly with the infamous excesses
of the office Christmas party looming.
But events such as this are increasingly
popular. This might traditionally be the
season to be merry but these days, and
particularly among millennials, it pays to
be mindful as well.
?The number of people either giving
up alcohol or reducing their intake
is definitely growing,? says Laura
Willoughby, who co-founded Club
Soda with Jussi Tolvi in 2015. ?Yes,
es, it?s
partially that younger people
don?t drink as much, but it?s also
a case of older people cutting
down. There?s de?nitely a sense
that people are thinking, I can eat
as much kale as I like, but it?s no
good if I?m drinking ?ve glasses off
wine before bed. The idea behind
d
mindful drinking is that you treatt
drinking as a special occasion and
d
think about why you drink and
nd
how much. You don?t simply slug
ug
something down mindlessly in front
ont
of the TV.?
Drinking rates among British
ish
adults are at their lowest since 2005
a recent Office for National Statistics survey found that the proportion
of people who drank alcohol at least
once a week had declined from 64.2%
of adults to 56.9% last year. Dry bars
where no alcohol is served are increas-
?People seem to be having a good time?: the mindful drinking festival organised by Club Soda at London?s Spitalfields market. Voist
?Just because people
don?t drink doesn?t
mean they don?t
want something
sophisticated?
Mustafa Mahmud, Shrb drinks
Forthcoming titles in the mindful
drinking genre: publishers have
been quick to join the bandwagon.
ingly popular, as are websites such as
Soberistas and Club Soda. There are
apps to monitor your alcohol intake,
festivals, and, in a sure sign of changing times, luxury non-alcoholic spirit
products that attract rave reviews.
Publishing has also been swift to get
in on the act. The end of the year will see
the publication of a host of books with
titles such as Mindful Drinking, The
Unexpected Joy of Being Sober, One Year,
No Beer and The Sober Diaries.
?There is definitely a generational
aspect to the change ? millennials
certainly don?t drink as much as we did
when we were younger,? says Rosamund
Dean, author of Mindful Drinking: How
Cutting Down Can Change Your Life, due
out at the end of December.
?They?re more health conscious and
more interested in clean living. I would
m
llook around and see all the interns and
jjunior staff members at work [Dean
iis the entertainment director at Red
magazine] being super-keen, brightm
eeyed and energetic, and I kept thinking
aabout how when I was an intern I would
have to drag myself into work, I was so
h
hung-over every day. It made me think
h
tthat maybe it was time to change my
drinking habits.?
d
She is not alone. ?When I was in my
20s it was the era of the ladette, Ab Fab
2
aand Sex and the City,? says Clare Pooley,
whose The Sober Diaries, a memoir
w
iinspired by her popular blog Mummy
Was a Secret Drinker, is published in
W
January. ?All our role models drank
like ?shes and we thought that was the
emancipated feminist thing to do. It?s
just not like that for millennials, and I
think partially because of that things
are also starting to change for my age
group as well.?
Journalist Hannah Betts, who has
been sober since September 2014, agrees
that alcohol abstinence is increasingly
being embraced by Generation� X
women in their 40s and 50s, but she
sounds a sceptical note about the sudden in?ux of books on the subject.
?There?s certainly a bandwagon element ? not least in the overcrowded
?new year, new you? market. However,
this publishing phenomenon does
also re?ect the huge numbers who are
becoming sober or are sober-curious,?
she says, adding that it is perhaps
particularly strong at this time of year.
?The excesses of the so-called festive
season can be so hyperbolic that it produces a sense of revulsion whereby the
last thing one wants is another drink.?
It helps too that the drinks on
offer for the non-partaker are slowly
becoming more interesting. While
Betts still despairs of ?the ghastly,
sugary concoctions designed to appeal
to children? offered at most pubs
and parties, the mindful drinking
festival showcases everything from
botanical-based drinks to more
homespun but equally addictive
offerings such as Slange Var, a blend of
honey, lime and ginger from Scotland,
which its middle-aged creators came up
with ?to get out of the ?drinking a bottle
of wine every night? slump?.
?In the past, the type of non-alcoholic
drinks on offer were terrible ? you just
got stuck with warm orange or Coke,?
says Mustafa Mahmud, the man behind
inventive Walthamstow-based Shrb
drinks, which mix botanicals such as
lime and juniper berries with apple
cider vinegar and water to create
?avour-?lled drinks with a kick.
?Just because people don?t drink
alcohol doesn?t mean that they don?t
want something sophisticated that
cleanses your palate.?
That said, it is still not always easy
to be the sole non-drinker in a crowd.
Pooley has not drunk for three years
but admits that mentioning her sobriety can still be awkward.
?You tell people you?ve stopped
drinking and the conversation grinds
to a halt,? she says. ?If you say you?ve
given up smoking, everyone says well
done. Going gluten-free or giving up
sugar is trendy, but say you?ve stopped
drinking and everyone just goes ?ooh.??
That?s less of a problem for the crowd
at Spital?elds, most of whom are happily
comparing different drink options and
stocking up for alternative Christmas
drinks, or in early preparation for dry
January.
?It?s been interesting trying the
drinks, and a very different experience
because London?s not really a city for
the sober,? says Koran McAuliffe, a
29-year-old data analyst. ?Some of them
were pretty good, although to be honest
we?ll still probably go on for a drink once
we leave.?
Tory ?mutineer? Soubry likens hardline Brexiters to the followers of Mao or Stalin
by Michael Savage
Policy Editor
A leading pro-Remain Tory MP has
compared supporters of a hard Brexit
to the ideological followers of Chairman Mao or Stalin, after receiving
death threats.
Anna Soubry, the former business
minister who was among the MPs
labelled a ?Brexit mutineer? by some
for attempting to soften the government?s plans, also compared those
wanting a hard Brexit to George
Orwell?s thought police.
She called on her party to tackle the
online abuse aimed at those raising
concerns about Brexit, but feared it
was too weak to do so. She said that her
party was so divided that one of the
people attacking her was the son of a
former Tory MP.
?The party has got to call this out.
But yet again, I feel it will be weak,?
she says in an interview with the
Observer New Review. ?They will not
take the sort of robust action they
need to. My whip said, ?Sorry to hear
about this?, but there?ll be no further
interest because at least one of them
[those attacking her] is a Conservative
Today?s interview with Anna Soubry in
the New Review, pages 14-15
himself: Tom Borwick [a former Vote
Leave official and son of ex-Tory MP,
Victoria Borwick]. He hasn?t issued
death threats, but by calling us antidemocratic he is stoking and fuelling
the ?re. There?s something about these
hard Brexiters: it?s fascinating, actually.
?Look at the language some of them
use. It?s not enough that you accept
the result [of the referendum]; it?s not
enough that you voted to trigger article
50. Now it?s ?Yeah, yeah, but do you
believe?? It?s like the counter-revolutionary forces of Chairman Mao or Joe
Stalin. It?s not enough that you went
against everything you ever believed
in; you have to sign up in blood. It?s like
Orwell?s thought police and the reign
of terror combined.?
She warned that her party ?is going
to be destroyed? unless Theresa May
acts quickly to unite the country. ?My
God, history will condemn this period,?
she said. ?It will condemn those
who?ve sat back and kept their view to
themselves, who haven?t stood up and
tried to stop all this nonsense.?
ON OTHER PAGES
DUP challenges Dublin over border
News, page 5
4 | NEWS
*
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26.11.17
May under ?re from MPs for
mishandling Green inquiry
Number 10 refuses to say when report will conclude or if ?ndings will be published
by Toby Helm
Political Editor
Theresa May faced a storm of criticism
from senior MPs last night over her government?s handling of an inquiry into
alleged inappropriate behaviour by her
deputy, Damian Green, after Downing
Street suggested a report into his conduct might never be published.
Green, the ?rst secretary of state and
de facto deputy prime minister, is under
investigation by the Cabinet Office over
claims he made inappropriate advances
to a young Tory party activist and that
pornography was found by police on his
House of Commons computer.
Green has strenuously denied both
sets of claims.
Last night, however, Downing Street
refused to say either when the inquiry
would be concluded or whether the
results would be made public, prompting
claims that May was going back on a previous commitment to full transparency.
The Liberal Democrat leader Sir
Vince Cable called for the report to be
published as soon as possible, both in
the interests of openness and to lift the
cloud of suspicion over May?s closest ally
in government. It was also vital that the
public knew who would step in at times
when May was out of the country or
away from Number 10 for other reasons.
Cable said: ?Governments need deputy prime ministers, particularly governments that are embattled, as this one is
over Brexit. Damian Green has brought
some much-needed moderation to this
government, but it is difficult for him to
carry on his duties as deputy in all but
name with this hanging over him. The
report needs to be published as a matter of urgency. The public are entitled to
know who is running the country.?
The Labour MP Lucy Powell added:
?Full disclosure and transparency is
absolutely key. The government is only
going to get itself in more hot water if it
refuses to publish this report.
?Damian Green is the second most
powerful politician in the country. That
person needs to be beyond suspicion but
doubts will remain unless they are completely open and honest.?
A Labour shadow cabinet source went
further, saying that if the report was kept
under lock and key it would invite inevitable charges that the prime minister was
protecting her favourite and most powerful minister. ?If this is not published, the
suspicion will be that there is a cover-up
? and one ordered by the prime minister.?
As well as being a friend of May?s over
four decades, Green is comfortably the
most powerful minister serving under
her. He sits on around 20 cabinet comDeputy PM
Damian Green is
easily May?s most
powerful minister,
sitting on about 20
committees.
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mittees, most of which he chairs. He is
also a key player in helping to determine
Brexit strategy.
Recently, Green announced plans for a
green paper into one of the most urgent
issues facing the government ? the
future of social care and the challenges
of providing for an ageing population.
Having already lost two cabinet ministers in the past month ? defence secretary Michael Fallon and international
development secretary Priti Patel ? May
will be desperately hoping that she does
not have to sacrifice Green and hold
another reshuffle.
The Cabinet Office inquiry is being
run by its head of propriety and ethics, Sue Gray. It was launched in early
November, after the Conservative activist Kate Maltby wrote a piece in the
Times claiming Green had touched her
knee in 2015 and, one year later, sent her
a suggestive message.
As a tide of allegations about the
behaviour of MPs then swept Westminster, allegations also surfaced that pornography of an ?extreme? nature had
been found on Green?s computer after
a police raid in 2008. Green insisted he
had never been informed by the police
that any such material had been found at
the time and denied the claims, as well as
those made by Kate Maltby.
The Labour MP Jess Phillips said the
main recommendations and ?ndings of
the report should be made public ?for
the sake of transparency?, though all
the detail need not be. She added: ?The
political class must show it is taking this
seriously. Lots of politicians are running
to protect themselves, rather than trying
to change the culture.?
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ISSN 0029-7712
26.11.17
NEWS | 5
*
DUP de?es the
?Dublin cowboys?
over their plea
on Brexit border
At party conference, Arlene Foster vows not
to create trade barriers with rest of the UK
by Henry McDonald
Ireland Correspondent
As tensions mount and tempers fray
over Brexit?s impact on Northern Ireland and, speci?cally, the possible return
of a hard border dividing the island, the
DUP?s annual conference this weekend
was no place for faint hearts.
Perhaps the biggest cheer of the day
came when Sammy Wilson, the Democratic Unionist MP for East Antrim and
a long-time party favourite, described
Ireland?s prime minister, Leo Varadkar,
and its foreign minister, Simon Coveney,
as a ?pair of cowboys?.
Having struck a deal with Theresa
May, the DUP holds the balance of
power at Westminster. Its leaders used
the get-together to make clear that they
will use all-available parliamentary leverage to prevent a post-Brexit deal for
Northern Ireland that could ?decouple?
the region from the rest of the UK.
Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, said
she welcomed assurances from Theresa
May that there will be no ?internal barriers? between the Northern Ireland
and Britain after the UK exits the EU ? a
reference to suggestions by Dublin that
the Irish Sea could become the de facto
border between Ireland and the UK, if
Britain leaves the single market and customs union. In her speech in the eastern
outskirts of Belfast yesterday, Foster said
the DUP would not accept any special
laws in Northern Ireland meaning that
the province ?will have to mirror European regulations?.
The Irish government and northern
nationalists have demanded that the
region be given ?special status? that
would keep it part of the single market
and/or the customs union. ?As we joined
the then European Community as one
nation, we will leave as one United Kingdom,? Foster told delegates.
The DUP leader said that, while her
party wanted a ?sensible Brexit?, they
would ?not support any arrangements
that create barriers to trade between
Northern Ireland and the rest of the
United Kingdom. The economic reality
for our economy is that our most important trading relationship is with the rest
of the United Kingdom, and we will do
nothing that puts that at risk in any way.?
Foster received a rapturous response
to her speech during which she also
said her DUP MPs would ?ght for a fair
deal in parliament for the ?best deal for
Northern Ireland, but we care about
vulnerable people in Bristol and Birmingham every bit as much as those in
Belfast?. She said that DUP MPs? successful ?ght at Westminster to save the
triple-lock on pensions and the retention
of the winter fuel payment was evidence
of the party?s commitment to welfare
issues across the UK.
Referring to the billion-pound-plus
aid package extracted by the DUP from
Theresa May, as a price for propping up
the Tories, Foster said: ?Do you remember how some said that the DUP would
pursue a narrow agenda in our negotiations? What was secured was for everyone across Northern Ireland.?
Despite the high stakes, there was less
jingoism and fewer overt displays of ?agwaving patriotism than usual at the conference. Elected representatives, from
district councillors right up to Westminster MPs, declined to speak without
permission from the party?s press office
Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, on stage yesterday at the party?s annual conference in Belfast. Photograph by Michael Cooper/PA
?Our most important
trading relationship is
with the rest of the UK
and we?ll do nothing
that puts that at risk?
Queen?s University Belfast, said Varadkar and Coveney were ?merely playing
southern politics? by raising the possibility of a special EU deal in the north.
?You can understand that they might
be electioneering, but I don?t think, in
the long run, it will harm north-south
relations,? he said, adding that he hoped
Brexit would not result in a hard border.
?No one I know from the unionist community in Armagh wants a hard border.
There are people in the farming community who I know trade across the border
and that is the last thing they would
want. The current arrangement, where
there is a freedom of movement north
and south, is the perfect solution.?
Glyn Hanna, from the ?shing village
of Kilkeel on the Co Down coast, said he
had faith in the DUP Westminster team
to use their in?uence to ensure there is a
full Brexit and no special arrangements
for Northern Ireland.
?My three uncles worked in ?shing,
and each and every one of them, from
Arlene Foster, DUP leader
about their views on Brexit, the border
or other controversies.
Delegates at the La Mon hotel ? the
site of an IRA bomb in 1978 during
which 12 members of a dog fanciers?
club were murdered ? expressed support for Brexit. However, most declined
to be overtly critical of the taoiseach and
his minister?s argument that Northern
Ireland should be given a special postBrexit status.
Jonathan Foster, a 23-year-old masters student in international business at
the day we ?rst joined what was then the
EEC, thought it was a disaster. Europe
imposed quotas, cut down the size of
their nets and slapped down all kinds
of other restrictions on their boats. The
?shing community in Kilkeel is looking
forward to Brexit because the UK is getting its territorial waters back,? he said.
While Hanna stressed that he wanted
good relations between Northern Ireland and the Irish republic, he claimed
that some Kilkeel fishermen were
already the victims of a ?mini-Brexit?
war, with boats from the north being
blocked from Dundalk Bay.
ON OTHER PAGES
Hard-won kinship between Britain and
Ireland threatened by Brexit idiocy
Fintan O?Toole, Comment, page 31
No foresight, no planning ? the Irish
border farce sums up Brexit
Observer Comment, page 32
Dublin warns May to change course on Irish border or face EU trade chaos
Continued from page 1
decade. He said that the prime minister?s unrealistic hopes of securing a
bespoke trade deal meant a car crash in
the next few months was ?quite likely?.
?The internal market is an extraordinarily complex international law construct that simply doesn?t work in a way
that permits the type of options that the
current government is pushing for,? he
said. ?So there is an accident waiting
to happen ... and it is going to happen
because the other side is going to put on
a table a deal which looks broadly like a
Canada or a Korea deal.
?The only safe way to leave without
enormous turbulence and trouble over
a lengthy transitional period is to have
a reasonable slope ... take your time and
try and go for as smooth a glide path as
possible from here to the mid-2020s. I
can guarantee you that this is going to
take a decade to do. We will not have
reached a new equilibrium in British
economics and politics until 2030.?
Hogan warned Britain may struggle
to keep the 59 trade deals it now has
through the EU on the same terms.
?The UK would be running to stand
still,? he said. ?When it comes to trying
to negotiate new FTAs with the rest
of the world, Britain will be pushed
around the way the EU ? with currently
more than eight times the UK population ? will never be.
?The US have already started their
attack on standards, so chlorine
of economic damage that a ?no deal?
outcome could cause to the economy.
In the budget, Philip Hammond
announced that the Office for Budget
Responsibility revised downwards
forecasts for UK growth over the next
few years, mainly because of concerns
of low productivity growth. But the
OBR made clear that these downgrades
were premised on a benign outcome to
Brexit negotiations. Both the Treasuryand leading independent economists
recognise that actual growth will be
considerably lower than the gloomy
budget projections if the UK does not
achieve most of its negotiating goals. .
Government sources said ministers
would this week release sections of
assessments into the potential eco-
Nicky Morgan said
as much Whitehall
detail as possible
on the economic
impact of Brexit
should be released.
chicken and hormone beef for the British Sunday roast post-Brexit? India will
insist on visas that the UK can never
give. Australia and New Zealand are
a long way away and of very limited
economic interest. And any deal with
China will be a one-way street in terms
of costs and bene?ts for the UK.?
Ministers are under mounting
pressure to come clean over the extent
32
A23
23
32A
A23
23
nomic impact of Brexit carried out
across Whitehall, which until recently
they had tried to keep secret.
Many MPs believe the published sections will be heavily redacted and will
not make clear the extent of potential
economic damage. Last night Nicky
Morgan, who chairs the Treasury select
committee, said it was essential that
as many projections as possible were
made public. The latest work by economists at the LSE estimates that, if the
UK crashes out of the EU with no deal,
the impact will be far more severe than
the projections in the budget suggested.
Thomas Sampson of the LSE?s Centre
for Economic Performance said Brexit
could reduce UK living standards by up
to 9% in the most pessimistic case.
6 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
Is contact with parents always best? Child
mental health study challenges convention
Grandparents fear
harmful e?ect of
?di?cult? meetings
on young people
who are in their care
ONE FAMILY?S STORY
by Jamie Doward and Mika Hyman
Rochelle Bornstein and
granddaughter Ciara, 4.
adults, compared with 12% of those
who had had no contact.
Although the sample size was small,
Sarah Wellard , who conducted the
interviews, said the ?ndings suggested
that difficult contact with mothers could
have a continuing impact on young people into adulthood, something that had
major implications for child welfare
policy and the family courts system.
?The parents might be
on drugs, or they?d
been drinking. They
certainly weren?t
putting children ?rst?
Sarah Wellard, Grandparents Plus
�
?I would
sleep in the
grounds
of the
museum
and make
paintings.
It made me
the artist I
am today?
Q&A with
US artist
Kehinde
Wiley
page 4
?Contact with parents can be very
helpful for children but it?s about the
relationship with the child, how much
support is offered, and whether it is
supervised or not,? Wellard said. ?Those
are all very important considerations. If
you?re a foster carer, you get help to make
such contact as positive as possible for
the children, and it?s usually supervised.
?What we saw in our study were quite
a lot of cases where young people were
having unsupervised contact with their
parents and it was very distressing. The
parents might be on drugs or they?d been
drinking and they certainly weren?t putting the children?s needs ?rst.?
More than a quarter of kinship carers
think contact with parents is harmful or
very harmful to the child, according to
the annual Grandparents Plus survey.
The 10% of carers who believe it is
very harmful said they were concerned
about the effects of the parents? evident
reliance on drugs or alcohol, their use of
inappropriate language, the threatened
violence and emotional abuse, and their
inability to turn up to contact meetings.
Almost two-thirds of children in
kinship care (63%) have contact with
their mother while 50% have contact
with their father. Nearly half of all carers (45%) are obliged to observe a court
order specifying that the children should
have contact with parents.
The charity said its survey suggested
that almost nine out of 10 kinship carers
believe they are not receiving the support they need. ?Children who would
otherwise have gone into care are being
increasingly placed with family and
friends,? said Lucy Peake, chief executive of Grandparents Plus.
?The research is showing that is generally the best place for those children
in terms of outcomes. But the support
doesn?t follow the children.?
Some two-thirds of carers (65%) say
they need more emotional support while
62% claim they need more advice, information or practical support.
Nearly half of kinship carers (45%)
had to give up work to look after the
children. A similar proportion said they
were not getting the ?nancial support
they needed.
?There is a lot of support for children
in care, quite rightly, but you can contrast that with the group of children who
are looked after by kinship carers and
they have no entitlement to anything,?
Peake said. ?These are an older group
of carers who have health needs of their
own; many have multiple caring responsibilities ? a quarter might be caring for
grandchildren but also their partner or
another member of their family.
?Most of the carers give up work but
are not entitled to an allowance like a
fostering allowance. This means these
children are growing up in poverty
with all the pressure that that creates
in families.?
Birmingham bin workers agree
to call o? ?ve-month dispute
by Mark Townsend
The New
Review
Children brought up by extended family
members should not always have contact
with their parents as it could harm their
mental health, according to new research.
Interviews carried out for the charity
Grandparents Plus examined the effects
of parental contact on the increasing
number of children being cared for by
relatives other than their parents .
It is estimated that more than 180,000
children in the UK are being raised by
a family member ? often referred to as
kinship caring. More than half of the
children (51%) live with a grandparent,
23% with an older sibling, and the rest
with other relatives.
In many cases the courts have ruled
the parents are not ?t to care for their
children, often because they are involved
in crime or have addiction issues.
Until now the presumption among
social workers and the courts is that
contact with parents is usually bene?cial for such children. But the study
found that in many cases this may not
be true. The research, based on interviews with 53 young people, found that
42% of those who had contact with
their mothers as teenagers were likely
to have poor mental health as young
Rochelle, 53, cares for her two granddaughters, Ciara, four, and Lily, 12, as
well as her 87-year-old mother who
su?ers from dementia.
The girls were placed with Rochelle
under a special guardianship order
(SGO) because her daughter was unable
to care for them. Ciara sees her mother
every eight weeks, and Lily has only
sporadic contact.
?Lily?s contact was set in a contact
centre. Now I have the SGO, I no longer
have social workers in my life ? they?ve
been signed o?. It now states that I?m to
manage the contact. But my daughter is
very, very uncooperative and we don?t
get along. I no longer speak to her. She
constantly belittles me to the children. It
puts them in a very di?cult position.
?If I were to have adopted these
children they would have had no contact
with their birth parents. In some cases
that?s better for the child. Maybe not so
much for Lily because she?s much older
and can think with her feet. But in the
case of Ciara it?s better that she doesn?t
see her mum because she?s easily mixed
up. I?m expected to manage everything
on my own because they are family. It?s
disgusting really.?
Refuse workers in Birmingham have
agreed to end a long-running strike
that left huge piles of rubbish in the
city?s streets. Union members voted to
accept an agreement hammered out at
the conciliation service Acas, officially
ending industrial action that had led
to thousands of tonnes of waste left
uncollected.
Unite assistant general secretary
Howard Beckett said it was a ?victory
for common sense? and con?rmed the
strike was over after members agreed a
deal with the city council.
Refuse collection workers began
strike action in June over a planned
change to their pay and working
conditions which left jobs at risk.
Under the agreement, refuse
workers are set to move to new roles
in February, but will remain on their
current wage. The new arrangement
was endorsed by the council?s cabinet
on Friday.
?The people of Birmingham
no longer need worry about the
The dispute saw rubbish pile up in city
streets. Photograph by David Sillitoe
disruption of industrial action,? said
Beckett. ?This deal, which protects
the livelihoods of hardworking refuse
workers, would not have been possible
without the determination and
solidarity of Unite members.
?Rather than rolling over, they stood
?rm through thick and thin to defend
their jobs and the service they provide
to the city of Birmingham.?
Unite said as part of the deal a high
court hearing planned for tomorrow
will not go ahead.
The council has agreed to pay the
union?s legal costs.
26.11.17
NEWS | 7
*
A hero reborn:
?China?s Tolkien?
aims to conquer
western readers
THE SAGA OF GUO JING
The Legends of the Condor
Heroes series follows young
soldier Guo Jing, depicted (left)
in a Chinese TV adaptation.
Below, the author Louis Cha
Leung-yung, aka Jin Yong, and
the first translated volume.
The world?s most popular kung fu fantasy
series is ?nally set to become a UK bestseller
Guo Jing, a young soldier among the
massed ranks of Genghis Khan?s invading
army and son of a murdered warrior, may
soon become as familiar a questing literary ?gure as Frodo Baggins from Tolkien?s Lord of the Rings, or Jon Snow from
Game of Thrones. In fact, this Chinese
?ghting hero is already part of phenomenon that can match both of those epics
in size. For the books of Guo Jing ?s creator, the author known as Jin Yong, have
already sold more than 300m copies.
The world?s biggest kung fu fantasy
writer, Jin Yong enjoys huge popularity in the Chinese-speaking world. In
the west, however, his name is barely
known, largely due to the complexity of
the world he has created and the puzzle
that has posed for translators.
Now, for the ?rst time, the beginning
of his extraordinarily popular series,
Legends of the Condor Heroes, has been
translated into English for a mainstream
readership. It is a task that has already
defeated several translators, yet Anna
Holmwood, 32, from Edinburgh has
managed it ? or at least the ?rst volume.
Her British publisher, MacLehose Press,
plans a 12-volume series, with Holmwood?s ?rst volume, A Hero Born, due
out in February.
Agent Peter Buckman, who sold the
rights to the series to the publisher,
came across the works almost by chance
as he searched the internet for ?bestselling authors?. ?Jin Yong was in the top 10,
though I?d never heard of him; nor did I
read Chinese,? he said this weekend.
Comparisons with Tolkien or George
RR Martin might sound overblown, but
in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan, Jin Yong?s works are classics, loved
like fairytales or national legends.
?These books are read by so many Chinese people when they are teenagers, and
the work really stays in their heads,? Holmwood told the Observer. ?So, of course,
I felt a great weight of responsibility in
translating them ? and even more as publication draws near.?
Set in China in 1200, A Hero Born tells
of an empire close to collapse. Under
attack from the Jurchen Jin dynasty, the
future of the entire Chinese population
rests in the hands of a few lone martial
arts exponents. A novel in the wuxia, or
?ghting hero, tradition, it was written
under the pen name Jin Yong by Chinese
journalist, Louis Cha Leung-yung. A
founding editor of the Hong Kong daily
newspaper Ming Pao, in the 1950s he
put together a set of stories charting the
progress of a young martial arts ?ghter
during the Song dynasty and serialised
them. The plots were ?ctional but the
historical background was real.
They became the biggest Chinese publishing hit of the last century. Cha, who
is now 93 and lives in seclusion, created
a vast imaginary world over 15 novels,
which spawned ?lms, games, comics and
television shows.
Buckman bought the rights and sold
them on to a British publisher after meeting Holmwood and discovering how little of the series was available in English.
?Anna did a sample chapter of the ?rst of
the Condor Heroes books and I sent it
out to various publishers. My old friend
Christopher MacLehose, who specialises in translated masterpieces, had discovered from a Chinese friend how Jin
Yong?s work was like Simenon?s is to the
French or Tolstoy?s to the Russians ? a
part of the common culture, with one
generation of readers passing on their
enthusiasm to the next,? he said.
Although there have been academic
translations published over a decade
ago, including an edition of The Deer and
the Cauldron translated by John Minford, attempts to tackle the wider work
have been abandoned. Holmwood, who
studied Chinese at Oxford University,
?rst discovered the book in Taipei and
later moved to Hangzhou, in east China,
while she worked on her translation.
Fellow translators are now being
?Irrelevant? crime record checks
harm ex-o?enders? job hopes
by Jamie Doward
and Mika Hyman
The criminal records system is hampering the rehabilitation of ex-offenders,
according to new ?gures. Nearly three
quarters of the million or so convictions
revealed to employers each year in
criminal records checks are more than
a decade old. Only around 5,000 ? one
in 197 ? are considered relevant to a
person?s job application.
The ?gures, released after a freedom
of information request, have prompted
fresh calls for overhaul of the system
administered by the Disclosure and
Barring Service. It has also led to
claims that relying on the checks
creates a culture of complacency
among employers.
The Centre for Crime and Justice
Studies, which unearthed the
information, found that, out of a
total of 4.2m requests for disclosure
of criminal records in 2015, just
6% produced any criminal record
information. This involved 1,020,111
recorded convictions; 742,482 dated
back a decade or more. About 700 ?
0.018% ? related to sexual offences.
Only 5,167 were deemed by the centre
to be relevant to the job a person
was applying for. ?We were really
struck that hundreds of thousands
of disclosures related to historic
offences,? said Roger Grimshaw,
research director at the centre. ?A lot
can change in a decade or more. It?s
important that mistakes of the distant
past do not prejudice people?s chances
of employment and rehabilitation.?
Requests for disclosure of criminal
records are commonly believed to
be made for employers offering jobs
involving positions of trust, such as
teachers, care workers or solicitors.
But checks can be requested by any
?rm whose employees have contact
with children or vulnerable adults.
?Over four million roles every year
involve an enhanced DBS check, and
although these were designed for jobs
that involve close contact with children
and vulnerable groups, it?s gone way
beyond that now,? said Christopher
Stacey, co-director of Unlock, a
charity for people with convictions.
?Unlock regularly gets contacted by
people who have been asked to do an
enhanced check to be a delivery driver
or a receptionist.? Unlock has called
for introduction of a criminal records
tribunal, so individuals could apply not
to have their criminal records disclosed
in particular circumstances.
?These books are read
by the Chinese when
they are teenagers
and the work really
stays in their heads?
Anna Holmwood, translator
�
?Welcome
to the
terrible
world
of brain
surgery?
Henry
Marsh,
neurosurgeo and
author of
Do No Harm,
in Ukraine,
with Robert
McCrum
page22
Observer
Magazine
by Vanessa Thorpe
Arts and Media Correspondent
drafted in to help with the task, but the
challenge facing all of them is to faithfully represent the kung fu moves along
with the Chinese philosophies and religions that are all woven through the
plot. Even the ?ghting skill of the warrior in A Hero Born, for instance, which
literally translate as ?the 18 palm attacks
to defeat dragons?, is in fact derived
from a Taoist classic ascribed to Lao
Tzu, dating from 2,500 years ago, and
has a strong philosophical element in
addition to movement.
?I am of the belief that a lot of readers like a bit of a challenge as they go
along,? said Holmwood, who now lives
in Malm�, Sweden, with her Taiwanese
husband and son. That is why fans of
Lord of the Rings try to learn Elvish. So I
don?t explain everything, although I have
written a very short prologue to introduce some of the elements of the story.?
8 | NEWS | Special report
*
26.11.17
The mystery ?letter?, the dark ads
Dominic Cummings has long been a controversial ?gure in
the backrooms of politics and seemed the perfect man to
lead Vote Leave?s strategic team. With the Electoral
Commission now investigating campaign
donations, Carole Cadwalladr examines the roots of
his belief that the Brexit battle would be won online
There?s a letter. That?s what I was told
back in May. Dominic Cummings, the
brilliant but unorthodox chief strategist of Vote Leave once called ?a career
psychopath? by David Cameron, had
told people that the Electoral Commission had given Vote Leave permission to
donate to other campaigns ? and it had
it in writing.
Those donations are now the subject
of a new investigation by the Electoral
Commission. They came in the form of
a gift of �5,000 to a fashion student,
Darren Grimes, and �0,000 given to
an anti-EU pressure group, Veterans for
Britain. Both used the funds during the
weeks running up to last year?s referendum to campaign for the UK to leave the
European Union. The commission now
concedes that these donations should
be investigated ? did Vote Leave make
them to avoid exceeding strict campaign
spending limits determined by law?
And the letter? The letter that Cummings said granted them permission?
It doesn?t appear to exist ? though it
took me and Paul-Olivier Dehaye, a data
researcher based in Switzerland, six
months to establish this through freedom of information (FoI) requests.
In September, ?ve months after the
first one was filed, as I was appealing
against the commission?s decision that
?in some circumstances we cannot
responsibly release requested information?, Cummings broke cover on Twitter.
?FYI u seem unaware (not blaming u
no reason u wd know) of a crucial fact:
the EC gave us written permission in
advance for what we did? ? he told
Jolyon Maugham, the head of the campaigning group the Good Law Project, in
response to his announcement that he
would seeking a judicial review of the
Electoral Commission?s decision not to
investigate these donations. Cummings
added: ?When they suddenly told us we
cd make donations we were so shocked
we asked for written con?rmation & got
it. Extremely surprising?? And ?nally:
?so it wd be pointless them having an
investigation/reporting us to cops cos
wed [sic] just hand over their own letter
giving permission. Hope helpful.?
It was. I FoI-ed the commission again.
Cummings says there?s a letter, I wrote.
And finally, on 27 October, I got the
de?nitive answer: the commission had
reviewed all communications between
it and Cummings/Vote Leave. And ?we
can?t ?nd any record of any exchange
with us on the subject of donations
between them from that period?.
So there is no letter: that?s what the
Electoral Commission says. Either
it?s mistaken, or Cummings ? the man
credited with pulling off the greatest
campaign triumph of a generation, who
gave Britain Brexit ? is in the uncomfortable position of appearing to have
been rather economical with the truth.
Has he? And if so, what does that mean
for the campaign? Because this was the
official campaign, sanctioned by the
Electoral Commission, which received
�0,000 of taxpayers? money and is
now facing an increasing number of
troubling and unanswered questions,
questions that the commission has for
months refused to ask. And some of
which it is still refusing to ask.
The new investigation ? which
the Electoral Commission denies is
prompted by the Good Law Project?s
judicial review ? focuses on the money
Vote Leave gave to 22-year-old Grimes,
and to Veterans for Britain. They purported to be completely separate campaigns, in which case such donations
would have been allowable. But it is
Cummings, the campaign?s mastermind,
who belongs in the hot seat, a place it
turns out he?s been in before.
Because Cummings is not a newcomer to the dark arts. During his time
as a special adviser at the Department
of Education, he was described by one
commentator as ?the paramilitary wing
of Michael Gove?. And working with
another adviser, Henry de Zoete ? who
also took a senior role in Vote Leave ? he
left a trail of headlines: the time he was
sanctioned by the Information Commissioner?s Office for failing to respond
to FoI requests; the time an email was
WEB WARFARE
One of Vote Leave?s Facebook ?dark
ads? uncovered by a researcher last
week, and Cummings?s tweets on
the Electoral Commission?s letter.
leaked in which he said he used Gmail
rather than a departmental address
expressly to avoid such requests; and
most notoriously, the time the Observer
revealed he and De Zoete were associated with an anonymous Twitter
account, @toryeducation, that savagely
attacked anyone who dared criticise
Michael Gove or his policies.
Its operation eventually led to questions in parliament. Guardian columnist
Suzanne Moore was ?a liar?, Kevin Brennan, a Labour MP, ?chubby?, and Tim
Loughton, a Tory MP, a ?lazy incompetent narcissist?.
?What is unquestionably true is that
Cummings and De Zoete were heavily involved with the account,? claims a
former political correspondent. ?It was
a shitbagging account of anyone who
opposed Michael Gove run from within
the Department of Education. What?s
interesting, looking back, is that it was
ahead of its time. Cummings has always
been very, very clever about knowing
how to operate on this line between
what is acceptable and what is not.?
A line that, in terms of our electoral
law, is increasingly impossible to police.
The technology platforms have usurped
a hundred years of legislation designed
to ensure free and fair elections ? a situation that Cummings acknowledged in an
email to me: ?The law/regulatory agencies are such a joke the reality is that anybody who wanted to cheat the law could
do it easily without people realising.?
A 133,000-word essay on education that
Cummings wrote proved to be a key
incident in the story of the referendum
campaign. The essay led to an invitation
to Sci Foo, an exclusive invite-only ideas
conference hosted by Larry Page, the cofounder of Google, at the Googleplex in
August 2014.
And this led him to meet certain people, including Steve Hsu, a physicist at
Michigan State University he quotes
liberally in his essays, blogs and Twitter account. Hsu?s research into IQ
and intelligence, and in particular his
project at a state-run genomics lab in
China, has troubled some people with
what Daniel HoSang, a professor at the
University of Oregon, describes as its
?Eugenicist overtones?. But in his blog,
Hsu writes how Cummings encouraged
him to study Bismarck and he urged
others to take note of Cummings?s work
in politics.
Cummings came away more convinced than ever that it was scientists
doing fundamental research who held
the key to the future, not politicians. And
when it came to building a team for the
referendum, his ?rst action was to ?hire
physicists?. Reading the thousands of
words that Cummings has blogged on
the subject, it?s clear his political philosophy lies at the intersection of his-
tory and physics; his intellectual spirit
guides are Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian statesman who united Germany,
and Richard Feynman, the theoretical
physicist and guru of quantum mechanics.
In Cummings?s view, a political system is the same as any other complex
system, subject to non-linear outcomes
in which some relatively trivial
event can cast a huge shadow. An
event that sets off a cascade of
ries?. The coun?branching histories?.
rse when it could
try takes one course
her..
have taken another
Britain could have
exit.
voted yes to Brexit.
ave
Or it could have
voted no. In the end,
Darren Grimes, the
e
ho
young student who
received a
on
�5,000 donation
from Vote Leave.
he writes in his blog, it came down to
600,000 people. The ?cold reality of the
referendum is no clear story, no ?one big
causal factor?? if about 600,000 people
? just over 1% of registered voters ? had
decided differently, IN [Remain] would
have won.? It is, he says, ?a small enough
margin? that if ?a few specific events
and decisions? had been different, everything could have b
been different.
enou
A small enough
margin that
�5,000 ? more than one tenth of
the campaign?s to
total budget ? could
have made a difference?
dif
Money
that paid for a ?re
rehose of Facebook
ads in
i the last days of
the ccampaign. In his
sum
summary of where
and how Vote Leave
spe
spent
its money,
Cu
Cummings writes
th
that 98% of its
bud
budget went online
on ads that received
nearly a billion
Investigation into Vote Leave?s donations to other anti-EU groups intensi?es
Continued from page 1
the referendum (from April to June)
and said: ?We can?t ?nd any record of
any exchange with us on the subject of
donations from that period.?
Cummings failed to respond to the
Observer when asked him if he had any
explanation for the discrepancy.
The watchdog said that new information meant it had ?reasonable grounds
to suspect an offence may have been
committed? but Stephen Kinnock said
it now needed to produce this information. The MP for Aberavon wrote to the
commission, the Metropolitan Police
and the CPS in the spring with evidence
that he claims showed four campaigns
were ?working together? in breach of
UK law. He said: ?I think the Electoral
Commission really needs to lay its facts
on the table. Is Dominic Cummings correct? Was there a letter? Was some sort
of deal made? The British public really
does deserve to be told.?
The announcement last week came
as the commission was facing a legal
challenge from the campaigning group
the Good Law Project over why it had
dropped a previous investigation into
the spending of Vote Leave and satellite
Brexit campaigns. At stake is whether
Vote Leave deliberately engineered
a way of exceeding the � funding
limits mandated by law ? and if, as
Cummings believes, it had permission
to do so. After Jolyon Maugham of the
Good Law Project said he would be
launch a judicial review of the commission?s failure to investigate the donations, Cummings said on Twitter in
September: ?FYI the EC gave us written permission in advance for what we
did?? Then: ?When they suddenly told
us we cd make donations we were so
shocked we asked for written con?rmation & got it. Extremely surprising??
The Observer learned of Cummings?s
claim in May and had been submitting
Freedom of Information requests over
a six-month period to try to obtain the
letter.
The commission ?rst said it had
sent no such letter, then that it couldn?t
disclose the information, and ?nally,
when presented with his tweets, that
it had reviewed its evidence and could
con?rm it had no record of a letter.
Kinnock said: ?There is an unholy
alliance of organisations that, at very
best, played fast and loose with the law
and at worst were deliberately manipulating and cheating.?
The watchdog said that the new
information meant it had ?reasonable
grounds to suspect an offence may have
been committed? and said it would
examine if the Boris Johnson- and
Michael Gove-fronted campaign had
?led its returns correctly.
Electoral Commission guidance
requires campaigners to declare if they
are working together, to avoid registered campaigns circumventing the
spending limits by setting up multiple
other campaigns. The guidance states:
?Working together means spending
money as a result of a coordinated plan
or arrangement between two or more
campaigners.?
26.11.17
Special report | NEWS | 9
*
and the data guru of Vote Leave
Vote Leave
director Dominic
Cummings with
Boris Johnson and
Michael Gove last
year. i-Images
impressions. This was where the battle for Brexit was won: on the internet.
Many people, of course, think differently. The fundamental factors that led
to Brexit (and Trump) ? rising inequality,
frustration with elites, economic uncertainty ? are complex, multilayered and
years in the making. But it?s certainly true
that all campaigns look for the winnable
gains, the tiny sliver of people who in the
US election were swing voters in swing
states and in Britain were ?persuadable?
? either in terms of who to vote for, or
whether to vote at all.
In its official application to the Electoral Commission, the campaign noted:
?While Vote Leave plans to invest signi?cant time and resources into online
?The law/regulatory
agencies are such a
joke the reality is
that anybody who
wanted to cheat the
law could do it easily?
Email by Dominic Cummings
activity on networks such as Facebook
and Twitter, we do not regard them as
appropriate primary platforms for this
historic national debate.?
Appropriate or not, it?s where it
occurred. Last week, Emily Las, a digital
marketer in New York, found a handful
of what appear to be Vote Leave ?dark
ads?, a tiny sample of the thousands targeted at individuals and until now invisible and unrecorded. They included
a video that claimed ?Turkey is joining the EU. Our schools and hospitals
already can?t cope.?
A video that was viewed 515,000 times
and that simply wasn?t in any way true.
Because this is something else that Cummings and the campaign?s chief execu-
tive, Matthew Elliott, had learned along
the way. They had worked together on
the 2011 No to Alternative Vote campaign, and as the Financial Times noted
in an interview with Cummings: ?That
campaign made exaggerated emotive
claims [and] also recognised that the
Advertising Standards Authority had no
power to regulate political ads, however
misleading.?
In Tim Shipman?s book All Out War,
the Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan
describes Cummings?s physicists as
?a group of west coast American academics? who were signed up ?in great
secrecy? from ?disciplines like astrophysics?. They ?found this way of scraping data off people?s Google searches and
feeding it into a program to tell you, by
postcode, where your voters were.?
Who were the physicists? It remains a
mystery. The Electoral Commission can?t
know because they?re not listed on any of
Vote Leave?s spending returns. There are
some invoices to a company Vote Leave
calls ?Advanced Skills Initiative?, otherwise known as ASI ? a total of �,018.50
? but this is for ?advertising? and ?market research/canvassing?. So who did
the data modelling? Who were the secret
?west coast academics?? And where?s the
bill for their services? Was this a ?gift??
And if so, was it ?permissible??
None of these questions form part
of the new investigation. Nor do they
address who knew what, or how high up
this goes. ?You cannot overestimate how
loyal Gove is to Cummings and Cummings is to Gove,? says one former political correspondent. ?They are joined at the
hip.? Did Gove know? Did Stephen Parkinson, now Theresa May?s most senior
political aide but previously Vote Leave?s
ground organiser? Did Cleo Watson,
another senior Vote Leave director and
now another May aide? And what of the
Democratic Unionist party? It holds the
balance of power in Westminster ? but no
questions about its role in the referendum
are yet being officially asked. Where did
the �5,000 it spent came from? What
does May know? Or is she not asking?
Cummings, Elliott and Gisela Stuart,
Vote Leave?s chair, did not respond to any
of the Observer?s requests for a response
to this article, but Vote Leave said: ?As
the Electoral Commission has previously
said, Vote Leave complied with the rules
on making donations to other campaigns.
We will fully cooperate with the commission?s investigation, however as this process is ongoing it would be inappropriate
to comment further.?
The launch of last week?s investigation is a landmark. Especially in the light
of two other ongoing investigations into
Leave.EU and Arron Banks, the entrepreneur who funded it (both deny any
wrongdoing). The surface has been
scratched. It?s what lies beneath that
should concern us. What still lies buried.
What isn?t being examined. And why it?s
not. Whose decision is that?
Brexit is a non-linear event. The history of our nation was set in one direction, when it could have gone another.
Cummings deleted his Twitter account
in October but before he did, he brought
his brilliant strategic mind to bear on it:
?I said before REF was dumb idea, other
things shdve [sic] been tried 1st. In some
possible branches of the future leaving
will be an error.?
10 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
The bishop?s
prescription for
war ?conchies?:
bomb therapy
UK establishment feared conscientious objectors
were vanguard of revolution in 1917, research shows
by Jamie Doward
October 1917 and the world is teetering
on its axis. Revolution is in the air. In
Russia, the Bolsheviks are about to overthrow the government. In Britain, crippling food shortages and the growing list
of casualties following Passchendaele,
and the Somme and Verdun battles of
the previous year, are having a profound
impact on public morale. People are war
weary and there are fears that Britain
might go the way of Russia if the socialist threat sweeps the country.
Into this maelstrom enters Lord William Cecil, the bishop of Exeter, with a
controversial plan to stop the rot.
New research has unearthed Cecil?s
outlandish idea outlined in a letter to the
Times. The son of the former Conservative prime minister, Lord Salisbury, Cecil
called for imprisoned political conscientious objectors to be moved to London
so that the ?enemies of the Commonwealth? could experience the full horror
of the German bombing raids.
He had just visited Dartmoor prison,
where 1,100 conscientious objectors
were incarcerated, a quarter of whom
were objecting on religious grounds ?
the bishop suggested they go free but
claimed that the rest ?either hated England? or regarded the con?ict ?as a war
of the capitalists? for which they had no
inclination to ?ght.
In his letter, headlined ?Anarchic
Dartmoor?, Cecil expressed concerns
about the government?s decision to
imprison a large number of conscientious objectors in one location. He worried that the ?conchies?, as they were
known, might convert the religious
objectors into fellow revolutionaries.
Cecil demanded the men be moved to
parts of the country ?frequently visited
by the enemy airplane? as dropping a
bomb near them would ?perhaps bring
about a sudden conversion?. The bombs
dropped in 1917 by Germany?s Gotha
planes ? which had replaced the Zeppelin airships used in 1915 and 1916 ? terri?ed many in the capital.
The Imperial War Museum notes
that, between May 1917 and May 1918,
more than 300,000 people used the tube
to shelter from German attacks ? double
the number regularly sheltering during
the height of the blitz in September 1940.
The bishop believed his fears about
Lord William Cecil, bishop of Exeter, in
1934. His letter to the Times in 1917 railed
against ?conchies?, seen above protesting
at Dartmoor earlier that year. Rex
?Eleven hundred men
who have a grievance,
fancied or real, have
ample opportunity to
organise resistance?
Lord William Cecil
the threats posed by socialism to be well
founded. He said the prisoners, whom
he described as ?men of ability and education?, sang the Red Flag rather than
the national anthem after meetings.
?If the government desire a revolution after the war they could hardly have
proceeded in a more efficient manner,?
Cecil wrote. ?Eleven hundred men who
have a grievance, fancied or real, against
society, are assembled from all parts
of England and there have ample time
and opportunity to organise resistance,
armed or passive, against the existing
order of affairs.?
The letter was discovered by Richard
Batten, a historian at Exeter University,
who suggested that it reflected wider
concerns among the British political
elite about diminishing public support
for the war effort. ?It is hard for us today
to understand Bishop Cecil?s views, but
they re?ect the fact that a century ago
people in Devon and other areas across
the UK had become weary of the war
and the increasing pressures that it continued to exert upon their lives,? Batten said. ?Others were fearful about the
impact of the Russian revolution.?
As Cecil put it: ?The feeling is very bitter throughout agricultural Devonshire
that the government are feeding these
men, who refuse to do even the primary
duties of a peaceful citizen, namely to
secure the food supply of the nation.
They are enjoying the beauty of Dartmoor, with its lovely scenery, without
even a khaki man to reproach them or a
wounded man to shame them, while the
poor farmer tries in vain with the few
men that are left to garner the sheaves
which the constantly returning rain is
causing to rot.?
26.11.17
NEWS | 11
*
Momentum loyalty test for would-be MPs
Contenders asked to
sign contract to back
Corbyn?s objectives to
win group?s support
by Phillip Inman and Michael Savage
Leftwing pressure group Momentum is
asking Labour parliamentary contenders to sign a contract that ties them to
the ?political objectives? set out in the
organisation?s constitution to secure its
support in upcoming selection battles,
the Observer has learned.
Several contenders to be Labour candidates in marginal seats are understood
to have signed the contract. The 13-point
?political accord for Momentum-backed
candidates? asks candidates to ?work
to ensure the Labour manifesto (subject to future policy development) is
fully implemented once Labour are in
government?.
Included in the signed contract is the
commitment to ?revitalise the Labour
party by building on the values, energy
and enthusiasm of the Jeremy for
Leader campaign?. Some Labour MPs
are known to be alarmed by the move,
following an attempt by Labour activists to unseat the leader of Haringey
council last month. Claire Kober fought
off a challenge to win reselection in her
ward, but it was seen as a warning that
Momentum plans to support candidates
that back Jeremy Corbyn at all levels of
the party.
One Labour MP, who asked to remain
anonymous, said: ?It re?ects a Stalinist
approach to politics that Momentum
would come up with such a contract
for candidates. It has worrying implications for our democracy that there could
be MPs in parliament who have signed
away their right to independent judgment,? he said.
A spokesman for Momentum said the
accord was drafted as part of efforts to
get candidates to take part in a ?fair, honest debate on policies?.
?It just makes the commitment to
higher ethical standards more explicit,?
he added. ?You want to back candidates
who are good people ? who support
the code of ethics. We don?t have a pro-
?It re?ects a Stalinist
approach to politics
that Momentum
would come up with
such a contract?
Labour MP
gramme. We are a campaigning organisation. The accord is more a version of
what every Labour member signs up to.
It just spells it out a bit more.?
One candidate who has put his digital signature on the accord is Peter
Chowney, leader of Hastings borough
council. He said he was unconcerned
by criticism that he had signed away
his independence. Chowney was the
Labour candidate in Hastings and Rye
in the recent general election and came
within 300 votes of unseating the home
secretary, Amber Rudd.
?I?m not a member of Momentum, but
they approached me and because I fully
support the manifesto and was one of the
few Labour council leaders to back Jeremy Corbyn in both his leadership contests, I am happy to sign up. It?s not like
I am signing anything in blood,? he said.
The chair of Momentum, Jon Lansman, this year forced through a constitutional change to ensure all Momentum
members were also Labour members,
after concerns that the organisation was
an entryist vehicle for expelled former
party members. More recently Lansman,
who is running for a place on Labour?s
powerful ruling body, its national executive committee (NEC), has pressed the
party to hand more power to Labour
members.
Separately, he told the Observer that
he would push to make it even easier
ON OTHER PAGES
Who will step in when the bullies have
silenced the dissenters?
Letters 36
for leftwing MPs to run for leader and
for party members to select a different
parliamentary candidate. The proposals amount to a new wave of party rule
changes that would consolidate the
power of its pro-Corbyn wing.
Lansman is running to win one of the
new seats on the NEC that were created
this year. He said that he wanted Labour
to adopt digital tools, similar to those
used by the Taiwanese government, to
find the policy ideas that enjoy large
support among Labour?s increasingly
leftwing membership. The tool is soon
to be trialled by Momentum, and allows
members to agree or disagree with
stated policy proposals. ?For me, the biggest thing is giving members more in?uence over policymaking,? Lansman said.
Asked if such an initiative could create
pressure to reconsider Labour?s support
for the Trident nuclear deterrent, he
said there should be a ?range of options?
handed to the party?s annual conference.
?Personally, I am in favour of abolishing nuclear weapons and looking
for alternatives,? Lansman said. ?At the
end of the day, Labour conference is the
place that does bring together all sections of the Labour movement, including the unions.
?On defence, I would want conference
to be given a choice, and it may be that
what I want or members want doesn?t
get a majority. I wouldn?t like to predict
what will happen before the next election. It may be that that policy is settled
? we just have to wait and see.?
Momentum
chair Jon
Lansman wants
rank-and-file
members to
have more say
over Labour
policy. Empics
Entertainment
12 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
Anarchist book
event cancelled
as trans debate
divides opinion
across the left
A series of rows over the status and rights of
trans people who self-identify as women has
led to political argument in Labour and beyond
by Ben Quinn and Dulcie Lee
An annual book fair that has served for
more than three decades as the most
important meeting point for the British anarchist movement has become the
latest casualty of widening splits over
the issue of transgender rights.
Organisers say that they no longer
have ?the appetite or the energy? to stage
next year?s London Anarchist Bookfair,
following fraught scenes at the event last
month. A group of feminists were confronted by other activists who accused
them of distributing ?transphobic? leaflets that promoted prejudice against
transgender people.
The acrimony follows highly publicised splits in universities, women?s
organisations and political parties
over the issue. Lily Madigan, a 19-yearold who has just won a vote in Kent to
become Labour?s ?rst women?s officer
from a transgender background, has
been at the centre of a row within the
party.
The executive committee of another
constituency Labour party resigned this
month in solidarity with Anne Ruzylo,
a women?s officer who claimed she had
been the focus of complaints by Madigan
and others.
This weekend it emerged that Madigan is applying to join the Jo Cox Women
in Leadership programme, launched
after the murder of the MP to encourage
female participation in politics.
Meanwhile, the Women?s Equality
party has con?rmed that its executive
committee is considering complaints
about one of its members, Heather Brunskell-Evans, an academic whose invitation to speak at King?s College in London was cancelled after she took part in
a discussion on transgender issues on
Radio 4. On the programme she called
for caution to be exercised in relation to
children who expressed confusion over
their gender. Brunskell-Evans said the
party told her that three members had
alleged her ?conduct? on the programme
had ?promoted prejudice against the
transgender community?.
The lea?ets handed out at the Anarchist Bookfair suggested that predatory
men might be among those who choose
to call themselves women, and might
abuse the system by gaining access to
women-only spaces such as refuges.
Trans activists say the issue is being used
by opponents ? some of whom they label
?terfs? (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) ? to sow the seeds of hatred.
The increasingly angry disputes follow government proposals to streamline
the process for how people can change
their gender, under the Gender Recognition Act (GRA). A public consultation is
to be held on speeding up and demedicalising the process, with the current
need to be assessed and diagnosed by
clinicians seen by some as intrusive.
Choosing whether one is a man or a
woman is a matter of self-identi?cation,
trans activists assert. Some opponents
of the GRA have warned that this may
lead to young, vulnerable people making
decisions they later regret. Others have
suggested that self-identifying undermines the status, rights and experience
of biological women.
The rows ?are going on within all
sorts of social movements?, said Helen
Steel, the veteran social justice campaigner known for her role in taking on
McDonald?s in the 1997 ?McLibel? case.
Steel, who is among those caught up
in the book fair controversy, said that
until now, discussion had ?taken place
in a bubble that has agreed with itself?.
She added: ?Now that those ideas are
actually going to be translated into law,
other people are becoming aware of
those proposals and say, ?hang on ? can
we have time to consider the implications properly and let women have a say
in how our lives may be affected by these
changes???
She said she had been left traumatised by her experience at the book fair,
unded by a ?bayclaiming she was surrounded
ning to stop the
ing mob? after intervening
n who had been
bullying of two women
ut the GRA.
distributing lea?ets about
at women have
?I have been aware that
sue for a long
been bullied on this issue
appened to me,
time now but, until it happened
I was not aware of the extent of the
d by it,? Steel
bullying and am shocked
nvironmental
said. ?I have been an environmental
aigner for
and social justice campaigner
at time,
most of my life. In all that
d such
I have never experienced
a toxic environment.?
Opponents of Steel and
Transgender activist Lily Madigan, with her party leader Jeremy Corbyn, has clashed with others in Labour. Facebook/Lily Madigan
?I was aware of the
bullying but, until it
happened to me, not
of the extent. I am
shocked by it?
Helen Steel, ?McLibel? activist
Social justice
Soc
campaigner
cam
Helen Steel
Hele
claims she was
claim
surr
surrounded by
a ?baying
?b
m
mob?.
the other feminists assert that to have
allowed the distribution of the lea?ets
was to create an environment in which
transphobia was encouraged, discriminating against a group of people who
already experience high rates of suicide,
poverty and persecution.
?The contents of the lea?ets are not
simply a ?perspective? or a ?viewpoint?
but are a form of ignorance, violence and
aggression directed speci?cally at trans
women,? said a joint statement in the
name of a range of anarchist and activist groups and individuals. It criticised
the book fair organisers for offering protection to people who were ?promoting
transphobic hate speech?.
A 27-year-old anarchist and trans
person who hosted a talk at the fair said
she was disappointed in the decision of
the organisers, which she said re?ected
their inability to show a united front
against lea?eteers.
?But I?m disappointed in so many people criticising them into that position
too,? she added.
?The book fair situation shows the
need for people to pick a side ? that not
picking a side is just not good enough.
However, it also shows the need for
proper organisation. What happened at
the book fair itself was not led by trans
people. I can?t stress that enough. And it
didn?t happen at all as how I would have
liked to have seen it.?
Alexandra Becker, founder of Fourth
Wave: London Feminist Activists ? one
of the groups that signed the letter criticising the organisers and leafleteers
? insisted that the latter were a fringe
group within feminism.
She said: ?Unfortunately there is a
tendency among certain groups on this
topic to create fear, to whip up emotions
that say things that are not representative of a very vulnerable group of people
who are the victims of violence.?
However, Becker added: ?I think there
have been splits already and people have
gone off to do their own thing. It?s not
clear what they are doing because often
they are not coming out to support feminism in other areas.
?The [feminist] movement, other
progressive movements, the parties, the
anarchists are moving on, though, and
there will just be people who will be left
behind. It?s not possible to hold on to
how things were in the past, and there
will not be room for you in the progressive movements.
?Racism, sexism and antisemitism
are things we don?t tolerate ? so this is
the same.?
Shirley Porter?s housing scandal to be relived on stage near Grenfell Tower
Director of theatre near ?re
that killed 71 people picks
play about gerrymandering
in 1980s as debut production
by Vanessa Thorpe
Arts and Media Correspondent
A play about a notorious social housing
scandal is to be staged in a new theatre
close to the site of the Grenfell Tower
block in June ? a year on from the ?re
that killed 71 people.
Shirleymander, by Gregory Evans,
will tell the story of Westminster
City Council in the 1980s, when the
Tory council leader Shirley Porter
was found to have operated a deliber-
ate policy of altering the makeup of
marginal wards to protect her power
base. In 2004, she personally had to
pay back �.3m after her ?gerrymandering? strategy was judged to have
?forced homeless families to substandard housing in order to manipulate the
borough?s voting demographic?.
Evans?s work was inspired by Today
journalist Andrew Hosken?s 2006 book
Nothing Like a Dame and was ?rst
broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009,
starring Tracy-Ann Oberman as Porter.
Next year, Oberman is to take the
title role again at the Playground
Theatre, playing a character the author
has described as ?vain, arrogant, bullying and desperate to keep the borough
from falling into the hands of her archenemies, the socialists?.
Porter, who now lives mainly in
Israel, was found to have sold council
homes in marginal wards to prospective Tory voters and to have pushed 122
homeless families likely to vote Labour
out of eight marginal seats. They were
moved to tower blocks the council
knew were contaminated with asbestos. The daughter of Tesco founder
Jack Cohen, she had been at the heart
of Margaret Thatcher?s Tory party and
says criticisms of her council leadership were politically motivated.
The new co-artistic director of the
Playground Theatre, Anthony Biggs,
has chosen Evans?s play as his opening production because of similarities
he sees with the housing policies later
followed by Kensington council. ?We
began talking with Greg about his play
and discussing the parallels. What
Westminster did back then is actually
the kind of thing that just happens in
councils anyway now, without anyone
Former magistrate Shirley Porter had to
pay back �.3m to the council she led.
having to say what they want.? Biggs
also sees echoes of the wider political
climate in the 1980s. ?It was a barmy,
polarised time then, with Dame Shirley
pursuing her ideas in Westminster and
then Ken Livingstone in charge of the
city as a whole.?
The Playground Theatre, recently
refurbished, aims to work with the
local community. After the ?re, it ran a
series of workshops for residents with
a group called Grief Encounter to help
them cope with the disaster.
Porter, 86, is thought to have written
her own account of the events that
brought about her downfall, but has
promised her children she will not
attempt to publish it because it would
bring the issue back into the headlines.
?The book was written because I
wanted to give my side of what happened,? she said eight years ago. ?I was
a magistrate for many years, so I was
enormously shattered by what I felt
was the huge injustice of it all. I wrote
the book to set the record straight and
also because it acted as catharsis.?
26.11.17
NEWS | 13
*
Senior Tories criticise ?short-term NHS ?x?
Former health secretaries say social care
funding crisis unresolved after the budget
by Michael Savage
Policy Editor
Philip Hammond is facing a backlash
from senior Tories after failing to provide any extra funds for social care in the
budget and announcing only a ?shortterm ?x? for the NHS.
With health bosses set to discuss
rationing of services at a crunch meeting this week, two former Tory health
secretaries and the Conservative chair
of the Commons health committee said
that it was time to tackle the long-term
health and social care funding crisis,
which remains unresolved.
The chancellor attempted to fend off
a winter NHS crisis by handing the service an immediate �5m bailout and an
extra �6bn next year. Analysts believe
it amounts to about half of what the service requires to keep up with demand.
Furthermore the Observer has learned
that the government has con?rmed to
local authorities that it has dropped
plans to impose 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. New draft plans
dealing with the social care crisis are not
now expected until next summer.
The former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell, who is now the
chair of the NHS Confederation, the
membership body for health service care
providers, said the budget boost did not
resolve the ?unsustainable? long-term
levels of health and social care funding.
?It is extremely important that the
two words ?social care? didn?t pass the
chancellor?s lips on budget day,? Dorrell said. ?Having relieved short-term
?Health and social
care is like a balloon
? if you squeeze
one part, another
part pops out?
Sarah Wollaston
pressure, what we are now committed
to is a set of budget numbers that, by the
chancellor?s own implicit admission,
will lead to a rebuilding of the pressure
that he recognised in the spring was
unsustainable.
?We know that, looking at the sector
as a whole, no one thinks this is sustainable in anything other than the short
term, and the short term is running out
again. Will this [money in the budget]
reverse the trends on waiting times?
Clearly it doesn?t. The level of demand
continues to grow. That can only lead to
added demand going unmet.?
Andrew Lansley, health secretary
under Cameron, said the short-term
funds were welcome, but added that a
long-term solution and further efficiencies in the system were now crucial.
?The new budget may meet the minimum requirements next year, but it
again depends on structural efficiencies
if an NHS-wide de?cit is not to emerge
again in later years,? he said.
?For the later part of this parliament,
the government must plan, in my view,
for year-on-year 4% cash increases in the
NHS budget and to implement the Dilnot recommendations from 2020, with
funding ... if the service is to be sustained
and outcomes improve ? as they have
largely done in recent years.?
A crucial NHS board meeting this
week will be used to make clear that the
level of funding will lead to difficult decisions about rationing and longer waiting
times. It means the chancellor could be
engaged in a public squabble with NHS
chiefs just days after his autumn budget.
Nigel Edwards, head of the Nuf?eld Trust thinktank, said: ?Before this
budget, the NHS was heading for a
crunch year, with the amount pledged
ON OTHER PAGES
Social care: a looming disaster ignored
Observer Comment, page 32
Life will turn nasty without growth
Andrew Rawnsley, page 33
not set to keep pace with what patients
need. The chancellor?s announcements
have provided some welcome but temporary respite ? meaning the NHS has
dodged the bullet for now.
?But the new money levels off fast: we
may ?nd ourselves staring down the barrel once again the year after next, when
spending increases look set to fall well
short of what?s needed.?
Sarah Wollaston, the Tory chair of the
Commons health select committee, said
that the extra money announced in the
Andrew
Lansley, left,
and Stephen
Dorrell are
urging the
chancellor to
address NHS
funding for
the long term.
budget had to be seen in the context of
?seven years of 1.1% increases when the
long-term average is closer to 4%?.
?We are failing to take the long view
and see how serious the situation is,? she
said. ?Health and social care is like a bal-
loon ? if you squeeze one part, another
part pops out. The idea that you can ?x
the system in this way is nonsense. Let?s
actually be realistic about the scale in
increase and demand and how we will
fund it. There has been a big push to look
at this across party boundaries and I?m
disappointed that the government hasn?t
taken that opportunity.?
Izzi Seccombe, chair of the Local Government Association?s community wellbeing board, said the budget was ?hugely
disappointing? on social care: ?If government wants to reduce the pressures on
the health service and keep people out of
hospital in the ?rst place, then it needs to
tackle the chronic underfunding of care
and support services in the community,
which are at a tipping point.?
A government spokesman said: ?We
are committed to publishing a green
paper on the future of social care ? this
will include proposals to place a limit on
the care costs individuals face. Details
will be set out when it is published.?
14 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
Why the North
Atlantic?s greatest
survivors are again
facing extinction
A century ago right whales were almost harpooned to
oblivion. Now, after decades of recovery, the species is
under threat from industrial ?shing, says Robin McKie
One of the more hopeful ecological
stories of recent years ? the slow restoration of numbers of the North Atlantic right whale ? has taken a disastrous
turn for the worse. Marine biologists
have found their population has plunged
abruptly in the past few years and that
there may now only be around 100
reproductively mature females left in
the sea. Many scientists fear the species
could soon become the ?rst great whale
to become extinct in modern times.
The principal cause for the North
Atlantic right whale?s precipitous
decline has been the use of increasingly
heavy commercial ?shing gear dropped
on to the sea bed to catch lobsters, snow
crabs and hog?sh off the east coast of
North America. Whales swim into the
rope lines attached to these sea-bed
traps and their buoys and become entangled. In some cases hundreds of metres
of heavy rope, tied to traps weighing more than 60kg, have been found
wrapped around whales. ?We have
records of animals carrying these huge
loads ? which they cannot shake off ? for
months and months,? said Julie van der
Hoop, of Aarhus University in Denmark.
?In some cases they have to burn more
than 25,000 calories a day to carry these
great weights around with them. Some
whales die. In other cases, divers have
been able to free them but the whales are
often left very thin and undernourished.
As a result, they cannot reproduce.?
The North Atlantic right whale,
Eubalaena glacialis, derives its name
from the fact that early whalers considered them to be the ?right? whales to
hunt ? they are slow swimmers, linger
in coastal waters and ?oat after being
killed. Vast numbers were slaughtered
across the Atlantic, with only a few
pods surviving along the east coast of
the United States and Canada. Numbers
dropped ? possibly to a population as
low as 100 ? until in 1935 it was declared
illegal to hunt them.
For the rest of the 20th century their
26.11.17
NEWS | 15
*
The North
Atlantic right
whale, left,
and, right,
researchers
at work near
Grand Manan
island o? the
coast of New
Brunswick.
Nature Photographers/All
Canada/Alamy
THE STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL
Commercial whaling on a large scale took
place for three centuries until banned in
1986. Most whale populations had been
reduced to such low levels that it will take
decades for many of them to recover.
Additional problems of entanglement,
pollution, climate change and ship strikes
are also curtailing their recovery.
Other threatened species include:
? The vaquita, a rare species of porpoise
found in the Gulf of California and rated
numbers increased, although at a very
slow rate. By 2000 it was thought that
there were about 400 right whales in the
North Atlantic. This still left the species
endangered but it was hoped that a continued rise in numbers would eventually
take them out of danger of extinction.
However, ?gures presented at a meeting of the Society of Marine Mammalogy
held in Halifax, Canada, last month have
dashed those hopes. Delegates heard
that about 50 right whales a year were
now becoming trapped in ?shing gear
and that death rates due to entanglement have more than doubled over the
past 10 years.
?This year turns out to have been catastrophic for right whale losses,? said
North Atlantic right whale?s range
Feeding grounds
SOURCES: IUCNREDLIST.ORG, CETUS.UCSD.EDU
Ann Pabst, of the University of North
Carolina in Wilmington. ?We know of
at least 16 right whales that were killed
from entanglement, and there could be
more that we haven?t found about yet.?
An example of the tribulations
suffered by right whales is provided
by the story of Ruffian, a 13-year-old
male who was discovered entangled
in 138 metres of rope and a 61kg snow
crab trap, which he had dragged from
Canada to Florida over a period of several months. He was eventually freed by
divers from the Georgia Department of
Natural Resources. ?I am surprised Ruf?an survived given the calories he had
lost in dragging around that weight,? said
van der Hoop.
Other right whales have not been
so lucky and many have died. In other
cases, females have been left dangerously undernourished and unable to
reproduce. This last point is stressed by
van der Hoop. ?The problem facing the
North Atlantic right whale is not just one
of losses of lives but of a general loss of
fertility.?
In addition to entanglements, marine
biologists also point to the growing
problem of ship strikes. Right whales
are large, growing up to 50ft in length,
and slow moving ? making them vulnerable to being hit. In 2008 regulations
were introduced requiring large vessels
to slow down as they entered ports at
certain times in key areas: in winter in
the south, where females were calving,
and in summer in the north, when right
whales are in their feeding grounds. In
other cases, shipping lanes were moved.
?However, right whales now seem to
be moving out of their historical grounds
? most probably in their search for food,?
said Bill McLellan, also of the University
of North Carolina in Wilmington. Right
whales feed on small crustaceans called
the most endangered cetacean in the
world. It is thought that only 30 or so
remain in the wild.
? The blue whale is the largest animal
ever known to have existed ? but has
been hunted almost to extinction.
Today it is thought that there are between
10,000 and 25,000 blue whales.
? The sei whale is the third largest whale,
has a population of around 80,000 and is
also thought to be endangered.
copepods and some researchers believe
that these are moving in response to
ocean temperature changes triggered
by global warming. ?The whales may
be following the copepods and that is
taking them into waters where they are
more likely to be struck by ships,? said
McLellan.
More research to understand these
population shifts is now needed urgently,
say some scientists. In addition, work
led by Amy Knowlton of the New England Aquarium, suggests that the recent
strengthening of rope nets and lines has
been unnecessary and a return to weaker
ropes would save right whale lives. An
even better solution, although some way
off, would be the development of an electronic means of trapping ?sh that would
eliminate the need for rope lines completely. ?There needs to be a paradigm
shift in the ?shing industry,? Knowlton
states in a recent issue of Science.
All agree that action is needed. ?Any
large mammal whose population is
down to the low numbers we are ?nding
is in real trouble,? said Pabst. ?So extinction is a very real potential outcome.?
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16 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
A scene from A Very British Brothel. Temporary sex businesses are appearing in holiday flats and Airbnb properties, to the concern of the police. Transparent Television
The suburban sex industry: how ?pop-up?
brothels have spread throughout Britain
MPs are investigating a nationwide surge
in ?ats being used short-term for
prostitution. But the women who
work in them say they often have no
safer option, writes Dulcie Lee
In the well-kept terraced streets of north
London, three sex workers take turns
seeing clients in an anonymous-looking
?at, sharing a calendar and pencilling in
bookings around each other.
The ?at looks like any other ? colourful mugs in the kitchen, a bowl of food by
the door for the resident ginger tomcat.
The work room has pastel bedsheets,
a ?uffy rug, mirrors, bedside lamps: it
looks like any feminine but nondescript
bedroom. Perhaps the only noticeable
feature of the flat is that, even during
the day, the curtains are usually closed.
This is a brothel and the women who
live and work in the ?at are breaking the
law. While prostitution is legal in England and Wales, owning or managing a
brothel is a crime.
Last month, MPs launched an inquiry
into the apparent rise of so-called ?popup? or temporary brothels. The phenomenon, where sex workers use Airbnb,
hotels, or short-term holiday lets as a
work base, has caused concern among
politicians and the police. But what is the
reality for women working in brothels in
Britain today, and what is driving them
to work in temporary set-ups?
?People think we?re either in ?ve-star
hotels or we?re on ?ea-bitten mattresses
with a line of men outside the door,? says
Amy, a single mother who works in the
north London brothel. ?Both of those
things are real, both of those things happen, but the vast majority of us are just
somewhere in the middle. Demystifying
it is really important.?
Amy (not her real name) started
working in hotels two years ago, renting out a room for a day, or longer with
a friend if her children were away. ?The
whole reason I started doing this was to
work ?exibly and within school hours,?
she said. But the pressure to make back
the cost of the hotel meant she ended
up booking clients she would not otherwise have seen. ?There?s something ? for
me anyway ? that felt quite bleak about
rocking up in a hotel,? she said: ?You get
a ?spidey sense? and you?re like ?I?m not
sure about this one?... you do end up taking more risks.?
After a year, she found her current
place with two others. With CCTV
and a panic alarm, she says the more
permanent setup means she has better security measures: ?I honestly can?t
imagine working any other way now and
it astounds me that what we?re doing is
technically illegal.?
Still, she does not want to paint a
rose-tinted picture of her new situation.
?When [sex workers] are talking to the
press, there?s a lot of pressure for us to be
like, ?Oh I love my job, everything?s great?
when it?s not great. It?s like any other job
? you have good days and bad days. It?s
just like being in any kind of office job, or
a call centre, just with more nudity, and
dildos everywhere,? she jokes.
Like many sex workers, trust and
communication with the police is a
huge issue for her and her workmates.
?At the moment, I have absolutely no
trust in the police whatsoever,? she says.
?You can literally go from being the vic-
HOW THE LAW STANDS
There are an estimated 72,800
sex workers operating in the UK.
In a study of 6,000 men, 11% reported
paying for sex. More than a half of these
said they paid for sex outside the UK.
The mortality rate for sex workwers is
12 times higher than average.
Keeping or managing a brothel is illegal
under the 1956 Sexual O?ences Act.
The sale and purchase of sexual
services is legal in England and Wales,
but certain related activities are not.
In 2015 Northern Ireland made it illegal
to pay for sex. The ?rst prosecution was
in October 2017.
tim, to being the criminal in a matter of
minutes.?
Maya (not her real name), who is 23
and from Brazil, works in vastly different circumstances to Amy. She says she
was threatened with arrest when she
reported a violent robbery at a brothel
where she was working in central London. ?They come, ?ve or six guys with
knives, and they know where the money
is,? she says: ?The girls, they don?t call
the police, because if they call the police
they will just appear there and say to [the
girls] to leave.?
?I really believe that they go to these
houses and they do what they do because
they know that the girls will not call the
police, because they?re afraid of the
police as well,? she says.
Prior to working in the capital, Maya
toured the country with a friend, renting Airbnb properties. But after a couple
of months, she found it unsustainable:
?It?s really stressful and you just need to
?nd every week a new place and move to
another town. It?s too much,? she says. ?I
would prefer to stay in the same place,
try to have a normal life as well.?
This situation was reflected in the
Channel 4 documentary series, A Very
British Brothel, where massage parlour
owner Kath is seen shopping around
Sheffield for mobile homes to use as a
brothel. She says the mobile home would
be easier to run and easier to move
around, but there would be no way to
install a panic button.
For Maya, after ?nding a brothel near
a central London train station, her situation deteriorated as she began being
moved around a group of ?ats all owned
by the same man. She worked alongside
two or three other women from 11am to
3am every day for short stints and had
to see more customers than when she
worked with her friend.
Since the robbery, she says she has
felt paranoid, which has led her to stop
working. ?They [the police] have no idea
how much is happening just because
we can?t call,? she says: ?We are there
because we need to be. They should support and try to make us safe, rather than
making us more unsafe.?
She tells a story about a friend who
narrowly escaped another brothel robbery in which men threatened to pour
boiling water over the faces of the
women . ?It?s getting so dangerous,? she
says. They did not call the police.
Maya is one of 70,000 sex workers
in Britain. Details of the sex industry
are hard to come by, and the lack of
data about the prevalence of traffick-
ing often爈eaves sex work groups and
the police at loggerheads about how to
approach the industry.
Although the National Police Chiefs?
Council coordinates a national response
to trafficking and modern slavery,
responses to pop-up brothels usually
vary from force to force. However, the
council?s guidelines advise police to recognise that ?simple enforcement does
not produce sustainable outcomes and
can actually increase the vulnerability
of sex workers to violent attack?.
?I think there?s a pretty consistent
response [to reports of brothel-keeping]
now,? says the council?s lead for modern
slavery, Shaun Sawyer. ?Some forces are
very proactive ? some forces will be all
over it straight away. Other forces might
say their priorities are elsewhere and it
would run until it became a problem or
they got to it.? He says that police and
crime commissioners, resourcing issues
and community attitudes all shape a
force?s priorities.
Although there is little data, Sawyer
also believes that temporary brothels
are ?very heavily comprised of vulnerable eastern European women. Pop-up
brothels by de?nition are the movement
of people in and out of geographic areas,
force areas, and that doesn?t usually align
itself to your committed home-based
prostitutes in a commercial business,?
he says.
Clare Gollop, who works on the
National Policing Modern Slavery Portfolio, says temporary brothels make it
harder to reach out to potential victims
of trafficking. ?They?re fearful that we?re
seeking them for immigration offences,
they?re fearful that they?re here illegally, they?ve probably been told that
we?ll crack down on them as offenders
as opposed to treat them as victims, but
that isn?t the case and isn?t the culture
within British policing.?
However, deportation is often one
of the outcomes of raids on
brothels and sex爓orkers
are still fearful of interacting with the police. Many
suggest that policing
tactics increase the likelihood of their choosing
to work from temporary accommodation.
Sarah, a Romanian
Massage
parlour owner
Kath from A
Very British
Brothel.
sex worker and student, said she got into
the industry after her work in hospitality
failed to cover her rising rent. She gave
up her old home and rented a small ?at
with a friend in east London, where she
lived and worked. But on an afternoon
in August, ?ve months into the tenancy,
plainclothes police visited the ?at and
issued a closure order.
?It was just dreadful,? Sarah said: ?We
weren?t forced or coerced, we were two
friends, equally everything.?
The letter warned: ?Any female at this
address now, who is found at this same
address in the future is VERY LIKELY
to be arrested.?
Sarah and her friend left the ?at and
are now working elsewhere. She says
the police made things much more dif?cult for her. ?If I get harmed, I?ll end
?I have absolutely no
con?dence in the
police. You can go
from being the victim
to the criminal in a
matter of minutes?
Amy, sex worker
up being prosecuted. If I get robbed, I?ll
end up being prosecuted. If they?re really
concerned about safety, what safety?
We� weren?t trafficked, we weren?t
exploited. Why would you want to prosecute me?? she asks. ?I pay for my student fees, I pay tax, I am paying my fair
share to the country.?
At the ?at in north London, Amy says
the flat-sharing arrangement is coming to an end. Paranoia has set in about
clients knowing the women share the
premises and they are all worried about
being prosecuted.
?A lot of the unscrupulous clients,
they do target working premises because
they know that the women there don?t
have legal recourse. They know they?re
able to just walk out and nothing will
be done about it.?
But she says they will move somewhere else and hope for the best.
?We?re not nasty women that are
out to hurt you and your children, we?re just normal women
with children. We?re everywhere, we walk among you.?
Additional reporting by
Frankie Mullin
26.11.17
*
| 17
Barbara Ellen
No terrorists, but
Oxford St panic
was still terrifying
W
hat does it feel like to be
caught up in a dramatic
event even when it later
turns out not to have
been an ?event?? My daughter was
caught up爄n the Oxford Street ?terrorist attack? panic in London on Friday.
She was shopping in Selfridges in the
heaving Black Friday sales crowds.
Suddenly, she heard loud bangs, followed by cries to ?get down?. She and
everybody else did so, crouching on the
?oor. Next, people were instructed to
leave the shop.
There was a stampede ? shoppers
dropping bags and running away. In the
scramble, my daughter had her phone
knocked out of her hand. Outside,
there was another panicked stampede,
this time coming towards them, some
people crying and screaming as they
were evicted from shops and nearby
tube stations, surrounded by police
officers?
Now, of course, we know that there
wasn?t a terrorist attack. It?s believed
that the incident probably began with
an ?altercation? at a tube station and
that all the panic, chaos, speculation
and misinformation rippled out
from there. The Daily Mail has been
criticised for retweeting a 10-day-old
fake news tweet about a lorry driving
along the pavement in Oxford Street.
It?s accepted that social media also
played its part in spreading fake news
and causing hysteria.
Singer Olly Murs, locked inside
Selfridges at the time of the nonincident, was later criticised and
ridiculed for tweeting
eting in real
time to his millions
ns of
followers. (In his defence,
Murs reported being
eing told
by other people in
n the shop
about the same loud
oud bangs
that my daughter heard.)
It wasn?t too long
ng before
it became clear that
hat
the main thrust off the
story was that there
ere
was no story. And
d
thank God for that.
at.
No one wanted it to
be a terrorist attack.
ck.
Everyone was relieved
ieved
Armed police were on
the scene in minutes.
that the situation was quickly assessed
and that the panic just as swiftly
subsided.
The police should be commended
for their fast response, as should the
public for recovering so quickly, most
of them calmly making their way home,
some people even continuing to shop
in Oxford Street.
Obviously, paranoid bursts of
uncorroborated stories about terrorist
activity that turn out to be fake are
unhelpful, even dangerous. It?s as
though terrorists don?t even have
to do anything anymore ? the mere
possibility is enough to cause paranoia
and mass panic. However, while it?s
one thing to condemn irresponsible
reporting, or hysteria on social media,
perhaps there could be a bit more
generosity shown towards the people
who were caught up in it.
After all, hindsight is a wonderful
thing. This isn?t just about my
daughter, I?m sure that all those other
people in Oxford Street would have
been delighted to have known for sure,
at the time, that there was no terrorist
attack. But they didn?t know. All they
knew was that it was one of the biggest
shopping days of the year, in a country
that is a terrorist target, in a city that is
a terrorist target, in a famous shopping
area. Add loud bangs, shouts of ?get
down!?, stampedes, police? What
are people supposed to think: ?Don?t
worry, it?s probably something to do
with panto season??
Not likely, when we?re living through
an era where everyone has received the
memo. If something
same terrorism me
terrorist attack, sounds like
looks like a terrori
a terrorist attack and
a everyone around
you behaves as if it is a terrorist attack,
then the odds are that it could be a
terrorist at
attack, right? Well,
no, in this ccase, wrong, wildly
for which we are all
wrong, fo
eternally grateful. However,
eternal
the people who were
for th
there, this ?nothing
ther
happened?
spiel isn?t
hap
quite
qu true, is it? For a
brief,
br scary moment,
they
th believed that
they
th were caught up
in something
serious.
som
For them at least,
something
happened.
someth
Cumberbatch
shouldn?t shed
too many tears
B
Cumberbatch has yet to occupy his �7m villa, but the natives are restless. Pinewood
�
?I?m not a
huge fan
of heights
? which
sounds
strange
for an
astronaut?
Tim Peake,
This Much
I Know
page10
G
oogle is planning to clamp
down on ticket resale websites
that sell tickets at in?ated
prices when face-value tickets
are still available.
Secondary ticket companies are to
be barred from claiming to be official
ticket providers and forced to disclose
if their prices are higher than face
value. They would also need to be
certi?ed before they can pay to appear
at the top of rankings. This move
echoes last year?s investigation by the
Competition and Markets Authority
into how some resale sites overprice,
provide counterfeit tickets and pro?t
from charity events.
At ?rst, this seems to be just a more
organised form of the ancient trade
of ticket touting ? a website version
of young guys mumbling outside
venues, with their pockets stuffed
with tickets. However, with big events,
and even smaller ones, these price
hikes have an insidious effect, not
least on who can afford to attend. All
this leads to an even greater sti?ing
of cultural diversity. As has become
increasingly apparent in recent times,
the less money someone has, the
less likely it is that they can afford to
meaningfully participate in the cultural
conversation ? say, properly train as
actors or dancers, support themselves
as writers爋r, indeed, attempt to forge a
career in music.
However, this pricing out of culture
can also happen at the audience
end, creating a situation where only
wealthier people could afford to
attend events, especially as big gigs are
expensive to start with. So, what you
could end up with is a culture where
one elite is observed by? another elite.
While in?ated resale tickets aren?t the
whole story, they contribute to this
dangerous ring-fencing of the arts from
both ends. It?s accepted that culture is
healthiest when it?s at its most diverse,
but this should also include audiences.
Observer
Magazine
Save culture from ticket vultures
enedict Cumberbatch has
angered neighbours by applying for planning permission to
erect a supershed at the back
of his north London property. Cumberbatch and his family are yet to move in,
but locals have accused him of ?overdeveloping?, saying giant sheds should
not be built in conservation areas.
All I can say is that it?s a cruel,
unusual and perhaps foolhardy person
who dares to come between a man
and his giant shed. Indeed, in recent
times, supersheds have become status
objects for men and women alike. Who
knows what Cumberbatch was planning ? office space, a creative haven,
perchance a beanbag-strewn zen-den
for the kids?
That last option was my idea for our
shed. It was only moderately ?super?,
but the plans I had ? the visions! I was
a veritable Christopher Wren of the felt
roof and chipboard partition.
A few years later and the shed is full
of rusting tools, mouldering stuffed
toys and leaves that have blown in. In
short, if Cumberbatch isn?t allowed his
shed, he shouldn?t grieve too deeply.
It would seem that getting planning
permission for a supershed is one thing;
doing what you planned to do with the
shed is quite another.
18 | NEWS
*
26.11.17
Anti-Muslim online surges driven by fake accounts
Social media bots and
image manipulation are
spreading Islamophobia,
analysis reveals
by Mark Townsend
Home A?airs Editor
A global network of anti-Muslim activists is using Twitter bots, fake news and
the manipulation of images to in?uence
political discourse, new analysis reveals.
Many have recorded significant
growth in their social media followings
over the past year, co-ordinating to push
the message that Islam is an ?imminent
threat? to western society. Researchers
from the anti-racist organisation Hope
Not Hate found that the impact of tweets
from one controversial US activist,
Pamela Geller, who is banned from the
UK, is magni?ed by 102 bots, automated
or semi-automated accounts that automatically tweet or retweet their content.
Researchers also monitored a sample
of popular anti-Muslim Twitter accounts
in Britain and the US between March and
November this year, and found that, on
average, there was a 117% growth in followers.
Geller, described by critics as a figurehead for Islamophobic organisations, produces the Geller Report which
doubled its viewers to more than two
million people each month between
Tommy Robinson and Pamela Geller?s huge
rise in online support is now under scrutiny.
July and October. The Gates of Vienna
counter-jihadist blog, described by critics as a training manual for anti-Muslim
paramilitaries, also doubled in visitors
per month during the same period.
Patrik Hermansson, researcher for
Hope not Hate, said: ?The growth among
Twitter accounts and websites spreading
anti-Muslim hate is alarming. In such a
key area of public interest, it is an indication of increased interest in these views
and as each account or site grows, more
people are exposed to deeply prejudiced
anti-Muslim views.?
The study also charts how terror
attacks in the UK have been exploited by
anti-Muslim activists over social media,
with several prominent anti-Muslim
Twitter accounts in the UK acquiring a
signi?cant number of followers in their
aftermath.
During the hours and days following the Manchester attack, Tommy
Robinson, former leader of the English
Defence League (EDL), gained 40,042
followers, an increase of 17%, with the
majority ? 29,396 ? coming within 48
hours of the attack. Robinson gained
22,365 after the Westminster attack: he
had a weekly average increase of 6,422
followers from March to November 2017.
The aftermath of the London Bridge
attack in June was used to illustrate
how anti-Muslim activists took advantage, with 32 of the top 100 most shared
tweets about the attack expressing negative sentiments about Muslims.
The study also accuses Breitbart, run
by Donald Trump?s former chief strategist Steve Bannon, of spreading fake
news, stating that ?its reporting on Islam
and Muslims is largely indistinguishable
from the anti-Muslim movement?s rhetoric or even that of the far right?.
The study says a network of online
forums and image boards serves as an
echo chamber to amplify and spread
fabricated anti-Muslim social media
campaigns. The most notorious recent
example was the exploitation of a photograph of a Muslim woman walking past
a group of people helping a victim of the
Westminster attack in March 2017.
The image gained traction after a Twitter user called @Southlonestar claimed
that the image revealed the woman?s
indifference to the victim being treated.
It was recently revealed that @Southlonestar was one of 2,700 accounts handed
over to US House Intelligence Committee by Twitter as a fake account created
in Russia to in?uence UK and US politics.
The image of the Muslim woman ?
who has since spoken of her distress at
the attack and the abuse she suffered
afterwards ? was later superimposed on
pictures after the Manchester attack.
Researchers said they had ?concrete
evidence? that bots were employed to
amplify Geller?s messages on Twitter,
identifying at least 102 accounts that
exhibit characteristics of bots, including only exclusively posting content with
links to Geller?s website and being highly
synchronised, meaning they post the
same content at almost the same time.
The simplest bots follow and retweet
other users. A user with a large number
of followers is generally easier to trust
and may seem more ?legitimate?. The
more advanced bots often mix human
control with arti?cial intelligence, and
are notoriously difficult to detect.
No fracking in
London, says
mayor Khan
by Michael Savage
Policy Editor
Sadiq Khan will in effect ban fracking
in London ? and warns that extracting
shale gas represents a toxic health risk.
In a controversial move, the London
mayor will set out in plans to be
published this week that councils
across the capital should block the
exploration, appraisal or production
of shale gas via hydraulic fracturing,
which sees rocks blasted with water
to release the gas.
He will also make clear that any
proposals that reach his desk will be
thrown out, warning the process could
pollute water supplies and put health at
risk. The measure will be set out in his
draft London Plan.
Khan has agreed with campaigners
who have warned that the fracking
process can generate toxic silica dust,
which can cause chronic lung damage,
as well pollutants that worsen neurological problems, from dizziness to
seizures. The levels of water required
for fracking could also lead to shortages, the plan will say.
While there are no current fracking
applications in London, a company
said over the summer that it was looking at one site in the capital that could
have deposits ?worth millions?.
Khan said there was ?absolutely
no place for fracking in London? and
applications must be refused. ?The
harmful, negative impact of the use
of fossil fuels on the environment and
on the air we breathe is well known,?
he said. ?We must instead focus our
resources on developing technologies
for the efficient extraction of clean,
renewable forms of energy, rather than
coming up with more ever innovative
ways to keeping burning fossil fuels.?
26.11.17
*
| 21
World
Sinai mosque death toll rises to 305 as
reports claim gunmen carried Isis ?ags
President pledges
extreme force in
revenge for Egypt?s
worst atrocity,
committed in a region
scarred by terrorism
by Edmund Bower
Cairo
Egypt was reeling yesterday from the
worst atrocity it has suffered in recent
years, with officials putting the death toll
from the bomb and gun assault on a Sinai
mosque at 305.
The ?gure includes 27 children, while
a further 128 people were wounded in
the attack on the Rawdah mosque in
Bir al-Abed, north Sinai. A bomb ripped
through the mosque as Friday prayers
were ?nishing, before militants opened
fire on worshippers. In response, airstrikes were directed at ?terrorist? locations, said military sources.
Egypt?s chief prosecutor, Nabil Sadeq,
said the attack was carried out by
between 25 and 30 militants who had
stationed themselves at the mosque?s
main door and 12 windows before opening ?re on those inside. More than 50
ambulances ferried casualties from the
mosque, about 25 miles west of the city
of Arish, to nearby hospitals. Pictures
from the scene showed rows of bloodied
victims inside the mosque.
No group has claimed responsibility
for the attack, but it marks a signi?cant
escalation in a region where for the past
three years Egyptian security forces
have battled an Islamic State insurgency that has killed hundreds of police
and soldiers. It was reported yesterday
that the sttackers were carrying the
Islamic State ?ag. The attack was not
only one of the worst terrorist incidents
in Egyptian history, but also the ?rst on
a mosque. The justi?cation for assaulting a Muslim place of worship appears
to be that the mosque was frequented by
Su?s, a sect considered by many Islamic
extremists to be heretical.
There are, however, many conspiracy
theories circulating, which suggest the
atrocity has provided the president,
Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, with a convenient
opportunity to demonstrate his security
credentials. In a nearby outdoor cafe,
in the shadow of another mosque frequented by Su?s, Sayeda Zeinab, most
patrons were adamant yesterday that the
attack was purely politically motivated.
?This was all because of the elections,?
said one customer.
Sisi is widely expected to stand in
elections due to be held early next year
to try to retain the presidency. When he
?rst ran in 2014, the message of his campaign was that the former army general
was the only man who could bring stability to the country. His platform was
that he would prevent the chaos that has
engulfed neighbouring Libya and Syria
from ever reaching Egypt.
?I supported him,? said the customer.
?But I would never vote for him again. I?ll
take just about anyone else; he can?t win.?
With a sharp drop in tourism, following
the 2011 Arab Spring, Sisi has presided
over a period of economic instability, in
addition to one with a sustained terrorist threat. ?Do any of us live as well as we
used to??, said the customer. ?My salary
is a third of what it used to be.?
All around the cafe and in the street
are signs of the upcoming elections.
Posters draped from the lamp-posts
show Sisi?s smiling face, accompanied
with an appeal for him to ?Build it? ?
Burnt-out cars line the streets of Arish in northern Sinai yesterday after Friday?s attack on the mosque in nearby Bir al-Abed, used by Sufi sect members. Getty
Cairo?s iron ?st response to terror attacks never succeeds
COMMENTARY
Simon Tisdall
Egypt?s president, Abdel Fattah
al-Sisi, cultivates a hard-man image.
His response to Friday?s atrocity at
al-Rawdah mosque in northern Sinai
was wholly predictable. Hours after
Islamic State-linked gunmen killed
more than 300 Su? worshippers,
Sisi sent waves of warplanes to exact
revenge. ?The air force has ? eliminated a number of outposts used by
terrorist elements,? the military said.
If only it were that easy. If Sisi and
his generals knew the location of such
terrorist outposts, why had they not
already been destroyed? It is probable
the targets were chosen randomly and
yet more innocent lives may now have
been lost. This, in turn, may exacerbate Egypt?s long-running problem
with Islamist insurgents.
Speaking to the nation after
the mosque attack, Sisi ? a former
general who seized power in 2013 in
a military-backed coup against the
elected Muslim Brotherhood govern-
meaning to re-run for office. This is supposedly to be a grassroots movement,
although some community ?gures have
reported being given petitions to hand
out, sent to them by the interior ministry.
With the elections drawing closer, this
attack seems to have shaken the nerves
of the government. The president has
reacted swiftly, promising to meet the
attack with extreme force, as well as
declaring three days of public mourning. In a press release yesterday, the state
information services said he had ordered
that 200,000 Egyptian pounds (�478)
ment ? reverted to the only language
he knows. ?The police and military
will avenge our martyrs and restore
peace and security,? he said. ?We will
respond with brute force.?
But like an alcoholic who takes a
drink and hopes that somehow the
outcome will be different this time,
Sisi?s addiction to violence is a kind
of madness. Egyptian leaders before
him, notably Hosni Mubarak, all tried
to physically crush their opponents.
They all failed. And Sisi will, too.
In the 1990s, before al-Qaida and
Isis fully emerged, Islamist extremists
tried to weaken Mubarak?s autocratic
regime by targeting security forces,
the Coptic Christian minority, and
western tourists in Luxor. The official
response, notably in underdeveloped
Upper Egypt, was mass arrests, shootto-kill orders, torture and a scorched
earth policy.
?Those actions destroyed the livelihoods of farmers and their families,
who then became prey for recruitment by the very groups the government was trying to defeat,? says Mona
Eltahawy, a Reuters correspondent in
Cairo at the time.
More recently, the largely ungov-
erned spaces of northern Sinai
province have become a new locus
of militant activity. Sinai has been
under a state of emergency, and
closed to outside agencies and media,
since 2014, when militants killed 30
Egyptian soldiers. In 2015 a Russian
passenger jet carrying 224 tourists
and crew from Sharm el-Sheikh was
shot down.
Friday?s atrocity, like the airliner
attack, has been blamed on Wilayat
al-Sinai, an Islamist group with links
to Isis that has previously hit Coptic
churches in Cairo and Alexandria,
although no claim of responsibility
has yet been reported.
Sisi?s ?iron ?st? tactics have
proved futile. The Isis connection
appears to be strengthening as the
terror group?s ?caliphate?
te? in Iraq and
Syria is degraded. Isis iss reportedly
regrouping in neighbouring
uring Libya.
Northern Sinai may also
o become
a destination of choice for displaced jihadis.
Unlike al-Qaida, which
ch gen-
The attack was
carried out by up
to 30 militants, who
stood at the door
and windows ?ring
on those inside ?
be paid to the families of victims for
every member killed. Within hours of
the attack, security forces also reported
airstrikes taking place in the vicinity of
the attack.
Yet the mood in Cairo is one of calm.
The number of people killed and injured
in the Sinai attack is much higher than in
past terrorist atrocities. However, north
Sinai remains a no-go area for journalists, making it difficult to con?rm details.
Cairo?s residents are used to stories of violence from the Sinai region.
?It feels like a long way away,? says
President Sisi gained power
wer
in a coup, and force is the
e
only language he knows.
erally eschews civilian targets,
Wilayat appears bent on maximum
mayhem. By murdering Muslims,
albeit Su? Muslims who zealots view
as apostates, the group has issued
a challenge to Egyptian society as a
whole.
Such lethal recklessness could
eventually prove Wilayat and Isis?s
undoing, by alienating ordinary
Egyptians and people in similarly
impacted Arab countries. But Sisi?s
unthinking return violence could
have the opposite effect, leading to
further unchecked escalation.
Long experience shows that more
killings, repression and dictatorial rule
are not the answer for Egypt, any more
than for other post-Arab Spring countries. Egypt under Sisi has become
a black hole ffor human rights and
democratic ggovernance. Yet the US
and Britain tturn a blind eye, while a
bloodthirsty Donald Trump tweets
bloodthir
demands for revenge.
Until the
t state rejects systemic
violence as a form of policy, the
violence of non-state actors will
violenc
persist and grow. That?s
p
a hard lesson for a hard
man like Sisi.
Ahmed Yousef, 30, a telecoms engineer.
?They can?t even get into Cairo, it?s too
crowded.?
In July at least 23 soldiers were killed
when suicide car bombs were detonated
at two military checkpoints in the Sinai,
an attack for which Isis claimed responsibility. The local Isis affiliate, Wilayat
al-Sinai (the governorate of Sinai), also
carried out the previous deadliest attack
in the region when it brought down a
Russian passenger jet that was carrying
tourists back from the resort of Sharm
el-Sheikh in 2015, killing 224 people.
22 | NEWS | WORLD
*
26.11.17
Echoes of the Weimar Republic as German
politicians lose knack of coalition-building
The rising in?uence of
more extreme parties
has transformed the
landscape, writes
Philip Oltermann. No
one can call German
politics boring now
Danyal Bayaz has experienced many
things during his first few weeks as a
new MP, but boredom is not one of them.
Two months after entering Germany?s
parliament as a Green party candidate,
Bayaz, 34, from Heidelberg, has watched
rightwing politicians give each other
standing ovations for Eurosceptic diatribes, leftwingers heckle the far right as
racists and a former climate activist with
dyed hair form unlikely alliances with
Christian Democrats in tailored suits.
Last week Bayaz saw the dramatic
collapse of coalition talks that would
have seen his Green colleagues catapulted into government and now faces
the possibility that his seat may come up
for grabs again in fresh elections next
spring. ?Right now I am not even sure if
it?s worth me getting a loyalty card here,?
he quips as he orders a cappuccino in the
Bundestag?s canteen.
For years, German politics were
both mocked and admired for being
too uneventful to the point of tedium.
Only recently the lack of drama inside
the reconstructed Reichstag?s circular
plenary chamber led to calls for a more
confrontational, Westminster-style
approach. But as old geopolitical certainties have crumbled over the past 18
months, Berlin?s consensual, unexcitable style of policymaking has won new
admirers.
The collapse of talks to form the next
coalition government have exposed
Angela Merkel?s diminished authority.
Many are now beginning to wonder if
the division wrought on Britain and the
US by Brexit and Donald Trump has also
descended on Europe?s biggest economy.
With Merkel?s last coalition partners,
the Social Democratic party (SPD) and
the Free Democrats (FDP), more eager
on parliamentary opposition than on
government posts, and an already ultraoppositional Alternative f黵 Deutschland
hoping to receive a further boost from
the political standstill, commentators in
Germany have started to evoke the darkest days of the Weimar Republic, when
short-lived minority governments ruled
Angela Merkel arrives in the rain
to meet east European leaders in
Brussels on Friday. Photograph
by Virginia Mayo/AFP
by emergency decrees.
?Like in Weimar, the federal republic is now a multiparty system in which
extreme parties have begun to paralyse the working of the parliamentary
democracy,? wrote Stephen Szabo, an
expert on US-German relations.
?Germany?s obsession with stability
was largely a result of reforms aimed
at avoiding the mistakes of the Weimar
Republic,? said Anthony Glees, a historian at the University of Buckingham.
?In spite of a proportional vote system, a
5% threshold for smaller parties guaranteed that postwar Germany was for decades a two-party state, where the power
would lie safely in the centre.?
With polls for possible fresh elections
next year predicting that both Merkel?s
Christian Democratic Union and the SDP
could drop below 30% while support for
the FDP, the AfD, the Greens and the Left
party continues to grow, Glees said, ?that
system is now biting Germany in the leg?.
THE WEIMAR YEARS
Born amid the chaos following the ?rst
world war, the Weimar Republic lasted,
uno?cially, from 1919 to 1933 and
struggled to cope with extremism,
hyperin?ation and resentment
at Germany?s treatment by
the war?s victors. In order to
reduce political con?icts, a
proportional representation
system was adopted, leading
to a series of coalitions that
struggled to govern. Political violence was
endemic. By 1923, there had been 376
political assassinations. US loans helped
recovery from 1924 to 1929, but the Wall
Street crash led to recall of the loans
and the start of a new economic
crisis, rising unemployment and
dissatisfaction with mainstream
parties. In January 1933 the
president, Paul von Hindenburg,
appointed Nazi party leader
Adolf Hitler (above) chancellor.
That year, after the Reichstag ?re,
Hitler seized absolute power and Germany
became a fascist dictatorship.
Many historians warn of hastily
drawn comparisons, however. ?What?s
wrong with Germany becoming more
like multiparty democracies in the Netherlands or Scandinavia?? asked Andreas
Schulz, a researcher on the history of
German parliamentarianism.
Merkel has announced she is sceptical
about forming a minority government,
either on her own or with the Green
party, which would have to form majorities with other parties vote by vote. But
Schulz said the traumatic experience
of seeing minority governments collapse and allow the rise of Adolf Hitler
obscured the fact that minority governments worked efficiently elsewhere in
Europe and even at a German state level.
As the centre-left SPD is waking up to
the potential cost of new elections and
mulls over tolerating a minority government, it is possible that Merkel could
eventually come to agree.
?The way the Bundestag had managed
to integrate ?rst the Green party in the
1980s and then the Left party at the start
of the new millennium shows that our
parliamentary system can adapt to new
parties,? Schulz said.
?We sometimes forget that the Weimar Republic only had 10 years to
mature and develop,? said Thomas
Mergel, a historian at Berlin?s Humboldt
University. Even during its short existence it had shown that a parliamentary
system could teach the most intransigent political party the value of coalition
forming, he argued.
In the 1920s and 30s, parliamentarians started to lose the ability to ?nd compromises only once the Great Depression wreaked havoc with the German
HOW PARTIES STAND
If the general election were to take place
next Sunday, how would you vote? (%)
Christian Democratic Union/
Christian Social Union
32(+1)
Social Democratic party
22(+1)
Alternative f黵 Deutschland
11(-1)
Green party
11(0)
Free Democratic party
10(-1)
Left party
10(0)
Others
4(0)
SURVEY: INFRATEST DIMAP,
20 NOVEMBER
economy. New parliamentarians such
as Bayaz are concerned that Germany?s
new populist right could be quicker at
learning to exploit the polarised political landscape than established parties.
The last week has seen delegates of
anti-immigration AfD take their seats
in parliament wearing yellow ribbons
on their suit jackets, in what the party
described a gesture of solidarity with
Germany?s armed forces. On Twitter,
AfD MPs claimed that the ?old parties?
had left their seats half vacant during a
debate on the military ? a claim which
was later disputed.
Another debate saw conservatives,
liberals, environmentalists and leftwingers join forces to oppose an AfD suggestion that Syrian refugees should be sent
back to their homeland since Islamic
State had ?almost been beaten? and
security levels ?substantially improved?
in the country. The motion was soundly
defeated, but the rightwing newcomers
had found their stage.
Bayaz is nevertheless optimistic that
a livelier Bundestag can also have its
upsides. ?There is a new pluralism in
the debating chamber,? he said. ?Parties
are not as easy to keep apart as they used
to be.?
The son of a German mother and a
Turkish father with a PhD on financial markets, Bayaz said he would have
enjoyed a conservative-liberal-green
?Jamaica? coalition that cut through
old political certainties. With his smart
navy suit and short hair, he has in his
first weeks already been mistaken by
the press for a member of the FDP and
drawn confused looks from the rightwing populists. It is not impossible to
conceive that newcomers like Bayaz
could end up ushering in a German
minority government after all.
One of the hangovers of the Weimar
Republic is that a president cannot call
a snap election without making parliament vote in a chancellor ?rst. The
assumption is that a chancellor Merkel, who has not organised a governing
coalition, would fail to gain a majority
in such a vote. New MPs who have only
just started to ?nd a taste for their life in
politics, from whatever party, may have
a different idea.
ON OTHER PAGES
Germany and a tale of two countries
Will Hutton, Comment, page 34
Sexual violence in war zones at ?worst ever? as drive to protect women falters
by Rebecca Ratcli?e
The head of UN Women has condemned the inadequate response to the
widespread use of rape and sexual violence in con?icts, and warned that the
amount of money dedicated to ?ghting
such war crimes is shrinking.
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, executive director of the UN organisation
dedicated to gender equality and
empowerment, said ?new types of violence and torture, worse than anything
we?ve ever seen before? have been used
against Rohingya women in Myanmar,
yet only 2% of money sent to con?ict
settings is spent on improving women?s
rights, while funding for UN Women
fell 5% between 2013 and 2016.
Her warning follows criticism of the
UK?s preventing sexual violence initiative, which since November 2012 has
deployed 74 experts to 13 countries, but
which campaigners say has been slow to
respond to the Rohingya crisis. The initiative, set up in 2012 by Angelina Jolie
and the then foreign secretary William
Hague, established a team of experts
who specialised in gathering evidence
of sexual violence in con?ict zones and
who could respond promptly to crises.
Sources close to the Foreign Office
say the initiative has also been ham-
pered by a lack of leadership from the
foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. ?To
make a difference, you have to have
leadership from the very top,? said one
source . ?The policy shouldn?t be an
irritant, it should be something we?re
proud of.?
Mlambo-Ngcuka called on the international community to provide support
and resources to Bangladesh, where
more than 600,000 Rohingya have
?ed since a military crackdown on the
minority group in Myanmar.
?The killing of babies and girls,
throwing them in the water to poison
the water so it?s not drinkable, the
gang-raping of women and girls ? it is
Angelina Jolie and William Hague at a war
cemetery in Srebrenica, Bosnia, in 2014
very gruesome,? she said. ?The situation, even if there is not violence, is
complex, [because] there are a lot of
unaccompanied children, and the girls
among those children are destined to
be exposed to violence. We need sustained attention and we need to mobilise more resources in order to help the
government in Bangladesh.?
The Foreign Office said: ?We continue to focus on tackling survivor
stigma, securing justice and accountability, and preventing it from happening in the ?rst place. We?ve trained
over 17,000 military and police personnel around the world to prevent and
respond to crimes of sexual violence.?
26.11.17
WORLD | NEWS | 23
*
Mugabe to get
$10m payoff and
immunity for
family in deal to
surrender power
Senior Zanu-PF o?cial says ousted president
was told he can keep his salary and business
interests as ex-ally Mnangagwa takes over
Robert Mugabe and his wife will receive
a ?golden handshake? worth many millions of dollars as part of a deal negotiated before the resignation of the ageing
autocrat last week. The exact sums to
be paid to the former president and his
wife Grace are still unclear, though one
senior ruling party official with direct
knowledge of the agreement said the
total would not be less than $10m.
The official said that Mugabe, who
has been granted immunity from prosecution and a guarantee that no action
will be taken against his family?s extensive business interests, would receive
a ?cash payment of $5m? immediately,
with more paid in coming months.
The 93-year-old?s $150,000 salary will
also be paid until his death. The 52-yearold first lady, reviled for her extravagance and greed, will then receive half
that amount for the rest of her life.
Mugabe?s 37-year rule left Zimbabwe with a worthless currency, massive debts, an impoverished population
and an estimated unemployment rate of
more than 80%. Roads are rutted, many
rural communities have no electricity,
?We are not privy to
any deal reached with
Mugabe, and if there
is any deal on money
or anything else it is
unconstitutional?
Douglas Mwonzora, MDC
education is basic and healthcare almost
non-existent. A life expectancy of 60 is
one of the lowest in the world.
The ?rst couple will be able to remain
in their sprawling mansion known as the
Blue Roof, in Harare. The state will pay
for their medical care, domestic staff,
security and foreign travel.
A second official defended the agreement, made early last week after protracted negotiations between senior
politicians close to the new president,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, and representatives of Mugabe. Mnangagwa was
sworn in on Friday in a colourful ceremony before tens of thousands of people
in Harare?s main stadium. The 75-yearold stalwart of the ruling Zanu-PF party
promised a new era for his country,
and said that he would govern for ?all
Zimbabweans?.
Opposition politicians have criticised the agreement with the former
president. ?We are not privy to any deal
reached with Mugabe, and if there is
any deal on money or anything else it is
unconstitutional,? said Douglas Mwonzora, secretary general of the Movement for Democratic Change, the main
opposition party.
?In terms of the constitution Mugabe
is a retired president and does not have
immunity to criminal or civil wrongdoing committed while in office. In ZanuPF, they can grant each other immunity,
but the law does not authorise that.?
Themba Mliswa, an independent MP,
said ?there was no country which would
like to see a former president in a state of
poverty?, but that leaders must understand they were accountable. ?There
must be a good precedent. You can?t see
a president come in looking to loot and
plunder and thinking he will be allowed
to keep it,? Mliswa said.
Grace Mugabe was called ?Gucci
Grace? in Zimbabwe for her lavish
spending. The former secretary, who
married the president in 1996, recently
bought millions of dollars worth of
property and luxury cars in South Africa.
Her eldest son, 25-year-old Bellarmine
Chatunga, recently enraged Zimbabweans by posting a clip on social media
taken in a well-known Johannesburg
nightclub showing him pouring a �0
bottle of champagne over a �,000
watch on a night out in South Africa,
boasting that ?daddy runs the whole
country?.
The deal also extends to the Mugabes?
wide business interests, which include
a series of dairy farms, and those of his
extended family. ?None of this will be
[seized] or in any way molested,? said
the official involved in the negotiations.
The difficulties of drawing up a list of
the many assets to be covered by the
agreement contributed to the delay in
Mugabe?s resignation, which had been
widely expected as early as last Sunday,
he said.
Grace Mugabe?s oldest son, Russell
Goreraza, 33, from her ?rst marriage, is
reported to have a substantial stake in
Zimbabwe?s lucrative mining industry.
He imported two Rolls-Royce limousines in September.
One relative of Mugabe confirmed
yesterday that he was ?covered? by the
deal and that he would not be leaving
Zimbabwe. ?I was worried about what
the changes would mean for me personally ? but I am now reassured that I can
live on in my country,? said the relative,
who lives in Harare and has a large farm
in western Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa, who was a loyal aide of
Robert Mugabe for decades, has urged
the country?s citizens not to undertake
any form of ?vengeful retribution? and
in his inaugural speech praised the
?immense contribution? made by the
former president.
Emmerson
Mnangagwa at the
National Sports
Stadium in Harare
for his oath-taking
ceremony on
Friday. Getty
Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace at an official appearance in Harare on 26 August. Photograph by Aaron Ufumeli/EPA
Though there is still much residual
respect for Mugabe, based on his record
as a leader in Zimbabwe?s wars of liberation in the 1960s and 1970s, there is little
affection for his wife.
It was her bid to succeed her husband
that triggered the events leading to his
overthrow. The ?rst lady and prominent
members of her G40 faction engineered
the ?ring of Mnangagwa as vice-president. The army then took over to allow
the former spy chief to return to Zimbabwe to take爌ower.
Those not covered by the deal with
�
?Rivals
coping
with
parallel
con?icts?
a media
circus
beyond
their
control?
Mark
Kermode?s
verdict on
the tennis
?lm Battle of
the Sexes
page 24
The New
Review
by Jason Burke
Harare
the Mugabes may face harsh punishment for picking the wrong side. The former ?nance minister Ignatius Chombo
who was among those detained by the
military when it seized power, appeared
in court yesterday to face corruption
charges.
Chombo?s lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku, had said that his client was admitted to hospital on Friday with injuries
sustained from beatings he received
while in military custody. Chombo is
accused of having stolen $3.6m.
An early indication of Mnangagwa?s
style of government will come with his
selection of a new cabinet, possibly as
early as tomorrow.
There are widespread hopes ? not
least among western diplomats ? that
officials from the MDC and other opposition parties will be included in the new
government.
Mnangagwa has also pledged to
respect the constitution and hold elections by next August. ?The people?s voice
will be heard,? he told the jubilant crowd
of tens of thousands who packed the
Harare stadium.
* 26.11.17
In Focus
Ahmed Abdu, aged nine. Most of his
family are across the frontline and he has
been left to care for ageing relatives. In
Sana?a, right, children protest outside the
UN o?ces. Photographs by Iona Craig for
the Observer; Khaled Abdullah/Reuters
Behind the divided lines, Yemenis
For nearly three years Saudi Arabia and Iran have used
Yemen?s con?ict as a proxy arena in their drive to
control the region. A blockaded population is the
main victim, reports Iona Craig in central Yemen
A
hmed Abdu was six when
the civil war started in
Yemen. Nine years old now,
he is small for his age, but
once a month he makes
a four-mile trek from his
mountain village of A?unqba, in the
country?s central highlands, to the
nearest market where food is available.
For half his life, hardship and scarcity
have been the norm.
?Before the war you could eat whatever you wanted ? chicken, chocolate
bars, anything,? says Ahmed, sitting
cross-legged in a terraced maize ?eld.
?Now it?s a bit of tea and just a handful
of food, one bite only.?
In A?unqba they ?rst used electricity via generators in 2010. The nearest tarmac road is less than two miles
away, although climbing the precipitous rocky highlands of Taiz governorate, which peak at more than 3,000
metres, driving that distance off-road
can take up to an hour.
The village has one television set
between 45 families, a mosque and
a small shop where a can of sardines
costs more than double the price in
markets on the main road at the bottom
of the mountain.
Pity the poor civilians in Yemen?s
vicious, deadlocked civil war, where
the warring sides have been reduced to
trying to grind each other into submission through blockades and sieges
intended to make everyday life as dif?cult as possible.
The ?ghting in central Yemen escalated on 22 March 2015 after northern
Houthi rebels, supported by military
units loyal to the former president of
33 years, Ali Abdullah Saleh, moved
into Taiz city, 10 miles north-east of
A?unqba.
Four days later a rapidly formed
coalition of nations, led by Saudi
Arabia, launched a bombing campaign
to push back the Houthi-Saleh forces,
who by then controlled Yemen?s four
largest cities, including the capital,
Sana?a, and had forced the incumbent
president, Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi,
into exile in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.
The battle against the Houthis for
control of Taiz by the loosely aligned
factions of the ?Taiz resistance? has
continued ever since. The city epitomises the bogged-down con?ict that
has divided a nation with the HouthiSaleh forces using siege tactics to
restrict the access of supplies including
water, food and medical provisions in
one of the most water-scarce areas of
the country.
Then there is the blockade, imposed
by the Saudis in an attempt to crush
the Houthi rebels. In peacetime Yemen
imported 90% of its food, more than
70% of which usually comes through
the Houthi-controlled port of Hodeidah, where the Saudi-led coalition
placed heavy restrictions on imports
until shutting down access completely
on 6 November.
The tightening of the blockade,
which the Saudi kingdom said was
necessary to prevent Iranian weapons
from being smuggled in to the rebels,
included stopping aid and humanitarian workers from entering the country.
Last Thursday, agencies said that aid
was still blocked a day after the Saudi
coalition stated it would allow humanitarian supplies in.
Ahmed?s village was cut off by the
?ghting for ?ve months during the ?rst
year of the war, when mortar rounds
and missiles landed in the terraced
?elds surrounding his home. Although
remote rural areas are able to grow
corn and other basic crops during the
rainy season, climate change has had an
impact on their ability to survive during con?ict. In the past, villages would
store enough food to last for three or
four months in times of emergency. In
recent years less rainfall, resulting in
reduced harvests, means little if any
food is stored for periods of crisis. The
wider restrictions on imports imposed
by the Saudi coalition have driven up
food prices, along with the rapid deprecation of the Yemeni currency since its
?otation in August.
?The price of wheat has gone from
4,000 rial [�] to 7,300 rial,? said
Ahmed as he trudged down the mountain towards the tarmac road. ?The bag
of sugar was 7,000, now it is 14,000, and
the rice was 6,000, now it is 9,000,? he
said. ?My life has been changed, the
Houthis and the food ??, he trails off as
if daydreaming about all the things he
longs to eat. ?Before, I had everything
to eat, everything. I was happy, at ease.
Now you can?t even have one cake.?
School is more or less permanently
out. With teachers? salaries going
unpaid, Ahmed?s school in Taiz has
been closed since May. ?When they get
salaries, they teach,? he said.
Combined with the lack of government wages ? unpaid since August
2015 ? it means that families are living
on little more than bread and oil. As a
result, 70% of the population is in need
of humanitarian aid.
Even before the restrictions on aid
made earlier this month, seven million
Yemenis were facing famine. Save the
Children warned on Friday of 600 new
cases of starving children under the
age of ?ve every day as a result of the
tightened blockade. Earlier in the week
Famine Early Warning Systems Network, an international body, predicted
imminent mass famine across Yemen if
key ports remained closed.
Ahmed?s father has been looking
for work since 2015, a search that has
divided his family. His two brothers,
two sisters and both parents now live
on the other side of the frontline, over
CONTROL AREAS IN YEMEN
Saudi coalition
Houthi rebels
Ansar al-Sharia, al-Qaida in
the Arabian peninsula
Pre-1990 border
100 miles
SAUDI ARABIA
Formerly
North Yemen
Formerly
South Yemen
YEMEN
Sana?a
Al Mukalla
Aden
G ULF OF AD EN
SOURCE YEMEN.LIVEUAMAP.COM
Houthi ?ghters
in Sana?a earlier
this month.
Photograph by
Mohammed
Hamoud/Getty
26.11.17
*
| 25
THE MYSTIQUE
OF MARLENE
A modern style icon
more than 25 years
after her death 26
endure a daily struggle for survival
the mountain ridge. Ahmed has stayed
in A?unqba to help look after his grandparents and two aunts.
Despite his baby voice, Ahmed
appears older than his years. ?When
the war started I came here and I
didn?t want to return back because of
the ?ghting and the Houthis,? he said.
?They harass you for your ID and say to
you, ?What are you doing here? You are
Daesh, even if you?re a child,? he added,
referring to the derogatory term widely
used for Islamic State. ?I will return
back to my family when the war stops,
God willing.?
Nama Ali, 50, lives on the other side of
the con?ict, in the Houthi-controlled
governorate of Al-Raymah. After
?eeing the con?ict in her home town
of Yareem, she now lives in a tent in
Takareer with her children and grandchildren. Al-Raymah, just south of the
blockaded port of Hodeidah, has been
at the epicentre of the highest death
rate from a cholera epidemic that has
swept the country since April. One
million suspected cases are expected
by the end of the year. In Takareer the
women have no choice but to continue
to use the local well, their only water
source, which has already infected
more the 200 people with cholera.
Oxfam warned yesterday of a fresh
spike in the spread of the disease, with
eight million people expected to be
without running water within days as
fuel supplies run out due to the continuing blockade on northern ports.
?The punishment of ordinary civilians is never justi?ed. These are real
people whose lives are being callously
jeopardised in other countries? war
games. Yemen can?t take much more.
Unless the blockade is lifted, millions
already in crisis will face a fresh catastrophe,? Shane Stevenson, Oxfam?s
director in Yemen said in a statement.
The primary source of income for
families in Takareer used to come from
wages sent from abroad. Before the
war most of the men from the village
worked in construction or herding
goats in Saudi Arabia. Forced to return
when the Saudi intervention began,
now their income comes from felling
trees to make charcoal to sell in the
local markets, as no one can afford to
pay the in?ated prices for cooking gas.
?No salary means no money, means
no food,? says Nama, whose lifestyle in
a town had not prepared her for the job
of fetching and carrying water from a
well in the later years of her life. ?The
children don?t have shoes any more,
their feet are like rocks.?
Education is an issue on this side
of the con?ict line as well. The lack
of schooling for her daughters is one
of Nama?s greatest concerns for the
future of her children. Their school in
Yareem was bombed by a Saudi coalition airstrike. ?My daughter was in the
sixth grade and now she doesn?t go to
school,? she said.
Nama has seen previous con?icts
in Yemen, the civil war between north
and south in 1994, and the long-running North Yemen civil war that lasted
eight years from 1962. But those more
isolated con?icts had less of an impact
on the wider population. ?This time
everyone is affected wherever they are,
even if it?s a long way from the ?ghting,? she said. ?In this war thousands of
women and children have been killed,
look what they have done to Yemen,?
she said in reference to the Saudi-led
coalition?s military intervention.
Inevitably, as the con?ict grinds on,
the depth of suffering in rural areas is
deepening, with more civilians ?eeing
the cities. At least 66% of the population was estimated by the World Bank
to live in rural areas in the year before
the war escalated in 2015. The proportion is now much larger. ?All the men
returned to the village when they lost
their jobs and there was ?ghting in the
city. We also have displaced people
living here from other areas,? said the
sheikh of A?unqba, Ali Hussein.
What began as a power struggle
between two presidents: the old, Saleh,
and the new, Hadi, has since been
usurped by the battle for supremacy
between Saudi Arabia and the perceived threat of Iran. The Houthis,
who began as a revivalist movement of
Zaydi Shias in the 1990s, later became
politically allied to Iran. But after
?ghting six wars with the state under
Saleh?s rule between 2004 and 2010
they increasingly became viewed by
the Saudis as a proxy for the Tehran
government.
Evidence of that alliance was scarce
before the Houthis? takeover of Sana?a
in September 2014. But following
their own military intervention, Saudi
suspicions have become self-ful?lling.
Although the extent of the Iranian
involvement or any degree of control
over the Houthis remains unclear, the
rebel group?s progressive military capabilities and weapon-making skills now
bear a startling resemblance to those
of Iran?s Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah. Reports of Iran?s Al-Quds Force,
the external arm of the Revolutionary
Guard, providing military trainers and
expertise to the Houthis, have also
surfaced since 2014.
The war has been appropriated as a
proxy con?ict in a much larger regional
struggle between Saudi Arabia and
Iran, making the prospects for millions
of civilians bleak. Aid agencies have
declared Yemen the world?s worst
humanitarian crisis, compounded by
the worst cholera outbreak in modern history. For those in remote rural
locations on either side of this divided
country, it adds up to a future of more
hunger and disease.
?My wish is for the simple comforts and health for my husband, my
children, and my family,? said Nama.
?And not to be worn out by this war
any爉ore.?
FLASHPOINTS IN A CIVIL WAR
2011 An Arab Spring-inspired uprising
forces Yemen?s authoritarian president, Ali
Abdullah Saleh, to agree to leave o?ce.
2012 Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, previously
Saleh?s deputy, takes over as president
following an election. He was the only
candidate. He struggles to unite the
country?s divided political landscape, cope
with food insecurity and al-Qaida threats.
2014 Houthi rebels (who belong to the
Zaydi sect of Shia Islam) make advances
and begin capturing the north of the
country, an area they have historically
controlled. In September they enter the
capital, Sana?a. Hadi ?ees to Aden.
2015 A renewed rebel o?ensive forces
Hadi to ?ee to Saudi Arabia, which views
the Houthis as an Iranian proxy force. It
begins bombing what it says are ?military
targets? associated with the Houthis and
forces loyal to Hadi?s predecessor, Saleh.
The Saudi air campaign receives backing
from a coalition of Sunni Arab states, as
well as logistical support from the US, UK
and France.
coalition hits a funeral in Sana?a, killing 140.
The UN announces a 72-hour cease?re,
which is allegedly broken by both sides.
June 2016 The Saudi-led coalition is
included on a UN blacklist of states and
groups that violate children?s rights in
con?ict, reporting it is responsible for 60%
of child deaths and injuries. After Riyadh
protests, the UN removes it from the list.
Human Rights Watch warns of ?political
manipulation?. At least 6,200 people have
been killed, 2.8 million displaced.
November 2017 Saudi Arabia imposes a
blockade on Yemen?s ports, following the
?ring of a missile at Riyadh from rebel-held
territory in Yemen. Medicines, vaccines
and food are prevented from entering the
country. The heads of the World Food
Programme, Unicef and the World Health
Organisation warn ?untold thousands
of innocent victims, among them many
children, will die?.
Rebecca Ratcli?e
October 2016 An airstrike by the Saudi
2017 Devastated by two years of ?ghting,
Yemen is described by the UN as the
world?s worst humanitarian crisis. Millions
facing famine and the threat of cholera.
26 | IN FOCUS
*
Culture
26.11.17
Still modern after all these years ?
Marlene Dietrich?s ageless charisma
Two major exhibitions are celebrating the androgynous
glamour of the German ?lm star, who died
25 years ago. One, just opened in Washington,
uses a 1960 Observer interview to explore her
unique sense of self. Vanessa Thorpe reports
W
hen Marlene Dietrich
told the Observer in
1960, ?If I dressed for
myself, I wouldn?t
bother at all,? it
was an unexpected
confession from one of the world?s
enduring symbols of sophistication and
style. ?Clothes bore me. I?d wear jeans,?
the German star continued. Yet from
Dietrich?s earliest appearances on the
cinema screen and in newsreel footage, her penchant for glamorous but
androgynous out?ts marked her out
from other leading ladies.
?I dress for the image. Not for myself,
not for the public, not for fashion, not
for men,? she explained, as the focus of
a regular feature in this newspaper ?in
which women in various walks of life
discuss their attitude to fashion and
choice of clothes?.
Twenty-?ve years after her death, a
new exhibition celebrating Dietrich?s
expert relationship with the camera
has just opened in Paris, while in
Washington another photographic
show, Dressed for the Image, examines
the construction of her powerful visual
brand, and has taken its title from the
57-year-old Observer interview.
Whatever Dietrich?s true feelings
about her look, her carefully curated
image was a political stance as well
as a fashion statement. Her association with the liberated Weimar world
of naughty cabaret, coupled with her
resistance to Nazi attempts to co-opt
her later career, made the actress a
valuable wartime emblem of a free
Germany. At the same time, the bold
sexual taunt behind her haute couture
gender-switching was designed to be
both titillating and subversive.
What became known as the
?Dietrich silhouette? was initially
created by the lean, masculine cut of
her trouser suits. She had, she con?ded,
speci?c sartorial requirements: ?I have
always had to have clothes made for me
because of my unusual shape ? broad
shoulders, narrow hips.?
The fresh burst of fascination with
the star this winter comes at a moment
when the treatment of women in Hollywood is at the centre of public debate,
running alongside a wider social
discussion about the ?uidity of gender
identities. As a result, Dietrich?s powerful androgyny has acquired a new register: it seems a prescient challenge to the
male hierarchy of the ?lm industry and
to restrictive sexual norms.
It is also true that Dietrich?s love
of wearing men?s clothes ? she once
said ?I am at heart a gentleman? ? was
partly of its time. She was not so far
away from the boxy, tailored looks
sported by other feisty Hollywood stars
of her era, such as Katharine Hepburn,
and, to a lesser extent, Joan Crawford
or Barbara Stanwyck.
It took talented photographers
such as Irving Penn, Richard Avedon,
Eve Arnold and Cecil Beaton to build
the Dietrich myth. In one famous
shot, taken by the Paramount stills
photographer Eugene Robert Richee,
the actress wears a top hat, white tie
and tails, while a cigarette hangs from
her lips. Dietrich claimed this gentleman-about-town look was inspired by
Vesta Tilley, the popular English music
hall performer, but her own version
was more delicate and highly polished.
?She has sex but no positive gender,? Observer critic Kenneth Tynan
wrote, in characteristically sweeping
language. ?Her masculinity appeals to
women and her sexuality to men.?
This sense of ambiguity had been
deliberately put together by Dietrich in
collaboration with her mentor, the ?lm
director Josef von Sternberg. He had
made her name internationally with his
1930 ?lm The Blue Angel, ?lming it in
both German and English, and casting
the 28-year-old actress from Berlin as
Lola Lola, a louche cabaret star who
manipulates an enamoured professor.
The ?lm became notorious for a
scene in which a tailcoated Dietrich
suddenly kisses a woman in her audience on the lips.
Once working in America, and by
now von Sternberg?s lover, the actress
lost weight, dyed her hair blond and
adopted the thinly-pencilled eyebrows
that became her trademark. Her friend
Erich Maria Remarque once described
her features with great panache in
his novel Arch of Triumph: ?The cool,
bright face that didn?t ask for anything,
that simply existed, waiting ... One
could dream into it anything.?
In front of von Sternberg?s camera,
Dietrich learned makeup, lighting and
?lm-editing techniques that allowed
her to stay in control of her image for
many years.
The French exhibition, Obsession
Marlene, at Maison Europ閑nne de
la Photographie, in the Ville de Paris
heart of the capital, is drawn from the
vast collection of Pierre Passebon,
?Glamour is a kind of
knowing you are all
right in every way,
and that whatever the
occasion or situation
you are up to it?
Marlene Dietrich
26.11.17
Universities
*
IN FOCUS | 27
Lansdown
Crescent, site of
the grace and
favour house
occupied by
Bath University?s
vice-chancellor,
where a housekeeper is on the
payroll. Getty
THE OBSERVER INTERVIEW
6 MARCH 1960
?Clothes bore me.
I adore jeans.
men?s, of course ??
who curates the show and has said he
aims to show the star ?as time passed?.
Visitors are introduced to a six-yearold Dietrich, born Marie Magdalene,
in pigtails, while the show ends with
paparazzi snaps taken of an adored
recluse who seldom left her Paris apartment. For Passebon, the courage of his
idol was the key. ?In real life she had
numerous affairs with women,? he has
said. ?To be openly bisexual in the 40s
and 50s took guts, which Dietrich had
in abundance.?
Dietrich was brave, too, in turning
her back on her homeland. Charlotte
Chandler?s 2011 biography recounts the
personal performance the star had to
put on in her embassy in order to have
her German passport renewed.
It was essential if she was to apply
for American citizenship, eventually
granted to her in 1939. She could not let
the Nazi authorities know she would
not be returning, despite the lucrative
?lm deals and artistic freedom they
offered. Dietrich?s ?lms were later
banned in Germany, while she went
on to be awarded the US Medal of
Freedom for entertaining troops
on the frontline.
In later life, the Dietrich image
was a struggle to maintain. Chandler
describes the efforts her couturiers
made to recreate the magic. Drink
and prescription drug addictions did
not help, but cosmetic surgery tightened her features, while soft-focus
camera lenses did their best.
Her standards were hard to
meet: they were nothing less
than perfection. ?Glamour,?
Dietrich once observed,
?is assurance. It is a kind
of knowing that you are
all right in every way,
mentally and physically
and in appearance, and
that, whatever the occasion or the situation, you
are equal to it.?
Marlene as Elizabeth Madden, left,
in the 1942 ?lm
The Lady is Willing;
above, dressed
for the Observer
interview in Balenciaga. Inset, in
1930 as Amy Jolly
in Morocco. AL
Whitey Schafe/
Bettmann Archive;
Jack Nisberg for
the Observer;
Eugene Robert
Richee/John Kobal
Foundation
The murmur in the quiet hotel bar froze.
Quite suddenly, in a few silent strides,
Marlene Dietrich was there. She really
is quite something. She was wearing a
wild mink coat; a black Balenciaga dress
embroidered, at the left breast, with
the scarlet bar of the L間ion d?honneur;
a sti?ened black tulle hat; white kid
gloves; black patent leather pumps; and
a black crocodile handbag. That?s all. But
the quality of her body gave the mink
a luxury no advertiser could ever buy:
the black dress was littler and subtler
than volumes of Vogue could imply, and
her single decoration was somehow
more worldly and wicked than all the
jewellery in Paris, London and New York
put together.
Unlike the sculptured image of ?lms,
in which only the voice moves, she
is alert and friendly. Her face has got
lines, luckily: two deep ones from nose
to chin and several on the forehead. It
is alive with warmth and humour. She
ordered co?ee and the waiter brought
it and watched tenderly over the ?rst
mouthful: ?I dress for the image,? she
announced. ?Not for myself, not for the
public, not for fashion, not for men. The
image? A conglomerate of all the parts
I?ve ever played on the screen. When I
was in The Blue Angel people thought
that was me: they really thought that
was me!
?If I dressed for myself I wouldn?t
bother at all. Clothes bore me. I?d wear
jeans. I adore jeans. I get them in a public
store ? men?s, of course; I can?t wear
women?s trousers. I cant remember
when I last got a new pair. They last so
long and get better and better. But I
dress for the profession. I get my clothes
in Hollywood and Paris, and if I can?t
come to Paris, I wait.
?I never go to a collection. It takes too
long to pass. They know me now and
they show me only the clothes that
are mine. I never consider money when
I order clothes. Before I had money? I
don?t remember.
?Yes, I have good taste. It must
have been the in?uence of my mother
because it has always come quite
naturally. No one else has ever had any
e?ect at all on my clothes. Of course, if
I am with someone who I know wants
to show me o? then I dress so that they
can show me o?. And I dress according
to what I am doing ? that is what taste
is ? and the country I am in. In Paris
you can be more crazy. New York is a
practical place.
?I have never interfered with my
daughter?s clothes. So long as she
feels comfortable herself. If she asked
for advice, I would tell her to buy
something good.
?There are so many women with
so many clothes and they never
have anything to wear. I would
MUCH prefer to go to a party in a
black skirt and sweater...
?I have always known I?ve
had dreadful hands. They
were frozen in the Ardennes in
the war, too. One didn?t think
about such things then.?
Why Bath?s gracious
terraces are echoing to
the sound of student fury
Anger over the perks of
d
Britain?s best-paid
as
university boss has
y,
radicalised the city,
er
writes Dan Glaister
What could be more quintessentially Bath, more
Georgian, than Lansdown Crescent? Perched on a
hillside proffering views across the city, its gentle
curve of pale stone townhouses oozes comfort,
tranquillity and a sense of satisfaction.
A group of walkers stops to survey the looming
structures. ?We?re just wondering,? says one, ?if
any of these houses are still single-occupancy.?
A glance along the terrace con?rms that most
of爐hem have several buzzers and names alongside
their front doors. But not number 16. Shutters
?rmly closed against the impending storm, this
is the house occupied by Dame Glynis Breakwell, vice-chancellor of Bath University for the
last 16 years, a multimillion-pound property
she is obliged to live in as a condition of her
employment.
?So this is where she lives?? asks one of the
group. ?The removals lorries aren?t here yet then.
Won?t be long.? With a chuckle they make their
way off in the winter sunshine to look at more
slabs of stone.
The house on Lansdown Crescent is a ?tting
symbol of the bizarre couple of weeks that have
seen perceptions of Bath shift from a fashionable
tourist destination with a top-ranking university
to a hotbed of radicalism, the fulcrum in the ?ght
against executive pay, and the place where the
latest bit of the ?ghtback is kicking off. Even the
tourists thronging Milsom Street seem energised.
?It?s insane,? says Joe Rayment, a local Labour
councillor who has been heavily involved in the
protests against the vice-chancellor. ?This has
been bubbling under the surface with a few of us
being noisy and poking our head above the parapet. Now there are hundreds of heads above the
parapet. Things really started to change last year
with the house.?
What happened with the house on Lansdown
Crescent was that the Bath Chronicle got its scoop:
the revelation that Breakwell had a grace-andfavour house as part of her employment package.
In a city with a housing shortage this did not go
down well. In a university where student rents
were being increased while the university made
a healthy surplus from its housing operation, it
went down extremely badly.
Further revelations followed. Rayment, who
worked in the university?s admissions department for three years until 2016, got wind of an
entry for a cleaner for 16 Lansdown Crescent on
the university books. A freedom of information
request con?rmed �,016 was allocated for the
housekeeper ? whose responsibilities included
?washing and ironing of all bedding and towels? ?
as well as �for biscuits.
Along with the biscuits came the interestfree car loan of �,489 and the �,000 pay rise
for 2015-16, taking Breakwell?s annual salary to
�1,000, followed by a �,589 pay rise for the following year, in the process making her the highest
paid university vice-chancellor in the country. In
a university that has become a market leader in
zero-hours contacts and low pay for junior staff
this too did not go down well. More sensitive souls
might have blanched, but Breakwell has stuck it
out, even voting against an attempt to open up the
proceedings of the remuneration committee that
had awarded her the pay rises, a committee on
which she also sits.
An inquiry by the Higher Education Funding
Council for England (HEFCE) produced a damn-
ing report into senior pay and governance earlier
this month, triggering staff meetings, managing
council meetings, a vote of no con?dence narrowly survived by Breakwell and, most unexpectedly, a grudging admission of error.
?Bath is the apex of a broken system of higher
education,? says Rayment. ?There were 350 staff
at the meeting on Wednesday and it was only
announced on Monday evening. By any university standards that?s mad. By the standards of
Bath that?s unprecedented. This is massive. The
students are organising a demo. This is a broad
campaign, it?s not something that just appeals to
Marxist revolutionaries. There?s real potential
for this to be the situation that sparks a reform
of higher education governance.? He pauses to
gather his thoughts. ?I never thought higher education governance would be so interesting.?
The student demo is planned for Thursday, to
coincide with the next critical date in the saga, the
university council?s scheduled meeting to consider the HEFCE report. At the last count the call
for the demo, organised by Bath Students Against
Fees and Cuts, had attracted 1,500 responses. This
is a watershed moment: student demos, it appears,
had been considered a thing of the past.
?This is the ?rst student demo here since the
1980s,? says Clementine Boucher, one of the
organisers. ?Three years ago, when I came to
university here, it would have been absolutely
unthinkable for this to happen: a demo, talk of a
rent strike in January.?
Sitting in the university?s 4 West Cafe during a busy lunchtime, Boucher thinks her fellow
Dame Glynis Breakwell
is paid more than
�8,000 a year, while
Bath University has
gained a reputation for
zero hours contracts and
low pay for junior staff.
students have been radicalised by the convergence
of many factors, not just executive pay. ?The total
injustice that Breakwell represents has meant
students have rallied around,? she says. ?There
are issues around space and overcrowding, rent,
fees as well as pay, so there?s been a crystallisation
of student anger. The HEFCE report meant that
students felt their voices were being heard.?
For Michael Carley, a senior lecturer at the
university and president of the Bath branch of
the University and College Union, the report
highlights the faultline running through Breakwell?s tenure as vice-chancellor. ?The position of
vice-chancellor used to be someone who essentially thought of themselves as an academic. They
would take on the vice-chancellorship for a short
time and then go back to academia. What the
pay gap between executives and staff has done is
completely detach the vice-chancellor from the
rest of us. Now you have vice-chancellors who
think of themselves as CEOs. There is no defence
of academic values or what it is to be a community
of learning.?
He was surprised at the trenchant tone of the
HEFCE report and hopes it represents a turning
point. ?It?s devastating, every paragraph is unbelievable,? he says. ?People talk about a culture of
fear, but as soon as you talk about it, it disappears.
Last year was the university?s 50th anniversary.
She?s been vice-chancellor for more than a third of
the life of the university. There is now a sense that
this can?t continue.?
With rumours of further revelations to come
surrounding a management culture that provoked
feelings of fear and powerlessness, Carley doubts
Breakwell will be able to hang on to her position,
her house, her car loan, housekeeper or biscuits.
?I think the revelations to come will make her
position more untenable. That should ?nish her,?
he says.
26.11.17
Society
*
IN FOCUS | 29
There?s nothing funny about ?hipster
racism?, no matter how you dress it up
Lena Dunham has
been accused of
being o?ensive.
Arwa Mahdawi asks if
stars will ever
learn ?irony? is
not an excuse
AURORA
PERRINEAU
LENA
DUNHAM
Mixed-race
actress
accused by
Dunham of
lying after
saying she
was raped by
a writer on TV
series Girls.
Despite being
an outspoken
feminist, she
publicly failed
to support
Aurora
Perrineau?s
claims.
B
y now it is a familiar cycle.
First Lena Dunham, the
writer/actor/director best
known for creating and
starring in HBO?s Girls, does
or says something incredibly tone-deaf and offensive. Outrage
ensues and people explain to Dunham
why her actions were offensive. She
apologises. But she doesn?t seem to
listen because a few months pass and,
without fail, Dunham does something
else offensive. And then the cycle
repeats itself. �
The latest Dunham drama began last
week when the actress Aurora Perrineau燼ccused Murray Miller, a writer
on Girls, of raping her when she was 17.
Dunham has built her brand on being
an outspoken feminist and has publicly
said you should always believe women;
that women don?t lie about rape. But
to some, it seems that what she meant
was is that white women don?t lie about
rape. Because Dunham?s ?rst reaction to Perrineau?s allegations was to
get together with her Girls co-creator
Jenni Konner and publicly accuse the
mixed-race actress of lying. This was
particularly galling to many since the
recent #MeToo movement has focused
on wealthy white women and largely
ignored victims of colour.
Dunham?s defence of Miller (for
which she has now apologised) caused
an immediate backlash and sparked
calls for women of colour to ?divest?
from Dunham. In a statement which
went viral, the writer Zinzi Clemmons
talked about how, as a student at Brown
University, she?d known a lot of people
who?d moved in the same circles as
Dunham. Wealthy, well-educated liberals with parents who were in?uential
in the art world. ?Back in college, I
avoided these people like the plague
because of their well-known racism,?
Clemmons wrote. ?I?d call their strain
?hipster racism?.?
You may have heard the term ?hipster racism? before. It?s been around
for over a decade now and seems to
have been popularised by an article by
Carmen Van Kerckhove in Racialicious
about the The 10 Biggest Race and Pop
Culture Trends of 2006. The article
noted that hipster racism is ?a trend
we noticed back in 2005, at the height
of the Kill Whitey parties?. In case
these mercifully passed you by, they
were ironic dance parties in Williamsburg, a then rapidly gentrifying part of
Brooklyn, NY, at which white hipsters
parodied black hip-hop culture in order
to ?kill the whiteness inside?. The Kill
Whitey parties are no longer A Thing.
The same cannot be said of hipster
racism ? it is now deeply embedded in
popular culture.
But what is this hipster racism, and
how would we recognise it? Rachel
E Dubrofsky, associate professor in
the department of communication at
the University of South Florida, says
hipster racism is the ?domain of white,
often progressive people who think
they are hip to racism, which they
mistakenly believe gives them permission to say and do racist things without
actually being racist?. Another key
tenet of hipster racism, she notes, is
that it is veiled in irony. ?I think hipster
racism emerged as we saw an increase
in ironic, self-re?exive humour in
popular forms of media.?
Examples of hipster racism are
everywhere. ?The sheer ubiquity of [it]
is remarkable,? says Dubrofsky. And
because hipster racism is often characterised by ?humour?, it tends to be par-
ZINZI
CLEMMONS
The novelist
and Dunham
co-writer
says she
avoided many
white liberals
at university
because
of their
?well-known
racism?.
Photographs
by Nina Subin;
Michael
Kovac/Getty;
Nancy Rivera/
ACE
?The ubiquity of it is
remarkable. Some
popular white women
comedians are terrible
hipster racists?
Rachel Dubrofsky, academic
Sarah Silverman,
rma
an,
orn
left, has worn
blackface.
mer
Amy Schumer
has been
or a
criticised for
ke.
Hispanic joke.
ticularly pervasive in comedy. ?Some of
the most popular white women comedians are terrible hipster racists,? she
notes. In August, for example, Tina Fey
appeared on Saturday Night Live to talk
about white nationalists marching on
Charlottesville ? which she did while
making a joke about Thomas Jefferson
raping his 14-year-old slave, Sally Hemings, calling her ?that hot light-skinned
girl over by the butter churn?. Amy
Schumer is known for making jokes
like: ?I used to date Hispanic guys, but
now I prefer consensual.? And Sarah
Silverman has worn blackface on a
number of occasions (which she now
says she reg
regrets).
Hipster rracism doesn?t just present
in off-colou
-colour humour ? you can see it
in the way that
t
certain on-trend types
fetishise ot
other races. A mixed-race
employee at Vice told me, for example,
about a white executive in her
office who routinely uses people
of colour
colo as props to make him
seem ?cool?. He often tries to
bante with her about hip-hop,
banter
for example,
assuming that she
ex
is obviously
into it because of her
obv
backgro
background. ?There was one time,?
she rec
recalls, ?when he wanted to
have a business dinner for cool
creative people and the invite list
creativ
was all brown people. It made us
feel like p
pets.? Hipster racism is thinking that you can use someone else?s
culture as a prop.
Another pervasive example of hipster racism is the staggering number
of white pe
people who don?t seem to
understand that there is no ironic way
to say the N
N-word if you are not black.
Earlier this month, Ta-Nehisi Coates
was asked at a panel about whether it
was OK for white hip-hop fans to rap
along when they hear black rappers use
the N-word in songs. No, there is not,
he eloquently explained. ?When you?re
white in this country you?re taught that
everything belongs to you. You think
you have a right to everything,? Coates
said. Hipster racism is thinking that
you have a right to the N-word, that if
you ? a liberal with black friends! ? use
it then somehow it isn?t offensive.
Hipster racism is a racism in denial
about its racism. However, that is also
true of racism in general. As Ibram X
Kendi, a professor at American University in Washington DC, says, ?The
expression of racism is to fundamentally deny its expression.? Kendi, the
author of Stamped from the Beginning:
The De?nitive History of Racist Ideas in
America, which won the 2016 national
book award for non?ction, says that
?in studying the history of racist ideas,
I found that every group or articulator
of racist ideas denied that their ideas
are racist?. Hipster racists protest it?s
not racism, it?s a joke, while nonhipster racists ?nd justi?cations for
their beliefs in science or scripture or
sociology.
If hipster racism is basically just
racism, then why bother with the
?hipster? bit? Why qualify it? Well,
as Dubrofsky explains, the phrase is
?important because it forces us to look
at the many different ways racism
functions. It also pushes us to look
beyond the question of intent. Hipster racism helps us understand that
even though someone might not have
intended to be racist, they were. Hipster racism also makes apparent that
racism is not a result of a lack of formal
education ? racism is not only the
domain of the supposedly ignorant?.
Hipster racism may be a 21st-century
term, but the paradox of progressives
inadvertently perpetuating racism while
supposedly challenging it is something
that has been happening for centuries.
In his book, Kendi chronicles the history of ?assimilationist ideas ? these
are ideas that consider themselves to
be well meaning ? they reject a biological hierarchy but believe in a cultural
or behavioural hierarchy?. Abolitionists, for example, thought that slavery
was wrong but also believed that it had
turned black people into brutes and
advocated the civilising of black people.
Then, in the 20th century, the 1965
Moynihan燫eport famously pathologised black families, arguing that the
problems many African Americans
were facing was down to the instability of their family structures. This idea,
that broken black families are to blame
for racial inequality in America, still
persists. You can see it, for example, in
a 2015 New York Times op-ed about the
Baltimore riots in which David Brooks
writes that: ?the real barriers to mobility
are matters of social psychology, the
quality of relationships in a home and a
neighborhood?.
With white supremacists marching
on the streets, one might be tempted to
dismiss hipster racism as not as serious
as racism-racism. Hipster racists are
no Richard Spencer ? one of America?s
most provocative white supremacists ?
but, increasingly, light is being shed on
a type of unwitting racism that, at best,
trivialises people?s experiences. And
that is no laughing matter.
*
30 | THE OBSERVER PROFILE
26.11.17
Spike Lee He?s still got it... as one of
the boldest auteurs in American ?lm
His breakthrough feature She?s Gotta
tta Have It
ciinema.
introduced a striking new voice to cinema.
emade
Now, three decades on, it has been rremade
can boast
as a Net?ix series and the veteran can
g his
a rich CV, showing no signs of losing
ony
y
dynamic touch. By Andrew Anthony
T
hirty one years after the
original ?lm was released,
Spike Lee?s She?s Gotta Have
It has gained a new life as
a 10-part series on Net?ix.
The ?lm and the series form
a convenient bridge from which to view
not just the director?s career, but also
the changing nature of sexual politics
and black representation in American
cinema.
For those who have not seen either
version, the story concerns a young
African American artist called Nola
Darling who lives in Brooklyn and
much of whose leisure time is spent
juggling three male lovers.
In 1986, it was something of a radical
scenario. In the ?rst place, arty black
independent ?lms were a rarity and
ones focused on a liberated woman
and her busy sex life were, until Lee?s
debut, nonexistent.
Shot in moody black and white,
She?s Gotta Have It was made for just
$175,000 in two weeks and went on
to earn 40 times that amount at the
box office. Although the ?lm showed
distinct traces of its director?s inexperience, it was also stylish, funny, cool and
con?dent.
It was obvious that a genuine talent
had arrived and equally apparent that
the person who was most convinced
of that opinion was Lee himself. From
the outset, he was not prepared to
be underestimated or overlooked, a
fate, he felt with no little justi?cation,
which had been standard for many
black ?lm-makers. ?Being black,? he
said, ?means you have to be 10 times
better than everybody else.?
Before Lee, there was blaxploitation, a subgenre that acted as a kind of
?lm backwater for black ?lm-makers
who were not going to get mainstream
?lms to direct. It would not be an
exaggeration to say that Lee almost
singlehandedly changed the image of
African Americans behind the camera
in Hollywood.
Another of his achievements
with She?s Gotta Have It was putting Brooklyn on the hip map, long
before Girls, Master of None, hipsters,
gentri?cation and perfect espressos
made it the place to move to in New
York. Having grown up in the borough,
Lee has remained loyal to the cause of
what he often refers to as the ?Republic
of Brooklyn?, although he now lives
on the Upper East Side of Manhattan,
where his children attended an elite
private school.
But undoubtedly the ?lm?s boldest
statement was to present an independent black woman who, far from clinging hold of her man ? an all too familiar
cinematic cliche ? was uncommitted
to three different men. It was, in many
respects, a neat reversal of the blackdude-playing-the ?eld stereotype.
More than that, perhaps, it depicted
African Americans doing things such
as kissing and making love, which
astonishingly was ? and to some extent
still is ? a less than common cinematic
sight.
However, at the ?lm?s centre was a
scene in which Nola (played by Tracy
Camilla Johns) tries to reignite her
affair with Jamie, seemingly the most
sensitive and mature of her lovers. But
when her seduction back?res, he rapes
her, after which Nola decides to start
a monogamous relationship with her
rapist.
Even at the time, it was a disturbing
scene, though one sidestepped by many
critics. Viewed from today?s perspective, it looks shockingly wrong.
Lee has always been tremendously
defensive of his work, tending to lash
out at critics who draw
aw attention to perceived shortcomorrtcomgo,
ings. But three yearss aago,
in a conversation with
th
ha
journalist at the Cannes
nn
nes
?lm festival, Lee said
d
the scene was his
biggest regret in his
career.
?If I was able to
have any do-overs,?
he said, ?that would
be it. It was just
totally? stupid. I wass
immature. It made light
igght
of rape and that?s thee one
thing I would take back?
ack?
k I
can promise you, there
erre will be
nothing like that in Sh
She?s
Have
he?s Gotta Ha
H
ve It,
the TV show, that?s fo
for
or sure.?
And he?s as good ass his word.
Whereas Lee wrote aand
nd directed the
original ?lm, the TV
V sseries
eries features
four women screenwriters,
writers, including
the Pulitzer prize-winning
win
nning playwright
Lynn Nottage and Lee?s
eee?s sister, the
actress Joie Lee.
In the TV version,, N
Nola
ola is physically
assaulted and catcalled,
leed, an event that is
treated as a trauma sh
she
he works through
in her art and in therapy.
raapy. Both takes are
self-conscious, partly
lyy as a result of the
characters occasionally
allly speaking direct
to screen, but the TV
V series seems
almost painfully concerned
nccerned to get its
sexual and identity po
politics
olitics absolutely
correct.
At times, it can make
ak
ke for slightly
strained viewing, as iff its creators
had spent too long in
n a workshop on
sex and intersectionality.
naality. And while
it attempts to do justice
tice to millennial
preoccupations and ? there is no other
phrase ? self-obsession,
io
on, it steers an
Although Lee
L was born in
Atlanta, Geor
Georgia, he moved as
Br
a child to Brooklyn
, where his
taught art and literature
mother taug
father was a jazz musiand his fath
cian and composer.
co
It was a middle-class
upbringing
upbringin and he attended
Morehouse College,
Atlanta?s M
the
celebrated black univerth
he celebr
sity whos
whose alumni include
Martin L
Luther King and
Samuel L Jackson.
After
Afte doing a masters
in ?lm back in New
York, he made a
Yo
60-minute ?lm Joe?s
6
Bed-Stuy Barbershop:
B
We Cut燞eads as his
W
degree thesis. After
deg
She?s Gotta Have It and
School Daze, Lee wrote,
produced and directed the
produce
made his reputation
?lm that ma
still dominates his CV:
aand
nd perhaps sti
Do tthe
Do
he Right Thingg.
was seen as an
At the time, it wa
At
incendiary
iin
ncendiary
ce
piece of ?lm-making, with
several
suggesting that it would
se
everal critics sugg
provoke
p
rovoke riots (the ?lm, set again in
Brooklyn, features a riot). ?Don?t these
my whole point was to
folks realise that m
provoke discussion so that the incident
that happens in the ?lm won?t hapLee quite reasonably
pen in real life?? Le
protested.
The ?lm was also criticised for its
the drug problems
failure to portray th
inner-city America.
then afflicting inne
Nonetheless, it was startlingly ambitious, full of energy and shone a light
on the simmering rracial tensions that
had been too often neglected in the
cinema.
F
Do the Right
htt Thing
Thing
ht on the
shone a light
acial
simmering rracial
at had
tensions that
ed
d on ?
?lm
been ignored
lm
uncomfortable path b
between
etween depicting Nola?s scrutiny byy the ?male gaze?
and the camera?s own
?xation with her
wn
n ?xation
naked body.
When it comes to identity, Lee has
never been in doubt o
off de?ning himself
as an uncompromising
in
ng black man from
Brooklyn. It has shaped
ped and de?ned
his work as well as hiss bristling image.
When he started out,
t, there was very
little promotion money
neey for She?s Gotta
Have It, so he made su
sure
ure that he got
attention by promoting
in
ng himself in a
provocative fashion..
Bringing attention
n to racism and
prejudice can often bee seen as a provocative act ? if donee by a black man.
But Lee, who?s been d
described
escribed as a
?slight man with thin
n skin?, was at the
beginning a very effec
ective
ctive showman. As
oiint, he acted in the
if to underline the point,
?rst 10 ?lms he directed,
ctted, playing the
ridiculous but amusing
in
ng Mars Blackmon
in She?s Gotta Have Itt.
THE LEE FILE
LE
Born Shelton Jackson ?Spike? Lee, 20
March 1957, in Atlanta, Georgia, the eldest
of four children of an arts teacher and a
jazz musician. He moved to Brooklyn as a
child.
Best of times He was nominated for best
original screenplay for 1989?s Do the Right
Thing, a ?lm that was critically acclaimed
and aired a vital debate about race in
America.
Worst of times Lee was o?ended that Do
the Right Thing was not nominated for the
best ?lm Oscar, particularly as the award
went to Driving Miss Daisy, a ?lm about
a black chau?eur and his wealthy white
female boss. ?That hurt,? said Lee.
What he says ?Black people have to be in
control of their own image because ?lm is
a powerful medium. We can?t just sit back
and let other people de?ne our existence.?
What others say ?The great thing about
Lee is that he has not tired or faltered.?
David Thomson, editor of The New
Biographical Dictionary of Film.
or many observers, it also
marked Lee?s directorial
high point.
poi There have been
others, most
m notably Malcolm X in
i 1992. In the ?rst
episode of She?s Gotta Have
It,
characters complain that
It, Lee has his chara
Denzel Washington, who played the
lead, was robbed for
fo not winning the
Oscar for best actor.
actor
been nominated for
Having never be
a directorial Academy
Acade award, Lee has
frequently criticise
criticised the Academy?s
racism. He?s also expended
quite a
ex
bit of creative energy
energ in spats with
Quentin Tarantino (whom he lambasts for his use of the
t N-word),
Clint Eastwood and many others. His
tendency to react ?rst and think later
has not been softened
soften by the advent of
social media.
In 2012, he used Twitter to circulate
the address of George
Geor Zimmerman, the
man who shot unarmed
high-school
unar
student Trayvon M
Martin in a gated
community in Florida
Flor . Aside from
potentially inciting a lynch mob, Lee
had got the wrong aaddress and had
to pay compensatio
compensation to the entirely
occupant who were forced
innocent occupants
to leave their home.
that has led
It?s this kind of activism
a
some critics to sugg
suggest that Lee?s public
t undermine his
persona has come to
cinematic reputation.
reputatio And although he
has been a proli?c ?lm-maker, directing more than 35 ?lms and documentaries, and 15 TV shows, as well as
producing, screenwriting and acting,
while also teaching a ?lm course, it is
perhaps fair to say that he hasn?t quite
lived up to his extraordinary early
promise.
She?s Gotta Have It will probably not
change that judgment, but it will add to
an enormously rich and impressively
varied body of work.
26.11.17
*
| 31
Comment
OBSERVER PRIZE
Rachel Cooke was named
Arts, culture and
entertainment commentator
of the year in the 2017
Editorial Intelligence awards
Read her interview with
Anna Soubry, New Review, page 14
The hard-won kinship between Britain
and Ireland is threatened by Brexit idiocy
An alliance decades in the making is endangered by an utter lack of progress over the post-separation border
Fintan
O?Toole
@fotoole
W
hen people are screwing up, they
tend to take their rage and frustration out on their nearest and dearest.
If, as seems increasingly likely, the
European Union summit on 15 December does
not give the go-ahead for talks on a post-Brexit
trade deal, we already know who?s going to get
the燽lame.
It will be all Ireland?s fault. The Sun this month
gave the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, fair warning,
advising him to ?shut your gob and grow up? and
stop ?disrespecting 17.4 million voters of a country
whose billions stopped Ireland going bust as
recently as 2010?. Boris Johnson, in Dublin,
delivered a slightly more diplomatic version of
the same message. The Irish should stop worrying about a hard border being reimposed on their
island, trust all the lovely reassurances they have
received from the British government and make
the necessary declaration that ?sufficient progress? has been made on the issue for substantive
talks to go ahead.
This is probably not going to happen. Ireland
may well be plunged into calling燼 snap general
election this week, which in itself will make any
major shift in its approach to the Brexit talks
before 15 December even less likely. No possible
outcome of that election will weaken Irish insistence on the imperative of avoiding a hard frontier
and the need for the British to come up with
actual proposals about how this is to be done.
As things stand, the December summit seems
likely to say that enough progress has been made
on two of the key preliminary questions, the
divorce bill and the mutual recognition of the
rights of expat citizens.
But Ireland will be the spoke in the wheel. The
verbal missiles that have already been tested will
then be launched across the Irish Sea. A whole
country will join the ranks of saboteurs and renegades, without whom the Brexit project would
be proceeding triumphantly.
To grasp the full stupidity of this situation,
remember that Ireland is actually Britain?s best
friend on the other side of the negotiating table.
This is partly because, before the Brexit referendum, Anglo-Irish relations were warmer than
at any time in the long and often bitter history
of mutual entanglement. The two governments
worked hand in glove on the Northern Ireland
peace process and developed a genuine trust.
They also co-operated very closely within the
European Union. But even leaving friendship
aside, Ireland has an overwhelming interest in
making Brexit as painless as it possibly can be.
A燽ad Brexit will destabilise Northern Ireland and
damage the Republic?s economy, in which most
small and medium-size companies depend heavily on the British market.
It is thus quite a feat for the Brexiters to turn
their most sympathetic ally into the scapegoat
for their own most egregious failures. They?ve
pulled it off by utilising their most remarkable
skill: sheer incompetence. They have known since
29燗pril, when the European commission issued
its negotiating guidelines, that credible proposals
on the Irish border were a basic condition that
had to be satis?ed before trade talks could start.
This could not have been more explicit.
Time after time, the lead EU negotiator, Michel
Barnier, has made it clear that ?the unique situation on the island of Ireland requires speci?c
solutions?. But in any case, one would expect
Britain to be just as insistent. It has grave responsibilities to its own citizens in Northern Ireland
and to the Belfast agreement, by which it is legally
and morally bound.
Yet the British have done essentially nothing.
Johnson?s referendum stump speech boasted of
selling French knickers to France and boomerangs to Australia, but even he did not anticipate
one of the biggest export successes of Brexit:
selling blarney to Ireland. In six months, Britain
has produced one ?imsy paper on the border
question, published in August to almost universal
derision.
I
t claims there will be no hard border ? indeed,
no physical border infrastructure whatsoever
? because the EU is going to agree a lovely free
trade agreement with Britain that will be just as
good as the single market and the customs union.
Asked about this document by the public accounts
committee at Westminster last week, the best the
head of Her Majesty?s Revenue and Customs, Jon
Thompson, could manage in its defence was that
?opinions vary? as to its merits.
At that same hearing, the woman charged with
planning for Britain?s post-Brexit borders, Karen
Wheeler, was asked an apparently soft question:
?Obviously, we have the situation of Northern
Ireland and the land border there; we have 300
crossing points where people and goods can
freely move. From your point of view, in your
team?s planning, what are the speci?c challenges
associated with planning for these changes
between the UK and southern Ireland??
Her reply was breathtaking: ?I am not really
able to say. That area is not within the scope that
we in the border planning group have been working on. The arrangements on Ireland are still爏ubject to negotiations and ministerial discussion, so
that has not come within our scope at this stage.?
What Wheeler was saying is that not only
does Britain not have speci?c plans for the Irish
Even Boris
Johnson
did not
anticipate
one of the
biggest
export
successes
of Brexit:
selling
blarney to
Ireland
border ? it has not even begun to consider what
those plans might be. When the PAC?s chair, Meg
Hillier, suggested that this was ?pretty poor?,
Thompson jumped in: ?We need the political
process to go a bit further before we can fully get
into understanding it.?
The ?political process? is the Brexit negotiations, in which Britain was supposed to table
?speci?c solutions? on Ireland by October. That
deadline had to be extended to mid-December.
Yet here, a month before a decision has to be
made, we have the most senior British officials
stating openly that they still don?t understand the
problem, let alone envisage a concrete solution.
So what is the Irish government supposed
to do? What happens with the border is a vital
national interest. Ireland is desperate to hear
what Britain has in mind. Instead, it has been
told not to worry its pretty little head about it, but
trust in the reassurances of its betters. It is being
placed in the position of a 1950s wife, whose husband is betting the house on a horse race while he
tells her, with increasingly irritation, to stop worrying because the nag is sure to romp home.
Behind this reckless arrogance, there is an
assumption that Ireland is an eccentric little
offshoot of Britain that must shut its gob and stop
asking awkward questions. It is, in fact, a sovereign country with the full backing of 26 other
EU member states ? and how strange it is that
we have reached a point where this comes as an
unpleasant surprise to so many people in London.
Illustration by
Dominic McKenzie
Fintan O?Toole is a columnist with the Irish Times
Call it a competition and dads will rush to bring up baby
Vanessa
Thorpe
@vanessathorpe
N
ormally speaking, a big insurance company really ought to
spend time showcasing just
how cautious its attitudes are.
After all, public demand for gamechanging, risk-taking purveyors of
?nancial protection is understandably
limited.
But on Friday, surprising news came
in from the City that Aviva, a Britishbased multinational, is to strike out
ahead of the ?eld in its staffing policy
by offering equal parental leave to all
those new fathers, as well as mothers,
who work for them. Each parent will
soon be able take up to a year off with
six months? pay ? certainly good cause
to chuck a bowler hat up in the air for
joy.
Social futurologists and medical
pundits have often indulged in debate
about whether men will ever be able
to燾arry a baby to term and yet, somehow, we have still not noticed that,
while dads cannot get pregnant, there
is nothing physiological stopping them
looking after a baby for a few months,
especially since the invention of hitech breast pumps and milk storage
systems.
The true obstacle for prospective
fathers in employed work remains
a very real concern that they might
miss out on promotion, or a pay rise,
simply because they opted to take
some extended leave. But this shiver
of fear is also felt by lots of women as
they walk out of the office door with a
t
cheery wave, a big bump and so
somee ggiftoured
wrapped parcels of pastel-coloured
baby grows.
If we want to shift attitudes
among more working men
permanently, the answer is
probably to start talking aboutt
paternity leave as if it is a bit
like an Ironman race or a
Tough Mudder challenge.
This would allow all those
fathers-to-be who secretly
love the thought of washing piles of muslin squares at
90 degrees, while their baby naps in
a pouch, to retain some outmoded
macho pride among their colleagues.
In fact, there would be very little
deception in it, because childcare is
absolutely no cinch. As many a bewilde
ed, su
p s new mother has tried
dered,
surprised
to exp
explain, it is an emotional
and physical assault course
lik no other. (The clue to
like
th surprise is in the way
this
th as with marriage,
that,
m
maternity
is dressed up
t
to爈ook
so pretty and
s
such爁un.)
Aviva?s management
s
should
be proud of its
in
initiative.
Its actions may
be dismissed by some as
an attention-grabbing ploy,
but by levelling the ?eld in this way
Aviva will increase the diversity of its
employees, just as it hopes. The move
will help to stop an unconscious inclination for bosses to favour a man for a
job over a woman of child-bearing age.
The only further step a seriously
enlightened company might take
would be to ensure that those employees left behind in the office or on the
factory ?oor do not have to suffer while
their colleagues are absent.
One thing is for sure, once men of
every type have started to shoulder a
fairer load of the baby care, there will
be a lot more whizzy labour-saving
gadgets given out at the average baby
shower. Pushchairs are also set to
become even more like hefty off-road
trucks.
32 | COMMENT
*
26.11.17
Established in 1791
Issue No 11,792
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Telephone: 020 3353 2000 Fax: 020 3353 3189
email: editor@observer.co.uk
EU NEGOTIATIONS
No foresight, no planning ? the Irish
border farce sums up Brexit
A
scathing critique of the British government?s conduct of the stalemated
Brexit negotiations, compiled from
reports by Irish diplomats in EU
countries, slipped into the public domain last
week. The timing of the leak was not coincidental. It precedes a critical heads-of-government summit in Brussels next month, when
Theresa May is gambling the negotiating
impasse will ?nally be broken. This summit
is shaping up to be a watershed moment for
Britain?s misconceived and ill-managed bid for
a deal with the EU before the door slams shut
a short 16 months from now.
The impact of the Irish leak was twofold.
The contempt privately expressed by some
EU government officials for the ?ailing efforts
of David Davis, the Brexit secretary, and Boris
Johnson, the foreign secretary, provided
further evidence that they are making an epic
mess of things. That?s important in terms of
the shifting mood in Britain, where public
awareness of the unaffordable economic and
social cost of Brexit, especially a hard Brexit,
is growing by the day. The leak also helped
remind Westminster of Dublin?s acute worries
about the likely negative consequences for Ireland, whose economy is uniquely dependent
on exports to Britain and British transit routes.
Such reminders are necessary. The extraordinary degree to which ministers have
ignored, minimised or fudged the complex
issues surrounding future border arrangements between Northern Ireland and the
Republic is nothing less than scandalous.
Nearly 18 months after Britain voted to leave
the EU, we still do not have a clear idea how
the reimposition of a ?hard border?, which
nearly everybody agrees would be a disaster,
can be avoided. The government?s sub-par
working paper in August merely revealed the
extent of its cluelessness and inattention. It
was rightly dismissed in Brussels as ?magical
thinking?.
May and many in her party seem unable to
grasp that the border issue is about a lot more
than trade. At stake is the ability of people
and communities to connect across an island
whose bitter history of subjugation, division
and injustice is never far from the surface. At
stake is the integrity of the 1998 Good Friday
agreement, the proud, shared achievement of
Labour and Conservative prime ministers. At
stake is future North-South co-operation and
what the Irish term the ?all-island economy?.
At stake, potentially, is the amicable relationship between the UK and Ireland that has
been painstakingly patched together amid the
gravestones of centuries of tears and blood.
When the EU taskforce dealing with Brexit
and the border ?mapped?, or listed, speci?c
areas of collaborative political, economic,
security, societal and agricultural activity that
could be adversely affected, the total was a
staggering 142. They range from co-ordination
on the ongoing paramilitary threat to crossborder ambulance services and bus routes. A
resurrected post-Brexit border does not have
to be physically imposed to still be deeply
psychologically and socially damaging. The
prospect of Ireland?s old dividing lines being
revived and retrenched thanks to another
English failure of imagination and leadership
is morally repugnant. As a nation, we have
been here before. Have we still not learned the
lessons of our shameful Irish past?
Judging by the complacency oozing out of
Downing Street, maybe not. As in so many
other areas of British life, when it comes to
Brexit, May betrays the legacy and achievements of her more competent predecessors.
The government continues blithely to maintain that all this will somehow be sorted out,
claiming that Britain and Ireland are on ?the
same page?. This is delusional and misleading. By declaring at the outset that, come what
may, Britain would leave the single market and
the customs union, May has effectively ruled
out a whole range of possible compromises.
She has boxed Britain into a wholly avoidable
corner. And the Irish are not fooled.
Suggestions by one senior minister that USCanada border arrangements could be replicated are shot down by another minister, who
points out that a physically defended, guarded
and patrolled demarcation of that type would
be unacceptable to Dublin and the EU. Hong
Kong, with its one country, two-systems
arrangement with China, is seen as another
possible paradigm. Even the Isle of Man is
mentioned. Yet for all this blather, the bottom
line is unchanging. To avoid the deal-breaking
?regulatory divergence? that is anathema to
Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator, and
all the unwanted knock-on effects, Northern
Ireland must surely remain in the customs
union and single market or, which is much the
same thing, agree to abide by its rules.
A
s the Brussels showdown looms, the
dire truth is that May and her chums
still do not have an answer. They
do not have a plan and appear not
to have a clue. Step forward the Irish government, which, unlike the Brexiters, has been
focused on the border all along. Last week?s
leak was another sally in Dublin?s intensifying
campaign to pressure London to stop waffling
and get serious. When he met May in Gothenburg this month, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime
minister, was blunt. Dublin had noted Britain?s
?at rejection of its earlier proposal that the EU
border be relocated at Irish Sea ports. Varadkar?s government rejected as malicious anonymous suggestions in London that this idea was
part of a devious Sinn Fein reuni?cation plot.
Varadkar played his ace. He warned May
that unless he received a formal, written guarantee that a hard border would not be reintroduced, Ireland would veto Britain?s summit
request that phase one of the negotiations be
concluded and the talks move on to a UK-EU
trade deal. Brexit-backing politicians had not
?thought all this through?, Varadkar said, but
now he was determined to concentrate minds.
While EU member states might agree ?suf?cient progress? has been made on the other
phase one issues ? Britain?s divorce bill and
citizens? rights ? Ireland would not sign off on
the border, as matters stand now.
This stark threat to capsize the government?s lagging Brexit timetable and torpedo the crucial trade talks before they are
launched caught May by surprise. So, too, did
the fact that Varadkar?s tough stance had the
backstage backing of Barnier and the EU commission. Has it worked? Behind the scenes,
officials are scurrying to make up for lost
time, looking to convince European counterparts that a solution is attainable. Ministers,
instead of fobbing off critics, are belatedly
engaging. They point out, reasonably, that
future arrangements at the Irish border partly
depend on agreement on the broader UK-EU
trade relationship. If a high-access, low-friction deal can be achieved, the border will not
loom so large. If the opposite occurs, or there
is no deal, all bets are off. At least they ?nally
acknowledge the problem.
May is now reduced to hoping that a number of things, over which she has little or no
control, do or do not happen. She must hope
her advisers can conjure up a convincing
border plan in time for the EU summit. She
must hope her narrow-minded allies in the
Democratic Unionist party, who unhelpfully
accuse Varadkar of hijacking Brexit to promote a united Ireland, will fall into line. She
must hope a possible, unrelated snap general
election in the Republic does not complicate
matters further. And, having repeated the classic 19th-century British politician?s mistake
of neglecting Ireland, May must hope the EU
proves more forgiving, more ?exible and more
far-sighted than she.
WELFARE
I
The great looming disaster that was ignored
in the budget ? the social care crisis
t beggars belief that the chancellor failed to
mention social care once during his budget
speech last Wednesday. For well over a year,
there has been an overwhelming consensus that
Britain?s care system for older people and disabled
adults is on the brink of crisis. Yet Philip Hammond
simply left it out. His omission has rightly attracted
criticism from two former Conservative health
secretaries in the Observer today.
Means-tested support for social care is provided
by councils, which have seen government grants
cut signi?cantly in recent years. As a result, council
spending on social care has fallen by up to 30% in
some areas since 2010. Three independent health
thinktanks have produced a joint estimate that
Wednesday?s budget will leave a �5bn funding
gap by 2019.
This will put huge pressure on the NHS, as people who can?t access care deteriorate and end up in
hospital wards instead. And it will leave millions
without the care they need. The number of people
getting state help with the costs of their care has
fallen by more than a quarter since 2011, while
the charity AgeUK says there are 1.2 million older
people who struggle without help to carry out
everyday tasks such as washing and dressing.
That this leaves older people and their families
in an intolerable position has not been enough to
spur the government into action. An ageing population and the rising cost of providing care mean
we should be spending more, not less. Yet we are
further than ever away from a long-term funding
solution.
A mix of short-term opportunism and political
missteps has made social care increasingly toxic in
the last decade. In 2010, Labour plans to introduce
a charge on estates to fund a National Care Service
were branded a ?death tax? by the Conservative
opposition. Earlier this year, ill-thought through
plans in the Conservative manifesto that would
have required individuals to run down all their
assets, including their house, to �0,000 before
state support would kick in, were labelled a
?dementia tax?.
Instead of offering solutions, ministers are
saying families need to do more for their older
relatives. This is hopelessly insufficient: the
increasing incidence of complex conditions such
as dementia mean growing numbers will need
professional support, not just care from their loved
ones. Government has nothing to say on how
families can square the circle of being expected
to put off retirement for longer, with caring for
elderly parents. The government has announced
another consultation on social care funding . It?s
the last thing we need. Since 1997, there have been
no fewer than four independent commissions and
?ve government papers on funding reform. We
already have the answer: as a society, we need to
be spending more to ensure people experience a
humane end of life.
T
here are different ways to do this, but
some are more racked with problems and
injustices than others. Today, the Observer
reveals the government has told local
authorities it has dropped its plans to impose a cap
on care costs in 2020. Good riddance. The idea was
that people would be expected to cover their own
care costs until they reached a cap of �,000, and
that they would insure themselves against these
costs with private insurance.
But this plan was always ?awed. Specialist
insurers have warned the government there is no
market for this type of insurance. Basic human
psychology means people are reluctant to save for
their retirement income, let alone pay to insure an
outcome half a lifetime away that they simply hope
won?t happen. Insuring for long-term care costs
is also difficult because there are huge levels of
uncertainty about what will happen to those costs
decades down the line. At any rate, introducing a
cap without properly funding councils to provide
care for people who meet the cap is pointless.
This year?s Conservative manifesto proposal is
deeply unfair. Why should those unlucky enough
to develop care needs in later life have to meet the
costs of care, while the luckier escape altogether?
The proposal leaves the anomaly that someone
who develops cancer gets the costs of their care
covered by the state, while someone who gets
dementia has to pay up themselves.
If anything, the case for funding social care along
the same lines as the NHS is even stronger than in
the case of healthcare. It would be expensive, but
there are plenty of ways it could be collectively
funded by affluent baby boomers; for example,
through inheritance tax or a higher rate of income
tax for high-income pensioners enjoying the fruits
of overly generous ?nal salary pension schemes
that are funded by younger workers.
The real block is not money ? it is a lack of
political bravery. While Brexit ticks on, social care
remains perhaps the most neglected aspect of our
social infrastructure. There?s no greater emblem of
the toxic stasis at the heart of this government than
its failure to ?x it.
26.11.17
COMMENT | 33
*
RIDDELL?S VIEW
Life is going to turn very nasty if
we can?t solve the growth puzzle
If our rulers cannot ful?l the promise of making people better o?, politics will be fundamentally reshaped
Andrew
ew
nsley
Rawnsley
@andrewrawnsley
wnsley
O
ne of the earliest examples of the personal
computer was the LGP-30. Created in
1956, it had a tiny fraction of the processing
power contained in the slim phone that I
carry in my pocket. This artefact from the Jurassic
era of computing was also excruciatingly expensive. Its retail cost was $47,000. That?s more than
$400,000 in today?s money.
This is one way of illustrating why productivity
matters so much. It is by improving the efficiency
of making things that more people can have better
stuff at cheaper prices. Getting more from each
hour worked allows wages to rise, lifts living
standards and boosts the tax take to ?nance
additional government spending on desirable
services. It is this which ultimately underwrites
political promises and makes us feel we are getting
better off. Absent improvements in productivity,
everything else goes to pieces. Including politics.
Especially politics.
Which is why it wasn?t any of the big sounding numbers in the budget that counted. The
?gure that really mattered was a tiny one. That
number was 1.2%, which is the revised amount by
which the Office for Budget Responsibility thinks
productivity will grow per year. From that alarmingly small number, it projects other frighteningly
small numbers. The economy will grow by less
than 2% in each of the next ?ve years. That means
protracted wage stagnation. This forecast, grim as
it sounds, is based on one rosy assumption, which
is that Brexit has a relatively benign effect on the
economy. A bad Brexit would make things considerably worse.
These small numbers have large consequences.
The period since the Great Crash of 2008 is turning into the most stagnant era for living standards since records began. If Britain is now stuck
in a low-growth rut, this will be massive. It will
fundamentally reshape political argument and
very likely blast apart existing parties. It already is.
We will be taken in directions that will be highly
challenging and to places that could be extremely
unpleasant. For all of the life of every adult living
in Britain, there have been economic ups and
downs and governments have come and gone
with the booms and busts. Yet the overall picture
has seemed steady. It was the shared assumption
of both politicians and voters that the economy
would expand at a reasonable clip over time. It
was the essential foundation of the expectation
that most people would be better off than their
parents. The parties argued about how to divide
the cake, but they shared a belief that the size of
the cake would carry on growing at a respectable
rate. That made the dividing business a lot easier.
If the cake ceases to grow ? or increases at such a
glacial pace that it feels like a stop to many folk ?
that is going to have vast implications.
Let?s start with the least important consequence,
which is what this might mean for our current rulers. It has been a rough-and-ready rule that governments improve their chances of re-election if most
people feel they are becoming better off. ?You?ve
never had it so good?, as Harold Macmillan didn?t
quite say on his way to an election victory in 1959 as
an incumbent presiding over a buoyant economy.
Governments struggle to retain support if voters
think living standards are stalling or falling.
This rule doesn?t explain everything about election results, but it is a signi?cant component of
most. Take our two most recent contests. In 2015,
David Cameron was lucky that the timing of the
election coincided with a brief period when real
disposable incomes were rising. It helped him to
justify the pain of austerity on the grounds that a
pay-off was beginning to show up in people?s pockets. The Tories improved on their performance of
?ve years earlier and won a narrow majority. Two
years on, Theresa May chanced her arm with the
electorate when real disposable incomes were
once again being squeezed. She tried to change the
subject by making the June election about other
things, notably Brexit, but that didn?t really work.
The stagnation of living standards gave traction
to Jeremy Corbyn?s argument that the rules of
the economy are rigged in favour of the rich. The
Tories lost their narrow majority.
That was not the only difference between those
two elections, but it was one of the important ones.
If the Tories can stretch this parliament to its full
length, they will next face the voters in 2022. You
wouldn?t fancy their chances if most people are
feeling no better off than they do now and some
feel worse off than they were at the time of the
Great Crash. Put another way, if Labour were not
to win the next election in those circumstances,
Labour would only have itself to blame. A low-
growth future will be nightmarish for governments
of any complexion. It will be much harder to ful?l
their promises. Every budget will be difficult. To
raise the funds to meet pressure for spending on
public services, taxes will have to go up ? and it
won?t be just ?the rich? and companies paying
more. Or there will have to be a moderation in
expectations of what the state can deliver.
The challenges of a low-growth era will be just
as sharp for Labour as for the Tories. It may be
more acute for Labour with its historical impulse
to promise a New Jerusalem. John McDonnell
can use the growth forecasts to attack the current
management, but he?d best hope that they are not
accurate if he ever ends up in the Treasury with
responsibility for trying to ?nd the money to make
good on all of Labour?s spending promises. The
solution won?t be found on an adviser?s iPad.
In a low-growth future, there might be more of
an audience for the view that we over-emphasise
Some pursuers of power
will create dividing lines
around identity and
nationality. That ugly
trend is already manifest
economic goods. If there?s not much growth to
be had anyway, the Greens and those of a similar inclination could win a wider hearing for the
contention that there are more important things
in life. My hunch is that it will take a long time to
acclimatise most citizens to the idea that growth is
no longer a given.
One likely effect on political argument is that
it will become more ferociously polarised, an ampli?cation of a trend that is already evident. Desperate
times breed more extreme remedies. It is no coincidence, as the old Marxists liked to say, that Brexit,
Trump and other populist eruptions have occurred
during the long squeeze on living standards that
has followed the ?nancial crisis. Brave politicians
may try to start an adult conversation with the
electorate about the hard choices that follow from
low growth. The cowardly, the desperadoes and the
unscrupulous will take the national conversation
in darker directions. If they can no longer plausibly
promise to make people better off, some pursuers
of power will seek to create dividing lines around
identity and nationality. That ugly trend is already
manifest at home and abroad.
A more bene?cial use of political energy would
be to ?nd out why growth has become so anaemic
and do something about it. Politicians have been
slow to come to a subject that has been troubling
economists for some time. All the advanced economies are struggling with ?the productivity puzzle?.
The syndrome does seem especially chronic in
Britain, but it is not unique to us. This is unfortunate. If other countries had cracked the problem,
economists would no longer call it a ?puzzle? and
we could copy the solutions.
T
he left contends that low wages, inequality
and corporate hoarding are the principal
villains. The right prefers to ?nd the fault in
regulation and tax. There is merit in various
arguments, even if they always seem to suit the preexisting prejudices of those advancing them. There
are some obvious things that government can try to
do, such as addressing skills shortages and de?cient
infrastructure. There are some obvious things that
government ought not to do, such as disrupting
the relationship with our most important trading
partners. But the fact that the ?puzzle? is afflicting
a wide variety of countries with different political histories suggests that there is not one simple,
catch-all cause or solution.
A politically neutral explanation for low productivity growth is that humanity is simply not coming
up with enough breakthrough ideas. Ever since the
?rst clever woman lit the ?rst ?re, human progress
has been powered by discovery, from seasonal crop
rotation, to the steam engine, to the computer chip.
Ingenious members of our species are still coming
up with smart innovations, but it is argued that
none of them is signi?cant enough to trigger a new
wave of growth.
Are there any sources of optimism? Some. I?ve
a hunch that ?driverless cars? are not the miracle
solution, and my scepticism is reinforced because
so many politicians are trying to get into them,
but humanity hasn?t lost its talent for invention.
Another hope is that economists are wrong, which
they often are. One reason they could be wrong
about growth prospects is because it has got harder
to accurately measure productivity. They may be
too pessimistic about it.
If the future is low growth, our politics will
change in ways which could be very nasty. Let?s
hope that the economists are wrong. Or that someone out there has a very clever idea.
34 | COMMENT
*
26.11.17
There?s only one sick country in
Europe ? and it?s not Germany
Our neighbours will come through the horrors of a hung parliament, but Britain?s problems have only just begun
Oxford) ? predicted the only feasible Brexit
trade deal would be one based in principle on the
Canadian free trade agreement, but which could
take up to a decade to negotiate in legal detail.
This, along with the absence of other trade agreements, which will take equally long to negotiate,
would represent such a shock to British trade
?ows that he thought it would topple the UK
into a full-blown recession. As shocking was his
revelation that some leading Brexiters were fully
aware of the economic risks, but wanted to organise the pain so it comes early rather than later in
the run-up to a 2022 general election.
Will
Hutton
@williamnhutton
S
uddenly Germany, famed for its political
stability, betrayed a new vulnerability last
week. Or so some would have you believe.
One of the tragedies of modern Britain is
the implosion of the political centre. And without
the ballast of a strong centre, we are steadily losing
the capacity to think straight.
This was a case in point. Chancellor Merkel?s
attempts to build a coalition government fell
apart. Eurosceptic liberals and green ultras could
not agree a programme for government with her
Christian Democrats. The British right gloated at
the prospect: this was the moment to exact better
terms in the Brexit negotiations from a mortally
wounded Germany now suddenly brought to
earth.
It was thinking far removed from any reality.
Germany is neither politically nor economically
mortally wounded. Yes, there is a major political
crisis following a hung election, but Germany will
?nd a way through, rather more satisfactorily than
stuffing a tiny minority party with a billion-pound
bribe, as the Tories did with the Democratic
Unionists. Its political system requires its principal parties to keep on talking to each other if
none can command an overall parliamentary
majority; they have their ideologies, but tempered
by the necessity of dialogue to form a potential
programme for government. A resolution will be
found, or another election called, with the electorate more keenly aware of the choices they are
making. It is democracy by grownups.
That is what is happening. German Social
Democrats, after an impassioned plea by the president to put public before party interest, will poll
their members about the terms for creating a possible coalition with Merkel?s Christian Democrats.
There will be enormous wariness: junior partners
in coalitions don?t fare well in either Germany
or Britain, but Merkel will be going cap in hand
to her left-of-centre rivals as her last option. For
them, it could be the opportunity to put the social
?rmly back in Germany?s social market economy.
The economic backdrop to the negotiations
could scarcely be more benign. Germany is beginning to grow strongly. Meanwhile, the eurozone,
derided in Britain for its sclerosis, austerity, social
cruelty, unsustainability and imminent collapse,
is growing at the fastest rate for 10 years. German
T
Germany is
not about to
capitulate
to British
demands to
be a cut a
special deal
on Brexit
unemployment is lower than in Britain, and not
achieved by many of those in work suffering
stagnating real wages and insecurity. Germany has
a strong budgetary surplus; there is huge scope to
increase its already formidable economic competitiveness by stepping up its spending across new
technology. It is not Britain that is going to be at
the centre of the latest European industrial revolution, but Germany and France.
Yet none of this intrudes into our insular political debate. Germany is not about to capitulate to
British demands to be cut a special deal on Brexit
so that we can enjoy all the trade and market
access bene?ts of EU membership without any of
the responsibilities. Why would any German politician want that? Why would they need to? We are
the supplicant country in desperate and growing
trouble, if only we could see it.
That was the message of last week?s budget.
The Office for Budget Responsibility projects that
economic growth over the next ?ve years will
average 1.4%, an unprecedented, brutal downward
revision of its forecasts. Productivity is projected
to grow at a snail?s pace, so there is virtually no
growth in earnings adjusted for in?ation. It is the
bleakest official forecast I can remember.
Nor does it capture all the risks. Sir Ivan Rogers,
UK representative to the EU between 2013 and
2017 ? in his lecture at the Hertford College series
on prime ministers and Europe on Friday evening (full disclosure: I am principal at Hertford,
Angela Merkel at the
33rd state party
convention of the CDU
in MecklenburgVorpommern,
yesterday.
Shutterstock
he chancellor, Philip Hammond, one of
the few remaining substantial centrist
British political ?gures, knows all this. But
to acknowledge it openly would, given the
current state of the Conservative party, cost him
his political life. He would be con?rmed as the
pessimistic, unpatriotic Eeyore working against
the will of the people. Instead, he has to talk of the
opportunity ahead, and how the performance of
the UK economy ?continues to confound those
who seek to talk it down?. It is rubbish, as well he
knows. But the atmosphere does not permit the
truth to be said. Britain remains the exceptional
country that is going to get an exceptional deal
congruent with its exceptional destiny.
But we are exceptional only in the way that
belief breeds so much national self-delusion. Our
economic performance is woeful, to be cruelly
exposed when outside the EU. And there is an
emerging consensus about the need for an industrial strategy both to support more fast-growing,
knowledge-intensive ?rms and to try to close
Britain?s huge geographical inequalities.
Milton Keynes, with half Liverpool?s population, produces the same volume of goods and
services. For all its political weakness, the government is set to launch an industrial strategy white
paper tomorrow ? reinforced by Hammond earmarking another �3bn for research and development in 2021 and �n for the productivity fund
in 2022. Jam tomorrow, maybe, and years behind
what is happening in Europe and China, but a
welcome signal of a new direction of travel.
It is the beginning of thinking straighter, but
too many cling to Britain?s alleged exceptionalism,
?ring up so many Brexiters. The question in British
politics is how soon the economic severity of what
lies ahead will change minds ? and whether exceptionalism can survive 20 years of wage stagnation,
recession, stasis and the inevitable setback in
house prices. It is not Germany that is the sick man
of Europe, the cherished belief of the Brexiters,
but Britain. Real change, even recommitting to
Europe, will follow that growing realisation.
Alex Clark Don?t get too big for your boots if your life stalls
Whether a
graduate or a
footballer, you
can?t go to
court if your
career is a
letdown
M
y last three WhatsApp
messages: from the family group, excited tidings
of a new card game for
Christmas; me, reporting on traffic to
the teacher of my evening class; from
a different part of the family, a photograph of a jumble sale. Not featured:
discussions about whether my superextraordinary, high-end football boots
were pinching my toes and therefore
contributing to a less-than-perfect
performance and ? because, hey, it?s all
about fun ? ?a loss of enjoyment?.
Frankly, I?d skip around the centre
circle in a pair of mock-croc platforms three sizes too small for the
�,000 a week that Manchester
United mid?elder Marouane Fellaini
is reported to be paid every week. I?d
even consider doing the same at Paris
Saint-Germain, the club that football?s
rumour mill has suggested might be
Fellaini?s destination when his contract expires next June.
Footballers ? even 30-year-olds
who?ve found themselves on the
receiving end of supporters? frustration, as Fellaini has when struggling for
form ? rarely take a pay cut when they
move club. Nonetheless, he might well
?nd use for the � he?s seeking from
New Balance, the manufacturer of the
boots in question.
New Balance terminated Fellaini?s
sponsorship deal because he played
without the brand?s logo on his boots;
he counters that the boots were so
sub-par that the logos peeled off. The
brouhaha involved grown men swapping messages in the dead of night
about ill-?tting footwear, with one
New Balance team member informing
Fellaini that the problem could be ?xed
because ?we have the big dogs working on this?. Who are these mysterious
dogs and just how big are they? We can
only hope the court case will reveal
their identities and, with any luck, their
tips for making uncomfy shoes comfy, a
sure?re hit in the party season.
(All the points if you can name the last
dog to turn up in a high-pro?le footballrelated court case. See answer below.)
If I were head honcho of shifting
units at Adidas, I?d be all over this like a
rash; last week, it relaunched the ?classic?, possibly even ?iconic?, Predator,
with the help of David Beckham and
Fellaini?s Old Trafford team-mate, Paul
Pogba. If they persuade us the boots
are like walking on angels? wings, we
might even overlook the �9.95 price
tag (cheaper model available at a mere
�9.95).
Ian Herbert?s recent biography
of Bob Paisley, Quiet Genius, reveals
that Kenny Dalglish used to provide
the biscuits for the weekly team talk
because he had a pal at McVitie?s,
although even then, there
here were glimmerings of player power:
er: Dalglish,
Alan Hansen and Graeme
eme Souness
used to get the chocolate
ate ones,
therefore known as ?the
he Jock
biscuits?, while the others
hers
made do with plain.
Clearly, we?ll never
get back to Kansas; thee
gravy train of global
football is headed
in quite a different
direction. It?s not
fair to single out
Fellaini for wanting
to pro?t from his
talent and his hard
work ? nor for listening to his no doubt highly
hly
paid advisers. But we must,
surely, turn away from
m the
idea that compensation
n
rson
might be owed to a person
whose already enviablee
situation has not worked
ked
out precisely to his or her
satisfaction.
Another court case
Own goal: Marouane Fellaini
llaini
in his New Balance boots.
s.
to come to light in the last few days
concerns an Oxford graduate suing the
university because he didn?t get the
?rst-class degree to which he felt, in
some ill-de?ned way, entitled. Instead,
Faiz Siddiqui had to settle for a 2:1 and,
consequently, feels that he has not had
the career and
and, indeed, the income
he might ha
have done.
The story ? in fact, someone?s
real life, tho
though it has something so sadl
sadly fable-like about
it ? provokes an ebb and ?ow of
emotions. One reading: we
assigned so great a value
have ass
something ? a ?rst-class
to some
degree from Oxford ? that
a young
you man cannot cope
with falling marginally
short
shor of it and seeks
reco
recourse from authorities who cannot possibly
compensate
for what he
com
has really lost, which is
his sense of potential, of
specialness,
of success.
spe
Ano
Another:
years after the
fact ? the student in quesOxford 17 years ago ?
tion left O
a man?s llife has not gone as he
wished and he seeks redress.
That redress takes a
particu form: money. His
particular
counsel,
couns alleging inadequate
equat teaching and failure
de appropriately with
to deal
his m
medical conditions,
which
whic the university
denies, points to a subsequent ?frankly
poor? employment history; the student,
now 39, is currently unemployed.
Whether his case has any chance
of success remains to be seen. But
whether or not the plaintiff triumphs,
the last two decades of his life, whatever has caused it to unfold as it has,
cannot be returned to him. How much
worse might have things gone for him
if he hadn?t felt that a ?rst-class degree
was the ne plus ultra of achievement?
Dickens, as usual, has the answer
to everything. Proceed at once to
Bleak House, and the case of Jarndyce
and Jarndyce, in which years of legal
proceedings eventually demolish the
entirety of the fortune being contested. In Dickens?s hands, it becomes
impossible to understand precisely the
origins or nature of the matter, simply
that it is destructive and entropic. ?But
injustice breeds injustice; the ?ghting with shadows and being defeated
by them necessitates the setting up of
substances to combat.?
It?s a long way from your feet hurting to accepting that, in Larkin?s words,
?An only life can take so long to climb /
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may
never?. As for ?a loss of enjoyment?,
though, once you accept that goes with
the territory of being alive, you might
be a little further from having to call in
m?learned friends.
(Answer: Rosie, the pet bulldog after
whom Harry Redknapp named his
Monaco bank account.)
26.11.17
COMMENT | 35
*
The entertainment
industry is in a
sex scandal muddle
Double standards make it di?cult to determine who will
be punished over sexual allegations and who will thrive
Catherine
Bennett
@Bennett_C_
A
mong the numerous murder suspects in
Agatha Christie?s Ordeal by Innocence,
newly dramatised for the BBC, the young
Micky Argyle is presented by the author
as not notably appealing. ?Handsome?, yes, but
with a ?reckless, angry, unhappy face?.
In this adaptation, intended as a highlight of
the BBC Christmas schedule, Micky is played by
Ed Westwick. In a Vanity Fair piece about the
show at the beginning of November, the scriptwriter, Sarah Phelps promised ?a nice murder,
twisted deviance and savagery?.
Within a week, two women, Kristina Cohen,
then Aurelie Wynn had alleged, separately, that
they were raped by Westwick. He has strenuously
denied the allegations ? including a recently added
one of assault ? saying they were ?unveri?ed and
provably untrue social media claims?. The BBC,
meanwhile, put the series inde?nitely on hold.
?The BBC is not making any judgment but, until
these matters are resolved, we will not include
Ordeal by Innocence in the schedules?.
But if it is not, as above, making any judgment
on Westwick, the BBC is plainly, by postponing
one of its most cherished productions, making an
important, perhaps exemplary, statement on how
seriously Savile?s former home now takes accusations of sexual misconduct against an individual
who was not under suspicion during ?lming.
It could also be understandable caution on the
part of an organisation whose building is prominently adorned with a sculpture whose creator
was long ago revealed to be an incestuous paedophile who even abused the family dog. Though,
obviously, what with Eric Gill prancing about in
his priestly shortie habit, it couldn?t have known
that back in 1932.
In time, the BBC may even want to extend this
concern for appearances to factual programming: disputed allegations of historic workplace
?ashing ? by its best-paid employee, Chris Evans
? still being something that licence fee payers are
expected to overlook.
In ignoring certain allegations (including
that Evans, in an account he rejects, grabbed
a colleague?s breasts), the BBC makes another
judgment which may reassure any participants in
further, large-scale productions who are confused
as to which levels of earlier sexual misconduct,
involving one cast member, are severe enough to
require major rescheduling.
As in Hollywood, in fact, it would help if senior
?gures could agree, for the sake of clarity and
fairness, on the process whereby alleged sexual
misdemeanours by artists and performers, taking into account factors such as fame, race and
power, and the passage of time, result in outcomes
ranging from, say: professional disgrace for Kevin
Spacey: tarnished, but enduring eminence for
Roman Polanski; some disappointed sighing
around Dustin Hoffman; and, in the case of Casey
Affleck ? an Oscar.
Even pre-Weinstein, Affleck?s award, for his
appearance in Manchester by the Sea, was widely
interpreted as a lamentable indication, on the
Academy?s part, that the star?s settlements of two
(denied) separate accusations of protracted harassment, in 2010, were not that big a deal. How else to
explain it? It?s difficult to believe these professionals would be naive enough, like the Archers fans
who persecuted the actor playing Rob Titchener, to
mentally merge the ?outrageous? Affleck with the
?lm?s hero, a solitary caretaker, bleakly atoning for
a completely different kind of offence.
But if so, could a further sombre performance
from Affleck, covered in a sheet in A Ghost Story,
allow for further reputational enhancement
when he presents the 2018 Oscar for best actress?
Having almost been persuaded, after seeing Hugh
Grant in Paddington 2, into forgiving his earlier
collaboration on media regulation with Max
Mosley, I appreciate that these transfers of affection can be hard to resist.
Art/life confusion can?t explain, on the other
hand, why The Death of Stalin still seems immune
to misconduct contamination, given that one of its
stars, Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Stalin?s horrendous deputy, Malenkov, has recently been accused
of harassment (which he denies) by three women.
He has since left the cast of the Amazon Studio
Ed Westwick, dropped by the BBC; Casey Affleck,
celebrated by Hollywood. BBC/Getty
series, Transparent. That Tambor had not, when
Armando Iannucci?s ?lm was made, been accused,
may not, to anyone who endorses the BBC?s dropping of Ordeal by Innocence, or the retrospective
purging of Kevin Spacey, be much of an excuse.
The severity of one misconduct charge doesn?t
make a lesser one insigni?cant.
What the still-bright prospects of The Death of
Stalin may affirm, however, is that a great ?lm ? or
series ? should be allowed to survive post-production, unrelated disclosures about the off-set life of
an individual performer, acting a part.
I
f, however, respect for testimony by alleged
victims does require backdated, as well as future
disgrace, then consistency surely demands that
the BBC reviews, as well as the Agatha Christie,
all screenings of work featuring men only later
accused of misconduct. A fast-expanding category
that already includes, as well as Spacey, Charlie
Sheen , Ben Affleck, Jeremy Piven and, unhappily
for Tootsie , Dustin Hoffman. Piven has strenuously
denied the allegations, branding them ?absolutely
false and completely fabricated?.
In a recent interview, Armie Hammer, who plays
the older lover in Luca Guadagnino?s glorious Call
me by Your Name, objected to a Hollywood system
that celebrated Casey Affleck?s Oscar, but crushed
another compromised ?gure, Nate Parker, once
subject of a rape charge, of which he was acquitted.
There are few signs that
the industry will ever recoil
from what appears to be
Woody Allen?s mission
Parker, in whose ?lm Hammer appeared, was sent
to what the latter calls ?director?s jail?: ?It?s like
there are two standards for how to deal with someone who has this kind of issue in their past.?
By extension, these variable standards can affect
the fortunes of co-workers, such as Hammer. Sony
still plans to release a ?lm featuring Kevin Spacey
(recon?gured as Christopher Plummer), because,
it argues: ?a ?lm is not the work of one person.?
But sometimes, actually, it is. Only Woody
Allen, who has been acclaimed as the ?auteur
personi?ed?, can explain why so many of his
?lms, have given, since he cast himself, aged 44,
as the partner of a super-appreciative 17-year-old,
played by Mariel Hemingway, the impression of a
creep?s manifesto.
To date, there are few signs that an industry
which is willing to condemn, post Weinstein,
even honourably intended TV series and ?lms,
will ever recoil from what appears to be Allen?s
mission: to make routinely grotesque Hollywood
age gaps, between male and female leads, look
stupidly unambitious.
While other new work is effectively erased
because a participating actor was subsequently
shamed, Allen, who survives allegations of abuse
by Dylan Farrow, and the fact of his sexual relationship with her college-aged step-sister (daughter of
Allen?s ex-partner) just comes back with yet more
February-December trolling. The Farrow allegations, which Allen denied, were investigated at the
time but no charges were pursued.
His latest offering, the forthcoming A Rainy
Day in New York, features, it?s reported, intimacies
between a 44-year-old male character, and a young
female one, played by the latest in the Hemingway
line of proteges, Elle Fanning (19).
Successive Woodyminded stars have explained
why, even if that?s not entirely great, we shouldn?t
?indict the work?. Separate the art from the artist.
And forget one of Allen?s most quoted gags: ?I
can?t listen to that much Wagner. I start getting
the urge to conquer Poland.?
Why should the poor be left in the internet slow lane?
Sonia
Sodha
@soniasodha
I
magine if the government had
restored ownership of Britain?s roads
to the private trusts that used to run
them. Imagine they were allowed to
charge companies different amounts
to use them, so that companies with
enough cash could pay for exclusive use
of fast lanes, leaving their smaller competitors consigned to lag behind on slow,
badly maintained roads. Sounds outrageously anti-competitive, doesn?t it?
Yet that is exactly what internet service providers (ISPs) want to be able to
do. A war has been raging in the United
States over ?net neutrality?: the principle that ISPs should not be allowed
to charge companies more to get faster
access to consumers or ? the ?ipside
? charge consumers differentially to
access data from different content
providers (for example, bundles that
include ?all-you-can-consume? data
only for speci?c apps such as Net?ix).
There are two concerns about these
sorts of practices. First, just as energy
companies offer hundreds of complex
tariffs to obfuscate price comparison, allowing broadband and mobile
providers to sell multiple bundles with
different sorts of access to different
apps will make it harder for consumers
to compare prices. Second, it will make
it much harder for startups to challenge the established big beasts such as
Net?ix and YouTube. Both will lead to
less competition.
In 2015, the Obama administration
enshrined the principle of ?net neutrality? into law. But under Trump, the
US telecoms regulator has said it will
overturn these rules.
Net neutrality is particularly important in the US where there is incredibly little broadband competition. The
majority of consumers only have a
?choice? of one provider, Comcast. If
Comcast decides Net?ix is its preferred
provider for unlimited content, they
have no option to vote with their feet. In
contrast, the UK broadband and mobile
internet market is more competitive
(although it has become more concentrated in recent years. And the EU
has some of the toughest rules on net
neutrality in the world.
So is this even relevant in the UK?
The answer is a resounding yes. If
winning unlimited access to your app
becomes the new game in town in terms
of establishing market dominance in
the US, companies such as Facebook
and Net?ix will inevitably start to lobby
for a relaxation of the rules on this side
of the pond. And it?s hard to think of a
contemporary tech giant that can?t call
Silicon Valley its home. If it becomes
harder for upstarts to challenge the big
companies in the US, this will impinge
on the global consumer experience. The
ISPs argue that they should be allowed
to charge the companies that make huge
pro?ts off the back of their infrastructure and failing to allow them to do so
is holding back investment. A Financial
Times editorial highlights that Net?ix
and YouTube consume half of internet
bandwidth, yet ISPs can?t impose ?a toll
for hogging the road?.
This is codswallop. Internet traffic is
generated by consumers using data they
already pay ISPs for. A lack of competition in the ISP market means allowing them to charge companies such
as Net?ix will see these extra charges
passed on to consumers, while they
pocket the difference, rather than invest
it in making the internet faster.
Take the UK. Our broadband infrastructure is creaking by international
standards, with direct ?bre connections
to just 2% of households, compared to
over 60% in South Korea, Japan and
Spain. At heart, this comes down to
competing conceptions of the internet.
Is it a public utility that requires state
investment to ensure equitable and efficient access, like our road network? Or
Facebook pursues
developing world
markets rich in
potential users
not yet connected
is it something that can be left entirely
to the market? Rather than allowing
ISPs to charge companies for access, we
should be doing more to tackle international tax avoidance by tech giants such
as Facebook and Google and investing
some of the proceeds in improving our
internet infrastructure.
N
et neutrality has a signi?cance
that goes beyond the ?ow of
data. It is yet another frontier
in the battle for the natural
monopoly that is the internet. As Nick
Srnicek argues in Platform Capitalism,
data is the new currency and platforms
such as Google have to reach a critical
mass of users in order to trade in it.
Take Facebook. Its reach is sensational: a quarter of the world?s population have accounts. But it wants more
and is aggressively pursuing developing
world markets rich in potential users
not yet connected to the internet. So,
while it publicly champions net neutrality in the US, in the developing world
it has, with breathtaking hypocrisy,
been exploiting a lack of net neutrality
under the guise of a ?philanthropic?
initiative, Free Basics. It pressures
mobile networks to offer free access
(at their own cost) to the Free Basics
platform, which includes ? you guessed
it, Facebook, plus a limited number of
other (Facebook-approved) sites.
This matters. Facebook has more
power than perhaps any other com-
pany in history. It doesn?t just have the
power to control our internet access
? it has the power to choose how to
moderate the debate. It has the power
to control what news its users see via
murky editorial algorithms it refuses to
make public. It has the power to decide
whether to ?lter out fake news generated by malicious bots.
Companies such as Facebook exert
power over our political sphere like
no company before. They don?t just
use cash to wield in?uence ? they
control the channels of communication on which democracy is reliant. As
Facebook?s chief, Mark Zuckerberg,
wrote in his manifesto-missive this
year: ?In recent campaigns around the
world? we?ve seen the candidate with
the largest and most engaged following
on Facebook usually wins.?. Yes, that?s
the same Zuckerberg who has been on a
50-state tour, complete with photo-ops
and dinners with ?ordinary? families.
Facebook?s untrammelled dominance
makes the thought of its founder checking into the White House more than a
little chilling. But there are causes for
optimism. Net neutrality campaigns
have proved hugely popular: more
than 2 million Americans took part
in a 2014 online protest. Facebook?s
attempt to conquer India?s internet via
Free Basics back?red spectacularly as a
result of public outcry and Facebook?s
own clumsy PR handling. President
Zuckerberg may not yet be a foregone
conclusion.
36 | COMMENT
*
Letters+emails
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
THE BIG ISSUE RUSSIA
How true local democracy
could avoid future Grenfells
Who will step in after bullies
have silenced the dissenters?
It was disconcerting to read Julian
Borger?s article ?Why are libertarians
now teaming up with autocrats to
undermine democracy? (In Focus, last
week) followed by Catherine Bennett
and Carole Cadwalladr?s Comment
items, both concerning media bullying.
Most of us will be tempted to form
alliances with others who share our
objectives and rightwing libertarian activists are no different. On this
occasion, that objective seems to be
undermining the ?big government?
of Europe and it is no surprise that
autocrats will eagerly assist. However,
they probably see this as an intermediate step to creating a vacuum that they
intend to ?ll.
Journalists who challenge this are
demonised (a Russian press attache has
already branded Cadwalladr as bad),
judges condemned as public enemies
because the law is inconvenient and
any MPs prepared to stand by their
principles are derided, harangued by
trolls; even death threats become a real
possibility.
I?m not contending that Leave.EU,
the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail
are deliberately aiding those who
would pro?t by weakening the UK, but
surely they realise that discrediting all
who dare to disagree with their narrative prepares the ground.
Any vacuum will inevitably be ?lled
by the bully with the largest and most
aggressive media presence. One such
player is Vladimir Putin, with his
army of bots and cyborg accounts that
could control ? and, when appropriate,
manufacture ? the news fed to us. If
rightwing libertarian activists believe
Carole
Cadwalladr?s
article last week.
that self-direction crucially de?nes
a free life, they need to question who
they want to fashion the echo chamber
in which we will all have to live and to
what extent their activities would be
tolerated by either Trump or Putin.
Graham Rex
Swansea
Those who have been following Carole
Cadwalladr?s recent series of articles
on Russia?s role in Brexit may have
found the threats made against her in
the crude guise of humour quite chilling (?My fear and fury in the eye of the
Russia-Brexit storm?, last week).
The government?s duty to uphold
the right to free speech is perhaps
nowhere more important than in
the ?eld of journalism. If known and
identi?ed groups, based in the UK, are
allowed to intimidate journalists, who
is to prevent those groups targeting
their readers?
The extreme Brexiters have shown
no compunction in verbally attacking
MPs, senior civil servants and the judiciary. Cadwalladr is on the front line; if
she isn?t robustly defended, how long
could it be before those who choose
FOR THE RECORD
Our interview with shadow chancellor John McDonnell last week said his
economic plans included �0bn in
public spending. The correct ?gure is
�0bn (?The Tories have got no mission, no objectives?, News, page 10).
A change to a headline in later editions incorrectly described Sir Martin
Donnelly, former permanent secretary
in the Department for International
Trade, as a ?former aide? (?Fox?s former
aide says Brexit will inevitably make
us poorer?, News, last week, page�.
A permanent secretary is a senior civil
servant, not a political appointee.
Howard Blake, not David Bowie, wrote
the music for the 1982 animation The
Snowman; Bowie did, however, make
to read her work are identi?ed and
vili?ed? As a former police officer, I am
concerned that the criminal law seems
to offer little protection from this sort
of conduct.
Bob Denmark
Garstang
Lancashire
The time has surely come when
Labour has to make an unambiguous stand against Brexit. It is becoming increasingly clear, surely to the
population at large, that Brexit would
impair our security, even our peace,
our culture, our capacity to learn and
research, our voice in the world, our
voice for reason, our ability to collaborate both within these islands and
across Europe, our values systems, our
sense of community and our trading
potential.
We have been sold a pup, on the back
of lies, misinformation and very dodgy
money, as Cadwalladr makes clear, and
Labour needs to expose the deceit for
what it is.
David Curtis
Solihull
West Midlands
TOP 10 ONLINE LAST WEEK
an introduction to the ?lm in 1984
(?Go on, have some salt on your chips?,
Opinion, last week, page 15).
It might not have been clear that
Snapshots (New Review, last week,
page 5) was dealing in myths and
mostly outdated US state regulations
when presenting photographs from the
book I Fought the Law. It is no longer
forbidden to serve wine in teacups
in Kansas or carry a violin in a paper
bag in Utah... but be assured it is still
unlawful to pass off painted sparrows
as parakeets in Michigan.
Write to Stephen Pritchard, Readers?
Editor, the Observer, York Way, London
N1 9GU, email observer.readers@
observer.co.uk tel 0203 353 4656
26.11.17
Read them at observer.co.uk
1. Harvey Weinstein had secret hitlist of
names to quash sex scandal
2. Upsurge in big earthquakes predicted
for 2018 as Earth rotation slows
3. Sarah Silverman: ?Jokes I made 15
years ago I?d not make today?
4. 20 apps to improve your smartphone
5. How a half-educated tech elite
delivered us into evil John Naughton
6. My husband has sex with me, but
never says I look nice Dear Mariella
7. The Earth may not be ?at, but it just
might be doomed David Mitchell
8. Outrage at ?lavish? spending by City of
London Corporation
9. The 40 best gadgets of 2017
10. MPs defend fees of up to �000 an
hour to appear on ?Kremlin propaganda?
In her account of the tragedy at
Grenfell Tower (?The sadness doesn?t
stop?, The New Review, last week),
Emma Dent Coad rightly states that
two fundamental changes are needed.
First, that homes need to be treated as
places to live in, rather than as a potential source of investment income and,
second, that people should be paid a
proper living wage, so that they would
not have to rely on in-work bene?ts to
maintain family income levels.
There is one other change that Ms
Dent barely alluded to, but that is most
necessary. She described Kensington
and Chelsea council as a ?one-party
state?. In order to ensure proper levels
of public accountability and a truly representative local democracy, councils
such as Kensington need to be elected
under a proportional voting system,
such as has existed in Scotland for the
last 10 years.
Would the disaster of Grenfell
Tower have been prevented had local
government been more democratic and
tenants? grievances been heeded?
Nigel Baldwin
Portsmouth
Blame austerity, not schools
Terence Conran (?This much I know?,
Magazine, last week) states: ?Schools
no longer instil in students the pleasure
of making things. Education has turned
children away from practical skills.?
What he does not appear to know is
that, sadly, much of this is a direct
result of current education policy,
which is squeezing out creative subjects through performance measures
(eg the EBacc), lack of funding and the
shortage of specialist teachers.
Those of us in school leadership are
struggling against the tide and could
do with more backing from people of
in?uence such as Conran, rather than
suggesting it is the fault of schools.
Maura Cassels
Deputy headteacher
Waldegrave school, Twickenham
government for some time but I have
not noticed any action. So, to get a
third cheer, could the EHRC and the
government follow up these ?ndings,
con?rmed again, with action and could
journalists check their facts before
making claims that do not stand up?
Professor Gary Craig
Wilberforce Institute for the Study of
Slavery and Emancipation
University of Hull
No one voted for this
The panic William Keegan detects
among Brexiters must surge once it is
accepted that the government has no
constitutional or legal authority to take
the UK out of the single market (?Brexit
lacks credibility ? but Remainers lack
leadership?, Business, last week).
No one voted to quit because no one
could. The referendum ballot paper
invited voters to advise the government on their preferences for remaining in, or leaving, one speci?ed entity
? the EU. It made no mention of the
single market, which the government?s
accompanying official guidance clearly
distinguished as a second, distinct
entity. It warned of risks of losing
?full?, and having ?less?, access to it.
In other words, leaving the EU would
have only a contingent and limited, not
automatic and absolute, impact.
Voters could state their preference
for leaving the EU at a clearly stated
risk of losing some, but not all, access.
For Brexiters to manipulate this carefully quali?ed consequence into a case
for a possible ?no deal? outcome is a
usurpation of democratic process.
A soft (Norway-style) Brexit is thus
the only legitimate target if the government wishes (in spite of increasingly
alarming omens) to pursue leaving the
EU. (Rescission of the triggering of
article 50 is a legitimate option.) The
government?s overriding duty is surely
to secure the economic wellbeing of
the nation and do nothing unnecessary to prejudice this. Abandoning the
single market is not legally necessary.
David Crawford
Norwich
Inaction over racial abuse
Taking a stand on Brexit
Two cheers for the article published
last Sunday (?Chinese in UK report
most racial abuse?, News, last week).
This was described as the ??rst
study of its kind to be undertaken?.
In 2008, I led a research team at the
University of Hull that produced a
report on racism against the Chinese
population, funded, ironically, by the
Department for Communities and
Local Government, which came to the
same conclusion.
In 2015, I led a research team
at Durham University, which also
concluded that Chinese suffered the
greatest levels of racial abuse among
minority ethnic groups, often because
of their geographically isolated position within the labour market. These
?ndings have been with the Equality
and Human Rights Commission and
I am astonished at the Observer?s attitude to the EU. Reading your editorial
of 12 November (Enough of this shambles?), I became increasingly convinced, as did my wife, that you were
leading up to a denunciation of the
whole Brexit misadventure and would
advocate that we withdraw article 50,
as Lord Kerr and others have said we
are perfectly entitled to do.
Then all you came up with was that
the process should be prolonged and
implementation delayed: ?This is not to
say the decision to leave the EU should
be reversed.? But increasing numbers
of people believe it should be reversed.
Nick Clegg, for example, has argued
persuasively that it should, and could,
be in his book, How to Stop Brexit.
J Peter Greaves
London SE3
Egypt shows again that Muslims have most to fear from Islamists
HA
Hellyer
@hahellyer
I
t is not the ?rst time that Egypt has
seen attacks on mosques or other
places of worship. But no one should
be left in any confusion ? Friday?s
massacre was unprecedented. The
Egyptian media are reporting in excess
of 300 people dead, with scores more
injured, as a result of the multi-pronged
attack on the mosque in northern Sinai
? and Egypt is now in the midst of a
mourning period, a watershed in its
modern history.
There are several points that ought
to be stated from the outset. Even as
the numbers of the dead were being
released, and Egyptians were lamenting the greatest terrorist attack on their
soil, the Trump administration was
tweeting about walls and travel bans.
There is, of course, no suggestion that
DC will be placing Egypt on that travel
ban list, nor should that be suggested,
because the premise is absurd.
The primary target of radical
Islamist groups is, and always has
been, other Muslims. Muslims are the
principal victims ? and Muslims, more
than any other group, are the ones who
are ?ghting them more than anyone
else. Rather than problematise them,
we ought to recognise that Muslims
are an integral ? the most fundamental
? part of the campaign against radical extremism. Of course, Mr Trump,
while offering his condolences to Mr
al-Sisi, a close ally, couldn?t bring himself to acknowledge that the victims of
this latest atrocity were Muslims.
Another key point is that while it
may be tempting to describe this brutal
attack as an extremist group attacking
another minority in a Muslim-majority
country, we ought to be very careful
about falling into that trap. Su?s aren?t
a sect of Muslims; rather, Su?sm is
an integral part of mainstream Sunni
Islam. Extremists may deny that, but
there is no reason why the rest of us
ought to; historically, all normative
expressions of Islam took for granted
the discipline of Su?sm as a spiritual
science within Islamic thought. That
radicals deem Su? orders, or those
affiliated to them, as renegades is not
in keeping with the heritage of Sunni
Islam, whether in Egypt or elsewhere.
At the same time, it is entirely likely
that this mosque and its worshippers
were at least partially targeted because
of their acceptance of that traditional
form of Islamic thought. It is also quite
Su?s aren?t a sect
of Muslims; rather,
Su?sm is an integral
part of mainstream
Sunni Islam
possible that there is a more political reason at work ? that the villagers
rejected any co-operation with radical groups, as was reported in some
Egyptian media, and thus they became
a target for this brutality. Over the
coming days, we shall learn more.
It remains important for Cairo to
respond with wisdom, with care and
with determination. But over the past
few years, Cairo has focused on almost
a purely ?hard? security response in
Sinai ? certainly a critical part of any
comprehensive approach. Yet Egypt
needs a much wider, multifaceted
response, taking on board all the vulnerabilities that the people of Sinai currently face. Alas, it is unlikely that in the
aftermath of such a brutal attack, there
will be much appetite for considering
a wider strategy. Egypt mourns and its
population is understandably furious.
There is one more point that must
be emphasised. These types of radical
groups are not focused on one type of
victim. Rather, they have now shown
beyond doubt that they are willing to
attack all whom they deem to be in the
way of the ful?lment of their goals ?
Muslim and non-Muslims alike. This
kind of scourge, alas, has been at work
for a long while and mosques in Iraq
are in ruins because of it.
But as we all take stock of how to
combat this threat, it is important
to remember that such entities have
come and gone. Societies all around
the爓orld爃ave had to deal with terrorism and those societies continue
to stand. The likes of those who
carried out these despicable attacks
have struck燽efore, and while their
effects were felt, they have never
been victorious. How quickly they are
overcome depends on our collective
wisdom and resolve.
Dr HA Hellyer is senior non-resident
fellow at the Atlantic Council and the
Royal United Services Institute in
London and author of A Revolution
Undone
26.11.17
*
| 37
Contact us Email financial@theguardian.com
Phone 020 3353 4791 Fax 020 3353 3196
Business
Agenda A testing week for everyone
MAKING THE NEWS
For Centrica?s Conn, it?s
good riddance to 2017
When Iain Conn ? the vintage-Jaguarowning boss of Centrica ? built a
new garage at his home, the planning
application reportedly cited the need
to protect the smooth old machine
from ?bird droppings?.
That submission probably referred
to the car rather than the old charmer
himself, but considering the year that
Conn has endured, it might be shrewd
for him to take personal precautions.
Conn?s 2017 began with a �5m
?ne for IT failures at Centrica-owned
British Gas, but if he hoped that was
the nadir, he grossly underestimated an
almost peerless talent for calamity.
This year also saw a high court
?nding that Rolls-Royce had been
aware of corruption allegations within
the company in 2010, but decided not to
notify the Serious Fraud Office (Conn
was the senior independent director in
2010 and a director from 2005 to 2014).
Then there was the bombshell of
an accounting scandal in BT Group?s
Italian arm (Conn sits on the telco?s
audit committee), plus the catastrophe
at Centrica last week, when the group?s
shares had their biggest daily fall after
British Gas said it had lost almost 6% of
its customers in three months.
This week, Centrica will pay its
interim dividend ? with investors
openly speculating that those
payments may be under threat (again)
in the next ?nancial year. Conn may
soon need to take cover.
Iain Conn, the boss of troubled Centrica.
RBS could trip in exams
over tricky US question
The bank of mum and dad is
supposedly familiar with saying
prayers for their dependants at exam
time, so they can achieve independence
(and stop needing parental support).
Well, after his latest budget last
week, chancellor Philip Hammond is in
a similar spot, having signalled the start
B SIMON
BY
GO
GOODLEY
NOTES ON PAY INEQUALITY
VITAL STATISTIC
MARSTON?S
of returning Royal Bank of Scotland to
the private sector by selling �bn of
the state?s stake in ?ve years.
To do that effectively, though, RBS
needs to pass a few exams, including
its ability to withstand consumer losses
? �bn across the big lenders ? an
economic downturn and a collapse
in the value of sterling. All will be
revealed on Tuesday, when the Bank
of England publishes its annual health
check on the sector.
Yes, it is bank stress test results
week, when RBS is being examined
? along with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds
Banking Group, Standard Chartered,
Santander and Nationwide.
Not that anyone is overly bothered
about the rest. The only one of interest
will be RBS, with some expecting a
technical fail as it faces questions on its
multimillion-pound settlement with
the US justice department over actions
during the ?nancial crisis.
Share price, pence
150
140
130
120
110
100
J
F
M
A
M
J
J
A
S
O
N
PEOPLE
Tweet of the week goes to Nick Leeson,
the former ?nancial broker whose actions
brought down Barings in 1995. After his
�0m trading loss was listed at No 14 in
an all-time list. Leeson said: ?14th on the
list of all time losses!! I?m back in training
and looking for a new bank, number 1
by christmas!?
Black Friday bunkum
just doesn?t add up
Citizens Advice warns punters to
watch out for salespeople who ?make
promises that sound too good to be
true? and ?ask you to make a quick
decision by saying things like ?if you
don?t act now you?ll miss out?. This puts
you under pressure and doesn?t give
you time to think.?
It?s actually advice to try to stop folk
from falling for con artists, although it
seems just as appropriate to shoppers
trying to navigate the confected late
November sales season, including the
tiresome Black Friday last week and
its equally irritating sibling, Cyber
Monday, tomorrow.
Any psychologist will tell you that
it?s all a neat ruse. ?It?s a manipulative
plot that?s not new in the shopping
industry,? this page is hooked on
quoting addiction expert Dr Vera
Tarman as saying. ?If you want deals,
you have to get them in within a certain
period of time. It gets the mind going.?
Still, what no one ever seems able
to explain is why plenty of shoppers
seem to understand all the warnings
perfectly, but then happily fall for the
sales patter anyway. They save �0 on
some television they don?t have a spare
room to house, and then compound
that error by buying a blender they will
never take out of the box.
But, hey, just think of all the money
they?ve saved.
D
Investors will be keeping a keen eye on
the rather flat pubs and brewing sector
this week as Marston?s and Greene King
both provide trading updates amid fragile
UK consumer confidence.
A good week for
Peter Plumb, the
chief executive of
takeaway foodordering group Just Eat, as the online
company edged towards becoming a
FTSE 100 company after its stock market
value rose higher than Sainsbury?s.
The takeaway website has soared in value
since making its stock market debut
in 2014, with the company now worth
�6bn after gobbling up smaller rivals
including Hungryhouse and SkipTheDishes.
Steve Clayton, the head of equity funds
at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: ?Twenty
years ago it was all about going out to a
restaurant, but now it is all about the meal
coming to the home.?
The FTSE 100 ? the benchmark of the largest companies listed on the London stock
exchange ? is about 44% higher than it was
in January 1998. That same year, the average pay of a FTSE 100 boss was 47 times
higher than the average worker (according
to the High Pay Centre).
By contrast, it would now take an average UK full-time worker 160 years to earn
what an average FTSE 100 chief exec
could earn in a year, according to the same
organisation. All of which implies that
while top pay has roughly tripled (relative
to workforce pay) shares in the companies
these well-remunerated managers are
running have increased by less than half
their 1998 value.
You don?t have to be a complete leftwing
zealot to worry there?s a chance one side
of this equation is doing rather better than
the other. Still, the figures have failed to
speak for themselves, which is why others
must do so. Which brings us to this week
and the High Pay Centre?s second Gavron
memorial lecture, to be delivered by Sir
Vince Cable MP, Lib Dem leader.
A bad week
for Uber, the
embattled taxi
hailing service
led by Dara
Khosrowshahi,
which is
facing more
government
scrutiny around
the world in
the wake of its
admission that
it concealed
a massive data breach a?ecting 57 million
drivers and passengers. The internet group
admitted on Tuesday that hackers had
stolen the personal information in October
2016, and that Uber had paid them $100,000
to destroy it.
Postscript Twenty years of hurt
COMPANIES
O brother, why art
thou at Sports Direct?
EasyJet pro?ts drop as
Ryanair chases sales
EasyJet saw its pro?ts fall 17% last year,
with more than �0 million lost due to
the slump in the pound after the Brexit
vote, it was announced last week.
The airline reported a record
year for passenger numbers, ?ying
80.2爉illion people, almost 10% more
than in 2015-16, on ever fuller planes.
But while revenues exceeded �n
in 2016-17, fares dipped to ?ll seats in
what the departing chief executive,
Carolyn McCall, said was ?a difficult
year for the aviation industry?.
Still, maybe the airline is just not
pushing its staff hard enough.
Also last week, it emerged that cabin
crew at rival Ryanair were told they
could face ?disciplinary proceedings?
EasyJet filled its planes using low fares.
and changes to their hours unless they
sold more perfume and scratchcards.
The Irish airline has previously
denied pressuring staff to hit sales
targets, after it emerged that they
were encouraged to sell products in
return for bonuses. But letters from
recuitment agencies told cabin crew:
?This performance is not acceptable
and it is clear that you are simply not
doing your job on board.?
Sports Direct is facing criticism (again)
over an �m payout to the brother of
Mike Ashley, the company?s founder
and majority shareholder.
Last year, the retailer was heavily
criticised after it emerged that it was
paying a company owned by John
Ashley to deliver online orders outside
the UK. The arrangement had not been
disclosed to shareholders.
Steve Turner, assistant general
secretary of the union Unite, said: ?If
Mike Ashley is so concerned about
ensuring his brother gets the back
pay he says he is entitled to, why not
the agency workers at Sport Direct?s
Shirebrook warehouse?
?Many are yet to receive a portion
of the back pay owed because of nonpayment of the minimum wage.?
ECONOMICS
Britain?s leading ?nancial thinktank
warned workers last week to expect
an unprecedented two lost decades of
earnings growth and many more years
of austerity as a result of the marked
slowdown in the economy announced
in Philip Hammond?s budget.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies said
in its traditional post-budget analysis
Paul Johnson: warning of lost decades.
that forecasts slashing productivity,
earnings and growth in every year
until 2022 made ?pretty grim reading?,
and predicted that even by the middle
of the next decade, Britain?s public
?nances would still be in the red.
The Treasury said the reforms and
investment announced by the chancellor were designed to build a country
??t for the future?, but opposition
parties said the gloomy IFS report
undermined the chancellor?s claims.
Paul Johnson, the IFS?s director,
said the independent Office for Budget
Responsibility?s decision to reduce
its growth forecasts by a quarter over
the next ?ve years would delay de?cit
reduction, limit Hammond?s options
and harm living standards.
?We are in danger of losing not just
one but getting on for two decades of
earnings growth,? he said. ?We will all
have to get used to the idea that steadily rising living standards may be a
thing of the increasingly distant past.?
*
38 | BUSINESS
26.11.17
A self-driving Nissan. Carmakers
face an uncertain future in a world
of shared driverless vehicles.
Photograph by Philip Toscano/PA
Look, no hands ? what happens
once cars can drive themselves?
Autonomous vehicles are the focus of attention from Silicon
Valley to the Treasury. Once they catch on, our roads and
our workplaces will be transformed, writes Gwyn Topham
T
he chancellor may have been
keen to talk about the autonomous future in his budget, but
the money that talked loudest
last week came from Uber?s
�n deal with Volvo.
The scale of the order suggests driverless cars could indeed be just around
the corner: 24,000 Volvos are to be
kitted out with the ride-hailing company?s self-driving technology between
2019 and 2021. Assuming a robot driver
can do three times as many shifts as a
human, those cars alone could replace,
for example, every non-Uber taxi or
minicab in London.
How Uber deploys its new driverless
SUVs remains to be seen: but the news
underlines how the technology could
rapidly change the face of transport,
manufacturing and work. So who will
win and lose in the driverless future?
WINNERS
Technology companies
The race has been led by Google?s
self-driving division, now spun off as
Waymo, which has just started trials
of a driverless taxi service in Phoenix,
Arizona. Even before its ?rst lift has
been hailed by a member of the public
? and without having made a car of its
own, as it currently buys in Chrysler
minivans ? Waymo has been valued at
$70bn (�bn) by Morgan Stanley.
Mobileye, an Israeli maker of chips
and cameras for self-driving vehicles
with revenues of only $300m a year,
was bought by Intel for $15.3bn in
March. Uber is rushing to develop its
own robo-taxi tech to scale up pro?ts
on its enormous global customer base.
Richard Cuerden, academy director
at the British transport research centre
TRL, says of the future: ?It?s very
unlikely that we will buy cars as we do
now for personal ownership. Firms will
make money through things like data
sharing and advertising.?
Passengers
The utopian vision of a driverless
future is that just about everyone
would bene?t from shorter, safer and
more productive journeys. If driverlessness means shared ownership, as
many hope and believe, as well as more
efficient use of road space through
intelligent and connected vehicles,
there is the scope to massively reduce
congestion. If the model also reduces
the costs of door-to-door transport,
cars could go a long way to ensuring
more independent mobility for the
elderly and disabled.
Online media and retailers
Fewer young people are buying cars,
and not just because they are strapped
for cash: smartphones and tablets
mean journeys by bus or train are more
enjoyable. Today?s stressed driver can
hope for a similar future, Cuerden
says: ?You needn?t face forward any
more, you?ll be doing a million different things. The holy grail is to
free up that time.? Watching Net?ix,
Instagramming the motorway, internet
shopping: a whole new segment of the
population will be online and available.
Logistics ?rms
The unveiling by Elon Musk of Tesla?s
Semi electric truck, with its autopilot
features, will have caught the attention
of haulage ?rms. Around one-third of
costs in the $7bn US trucking industry
is drivers? wages.
In the UK, salaries have risen due to
a lack of drivers: the Freight Transport
Association last year said there was
a shortfall of almost 35,000 drivers
compared with available HGVs. Firms
whose delivery routes and schedules
are minutely plotted to save time, fuel
and money, will probably hope that trials of ?platooned? lorries ? linked vehicles travelling in convoy with perhaps
BUSINESS | 39
*
ACTIVATE AUTOPILOT FIVE SELF-DRIVING CARS
West?eld POD
The most
futuristic way
to get
around
h
Greenwich
st
? or at least
down the
rom
towpath from
the O2 Arena. The electric pods,
which are built in the Midlands and souped
up with driverless gadgetry from Oxbotica,
are currently in public trials in south
London to test how the public interacts
with the technology.
m Cab
Navya Autonom
The French
manufacturer?s
latest vehicle
looks more or
less like a sleek,
people-carrierstyle taxi: it just
has no driver?s
seat, steering
s, and its six passenger
wheel, or pedals,
seats all face inwards. The Autonom Cab
should be in production next year and
will be capable of speeds of 55mph ?
although, as it is designed for city centres,
it probably will not be seen anywhere
where it is allowed to go that fast. Prices
will start at around �0,000.
Uber?s Volvo XC90
London?s
transport
authorities
will be praying
that Uber
doesn?t want
to traverse its
narrow streetss with these chunky
UV The ride-hailing
id h ili app
Volvo XC90 SUVs.
ordered 24,000 of the �,000 vehicles
last week, for which Uber will provide the
just one driver in the lead cab ? are just
the ?rst step to a driverless future.
Lithium miners
As chancellor Philip Hammond said
while announcing a �0m fund for
charging networks, the road to autonomy starts with electric cars. And those
batteries need minerals: the global lithium-ion battery market is expected to
more than double in value in the next
seven years to around $75bn, according
to Transparency Market Research, as
electric car sales grow. Elements such
as cobalt will be in increasing demand,
and mining ?rms such as Glencore
have already struck deals with carmakers who want to lock in supplies.
LOSERS
Traditional car manufacturers
Many expect the number of vehicles in
private ownership to fall. Car manufacturers have been hiring directors from
software and tech ?rms as the market
has tilted ? witness Tesla?s valuation
surpassing Ford and GM?s this year.
Partnerships between Ford and
Uber?s rival Lyft, as well as Volvo?s
Uber deal, could point to how sales
evolve. Philippa Oldham, head of transport at the Institution of Mechanical
Engineers, says: ?Traditional sales have
already been going down year-on-year
as people go to a leasing model.
?Ford and BMW have car-share
businesses, while BMW is diversifying
into repurposing batteries as energy
storage solutions in homes. The challenge is where they develop their business models.?
Insurance ?rms
The majority of car accidents involve
some element of human error, and predictions in studies of the potential drop
in fatalities from self-driving cars have
ranged from 80 to 95%. KPMG found
insurance premiums could be expected
to drop by 50% in a decade.
On the other hand, some expect an
increase in crashes ? and more wrangles for insurers? legal departments
? during the transition period while
humans and machines share the roads.
Other issues remain, as Martyn
Thomas, professor of IT at Gresham
College, warns: ?How they will price
the risk of hacking is a complete mystery: a cybersecurity vulnerability that
could be exploited by criminals could
affect thousands of cars in a single day
and put insurers out of business.?
But, says Nick Reed, head of mobility
research at component maker Bosch,
motor insurance has to survive, even if
it is passed to manufacturers and ?eets
yet-to
yet-to-be-built
self-driving system.
The Volvos are already available with
sem
semi-autonomous
capabilities,
incl
including
some automatic braking
fea
features
? but Uber?s self-driving
ve
version
isn?t expected until 2021.
Tes Modell 3
Tesla
th most
This is the
n
a?ordable of Elon
Musk?s electric
dream cars. At
S,
$35,000 in the US,
it is around half
the price of any
other of the company?s models ? although
pimping up its self-driving capability will
cost at least $7k-$8k more, and British
buyers will have to wait at least two
years if they order now. Tesla?s Enhanced
Autopilot system can be topped up with
up to eight cameras, as well as sensors
and an onboard computer to enable what
the company claims will be full self-driving
in almost all circumstances ? at least, as
soon as the world allows it.
8
Audi A8
ng to some
According
views,
early reviews,
man
the German
mo
luxury limo
hy
is worthy
aim
of its claim
e most
to be the
selfadvanced self-driving
car available for
purcha now (or at any rate in
general purchase
f �,000). It has so-called
early 2018, for
Lev 3 Autonomy, where
Level
m
many
driving functions can
b done without any human
be
in
intervention
? although
th must still be a driver
there
behin the wheel until the law
behind
h
Sh
changes.
Show-o?
s can use their phone
to make it head o? and (accurately) park in
the garage.
once owner-drivers become passengers: ?The business model will change.
But consumers always need to have
the con?dence that, in the event of an
incident, there is compensation.?
Service stations and hotels
Goodbye, Moto? The appeal of a picnic
on the M6 may diminish substantially
when humans are no longer prompted
by driver fatigue to pull in, and are
instead engrossed in season 54 of The
Simpsons. Electric charging networks
may well not operate like petrol stations, where a vehicle has to pull in to
refuel. However, should full autonomy
allow all occupants to drink en route,
more frequent stops could become a
human necessity.
While few UK journeys might
require an overnight commute, a
vehicle comfortable enough to sleep
in could make hotels a less necessary
option for business travellers ? while
longer US trips might be continued
without the need for a roadside motel.
Professional drivers
Around a million people in the UK who
drive for a living could have to retrain,
the chancellor said, acknowledging
that ?for some people, this will be very
challenging?.
Cuerden is not convinced that so
many jobs would be lost: ?We?re leading the HGV platooning trials, which
see trucks operating more effectively
? but all would need drivers for now.
Long term, they might have time on
their hands, but perform new tasks.?
By 2030, he believes, the bulk of
journeys will be covered autonomously, but a human backup could
remain. Meanwhile, many taxi ?rms
still value ?the customer interface, the
human touch,? Cuerden says. ?So drivers might become stewards.?
Government co?ers
The �bn that the UK government
claims to have forsaken by freezing
fuel duty may be only a warm-up
for the gaping hole that an all-electric
?eet would mean. Tens of millions
in revenue for traffic offences could
also be jeopardised by law-abiding爎obots.
British councils also made a �0m
pro?t on parking in 2016. Some have
predicted that the UK parking industry,
worth �5bn in 2015, would effectively
disappear in a world of fewer cars.
However, the British Parking
Association remains de?antly upbeat:
?The number of cars entering, exiting
and navigating a parking facility will
likely be very much the same as it is
now. Just without people.?
Bounce for broadcasters as retailers
increase their Christmas spending
A slow TV ad market looks likely to get a seasonal boost, reports Mark Sweney
T
he annual festive battle for the
attention and disposable income
of consumers is well under way,
and advertisers? spending on
Christmas commercials is forecast to
create growth in the shaky British TV
advertising market for the ?rst time
since last summer?s Brexit vote.
Advertisers are expected to commit
�2bn on TV ads to attract shoppers,
with a record-breaking �n projected
to be spent on all forms of marketing
this Christmas.
The 1% year-on-year boost in TV
ad spending expected in the fourth
quarter will mark the ?rst growth since
the second quarter of last year, when
th Brexit vote triggered a weakening
the
in the economy that has resulted in
ad
advertisers
tightening their belts for
th best part of the last 18 months.
the
?The market has struggled this year
bu as a medium, the ability of televibut,
si to drive sales in the crucial fourth
sion
qu
quarter
remains undiminished,? says
P Hall, chief commercial strategy
Phil
officer at media buyer MediaCom UK,
whose clients include Tesco.
?Marketers don?t have the luxury of
holding back spend at Christmas: it is
too important to retail燽usinesses to
be cutting spend in the same way they
have done for the rest of the year.?
Leo Rayman, chief executive of
Grey燣ondon, the advertising agency
behind Marks & Spencer?s seasonal
campaign, says: ?The big Christmas ad
season has in a way become the UK?s
version of the Super Bowl. You have to
create a big moment of impact in popular culture. A bad Christmas can make
or break a brand.?
Christmas TV advertising has
traditionally been dominated by retail
brands such as M&S and John Lewis,
but in recent years digital rivals such
as Amazon and eBay have turned to
television too. Thinkbox, the industry
body that promotes TV advertising,
says retail brands are being supplanted by online businesses as the
biggest爏penders.
The online business category ?
which Thinkbox de?nes as spending
by online-only brands as well as the
marketing of online services by traditional businesses ? includes companies such as Amazon, Confused.com,
Facebook, Google, Just Eat, Net?ix and
Purplebricks.com. It is expected that
online businesses, which combined
will spend almost �0m on commercials this year, will remain the biggest
spending category of TV advertiser and
one of the few that will show year-onyear growth.
Two of the biggest shows on television, Britain?s Got Talent and The X
Factor, are sponsored by digital brands
AO.com and Just Eat to the tune of
about �m annually. Amazon has
climbed to the number two spot of
top 10 UK TV advertisers, spending
more than �m on commercials in
November and December last year,
according to unofficial Nielsen ?gures.
This was up 56% on 2015.
Only giant Procter & Gamble, which
owns brands ranging from Max Factor
and Gillette to Fairy and Old Spice,
remains a bigger spender in the UK.
Advertiser demand for television
airtime drops off signi?cantly in the
days before Christmas and over the
festive period ? once gift shopping is
done and wallets are closed ? which
brings down the overall cost of
December campaigns.
So despite the huge demand for TV
ad slots in the run-up to Christmas,
December can still be quite a costeffective month for advertisers to book
campaigns, according to Jonathan
Allan, Channel 4?s sales director. ?It is
almost like paying the price of threequarters of a month,? he says.
Advertisers looking for those
big-moment TV shows during the
Christmas holidays have arguably the
best selection in years on commercial
channels, which, given the dearth of
advertising, traditionally don?t provide
much programming competition to the
BBC during this period.
ITV is bringing back hit period
drama Victoria for a special and has a
feature-length edition of sitcom Birds
of a Feather. Sky has the third and
The Great Festive Bake Off on Channel 4 is likely to draw strong advertising demand. PA
?You have to create
a big moment of
impact in popular
culture. A bad
Christmas can make
or break a brand?
Leo Rayman, Grey London
?nal season of popular crime thriller
The Tunnel, alongside family-focused
fare such as Ratburger, the adaptation
of comedian David Walliams?s children?s燽ook.
For Channel 4, the addition of
The燝reat British Bake Off, which cost
�m for a three-series deal to take
from the BBC, means the broadcaster
is set for its biggest Christmas ever.
Bake Off is making its Christmas debut
for advertisers with a double helping of
seasonal specials.
?The ?nal of Bake Off was the second
biggest programme on Channel 4 ever,?
says Allan. ?So in terms of volume [of
viewers] it is the biggest Christmas
show we have ever had, and advertisers
love that. The shows are very warm,
very Christmassy.?
Overall, a tough year for UK businesses has seen budgets cut, with
the �3bn TV ad market forecast to
be down 2.4% or �0m, despite the
�
?The
kitchen
smells
joyous ?
Nigel Slater?s
guide to
Christmas
cooking
page 18
Observer
Food Monthly
26.11.17
Christmas boost. The broadcasting
industry is banking on the Christmas
marketing bonanza translating into
sales success for advertisers, in turn
buoying brands? con?dence and
returning the TV ad market to growth
next year.
Broadcasters are optimistically pencilling in an early estimate of growth
of 2.8% in 2018 and believe that TV
can more than hold its own against the
rise of digital players such as Google
and Facebook, which are attempting to
secure increasing shares of advertisers?
overall budgets.
?While digital advertising is vital
and powerful, TV is in no way dead,?
says Josh Krichefski, chief executive of
MediaCom UK.
Lindsey Clay, chief executive of
Thinkbox, believes that the outlook
for television is bright, particularly
as global advertisers such as Procter
& Gamble and Unilever are leading a
re-examination of the effectiveness
of digital advertising, and taking the
Silicon Valley giants to task over issues
such as ads running next to inappropriate content from extremist groups or
fake news sites.
?Momentum is returning to TV
advertising,? says Clay. ?With issues of
fraud and brand safety dogging parts
of internet advertising, advertisers are
asking serious questions about where
they invest, what works and what they
can trust. 2018 could be TV?s year.?
*
40 | BUSINESS
As lobbying gets louder,
coal may not go quietly
26.11.17
Emissions from a
coal-fired power
station. The UK is
due to phase out
coal for energy
generation by
2025. Photograph
by John Giles/PA
Energy companies in Italy and Spain are facing unexpected local
opposition to plans to shut polluting plants, writes Adam Vaughan
E
urope?s race to quit coal has
hit a speed bump as energy
companies face local political resistance to the closure
of power stations burning the
polluting爁uel.
ScottishPower owner Iberdrola said
this month that it was closing its last two
coal power stations in Spain as part of its
plan to cut carbon emissions and switch
to cleaner power generation. But days
later the Spanish government reacted
by blocking the shutdowns, starting the
process for a royal decree that would
give ministers the ?nal say on any power
station closure if it was deemed to affect
energy security.
Despite the company?s protestations,
羖varo Nadal , the country?s energy
minister, told Iberdrola last week that
Madrid?s opposition was ?rm.
To an extent, the impasse is a problem peculiar to Spain: despite most of
the coal burned by the country?s power
plants being imported, its vocal mining
lobby still carries political clout. But it is
not the only example in Europe of politi-
cal concerns rubbing up against the EU?s
climate change goals: Enel, the world?s
biggest utility by customer numbers, has
faced similar hiccups in Italy.
The cases also raise questions about
whether the UK?s progressive and selfimposed coal phase-out, due to conclude
by 2025, will be as painless as it has been
so far, if energy supply concerns bite.
Although Madrid argues its policy is
about security of supply, energy experts
point out the country has too much
power capacity, not too little. Chris Littlecott at the thinktank E3G said: ?Spain
could comfortably switch off all of its
coal power plants and use its other existing capacity. The debate in Spain is much
more driven by domestic politics, and
regional organised opposition.?
Iberdrola has pointed out the two
plants account for just 0.87% of the
country?s electricity generation capacity; that it also operates several idle gas
power stations that could be ?red up if
needed; and that none of the 170 employees affected will lose their jobs.
Keith Anderson , chief corporate
officer for ScottishPower, said the Spanish closures were a natural extension
of the company?s years-long shift away
from coal, which resulted in it closing
Scotland?s last coal plant last year.
?What we?re doing is saying: let?s keep
pushing down that journey, let?s look at
shutting down those coal plants,? he said.
?Economically we don?t perceive this as
being a big concern and the upside is we
get more investment in renewables ? We
would urge the Spanish government to
look at the opportunity here.?
Francesco Starace, chief executive
of Italy-based Enel, thinks it is inevitable that the Spanish situation will be
repeated in other European countries.
?I think yes, it?s logical. Because typically coal plants ? that nobody loves
but everybody clings to ? are plants
that have been around for a long time,?
he said. ?So every time you say ?I want
to shut down this unit?, there?s always
EU POWER GENERATION
29.9
Renewables
26.5
Nuclear
24.5
Coal
16.4
Gas
Other
2.6
SOURCE: EUROSTAT
the question ?OK, and how about the
people working there?? Provided you
give an answer about that, then it?s ?OK,
what is the balance of energy supply
and demand???
In 2015 the company committed to
phasing out 23 of its coal and gas power
stations, as it shifts its investments to
solar and wind power. But it has run into
roadblocks similar to Iberdrola?s.
When Enel said it was shutting two
small coal stations at Genoa and Bastardo ? ?we are talking about really the
smallest of them all?, said Starace ? ministers raised concerns over supply and
ordered them to stay open. The ?rm is
still awaiting permits from the Italian
government to close the plants.
Starace, who will decide on the fate of
four more plants by the end of the year,
said he understood the concerns. ?I
think it?s a fair debate that needs to happen: you cannot just say ?we?re shutting
down and that?s it,?? he said.
But he added that the Spanish situation showed the importance of Brussels?s
overarching targets to cut emissions and
generate more power from renewables.
?How do we want to decarbonise?
Do we really want to decarbonise? Or is
this something that goes back and forth,
country by country by country? That is a
reason we have a European commission
and European directives,? he said.
In the UK, the swift phasing-out of
coal has been relatively painless, but will
it suffer Spain and Italy?s problems when
the country?s last eight coal stations have
to close by the 2025 deadline? Anderson
believes the milestone ?should be no
issue in the UK?, because mechanisms
are in place to bring forward investment
in new, cleaner power by then.
And Littlecott agrees that the UK is a
different case: ?The last pockets of coal
mining in countries like Spain and Poland
still exert localised political pressure. The
UK?s situation is very燿ifferent.?
26.11.17
Analysis
*
BUSINESS | 41
An industrial strategy that puts the whole
country on the map is the way to lift UK
Trouble at home
and abroad
drains Centrica
chief of power
BUSINESS LEADER
T
T
hat?s the budget out of the
way ? now for the main
course. The government?s
white paper on industrial
strategy, to be unveiled
tomorrow, could be a far
more signi?cant moment for the UK
economy than chancellor Philip Hammond?s set of safety-?rst policy tweaks.
The budget measures, in any case,
were overshadowed by the Office
for Budget Responsibility?s gloomy
economic forecasts and its downgrade
of the UK?s productivity growth. It is
only the new industrial strategy that
stands a serious chance of improving
the UK?s爌erformance.
The government?s plan will have to
be more detailed than the consultative
green paper published in January. That
document was worthy and inoffensive
but read like a catch-all list of good
intentions. There was little sense of
how ambitions would be prioritised.
Past spending commitments were
dressed up as if they were new.
The good news is that business
secretary Greg Clark has given a few
hints about tighter focus. Expect him
to drop his talk of 10 ?pillars? (too
many) in favour of ?ve ?foundations?
? skills; innovation; place; physical infrastructure; and what he calls
?invisible infrastructure?, meaning the
interaction between government and
business in areas such as the protection
of intellectual property.
If the key aim of the industrial strategy is to lift the UK?s standing in international league tables of productivity,
two of those foundations stand out.
The ?rst is place, meaning the UK?s
geographically lopsided economy.
The concentration in London and the
south-east is not news, but the degree
continues to astonish. A report by the
Centre for Cities thinktank this month
revealed that output per worker in
places such as London, Slough, Milton
Keynes and Aldershot was 44% higher
than in other parts of Britain and 7%
higher than in Germany.
Only eight of 62 UK towns and
cities recorded productivity above
Blackburn, Lancashire, is among UK towns with productivity well below the national average. Photograph by Christopher Thomond
the national average; outside the
south-east, only Bristol, Edinburgh,
Swindon and Aberdeen made the
cut. Stoke, Blackburn, Mans?eld and
Doncaster had productivity 25% below
the national average. Any worthwhile
strategy must address those disparities.
The independent industrial strategy
commission was right when it said
?an industrial strategy should not
seek to do everything everywhere,
but it should seek to do something
for everywhere?. In a world of ?nite
resources, that may mean hard choices
for government. What should be
built ?rst? Crossrail 2, to improve
north-south links in the south-east,
or Northern Powerhouse Rail, which
would improve connectivity in the
M62 corridor and up to Newcastle?
London cannot always get ?rst call on
big projects that can be underwritten
only by national government.
The second priority should be skills.
There are signs the government recognises the seriousness of the problem
? there was an extra �6m for maths
and technical education in the budget ?
but much bigger investment is required
in technical colleges and the retraining
of those in work. The robotics revolution is happening, and will have farreaching effects. January?s green paper
acknowledged the need, but a commitment is only meaningful if it is backed
by hard cash.
That leads to the biggest single test
of the white paper?s seriousness ? its
willingness to set clear targets for success. Here lobbying by the CBI and oth-
ers has succeeded in persuading Clark
to create an independent monitoring
body to report on progress. Good move.
Details will follow tomorrow but
outside scrutiny will be be critical
to success. This is the ?rst time in
decades that a Conservative government has enthusiastically embraced
the notion of an industrial strategy.
The worry in the business world will
be whether enthusiasm will fade in the
churn of ministerial appointments. The
existence of an OBR-style watchdog
will increase con?dence.
The next job is to make the goals
stretching. Clark?s ?ve foundations are
?ne as far as they go, but they are really
only themes for presentation purposes.
What?s needed next are meaningful
targets and demanding deadlines.
Ryanair cabin crew brace for hard sell in the sky
R
yanair?s ?ancillary revenues? ?
income from products such as
perfume, alcohol and cosmetics,
as well as baggage charges ?
reached �5bn last year.
That makes the no-frills Irish
airline a bigger retailer than high
street stalwarts such as WH Smith,
House of Fraser or Halfords.
Letters to staff, revealed in the
Guardian last week, go some way to
explaining why that might be.
Cabin crew, precariously employed
via recruitment agencies, are
threatened with disciplinary action
and mandatory changes to working
hours unless they hit sales targets.
Any crew member who persuades
Ryanair?s cost-conscious clientele to
part with cash for a bottle of David
Beckham?s latest fragrance certainly
deserves a pat on the back. But
Ryanair is an airline, not an airborne
shop, and the primary responsibility
of cabin crew is to ensure passengers?
safety and comfort. They should not
have to feel at risk of being hauled
over the coals by over-zealous middle
managers if their sales patter isn?t up
to scratch.
he boss of British Gas owner
Centrica has conceded that parts
of his company?s performance
this year have been disappointing. That is putting it mildly. After the
UK?s biggest energy ?rm issued a pro?t
warning on Thursday, the company?s
share price suffered its worst day ever.
Analysts are now questioning the
future of chief executive Iain Conn,
saying that management credibility is
at an ?all-time low? with investors.
At the annual general meeting in
March, shareholders bemoaned the
share price, which was more than a
third higher than today. It is now half
what it was when Conn started in 2015.
Not all of the fault can be laid at the
door of the company?s well-remunerated chief executive (pay up 40% last
year to �2m). The energy market
has got tougher, and dozens of new
entrants are undercutting the big suppliers. That is partly why the company
has lost 823,000 customers since July.
But a hostile political and business climate don?t explain everything.
Bernstein bank reckons Centrica?s
leadership has been ?completely
blindsided? by problems in its US businesses, which accounted for the bulk of
the expected pro?ts downturn. There
is also a question over Conn?s strategy,
of transforming Centrica from a traditional broad energy company to one
focused on customer-facing businesses.
That bet looks risky. The new energy
suppliers are a serious enough threat,
but Centrica also faces the prospect
of Theresa May?s price cap on energy
bills, which could see its healthy pro?t
margins under pressure (British Gas
last year generated a 7.2% margin, the
highest of all the big energy suppliers).
Npower and SSE are another threat.
By the time the cap takes effect in late
2018 or early 2019, the two should have
merged to create a titan with nearly as
many customers as British Gas.
If there?s a silver lining for Centrica,
it?s that customers rushing to the exit
could prop up the argument that competition is alive and well, and a cap isn?t
needed. But that is small comfort for
shareholders this week.
Fox?s dreams of tari?-free future collide with zombie reality
ECONOMICS
Phillip
Inman
B
ritain outside the European
Union will enjoy much cheaper
imports. That?s one of the
threads running through arguments for Brexit.
Outside the high walls of the EU?s
economic fortress, we can scour
the Earth for the cheapest stuff on
offer, buy it and and bring it home to
consume, saving ourselves billions
of爌ounds.
This policy ?ts well with a country that is coming to terms with low
productivity growth and with it, only
stumbling increases in average wages.
Low productivity and low wage
rises are with us until at least 2023,
according to the Treasury?s economic
forecaster, the Office for Budget
Responsibility (OBR), in a report
accompanying the budget.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies,
in its role as chief budget watchdog,
warned that the OBR analysis showed
that average wages would still be well
below their 2008 level in the middle
of the next decade, when adjusted
for爄n?ation.
What better solution is there, when
earnings are ?at, than to ditch the
EU?s punitive tariffs and make the
monthly salary go爁urther?
Trade secretary Liam Fox has talked
about the bene?ts of tariff-free meat
from South Africa, wine from New
Zealand and chicken from the US. It
would cut the price of the weekly shop
and mean that wages stretch further.
Fox, who has stayed out of the limelight since he was ridiculed for launching a new board of trade with only
himself as an official member (though
he did emerge this month to defend
the bene?ts post-Brexit of chlorinated
chicken imports from the US), believes
that Britain?s entrepreneurial spirit
has been strangled by the EU and its
protectionist tariffs.
A lower exchange rate is the spur for
growth, but has the knock-on effect of
increasing in?ation. And that is killing growth at the moment. However,
the effects can be mitigated by taking
away the tariffs and allowing globallysourced cheap stuff onto supermarket爏helves.
Of course, this presumes that British
businesses remain strong enough to
bene?t from their newfound freedom
to trade with whoever they want.
If Fox had listened to the Bank
of England?s chief economist Andy
Haldane, he would know about the
UK?s reliance on a small proportion
of highly productive companies and
the long tail of largely unproductive
?zombie? ones that tick along without
making much money or paying their
workers much in salary, pension or
other bene?ts.
He would have looked at official
?gures last week showing that Britain
has seen a stupendous growth in the
number of graduates ? from 24% of
21 to 64-year-olds in 2002, to 42% in
September. Yet, more than one in three
(37%) of those who graduated more
than ?ve years ago are languishing in
non-graduate jobs. Almost half of those
who graduated in the last ?ve years are
Outside the high walls
of the EU fortress we
can scour the earth
for the cheapest stu?
and bring it home
in non-graduate level jobs. This is not
only a waste of talent, skill, and potential, it means that Britain is far from
ready to compete.
And the problem is not just con?ned
to those who succeeded academically.
Teenagers looking for a route into the
jobs market via apprenticeships have
been turned away in their droves since
the government brought in its new
levy爏ystem.
The levy acts like a tax on employers who get the money back when they
take on an apprentice. But employers
report that they simply don?t understand the way the levy works and all
the paperwork that goes with it.
A 59% fall in those taking up trainee
posts since the scheme was launched
should shame Greg Clark, the business minister who will on Monday
outline his plans for a new industrial
strategy. It?s a racing certainty that he
will ignore this fact as he lays out his
meagre plans for a railway line here
and a widened road there.
Education is a key element of the
UK?s infrastructure. So when just
48,000 people started an apprenticeship in the ?nal three months of the
educational year to July 2017, compared with 117,800 in the same period a
year before, it is easy to see that he has
a mountain to climb.
Fox will no doubt argue that his
drive for trade deals would increase
the demand for skilled staff and that
fact ? almost on its own ? would create
the demand and the training needed to
generate a skilled labour force.
The trouble with this argument is
that there are huge time lags between
winning new business and being able
to meet the customer?s requirements
with better trained and managed staff.
And as long as the zombie companies have poorly trained managers and
under-skilled staff, is it any wonder
that the banks are reluctant to lend
them more money? Much better to
lend it on property.
Which brings us back to the
budget. The chancellor, Philip
Hammond, made sure that property
continued to give a better return than
investing in the real economy after he
cut stamp duty on homes worth less
than �0,000 for ?rst-time buyers
and promised to support some extra
building.
The share prices of all the major
developers and the big estate agents
jumped. Was there any cash to help
apprentices earn more than �0 a
week or to help employers deal with
an apprentice system in crisis? No. But
don?t worry. The UK?s economy is like a
coiled spring, ready to go.
42 | BUSINESS
*
Media
Are we ?nally
seeing the pink
of a new dawn?
PRESS AND
BROADCASTING
Peter
Preston
T
he Financial Times used to be
a discreet, pink wing of establishment Britain. Its editors
went on to grace City boardrooms, become university
chairs or lead the CBI. It was
thoughtful and respectable. It did not
make great waves or turn over stones,
ambitions prudently constrained. But
baby, look at it now.
The FT trumpeted the news last
week that it?s now selling 900,000 copies ? some 700,000 in digital, fewer and
fewer in print ? every day. One huge
transition is working, then ? and very
bene?cently, because the emphasis on
cover and subscription cash ameliorates the threat of sudden City advertising downturns,
Here, cautiously, is real change and
real success. Lionel Barber and his
team ? serving their news Nikkei masters in Japan ? are taking strides, and
not afraid to make the most of them.
Of course, though, one pink swallow
doesn?t make a summer. Look around
at other transition tales and the clouds
soon gather. And see what the archoptimist of print survival, Rupert Murdoch, has been saying. Digital advertising has been ?tremendously damaging
to print? and many of his papers are
struggling, he told a company meeting.
He won?t be buying any more. Plaudits
for the Wall Street Journal, Times and
Australian. But previous dearly beloveds ? the Sun, the New York Post et al ?
are sources of toil and anxiety.
Now, it?s no great surprise that the
Wall Street Journal is making money. It
would be a disaster if it wasn?t, because
(like the FT) it has a specialist audience
prepared to pay for specialist informa-
tion. But the rest of the empire faces
harsher tests: in particular, the problem
of ?nding a formula for survival, a transition thesis that works.
Rupert once embraced such a formula. His journalism was deemed precious: therefore every title had to have a
price. But once applied to the Sun, that
dictum faded. The Sun?s imposed paywalls came down; its website was free,
and much refreshed. Yet the money
doesn?t seem to be there yet. The Sun
has a growing digital audience, but a
diminishing digital cash pile.
It?s not alone in such problems of
course. Kath Viner, editor-in-chief of
the Guardian, has said exactly where
she thinks the blame lies in a recent
lecture. Like so many others, her paper
hoped to make advertising pay for
vastly expanded digital reach. ?But this
business model is currently collapsing,
as Facebook and Google swallow digital
advertising; as a result, the digital
journalism produced by many news
organisations has become less and less
meaningful.? Viner and Robert Thomson, chief executive of Murdoch?s News
Corp, share an eloquent theme.
?Google?s commodi?cation of content knowingly, wilfully, undermined
provenance for pro?t,? Thomson says.
?That was followed by the Facebook
stream, with its journalistic jetsam and
fake ?otsam. Together, the two most
powerful news publishers in human
history have created an ecosystem
that is dysfunctional and socially
destructive.?
In some recent ways the situation is a
little less bleak. Professor Charlie Beckett at the London School of Economics sees signs of recovery. ?The legacy
media has started to get its act together
and it has the resource, pro?le and core
The FT trumpets the
news that it?s now
selling 900,000 copies
? 700,000 in digital.
One huge transition
is working, then
26.11.17
Bullying the Mail?s
advertisers just
hurts everyone
L
ong ago, during the Suez crisis,
both the Observer and the
Guardian endured difficult days
as advertisers were pressured to
desert their ?unpatriotic? pages. It?s
a recurrent theme: the covert ? and
often unprovable ? draining of revenue
streams to exact retribution or change of
editorial policy. And wherever, around
the world, press freedoms are at their
weakest, so the ad squeeze comes on.
It?s a matter of principle: which is
why the digital bullying of Paperchase
to renounce marketing deals with the
Daily Mail has to be confronted. You
don?t have to love the Mail to see the
point. Stop Funding Hate may legitimately urge Mail readers to quit (and
Mail readers may, equally legitimately,
examine the causes SFH espouses and
make up their own minds). But trolling rather nervous companies such as
Paperchase isn?t legitimate. It?s the thin
end of a dangerous wedge ? with no
winners in sight, from left or right.
As last week?s Ipso complaints ruling
on Trevor Kavanagh?s ?The Muslim
Problem? column for the Sun mordantly observes: ?There is no clause
in the editors? code which prohibits
publication of offensive content?. Nor
should there be.
Editors, enlighten
us on economics
The FT: a digital success once printed all over the world. Photograph by Chris Young/PA
audiences to sustain both scale and add
value ? perhaps helped by Trump and
Brexit in the US and UK and generally
by the public sense that they need more
reliable sources during our informational crisis.?
The New York Times, with 2.3 million
digital subscribers, ?nds that revenue
climbing quarter by quarter. The
Washington Post, ?oating on the cloud
of Jeff Bezos?s fortune, is making giant
strides. Murdoch speci?cally praises
his London Times, with its 400,000plus subscribers. Some 800,000 readers
contribute to Guardian membership or
subscriber schemes.
Yes, there will be many casualties.
Look, on the latest ABC-sancti?ed
print circulation ?gures, at the Sunday
People, down to 206,593 in September,
a 21.45% drop in a year, or its stablemate Sunday Mirror, down 24.06% to
516,786. Look, for that matter, at the
Daily Mirror itself, down 20.17% to
603,629. No wonder Trinity Mirror
seem restive over the interminable
takeover negotiations for Richard
Desmond?s stable. Salvation painfully燿elayed.
But it pays to examine the parcels
of gloom one by one. Newspapers and
news websites that have something
special to sell ? some coverage and
expertise that set their own value ?
are beginning to see a little daylight.
The words, the pictures, the facts still
matter. It is the news organisations
? websites as well as papers ? that
don?t add value which are having the
direst爐ime.
You could almost, for once, manage a
little cheer ? if Kath Viner didn?t wisely
remind us that the whole history of
news on the ever-changing, ever-elusive net might well be entitled ?Cancel
My Last Announcement?. And the FT,
once physically printed around the
globe, can echo that.
W
hat are political correspondents ? from Laura,
Nick and Robert on down
? there for? Not to go to the
same old brie?ngs and sing the same
old song? Independent judgment is a
coverage pearl beyond price?
And what are economics correspondents there for on the big budget
outing? Not merely to take the latest
Office of Budget Responsibility growth
?gures and turn them into a uniform
tale of woe. As Alex Brummer of the
Mail pointed out, the OBR has ?a ?awed
track record? on forecasting? and is
glooming a damned sight harder than
the Bank of England and IMF.
The point of economics editors is
to give the audience their own take on
Philip Hammond?s ?guring, not to simply transfer pages of OBR (or Institute
of Fiscal Studies prognostication) into
holy writ. Two questions matter most.
Are we really in a hole this big? And
even if we are, what can we do about it?
26.11.17
*
Acting editor: Shane Hickey cash@observer.co.uk
Personal ?nance
CASH | 43
House for sale:
only problem is
the neighbours
own half the
master bedroom
The Dancer?s
troubles began
because their
property is
link-attached over
a shared driveway
to the parking
area. Photograph
by Antonio Olmos
for the Observer
A couple only discovered that the boundaries
of their new-build are wrong when they tried to
move, and they?re not alone. Anna Tims reports
but I can?t while the boundaries are in
dispute,? says Reeve. ?You?d think Linden
would have got in touch when it came to
light, but I?ve had no word.?
The Paynes have been told by Linden
Homes to get the original conveyancing
solicitor to sort it out. And it appears
unabashed by the fiasco, blaming the
families and their solicitors for not noticing the mistakes when they bought.
?The original conveyance plans were
provided to the buyer and their solicitors for review to ensure an accurate
re?ection of the purchase,? Linden says
in a statement to the Observer, which
omits an apology. ?Unfortunately, the
error ? that the ?ying freehold [where
one property overlaps another] over the
plots? driveway was not marked appropriately ? was not identi?ed by us, the
buyer or their solicitor.
?We are working with these residents,
their legal representatives and our own
solicitors to rectify it as quickly as possible and want to assure them that Linden
Homes will cover all legal costs.?
According to Paula Higgins, CEO of
campaign group HomeOwners Alliance,
new homes contracts can be unclear and
?Our stu? is in boxes,
my wife is pregnant,
and we?re knee-deep
in painful discussions
to sort this mess out?
Simon Dancer
unfair. ?Cases like these are one of the
reasons why we are calling for standardised sales contracts for new homes
? and not ones that lack critical information and are stacked in favour of the
developer,? she says. ?Transparency ? or,
indeed, a lack of it ? is a big issue, and
better upfront information would go
some way towards addressing this.?
The position is even more skewed
when developers persuade purchasers to employ their own recommended
solicitors, risking a con?ict of interest.
In fact, all of the affected Exemplar Park
residents used their own conveyancers
who should have spotted the boundary
errors before contracts were exchanged.
Alarms ought to have been triggered
by the very existence of a ??ying free-
hold?. It is a legal grey area that can
cause headaches because of potential
problems with gaining access across the
neighbour?s portion to carry out repairs
or enforce covenants. Some mortgage
lenders steer clear of such properties
which can be difficult to sell on.
A ?ying freehold caused an identical
issue for Colchester homeowner Samantha Sweeney, who found herself unable
to sell her link-attached house. She
discovered that her neighbour owned
90 square feet of her 11-year-old property, including half her bedroom which
overhangs a shared driveway between
the two houses.
The estate had been built by Persimmon which told the Observer: ?We
worked closely with the resident and
this has now been resolved.?
All the residents of Exemplar Park
can lodge a formal complaint with
their solicitors who missed the crucial
anomalies and, if they don?t achieve a
resolution, they can appeal to the Legal
Ombudsman.
Linden Homes says that its legal
team is working on a deed of recti?cation to correct and realign the development?s boundaries, but the delays have
cost the Dancers dear. Their daughter
starts school next year and they have to
move燽y January in order to meet the
deadline for school applications. They
also want to be settled before their baby
is born. ?I?ve had to pay for new valuations and cancel my daughter?s place at
the nursery where she was due to start in
PROBLEMS THAT ARE BUILDING UP
In the race to build as many new homes as
cheaply as possible, developers have been
accused of slipping standards. A survey
this year by housing charity Shelter found
that 51% of respondents discovered
major faults after legal requirements
for construction work to be checked at
various stages were relaxed.
Currently, residents have little recourse
when things go wrong. The Property
Ombudsman has no remit over new-build.
Instead, residents who discover faults
within the ?rst two years are left to haggle
with the developer; after that, liability
passes to the warranty provider chosen
by the developer and only covers major
structural work.
Although there is a dispute resolution
scheme, CCHBAS, for homes insured by
the three main warranty providers, it costs
�0 to lodge a complaint and its decisions
Slipping standards in a rush to build.
are not legally binding. A parliamentary
enquiry last year found that it did not o?er
adequate redress.
As well as a boundary ?asco, Clare
Reeve su?ered leaks when roof tiles began
slipping. She discovered battens had not
been ?xed properly to the dormer windows
in her row of houses. ?Because I?d bought
over two years ago, Linden Homes washed
its hands of it and referred me to NHBC [one
of the UK?s largest warranty providers],?
says Reeve, whose house is also a?ected
by the boundary dispute. ?NHBC said
it could only cover repairs over �500.
Luckily, with sca?olding factored in, it came
to more than that.?
Phil Waller, a former construction
manager, set up campaign and advice
website brand-newhomes.co.uk in
response to declining standards. He
is calling for a government-appointed
ombudsman to investigate complaints.
?We need as much pressure as we can
generate to force government to wake up
to the many scandals in this unregulated
industry that is ? quite frankly, in my
opinion ? defrauding its own customers.?
Anna Tims
September after we?d relocated,? Simon
Dancer says. ?And Linden is moving in
baby steps. As far as it?s concerned it sold
the house four years ago and couldn?t
care less.?
A spokesperson for The Legal
�
Cash on
the web
Ombudsman said ?failure to advise? by
solicitors ? where certain facts were not
brought to the attention of the house
buyer ? was the second most common
complaint amongst conveyancing problems in the last ?nancial year.
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S
imon and Maggie Dancer
were ready to exchange and
complete on the sale of their
house when the bombshell
dropped. The conveyancing
had uncovered the fact that
Linden Homes, which had built the
Buckinghamshire estate where they live,
had miscalculated the boundaries of
their home ? and that meant their neighbour owned half their master bedroom.
That was back in August. Three
months on and they have been unable to
complete their sale while lawyers haggle
over the redrawing of the official plans.
Their buyer had already moved out of
their property in readiness for completion, and has had to spend half that time
in a hotel.
?All our stuff is in boxes and my wife is
pregnant,? says Simon Dancer, 42, who
bought the house from the developer in
2013. ?We?re now knee-deep in painful
legal discussions to try to sort this mess
out. Luckily, we get on well with our
neighbour and have joked about them
putting in a walk-in wardrobe, but Linden has been hugely unhelpful.?
Their neighbours, James and Katrina
Inch, are unable to rejoice in their unexpectedly expanded ?oorspace, for the
error makes their home also unsaleable.
?We are astonished by how this mistake
could have been overlooked by three
separate solicitors ? our own, our neighbours? and Linden?s ? when we bought
the properties,? says James Inch, who
was alerted to the issue by the Dancers.
?What surprises us more, is how long
it has taken to rectify the issue with a
lack of responsibility taken by the parties at fault. The entire matter has been
a farce, with no apology to date.?
Extraordinarily, two more residents
on the ironically named Exemplar Park
estate in Aylesbury are in the same predicament. Ann and Terry Payne checked
their deeds after the Dancers contacted
them and discovered that their neighbour, Clare Reeve, effectively owns half
of their main bedroom.
Like the Dancers and Inches, their
homes are link-attached over a shared
driveway to the parking area. The room
above the gateway should belong to the
Paynes, but an error bestows it on Reeve.
Slipshod markings have also granted
Reeve ownership of a large traffic island
in front of the houses. ?I am going
through a divorce and am trying to sell,
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44 | CASH
Personal
Your
problems
?nance
MORTGAGES
Anna Tims
Currys? Knowhow
team really knows
how to alienate
its customers
I ordered a fridge from Currys and
was assured that delivery would not
be a problem, even though there
are some steps leading down the
garden to our house. We paid for
delivery, installation and disposal of
the old fridge which we emptied and
defrosted the night before.
However, when they arrived the
two delivery men refused to take
the new fridge down the steps on
grounds of ?health and safety?. They
advised that we rebook when four
men were available to carry both
appliances. They left, taking the new
fridge with them. The earliest redelivery date was nine days later.
We paid two local gardeners �
to help my son and myself with the
transporting and, once again, emptied and defrosted our old fridge.
When the delivery men arrived,
they told me there was no problem
carrying the fridge down the steps
and couldn?t understand why the
previous team had declined to do
so. They went to get it out of the
van only discover it wasn?t there. It
wasn?t at the depot, either. After two
hours vainly waiting to talk to Currys
head office, I was advised to make
a 90-minute return journey to my
nearest branch where I spent more
than an hour explaining the situation.
It transpired that our new fridge
had disappeared and could not be
reordered as it was out of stock
inde?nitely. Our choice was either
to cancel and have a refund, or order
a different model. We chose the former, but no refund arrived.
The following month I noticed
the model we had ordered was back
in stock. Delivery was arranged, but
the wrong model arrived and was
returned. A new date was arranged
for a week later. This time the crew
again refused to carry the fridge
down the steps. They left and I had to
pay a third party to help me do it and
to carry the old fridge to the driveway. The team was going to return
on another day to install the new
one and remove the old one, but they
never showed up.
JM, Ewhurst, Surrey
You estimate you have spent 12 hours
waiting in for ?ve visits over ?ve weeks
in order to secure one fridge.
The saga only ended when I relayed
it to the press office and Currys immediately scrambled for its purse and paid
you �4 to cover your expenses plus
�0 for wasted time and food. It has
now delivered the correct fridge.
?We fell way short of our usual
standards and apologise for the considerable inconvenience,? it says. ?We
have fed back to our delivery depot
team to ensure customers are contacted prior to delivery to con?rm if
there are any access issues in order for
us to deliver appropriately.?
Meanwhile, in London ?
It so happened that between your second and third failed delivery, Londoner
NM was expecting delivery of a fridgefreezer from Currys. He writes:
I had told the salesman that I live in
a fourth-?oor ?at without a lift and
he made a note of this. However, the
26.11.17
*
delivery men refused to bring the
fridge upstairs, claiming they could
not legally carry more than 25kgs
each. The unit weighs 66kgs, which
the salesman should have known. I
paid a passing builder � to carry
it for me and a neighbour � to
reverse the unit doors. I had already
paid � to Currys to do this job.
The fridge arrived with a large
scratch and a dent on the front door
and I wrote immediately to Currys
asking for compensation for the �
I had paid out and for the imperfect
condition. I was offered � for the
door reversal and a 10% rebate on the
fridge and, after protracted negotiations, it offered � only towards the
cost of transporting it upstairs.
Moreover, they expect me, a disabled pensioner, to go to the store to
collect the refund.
Knowhow is the name of Curry?s logistics service. All they know, according to
the above experiences, is how to alienate customers.
Currys tells me the weight restriction cited by your crew is a ?ction.
However, it says: ?We follow the UK
Health and Safety Executive?s guidance
on manual handling and our delivery
colleagues are trained to risk assess
each individual delivery to determine
whether it would put them or the customer at risk of any injury. This results
in a small per cent that unfortunately
cannot be completed at that time.?
Following involvement from the
Observer, NM has now been given �5
in expenses and goodwill.
Lender
Type
Rate %
Term
Max
LTV %
Fee �
Contact
Yorkshire Building Society
?xed
1.21
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
TSB
?xed
1.74
31/1/2023
60
995
0800 056 1088
Sainsbury?s Bank
?xed
1.91
31/3/2023
75
745
0345 111 8010
Leek Utd
?xed
2.10
31/12/2022
85
995
0153 838 0047
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
Santander
123 Current Account
1
Paragon
RCI Bank
Limited Edition Easy Access
4
Freedom Savings Account
Harrods Bank Limited
120-Day Notice Account 9
Gross
AER %
Notice
Notes
Contact
1.50
1.50 &
�per
month
easy access
BATI
080 025 5200
easy access
AICD
0800 218 2352
1
1.31
easy access
I
paragonbank.co.uk
100
1.30
I
rcibank.co.uk
20,000
1.46
AP
080 038 7704
1
25
3.00
easy access
120 days
notice
easy access
AR
0345 122 0022
1,000
1.81
1 year
IF
chartersavings
bank.co.uk
500
2.05
2 years
IF
utbank.co.uk
1,000
2.25
3 years
IF
paragonbank.co.uk
1,000
2.26
4 years
IF
ikano.co.uk
1,000
2.50
5 years
IF
paragonbank.co.uk
Easy Access Cash Isa Issue 1
1,000
1.10
easy access
I
shawbrook.co.uk
Charter Savings Bank
2-Year Fixed Rate Cash Isa
1,000
1.72
2 years
IF
chartersavings
bank.co.uk
NS&I
NS&I
Direct Isa
3-Year Investment Gtee
Growth Bond
NS&I
Junior Isa
Kent Reliance
Regular Savings Account 3
Charter Savings Bank
1-Year Fixed Rate Bond
United Trust Bank Ltd
2-Year Personal Deposit Bond
Paragon
3-Year Fixed Rate
Ikano Bank
Fixed 4-Year Saver
Paragon
5-Year Fixed Rate
Shawbrook Bank
1
0.75
easy access
TI
nsandi.com
100
2.20
3 years
IF
nsandi.com
1
2.00
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 purchases
Purchase
Tesco Bank Clubcard
Santander All in One
Barclaycard Platinum
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.
Min �
American Express
Platinum
American Express
Platinum Everyday
30 months purchases
Purchase
39 months balance
transfer
38 months balance
transfer
Balance
Transfer
Balance
Transfer
None
Cashback
None
Cashback
Transfer
fee %
Repr
APR
Cashback
Contact
na
18.9
Not Available
sainsburysbank.co.uk
na
18.9
Not Available
tescobank.com
0.00
21.7
Not Available
santander.co.uk
1.40
19.9
Not Available
barclaycard.co.uk
na
28.2
americanexpress.com
na
22.9
1% standard plus
intro bonus
0.5% standard
plus intro bonus
americanexpress.com
Table compiled 24/11/18. In case of late changes, always check rates and terms before transacting.
All above ?gures from ?nancial information business Defaqto (defaqto.com)
26.11.17
TRAVEL | 45
Five of the best Covered markets in Paris
1. March� Couvert des Ternes
1
4
Even though the major tourist attractions of the Arc de Triomphe and
Champs-蒷ys閑s are just round the
corner, the Ternes neighbourhood still
has its own covered market. A爁avourite
rendezvous is the pavement terrace of
the Bistrot du March�. Chez Kim, as it
is also known, has been run for the past
10 years by a Korean family. The best
deal is the traditional Korean bibimbap
with ?ve Asian veggies, rice, a fried egg
and portion of squid, chicken or pork,
all for ?11.90 including a glass of wine.
Tue-Sat 8am-1pm, 4pm-7.30pm, Sun
8am-1pm, 8 rue Lebon
2. March� Couvert des
Batignolles
3. March� Couvert Beauvau
The building dates from 1843 and has
survived two recent ?res. It?s the perfect place to stock up on goodies to take
home, from duck rillettes and game
p鈚� to pungent Epoisses cheese. La
Mar閑 Beauvau has tables where you
can taste freshly shucked oysters (?7.50
for six), while Fromagerie Comptoir
has opened a wonderful lunch counter.
Tue-Sat 9am-1pm, 4pm-7.30pm, Sun
9am-1.30pm, Place d?Aligre
CLASSIFIED
Classed an official historic monument,
Secr閠an reopened two years ago after a
lengthy restoration of its imposing 1868
structure. The interior is spectacular,
with a soaring ceiling lined with crisscrossing wooden beams, but the whole
space has been given over to Les 5
Fermes, a modern supermarket, rather
than the traditional food stalls. In the
style of a ?march� for the future?, there
is a gym and fashion store. Fortunately,
there is Wanted, a hip but eminently
affordable wood-?red pizzeria, whose
pastas and pizzas cost ?12, plus brunch
and DJ sets at the weekend.
Tue-Thu 8.30am-7.30pm, Fri-Sat
8.30am-8pm, Sun 8.30am-2pm, 29
Avenue Secr閠an
2
For an authentic slice of life in the
untouristy 17th arrondissement, head
for its lively covered market. Founded
in 1846, it now occupies an anonymous
1979 building. Choose between the nofrills Japanese home cooking of Onigiriya, pizza and pasta at Basilico and,
above all, Edgar, a brilliant Lebanese
delicatessen.
Tue-Fri 8.30am-1pm, 3.30pm-8pm,
Sat 8.30am-8pm, Sun 8.30am-2pm,
96 rue Lemercier
4. La Halle Secr閠an
5. March� des Enfants Rouges
5
3
At the edge of the chic Marais quarter
the oldest covered market in Paris,
originating in 1628, has become more
food court than food market, with a
dazzling choice of cuisine. The funkiest spot is Corossol, where a storm of
Afro-Antillais and Cajun cuisine (mains
from ?10) is cooked up, while the most
mouthwatering dishes are displayed at
Le Traiteur Marocain, a cornucopia of
couscous and tagines (from ?9).
Tue-Sat 8.30am-8.30pm, Sun 8.30am5pm, 39 rue de Bretagne
Words: John Brunton
Photographs: John Brunton; Alamy
To see the full list of Paris?s
covered markets, and thousands
of top 10 lists on everything from
the world?s best restaurants and
hotels to walks and beaches, visit
theguardian.com/travel
46 | OBSERVER CLASSIFIED
OVERSEAS TRAVEL
26.11.17
26.11.17
OBSERVER CLASSIFIED| 47
48 | OBSERVER CLASSIFIED
26.11.17
26.11.17
3PM TODAY
9AM TODAY
SIX-DAY FORECAST
1008
(29.77)
1008
(29.77)
1016
(30.00)
21
1016
(30.00)
Mon
20
Orkney
3
5
(37F)
1012
(29.88)
(41F)
MODERATE
1020
(30.12)
1012
(29.88)
1
22
Glasgow
MODERATE
1016
(30.00)
29
(39F)
Edinburgh
Glasgow
MODERATE
1
Edinburgh
3
(40F)
5
SLIGHT
Newcastle
(37F)
SLIGHT
Newcastle
(41F)
Belfast
Belfast
4
7
(39F) Hull
HEAVY
Manchester
4
(38F)
(44F)
Norwich
Norwich
Birmingham
Birmingham
5
1028
(30.36)
8
(41F)
15
Cardi?
(46F)
Gloucester
Bristol
21
4
(39F)
SLIGHT
6
Cardi?
Brighton
8
Plymouth
(42F)
Gloucester
Bristol
1028
(30.36)
SLIGHT
London
7
(45F)
London
Brighton
Plymouth
(47F)
1032
(30.47)
1032
(30.47)
23
SLIGHT
SLIGHT
21
UK TODAY
3
8
4
L
5
1016
(30.00)
Berlin
Paris
H
Belgrade
Rome
L
Madrid
Athens
1024
(30.24)
7
SOLUTION NO. 1,155
18
19
21
ACROSS
1 Bell ringer (13)
8 Stork-like bird (4)
9 Lees (8)
10 Seven-sided (10)
12 Scuttle (6)
14 Airborne condensation (6)
15 Smuggled goods (10)
19 Perplex (8)
20 Small songbird (4)
21 Highest decoration for gallantry (8,5)
20
B
L
O
W
L
A
M
P
I D
I
G L
A
I T
O
O R
Y
A
R
S L U
A
N
P A G
E
E
B
U R
A
B I
N
I D
R
G A
I
I N
E P
A
P L
L
G I
D
D
P
E A
T
B E
N
A T
I P
E
A N
M
C A
N
A S
H
L I
P
D
E
H A
L
K T
O
L
C
T U
L
S T
U
D R
E
O D
C
31?40?
F
87?104
26?30?
80?86
Warsaw
London
17
9 Rain
6 Fair
5 Fair
4 Showers
5 Fair
7 Rain
Bristol
9 Rain
6 Fair
5 Fair
4 Showers
5 Fair
4 Sunny
Cardiff
10 Rain
7 Fair
6 Showers
5 Showers
6 Sunny
8 Fair
Edinburgh
7 Rain
6 Fair
4 Showers
4 Showers
4 Rain
5 Fair
Glasgow
6 Rain
6 Fair
4 Showers
4 Showers
4 Sunny
5 Fair
Leeds
8 Rain
6 Fair
4 Fair
4 Showers
4 Fair
5 Rain
9 Rain
8 Showers
7 Showers
6 Fair
5 Showers
6 Fair
10 Rain
7 Fair
6 Fair
4 Showers
6 Cloudy
7 Fair
Manchester
8 Rain
6 Fair
5 Fair
4 Showers
5 Fair
7 Rain
Newcastle
6 Rain
6 Fair
3 Fair
4 Showers
4 Cloudy
6 Rain
Norwich
9 Rain
7 Fair
7 Showers
5 Showers
6 Rain
7 Rain
Oxford
10 Rain
7 Fair
6 Fair
4 Showers
4 Cloudy
4 Cloudy
Plymouth
11 Rain
9 Fair
8 Showers
7 Showers
7 Sunny
10 Sunny
Swansea
10 Rain
7 Fair
7 Showers
6 Showers
6 Sunny
6 Ice
8 Rain
6 Fair
5 Fair
4 Showers
4 Showers
6 Cloudy
ABROAD YESTERDAY
癈
癈
Aberdeen
4
s
Anglesey
6
w
Newcastle
4
Belfast
5
sn
Norwich
6
Birmingham 6
sn
Blackpool
7
sh
Bournem?th 7
Brighton
癈
Algiers
25
f
Nairobi
24
f
Bangkok
30
f
New York
14
f
f
Beijing
8
f
Perth
31
s
Nottingham 4
r
Beirut
22
f
Rio de Jan
29
s
Oxford
6
f
Cairo
22
f
Riyadh
19
s
s
Plymouth
7
sh
Harare
27
r
San Fran
21
f
7
f
Ronaldsway 6
sn
Hong Kong 20
c
Santiago
31
s
Bristol
8
f
S?hampton 6
s
Istanbul
16
s
Sao Paulo
29 st
Cardiff
7
f
Scarbr?gh
5
w
Jeddah
29
s
Seychelles
30
Carlisle
3
f
Southport
6
f
Jerusalem
17
f
Singapore
32 st
Edinburgh
4
f
Stornoway 5
Exeter
7
f
Swanage
Glasgow
4
Inverness
Jersey
Liverpool
Manchester 6
sh
f
f
sn
Jo?burg
16 st
Sydney
26
7
s
Karachi
30
s
Taipei
23
r
sh
Teignmouth 7
f
L Angeles
28
s
Tenerife
22
f
4
sn
Tenby
6
w
Manila
32
c
Toronto
9
9
sh
Torquay
7
f
Miami
26
s
Vancouver
10
r
6
sn
Weymouth 8
w
Mombasa
31
f
Washington 17
s
s
sh
N Y
A
O N
K
H
T E
N
I C
H
A M
A
I N
DOWN
2 Surroundings (8)
3 Postulate (5)
4 Bouquet (7)
5 Weighed down (5)
6 Schoolgirl?s PE uniform (7)
7 Consign (4)
11 Irish stout (8)
13 Enlist (7)
14 Herbaceous plant (7)
16 Lowest point (5)
17 Leafy shelter (5)
18 Fairy (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
1300
First Quarter 26 Nov
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
7.4hrs.
0%
50%
100%
WEATHER VIEW
Glasgow
London
Manchester
Newcastle
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
Plymouth
Aberdeen
Leeds
Oxford
2
2
2
2
Low
Low
Low
Low
Mon
Tue
Wed
Thu
Fri
Sat
癈 Wthr (Maximum temperature and overall condition)
Moscow
6
Birmingham
EUROPE SIX-DAY FORECAST
1016
(30.00)
Pressure in millibars,
(inches in brackets)
14
16
TROUGH
Stockholm
11
15
OCCLUDED FRONT
Helsinki
10
13
1008
(29.77)
L
9
12
COLD
WARM
SPEEDY CROSSWORD NO. 1,156
2
Belfast
Birmingham
Bristol
Cardiff
Reykjavik
1032
(30.47)
6 Rain
7 Rain
AIR POLLUTION
KEY
1000
(29.53)
1008
(29.77)
4 Rain
6 Fair
Moon rises
EUROPE TODAY
1000
(29.53)
L
4 Showers
5 Showers
7
s
N Orleans 21 f
York
6
f
Wellington 16 c
NE England, SE Scotland, SW Scotland, NE Scotland: Sunny periods today with London
an isolated shower in the west, wintry on the hills. A fresh 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
0-8C (32-46F). Overcast tonight with spells of rain, snow on the hills. A fresh
north-westerly wind. Min -3 to 6C (27-42F).
SUNSET TO SUNRISE
WEATHER STATISTICS
W Isles, N Isles, NW Scotland: Broken cloud today with a few showers, wintry
Birmingham
16.01
to
07.49
Weather last week
Weather this week
on the hills. A fresh westerly wind. Max -3 to 6C (27-42F). Generally cloudy
Bristol
16.09
to
07.48
Warmest by day: Chester,
London
Chance of rain
tonight with periods of rain, snow on the hills. A fresh north-westerly wind. Min Dublin
16.14
to
08.12
Chestershire (Weds) 17.0C
Glasgow
15.54
to
08.17
Coldest by night: Cairngorm
-6 to 4C (22-39F).
Glasgow
15.54
to
07.55
Summit, Highland (Friday)
Northern Ireland, Ireland: Sunny intervals today with a couple of showers in the Leeds
-8.0C
London
16.00
to
07.39
Wettest: Lossiemouth RAF,
north and west, which will be wintry on the hills. A fresh south-westerly wind.
Manchester
15.59
to
07.55
Dublin
Moray (Tuesday) 59mm
Newcastle
15.48
to
08.01
Max 2-11C (36-51F). Overcast tonight with occasional rain, wintry on the hills.
Sunniest: Nottingham,
Sun rises
0738
Moon sets 2325
Min 0-8C (32-46F).
Nottinghamshire (Friday)
Channel Is, Cent S England, SW England, W Midlands, Wales: Broken cloud and
sunny spells today with the odd shower. A moderate to fresh westerly wind.
Max 4-10C (39-50F). Mainly cloudy tonight with periods of rain. A moderate to
fresh south-westerly wind. Min 2-8C (35-46F).
SE England, London, E Anglia, E Midlands: Generally dry today with broken
cloud and sunny periods. A moderate westerly wind. Max 7-8C (44-47F).
Largely cloudy tonight with a couple of showers late. A moderate to fresh
south-westerly wind. Min 3-6C (38-42F).
Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, NW England: Sunny intervals today with a couple of
showers in the west. A fresh north-westerly wind. Max 3-8C (38-47F). Generally cloudy tonight with periods of rain. A moderate to fresh north-westerly
wind. Min 1-7C (34-44F).
An area of low pressure today will be
across central Italy and into Croatia
and Albania and will bring spells of
rain. There will be occasional snow in
the mountains of Croatia, Bosnia and
Herzegovina, which can lead to some
travel delays. An isolated shower will
occur across southern Spain and much
of Portugal. A disturbance across
Finland and the Baltic States will cause
generally cloudy conditions with scattered showers. An area of low pressure
over southern Norway will bring a few
showers to much of Denmark and Norway. Northern Norway will have a couple of snow showers. An area of high
pressure will be over western France
and northern Spain, bringing largely dry
conditions with sunny spells. The odd
shower will occur across the northern
coast of France and Belgium.
3 Showers
5 Showers
癈
7
(43F)
(39F)
6 Fair
7 Fair
Manchester
6
1024
(30.24)
Sat
7 Cloudy
HOME YESTERDAY
(44F) Hull
MODERATE
Dublin
3
Fri
5 Rain
York
1020
(30.12)
Dublin
Thu
Belfast
London
22
4
(34F)
1024
(30.24)
Wed
Aberdeen
Liverpool
4
25
(35F)
Tue
癈 Weather (Maximum temperature and overall daytime weather conditions)
1008
(29.77)
Orkney
MODERATE
1
TRAVEL | 49
WEATHER
Your forecast for the week ahead
*
Amsterdam
9 r
8 r
8 sh
5 sh
6 r
Athens
17 r
14 sh
16 f
19 f
20 c
19 r
7 sh
Barcelona
13 f
15 f
13 r
13 sh
12 f
13 s
Berlin
5 f
7 sh
6 sh
4 c
2 f
3 c
Copenhagen
6 sh
6 sh
6 r
5 sh
4 r
4 r
21?25?
69?79
Geneva
6 f
6 c
16?20?
60?68
Madrid
13 f
13 c
12 f
10 f
11 s
12 f
11?15?
51?59
Oslo
0 f
-1 ?
-1 c
-3 ?
-3 sn
-3 sn
6?10?
42?50
Paris
9 c
8 r
7 sh
4 sh
5 r
6 r
Prague
4 f
5 sn
4 sh
3 c
1 c
2 c
Rome
12 f
13 f
13 r
13 r
13 f
Venice
8 f
6 f
1?5?
33?41
-20?0?
-4?32
5 sh
15 r
8 sh
3 sh
8 c
2 sn
7 sh
2 c
7 s
A winter wonderland at Moy on the road to
Inverness. Photograph by Peter Jolly/Rex
Forecasts and graphics provided
by AccuWeather, Inc �17
can
b done without any human
be
in
intervention
? although
th must still be a driver
there
behin the wheel until the law
behind
h
Sh
changes.
Show-o?
s can use their phone
to make it head o? and (accurately) park in
the garage.
once owner-drivers become passengers: ?The business model will change.
But consumers always need to have
the con?dence that, in the event of an
incident, there is compensation.?
Service stations and hotels
Goodbye, Moto? The appeal of a picnic
on the M6 may diminish substantially
when humans are no longer prompted
by driver fatigue to pull in, and are
instead engrossed in season 54 of The
Simpsons. Electric charging networks
may well not operate like petrol stations, where a vehicle has to pull in to
refuel. However, should full autonomy
allow all occupants to drink en route,
more frequent stops could become a
human necessity.
While few UK journeys might
require an overnight commute, a
vehicle comfortable enough to sleep
in could make hotels a less necessary
option for business travellers ? while
longer US trips might be continued
without the need for a roadside motel.
Professional drivers
Around a million people in the UK who
drive for a living could have to retrain,
the chancellor said, acknowledging
that ?for some people, this will be very
challenging?.
Cuerden is not convinced that so
many jobs would be lost: ?We?re leading the HGV platooning trials, which
see trucks operating more effectively
? but all would need drivers for now.
Long term, they might have time on
their hands, but perform new tasks.?
By 2030, he believes, the bulk of
journeys will be covered autonomously, but a human backup could
remain. Meanwhile, many taxi ?rms
still value ?the customer interface, the
human touch,? Cuerden says. ?So drivers might become stewards.?
Government co?ers
The �bn that the UK government
claims to have forsaken by freezing
fuel duty may be only a warm-up
for the gaping hole that an all-electric
?eet would mean. Tens of millions
in revenue for traffic offences could
also be jeopardised by law-abiding爎obots.
British councils also made a �0m
pro?t on parking in 2016. Some have
predicted that the UK parking industry,
worth �5bn in 2015, would effectively
disappear in a world of fewer cars.
However, the British Parking
Association remains de?antly upbeat:
?The number of cars entering, exiting
and navigating a parking facility will
likely be very much the same as it is
now. Just without people.?
Bounce for broadcasters as retailers
increase their Christmas spending
A slow TV ad market looks likely to get a seasonal boost, reports Mark Sweney
T
he annual festive battle for the
attention and disposable income
of consumers is well under way,
and advertisers? spending on
Christmas commercials is forecast to
create growth in the shaky British TV
advertising market for the ?rst time
since last summer?s Brexit vote.
Advertisers are expected to commit
�2bn on TV ads to attract shoppers,
with a record-breaking �n projected
to be spent on all forms of marketing
this Christmas.
The 1% year-on-year boost in TV
ad spending expected in the fourth
quarter will mark the ?rst growth since
the second quarter of last year, when
th Brexit vote triggered a weakening
the
in the economy that has resulted in
ad
advertisers
tightening their belts for
th best part of the last 18 months.
the
?The market has struggled this year
bu as a medium, the ability of televibut,
si to drive sales in the crucial fourth
sion
qu
quarter
remains undiminished,? says
P Hall, chief commercial strategy
Phil
officer at media buyer MediaCom UK,
whose clients include Tesco.
?Marketers don?t have the luxury of
holding back spend at Christmas: it is
too important to retail燽usinesses to
be cutting spend in the same way they
have done for the rest of the year.?
Leo Rayman, chief executive of
Grey燣ondon, the advertising agency
behind Marks & Spencer?s seasonal
campaign, says: ?The big Christmas ad
season has in a way become the UK?s
version of the Super Bowl. You have to
create a big moment of impact in popular culture. A bad Christmas can make
or break a brand.?
Christmas TV advertising has
traditionally been dominated by retail
brands such as M&S and John Lewis,
but in recent years digital rivals such
as Amazon and eBay have turned to
television too. Thinkbox, the industry
body that promotes TV advertising,
says retail brands are being supplanted by online businesses as the
biggest爏penders.
The online business category ?
which Thinkbox de?nes as spending
by online-only brands as well as the
marketing of online services by traditional businesses ? includes companies such as Amazon, Confused.com,
Facebook, Google, Just Eat, Net?ix and
Purplebricks.com. It is expected that
online businesses, which combined
will spend almost �0m on commercials this year, will remain the biggest
spending category of TV advertiser and
one of the few that will show year-onyear growth.
Two of the biggest shows on television, Britain?s Got Talent and The X
Factor, are sponsored by digital brands
AO.com and Just Eat to the tune of
about �m annually. Amazon has
climbed to the number two spot of
top 10 UK TV advertisers, spending
more than �m on commercials in
November and December last year,
according to unofficial Nielsen ?gures.
This was up 56% on 2015.
Only giant Procter & Gamble, which
owns brands ranging from Max Factor
and Gillette to Fairy and Old Spice,
remains a bigger spender in the UK.
Advertiser demand for television
airtime drops off signi?cantly in the
days before Christmas and over the
festive period ? once gift shopping is
done and wallets are closed ? which
brings down the overall cost of
December campaigns.
So despite the huge demand for TV
ad slots in the run-up to Christmas,
December can still be quite a costeffective month for advertisers to book
campaigns, according to Jonathan
Allan, Channel 4?s sales director. ?It is
almost like paying the price of threequarters of a month,? he says.
Advertisers looking for those
big-moment TV shows during the
Christmas holidays have arguably the
best selection in years on commercial
channels, which, given the dearth of
advertising, traditionally don?t provide
much programming competition to the
BBC during this period.
ITV is bringing back hit period
drama Victoria for a special and has a
feature-length edition of sitcom Birds
of a Feather. Sky has the third and
The Great Festive Bake Off on Channel 4 is likely to draw strong advertising demand. PA
?You have to create
a big moment of
impact in popular
culture. A bad
Christmas can make
or break a brand?
Leo Rayman, Grey London
?nal season of popular crime thriller
The Tunnel, alongside family-focused
fare such as Ratburger, the adaptation
of comedian David Walliams?s children?s燽ook.
For Channel 4, the addition of
The燝reat British Bake Off, which cost
�m for a three-series deal to take
from the BBC, means the broadcaster
is set for its biggest Christmas ever.
Bake Off is making its Christmas debut
for advertisers with a double helping of
seasonal specials.
?The ?nal of Bake Off was the second
biggest programme on Channel 4 ever,?
says Allan. ?So in terms of volume [of
viewers] it is the biggest Christmas
show we have ever had, and advertisers
love that. The shows are very warm,
very Christmassy.?
Overall, a tough year for UK businesses has seen budgets cut, with
the �3bn TV ad market forecast to
be down 2.4% or �0m, despite the
�
?The
kitchen
smells
joyous ?
Nigel Slater?s
guide to
Christmas
cooking
page 18
Observer
Food Monthly
26.11.17
Christmas boost. The broadcasting
industry is banking on the Christmas
marketing bonanza translating into
sales success for advertisers, in turn
buoying brands? con?dence and
returning the TV ad market to growth
next year.
Broadcasters are optimistically pencilling in an early estimate of growth
of 2.8% in 2018 and believe that TV
can more than hold its own against the
rise of digital players such as Google
and Facebook, which are attempting to
secure increasing shares of advertisers?
overall budgets.
?While digital advertising is vital
and powerful, TV is in no way dead,?
says Josh Krichefski, chief executive of
MediaCom UK.
Lindsey Clay, chief executive of
Thinkbox, believes that the outlook
for television is bright, particularly
as global advertisers such as Procter
& Gamble and Unilever are leading a
re-examination of the effectiveness
of digital advertising, and taking the
Silicon Valley giants to task over issues
such as ads running next to inappropriate content from extremist groups or
fake news sites.
?Momentum is returning to TV
advertising,? says Clay. ?With issues of
fraud and brand safety dogging parts
of internet advertising, advertisers are
asking serious questions about where
they invest, what works and what they
can trust. 2018 could be TV?s year.?
*
40 | BUSINESS
As lobbying gets louder,
coal may not go quietly
26.11.17
Emissions from a
coal-fired power
station. The UK is
due to phase out
coal for energy
generation by
2025. Photograph
by John Giles/PA
Energy companies in Italy and Spain are facing unexpected local
opposition to plans to shut polluting plants, writes Adam Vaughan
E
urope?s race to quit coal has
hit a speed bump as energy
companies face local political resistance to the closure
of power stations burning the
polluting爁uel.
ScottishPower owner Iberdrola said
this month that it was closing its last two
coal power stations in Spain as part of its
plan to cut carbon emissions and switch
to cleaner power generation. But days
later the Spanish government reacted
by blocking the shutdowns, starting the
process for a royal decree that would
give ministers the ?nal say on any power
station closure if it was deemed to affect
energy security.
Despite the company?s protestations,
羖varo Nadal , the country?s energy
minister, told Iberdrola last week that
Madrid?s opposition was ?rm.
To an extent, the impasse is a problem peculiar to Spain: despite most of
the coal burned by the country?s power
plants being imported, its vocal mining
lobby still carries political clout. But it is
not the only example in Europe of politi-
cal concerns rubbing up against the EU?s
climate change goals: Enel, the world?s
biggest utility by customer numbers, has
faced similar hiccups in Italy.
The cases also raise questions about
whether the UK?s progressive and selfimposed coal phase-out, due to conclude
by 2025, will be as painless as it has been
so far, if energy supply concerns bite.
Although Madrid argues its policy is
about security of supply, energy experts
point out the country has too much
power capacity, not too little. Chris Littlecott at the thinktank E3G said: ?Spain
could comfortably switch off all of its
coal power plants and use its other existing capacity. The debate in Spain is much
more driven by domestic politics, and
regional organised opposition.?
Iberdrola has pointed out the two
plants account for just 0.87% of the
country?s electricity generation capacity; that it also operates several idle gas
power stations that could be ?red up if
needed; and that none of the 170 employees affected will lose their jobs.
Keith Anderson , chief corporate
officer for ScottishPower, said the Spanish closures were a natural extension
of the company?s years-long shift away
from coal, which resulted in it closing
Scotland?s last coal plant last year.
?What we?re doing is saying: let?s keep
pushing down that journey, let?s look at
shutting down those coal plants,? he said.
?Economically we don?t perceive this as
being a big concern and the upside is we
get more investment in renewables ? We
would urge the Spanish government to
look at the opportunity here.?
Francesco Starace, chief executive
of Italy-based Enel, thinks it is inevitable that the Spanish situation will be
repeated in other European countries.
?I think yes, it?s logical. Because typically coal plants ? that nobody loves
but everybody clings to ? are plants
that have been around for a long time,?
he said. ?So every time you say ?I want
to shut down this unit?, there?s always
EU POWER GENERATION
29.9
Renewables
26.5
Nuclear
24.5
Coal
16.4
Gas
Other
2.6
SOURCE: EUROSTAT
the question ?OK, and how about the
people working there?? Provided you
give an answer about that, then it?s ?OK,
what is the balance of energy supply
and demand???
In 2015 the company committed to
phasing out 23 of its coal and gas power
stations, as it shifts its investments to
solar and wind power. But it has run into
roadblocks similar to Iberdrola?s.
When Enel said it was shutting two
small coal stations at Genoa and Bastardo ? ?we are talking about really the
smallest of them all?, said Starace ? ministers raised concerns over supply and
ordered them to stay open. The ?rm is
still awaiting permits from the Italian
government to close the plants.
Starace, who will decide on the fate of
four more plants by the end of the year,
said he understood the concerns. ?I
think it?s a fair debate that needs to happen: you cannot just say ?we?re shutting
down and that?s it,?? he said.
But he added that the Spanish situation showed the importance of Brussels?s
overarching targets to cut emissions and
generate more power from renewables.
?How do we want to decarbonise?
Do we really want to decarbonise? Or is
this something that goes back and forth,
country by country by country? That is a
reason we have a European commission
and European directives,? he said.
In the UK, the swift phasing-out of
coal has been relatively painless, but will
it suffer Spain and Italy?s problems when
the country?s last eight coal stations have
to close by the 2025 deadline? Anderson
believes the milestone ?should be no
issue in the UK?, because mechanisms
are in place to bring forward investment
in new, cleaner power by then.
And Littlecott agrees that the UK is a
different case: ?The last pockets of coal
mining in countries like Spain and Poland
still exert localised political pressure. The
UK?s situation is very燿ifferent.?
26.11.17
Analysis
*
BUSINESS | 41
An industrial strategy that puts the whole
country on the map is the way to lift UK
Trouble at home
and abroad
drains Centrica
chief of power
BUSINESS LEADER
T
T
hat?s the budget out of the
way ? now for the main
course. The government?s
white paper on industrial
strategy, to be unveiled
tomorrow, could be a far
more signi?cant moment for the UK
economy than chancellor Philip Hammond?s set of safety-?rst policy tweaks.
The budget measures, in any case,
were overshadowed by the Office
for Budget Responsibility?s gloomy
economic forecasts and its downgrade
of the UK?s productivity growth. It is
only the new industrial strategy that
stands a serious chance of improving
the UK?s爌erformance.
The government?s plan will have to
be more detailed than the consultative
green paper published in January. That
document was worthy and inoffensive
but read like a catch-all list of good
intentions. There was little sense of
how ambitions would be prioritised.
Past spending commitments were
dressed up as if they were new.
The good news is that business
secretary Greg Clark has given a few
hints about tighter focus. Expect him
to drop his talk of 10 ?pillars? (too
many) in favour of ?ve ?foundations?
? skills; innovation; place; physical infrastructure; and what he calls
?invisible infrastructure?, meaning the
interaction between government and
business in areas such as the protection
of intellectual property.
If the key aim of the industrial strategy is to lift the UK?s standing in international league tables of productivity,
two of those foundations stand out.
The ?rst is place, meaning the UK?s
geographically lopsided economy.
The concentration in London and the
south-east is not news, but the degree
continues to astonish. A report by the
Centre for Cities thinktank this month
revealed that output per worker in
places such as London, Slough, Milton
Keynes and Aldershot was 44% higher
than in other parts of Britain and 7%
higher than in Germany.
Only eight of 62 UK towns and
cities recorded productivity above
Blackburn, Lancashire, is among UK towns with productivity well below the national average. Photograph by Christopher Thomond
the national average; outside the
south-east, only Bristol, Edinburgh,
Swindon and Aberdeen made the
cut. Stoke, Blackburn, Mans?eld and
Doncaster had productivity 25% below
the national average. Any worthwhile
strategy must address those disparities.
The independent industrial strategy
commission was right when it said
?an industrial strategy should not
seek to do everything everywhere,
but it should seek to do something
for everywhere?. In a world of ?nite
resources, that may mean hard choices
for government. What should be
built ?rst? Crossrail 2, to improve
north-south links in the south-east,
or Northern Powerhouse Rail, which
would improve connectivity in the
M62 corridor and up to Newcastle?
London cannot always get ?rst call on
big projects that can be underwritten
only by national government.
The second priority should be skills.
There are signs the government recognises the seriousness of the problem
? there was an extra �6m for maths
and technical education in the budget ?
but much bigger investment is required
in technical colleges and the retraining
of those in work. The robotics revolution is happening, and will have farreaching effects. January?s green paper
acknowledged the need, but a commitment is only meaningful if it is backed
by hard cash.
That leads to the biggest single test
of the white paper?s seriousness ? its
willingness to set clear targets for success. Here lobbying by the CBI and oth-
ers has succeeded in persuading Clark
to create an independent monitoring
body to report on progress. Good move.
Details will follow tomorrow but
outside scrutiny will be be critical
to success. This is the ?rst time in
decades that a Conservative government has enthusiastically embraced
the notion of an industrial strategy.
The worry in the business world will
be whether enthusiasm will fade in the
churn of ministerial appointments. The
existence of an OBR-style watchdog
will increase con?dence.
The next job is to make the goals
stretching. Clark?s ?ve foundations are
?ne as far as they go, but they are really
only themes for presentation purposes.
What?s needed next are meaningful
targets and demanding deadlines.
Ryanair cabin crew brace for hard sell in the sky
R
yanair?s ?ancillary revenues? ?
income from products such as
perfume, alcohol and cosmetics,
as well as baggage charges ?
reached �5bn last year.
That makes the no-frills Irish
airline a bigger retailer than high
street stalwarts such as WH Smith,
House of Fraser or Halfords.
Letters to staff, revealed in the
Guardian last week, go some way to
explaining why that might be.
Cabin crew, precariously employed
via recruitment agencies, are
threatened with disciplinary action
and mandatory changes to working
hours unless they hit sales targets.
Any crew member who persuades
Ryanair?s cost-conscious clientele to
part with cash for a bottle of David
Beckham?s latest fragrance certainly
deserves a pat on the back. But
Ryanair is an airline, not an airborne
shop, and the primary responsibility
of cabin crew is to ensure passengers?
safety and comfort. They should not
have to feel at risk of being hauled
over the coals by over-zealous middle
managers if their sales patter isn?t up
to scratch.
he boss of British Gas owner
Centrica has conceded that parts
of his company?s performance
this year have been disappointing. That is putting it mildly. After the
UK?s biggest energy ?rm issued a pro?t
warning on Thursday, the company?s
share price suffered its worst day ever.
Analysts are now questioning the
future of chief executive Iain Conn,
saying that management credibility is
at an ?all-time low? with investors.
At the annual general meeting in
March, shareholders bemoaned the
share price, which was more than a
third higher than today. It is now half
what it was when Conn started in 2015.
Not all of the fault can be laid at the
door of the company?s well-remunerated chief executive (pay up 40% last
year to �2m). The energy market
has got tougher, and dozens of new
entrants are undercutting the big suppliers. That is partly why the company
has lost 823,000 customers since July.
But a hostile political and business climate don?t explain everything.
Bernstein bank reckons Centrica?s
leadership has been ?completely
blindsided? by problems in its US businesses, which accounted for the bulk of
the expected pro?ts downturn. There
is also a question over Conn?s strategy,
of transforming Centrica from a traditional broad energy company to one
focused on customer-facing businesses.
That bet looks risky. The new energy
suppliers are a serious enough threat,
but Centrica also faces the prospect
of Theresa May?s price cap on energy
bills, which could see its healthy pro?t
margins under pressure (British Gas
last year generated a 7.2% margin, the
highest of all the big energy suppliers).
Npower and SSE are another threat.
By the time the cap takes effect in late
2018 or early 2019, the two should have
merged to create a titan with nearly as
many customers as British Gas.
If there?s a silver lining for Centrica,
it?s that customers rushing to the exit
could prop up the argument that competition is alive and well, and a cap isn?t
needed. But that is small comfort for
shareholders this week.
Fox?s dreams of tari?-free future collide with zombie reality
ECONOMICS
Phillip
Inman
B
ritain outside the European
Union will enjoy much cheaper
imports. That?s one of the
threads running through arguments for Brexit.
Outside the high walls of the EU?s
economic fortress, we can scour
the Earth for the cheapest stuff on
offer, buy it and and bring it home to
consume, saving ourselves billions
of爌ounds.
This policy ?ts well with a country that is coming to terms with low
productivity growth and with it, only
stumbling increases in average wages.
Low productivity and low wage
rises are with us until at least 2023,
according to the Treasury?s economic
forecaster, the Office for Budget
Responsibility (OBR), in a report
accompanying the budget.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies,
in its role as chief budget watchdog,
warned that the OBR analysis showed
that average wages would still be well
below their 2008 level in the middle
of the next decade, when adjusted
for爄n?ation.
What better solution is there, when
earnings are ?at, than to ditch the
EU?s punitive tariffs and make the
monthly salary go爁urther?
Trade secretary Liam Fox has talked
about the bene?ts of tariff-free meat
from South Africa, wine from New
Zealand and chicken from the US. It
would cut the price of the weekly shop
and mean that wages stretch further.
Fox, who has stayed out of the limelight since he was ridiculed for launching a new board of trade with only
himself as an official member (though
he did emerge this month to defend
the bene?ts post-Brexit of chlorinated
chicken imports from the US), believes
that Britain?s entrepreneurial spirit
has been strangled by the EU and its
protectionist tariffs.
A lower exchange rate is the spur for
growth, but has the knock-on effect of
increasing in?ation. And that is killing growth at the moment. However,
the effects can be mitigated by taking
away the tariffs and allowing globallysourced cheap stuff onto supermarket爏helves.
Of course, this presumes that British
businesses remain strong enough to
bene?t from their newfound freedom
to trade with whoever they want.
If Fox had listened to the Bank
of England?s chief economist Andy
Haldane, he would know about the
UK?s reliance on a small proportion
of highly productive companies and
the long tail of largely unproductive
?zombie? ones that tick along without
making much money or paying their
workers much in salary, pension or
other bene?ts.
He would have looked at official
?gures last week showing that Britain
has seen a stupendous growth in the
number of graduates ? from 24% of
21 to 64-year-olds in 2002, to 42% in
September. Yet, more than one in three
(37%) of those who graduated more
than ?ve years ago are languishing in
non-graduate jobs. Almost half of those
who graduated in the last ?ve years are
Outside the high walls
of the EU fortress we
can scour the earth
for the cheapest stu?
and bring it home
in non-graduate level jobs. This is not
only a waste of talent, skill, and potential, it means that Britain is far from
ready to compete.
And the problem is not just con?ned
to those who succeeded academically.
Teenagers looking for a route into the
jobs market via apprenticeships have
been turned away in their droves since
the government brought in its new
levy爏ystem.
The levy acts like a tax on employers who get the money back when they
take on an apprentice. But employers
report that they simply don?t understand the way the levy works and all
the paperwork that goes with it.
A 59% fall in those taking up trainee
posts since the scheme was launched
should shame Greg Clark, the business minister who will on Monday
outline his plans for a new industrial
strategy. It?s a racing certainty that he
will ignore this fact as he lays out his
meagre plans for a railway line here
and a widened road there.
Education is a key element of the
UK?s infrastructure. So when just
48,000 people started an apprenticeship in the ?nal three months of the
educational year to July 2017, compared with 117,800 in the same period a
year before, it is easy to see that he has
a mountain to climb.
Fox will no doubt argue that his
drive for trade deals would increase
the demand for skilled staff and that
fact ? almost on its own ? would create
the demand and the training needed to
generate a skilled labour force.
The trouble with this argument is
that 
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