вход по аккаунту


The Observer August 27 2017

код для вставкиСкачать
?He is a cry
for help from
the Earth,
Ear a
human ?are?
e best
besst in arts, sports, science,
politics and
nds for the coming
g season 28-29
David Olusoga on
statues and power
Sunday 27 August 2017 �00
Labour makes
dramatic shift
on Brexit and
single market
�49 FOR
PAGE 46 �
Tens of thousands of parents are still
waiting to ?nd out if they can take up
a government offer of 30 hours? free
childcare days before the scheme is
due to be launched.
According to the latest ?gures,
revealed in a letter sent by the
Department for Education to local
authorities and seen by the Observer,
82,000 parents entitled to the extra
childcare have not yet secured a place
for their three and four-year-olds.
The offer, which doubles the current
government-funded allowance, was a
? New stance raises pressure on May
Labour today announces a dramatic
policy shift by backing continued membership of the EU single market beyond
March 2019, when Britain leaves the EU,
establishing a clear dividing line with the
Tories on Brexit for the ?rst time.
In a move that positions it decisively
Brexit talks and Keir Starmer 8-9;
Japan seeks concessions 24; Observer
Comment 34; Andrew Rawnsley 35
as the party of ?soft Brexit?, Labour will
support full participation in the single market and customs union during
a lengthy ?transitional period? that it
believes could last between two and four
years after the day of departure.
This will mean that under a Labour
government the UK would continue to
abide by the EU?s free movement rules,
accept the jurisdiction of the European
court of justice on trade and economic
issues, and pay into the EU budget for a
period of years after Brexit, in the hope
of lessening the shock of leaving to the
UK economy. In a further move that will
delight many pro-EU Labour backers,
Jeremy Corbyn?s party will also leave
open the option of the UK remaining a
member of the customs union and single
market for good, beyond the end of the
transitional period.
Permanent long-term membership
would only be considered if a Labour
government could by then have persuaded the rest of the EU to agree to a
special deal on immigration and changes
to freedom of movement rules.
The announcement, revealed in the
Observer by the shadow Brexit secretary,
Keir Starmer, means voters will have a
clear choice between the two main parties on the UK?s future relations with
the EU after a year in which Labour?s
approach has been criticised for lacking
de?nition and appeared at times hard to
distinguish from that of the Tories.
The decision to stay inside the single market and abide by all EU rules
Continued on page 9
Tory pledge
on more free
childcare in
by Donna Ferguson
? Party opens clear divide with Tories
by Toby Helm
Political Editor
Novelists on the
Looking forward to 30 hours of free
nursery care? Think again? 30
?agship Tory election pledge and is due
to be implemented on Friday. But the
policy appears to be mired in confusion
amid claims of a funding shortfall and
technical hitches.
According to new research given to
the Observer by the early years shadow
minister Tracy Brabin, three-quarters
of childcare providers expect the
policy to have a negative impact on
their business and fewer than 7% say
it will be positive. The same research
claims that the scheme is underfunded,
and that as many as one in three nurseries have not yet decided to offer any
free places.
?I?m deeply concerned that many
children won?t have access to the quality childcare they deserve ? and that
parents were promised,? said Brabin,
who received 660 responses after she
Marching at the Pride Parade in Manchester yesterday. The city?s four-day LGBT
festival is one of the oldest in the country. Photograph by Jacob King/Mercury Press
Continued on page 5
2 | NEWS
Martin Schulz, the Social Democrat
leader, pauses for a sel?e with a
young supporter at a campaign rally
in Frankfurt am Main. Photograph
by Armando Babani/EPA
Dispatch Kaiserslautern
Lagging in the polls, trading on the past ?
but could Schulz still make a comeback?
At a centre-left rally, the SPD leader talks of
German history ? but he will have to write his
own chapter to win the election next month
At the end of a speech in which
Martin Schulz had summarised social
democracy?s birth after the industrial
revolution, evoked his party?s heroic
lone stand against Hitler in 1933 and
brought Kaiserslautern?s Fruchthalle
concert hall to its feet with a rousing
attack on contemporary rightwing
populism, it took a gift from his hosts
to drag the man challenging Angela
Merkel for the top spot in Europe?s biggest economy back down to earth.
The party branch of Schulz?s Social
Democrats (SPD) presented their candidate for chancellor with a ?gurine
of local hero Fritz Walter, who had
captained Germany to their comeback
victory in the 1954 World Cup ?nal.
?Walter knew a thing or two about
coming from behind,? said the local
councillor, with all the enthusiasm he
could muster.
A month from Germany?s federal
election on 24 September, Schulz,
who aspired to become a professional
footballer in his youth until he was
knocked back by a knee injury, desperately needs to remember how to stage a
dramatic turnaround.
As recently as February this year the
61-year-old had looked like the man
who could at last restore the glamour
of the world?s oldest social democratic
party, which last won an election in
2002. After Schulz had announced that
he would leave his post as president of
the European parliament to head his
party?s campaign, the SPD overtook
Merkel?s Christian Democratic Union
(CDU) in polls for the ?rst time in over
a decade.
But a string of underwhelming
results in local elections a month later
stopped the momentum of what social
media supporters had started to call
the ?Schulz train?, and with the campaign in full swing the SPD is now back
to where it was before he took over:
on around 22%, trailing Merkel?s juggernaut by 17 percentage points. ?It?s
like training four years for a marathon
without improving your time,? said one
SPD staffer.
The same surveys show that almost
half of German voters have not yet
made up their mind who they will vote
for next month. In the south-western
state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the SPD
had been trailing similarly in polls for
regional elections in March last year
but managed to come out top. ?When
the press started to look on us with
pity, it only boosted our motivation
to 150%,? said Alexander Schweitzer,
the head of the SPD party group in the
If the party faithful still have hope,
it?s because Schulz meets the ideal
combination of weltb黵gertum ?
worldliness ? and small-town stamina
the postwar German electorate has
traditionally sought in its leaders. A
school dropout who nonetheless went
on to train as a bookseller, he switches
effortlessly between the folksy patter
of a ?regional supermarket manager?
(according to the tabloid Bild) and
a rhetorical style far more naturally
eloquent than Angela Merkel.
In Kaiserslautern, where the SPD
was celebrating the 125th anniversary
of its party branch, Schulz talked without notes for an hour, regaling babies
in the front row before taking his audience on a well-read tour through party
history, all the while knowing when to
pause and point a populist ?nger at its
enemies, be it the ?chimney barons? of
early industrialisation or Adolf Hitler,
?that crook?.
But Schulz?s appearance showcased
his strengths just as well as his party?s
structural challenges. Friedrich Engels,
who once spent a night in a prison cell
in Kaiserslautern, noted in his diary
that if the Marxist movement wanted
to succeed in this ?vinous? wine-growing region, it would have to assume a
more ?jolly character?. Schulz got a
similar taste of the local mood, having
got the hall trembling with indignity
at the SPD?s maltreatment under
Bismarck and Hitler. No one could
quite work up similar fury at the social
injustices of today.
A look at contemporary attitude
surveys makes it seem as if the whole
of Germany has had a sip of Palatinate
wine. Discontent is low. Fears of social
descent, of dropping down a rung on
the social ladder, are at their lowest since reuni?cation. Numerous
surveys show that the largest group of
German voters describe themselves as
centre-left: good news for the Social
Democrats, were it not for the fact that
those voters on the centre-left are now
also the ones who are happiest with the
status quo and least hungry for change.
Worse still for Schulz: some voters
on the centre-left spectrum, including those going to the polls for the ?rst
time, now see Merkel?s party as the
ultimate party of the centre-left. This
is largely the result of Merkel?s bold
refashioning of a party steeped in a
tradition of Rhineland Catholicism into
a mobile vote-gathering unit hoovering up agendas and policies around the
centre ground. Having been socialised
for 36 years outside the Christian
Democratic Union made it easier for
the chancellor to pursue this project in
de?ance of the CDU?s historic red lines.
The SPD, by contrast, looks ever
more like a party trapped in its own
history. The core concept of Schulz?s
campaign, gerechtigkeit or ?social
justice?, is in itself a nod to his party?s
historic achievements. ?Some people
claim that social justice is no longer an
issue,? the candidate says in a new TV
spot. ?But social justice will always be
an issue, because only a just society has
a future.?
But the problem with making
?social justice? the central message of
your election campaign, argues Gero
Neugebauer, a political scientist at
Berlin?s Free university, ?is that every
party in Germany talks about social
justice ? they just disagree what that
term means.?
?For Alternative f黵 Deutschland,
social justice means preferential
treatment for native Germans. For Die
Linke, social justice means complete
redistribution of wealth. And for the
FDP [the Liberal party] it means lower
taxes.? As eloquent as Schulz is talking
about the injustices of the industrial
200 miles
?The problem with
making social justice
your central message
is that every party in
Germany says that?
Gero Neugebauer, poll watcher
revolution, he and his party have failed
to paint a similarly rousing picture of
the risks of globalisation, Neugebauer
While even members of the leftwing
Die Linke concede that it is almost
impossible to reproduce a campaign
as focused on personality as Jeremy
Corbyn?s in a proportional representation vote system, a touch of Labour?s
new-found populism would not have
gone amiss.
Schulz has in recent weeks repeatedly attacked Merkel for planning to
spend an additional ?30bn (�m) on
the armed forces, vowing to oppose
the 2% Nato spending target which
the Social Democrat candidate says is
being forced on his country by Donald
Trump, the US president. ?Merkel
wants to spend money on more weapons ? we?ll spend the money on you? is
now at the core of the SPD?s doorstep
strategy. Last Wednesday, Schulz went
a step further: ?As chancellor of the
federal republic, I will campaign for
the removal of nuclear weapons on
German soil.?
In Kaiserslautern, he declined to
reiterate that point ? for good reason.
Up to 20 US nuclear weapons are
believed to be stored in underground
bunkers in Rhineland-Palatinate, but
the region is also home to the largest
American military community outside
the US, whose custom and rental payments are appreciated by the locals.
Werner Fischer, 83, an SPD party
member of 60 years who was queuing
up for the talk on Friday said he agreed
with Schulz that ?you don?t have to do
everything just because Trump tells
you to?, but also that he would always
be grateful to the Americans. Thanks to
their local vehicle ?eet he had got his
?rst job as a teenager and not spent a
day in unemployment since.
It was another example of a Schulz
message that left voters unmoved even
if it rhymed beautifully with his party?s
past achievements. With just under a
month to go, he may need to stop diving into history.
NEWS | 3
Are they having
a laugh? Jury
gives Edinburgh
award twice
by Vanessa Thorpe
Arts and Media Correspondent
For the ?rst time in Edinburgh fringe
festival history, the top comedy prize
has been handed to a woman ? and a
man. Standups Hannah Gadsby and
John Robins will share the lastminute.
com best comedy show award because
the judges on the panel of critics, who
scoured the pubs and halls of the city this
month for a winner, found it impossible
to choose between them.
?Both shows, which could not be
more different, were hotly debated and
fiercely fought for. Comedy has many
possibilities and audiences very different funny bones,? said Nica Burns, the
West End stage producer and longstanding director of the fringe award after the
ceremony yesterday.
?And, yes, they will both receive
�,000 each so it?s been an expensive
year; in the 37 years of the Edinburgh
comedy awards this has never happened
before, and it is unlikely it will ever happen again.?
Robins has already attracted interest
outside Edinburgh this summer because
his show, The Darkness of Robins, focuses
on the breakdown of his relationship
with Sara Pascoe, the comedian and
panel show star.
She had a well-reviewed show, LadsLadsLads, at the fringe this year, predicated on the same personal theme; but
did not make the nine-strong shortlist,
which you might think would do nothing
to smooth relations between the former
Yet when Robins, a 35-year-old from
Bristol, accepted his award, he said:
?The first person to congratulate me
[on being nominated] was Sara, and I?m
wearing the lucky beagle [charm] she
gave me before the festival.?
The other winning show, Nanette, is
Gadsby?s last, she has declared, and was
the result of a blog she wrote about equal
marriage rights in Australia. The effort
of being a lesbian performer working in
the face of what she describes as a tide of
sexist and homophobic disapproval has
proved too much, she said.
Receiving her award, Gadsby said:
?Standup comedy is a great arena and
such an accessible way to find your
voice, and I?d be interested in mentoring
young comics.?
As well as breaking with protocol,
the awards ceremony was also unusual
this year because, in honour of the 70th
anniversary of the festival, four famous
winners of the prize ?ew in to hand over
the prize.
Mark Gatiss, Reece Shearsmith, Steve
Pemberton and their co-writer Jeremy
Dyson ? who all made their names on
the The League of Gentlemen ? won the
award in 1997 when it was known as the
Perrier, and officiated yesterday, alongside last year?s winner, Richard Gadd.
?It was a real vindication of our work,?
Shearsmith said. ?It wasn?t just us doing
it for our friends. It was the Perrier
award for goodness? sake, something
every comic wanted to win.?
?The thing I most remember was
being hot,? Pemberton added. ?We were
in the hottest room at the fringe, the
Pleasance Attic, in dinner suits.?
When The League of Gentlemen ?
which is returning to television and
tipped for a live stage comeback ?
walked off with the prize, the defeated
fellow nominees were hardly relegated
to obscurity. They were Al Murray,
Graham Norton, Milton Jones and
Johnny Vegas. ?Who, at the time, would
have thought that all the shortlisted
acts would become household names??
Burns said.
Shearsmith and Pemberton are now
best known as actors and as the creators of the acclaimed BBC2 show Inside
Number 9. Stage actor Gatiss is a cocreator of Sherlock ? he appears as the
detective?s elder brother Mycroft ? and
is a writer on Doctor Who. Dyson created
and co-wrote the West End show Ghost
The winner of the best newcomer
award for �000 is Natalie Palamides,
for her show Laid, about female fertility.
The seven other nominees for the best
show award this year were: Ahir Shah,
Elf Lyons, Jordan Brookes, Mae Martin,
Mat Ewins, Sophie Willan and Spencer
Comedy critics whittle the shortlist down to
two ? but then can?t decide on the winner
John Robins focused on the breakdown of his relationship
with fellow comic Sara Pascoe, who didn?t make the shortlist.
Brian Logan
Comedy critic
The longest ever shortlist. The ?rst ever
joint winners. And clearly, the most
indecisive judging panel ever.
It was indeed, as the publicity would
have it, an ?unprecedented? year for
the Edinburgh comedy awards. But, if
there?s a worry that the currency of
these awards is being devalued, there can
be no real complaints about this year?s
champs: probably the two most audacious
stand-up shows on the fringe, and
certainly among the funniest.
Gadsby?s show Nanette arrived in town
trailing plaudits ? and the second biggest
prize in international live comedy, the
Barry award ? from its Australian debut. A
highly confrontational farewell to comedy
Hannah Gadsby may mentor young comedians after penning
what she says is her last show, on marriage rights in Australia.
from an artist who swears the show will
be her last, it tells the story of Gadsby?s
experiences of homophobia since growing
up in Tasmania, where homosexuality
was illegal until 1997. In her previous
comedy shows, the 39-year-old has
soft-soaped those experiences to make
audiences laugh. In Nanette, she refuses
to do so ? and the e?ect is electrifying.
But also deeply uncomfortable, and
some speculated that the show was
too serious-minded (more so even than
2016 winner, Richard Gadd?s Monkey See
Monkey Do ) to win a comedy award.
Robins?s show is hardly less eyecatching: a carnival of gallows humour
chronicling his traumatic breakup with the
comedian Sara Pascoe (whose identity he
conceals in the show), and his struggle to
readjust to single life. Robins, 35 ? hitherto
best known for the radio show and
podcast he co-hosts with fellow comic Elis
James, and a fringe regular since 2009 ?
turns the experience into self-lacerating
comedy, turning the rejection, loneliness
and self-abasement into bleak but very
big laughs. His former partner Pascoe
staged her own show about the breakup
at the same venue. It too was acclaimed
by critics and audiences, but Robins?s had
the edge, if only for the distinctiveness of
a set that combined uproarious humour
with un?inching candour about the depths
of his distress.
Their joint victory is a fair re?ection of a
fringe that featured a higher number than
usual of good shows, but no standout.
Gadsby is unlikely to parlay the award
into a higher pro?le, given that she?s
quitting comedy, but we?ll be seeing
more of Robins in future: touring and TV
opportunities usually follow hard on an
Edinburgh comedy award win. Meanwhile,
the extra-long shortlist has elevated
exciting younger acts like Mat Ewins and
Sophie Willan into the bigger league.
Additional reporting by Veronica Lee
What?s in your supermarket ?artisan? bread? Yard launches terror hunt
Bake O??s Prue Leith backs drive for clarity after Palace sword attack
by Ben Quinn
As the nation prepares itself for a fresh
bout of Great British Bake Off fever,
Prue Leith, one of the faces of the
revamped show that hits TV screens on
Tuesday, is putting her support behind
a campaign to protect the provenance
of artisan bread.
The push for an ?Honest Crust
act? by the Real Bread Campaign
is designed to ensure that not only
do consumers know exactly what is
in their loaves, but also that a level
playing ?eld for large supermarket
chains and smaller bakeries is created.
These include a new generation of
microbakeries, which have sprung
up partly as a result of the nation?s
growing obsession with baking.
?Of course we should know what?s
in the bread we eat. The Real Bread
Campaign?s call for better labelling
legislation will also help small, local
bakeries thrive,? said Leith, who is
replacing Mary Berry as one of the two
judges on Bake Off.
Prue Leith with Paul Hollywood, left, and
Noel Fielding from Great British Bake Off.
Microbakers and other small
independent bakers are increasingly
feeling the squeeze from supermarkets
selling sourdough and other breads
under an an ?artisanal? banner. They
will be encouraged to make their
views known to the government in an
online campaign, which gets under
way next month. Organisers hope the
movement will gain momentum as a
result of a new wave of Bake Off fever.
The campaign ? part of Sustain: the
alliance for better food and farming ?
argues that consumers are prevented
from getting honest and accurate
information about the loaves they
buy because retailers are not required
to display a full list of ingredients or
declare any arti?cial additives used
in the production of unwrapped
loaves. The campaigners also point
to an absence of legal de?nitions for
many terms, including freshly baked,
sourdough, wholegrain, bakery, artisan
and craft. A letter, which independent
bakers will be encouraged to sign up
to will be sent to the environment
secretary, Michael Gove, whose
department has responsibility for food.
The Campaign for Real Bread
is urging Gove?s Department for
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
to introduce safeguarding measures
before Brexit amid concern that
new trade deals could potentially
undermine existing standards. A
Defra spokesperson said: ?We want
consumers to have clear information on
food they buy, and we are committed
to working with industry to make sure
consumers are not misled.?
by Vikram Dodd
Police and Crime Correspondent
A man arrested outside Buckingham
Palace armed with a 1.2-metre sword
repeatedly shouted ?Allahu Akbar?
as police struggled to subdue him,
Scotland Yard said yesterday.
Three unarmed officers were injured
? two with cuts to their hands ? while
detaining the man just after 8.30pm on
Friday. Police are treating the incident
as suspected terrorism. Scotland Yard
said that the man drove at a police van
just outside Buckingham Palace in a
blue Toyota Prius, and stopped in front
of the van. The suspect, a 26-year-old
from Luton, Bedfordshire, was subdued with CS spray.
A Metropolitan police statement
said: ?The driver, who was the only
occupant in the car, reached for a 4ft
sword which was in the front passenger footwell. The officers acted very
quickly to detain him.?
The investigation is now being led
by the Yard?s counter-terrorism com-
mand. The Observer understands that
officers are examining CCTV footage to
see if the Prius was ?scouting? the area
before the incident. Detectives will
also examine whether the vehicle was
driven at the police van to lure officers
towards it.
The suspect was arrested at the
scene on suspicion of causing grievous
bodily harm and assaulting a police
officer. Hours later he was further
arrested under the Terrorism Act and
remains in custody at a central London
police station.
Witness Kiana Williamson said the
incident lasted around a minute: ?The
police were trying to get the man out
of the car, shouting. More police were
arriving on the scene and the man was
?ghting back.
?I saw one injured policeman with
an injury to his arm, although it didn?t
look severe. He was being tended to
by another officer. The man had been
restrained and looked almost unconscious by the side of the road.?
Police were carrying out searches in
the Luton area yesterday.
4 | NEWS
Brits tell of misery
abroad after pound
hits eight-year low
by Ben Quinn
British tourists returning from continental holidays last week arrived at airports
in various states of shock. The pound?s
slump in value against the euro reached
an eight-year low during their trips and
many holidaymakers bore tales of the
woes they had endured at foreign cash
?You do become more aware of it each
time you take money out,? said Tom
Wake as he and his wife Pip made their
way through Stansted airport after a
break in Pisa. ?The rate shifted quite a bit
when we were away, so it became quite
noticeable and Brexit is there in the back
of your mind. Everyone seems to be talking about it over there ? they can?t really
understand why we?re doing it.?
The recent swing against sterling
prompted predictions that Britain?s
currency may now be trending towards
parity with the euro ? although analysts
later revised forecasts. Nevertheless, the
euro is now worth 92p compared with
70p before last year?s Brexit referendum.
It?s a hit that is felt keenly with every
British order for beer on the Spanish
costas or for croissants on the French
riviera. Alan Rylett and his wife, who had
travelled with a group of friends to Italy,
greeted the exchange rate difference
with a weary shrug of the shoulder. ?We
took some money out before we went,
so it wasn?t too bad,? he said. ?The shops
were a bit more expensive. Eating out
was not too bad actually, apart from the
very touristy areas where you get ripped
off regardless of what rate it is.?
Others, including some coming back
from non-eurozone countries, were less
than impressed. ?It wouldn?t stop us
from travelling, but it is an annoyance,?
said Yvette Franco, who was returning
from Denmark.
?I remember getting something like
115 Danish krone for around �, which
didn?t feel great. It just makes you a little bit fed up in general with the country
and the politics.?
For other travellers, including those
who had voted in favour of Brexit, the
slide of the pound was regarded as a
temporary price worth paying. They
included Stewart Harris, who was travelling to Turkey and had been closely
monitoring how the pound was faring
against the Turkish lira. ?I felt that it was
going to happen, but I?m con?dent that
things will even out,? he said.
Photograph by Ben Cawthra/LNP
Eight people were killed and four taken to
hospital after a crash involving two lorries
and a minibus on the M1, near Newport
Pagnell, Buckinghamshire, early yesterday.
Police were called to the crash scene on
the southbound carriageway at 3.15am.
A 31-year-old man from Worcestershire
was arrested on suspicion of causing
death by dangerous driving and of drink
driving. Police also arrested a 53-year-old
man from Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion
of causing death by dangerous driving.
Both men remain in custody.The minibus
was believed to have come from the Nottingham area. Fire?ghters used hydraulic
equipment to free three people who were
trapped in vehicles. They were taken to
hospital with a fourth person. The motorway between junction 15 (Northampton
South) and junction 14 (Milton Keynes)
southbound was closed for several hours.
Thames Valley police called for witnesses to contact them on 101, quoting
URN 214 of 26 August.
Sections of The Observer are carefully collated at our print site and by newsagents. If any section of today?s UK edition of The Observer is missing, call freephone 0800 839100. Back issues can be obtained from Historic Newspapers, 0844 770 7684 (
�17 Published by Guardian News & Media Limited, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU (tel 020 3353 2000) and Centurion House, 129 Deansgate, Manchester M3 3WR. Printed at Guardian Print Centre South, Rick Roberts Way, Stratford, London E15 2GN; Guardian Print Centre North, Longbridge Road, Parkway
Estate, Manchester M17 1SL; and at Carn Web, 2 Esky Drive, Carn, Portadown, Craigavon, County Armagh, BT63 5YY. Registered as a newspaper at the Post O?ce. C/O Smartmail, 140 58 St, Suite 2B, Brooklyn, NY 11220-2521. ISSN 0029-7712
NEWS | 5
Tensions run high as the shadow of Grenfell
looms over launch of Notting Hill carnival
More than 650
arrests raise anger in
the black community
?like before the
Broadwater riots?.
By Mark Townsend
After 51 years of controversy and celebration, Europe?s biggest street party ?
the Notting Hill carnival ? opens today
against one of the most politicised backdrops in its history.
Tensions surround its start following more than 650 pre-emptive arrests
by police and simmering disquiet over
the apparent failings of the authorities
after June?s devastating ?re at Grenfell
Tower, where at least 80 people died. Its
blackened shell stands close to the official carnival route.
Organisers yesterday appealed for the
event to ?lift the spirits of people? and
serve as a mark of respect for the victims
and those left destitute, most of whom
are waiting to be rehoused. At 3pm today,
and again on Monday, hundreds of thousands of revellers will observe a minute?s
silence for the Grenfell dead as well as
for Edson Da Costa, 25, and Rashan
Charles, 20, who both died recently following contact with police. The families
of both men will be attending the festival
on the Love Music Hate Racism ?oat.
Many carnivalgoers in west London
are expected to wear or accessorise
?green for Grenfell?. Hip-hop artist
Akala was among those yesterday tweeting his support. Stafford Scott of the
monitoring group, set up in the 1970s
to challenge police racism, said feelings
were running high among many in the
black community and levels of anger
were ?very close? to conditions before
the Broadwater farm riots in Tottenham
32 years ago. ?There?s a feeling that the
police are waging a war against the black
community,? said Scott. Jair Tavares,
Da Costa?s cousin, said the family was
calling for the officers involved
to be suspended and believed
that recent policing tactics had
stirred tensions. ?It?s almost
like they want something to
happen so they can shut it [the
carnival] down,? said Tavares.
?If anything, people should
be scared of going to the
carnival because the
MP Emma Dent Coad: it?s a
time to honour the dead.
will also be on hand to provide ?mental
health first aid? for those affected by
the tragedy.
Local Labour MP Emma Dent Coad
said the festival could be viewed in terms
of a mass wake for the entire community.
?It?s a time in the middle of the grieving
to relax and honour the dead and get
together and party brie?y. I don?t think
there?s any problem. It is a cultural thing
to have a wake, and that?s how I see it,?
she said.
The chair of the carnival trust, Pepe
Francis, said the Grenfell tragedy had
imbued the festival with even more
meaning than usual. ?Because of Gren-
?There?s a feeling that
the Metropolitan
police are waging a
war against the black
Sta?ord Scott, monitoring group
A young girl adds her tribute to the many left by the Grenfell community before the carnival. Photograph by Tolga Akmen/AFP
police are something to be scared of.
They don?t guarantee our safety.?
Scotland Yard, which is expected to
have around 6,000 officers on duty, has
remained unrepentant about its policing
approach, which apart from 656 arrests
will see facial recognition technology at
the carnival, though this has been criticised by human rights group Liberty. A
protective ring of steel barriers and concrete blocks and weapons checks will be
in place. David Musker, the commander
in charge of policing the event, said
there was no speci?c counter-terrorism
intelligence, but security plans had been
?thoroughly reviewed? after the Barcelona attack on 17 August, in which 15
people died after being hit by a van.
The police have also triggered controversy after tweeting that officers
had seized a kilo of heroin in Catford, south London, in a raid that it
linked to the carnival, 7 miles across
the capital. A statement by the Metropolitan police prompted grime
star Stormzy to reply: ?How
many drugs did you lot seize
in the run-up to Glastonbury
or we only doing tweets like
this for black events?? Weyman Bennett from Stand
Up Against Racism said: ?We need the
carnival more than ever, especially as
the black community is angry at the
repeated deaths of their young people
at the hands of the police. The carnival
calls for justice and unity and we will
remember Grenfell and we will hold
the authorities, the government and the
police to account.? Carnivalgoers will
chilli crab
should get
sauce on
your ear
lobes and
sweat on
your brow?
Jay Rayner
Continued from page 1
set up an online survey of childcare
providers over the summer.
The Pre-School Learning Alliance
estimates there is a 20% shortfall
between the amount the government
is giving local authorities to fund the
scheme and the actual cost to nurseries. It said that some nurseries will
have to close as a result, and some have
already gone under.
Eve Wort has recently shut down
her village nursery in Hampshire after
running it for more than 20 years. She
said she could not afford to take part
in the scheme and knew she would
lose children as a result. ?I knew
parents would have an expectation in
September that they could get 30 hours
for free, and there might be a stampede,
in the short term, to nurseries which
joined the scheme. Then I might have
been left without enough money to pay
my staff redundancies. I can?t bear it. I
feel absolutely devastated.?
To add to parents and providers
issues, the HMRC-operated childcare
website is causing huge headaches.
Parents need to apply for a code proving they are eligible before Wednesday
or they will have to wait until January.
In a letter to the chairwoman of the
Treasury committee, Nicky Morgan,
published on Wednesday, HMRC
revealed that one in 20 parents who
have used the service since April have
suffered at least one technical problem
during their application, and 45% of
callers to the helpline have needed to
call more than once.
The codes have also been supplied
for two and ?ve-year-olds, neither of
whom qualify, while some parents in
receipt of housing bene?t and childcare and working tax credits have
pulled out of places, unsure if they will
be better or worse off.
A Department for Education spokesman said: ?We are determined to
support as many families as possible
with access to high-quality, affordable
childcare, which is why we are investing a record �n every year by 2020
and doubling the free childcare available to working parents, saving them
up to �000 a year per child.
?This funding includes an additional
�n a year by 2019-20 to pay for the
free offers and to raise the national
hourly rate to local authorities for
three and four-year-olds to �94.?
HMRC said anyone in receipt of
tax credits who is concerned about
the scheme should check its online
childcare calculator. A spokesman said:
?Parents who apply in time and who
get their code after 31 August will still
be able to use it. Nobody need lose out
as a result of the technical issues.? He
added that parents can seek compensation if they suffer unreasonable delays.
Confusion on Tory childcare plan
be able to offer tributes to the Grenfell
victims in a quiet ?re?ection zone? near
the blackened high-rise, where performers have been encouraged to lower their
music volume in respect for those who
died in the inferno. Posters have been
erected at locations where the tower
can be seen, asking the public not to
take photographs or sel?es. Medical staff
fell, I would like to see the carnival this
year become one of the most successful
ones ever, because I think it will pay a lot
of tribute to what a festival like this can
do to ease the minds of the people (who
are) the victims,? he said.
Francis added that he had spoken to
members of the Grenfell community
who had indicated they wanted the carnival to go ahead as normal. ?Obviously
there are varying views ? some people
feel it shouldn?t. But the majority feel it
should, and it should be one of the best
carnivals. Even the people who come
and for whatever reason cause trouble ?
even they ? I think it?s a reason for them
to respect that,? he said.
6 | NEWS
Warning over ancestry
DNA shock health results
The children?s book that helps families
cope with the pathos of dementia
This section, page 19
People taking genetic tests inadvertently discover their dementia risk
by Robin McKie
Science Editor
People who use genetic tests to trace
their ancestry only to discover that they
are at risk of succumbing to an incurable illness are being left to suffer serious psychological problems. Dementia
researchers say the problem is particularly acute for those found to be at risk of
Alzheimer?s disease, which has no cure
or effective treatment. Yet these people
are stumbling upon their status inadvertently after trying to ?nd their Viking,
Asian or ancient Greek roots.
?These tests have the potential to
cause great distress,? said Anna Middleton, head of society and ethics research
at the Wellcome Genome Campus in
Cambridge. ?Companies should make
counselling available, before and after
people take tests.? The issue is raised in
a paper by Middleton and others in the
journal Future Medicine.
A similar warning was sounded by
Louise Walker, research officer at the
Alzheimer?s Society. ?Everyone has a
right to know about their risk if they
want to, but these companies have a
moral responsibility to make sure people understand the meaning and consequences of this information. Anyone
Anna Middleton, head of ethics at a
genetics institute, criticises the tests.
considering getting genetic test results
should do so with their eyes open.?
Alzheimer?s is linked to the build-up
in the brain of clumps of a protein called
amyloid. This triggers severe memory
loss, confusion and disorientation. One
gene, known as ApoE, affects this process and exists in three variants: E2,
E3 and E4. Those possessing the last of
these face an increased chance of getting
the disease in late life.
?About 3% of the population has two
copies of the E4 variant ? one inherited from each parent,? Professor John
Hardy, of University College London,
said. ?They have about an 80% chance
of getting Alzheimer?s by the age of 80.
The average person has a 10% risk.?
The link between ApoE and the risk
of Alzheimer?s was made in 1996 and
Hardy recalled the reaction in his genetics laboratory. ?We went around testing
ourselves to see which variant we possessed. I found I have two low-risk E3
versions on my genome. But if I had
found two E4 versions? By now, having
reached my 60s, I would be facing the
prospect that I had a serious chance of
getting Alzheimer?s disease in 10 years.
I would be pretty fed up.?
The ability to find a person?s ApoE
status has since become even easier as
a result of the development of genetic
tests that provide information about a
person?s ancestry, health risks and general traits. Dozens of companies offer
such services and adverts portray happy
individuals learning about their roots.
All consumers have to do is provide a
sample of spittle.
The resulting information about predilections to disease is not stressed ? but
it is given. Kelly Boughtflower, from
London, took a gene test with the company 23andMe because she wanted to
prove her mother?s family came from
Spain. The results provided no evidence
of her Iberian roots but revealed she carried one E4 version of the ApoE gene,
which increases her chances of getting
Alzheimer?s, though not as drastically as
a double dose.
?Gene test companies
make a pro?t and
walk away. They
should be made to pay
for counselling?
Margaret McCartney, GP
?I didn?t think about it at the time,?
said Bought?ower. ?Then, when I took
up work as an Alzheimer?s Society support worker, I learnt about ApoE4 and
the information has come to sit very
heavily with me. Did I inherit the ApoE4
from my mother? Is she going to get
Alzheimer?s very soon? Have I passed
it on to my daughter? I have tried to get
counselling on the NHS but that is not
available for a person in my particular
predicament, I was told.?
Other examples are provided on the
ApoE4 Info site, a forum for individuals whose gene tests have revealed their
Alzheimer?s susceptibility. ?Have stumbled upon my 4/4 ApoE status. I?m still
in shock,? writes one. Another states: ?I
got paid a $50 Amazon gift-card to take
part in a genetic study. I was naive and
There is no drug or treatment for Alzheimer?s and although doctors advise
that having a healthy lifestyle will help,
the baseline risk for E4 carriers remains
high. ?That is a real problem,? said Middleton. ?Genetic test companies say they
offer advice about counselling but that
usually turns out to be a YouTube video
outlining your risks. Affected people
needed one-to-one counselling.?
For their part, gene test companies say
results about Alzheimer?s and other diseases such as breast cancer and Parkinson?s are often hidden behind electronic
locks. A person has to answer several
questions to show they ?really? want to
open these and is informed of potential
risks. But Middleton dismissed these
precautions. ?You know there is medical
information about you online and so you
will go and ?nd it. It is human nature.?
Margaret McCartney, a GP and author
of The Patient Paradox, agreed. ?What
worries me is the aggressive way these
tests are marketed. People are told all
the bene?ts but there is no mention of
the downsides. The NHS is expected to
mop these up.
?Meanwhile the gene test company
has made its pro?t and walks away from
the mess they have created. I think that
is immoral. They should be made to pay
for counselling for their customers.?
NEWS | 7
Doctor Foster creator now takes the pulse
of the nation (in an English country house)
Mike Bartlett, writer
of the TV hit, tells
Sarah Hughes why
he has used a classic
drama setting for his
stage play exploring
national identity
?When what?s at stake
are the things that are
most primal to us ?
children, emotions ?
we do crazy stu??
Mike Bartlett, scriptwiter
As always with Bartlett, however,
things are not quite as straightforward
as they appear. ?As well as asking ?what
do we want Britain to be?? we can also
ask ?what do we want a quintessentially
British play to be?? and hopefully Albion
is playing with that idea and exploring it
and slightly detonating it.?
Before that, however, comes the
return of Doctor Foster and Suranne
Jones?s beleaguered GP Gemma Foster,
whose well-ordered, ever-so-slightlysmug life falls dramatically apart after
she begins to suspect her husband (Bertie Carvel) of in?delity. The ?rst series
was a word-of-mouth hit that pulled in
more than nine million viewers for its
?nale, making it the most watched BBC
drama of 2015. Bartlett admits that he
was stunned by its success.
?The moment I realised it was really
working was when the Gogglebox families
were shown watching it. In theatre
you can sit and watch the audience
and understand what the play is
doing to them, but TV goes out to
all intents and purposes in silence.
It was only when I saw Gogglebox
that I could see that some
of the stuff I really hoped
would work ? the plot
twists but also the bigMike Bartlett, right,
knew his series
worked when he saw
Gogglebox families
watching it.
ger questions ? were really landing and
making for uncomfortable sofa viewing.
It?s an extreme situation but I think people relate because almost everyone who
has ever had a relationship knows what
it feels like to feel betrayed.?
Given the explosive yet deeply satisfying ?nale was he tempted to leave
it there and ratings be damned? ?I did
know that the second series had to be a
new thing on some level,? he says with
a laugh, adding that he was determined
not to simply retread old ground. ?This
series deals with divorce and a child
trapped between two parents and with
what happens after you?ve invested your
entire passionate self into creating a positive marriage and then that?s broken up.
Because all that passion doesn?t go away,
it just goes in a different direction. My
hope when writing it was that if we had
pitched series two as a new show with
entirely different characters it would
still have been greenlit.?
That said, fans of the ?oh my God did
she/he really just do that?? moments that
turned the ?rst series into such muchwatch television should rest assured
they are still there. ?Often when you?re
going through this kind of thing it can
feel like you?re going crazy and the world
has detonated and I wanted to re?ect
that,? Bartlett explains. ?When what?s at
stake are the things that are most primal
to us ? our children, our emotions, our
choices ? then we do crazy stuff. So yes,
it?s enjoyable to watch and has big rollercoaster peaks and troughs but, I hope,
it?s also got truth to it.?
While his ?rst love remains the stage,
Bartlett is increasingly at the top of every
television executive?s shortlist: next year
will see the arrival of Trauma, a miniseries starring Adrian Lester and John
Simm for ITV, and the six-part newspaper drama Press, singled out last week by
Piers Wenger, controller of BBC1 drama
commissioning, as a prime example of
the channel?s new ?aspirational? dramas.
?I?d love to say it?s going to restore
journalists? reputations but I?m not convinced it will,? Bartlett remarks drily of
Press, which follows the fortunes of two
newspapers not a million miles from
the Guardian and the Daily Mail in the
post-hacking era. ?What it does do
is interrogate why news is important and how we cover it. I know
that people might expect the liberal left broadsheet are the heroes
and boo the tabloid, but it?s
more complicated than
that. Part of the fun is
never letting an audience know which way
the show sits.?
Trauma, which covers the fallout after
Lester?s surgeon fails to
save the life of Simm?s
son after a stabbing,
similarly rejects easy conclusions. ?I
was fascinated by the idea that when
you go to a hospital you have to give
yourself or your loved one over to someone you?ve never met before and completely trust them more than you trust
anyone else in your life,? he says. ?What
then happens if the outcome isn?t what
you?d hoped??
Yet for all that Bartlett loves the
democracy of television he stresses that
theatre is one of our most contemporary
art forms. ?Twenty years ago, we didn?t
have mobile phones so every room we
went to was almost like a little theatre.
There were no other screens, no other
distractions. Now no room is like a theatre, and that?s placed it in a very different, vital and important place.?
Doctor Foster starts on BBC1 at 9pm on
Tuesday 5 September
the truth:
she didn?t
need the
? her mum
made her
use it?
A shocking
crime story
蕔� xx�
� @� @ 逞
袬粟 ňYk�
-袬怂� ň
pages 20-25
He has made waves in television with
the smash hit Doctor Foster and the
acclaimed and controversial adaptation of his royal drama, Charles III; now
Mike Bartlett is hoping to make a similar splash on his return to theatre. His
state of the nation play Albion opens at
the Almeida in London next month ?
but whatever you do don?t mention the
B word.
?It has been presented as a Brexit play
but the word Brexit isn?t mentioned
once,? says Bartlett. ?It?s as much about
personal things as political. I wanted to
write something about what it feels like
to live in Britain at the moment, something that was clearly set in 2017. Theatre was more suited to that because in
television by the time it aired the world
would have moved on.?
The play?s description on the Almeida?s website is deliberately vague,
although Bartlett does offer further
clues. ?It takes place against a background of national uncertainty but it?s
also about a woman [Doctor Foster?s Victoria Hamilton] making a very big decision in her life and how that affects both
her family and her sense of identity.?
The choice of setting ? an English
country house ? is equally deliberate.
?There?s something about French windows and a garden and a house that feels
very like the environment that people
always talk about when they think of
the state of the nation and class,? says
36-year-old Bartlett. ?A lot of plays
about this country in the 20th century
have taken place in those sorts of environments. They?re a very resonant way
to talk about British identity or a certain
kind of British identity, which is what
the play is interrogating.?
Suranne Jones won the Bafta
for best actress for her role
as Gemma Foster in the ?rst
series of Doctor Foster in 2015.
Photograph by Nick Briggs/BBC
/@卵 �� 丫 9緆k侣 @耴� ,�薻�
剩�� /@譳 蕔�
/@k� c���
ck_ :ňk侣 }p�,�c裏� 卵è舅 释� x� � 趉@韭� 9@�
市�� x� 校黔F � 骗F� ˊY� 譳韭@�k ň
薻� ��
G 穴 � 噜 ˊk� �
k� �kc�
9k� �� �� � �
YkY� � � 9
9kP�薻 xxk韭 @c ňYk� @� 譆沮� xxk韭 卵PkY� � @譆@P粟� / .k薂 薱璥 � ,舅@ 9@赻 Y�` c` 9� �./� .k滤k緆c @c� � z鄛p破�
8 | NEWS | Labour and Brexit
As Labour becomes the party
of soft Brexit, the stage is set
for an autumn of hard battles
After a year of hedging its bets over
Europe, the opposition now has a clear
ake on
platform from which to take
prime minister Theresa May.
By Toby Helm, Political Editor
After a summer during which arguments
over Brexit have raged inside both the
Tory and Labour parties, and Brussels
and London have conspicuously failed
to ?nd any substantial common ground,
formal talks on Britain?s departure from
the EU in March 2019 resume in the Belgian capital tomorrow.
The Brexit secretary, David Davis,
will no doubt bounce into the meeting
with his characteristic grin and the body
language of a pent-up boxer itching to
land the ?rst blow. But the context for
the latest round of discussions with his
EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, could
hardly be less propitious.
In an attempt to convey an impression of clarity where little exists, Davis?s
Whitehall department has spent the
past fortnight issuing a series of position
papers spelling out Britain?s latest nego-
tiating stances on key issues ? including
this country?s future relationship with
the customs union and the European
court of justice (ECJ), and its plans for
the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, after the UK
strikes out on its own.
With some justification Labour?s
Brexit spokesman, Keir Starmer, writing
opposite, describes the papers as ?bland
and non-committal?. Many politicians,
independent experts and lawyers in
London, Brussels and other EU capitals
have dismissed them as a ?wish list? that
says more about irreconcilable divisions
in the Tory party over Brexit than it does
about realistic options for progress.
The message that rings out from the
papers is that the government wants to
leave the customs union and single market from March 2019, end pretty much
all jurisdiction of the ECJ from that time
on, no longer have to accept free movement of people and workers, and pay no
further annual ?nancial contribution to
Brussels. That is the part the hardline
Tory Brexiters want to hear. The part
about a clean break.
But to appease ?soft-Brexit? Tories
and much of the business community,
who traditionally support the Conservatives, the documents also spell out
how Britain wants a transition period of
around two years after Brexit, with maximum access to the single market ? and
arrangements that in effect mirror those
of the customs union. In essence Davis
will go into the critical next phase of
talks in Brussels seeking to retain all the
bene?ts of European economic union
while insisting the UK cannot accept
any of the rules that underpin it, or pay a
single euro for doing so.
Pro-Europeans in the Labour party
have argued for some time that the evident chaos in Whitehall and lack of credibility in the government?s position on
Brexit ? its ?cake and eat it? approach ?
offers huge political opportunity for the
official opposition. But until this weekend Labour?s own Brexit policy has been
not dissimilar from the Tories? ? the tortured product of a party almost equally
divided over Brexit, and one that as a
result has sought safety in deliberately
obscure and nuanced messages.
In the run-up to the June general elec-
tion, in which many Labour MPs feared
a wipeout, Starmer had an interest in
perpetuating this kind of ?constructive
ambiguity? that he now says must end.
At the referendum, Labour supporters broadly split between those in urban
areas of the Midlands and north of England who backed Brexit at least partly
because of concerns about freedom of
movement and immigration, and those
in the more metropolitan south who
backed Remain, seeing the bene?ts of
economic and cultural integration. It
was important, Starmer?s defenders
said, to offend neither side of the Labour
divide with the party so perilously positioned ahead of polling day. The Labour
leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and shadow
chancellor, John McDonnell, were anyway far from starry-eyed pro-Europeans
(they still feel the old left?s antipathy
towards the EU in their bones), so ambiguity suited them too.
Pro-Europeans in the
Labour party have
argued for some time
that the chaos in
Whitehall o?ers huge
political opportunity
for the opposition
Today, however, marks a highly signi?cant turning point for Labour (and
possibly for the country) in its approach
to the EU ? a move away from the party?s previous defensive ambiguity to
one of far more positive engagement.
In Starmer?s Observer article, signed off
by the leadership and all key players in
the shadow cabinet (albeit after days of
intense argument), Labour has repositioned itself clearly and decisively as the
party of ?soft Brexit?. For the ?rst time
since the people voted to leave the EU,
there is a visible expanse of clear blue
water between the ?hard Brexit? Conservative approach and the Labour one.
Whereas the Tories will pull the UK
out of the single market and customs
union on Brexit day in 2019, Starmer
announces that Labour would keep the
UK inside both and ?abide by the common rules? of both, throughout the
transition period. This period, Labour
believes, could be as long as four years.
During this time the UK would continue
to abide by EU rules on free movement,
accept the jurisdiction of the ECJ in
trade issues, and pay money to Brussels.
It would also use the time in transition to
negotiate reforms to freedom of movement so the UK would regain more control of immigration policy. Perhaps even
more signi?cantly, Labour is not ruling
out remaining in the customs union and
the single market permanently if it can
achieve the reforms it seeks. Put simply,
a Labour government would try to keep
the country inside the EU economic
union during the transition period ?
while leaving the political union ? and
possibly beyond.
The reasons for Labour?s dramatic
Brexit gear shift are many. Certainly a
summer of stark warnings from business about the economic damage of a
hard Brexit, and the impression that
the Tory government is pursuing one for
ideological reasons above all else, have
shifted the national and party mood.
This weekend, unaware that Starmer
was preparing a big announcement,
many Labour MPs ? including Heidi
Alexander and Alison McGovern? are
launching campaigns calling for Labour
Labour and Brexit | NEWS | 9
No ?constructive ambiguity?. No mixed messages.
Labour would seek a transitional deal ... We would
seek to remain in a customs union with the EU
and within the single market during this period
Shadow Brexit secretary
Remain voters gather in Parliament
Square in July 2016 as part of the
March for Europe, shortly after the
referendum in which Britain voted
to leave the EU. Photograph by
Neil Hall/Reuters
to back single market membership with
no ifs and buts.
But the change is deeply political too.
Labour is now in a completely different
position from the one it expected to be
in when it approached this year?s snap
general election. Rather than strengthening her grip on power on 8 June, and
her ability to drive through a hard Brexit,
the election left Theresa May without a
Commons majority and massively weakened. Corbyn and Labour were strengthened in equal measure.
Labour now senses the possibility
of power itself, and the way it is most
likely to seize it will be by exploiting
Tory turmoil and division on the issue
of Europe. To do so, though, it has to
have its own distinct approach. Much of
Corbyn?s support on 8 June came from
anti-Brexit young voters, whose enthusiasm will now be recharged. The scent
of power seems to be injecting a new
dose of pragmatism into the leadership.
Corbyn, McDonnell and Starmer will all
know that if they are to form a Labour
government in the next few years, the
worst possible economic conditions in
which to take charge will be amid postBrexit economic chaos outside the single
market and customs union. What chance
then would the party have of affording
a Keynesian injection of public money
into the economy and public services, if
tax receipts were plummeting and the
economy in headlong retreat?
Labour knows it now has to act fast
in this new context if it is to seize its
chances. The EU withdrawal bill returns
to the House of Commons on 7 September for its second reading. The bill, if
passed in its present form, would pave
the way for an end to the UK?s single
market and customs union membership, and terminate the jurisdiction of
the ECJ over UK affairs. Labour?s next
move will be to seek support in the Commons from pro-EU Tory MPs and others
for its new position, as it tries to amend
the bill and stop hard Brexit in its tracks.
The stage is set for an autumn of extraordinary Brexit battles in parliament, running in parallel with equally momentous
ones in Brussels.
We need a transitional Brexit deal
that provides maximum certainty and
stability. Labour will deliver it. If we
are to deliver a deal that protects jobs
and the economy, we must be clear
about the hard choices that need to
be made.
Constructive ambiguity ? David
Davis?s description of the government?s approach ? can only take you
so far. This has been underlined by
the bland and noncommittal policy
papers the government has published
in the last two weeks.
Labour has repeatedly emphasised
that in order to avoid a cliff edge for
our economy there will need to be
a time-limited transitional period
between our exit from the EU and
the new lasting relationship we build
with our European partners. This is
a view shared widely by businesses
and trade unions, who recognise the
huge damage that an abrupt separation from the EU would cause to our
For a long time any notion of a transitional period was anathema to the
prime minister and leading Brexiters
in the cabinet. They preferred to
labour under the delusion that the
incredibly complex process of negotiating and delivering a new relationship with the EU could be delivered
within 24爉onths.
The harsh realities of the negotiating process and the glacial pace
of progress in the ?rst two rounds
of talks have helped puncture this
illusion. There is now near consensus that a transitional period is an
economic and political necessity. So
I want to be absolutely clear about
the type of transitional deal Labour
would seek to negotiate. No ?constructive ambiguity?. No mixed messages. A credible solution to one of the
most important issues facing Britain?s
exit from the EU.
Labour would seek a transitional
deal that maintains the same basic
terms that we currently enjoy with
the EU. That means we would seek
to remain in a customs union with
the EU and within the single market
during this period. It means we would
abide by the common rules of both.
That is a choice Liam Fox and
Philip Hammond explicitly ruled out
a fortnight ago, stating that Britain
would be outside the customs union
and the single market in any transitional phase. Labour rejects that as
an unnecessary and highly risky path
to take.
By remaining inside a customs
union and the single market in a transitional phase we would be certain
that goods and services could continue to ?ow between the EU and the
UK without tariffs, customs checks or
additional red tape. There would be
no need to set up complex alternative
customs or trading relations. Given
that UK-EU combined import/export
Keir Starmer, shadow Brexit secretary, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in Brussels earlier this year to meet EU negotiators. Getty
trade totalled �3bn last year, this certainty would be hugely advantageous
for British businesses and consumers.
This arrangement would also safeguard the important social protections
and rights that come from being within
the single爉arket.
There are a number of other signi?cant advantages to this approach. First,
it is a grown-up acknowledgement that
bespoke transitional arrangements are
highly unlikely to be negotiated, agreed
and established in the next 18 months.
Second, it provides maximum certainty
for businesses and allays concerns
that there will be delays or disruptions to trade when we leave the EU in
March 2019. It would also ensure there
will be a one-step transition to a new
Third, it provides more time to
resolve the complex question of the
Northern Ireland border. Labour is
clear that this extremely serious issue
must not be rushed and that a considered agreement needs to be reached
that prevents a hard border and has
support from all communities. The
government?s policy paper on this was
incredibly light on detail and gave precious little reason to believe this will be
resolved satisfactorily by March 2019.
Fourth, it would enable negotiations
to focus on the central Brexit issue:
the nature of the new partnership that
needs to be built between the UK and
the EU. This is challenging enough
without having to negotiate separate transitional arrangements at the
Labour also recognise that this
transitional arrangement would ? for
all its merits ? be imperfect and prove
unsustainable beyond a limited period.
It would not provide a durable or
acceptable long-term settlement for
Britain or the EU. It would not provide
certainty for either party. It leaves
unresolved some of the central issues
the referendum exposed ? in particular
the need for more effective management of migration, which Labour
recognise must be addressed in the
?nal deal.
That is why a transitional period
under Labour will be as short as possible, but as long as is necessary. It
cannot become a kind of never-ending
purgatory. That would simply create its
own uncertainty and ambiguity.
Instead, transitional arrangements
must be a bridge to a strong and lasting
new relationship with the EU ? not as
members, as partners. That new progressive partnership should be based
on our common values and shared
history. It must extend far beyond
trade and security to include educa-
Japan seeks Brexit concessions from May
World, page 24
Labour?s move could transform debate
Observer Comment, page 34
Can Labour change Britain?s fate?
Andrew Rawnsley, page 35
PM can still act to counter worst of Brexit
The Big Issue, Letters, page 38
tion, science, technology, medicine
and culture.
It must be based on a deal that, as
Labour made clear in our manifesto,
retains the bene?ts of the customs
union and the single market. How
that is ultimately achieved is secondary to爐he outcome.
But the prime minister?s ideological obsession with leaving the
customs union and the single market
during a transitional period means
the options to deliver a good deal for
Britain are diminishing fast. The fanciful and unachievable proposals put
forward in the government?s recent
customs paper show the colossal
risks it is willing to take with British
jobs and the爀conomy.
Labour will not take those risks. We
will always put jobs and the economy
?rst. That means remaining in a form
of customs union with the EU is a
possible end destination for Labour,
but that must be subject to negotiations.
It also means that Labour is ?exible as to whether the bene?ts of
the single market are best retained
by negotiating a new single market
relationship or by working up from a
bespoke trade deal.
Those two questions must be
central to the Brexit negotiations. The
government should not be wasting
time pursuing bespoke transitional
arrangements when certainty and
clarity are what is needed.
Keir Starmer is shadow secretary of
state for exiting the EU
Labour?s policy shift establishes clear dividing line with Tories
Continued from page 1
during the transitional period, and possibly beyond, was agreed after a week
of intense discussion at the top of the
party. It was signed off by the leadership and key members of the shadow
cabinet on Thursday, according to
Starmer?s office.
The new policy will inevitably be
presented by Brexit supporters as evidence Labour is ready to betray the will
of the people as expressed in last year?s
referendum, which delivered a narrow
victory for Leave. And it sets the stage
for incendiary arguments with the
government on 7燬eptember, when
the European Union (withdrawal) bill
returns to the Commons for its second
Pro-EU Tory MPs, who also support
remaining in the single market, will be
put under intense pressure by Labour
to fall in behind its position and rebel
against their own party. If signi?cant
numbers were to do so, Theresa May?s
already shaky grip on power would be
seriously threatened.
Starmer says the time for ?constructive ambiguity? is over. ?Labour would
seek a transitional deal that maintains
the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU. That means
we would seek to remain in a customs
union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means
we would abide by the common rules
of both.?
He says the Tory position of leaving
the single market and customs union
would be ?unnecessary and a highly
risky path to take?. Starmer adds: ?We
will always put jobs and the economy
?rst. That means remaining in a form
of customs union with the EU is a possible end destination for Labour, but
that must be subject to negotiations.
It also means that Labour is ?exible as
to whether the bene?ts of the single
market are best retained by negotiating
a new single market relationship or by
working up from a bespoke trade deal.?
Starmer has been coming under ever
increasing pressure from a group of
pro-EU MPs and activists within his
party. Last night MPs Heidi Alexander
and Alison McGovern launched an
online campaign demanding unequivocal support, launched a website (www. and pub-
lished a motion for members to submit
for debate at next month?s party conference in Brighton, via their constituency
Labour parties.
?The Labour party is serious about
protecting jobs, tackling austerity
and defending the rights of workers
and consumers, so staying part of the
customs union and in the European
Economic Area is a no-brainer,? said
the two MPs. ?Labour must be able to
deliver the ambitious programme of
investment in public services which we
put to the electorate in 2017.?
Labour?s new approach was announced
as Brexit secretary David Davis prepared for the latest round of talks on
the UK?s departure with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier, which will take
place in Brussels tomorrow.
NEWS | 11
Regeneration: how one proud pit village is
starting to reverse the tides of misfortune
The mine closed in
Horden, Co Durham,
30 years ago. Now it
struggles with drugs
and isolation, but
there is a sense
of hope, reports
Mark Townsend
For years, the ?numbered streets? in
Horden have inspired dread among even
the most hardened of local residents.
Plagued by endemic crime and chronic
poverty, some villagers are even afraid to
venture onto them in daylight.
So, when a new community centre
opened last month in the middle of the
13 numbered terraced streets, no one
quite knew what to expect. Within days,
a melancholy truth emerged: living conditions in Horden ? a former mining village in County Durham and one of the
most deprived places in Britain ? were
even worse than had been thought.
Paula Snowdon, who runs the Hub
House, a converted end-of-terrace
community centre on Seventh Street,
describes malnourished families begging for food. ?Most had received bene?t sanctions and were basically starving
when they came to us,? she said. Others
turned up wanting little more than a
chat. ?We had individuals who hadn?t
spoken to another person for days, sometimes weeks. Solitude is a major issue.?
Some asked only to sit on the Hub?s
sofa; private landlords lease homes without furniture in the numbered streets,
forcing many tenants to live without the
luxury of settees. Some arrived seeking
refuge from the network of drug dealers
that has infested the village: one resident
on Eleventh Street counts six dealers
among its 54 red-bricked properties. Yet
what astonished Snowdon most was the
prevalence of mental illness.
?The actual way of life around here
causes problems. I would say that 85%
have a mental health illness such as anxiety and depression, or post-traumatic
stress disorder. Children are born into
deprivation and high unemployment:
people feel forgotten about.?
The Hub was created by the Coal?elds
Regeneration Trust (CRT), an agency
tasked with improving the quality of life
in former mining areas. Although largely
neglected by contemporary Whitehall
policy, Britain?s former coal regions have
5.5 million people living in them, one in
12 of Britain?s population. Collectively,
the communities in 16 former coal?elds
are statistically distinct from the rest of
the UK, with signi?cantly higher levels
of deprivation, illness and unemployment. In these former mining regions,
7.9% of the population ? nearly 440,000
Pit ponies being prepared for a carnival at Horden colliery in County Durham in the 1920s. The mine closed in 1987. Photograph courtesy of Durham County Record O?ce
people ? claim disability bene?ts, compared with 5.6% nationally and 4.3% in
the south-east.
Employment opportunities have yet
to fully replace the jobs lost in the collieries, with 14% of adults in the coal?elds
out of work and on bene?ts, 40% higher
than the national average. Horden?s pit
closed in 1987.
Across the coal?elds, there are 50 jobs
for every 100 residents of working age
compared with 80 in the south-east. Life
expectancy in coal?eld areas is around a
year less than the national average.
Horden is, even by these standards, an
acute case. Data collated three months
ago found that 4,985 of its 7,585 population were categorised as being among
the most deprived 20% of England.
Other indices underline the sense
of a community in need. Four in 10
Hordenites have zero qualifications
compared with 22% across England,
while the proportion living in poverty
is 39%, double the rate across England.
Such ?gures, alongside the sense that
conditions are deteriorating, have compelled the CRT to create a blueprint
which it believes can reverse the fortunes of Britain?s coal?elds.
Next month, a delegation from the
trust will meet the minister responsible
for the ?northern powerhouse?, Jake
Berry, to discuss a proposition to build
industrial and commercial space that
will allow small businesses to ?ourish.
Officials believe that �m of state funding over four years will bring in three
times that amount in direct investment,
along with a sustainable income of �
each year that will be invested to deliver
bespoke projects like the Hub House.
Andy Lock, the CRT?s head of operations in England, said: ?We know communities like Horden are not feeling the
bene?t of the investment in our major
towns and cities, but our offer will
address this. We just need government
support to help it become a reality.?
Last Wednesday, Theresa May visited
Teesside, some 12 miles south along the
coast, to re-emphasise her support for
the northern powerhouse, but few in
Horden expect to feel much bene?t.
Similarly, the North-East Local
10 miles
Enterprise Partnership, created to boost
regional economic growth, appears
to have delivered scant benefit to the
numbered streets; a third of the housing
stock lies boarded up on Twelfth Street
or has been converted into drug dens.
Two years ago, a local housing association offered to sell 130 Horden homes to
Durham council for �each. The council
turned the offer down.
During May?s trip to the north-east,
much was made of the need to improve
the north?s transport infrastructure,
with the prime minister admitting ?further progress must be made? on links
between its big cities. But it is evident
that isolated communities like Horden
are not a priority.
Close to the sea ? Second Street lies
450 yards from Durham?s Heritage
Coast ? Horden has no rail station. To
reach Sunderland, seven miles north,
one must take a circuitous sequence
of buses that turns what should be a
straightforward trip into an odyssey. ?If
you work there it becomes impossible,?
said Alan Bennett, a Hub volunteer.
Despite the neglect, the coal?eld areas
have become a relatively happy hunting
ground for the Conservatives. All but
one of the local authority districts within
coalfield areas voted for Brexit, and
despite a disappointing result nationally
May still won a handful of seats in previously hostile former mining areas. Lock
points out the Tory vote in many coal?eld constituencies actually increased
and says the CRT?s proposition offers the
government a way of showing they care
for previously abandoned areas.
Already the Hub House stands as a
testament to the possibility of change.
The centre has been inundated with volunteers and more than 200 locals have
so far passed through its door. Snowdon
says that attacks by vandals ? in?amed
by rumours that it was a police ?grass
house? ? have ceased and an embryonic
sense of civic pride is detectable. One
surefire hit has been the enthusiastic
uptake of free dog-poo bags to tackle the
fouling of pavements.
On Thursday evening, residents
crowded into the Hub for a screening
of I, Daniel Blake, Ken Loach?s critique
of the bene?ts system in nearby Newcastle ? a film that had resonance for
many of those present. A computer literacy course has been arranged to help
Hordenites navigate the online bene?ts
system without risking sanctions.
Snowdon said: ?People want to aspire
to do better. You just need to give them
How Liverpool?s slums became
ever so des res
Rowan Moore, Comment, page 37
A million skilled European workers ?see their future outside Britain?
Young, highly quali?ed
workers plan to leave UK
after Brexit, says report
by Toby Helm
Political Editor
Almost a million EU citizens working in Britain ? many of them young,
highly quali?ed and much sought-after
by businesses ? are either planning
to leave the country or have already
made up their minds to go as a result of
Brexit, a study has found.
A survey of 2,000 EU workers in
Britain by KPMG, the professional
services ?rm, found that 55% of those
with PhDs and 49% of those with postgraduate degrees were either planning
to go or were actively considering it.
Based on its overall ?ndings, KPMG
estimated that a group equivalent to
3.1% of the national workforce ? about
a million people ? now see their future
in Britain as over or hanging in the balance. The main reasons given were that
they felt ?less welcome and valued?
post-Brexit, that the UK ?is no longer
the place that attracted them? and that
they are ?pro-European and disagree
with Brexit?.
KMPG?s study, to be published
this week, also surveyed 1,000 people in the 10 EU countries judged as
most likely to supply labour to the
UK. Although it found that Britain
remained in the top ?ve most desirable
EU countries (behind Germany and
Sweden but ahead of Denmark and the
Netherlands) in which to work, 49%
of those questioned said they felt it
was now less desirable than before the
referendum in June last year.
The ?ndings will reinforce fears of
a substantial brain drain and suggests
that the loss of talent will hit important
sectors such as IT particularly hard.
KPMG describes those most likely to
leave as ?the independent, in-demand,
educated and young?.
The problem is particularly serious for companies that have relied
on young talent, especially at higherincome levels in sectors such as
engineering, construction, property,
business services, law and IT ? 53% of
people working in IT said they would
leave or were considering doing so.
The higher the income bracket the
higher the proportion of those thinking
of leaving. While 33% of those earning
�,000 to �,000 were reassessing
their future in the UK, 77% of those
UK employers will
have to work
harder to retain key
staff from the EU,
says Karen Briggs
of KPMG.
earning above �0,000 were doing so,
KPMG found.
The report comes amid a fall-off
in the number of EU students applying to British universities. Last week
there was also a furious argument
within government over whether
overseas students should continue to
be included in immigration statistics
after official ?gures showed the vast
majority returned home after graduating. This contradicted Theresa May?s
long-standing assertion that huge
numbers stay on even after their visas
have expired.
Karen Briggs, head of Brexit at
KPMG, said employers would have to
work harder to retain key staff from
other EU countries and warned that
competition from overseas would
intensify. ?Although almost half of the
EU citizens working in the UK plan to
stay, what other EU citizens choose to
do is de?nitely hanging in the balance,?
she said. ?Against this backdrop we
expect to see increased competition for
talent between employers, and numerous ?rms seeking to supplement their
workforce with AI [arti?cial intelligence], robotics and automation.?
Briggs added: ?Our survey reveals a
serious situation for employers relying
on EU staff, particularly those who
employ independent, in-demand, educated and younger workers. Too few
employers are doing enough to support
their EU employees and that means the
UK is vulnerable to losing IT professionals, creative minds, engineers and
specialist ?nance professionals.
?Compounding this we?re seeing a
fall in applications from EU citizens
to UK universities. This could create a
high-end talent pipeline problem and a
shortage of professionals.?
Labour?s move could transform debate
Observer Comment, page 34
12 | NEWS
Top diver?s death
casts long shadow
over deep beauty
of the Blue Hole
The ?underwater cathedral? at the edge of the Red Sea is
arguably the most perilous diving spot in the world ? even
for experts. In Dahab, Egypt, Edmund Bower discovers why
In the bars and cafes of Dahab this summer, one recurring observation has been
made among the diving fraternity, a core
constituency in this Egyptian coastal
resort. ?If it could happen to Steve, it
could happen to anyone.?
Last month, Stephen Keenan, aged
39 and from Dublin, drowned while
overseeing a dive by the freediving
world record holder Alessia Zecchini.
While attempting to cross ?the arch?
of the Red Sea?s notorious Blue Hole
using only a single breath, the 25-yearold Italian became disoriented. Keenan
rushed to her aid and guided her to the
surface. She made it out unharmed but
he blacked out and was found ?oating
face down some distance away.
As a safety diver, Keenan was one of
the best in the business. His death has
cast a shadow over the summer and provided a stark reminder of the dangers
involved in negotiating probably the
most dangerous diving spot in the world
The Blue Hole is a 120-metre-deep
sinkhole, ?ve miles north of Dahab. Its
nickname is the ?divers? cemetery?.
Yet thousands continue to flock here
each year, unperturbed by the increasing number of plaques that hang on the
cliff opposite to mark those who never
With no public record, it?s hard to say
how many people have lost their lives.
Divers in Dahab suggest as many as 200
in recent years. One man who doesn?t
venture to guess is 53-year-old Tarek
Omar. A technical diver from Dahab,
Omar began exploring the Blue Hole
in 1992, fascinated by tales of a curse
laid upon it when an unwilling party
to an arranged marriage drowned herself there. Omar rose to fame in 1997
when he retrieved the bodies of Conor
O?Regan and Martin Gara. ?They were
the ?rst bodies recovered from the Blue
Hole.? Since then, he says he has pulled
more than 20 bodies out of the water,
earning himself the grim moniker ?the
bone collector?.
In recent years, as technical diving
(a form of scuba that usually involves
breathing special gas mixtures) has
become more fashionable, Omar has
witnessed a rise in the rate of fatalities.
Deaths of freedivers such as Keenan are
also a constant concern, with the sport
?Blue Hole?
growing in popularity since Luc Besson?s
1988 ?lm The Big Blue, which brought it
to the world?s attention.
Others maintain that as long as divers
do their homework and exercise due
caution, the Blue Hole?s fearsome reputation is undeserved. Instructor Alex
Heyes says: ?It just isn?t that danger-
ous.? Originally from Preston, Heyes,
32, moved to Dahab seven years ago and
runs the H2O centre. She has dived the
Blue Hole countless times and puts the
high number of fatalities down to ?people being idiots?. She maintains that
most of the deaths are primarily the
result of hubris. ?People do 100 dives
Hurry, limited time only! Offers end 5th September.
/司k@ �丫 x@�丫薻 k薻舅@k�
� �丫 18 �� �kY@滤�
� � 剩�
SAVE �.99
Pedigree Adult Complete 18kg
Felix As Good As It Looks
Pouches 44x100g
WAS �.99
k �kY@滤
剩 /@譳 剩�
ck_ �kY@滤� 9@� 释� x�
P骗F � 行 p骗 @滤 �丫 x@�丫薻
k薻舅@k� x� �丫 �k � 薂Pk�
滤継� � �k 18�
SAVE �49
/@k� c���
9k� �� �� � � 滤緆@ x�
�丫 �k � �丫 18
9kP�薻 xxk韭 @c ňYk� @� 譆沮� xxk韭 卵PkY� � @譆@P粟� / .k薂 薱璥 � ,舅@ 9@赻 Y�` c` 9� �./� .k滤k緆c @c� � z鄛p破�
Pedigree Tasty Bites WAS �59
Whiskas Cat Treats WAS �39
Catsan 20 litres
WAS �.49
Order and collect from
over 430 stores online at
Products subject to availability, while stocks last. Pedigree Adult Complete 18kg. �11/kg. Previously on promotion at � from 09/08/17 - 22/08/17.
Felix As Good As It Looks Pouches 44 x 100g. �27/kg. Pedigree Tasty Bites Cheesy Nibbles 140g & Chewy Slices 155g. Previously on promotion at
�from 09/08/17 - 22/08/17. Whiskas Temptations 60g, Whiskas Trio Crunchy Treats 55g, Whiskas Healthy Joints 55g. Previously on promotion at
�from 09/08/17-22/08/17. Catsan 20 Ltr. 45p/litre.
NEWS | 13
A freediver at the
bottom of the Blue Hole.
Right, photographed
from above, a shallow
bank is visible. The
entrance to the arch is
to the left. Alamy
and think they know it all,? she says,
?but they?re not prepared for that kind
of depth. A bit of knowledge can be a
dangerous thing.?
Many of those who died were attempting to swim under the arch. According to
Heyes, this challenge is to scuba divers
what Kilimanjaro is to hikers. Below 56
metres, the sea wall stops, revealing a
cavernous, 26-metre-long tunnel from
the Blue Hole to the open ocean. Those
who descend 100 metres are faced with
a 50-metre-high opening to the Red Sea.
?It?s beautiful,? says Heyes. ?There?s
nothing else like it. It?s like standing in an
underwater cathedral.?
But it can be disorientating. Divers
have reported seeing light emerging
from the tunnel and, believing it was
the surface, have swum down to it. At
this depth, it?s possible to succumb to a
condition known as nitrogen narcosis,
in which breathing gases at high pressure causes mental, and sometimes
physical, impairment. According to Dr
James Caruso, the chief medical examiner for Denver, Colorado and an avid
scuba diver, narcosis is often called the
?martini effect? where ?ass the diver
goes deeper, the intoxication
n increases
in a similar fashion to drinking
king more
Much like alcohol, it affects everyone differently, but Caruso
o says, ?no
one is immune from the symptoms
mptoms and
if a diver goes deep enough,, he or she
will lose consciousness?. Add
dd this to
oxygen poisoning, where the
he gas
becomes toxic under high pressure, and anyone continuingg to
breathe at this depth is on borrrowed time.
It?s possible to counteractt
these effects with specialised equipment. Technical
divers, such as Omar and
Heyes, frequently swim
under the arch , but it?s an
?People do 100 dives
and they think they
know it all ? but
they?re not prepared
for that kind of depth?
Alex Heyes, diving instructor
blacked out
and drowned
after saving
world record
expensive hobby requiring lots of training, and many are unwilling to put in the
hours. As Omar puts it: ?They want to
get into deep water, before they get into
deep knowledge.?
Yuri Lipski was one of these. Probably
the most famous scuba death in the Blue
Hole, the Russian-Israeli diving instructor became a household name in diving
circles in 2000 after filming his own
demise on a helmet camera.
Omar met Lipski one hour before
his dive. ?He wanted to ?lm the arch,?
says Omar. ?I said ?OK, so you?ll need
two weeks? training with me ?rst, and
then we?ll ?lm?.? With only a weekend in
town, Lipski turned down Omar?s offer
and set off alone.
A YouTube video, viewed almost
10 million times, shows Lipski?s final
moments. Almost immediately, he strays
from his diving buddy and begins to
descend fast. ?He was too heavy for his
buoyancy device,? says Omar, who thinks
the extra weight of a camera might have
tipped the balance. ?He passes the point
where narcosis sets in and by 80 metres,
he?s under the control of the sea.? The
video ends seven minutes in when a
thrashing Lipski pulls out his regulator.
The following morning, Omar retrieved
his body from 92 metres down.
Safety precautions are being steadily
introduced as the sport develops a system of self-regulation. Although some
dive centres continue to permit trips
under the arch for single-tank scuba
divers, they?re part of an increasingly
unpopular minority. Unquali?ed divers
are now forbidden by law from entering
the Blue Hole at all. With more common sense rules being enforced, Heyes
reckons the so-called ?divers? cemetery? deserves a new name. ?If you look
at recent deaths worldwide, the Blue
Hole is way down,? she says. ?Even if
you compare Egypt and the UK, I think
the UK is probably up now.?
But as divers continue to push the limits of the sport, new dangers are never far
behind. Omar says he has never believed
in the curse of the Blue Hole, but after
20 years of ?shing bodies out from it, he
is convinced of one thing. ?The people
who dive here,? he says, ?have created
their own curse.?
| 15
Jess Phillips
I?m friends with
all sorts? my dear
gran was a Tory
ugust is a cruel mistress to
politicians. Silly season means
that if you say anything you
will ?nd yourself splashed all
over the papers.
This week Labour MP Laura Pidcock
said that she would not be friends with
a Tory. The reaction to this story would
have most people thinking that she had
expressed a desire to steal the ?rst-born
children of anyone who had ever voted
Conservative. And Laura found herself,
as we all have, having to clarify her
statement ? asserting that she is a grown
woman who knows that in Westminster
she needs alliances to win battles, but
won?t be necking champagne at the
Conservative black and white ball any
time soon.
I was brie?y in Westminster last
week, accidentally on the day that Big
Ben binged its ?nal bong for four years.
My husband, children and I
found ourselves in a scrum
of lobby journalists
desperate to tell the storyy
of MPs saddened by the
event. There weren?t
any. Still, a woman
approached us from the
Daily Mail and declared her
credentials; my husband
responded to hearing the
name of her employer by
pulling a face that could sourr
milk. Later I scolded him for
his rudeness: ?You might not
like the Daily Mail but she
was simply trying to do her job.?
I told him that in Westminster we
are all trying to do a job and we have to
rub along together, often with people
we deeply dislike. He made apologetic
noises for his open rudeness but stayed
?rmly of the view that he could never
appease, with generosity of spirit,
someone who chose to work in an
establishment he deems abhorrent.
I爐old him that this is exactly how lots
of people treat me. We settled on a
view that civility but mistrust was the
most appropriate response.
In real life, my husband is friends
with lots of people who read the Mail,
as am I. My paternal grandma was a
raving Thatcherite, one who had a
xenophobic turn of phrase for most
proceedings. ?Dear God, girl, you
sound like a German drinking pea
soup,? she would say if I ate noisily. She
was also the most generous woman
I have ever met, who rolled up her
sleeves for her community quicker
than most. She was best mates with
my maternal nan, who was as socialist
as the day is long and an active antiracism campaigner.
What united them was so much
bigger than their choice of newspaper.
They were hard-as-nails working-class
women with a sense of fairness, family
and community that united their
world view everywhere but the ballot
box. They laughed with each other
and rolled their eyes at each other in
I don?t know how all of my friends
vote; it doesn?t come up. But it would
be a lie to say that I don?t surround
myself with people who have a similar
moral code to mine. This is not to say
that we
w don?t fall out about
politics all the time. There
is no one in the world I
with more than
m dad, even though we
on most things.
O relationship is
father/daughter (or
typica at least in a political
family)). He plays the role of
leftwing ideologue,
I play the petulant zeitgeistobsessed
obsess sulky teen that he
will never
Personally, I ?nd the
decisions and actions of my Tory
colleagues appalling, but I also know
plenty of Labour voters who are less
than perfect. My mother used to say:
?Voting Tory is like reading the last
page of a novel before beginning the
story.? Tame by modern standards of
hateful insults, but to her this was the
worst kind of grati?cation-obsessed
behaviour. It also perfectly sums up
how, from our different bunkers, we
simply cannot understand why some
people behave in a certain way.
I guess, for me, I have learned that
life is more interesting if I befriend
different sorts of people, and then do
as I do with all the people I truly love
? row a lot and spend a lifetime taking
the piss out of them.
My family?s love
story helped out
May on migration
L?amour sans fronti鑢es ? and a gain for UK net migration figures. Alamy
?I hated
the word
?love? a
few years
on how
music gave
him a voice
pages 14-18
Jess Phillips is Labour MP for
Birmingham Yardley
eing in France means that I
am surrounded by examples
of nationalised services that
work. While I think that few
Brits would consider subsidised cinema
tickets (my sister-in-law genuinely
works in a state cinema) a priority,
I think, for many, the argument of
nationalised transport is won.
The Labour party is good on trains.
It is a bit baffling to me, then, why last
week?s Labour train stories seem to
have been for the few, not the many.
This might be the only time I ever do
this, but I shall cut Chris Williamson
MP some slack. He said something ill
thought out, not in his area of expertise, in a slow news week. And the
suggestion that women-only carriages
might be a good idea was roundly
dismissed by all, including Jeremy
Corbyn. My favourite argument against
it was that we don?t try to tackle rising
racial hate crime by segregating black
people. I received a series of emails on
the subject, with one suggestion of a
gropers? carriage, where gropers and
those who want to be groped can get it
on. I fear, however, that gropers would
have to settle for groping each other.
I?ll stick with the tried and tested solution of more train guards, good CCTV
on trains and actually prosecuting the
crime. I realise my suggestions are less
amusingly Carry On, but they work
and help explain why reporting of this
crime has gone up enough to cause this
furore. Please God, let this be the end
of this nonsense.
Then we had the resurfacing of the
Corbyn-sits-on-the-?oor ?Traingate?
incident after some new footage was
released ? which seemed to be a relatively self-indulgent chance for Corbyn
fans (not the man himself ) to go on
about Corbyn rather than the issue. It
seemed very much like feasting ground
for the few. The Labour party is good
on trains; let?s stick to policy, not pantomime.
How to keep women safe on trains
?m writing this in France, where
I?m staying with my brother and
his family. He met his French wife
Julie while they were studying in
Figures last week have shown that
it turns out foreign students are not
sticking around in the UK as much as
our prime minister had said. Just like
them, Julie didn?t overstay in our green
and pleasant land; on the contrary,
when she returned to France, she took
one of ours with her. Instead of lying
about people like my sister-in-law,
Theresa May should have given her a
sticker that said: ?I came to the UK and
improved the net migration ?gures.?
My brother moans about how long
his French citizenship paperwork
is taking, and I lament that he now
needs to bother to do this. He?s lived
in France for 13 years and raised two
kids who speak perfect English with
a Birmingham accent. He won?t ever
come home, but stresses that he will
always be British and a proud Brummie.
I wonder why so many people felt
that their Britishness was so fragile.
Theresa May felt so fragile about hers
that she ?ddled the books to make it
seem like she loved our country. I?m
certain that my migrant Franglais
family love it and its people much more.
16 | NEWS
Rogue doctors
?use hero status?
to abuse patients
Report warns that even respected clinicians
must be challenged over ?unusual behaviour?
by Denis Campbell
Health Policy Editor
The health service must do more to spot
warning signs that staff are using their
position in order to abuse patients, a new
report into sexual and physical assaults
committed by rogue medical personnel
has found. The problem is particularly
acute for doctors who achieve ?superhero? status, it warns.
The analysis of how healthcare professionals were able to get away with
their misbehaviour for years has concluded the NHS needs to overhaul its
procedures to prevent a repeat of such
scandals. Examples included breast
surgeon Ian Paterson, who was jailed in
May for 15 years for carrying out unnecessary cancer operations, and specialist Myles Bradbury, who was jailed for
22爕ears (reduced to 16 on appeal) in
2014 for abusing young cancer patients.
The probe, by experienced NHS
investigators Verita, has been shared
with the Observer. It has identified
three key types of devious and deceitful tactics used by NHS personnel to
create opportunities to exploit vulnerable patients.
The firm has previously examined
the NHS?s handling of scandals including Jimmy Savile?s abuse and rape of
patients. This time it has identi?ed patterns of behaviour that bosses, management teams and its 1.4 million staff need
to be warned about and told to report if
they become suspicious.
Its ?ndings are based on an in-depth
inquiry into the misdemeanours of Paterson and Bradbury as well as George
Rowland, a consultant urogynaecologist
who performed unnecessary or botched
operations on hundreds of women with
incontinence, and David Britten, a senior nurse who groomed and had sexual
relationships with young women undergoing treatment for eating disorders.
?The NHS ought to have been on
to these cases faster than they were,?
said Ed Marsden, the ?rm?s managing
director. ?Our analysis showed there
were common traits which, if identi?ed
and challenged earlier, could help stop
or prevent safeguarding issues. NHS
organisations must be much more alert
to these patterns of behaviour to identify
Breast surgeon Ian Paterson, top right, was jailed for 15 years; Myles Bradbury,
centre, got 22 years for abusing young cancer patients; George Rowland, bottom
right, performed hundreds of unnecessary or poorly executed operations. PA
and stop abuse by staff. The NHS must
learn lessons from these cases.?
Verita says that NHS bosses should
be wary of health professionals who
acquire what it calls the ?superhero status? of the three doctors and one nurse
studied in the review. Their seniority
and expertise in their ?eld meant that
their unusual behaviour was not challenged by colleagues or patients.
?Myles Bradbury cultivated unusually close relationships with patients and
families for a doctor. He made them feel
special and dependent on him. For example, he gave them his mobile phone number and he ran clinics out of hours. That?s
unusual behaviour. They thought he was
going above and beyond to help them. But
those kinds of oddities should give long
pause for thought,? said Marsden. Bradbury was jailed for abusing 18 children
with cancer at Addenbrooke?s hospital
in Cambridge between 2009 and 2013.
?This ?superhero status? also allowed
Ian Paterson to make false diagnoses
and carry out unnecessary or dangerous breast surgery while receiving plaudits from many unsuspecting
patients,? added Marsden. ?It took nine
years before concerns raised about him
?nally led to his suspension by the General Medical Council. Britten convinced
his victims they were receiving special
treatment to resolve their eating disor-
ders and then betrayed their trust. He,
Paterson and Rowland were all treating
vulnerable people who were very seriously unwell. ?I can bring about a cure,
I can ?x it? ? that?s what they cultivated
and got patients to think. Patients want
to trust that they?re getting the very best
care and a health professional with bad
intent can exploit that.?
Alarm bells should also ring when any
member of staff starts acting like a ?lone
wolf? ? creating space and opportunities within the working environment to
carry out abuse. ?For example, Rowland
practised in a separate location where he
was subject to less stringent assessment
and away from the eyes of colleagues
who may have challenged his approach,
while Britten relocated to a specialist
eating disorders unit physically separate
from the main hospital,? said Marsden.
NHS bosses also needed to be much
quicker at picking up signals that someone who was not abiding by the usual
rules might have a sinister agenda, he
added. Bradbury and Paterson both
resisted being monitored, while Bradbury was reluctant to be shadowed by
students and trainee doctors, which is
a long-established way of consultants
helping young recruits learn medicine.
Verita has also found that hospitals
need to be clearer and more consistent
with both staff and the public about what
will happen in an appointment, especially if it involves an intimate physical
examination, and offer a chaperone if
requested to help patients know what to
expect and make them less deferential.
?We must do all we can to prevent
these crimes. This work by Verita offers
useful insights and information on particular behaviours that, combined with
other concerns, may well indicate that
abuse is taking place,? said Saffron Cordery, the director of policy and strategy at
NHS Providers, which represents NHS
trusts in England. ?Ultimately, every
member of staff and every patient must
feel safe to raise the alarm.?
NEWS | 17
From The Durrells to ?Yorkshire Brokeback?
and beyond: the swift rise of Josh O?Connor
Early starts, long
hours, lots of sheep:
the star of God?s Own
Country tells
Vanessa Thorpe
of the hard
graft behind
acclaimed ?lm
For Josh O?Connor, known for his role
in ITV?s The Durrells, it was the bright
Mediterranean sun and the sparkling
sea of the hit show?s Corfu setting that
lit a path to fame. But this autumn the
27-year-old actor has swapped the heat
and goats of the Greek island for the rain
and sheep of the Yorkshire dales.
O?Connor is the star of an unusual
new romance, God?s Own Country, out
in cinemas this week and already hailed
by critics as among the best ?lms of the
year. The unexpected impact of the story,
set on a ?nancially imperilled Yorkshire
farm, has left him with a choice to make.
Will he stick with British independent
cinema, or take up one of many offers
from Hollywood? Perhaps even donning
a superhero?s cape?
?I do have a lot of scripts coming in
from the States all the time now, including some action stuff,? he told the
Observer. ?Although I am not sure I am
in enough shape for that yet. I must say,
I wouldn?t turn down a superhero role,
although there do seem to be a lot of
British actors out there doing that.?
O?Connor?s portrayal of Johnny, a
depressed and promiscuous young
gay farmer in God?s Own Country, has
invited favourable comparisons with the
2006 western Brokeback Mountain, and
earned him laurels from Empire magazine for the ?bleakness that O?Connor
powerfully articulates with slight dialogue and subtle physical cues?. The Telegraph?s critic Robbie Collin has praised
the ?extraordinary delicacy and deftness? of his performance.
?The last couple of weeks have made
me see that working in America is
actually possible,? O?Connor said this
weekend. ?People are interested, simply because we have had such a success
story with this ?lm.?
He was signed up by an American
agent after the film?s premiere at the
Sundance festival in January, although
his next project is another independent British production, a love story to be
made later this year in Glasgow.
Last week the actor, who lives in south
London, was busy filming the third
series of The Durrells during the day and
then publicising God?s Own Country in
the evenings. Long days, but nothing that
compares to the hours he put in on the
Yorkshire farm near Keighley where the
?lm was shot.
After choosing his lead actor, firsttime director Francis Lee sent O?Connor
to work on the hillsides alongside a
real farmer for a fortnight. ?I?ve never
Josh O?Connor, left, and Alec Secareanu as Johnny and Georghe in God?s Own Country. Photograph by Agatha Nitecka/Picturehouse Entertainment
Raised in Cheltenham, the middle son of
an English teacher father and midwife
mother, he graduated from Bristol Old
Vic theatre school in 2011.
Parts in BBC2?s Peaky Blinders and
BBC1?s Ripper Street. In ITV?s comic
drama The Durrells (2016-18) he
plays Lawrence ?Larry? Durrell (right),
alongside Keeley Hawes.
The Riot Club (2014) Appeared as
one of the privileged young dining
club members in Lone Scher?g?ss
adaptation of Laura Wade?s play
y Posh.
Bridgend (2015) Starred opposite
Hannah Murray in Danish director
Jeppe R鴑de?s account of the Welsh
town?s high teen suicide rate.
Florence Foster Jenkins (2016)
Played Donaghy in Stephen
Frears?s story of the deluded
American opera singer, with
Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.
God?s Own Country (2017)
He plays Johnny Saxby, a gay
farmer keeping the business
a?oat after his father, played
by Ian Hart, su?ers a stroke.
worked as hard,? said O?Connor. ?It was
an intense time. We would get up at
6am, go up the hill to the sheep in the
Land Rover, then come down later in the
morning to ?x a fence or a broken paddock. That was the time for all the odd
jobs, really. And then we would maybe go
to have a bacon butty in the farmhouse.
?After that we often had to lift some
bit of heavy equipment, or walk sheep
along the roads. It is a way of life that
is totally unforgiving and extreme, but
it opened my eyes and gave me a new
way of looking at the countryside. It put
it all in perspective, because I grew up
in Cheltenham and the farming around
there is very d
The experience
also estabe
lished a friendship between
and the farmer,
who h
he has since visited two
or three
thr times.
?Joh remains a very good
frie of mine, although
we are from completely
worlds. His
sits above Keighfa
le which is in a kind
of bowl below, and he is
there seven days a week.
As an actor, I always
ha this thing where I
can?t plan ahead for holica
days or a break because I
don?t know when I might
be needed for the next job. But John has
gone without a holiday for 13 years. He
can?t leave the farm.?
And it was his new friend?s judgment
on the ?nished ?lm that O?Connor was
particularly nervous to hear. ?He came
out of a screening and said, ?that was all
right, that,? which, from him, is the best
thing you could get.?
Lee had wanted to make sure his lead
actors, O?Connor and Romanian co-star
Alec Secareanu, who plays immigrant
worker Georghe, were both capable of
doing all the farm work required by the
screenplay. The result is convincing and
often highly unappealing. As the Guardian?s Peter Bradshaw commented: ?We
are far from James Herriot country.?
For O?Connor, however, the strength
of God?s Own Country lies in its refusal
to show the tough life of the farmers as
without hope.
?My character admittedly starts out
leading a life of casual sex and booze,
and he has a troubled relationship both
with his father and with the landscape,
but those things change.?
The British countryside in general,
the actor believes, is under-represented
on ?lm. ?And what is particularly lacking are more hopeful representations
of the north, or even just of the working
classes. It doesn?t have to be grim.?
O?Connor is also glad the ?lm is being
received as something of an artistic
anti-Brexit statement. ?All good art
should be political, I think, and inevitably it all becomes political really, in
one way or another. The fact this ?lm
is being talked about as the ?rst of the
pro-European films is interesting. It
was never, as far as I know, the intention. It was just that it was all happening ? the referendum campaign ? as we
were ?lming. So I feel that it is a happy
Lee has revealed that when he first
watched O?Connor?s audition tape he
assumed the actor was from the north
of England. ?I quickly realised he has a
rare gift ? the ability to totally transform
himself into the character he?s playing,?
he said.
O?Connor has also had supporting
big-screen roles in The Riot Club, and
alongside Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant
in Florence Foster Jenkins, but hopes to
return to the theatre one day.
For now he must instead return to the
rigours of portraying The Durrells on
their sunlit Greek isle. And he said that
playing eldest son, and ?edgling writer,
Lawrence ?Larry? Durrell over such a
long period has given him an unexpected
appreciation of his work.
?I have got really into his writing. He is
now a rather unsung hero of British literature. Although a lot of his work is really
not easy to read, I do love The Alexandria
RSC combats elite bias with acting masterclasses for disadvantaged teenagers
by Dalya Alberge
Dame Judi Dench is among those leading actors who have warned repeatedly
that the profession is becoming too
elitist, with kids from working-class
backgrounds being squeezed out
because they cannot afford to train.
Now the Royal Shakespeare Company
is doing something about it by giving
disadvantaged teenagers with exceptional talent the chance to be mentored
by its leading players.
A group of young people who might
otherwise struggle to pursue a career
in the theatre have been cast within an
ensemble that will work at the RSC?s
home in Stratford-upon-Avon. The talent development programme the Next
Generation will include aspiring actors
from black, Asian, minority ethnic and
low-income backgrounds, many of
whom have had little access to the arts
but show real potential.
Hannah Miller, the RSC?s casting
director, said: ?It?s pretty clear that the
people that are working in the industry,
and the way our world is represented
on stage and screen, are not re?ective of
society as a whole. What we want to do
with this and future projects is redress
that by starting at the grassroots.?
Further evidence of elitism in the
arts was offered in a report commissioned last year by the composer
Andrew Lloyd Webber, which
expressed alarm at the lack of nonwhite performers in UK productions.
His foundation will award almost
�2,000 over three years towards the
RSC?s Next Generation programme.
The RSC selected 20 teenagers,
aged 13 to 16, and a smaller group
aged 16 to 18, after a series of masterclasses earlier this year and through
Ray Fearon with Tara Fitzgerald. He will
mentor the Next Generation students.
the company?s ongoing contact with
schools across the country. They will
collaborate in workshops and classes
next month, eventually staging a play
next summer. They will be mentored
by established actors, including Ray
Fearon, an RSC associate who himself
overcame obstacles and prejudice to
become a leading player. Many will
recognise him from playing Firenze the
centaur in the ?lm Harry Potter and the
Philosopher?s Stone.
He told the Observer that his parents
could not afford to take him to the
theatre, and that ?drama was quite low
down the list? at his school. But he
started doing drama workshops near
his home on the Stonebridge Estate in
north-west London, and encountered
the RSC through youth centres.
He recalled the extraordinary
encouragement of one of his English
teachers who, from his own pocket,
paid for the young Fearon to go to theatre productions, and another teacher
who recognised his talent but warned
him that he might not get certain parts
because he faced a perception that
?black actors can?t speak the verse?.
Fearon said: ?He was telling me ?that?s
what you?re going to face when you get
out there. That will be your challenge?.?
He added: ?I went to the RSC and I
became a leading actor. Those perceptions were smashed because it was a
lie. Great actors ? it?s got nothing to do
with colour.?
He now wants to pass on such
inspiration by mentoring the Next
Generation?s young talent.
NEWS | 19
Grandma Forgets: children?s book helps
families cope with the pathos of dementia
In a publishing ?rst,
an author uses his
own experience to
bring the disease
out of the shadows,
reports Jane Merrick
From the earliest fairytales warning of
the dangers of talking to strangers in the
woods, to Roald Dahl?s moral messages
about sel?shness and greed, stories for
children have been useful devices to
broach difficult subjects. Now a new picture book tackles an issue largely overlooked by children?s literature, yet which
affects an increasing number of families:
what happens when a grandparent has
Grandma Forgets, by Paul Russell, tells
the story of a little girl dealing with her
grandmother?s illness, touching on the
cruelty of a condition that robs sufferers
of their memories. In the story, Grandma
does not recognise family members, forgets how to play their games and frequently loses Dad?s keys.
The author wrote the story from his
own experience ? his grandmother,
Gladys Russell, had serious dementia
when he was growing up. She died 10
years ago, but it was when Russell had
children of his own that he realised
how much his father had done to make
sure grandmother and grandson shared
happy times together, despite the debilitating illness.
He wanted the book, illustrated by
Nicky Johnston, to be uplifting rather
than depressing and to help other families going through the same traumatic
experience. Despite the tragic nature
of the illness, the relationship between
grandparent and grandchild can still be
?Hopefully this book provides a perfect starter for a conversation or offers
hope to those who ?nd themselves in
that position,? Russell said. ?I didn?t
really see dementia as that sad a thing
A page from Grandma Forgets, drawn by Nicky Johnston. The story focuses on a child?s loving relationship with a grandparent affected by dementia.
when I was a child because I had that
relationship with my grandmother ? it
was only looking back I realised how sad
it was for my parents. My memories of
her are still the memories of the things
we did together rather than just what
happened at the end of her life.
?It is a terribly sad disease and very
difficult to explain to children with a
grandparent who can?t remember as
they once did.? But he added: ?Children
are a lot more resilient than we give
them credit for. A child can view a problem of forgetting and still see a positive
relationship with their grandparent.?
Children?s books often carry serious
messages or encourage discussion about
difficult topics, such as illness and grief,
in a ?safe? context that young minds
can understand. The children?s author
Michael Rosen wrote his Sad Book, with
illustrations by Quentin Blake, after the
death of his son as a way to help others
deal with bereavement.
Dr Julia Hope, lecturer in education
and children?s literature at Goldsmiths,
University of London, said Grandma For-
Paul Russell on his wedding day in 2003,
holding hands with his grandmother
Gladys. Courtesy of Paul Russell
gets ?is to be highly praised in the way
it manages to turn what can be a potentially distressing situation for children
into an upbeat, loving and at times fondly
comical story.
?Dementia is a living reality for more
and more people and their families and
the effect of the disease on grandchildren has not received enough focus.
This book celebrates the close and
joyful relationship that many children
have with their grandparents ? again,
an aspect of children?s lives which is
often ignored ? and highlights the positive experience this relationship can
have on both the older and the younger
?It could also be a useful text for
children who have lost grandparents
recently, reminding them of good times
spent and positive memories.?
Dr Ian Kinane, lecturer in English
Literature at the University of Roehampton, said: ?Rather than being confronted
with the illness as a whole [which, to the
presumed readership would be incomprehensible], the book takes isolated
incidents in the relationship between
the young protagonist and her grandmother and highlights how their relationship is, in fact, not that different.
?The protagonist and her Grandma
continue to do the things they have
always done, like eat together, cosy up,
and play games. It puts the illness in a
safe context for the child reader. Part
of the strategy of enabling the child
reader to come to terms with the illness
includes clever little scenes in which
Grandma?s illness is played down in
comparison with the forgetfulness of
other characters.?
There are about 850,000 people with
dementia in the UK, a ?gure that is predicted to pass one million by 2025. Tina
Newton, knowledge officer for the Alzheimer?s Society, said: ?It is natural to
want to protect children from difficult
or confusing situations, so explaining
dementia to children can be challenging. Though it may be tough, it is important to communicate what is going on if
a loved one has dementia.
?By presenting the information in
a simple, age-appropriate way we can
convey that interaction and affection
can be hugely bene?cial for a person
with dementia, and help to ensure that
the time they spend together is still
Grandma Forgets is published by Exisle
| 21
Macron heads for autumn showdown with
unions in push to transform labour laws
After a di?cult start,
the French president
now faces a battle of
wills over his proposal
to give more power to
employers, reports
Kim Willsher in Paris
The unions are threatening national
strikes and blockades. A growing number of critics are warning that France is
a ?powder keg? waiting to blow. After
an unconvincing summer, in which his
popularity has plummeted, crunch time
for Emmanuel Macron has arrived.
The new French president is facing the
prospect of a September standoff in the
streets over his controversial plans to
revamp the labour laws.
In his election manifesto Macron
pledged to use a special presidential
decree to force through measures making it easier, among other things, for
employers to hire and ?re.
He has a clear parliamentary majority,
so the biggest menace to Macron?s plans
comes from the unions and the street.
The CGT trade union has called for a
day of ?action and strikes? on 12 September; Jean-Luc M閘enchon, leader of the
hard-left party La France Insoumise (FI;
France Unbowed) has called for a ?day of
action? two weeks later.
The stakes could scarcely be higher.
Macron?s success or failure on his ?agship reform will de?ne his term in office
and may make or break a nascent French
economic recovery. Previous presidents
have tried and failed for 20 years to make
France?s weighty and hugely complex
code du travail (employment code) more
In 1995 the conservative president
Jacques Chirac?s prime minister, Alain
Jupp�, tried to modify France?s pension
provisions and caused a general strike
that paralysed the country. Macron?s
predecessor, the Socialist president
Fran鏾is Hollande, attempted to simplify the code, but backed down in the
face of violent protests. Macron knows
the history. During a visit to Bucharest
last week, he told an audience: ?France
is not a reformable country. Many have
tried and they have not succeeded
because the French hate reform.?
The political scientist Fr閐閞ic Dabi,
deputy director of the pollsters Ifop, said
it was impossible to predict what would
happen in the next few weeks. ?With
Macron?s popularity at such a low and
the honeymoon period now gone, he has
to be careful not to cause major disappointment,? Dabi said. ?It?s important
the he and his government don?t do anything that leaves people with a feeling of
injustice. He cannot risk losing the moderate left, the Hollande supporters who
fuelled his election, and he has to have a
good communication strategy to explain
Macron returns to
work this week
knowing the fight
with the unions will
define his
presidency. Getty
Protests brought
almost two million
into the streets in
1995 against plans
by Alain Jupp�, the
prime minister, to
alter the rules on
retirement and
pensions. AFP
where he is taking the French. We cannot forget that he [Macron] got only
24% of the vote in the ?rst [presidential]
round. This could rapidly coalesce into
widespread discontent with him and the
government. Now is the hard part and
we cannot say for sure what will happen;
it?s a case of wait and see.?
Last week Hollande used his first
interview since leaving office to warn his
successor not to impose ?useless sacrifices? on French workers. The president and his prime minister, 蒬ouard
Philippe, were clearly annoyed. Macron,
on a visit to Austria, responded testily:
?France?s problem is that it?s had mass
unemployment for 30 years ? it is the
only big European country that hasn?t
won the battle against unemployment.?
Philippe went further. ?What struck me
about the former president?s remarks is,
basically, he wants everything to con-
tinue as when he was in power,? he told
RMC radio. ?The message I took from
the presidential election was that the
French don?t want that, they want profound change.?
The June general election gave
Macron?s government a clear majority in
the national assembly allowing the president to deploy the rarely used device of a
presidential decree to pass the reforms.
Former Socialist MP 蒻eric Br閔ier,
now director of the Jean-Jaur鑣 Foundation thinktank?s political observatory,
said there was in effect no opposition.
?Macron?s popularity is even lower than
Fran鏾is Hollande?s was at this stage,
but there is no credible alternative, so
Macron remains at the centre of the
An outline of the proposed labour
law changes, which also include capping industrial tribunal payments and
allowing employers to negotiate with
unions at local rather than national level
? a threat to collective bargaining that is
the motor of French union power ? were
presented to the unions last week. The
government will send its draft decrees
reforming the code du travail to the
state council this week. The texts are
expected to be published on Thursday
and passed before the end of September.
Macron?s strategy appears to be to
divide the unions, making minor concessions to some and marginalising the
more militant CGT, which was behind
last year?s more virulent protests against
One of the more leftwing unions,
Force Ouvri鑢e (FO; Workers? Force),
has already indicated it is predisposed to
negotiate and that ?everything is on the
table?. ?We haven?t had the full details
yet. We are watching out as you watch a
saucepan of milk on the stove ? the devil
is in the details,? the FO president, JeanClaude Mailly, said last week. Other
union leaders have warned there are
?red lines? in workers? rights that cannot be crossed. One insisted they would
not allow workers to be forced ?back to
the Middle Ages?.
Br閔ier is sceptical of warnings that
Macron and his government are facing a
turbulent, even violent, return to work.
?It will depend on the unions. If it?s just
the CGT that opposes the labour laws, I
don?t believe we will see many protests,?
he said. There are signs that the French
economy is growing and the latest drop
in unemployment could temper the protests. ?People are saying to themselves,
?things are getting better, let?s give him
a chance?, but the most important thing
is this lack of opposition,? Br閔ier said.
M閘enchon?s FI, with the support of
Socialist MPs, has lodged a legal demand
to have the use of a presidential decree to
pass the labour law changes as ?unconstitutional?. Alexis Corbi鑢e, FI spokesman, told Europe 1: ?We will see what
the government does. It is possible that
it will be more wary than expected, it
knows full well the country is a social
tinderbox. The French have a passion for
equality and will not accept the expected
reversal of social bene?ts.?
The last week of August, when the
French traditionally return from their
summer holidays and prepare to go
back to work, is known as la rentr閑 (the
return). For Macron, la rentr閑 of 2017 is
set to be a stormy one. It may yet come to
de?ne his presidency.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president,
says his code du travail reforms will
?bring France into the 21st century?. His
plans, which will be revealed this week,
are expected to include:
Hiring Loosening tax and social charge
obligations on expanding small and
medium companies to encourage them
to take on more sta?.
Firing Limiting the amount of
compensation awards from industrial
Negotiating Firms would be able to make
local agreements to adapt working
hours and conditions, bypassing national
union o?cers.
White House hardliner?s departure proves latest blow to Trump?s nationalist wing
by David Smith
Progressive groups yesterday welcomed the ousting of Sebastian Gorka,
a controversial national security aide at
the White House.
Gorka?s hardline views on immigration and terrorism were a source
of discord inside the Donald Trump
administration and beyond. Yesterday
he told reporters that he had quit; an
administration official said Gorka did
not resign but ?no longer works at the
White House?.
Activists had been calling for Gorka
to follow his friend and fellow hardliner, Steve Bannon, the chief strategist
who quit a week earlier and returned
to the conservative Breitbart News.
His departure is the latest blow to the
nationalist wing of the campaign that
brought Trump to power.
Farhana Khera, executive director of the group Muslim Advocates,
said: ?Good riddance to Sebastian
Gorka. Muslim Advocates has vocally
advocated for his ousting from the very
beginning because, even in a White
House crawling with white supremacists, Gorka stood out for his consistent
and lifelong commitment to anti-Muslim and antisemitic causes.?
Vanita Gupta, president of the
Leadership Conference on Civil and
Human Rights, a coalition of more than
200 rights groups, said: ?Sebastian
Gorka?s departure is long overdue and
welcome, but he should not have been
working in the White House in the
?rst place. No one who supports white
supremacy and neo-Nazi ideas should
be serving in this or any administration.?
Gorka, 46, is a US citizen born in
Britain to Hungarian parents. A former
editor for Breitbart News, he joined the
administration as a counter-terrorism
adviser. But his responsibilities and relevant experience remained nebulous.
Yesterday the Axios website
described him as ?a bombastic White
House aide known only to cable-news
viewers?, although his British accent
also become familiar to watchers of the
BBC. Axios also reported: ?Trump raved
about Gorka?s performances, telling
colleagues he had no idea what Gorka
actually did but loved him on TV.?
Gorka, who has previously worn a
medal awarded to the Hungarian group
Vit閦i Rend, linked by some to Nazi
collaborators, appears to be the latest
casualty of a purge by the new chief of
staff, John Kelly.
?I know my child deserves better?:
and a tough lesson on inequality
They are only a few miles apart but at one school, paint
peels o? the walls and parents say that it?s more like a jjail.
Gated mansions dot the entrance to the other. Now
parents are taking their state legislators to court
to demand equality for all children ? irrespective
of wealth or colour, reports Jamiles Lartey
Two summers ago, Indigo Williams
couldn?t have been more thrilled to send
her son off for his first day of school.
Her home was in the catchment area
of Madison Station elementary school
in Madison, Mississippi, an A-rated
school and district where JS, then aged
?ve, plunged into lessons with enthusiasm. He learnt taekwondo and was
served fresh fruit and vegetables in the
cafeteria. He had access to tutoring. The
school even had its own phone app for
But when Williams and her children
moved just a few miles away before the
start of the following academic year,
her home fell into the catchment area
of a school in the Jackson district. And
the difference couldn?t have been more
Raines elementary, Williams says,
?feels more like a jail than a school. Paint
is chipping off the walls. They?ve served
him expired food in the cafeteria.
?There are no extracurricular activities available for my son, no art or music
class, or even after-school tutoring.
There are not enough textbooks for him
to take home or for students to use in the
classrooms, and the books that are in the
classroom are outdated.?
She worries JS is growing bored with
his classwork and that the school doesn?t
have the resources to challenge him or
make learning interesting. ?I?m afraid
he?s falling behind other kids in better
schools,? Williams says.
But she isn?t just sitting by and watching as her son?s quality of education
deteriorates ? she, along with three
other black Mississippi mothers ? have
put themselves and Raines elementary
at the centre of a lawsuit that argues
the state has reneged on a 150-year-old
promise to offer a ?uniform system of
free public schools?.
The lawsuit, filed by the Southern
Poverty Law Centre on behalf of the
mothers, is about quality of education, but there is also a broader context
re?ected in the make-up of the student
population in the two schools that JS
attended. Nearly all the students (99%)
at Raines are black, whereas 70% of
pupils at Madison Station school are
Race is never far from view in the state
where in the years after Brown v Board
of Education ? the landmark 1954 US
supreme court decision that outlawed
segregation in education ? public officials in Mississippi considered shutting
down public schools altogether to avoid
integration. ?This case is about quality
of education and making sure that quality is uniform no matter what colour
your skin is or where you live,? says Will
Bardwell, an attorney for the Southern
Poverty Law Centre.
??Mississippi gutted education rights
over years and years to avoid integration, to the extent that they are now nonexistent. We want to change that.?
Regardless of the measurement used,
Mississippi shows up as having one of
the worst education systems in the US.
A recent study of education standards
ranked it 49 out of the 50 states and
Washington DC. It is also America?s
poorest state ? both in median income
and its level of poverty.
As American state schools are almost
exclusively funded by the state and local
tax dollars, the resources they are allocated almost wholly depends on how
wealthy are the people who live nearby.
The Madison Station school where
JS started out is about 20 minutes? drive
north of Raines ? but it is a universe
Elaborate gated mansions with circular driveways dot the road to Madison
Station school which passes through
expansive stretches of verdant Mississippi pasture. Near the end of the school
day, a fleet of immaculate saffron and
black buses pull up to the building.
In 2010 Madison Station was a
national ?blue ribbon? school, an award
given by the Department of Education to
high-performing schools. It boasts that
72.6% of its students are proficient in
reading and 70.5% in maths ? well above
the state average. In 2013 less than 9% of
the school?s teachers were in their ?rst
year of teaching.
Down the road at Raines elementary,
20% of teachers are in their ?rst year.
Only 11% of students are pro?cient in
reading and just 4% in maths.
This is nothing new in the US of
course, and nothing particularly speci?c
to Mississippi. American schools are, on
balance, more segregated today than
they were 45 years ago. ?Resegregation
1955 Emmett Till, 14, is kidnapped and
brutally murdered for allegedly whistling
at a white woman. Civil rights activists
George W Lee and Lamar Smith are killed
in separate incidents for organising for
black Americans to vote.
1962 Two people are killed and 75 injured
following riots at the University of
Mississippi. Rioters were protesting at the
admission of the ?rst ever black American
to the university.
1961 Nine students from Tougaloo
College are arrested after they attempt
to desegregate the ?white only? public
library. Voter registration activist Herbert
Lee is killed.
1963 Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist,
is murdered by a white supremacist.
1964 Activists James Chaney, Andrew
Goodman and Michael Schwerner are
murdered after registering black people to
vote. Black churches are attacked.
1966 Ben Chester White, a 67-year-old
black man with no history of activism, is
killed by Klansmen is an attempt to lure
Martin Luther King Jr to Mississippi, so
that he could be assassinated. Civil rights
activists Vernon Dahmer is killed in a
dynamite blast at his home.
1967 Activist Wharlest Jackson is killed
by a car bomb. Police ?re on black student
protesters at Jackson State University,
killing civil rights activist Benjamin Brown.
Robert Clark becomes the ?rst black
person elected to the Mississippi House
of Representatives since Reconstruction.
1970 Sixteen years after the supreme
court ruled segregated schools
unconstitutional, integration begins in
Mississippi. In response, private white
academies are set up.
is not a Mississippi-speci?c problem. It?s
a nationwide problem, and that?s part of
the reason this case isn?t really about
segregation. It?s more about disuniformity,? Bardwell says.
The lawsuit doesn?t mention segregation but instead focuses on the language
enshrined in the state?s ?rst constitution,
rati?ed in 1869: ?It shall be the duty of
the legislature to encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scienti?c, moral and agricultural
improvement by establishing a uniform
system of free public schools, by taxation
or otherwise, for all children between
the ages of ?ve and 21 years.?
This bold promise of ?uniform? compulsory education is no longer a part of
the state?s constitution. The language
has been progressively eroded in each
of four updates over the following 120
years. The most recent revision, in 1987,
has no mention of any commitment
to a ?uniform? quality of education,
and instead promises ?the establishment, maintenance and support of free
public schools upon such conditions
and limitations as the legislature may
In other words, the promise amounts
to virtually nothing ? when it comes to
education, the state legislature can do
whatever it wants, so long as there are
some free public schools.
This change to the language, and the
nature of the promise the state makes
about education, is at the heart of the
lawsuit and goes to the core of Mississippi?s troubled racial history and its
relationship to the union.
Concerned that the former Confederate territory would pass one type of
constitution to re-enter the union ? and
then modify it to deny rights to black
Americans as time went on ? the US
congress passed the Readmission Act in
1870. This was passed speci?cally to target any prospect that Mississippi would
renege on its obligations to its non-white
residents once it had re-entered the
The act, which technically remains
federal law, states that: ?The constitution of Mississippi shall never be so
amended or changed as to deprive any
citizen or class of citizens of the United
States of the school rights and privileges
secured by the constitution of said state.?
Bardwell says that, as the state once
guaranteed uniform schools, and now
does not, it is in violation of the Readmission Act.
?The point that we have made in this
lawsuit is that regardless of the racial
composition of your school, federal law
required Mississippi to provide the same
opportunity at every school, and that?s
just not happening,? he added.
And if the historical record is clear
about one thing, it?s that the changes
to Mississippi?s constitution after
readmission were intended to do one
thing: disenfranchise the state?s black
citizens. ?There is no reason to equivocate or lie about the matter,? said a Mississippi governor, James Vardaman, a
decade after the 1890 constitutional
convention that amended the constitution and ?rst modi?ed the educational
guarantees. ?It was held for no other
purpose than to eliminate the ?nigger?
from politics.?
Vardaman was one of the authors
of the modified language, and those
remarks were hardly out of character. On
another occasion he suggested blithely
the ?way to control the ?nigger? is to whip
A tale of two Mississippi schools
from America?s ?most racist state?
Indigo Williams
and family, left,
found a world
of di?erence in
schools when
they moved
just a few
miles; Precious
Hughes, right,
like Williams,
also has
at Raines
legislators in
the Capitol
building in
below, say
the lawusit is
?cynical and
by Roy Adkins/
SPLC; Sean
him when he does not obey without it?.
Black disenfranchisement was so effective in post-reconstruction Mississippi
that Vardaman and his white supremacist ideology ascended to the state?s
highest office during a century-long
period in which black Mississippians
substantially outnumbered white ones.
The state still has the highest concentration of black Americans today.
Mississippi also endures the unofficial
reputation as being the nation?s most
racist state.
It has some claims to that title. It was
in Mississippi that 14-year-old Emmett
Till was lynched for the imagined crime
of hitting on a white woman in 1955. It
was in Mississippi that the 37-year-old
civil rights activist Medgar Evers was
murdered in his own driveway in 1963,
and it was in Mississippi that, one year
later, during the Freedom Summer
campaign, civil rights activists James
Chaney, 22, Andrew Goodman, 20, and
24-year-old Michael Schwerner were
murdered after registering black people
to vote.
The state?s pre-eminence in racial
violence was perhaps most viscerally
captured in Nina Simone?s 1964 song
Mississippi Goddam. Throughout the
civil rights movement the state became
the embodiment of white supremacy
Raines elementary is tucked away in a
residential stretch on the northwestern
side of Jackson?s outskirts. There are
no mansions here, but, instead, humble
L-shaped bungalows in various states of
The school?s interior has the look of a
place where educators and staff do what
they can with what little they have. The
floors are sparkling clean but on the
corners they show the telltale decay of
?ood damage. On the wall, a colourful
sign with paper butter?ies encourages
students that ?learning is an adventure?,
Madison Station
elementary school
Raines elementary school
5 miles
?The school building is
old, dark and gloomy.
Children bump into
each other because
classrooms are too
small for the number
of students in them?
Precious Hughes, parent
sitting below ceiling tiles that are discoloured and crumbling on their edges.
?The school building is old, dark and
gloomy,? says Precious Hughes, the
mother of children in first grade and
kindergarten. ?The children are always
bumping into each other because the
classrooms are too small for the number
of students they put in them.?
Zillow, a popular online property
database, rates the school as a one out
of 10, while school-ranking website
Schooldigger rates it a zero and the 25th
worst elementary school in the state.
That type of performance is characteristic of predominantly black schools
throughout the state. In Mississippi,
schools where at least 70% of the student
body is black, the average accountability
rating ? the process of evaluating schools
on the basis of how its students perform
? is D. For schools where at least 70% of
the student body is white, that slides up
to a B.
Hughes says her oldest daughter, six,
is among the majority of Raines pupils
who struggle with reading. ?Early on,
Raines offered the ?Read Well? programme to help students boost their
reading skills. That helped my daughter
tremendously and improved her reading scores. But the programme was shut
down because there was not enough
funding to pay for it,? she says.
The latest twist in the lawsuit is that
the state ?led a motion to dismiss it in
July and released a statement calling the
suit ?cynical and misguided?, accusing
Bardwell and the Southern Poverty Law
Centre of an attempt ?to fundraise on the
backs of Mississippi taxpayers?.
Mississippi, arguing for a dismissal,
said even if it were in violation of the
Readmission Act, the legal question is
whether it should lose representation
in Congress rather than how it educates
Bardwell ?nds that response underwhelming. ?The fact that this is the way
it?s been for a long time in Mississippi
doesn?t settle the question,? he says.
The state also argued that student
performance might have nothing to do
with state policies or funding levels,
accusing those who have brought the
lawsuit of ignoring the ?many other
factors that contribute to literacy and
education ? such as resources, parental
involvement, medical problems, intellectual limitations, domestic violence
[and] trauma.?
Bardwell calls this argument ?outrageous? and says the four mothers who
have brought the legal case have been
?doing everything they can? to see their
children succeed in school.
?I would defy anyone with the state of
Mississippi to sit down with these parents, talk to them and come away with
the impression that those parents are
not,? Bardwell says.
?Just like every other parent in this
state, I love my child,? Hughes says. ?I
know she deserves better.?
Japan to seek Brexit concessions from May
As PM visits Tokyo this week, companies there
have voiced fears over single market access
by Justin McCurry
Theresa May is under pressure to
reassure Japanese companies over the
likely impact of Britain?s exit from the
European Union on their UK investments when she visits Tokyo this week.
The prime minister will arrive on
Wednesday on a three-day trip that
is expected to include a meeting with
Emperor Akihito and free-trade talks
with her Japanese counterpart, Shinzo
Abe. Under EU rules, official free-trade
negotiations cannot begin until after
Britain has left the trading bloc. But
the prospect of informal discussions
will boost claims by May and other proBrexit politicians that exiting the EU
will leave Britain better placed to trade
freely with major economies such as
Japan and China.
While details of her itinerary have yet
to be made public, May will be accompanied by a delegation of business leaders that will ?showcase the strength of
British business, the shared con?dence
Hitachi, which
trains in
Co Durham, is
among major
investors in
the UK. Getty
in the UK-Japan economic relationship
as we leave the EU, and the potential
for future growth,? a Downing Street
spokesman said. Her visit comes soon
after the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, promised Japanese officials that
Britain was eager to reach an ?all-singing, all-dancing? post-Brexit free-trade
agreement with Tokyo.
However, trade aside, analysts warned
that Japanese ?rms could reduce their
investments in Britain if they feel Brexit
would hamper their ability to operate
across the EU.
?An increase in costs following Brexit
could lead to a decline in Japanese
investment in the UK and the relocation
of production bases to other EU countries,? said Katsunori Kitakura, lead
strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust
International. ?As such, negotiations
between the UK and the EU will be crucial for the future investment relationship between the UK and Japan.?
Britain would have much to lose from
even a partial Japanese withdrawal.
Companies such as Nissan and Hitachi
have invested more than �bn in the
UK, and Japanese ?rms together employ
a total of 140,000 people in the country.
?Now that Japan is close to the ?nal
deal [on a free-trade agreement] with
the EU, the Japanese government
would want Britain to form a customs
union with the EU so that Japanese
businesses can maintain de facto singlemarket access,? said Takashi Miwa, chief
economist for Japan at the investment
Miwa was con?dent companies such
as Hitachi would remain committed to
Britain, but said that they would seek
concessions on ?[more] flexible and
privileged treatment with regard to hiring and ?ring employees, and on taxation than the continental EU countries?.
In recent months major Japanese
banks have announced plans to scale
down their presence in London in anticipation of more political uncertainty over
Theresa May and Shinzo Abe will meet for
talks during her three-day visit this week.
Brexit negotiations. Chief among their
concerns is the potential loss of the ?EU
passport?, which enables banks based in
London to operate freely across Europe?s
?nancial markets.
Daiwa Securities, which has its headquarters in London, this year announced
that it would open a subsidiary in Frankfurt. Nomura Securities, Japan?s biggest brokerage, is reportedly planning
to make Frankfurt its post-Brexit base,
but will retain a large number of staff at
its current EU headquarters in the City.
And last month it was reported that Mitsubishi UFJ, Japan?s biggest financial
group, is to base its investment banking
business in Amsterdam.
Abe and Japan?s biggest business
lobby, Keidanren, have not attempted
to hide their fears that Brexit could be a
?huge negative? for Japanese companies
in the UK. In an unusually frank statement issued at last year?s G20 summit in
Beijing, Japan set out a list of demands
that included May negotiating a deal that
keeps Britain in the EU customs union
and single market, and guarantees the
free ?ow of workers between the UK and
the rest of the continent.
A Japanese government official said
Abe and business leaders would ?reiterate what they have said a number
of times so far ? that is, to request that
Japanese business and ?nancial interests
should in no way be jeopardised by the
Brexit and its consequences?.
The official, who asked not to be
named, told the Observer that, while Abe
? who last year implored Britain to vote
Remain ? was not seeking speci?c reassurances from May, Japanese businesses
could reconsider their investment in the
UK if they believed Brexit would be detrimental to their long-term interests.
The business secretary, Greg Clark,
has secured commitments from Nissan
and Toyota that they will continue to
make cars in Britain after Brexit ? but
only after offering assurances in letters
whose contents remain secret.
?ee fearing
storm surge
by Tom Dart Houston
Edward Helmore New York
Hurricane Harvey smashed into
Texas爊ear the coastal town of Rockport in the early hours of yesterday,
levelling buildings and lashing lowlying areas with intense rain and winds
of up to 130mph.
The category 4 storm weakened as it
made landfall, the National Hurricane
Centre said, and by daybreak Harvey
had dropped to category 1 with winds
of 90mph. But it had already deposited more than 23cm (9in) of rain and
experts said its heaviest rainfall was yet
to come. It was expected to produce up
to 89cm in爐otal. The hurricane centre
warned that ?rainfall of this magnitude
will cause catastrophic and life-threatening ?ooding?.
In Rockport, the city manager Kevin
Carruth said: ?People are trapped
inside at least one collapsed building.
We can?t get rescue teams to them
right now.?
Tens of thousands of residents
?ed inland, some under mandatory
evacuation orders. Those who stayed
behind prepared themselves for what
forecasters predicted would be a lifethreatening storm surge. The Rockport
mayor Charles Wax said Harvey hit
the town ?right on the nose? and left
?widespread devastation?.
Homes and businesses were heavily
damaged or completely destroyed,
he said, adding that the emergency
response system had been hampered
by the failure of telephone networks.
The storm was
expected to hit
the Texan city of
Corpus Christi
with a year?s
worth of rainfall.
Photograph by
Adrees Latif/
Bee inspired: why Oslo has put its meadows
and ecological riches at the heart of the city
Norway?s capital wants urban gardeners to
cultivate wild?owers and keep hives to halt the
decline in biodiversity. Jonathan Watts reports
A red-tailed
bumblebee gathers
pollen in one of the
Oslo meadows.
Photographs by
Jonathan Watts for
the Observer
On a sloping meadow near the centre
of Oslo, red-tailed bumblebees gather
pollen from hairy violets, spiders spin
webs between maiden?s tears while
hover?ies buzz between yellow daisies
and white yarrow.
Such a bucolic scene might normally
be associated more with a rural past
than an urban future, but it is part of a
thoroughly modern attempt to reverse
the decline of bee populations and put
biodiversity at the heart of city planning in Norway?s capital.
Since last year, Oslo?s municipal
government has established more than
10 meadows, botanists run workshops
on scything and planting, and garden
owners are replacing their trimmed
lawns and exotic plants with grasses
and wild?owers to attract pollinators.
It is linked to a national strategy
that includes measures to encourage
private garden owners to cultivate
wild?owers along an urban insect corridor. An NGO ? Bybi ? is encouraging
more people to keep hives.
The enthusiasm has surprised some
of the campaign?s most ardent proponents. ?We had more than 60 people
come out in the rain for a recent tour,?
said Kristina Bjureke, a botanist at the
natural history museum who wrote
part of the plant management plan for
Oslo?s meadows. ?It must have looked a
little crazy to see all those people staring at a patch of grass.?
Although biodiversity is usually associated with tropical forests,
this northern municipality ? which
was recently named Europe?s Green
Capital for 2019 ? claims to be the most
species-rich capital in Europe thanks
to its fjord, forests and parks, home to
13,156 varieties of ?ora and fauna.
creams. This ground-hugging yellow
daisy depends on the regular scything
of longer grass once a year so it can get
sufficient light. But with this custom in
decline over recent decades, the once
common ?ower is now on the nation?s
red list for endangered species, leaving the cream business dominated by
German pharmaceutical companies
that buy daisies from Romania.
Thanks to the improved collaboration between city hall, scientists and
NGOs, she hopes Oslo can arrest the
decline. ?More and more people are
asking how they can get involved and
they are getting younger and younger.
For me, the most positive trend is that
more students are now interested in
?eld biology than lab studies of DNA.?
Amateur biologists are now helping
scientists with a nationwide biodiversity census that aims not just to count
and locate species, but to highlight
their value.
There is a long way to go. Insect
corridors help to raise awareness in
cities but they cannot solve the bigger
problems in the countryside caused by
pesticides and industrial farming. Those
who want to protect Oslo?s ecological
wealth know it is more important to
prevent development encroaching on
the forest and to scale down the nation?s
dependence on fossil fuels. Compared
to the areas of robot-mowed grass in the
city?s parks, the urban meadows are tiny
but their value is not just a matter of size
or money, according to Bjureke.
?When I go to the meadows, I
feel complete. I see the activity and
complexity of nature, the composition
of small and big species. It?s the best
way to relieve stress. Much better than
meditation or medication.?
Until recently, however, the city?s
better known green credentials ? and
efforts to offset the uncomfortable fact
that its main source of revenue is oil
? have been impressive goals to halve
carbon emissions by 2020, recycle
waste and promote the use of clean
transport with tax credits, free charging, free tolls and use of bus lanes.
But biodiversity has moved up the
political agenda since the small Green
party became kingmaker in the city?s
governing coalition two years ago. The
Greens championed the hay meadows
to protect some of Oslo?s most vulnerable species at a time when the city?s
human population was increasing
more rapidly than that of almost any
other European capital.
?We know that we need to protect
and restore biodiversity even as we
build new homes. In a city that is growing fast, it?s also important to make it
nice to live. That means good quality green areas,? said vice-mayor Lan
Marie Nguyen Berg from the Green
party. ?We?d like to transfer the knowledge that we have to other cities.?
For centuries, meadows were used
here and in many other countries
to grow winter fodder for cattle
on nutrient-poor land that was
unsuitable for continuous largescale grazing. The annual cycle
of cutting and growing nurtured
an abundance of insects, plants,
fungi, birds, small mammals
and wild grazers such as deer
on these sunny grasslands.
Lan Marie Nguyen Berg,
the vice-mayor from
Oslo?s Green party.
But they have declined in recent
decades due to the expansion of industrial farming and land use for buildings. Botanists say there are almost
no meadows left in nearby Denmark.
Britain has also witnessed a decline.
With 24% of Oslo?s 4,000 red-listed
species depending on meadows, the
government decided to recreate the
habitat in a dozen pilot plots.
This number is set to grow. The
Norwegian ccouncil for biodiversity
(Sabima) h
has lobbied the governprovide a budget for
ment to p
farmers to maintain meadows
oth ecologically imporand other
tant areas.
are There are now 32
of these
thes biodiversity hotspots. Over the next decade,
they aim for 100.
can be consid?
ere a model because
we know what?s there
aand how to protect it,?
biologist and campaigner
Anna Blix said during a
rainy walk through one
of the latest additions in T鴜en Park.
?We don?t have huge endangered mammals in meadows, but there are many
important plants and insects that are
at risk.?
As well as the economic bene?ts
that come from pollinators, she said
a strong natural habitat was likely to
be more resilient to storms and rising
temperatures. ?It is increasingly recognised that biodiversity is crucial for
action against climate change.?
The cost is low because some of
the meadow grasses are ?weeds?
that would grow by themselves on
untended land. But there is also a technical side of the project that involves
the selection of appropriately poor soil
and the cultivation in nurseries of the
right species to maximise ecological
richness so that bees and other pollinators can thrive for much of the year.
Bjureke said the campaign made
economic sense ? and not just because
of the bees. She cited the case of
mountain arnica, which is used in
the production of anti-in?ammatory
* 27.08.17
In Focus
People check bags of foodstu?
inside one of the food distribution
centres, which have been set up by
local committees ?for supply and
production? in Caracas. Photograph
by Ronaldo Schemidt/Getty
Shopping for groceries at a
supermarket in Caracas.
Venezuelans have been stockpiling
food and water as raging in?ation
drives up prices. Photograph by
Carlos Becerra/Getty
Children are fainting in schools and
shops empty and in?ation sky high,
Since the start of 2017, the country that gave the world
Ch醰ismo has been in turmoil. President Nicol醩 Maduro
has been accused of establishing a dictatorship by
stealth. The economy is in meltdown. But there iss
one crisis that stands out above all others: hunger.
Emma Graham-Harrison reports from Caracas
unger is gnawing at Venezuela, where a government
that claims to rule for the
poorest has left most of its
31爉illion people short of
food, many desperately so.
As night falls over Caracas, and most
of the city?s residents lock their doors
against its ever more violent streets,
Adriana Vel醩quez gets ready for work,
heading out into an uncertain darkness
as she has done since hunger forced her
into the only job she could ?nd at 14.
She was introduced to her brothel
madam by a friend more than two years
ago after her mother, a single parent,
was ?red and the two ran out of food.
?It was really hard, but we were going
to bed without eating,? said the teenager, whose name has been changed to
protect her.
Since then Venezuela?s crisis has
deepened, the number of women
working at the brothel has doubled,
and their ages have dropped. ?I was the
youngest when I started. Now there are
girls who are 12 or 13. Almost all of us
are there because of the crisis, because
of hunger.?
She earns 400,000 bolivares a
month, around four times the minimum wage, but at a time of hyperin?ation that is now worth about �,
barely enough to feed herself, her
mother and a new baby brother. She
has signed up to evening classes that
run before her nightly shift, and hopes
to one day escape from a job where
?everything is ugly?.
Vel醩quez grew up in one of
Caracas?s poorest and most violent
districts, but Venezuela?s food crisis
respects neither class nor geography.
The pangs of hunger are felt through
the corridors of its major businesses,
behind the microphone on radio
shows, in hospitals where malnutrition
is climbing sharply and already claiming lives, and at schools where children
faint and teachers skip classes to queue
for food.
Nearly three-quarters of
Venezuelans have lost weight over the
past year, and the average loss was a
huge 9kg, or nearly a stone and a half,
according to a survey by the country?s
top universities. For many that is simply because food is too expensive. Nine
out of 10 homes can?t cover the cost of
what they should eat.
And 10爉illion people skip at least
one meal a day, often to help feed their
David Gonz醠ez, not his real name,
had a college degree, a career and
modest middle-class dreams of owning
a car and a house before Venezuela
slipped towards its current crisis, and
spiralling in?ation made the food he
needed to stay alive unaffordable. In a
cafe in downtown Caracas, he explains
how his dreams shrank with his wasting body, now so emaciated that ribs
and collarbones poke through a oncechubby chest.
?It?s sad because you stop thinking
of what your professional goals and
challenges are and instead just focus on
what you can eat,? said the 29-year-old
activist and journalist. Like many of
Venezuela?s hungry middle classes he
was ashamed of his situation.
?I had seen people suffering, I saw
people queueing for bread, but it had
not reached me, I didn?t expect it
would,? he said. ?Never in my life had
I spent a night worrying about what I
would eat tomorrow.?
This year he has done little else. He
stands 5ft 7in tall, and has lost more
than a quarter of his body mass, shrinking to little over 50kg (7st 12lb) since
the start of the year. During a checkup
for a new job, doctors diagnosed a
heart murmur caused by stress and
hunger. He gets up at 5am to queue for
food, but sometimes it isn?t there.
?Its like an obstacle course. You have
to ?nd money to buy food, a place to
buy it and then get there in time,? he
said, with a wry grin that has survived
better than his health, before adding: ?One of the good things about
Venezuelans is they laugh about it all?
food, and security and health.?
This summer he swallowed his pride
and signed up for a monthly box of subsidised food sold by the government
for about $1. ?I didn?t want to be part
of that scheme. But I had to change my
decision, to literally not die of hunger.?
President Nicol醩 Maduro says
Venezuela?s problems are the result of
?economic warfare? waged by the US.
He points to Donald Trump?s public
mulling of a ?military option? earlier
this month as evidence Washington
is pushing for regime change, and on
Friday slammed ramped-up US sanctions against the government and the
state-owned oil corporation as an overt
bid to undermine the government by
forcing it to default on debt.
Former foreign minister and top
aide Delcy Rodr韌uez has denied the
country has a food crisis, denouncing
the ?blackmail of hunger?. She told the
new legislative super-body she heads:
?In Venezuela there is no hunger, there
is willpower. There is indignation and
courage to defend Venezuela.?
But critics and economists say the
crisis is both real and self-in?icted, the
result of a government using a raft of
imports as a shortcut to meet prom-
?I didn?t think the
hunger would a?ect
me. Never in my life
had I spent a night
worrying about what
I would eat tomorrow?
David Gonz醠ez, journalist
ises of development and food security
during the heady years of an oil price
boom. Venezuela used to produce more
than two-thirds of its food, and import
the rest, but those proportions are
now reversed, with imports making up
around 70% of what the country eats.
When crude prices began sliding
in 2014, bringing down oil earnings, it
left the country short of dollars, and
the government decided to focus its
income on servicing the national debt
rather than importing food.
?This administration decided people
have to eat less for them to balance
their accounts,? said Efra韓 Vel醩quez,
president of the semi-official National
Economic Council. ?That implies poverty, social deterioration, that people
are worse off.?
Supplies dried up and in?ation
sliced through savings and earnings,
slashing the value of the currency by
more than 99% since Maduro?s 2013
election. Bolivares bought with $1,000
then would be worth little over a dollar
at today?s black market rate.
There has been no official in?ation
data from the government since 2015,
but the opposition puts the ?gure at
250% in the ?rst seven months of the
year. In a tacit recognition of the scale
of the problem, the president himself
boosted the minimum wage nearly
500% last year, to ?offset in?ation?.
?We are the only country in the
world where people dread a wage
hike, because they know the price
of food will follow [up],? said Ingrid
Soto de Sanabria, head of nutrition at
Venezuela?s top children?s hospital,
who has been raising the alarm about
the steep rise in cases of malnutrition.
The number of children with severe
malnutrition who were admitted to
the hospital rose from 30 in 2015 to 110
last year, and looks set to climb further
this year based on ?gures from the ?rst
half of the year, she said. There has
| 27
All you need to know
from Bj鰎k to Brexit,
pages 28-29
Inside a looted supermarket in Capacho, in Tachira state. In May, troops
had to be sent to calm the western
region rocked by looting and attacks
on security installations. Photograph
by George Castellanos/Getty
millions are skipping meals. With the
hunger is gnawing at Venezuela?s soul
been a subtle shifting in the nature of
the problems parents face. Formula for
babies who can?t be breastfed was hard
to track down anywhere last year, with
shortages so severe they claimed the
lives of newborns.
Since the government unofficially
relaxed price controls there are more
supplies, but parents struggle to pay
for what they need, she said. ?Last year
there were terrible shortages, this year
there are less shortages, but the prices
are through the roof.
?We don?t have formula, and what
little we do is thanks to donations,? she
said. Mothers who are malnourished
can struggle to breastfeed, exacerbating the problem.
Catholic charity Caritas has been
among those raising the alarm, after
launching a project to monitor and
tackle child nutrition across four
Venzeulan states. ?Humanitarian help
is needed to save lives. I wouldn?t have
said that a year ago, because people
weren?t dying,? said Susana Raffalli,
who led the project. After decades
tackling food crises around the world,
from Pakistan to Algeria, she was horri?ed to ?nd herself doing the same in
her native Venezuela.
?Its not a country with a tradition of
humanitarian crises like others in the
region,? she said. But malnutrition has
been rising sharply, with more than
half of all children affected in some
way. The percentage of children showing signs of acute malnourishment
climbed from 8% last October to 12% in
July. That is well over the 10% threshold for a severe food crisis, and she
fears it is still rising. If acute malnourishment reaches 15%, international
agencies consider a country or area to
be in a state of food emergency.
?They are getting younger, and the
cases more serious,? said Raffalli, who
is particularly disturbed about the
long-term implications, for individuals
and for the country. Malnutrition in the
youngest children can stunt development for life.
?If children are severely malnourished under two years old, it has an
irreversible effect. The ?rst 1,000 days
are the most important in the life of
a baby, and sets up the cognitive situation that will affect them for their
whole life.?
She is waiting for funding to take the
survey, and food support, to a wider
range of provinces. It ?lls a gap in data
left by a government that has not published statistics on nutrition for several
years, and a gap in support left by failed
public support programmes.
But she warns that no feeding
programme can do anything more
than protect individual children. ?We
need this help because people are
being harmed, they are dying. But it?s a
temporary solution, it won?t resolve the
problem of supply and access to food.?
Many mothers are already fearful.
Luisa Garc韆, not her real name, wept
when she heard her malnourished son
had been nursed back to health by the
Caritas feeding project, but not tears
of joy. She was still unemployed, with
empty cupboards and a bare fridge, and
yet the food handouts he had been living on would end.
?On the day they said he was up to
weight, I went away crying, because
I had nothing to give him to eat. I
counted on that food,? the 38-yearold recalled as she waited in line at a
church soup kitchen, also organised by
Caritas. ?We eat like crabs, picking a
little where we can. Often only once a
day, at best twice.?
The volunteers who make and serve
the soup understand the desperation;
they too have become familiar with the
gnawing pain of an empty stomach.
?We are all professionals and we spend
almost everything we earn on food and
basic needs,? said Rosalinda Rodr韌uez,
Katiuska P閞ez, 28, with one of her five
daughters. All are severely malnourished.
a retired teacher who hasn?t bought
new clothes since 2014, and has lost
12kg over the past year.
Although she is still in her own
words ?stout?, she was recently diagnosed with anaemia because she is
eating such poor quality food. Another
volunteer has shrunk even more. ?Life
has been totally derailed,? said Ricardo
L髉ez, a lawyer whose son went to an
international school until the crises
shrank his salary ? paid in bolivares
? to far below the foreign currency
tuition fees.
?I try to leave lunch as late as possible myself, so you can just have a
snack in the evening. My colleagues
sometimes faint from hunger, or don?t
have lunch.?
As with other former members of
the middle class, the crisis has brought
not just hunger but a hollowing out of
his life. Cinemas, meals out, gym membership, even hiking in hills around
the city have been cut out by the need
to stave off hunger. L髉ez, who asked
for his real name to be withheld, has so
little money left these days after paying
for food and other essentials that he
could only budget 15,000 bolivares, or
a single US dollar, to enjoy the summer
holiday with his son.
Instead of beach trips, he spent
August weekends feeding those who
are even worse off. ?We thought no
one would come but then we were full.
Hunger doesn?t take holidays.?
The crisis has left the promises,
and legacy, of former president Hugo
Ch醰ez, in tatters. He rose to power
and stayed there until his death from
cancer in 2013, in large part promising
a more equitable distribution of the
country?s oil wealth and food security
for all. The bene?ts were real for many
Venezuelans, and even if they have
not proved sustainable they nurtured
a ?erce loyalty that carried Maduro to
power and a base that is sticking with
him through hardship.
Even today his supporters include
those who have lost serious amounts
of weight, pine for their favourite
food, and have been separated from
beloved relatives by the vast exodus of
Venezuelans seeking a better chance of
going to bed on a full stomach.
?If we supported Ch醰ez with oil at
$100 a barrel, we have to support him
now with it down at $40 a barrel,? said
Henny Liendo, a cocoa cooperative
member in the village of Chuao. Diets
have shifted back to patterns more
familiar to parents and grandparents,
to ?sh, root vegetables and bananas,
with less sugar, ?our and meat.
He sees his curtailed diet and occasional hunger as sacri?ces in a bigger
war, but mourns for the past. ?We
were happy and we didn?t know it,?
Venezuelans say in towns and villages,
looking back over recent turbulent decades. The government?s most recent
effort to hang on to Ch醰ez?s legacies
has been the boxes of subsidised food,
known colloquially by their Spanish
initials CLAP, that were launched
last year. They bundle imported food
together for a low price. They never
last a whole month, often little more
than a week for large families, but they
bring cheap food and much needed
variety, staples-turned-luxuries like
mayonnaise, butter and milk powder
into homes.
When Gonz醠ez, the activist, got
his ?rst government box after months
of waiting, he sat down to a dinner of
arepas, the national corn-?our patties,
with butter and cheese and a cup of
milky coffee. Once an everyday meal, it
felt, he said, like a luxurious indulgence.
For the very poorest in this crumbling economy, though, even a dollar to
pay for them can be out of reach. ?We
eat yuca, bananas, green papaya,? said
Katiuska P閞ez, not her real name, a
28-year-old mother of six, who lives
in the village of Tocoron. ?When the
boxes come I?m allowed two, but sometimes I can only afford one, or none at
Her ?ve daughters all registered as
severely malnourished when Caritas
did checks, even though like many parents she had been cutting back her own
meals to boost their portions.
?I feed them ?rst, so they have
enough to eat, and we go without,?
she said. Most recovered with feeding support, but on the latest visit her
one-year-old had slipped back to six
kilograms, a weight more appropriate
for a baby half her age. P閞ez said she
feels hopeless. ?We have been screwed
for several years now. Everything that
Ch醰ez built with his hands has been
kicked down.?
From Joe Root?s bid to retain the Ashes for England
to the last days of Cassini?s mission to Saturn, the
Observer?s specialist writers pick the season?s best
in arts, sports, politics, science and trends
Digital Bj鰎k
The Icelandic singer is to stage an
immersive virtual exhibition at
Somerset House in London from
1燬eptember until 23燨ctober that
could end up offering visitors even
more compelling, pop-starry oddness
per square yard than the forthcoming
Prince exhibition, due to open at the
O2 in the capital on 27燨ctober.
Imagining the Divine
Already billed as ?unmissable? by
the great Mary Beard, this show, at
Oxford?s Ashmolean museum from
19燨ctober, examines the artistic roots
of ?ve major world religions; Christ, it
will be revealed, was once portrayed
as clean-shaven, while Buddha was
represented by mere footprints and
Simon Rattle and Akram Khan
Two great homecomings for leading
British talent are ahead: Simon Rattle?s
arrival from Berlin to take up the
baton as music director of the London
Symphony Orchestra is marked by This
is Rattle, 11 days of special concerts at
the Barbican Centre, LSO St Luke?s
and the Guildhall School?s Milton
Court concert hall, while, for ballet fans, Akram Khan?s acclaimed
Giselle returns to Sadler?s Wells on
20燬eptember, before travelling to the
Liverpool Empire.
Duchamp, Dal� and Basquiat
Big autumn art shows abound,
with Duchamp and Dal� arriving at
the Royal Academy on 3燨ctober,
C閦anne at the National Gallery
from 26 October, and the work
of the late New York artist JeanMichel Basquiat explodes on to
the walls of the Barbican?s gallery
from 21燬eptember in Basquiat:
Boom for Real, his ?rst major show
in this country. Yet a strong pull is
exerted too from outside London,
with the reopening of Tate St Ives
on 14 October. British sculptor
Rebecca Warren, a 2006 Turner prize
nominee, will ?ll the new Cornish
space with her ?rst solo show in a
national museum. The unseen work
includes large bronzes, steel and neon
?gures and collages.
The scrum surrounding the opening
of the Broadway mega-hit Hamilton
at the Victoria Palace threatens
The Naked Ape is 50
The 50th anniversary of the
publication of The Naked Ape falls
on 12 October. In the book, zoologist
Desmond Morris wrote about humans
in the same way that scientists describe
other animals ? thus offending a great
many sensibilities. Among Morris?s
claims was the assertion that Homo
sapiens not only has the largest brain of
all higher primates, but also the highest
ratio of penis size to body mass ? while
the more rounded shape of human
female breasts means they are mainly
Larry David
Autumn cheer is heading your way
in the rumpled form of comic antihero Larry David. ?The world needs
him now more than ever,? reads the
Sky Atlantic tagline as the network,
despite the hacking and leaking of a
few of the 10 new episodes, prepares
to launch a ninth series of HBO?s
dyspeptic Curb Your Enthusiasm
from 1 October. Many of Curb?s key
supporting actors are involved, with
appearances expected from Jeff
Garlin, Susie Essman and Cheryl
Hines, as well as from Ted Danson,
Mary Steenburgen and Richard
Lewis, who all play themselves again.
Nasa?s Cassini
probe has been
studying Saturn
for almost two
decades. EPA
Cassini?s ?nal mission
On 15 September US space engineers
will send their giant probe Cassini ?
which has been studying the planet
Saturn and its moons for almost two
decades ? on its ?nal manoeuvre.
They will direct the craft to spiral
into the planet?s atmosphere where it
will be destroyed ? bringing to an end
one of the most successful planetary
missions ever undertaken. Cassini?s
achievements included the release of a
small, European-built probe, Huygens,
which landed successfully on Saturn?s
largest moon, Titan, revealing the seas
of ethane and methane that cover its
to dominate the West End from
November. Less high-pro?le but
equally safe artistic bets include Hull
Truck theatre?s staging of Tanika
Gupta?s adaptation of A Short History
of Tractors in Ukrainian in the UK
City of Culture and James Graham?s
new political jousting match Labour
of Love. But interest is surely most
piqued by Prism, Terry Johnson?s
new play, starring Robert Lindsay
and Claire Skinner, about British
cinematographer Jack Cardiff, at the
Hampstead theatre. Lindsay plays
Cardiff, ?the man who made women
look beautiful?, from 6燬eptember.
a sexual signalling device rather than
simply a means for providing milk for
infants. Expect more controversy as
the anniversary approaches.
Drug resistance: the ?ghtback
At least 700,000 people a year die
from drug-resistant infections, and if
nothing is done this number could rise
to 10 million a year by 2050, costing the
global economy up to $100 trillion and
pushing a further 28.3 million people
into extreme poverty. That is the
background to a major international
conference ? held in Berlin on 12-13
October ? that has been set up by the
Wellcome Trust, the UN and the UK
government. The aim is to co-ordinate
a cohesive international campaign
backed by government, private and
philanthropic sources to halt the
spread of anti-microbial resistance.
Gene editing humans
Results from one of the most
controversial scienti?c projects of
recent years ? the use of gene editing
techniques to alter the makeup of
human embryos ? are expected to be
released before Christmas. The work,
approved by the Human Fertilisation
and Embryology Authority (the
fertility treatment regulator), will be
carried out by biologist Kathy Niakan
at the Francis Crick Institute, London.
She plans to alter genes active in the
days after fertilisation; experiments
cease after seven days, and the embryos
destroyed. The aim is to help develop
treatments for infertility.
The Ashes
England?s efforts to defend the urn
start in Brisbane on 23 November: a
tough ask because 1) Australia haven?t
lost a Test there since 1988; 2) It will be
sub-tropical. In an effort to acclimatise,
the pre-Ashes friendlies include a
four-day affair in the heat of Townsville
in northern Queensland. The
he series,
on BT these days rather than
n Sky,
is preceded by the Women?ss Ashes:
Australia adapting to life without
injured star Meg Lanning. The ?rst
women?s one-day international
onal is on
22燨ctober, also in Brisbane..
World Cup quali?ers
Russia 2018 is looming. England,
gland, ?rst
in European qualifying Group
up F, play
Malta on Friday in the ?rst of their
?nal four games; Scotland in
n fourth go
to Lithuania. In Group D, third-placed
Wales face Austria on Saturday;
day; the
Republic of Ireland in second
nd go to
Georgia. And Northern Ireland,
and, second
in C, play San Marino on Friday.
iday. Nine
European group winners qualify,
ualify, the
best eight runners-up facingg play-offs
in November. The draw for the ?nals is
at the Kremlin on 1 December.
Autumn Internationals
Four months after the home unions
united for the Lions rugby tour, they
split again for the ?erce end-of-year
series. The backdrop has shifted
hemispheres, too: England hosting
Australia, Argentina and Samoa at
Twickenham in November; Scotland
facing Samoa, New Zealand and
Australia at Murray?eld; Wales playing
Australia, Georgia, New Zealand
and South Africa at the Principality;
and Ireland facing South Africa, Fiji
Joe Root
will captain
Belt up
It?s a subtle thing, the difference
between the way you?ll wear your coat
when it gets cold next month, compared with the way you wore it last
winter. And the difference is the belt.
Wide or thin, cinched tight over massive coats, as well as dainty jumpers,
wafty dresses and even shirts, this
season you use a belt like control
underwear. If you need to hold
your coat together and also hold
myour keys, thanks to Gucci, bumbags are back too.
In vogue
After 25 years as editor, Alexandra Shulman announced
her ?Vrexit? in January, but
it?s not until November that
we?ll see the ?rst issue under
Edward Enninful, the ?rst
black, and ?rst male, editor
in the magazine?s 100-year
history. He has hired ?lmmaker Steve McQueen and
models Naomi Campbell,
Kate Moss and Adwoa Aboah
as contributing editors and, in
what the Times described as a
?posh girl exodus?, said goodbye
to many Vogue veterans.
Free from
We?ve been saying it for a while,
but this time, THIS time, it?s true.
Brexit talks resume in Brussels
There?s so much to get through in
Brexit negotiations in so little time
that even before August is over talks
resume in Brussels on Monday.
The EU?s chief negotiator, Michel
Barnier, has said he will not allow
any discussion of trade issues until
substantial progress has been made
on the thorny matters of money,
the Irish border and the rights of
EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit.
But there is no sign of agreement on
any of these issues as the clock ticks
towards an EU exit in March 2019.
The time for both sides to make hard
choices is approaching just as the full
complexity starts to dawn.
Bj鰎k will be
staging a virtual
exhibition in
London from
1 September. Rex
Labour conference in Brighton
After a better-than-expected result
in June?s snap general election,
Jeremy Corbyn will receive a hero?s
welcome from Labour supporters in
Brighton (from 24 September), even
from a good many who doubted him.
The party will, though, want to look
forward as well as back.
Tory conference in Manchester
By contrast Theresa May will arrive
d Argentina at the Aviva Stadium.
ising the curtain: the 4 November
official Lions decider, the Barbarians
rsus the All Blacks.
emier League
s that time of year when title
ntenders start to strut or stumble,
d managers start being sacked.
mong the key autumn ?xtures:
helsea hosting Manchester City on
September then Manchester United
5燦ovember; Liverpool playing
helsea at An?eld on 25燦ovember;
d, o
on 9燚ecember, a pre-Christmas
x-pointer/festive personality clash:
s� M
Mourinho versus Pep Guardiola in
e Manchester
derby at Old Trafford.
xpect hype.
S Op
Open tennis
ith tthe heavily pregnant Serena
illiams absent, the women?s
mpetition in New York is as open as
was at Wimbledon, with one notable
dition: 2006 champion Maria
arapova making her ?rst grand slam
pearance since her 15-month drug
n. In
I the men?s event, Roger Federer
Rafael Nadal face a ?eld minus the
ured Novak Djokovic, Milos Raonic,
an W
Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori.
ndy Murray is second seed ? but
will his hip hold up? It all starts
Fall of Raqqa
The fall of the Islamic State?s most
important stronghold in Syria is said
to be imminent. After Isis was ousted
from its Iraqi bastion in Mosul, this
will mark a decisive end to the group?s
claims to establish a new caliphate.
But it will not be the end of Isis. And
the fall of Raqqa will set the
stage for a struggle to control
territory by the Syrian
regime and a host of outside
players, including Russia,
Iran, Turkey and the US.
Showdown at UN Assembly
Donald Trump and Emmanuel
Macron will both deliver maiden
speeches on 19 September to the
UN general assembly ? historically
a platform for politicians who aspire
to global leadership. It will be high
theatre and a study in contrasts: the
US president vowing to break from
the customary civilities and assert US
superiority against a young, urbane
European urging a resumption of
collective effort to save the planet.
German elections
It?s now Germany?s turn to weather
the dyspeptic mood rippling across
There?s a huge growth in demand for
vegetarian, vegan and ?free from?
options. This Christmas is set to be
turkey-free for more families in the
UK than ever before. Expect more
vegan street food festivals, and watch
as ingredients such as jackfruit (a
breadfruit family native to south
India, widely used as a meat alternative) get a supermarket push.
Mindful drinking
Raise a glass to ?mindful drinking?.
Young people
peop are drinking less than
their parents
parent (fewer than half of
those aged 16
1 to 24 report drinking
alcohol in the
t previous week compared with
w 66% of those aged 45
to 64) and helping usher in this
new form
fo of mindfulness. It?s
not quite
qu teetotalism, it?s not
quite not. There are mindful
pub crawls,
around venues
with decent selections of
drinks, and since
a mindful
drinking festival in
Augu a whole community
of gentle
drinkers is beginge
ning to emerge.
wear a hat.
be everywhere,
Dior?s leather berets,
bread printed
and Coach?s
furry caps.
Also: socks. If you?re
not already wearing socks, wear
socks. This season is basically your
hassling you before you leave
nan hasslin
for the park
in Manchester on 1 October with
her political tail between her legs.
The damaging June election and
Brexit divides the Conservatives
more by the day. Any hint that May
is backing away from the ?hard
Brexit? she promoted a year ago will
anger the right of her party. Last year
she looked all-powerful during the
conference season. This year she
needs the speech of her life to shore
up her weakened power base.
Philip Hammond?s second budget
The chancellor has replaced autumn
statements with a full budget. No
date has yet been set for this year?s,
but it will be a key event. Hammond
messed up his ?rst budget and had to
perform a hasty U-turn on reforms to
national insurance within days. Since
then he has made himself unpopular
with many in his own party by pushing for a pro-business, soft-Brexit and
warning of disastrous consequences
unless transitional agreements
are reached. May?s election ?asco,
paradoxically, saved Hammond from
the sack (she was too weak to get
rid of him). His second budget will
be a key test of the economy?s ? and
Hammond?s ? resilience as Brexit
approaches, and of whether the
Chancellor himself has continued
to repair his power base at May?s
Europe. On 24燬eptember, Angela
Merkel and her Christian Democratic
Union should emerge from parliamentary elections as the strongest force,
followed by some distance by the Social
Democrats. The anti-immigrant AfD
has been on the wane since the peak
of the refugee crisis, but it could still
cross the 5% threshold for guaranteed
Bundestag representation.
China?s 19th Party Congress
One of the most carefully
orchestrated political events
on earth is likely to be a
raw display of power this
October/ November. It will
consolidate Xi Jinping?s
grip on power as China?s
most powerful leader since
Mao Zedong, and comes at a
time when China is asserting
its role as a global power player,
challenging the US and its allies in the
Centenary of the Russian Revolution
It is called the October Revolution,
because Tsarist Russia was using the
Julian calendar at the time.
On 7燦ovember ? 100 years on from
the turning point in world history
that ushered in the 70-year Soviet
experiment ? Russians will have a
lot to re?ect on. And for once, their
government will not be telling them
what to think.
Maybe Trump is a
kind of cry for help
from the Earth
The US president?s
outbursts increasingly
read like a credible
defence plea of
insanity, writes
o are we heading for a Mad
Max-style future? I don?t think
so. After having lived through
Donald Trump we?ll surely just
call him Max. Trump is behaving so
strangely, we?re probably about a month
away from not being allowed to make
jokes about him. He?s gone past Charlie
Sheen and we?re now entering the bald
Britney phase. It?s hard to imagine how
America can go back to having a normal
president after this. The next president will have to be a car with guns for
wheels. After Trump, a Saturday Night
Live sketch about Mike Pence would
look like something by Samuel Beckett.
Trump is sort of like Father Dougal
killed a man, so is wearing Father Jack
as a disguise. He looks like the image
burned into your retina should you
watch a completely normal man burst
into ?ames. Even on an HDTV he looks
like a sixth generation VHS recording.
A president with the temperament of a
wasp that?s spent 40 minutes on musical hold, his Twitter feed reads like he?s
building up a credible insanity defence
for when he?s ?nally impeached. It?s not
just that he lives on Twitter, he embodies it: digressive, petty, trivial, poisonous and self-aggrandising. He basically
speaks like a totally random stream of
tweets. One minute he?s on Mexicans,
then he?s talking about his shoes, then a
threat, then a joke about a cat.
Last week he held a rally in Phoenix,
Arizona ? possibly because he thought
he?d blend in to a state that is orange,
desolate and has a cavernous gap in its
heart so huge, people travel the world
just to gasp and cry. Phoenix is best
known for the song By The Time I Get
To Phoenix (She?ll Be Rising), in this
case referring to Lilitu the she-demon
of the apocalypse. Trump delivered one
of his random rightwing word collages
in front of a crowd who if they were any
whiter would have had carrots for noses.
Imagine standing up in Arizona and
talking about preserving white culture:
a state so recently colonised that the
dry cleaners still offer a smallpox
cleansing service. White guys have only
been in Arizona for 150 years ? that?s
not even enough time to ?ll a Costa
loyalty card. He?s literally standing in
Apache land, 150 years after their genocide, talking about protecting American
culture; standing amid a culture people
like him destroyed, talking about building a wall, like Simon Cowell launching
the next series of The X Factor in the
Cavern Club.
But what else can we expect from
Donald Trump at
his Phoenix rally
last Tuesday.
Photograph by
Ralph Freso/Getty
Statues are not the
issue. These are
history wars
David Olusoga,
Comment, page 33
Trump ? he doesn?t get his history
from reading, he gets it from staring
at lumps of stone. A statue to Robert E
Lee? If they want to look up to a white
guy who?s rubbish at attack and can?t
remember which side he?s on, we can
send James Milner over there to stand
on a box. Arizona is on the Mexican
border, meaning his shouting the word
?WALL? goes down very well, especially since they know they can get better quality drugs through their border
with Hollywood. People will still try to
jump over whatever makeshift fence
he ?nally manages to put up. All Trump
is doing is turning America into a giant
Glastonbury; there?s a headliner no one
approves of, but you?ll still go for Dolly
Parton and the van making smoothies.
Obviously, Trump?s pivot to Afghanistan is depressing. The only comfort to
Trump getting in was that he intended
to keep his horri?c Armageddon packed
tightly within his walled up, hermetically sealed Thunderdome America. I
suppose this is the kind of consistency
we should expect from someone who
can?t ?nish a sentence. Under investigation by the FBI, he is now at war with
intelligence in two ways. It?s hard to
pick out a single low point of the Trump
presidency, but it seems like the KKK
Trump delivered one
of his rightwing word
collages to a crowd
who if they were any
whiter would have
had carrots for noses
now feel relaxed enough to march without their hoods. ?Jews will not replace
us!?? Looks like if your sister keeps saying no, nobody will mate.
Can we even think of Trump in
terms of intent? Aren?t we then like
those shamans who used to project
anger on to erupting volcanoes? Maybe
Trump is a kind of cry for help from
the Earth, a human ?are. Or perhaps
he has been produced by the Earth to
destroy mankind, and his personality
is actually nature?s critique of humanity. How ?tting that life on Earth will
be extinguished by a reality TV host,
over a mediocre golf-club burger at his
nuclear winter White House, a kind of
3-star Black Lodge.
The US has always been balanced
on uneasy contradictions. Even the
constitution promises both the right to
freedom of speech and the freedom to
have a gun to shoot people who annoy
you. Right at the heart of its contradictions are the twin ideas of liberty and
enslavement, its founding principles of
?freedom? and ?but not for everybody?.
If I had to guess what was at the
forefront of the minds of the American
right at the moment, I?d say voter suppression. It doesn?t matter that the US
has a rhetorical attachment to democracy. Through its actions as a state it
has long undermined any connection
between its stated ideals and its actions.
I think the US will now face a long
struggle to avoid a slide into totalitarianism, led of course by people calling
themselves libertarians.
Looking forward to those 30 hours
of free nursery care? Think again ?
The government?s
?agship childcare
policy launches next
week. But already
parents and providers
fear that the sums
don?t add up,,
writes Donna
t Cambridge Day Nursery,
three little boys are excitedly hula-hooping around
each other on the large
arti?cial grass lawn, while
their friends scurry in and
out of wooden wendy houses, banging
doors in their wake. At the bottom of
the garden, there is a small patch of wild
woodland where the nursery holds its
forest school classes and encourages
the children to make dens and learn
about nature. ?Children love it here.
But providing them with all of this costs
money,? said director Liz Aldous. ?I
don?t think anyone comes into childcare
to be a millionaire ? but we do at least
need to be able to cover our costs.?
What is worrying Aldous is a new
?agship policy from the Department
for Education that is designed to help
parents with the exorbitant cost of
childcare but instead is already causing
widespread confusion and panic.
From 1 September, the government
hopes that nurseries, pre-schools and
childminders across the country will
provide working parents of three- and
four-year-olds with 30 free hours of
childcare, during term time. The government has promised local authorities
an additional �n in funding a year by
2019-20 to pay for the handout, which
doubles the amount of free childcare
currently available to working parents during school terms. But many
parents will not be able to access the
scheme because childcare providers
say they cannot afford to offer it and
are therefore opting out, while others
will expect parents to pay new charges
to make up for funding shortfalls. Five
days from launch, a well-intentioned
pledge is in danger of becoming mired
in confusion.
Aldous is facing a 66p shortfall in
the hourly rate of funding she receives
from the council ? but the DfE forbids
nurseries to offer the 30 free hours and
then ask parents to simply top up the
council?s hourly rate. Instead, a �daily
supplement, for extras Aldous would
not previously have charged parents
for, will make up the difference. ?We
either have to make up that shortfall
somewhere, or we?d have to tell parents
that we?re really sorry, but we don?t
offer funded-only places. Otherwise,
the nursery would go out of business.?
The Pre-school Learning Alliance,
which represents nurseries, estimates
there is a 20% shortfall in the government funding being given to providers
to roll out the ?free? scheme. As a result,
it said around 40% of nurseries haven?t
committed to providing it.
Tracy Brabin, the shadow minister
for early years, said: ?Nurseries are
worried that if they don?t offer the 30
hours, they won?t get the children and
they will go under, but if they do offer
it, they won?t be able to provide the
quality of care they want to.?
She thinks managers may be
tempted to cut staff costs by hiring
cheaper, less-experienced and lessquali?ed workers, and is concerned
standards will fall. ?It?s completely
counterintuitive of the government
not to put the money where it matters:
at the beginning of education,? said
Brabin. ?There?s empirical evidence
that quality childcare when you?re
under ?ve has an impact on your GCSE
marks later in life.?
While Brabin is in favour of offering
Children in woodland where Cambridge Day Nursery holds forest classes to teach them about nature. Photograph by Sonja Horsman for the Observer
?We?re having to ask
parents to pay for
trips, visits, baby
wipes and nappies.
They used to be free?
Paula Baker, nursery manager
parents of pre-school children more
free childcare ? the idea was originally
Labour?s ? she wants the government
to promise to pay nurseries the going
rate that parents at that nursery would
normally pay.
Sarah Dowzell is one of those parents
who feels misled by the government?s
promise of free childcare, which she
now believes was made solely to win
votes from working parents. She runs
her own start-up, Natural HR, in Birmingham and was looking forward to
receiving 30 free hours of childcare for
her three-year-old son Finn in September, so she could increase her working
hours. Then she got a letter from her
son?s nursery.
?It said they had struggled to ?nd
a ?nancially viable way of offering
the scheme.? Instead of being able
to request the hours whenever she
wanted, she would bee forced to take
the free 30 hours between
ween 9am and
3pm each weekday. Iff she wanted
any additional hours,, she would
have to pay a massivee � ?daily
Overall, joining thee scheme
would actually increase
ase her weekly
childcare costs by 7%.. ?It
appears the nursery was trying to limit take-up in
n a way
that the scheme wouldn?t
work for working parents,
because it didn?t wantt
to lay off staff and
reduce the quality of
Cambridge Day
Nursery director Liz
Aldous is worried
about extra costs.
the provision it offers. So I don?t blame
the nursery, I blame the government.
It is the government that isn?t meeting
the funding requirements of nurseries
to provide the 30 free hours. It is the
government that made me a promise ?
a promise it hasn?t delivered.?
In a survey of 1,147 nurseries by
National Day Nurseries and ITV
News, 54% that were planning to offer
the scheme said that they would be
restricting the number of places on
offer, with some offering them to just
one or two children. One in six said
they would not be offering the 30-hour
scheme at all.
The Professional Association for
Childcare and Early Years said the vast
majority of childminders do not intend
to offer any funded 30-hour places,
because for every full 30-hour place
they offer the average childminder
would experience a shortfall of more
than �0 per year. ?Why in the world
would they bother?? asked chief executive Liz Bayram.
She fears that as a result, the number
of registered childminders will signi?cantly decline over the next two to
three years, as parents opt for nurseries
willing to offer free places. ?If childminders aren?t able to be a part of this
scheme, you lose both continuity of
care and p
parental choice.?
local authorities told
Only a third of loca
the Family and Childcare
they believed tthere would be
enough childc
childcare in their area
for families w
who are eligible for the sch
scheme. Richard
Watts, who ch
chairs the Local
Government Association, said
councils aare concerned the
funding they have been
allocated by the DfE will
not be enough to secure
provision for all parents
who w
want it. ?These
concer are particularly around
the impact
on quali
quality of provision,
risk that insufwith a ri
?cient ffunding will lead
provid to employ
less-quali?ed staff, or
struggle to provide enough support
for children with additional needs or
The DfE said the scheme was not
underfunded and that the rate paid by
the government was far higher than
the average hourly cost of providing
childcare for three- and four-yearolds. It claims that a report it commissioned puts the average hourly
cost of childcare in the UK at �72
? a ?gure childcare associations say
they are unable to reconcile ? and
that it is offering an hourly rate of
�94 to providers. It later admitted
to the Observer that councils need
only pass on 93% of this funding to
nurseries and childminders. Both the
Professional Association for Childcare
and Early Years and the Pre-School
Learning Alliance estimate local
authorities only pay childcare providers �27 per hour on average.
Robert Goodwill, minister for children and families, said: ?We are determined to support as many families as
possible with access to high-quality,
Three- and four-year-old children are
already entitled to 15 hours of free
childcare a week during school term
time (or 570 hours each year), whether
or not their parents are working.
From 1 September, these children will
qualify for an extra 15 hours a week in
term time (so for 38 weeks a year, not
52), as long as both parents work and
each earns less than �0,000.
To qualify, parents must also already
be earning at least as much as a worker
on the national living or minimum wage
would earn for 16 hours a week.
So, a two-parent household with an
income of just under �0,000 will now
be entitled to an extra 570 hours of free
childcare, while parents who are trying
to return to work will not be eligible.
?You have to get a job ?rst - but as a
working mother myself, there?s no way
I?d take a job without having sorted out
childcare,? says Labour?s Tracy Brabin.
affordable childcare. We know providers are committed to offering 30 hours
and we are already seeing the positive
bene?ts the additional hours are having. Early delivery of the 30 hours has
been a great success.?
In York, where nurseries have
been piloting the scheme since last
September, he said 100% of nurseries that used to offer 15 hours of free
childcare now offer 30.
Paula Baker, manager of Sticky
Fingers, one of the nurseries which
took part in the York pilot scheme,
is facing a funding shortfall of about
�20 an hour per child from the local
council. ?We?re having to ask parents to
pay for trips, visits and everyday things
like baby wipes and nappies. Before, I
used to provide those things for free.?
Last month the DfE was forced to
amend its guidance for the scheme,
?rst issued in April. It now explicitly
states that parents receiving the 30
free hours of childcare can expect to
pay for extras like meals, nappies and
additional activities (such as trips out).
However, parents still must not be
required to pay any fee as a condition
of taking up a free entitlement place.
In practice, Neil Leitch, chief
executive of the Pre-School Learning
Alliance, believes any parent who
walks into a nursery on Friday and
expects to get 30 free hours of childcare, with no additional charges
attached, is being naive.
?The implication of the change in
the guidance is that shortfall in funding is being dumped into the laps of
providers. We are being expected to do
the government?s dirty work and get
parents to make up the difference by
charging them for these extras ? and
then it will be providers who are criticised,? said Leitch.
He is concerned that, unless the
government acts quickly to close the
funding gap, it will soon be too late for
the sector to recover. ?We?ve told the
government there?s a shortfall, but it
hasn?t listened and it still isn?t listening.
By the time the government wakes up,
it may well have destroyed the infrastructure of our early-years sector.?
W H Y I T? S T I M E
Victoria Coren Mitchell, in her Comment
column last week, called for new restrictions
on ?xed-odds betting terminals. She was
overwhelmed by the positive response.
However there were a few dissenters.
Here she addresses their objectionss
ince my column last week
about ?xed-odds betting
terminals, I?ve been getting hundreds of messages
a day. Ninety-?ve percent
of them agree with my view
that these high-stakes modern slot
machines should be restricted. I don?t
think I?ve ever written a column that
encountered more assent ? or less
dissent ? apart from the one about
?funeral crashers? who skulked around
misleading the bereaved in hope of free
booze. Not many people came out in
support of those guys.
But FOBT machines are equal to
the funeral crashers in their rapacious
appetites, and inspired almost as little
praise. The unanimity of the response
was heartening and baffling at the
same time: left-wingers and rightwingers, Labour MPs and Tory MPs,
betting-shop workers, betting-shop
punters and people who have never
been in a betting shop; old and young,
the addicts and the free; all united in
agreement that the machines should
be capped.
And yet the machines remain
uncapped. Everybody wants them
gone, yet they keep appearing ? like the
opposite of post offices. It?s a mystery.
Before the election, all the main
parties promised a curb on the
maximum bet (the Conservatives in
the form of John Whittingdale warning
bookmakers to ?brace yourselves? for
?quite radical measures?). But that?s
gone silent. Political unanimity reigns
here, too: a Labour administration
waved FOBTs in and a Tory
administration fails to wave them out.
So I?m paying closer attention than
I otherwise might to the handful
of people who sent me counterarguments. It was a few voices of
dissent in a loud chorus of agreement,
yet they seem to hold the balance of
power. So let?s listen to them.
?The government can?t a?ord to lose the
tax revenue from the machines.?
This, according to a Whitehall leak in
the Daily Mail, is Philip Hammond?s
reason for not capping them. But the
maths is plain wrong. These machines
pay 25% in duty and they trigger family
breakdown, rehousing needs, job loss,
erosion of small businesses, crime
and court proceedings, all of which ?
ignoring the moral and social aspects
? costs the nation a lot of money.
They are often concentrated in areas
of high welfare dependency; in many
cases, 100% of the money going into
the machines has come direct from the
Treasury and 25% goes back.
These machines are a loser for the
?You can also win on them.?
This came from the Association of
British Bookmakers who said I had
failed to make this point. I thought it
was implied. But sure, you can have a
one-off win. In the long run, you can?t
win. ?Fixed odds? means the odds are
?xed and they?re ?xed against you.
That?s why the machines made a pro?t
of more than �7bn in a single year.
The ABA also want me to explain
that the number of betting shops is
falling, not rising. But I didn?t say
otherwise. What betting shops are
doing is grouping, with large numbers
of them sprouting in stretches of urban
high streets (to get round the rule of
four FOBTs per outlet) while single or
rural shops go under.
The ABA said I wrongly claimed you
can lose �0 a minute. I did and I?m
sorry. It?s a maximum of �0 a minute
per machine ? although, as I wrote to
them, you can lose �0 a minute if
you?re playing two at once. They asked
the Observer to forward evidence that
it?s possible to play two at once. I think
they knew that was daft. Of course it?s
possible. I?ve done it myself. I don?t
really know how to forward that. I
don?t have a box big enough to hold
myself and two FOBTs from Coral?s on
the Edgware Road.
�0, �0, �0, you get the gist:
you can go totally skint in half an hour.
By the end of the day, you can be in a
hole you might never get out of.
?People should take responsibility for
themselves. You?re a bleeding-heart
Yes I am, but that?s a different
argument. I?m just saying the
government is wrong to suggest these
machines make ?revenue? for the
You and I may have different
sympathies. Eric Baptista, a Liverpool
taxi driver, was in court recently after
vandalising FOBTs following his
massive losses. He smashed machines
and threw water balloons at them,
shouting ?I?m sick of losing!?
Yes, even that makes my heart
bleed. I ?nd the detail of the water
balloons desperately poignant. I see
the helplessness of a child hammering
its tiny ?st against authority. I see a
good man driven to madness by loss
upon loss upon loss (he volunteers at
a boys? club in Dingle; he confessed to
the vandalism immediately and asked
to face the consequences). I think:
there but for the grace of God. I want
to put my arm round him. Frankly,
I want to help him smash up the
You may see only the weakness and
violence. You may think it?s not our job
to protect a man from his addictions,
nor our responsibility to keep these
things off the high street.
That?s ?ne. I respect your different
view. But it?s beside the point. All I?m
saying is: when 25% of Eric?s losses
trickle back to the Treasury, Great
Britain has not made a pro?t.
?Things shouldn?t be banned.?
I?m of that school too. I wouldn?t ban
these machines, but a betting cap of
�or �a spin would transform the
landscape. Right now, if you start at
�a spin but go �0 behind, you can
spin for �0 to ?get it back?. Twenty
seconds later, you?re �0 behind. So a
�0 spin becomes the ?quick route? to
getting back where you started. That?s
what destroys people.
?You promoted an online gaming company.
You?re not to be trusted.?
It?s hard to know who to trust in the
FOBT debate. People either know
nothing about gambling or they have
a dog in the ?ght. Bookies make
millions from FOBTs; online gaming
corporations gain if bookies disappear;
there?s huge money and lobbying
involved. But you can trust me.
I like casinos. I like bookies. I enjoy
A betting cap of �or �on fixed-odds
machines would transform the landscape.
If bookmakers are
only being kept open
by the uncontrolled
losses of the poor and
addicted then that?s
not the answer
live gambling. I love poker (a game you
can actually beat) and I?m happy to
recommend it. But solo, mechanised
roulette (on your phone, your laptop
or in Billy Hill?s next to Lidl) is nothing
but a black hole.
I used to receive a large annual sum
to promote an online poker company.
In 2014, that company launched an
online casino and I quit the next
morning. I miss the action and the
tournaments; God knows I miss the
money. Nobody would have objected
if I stayed. It was just between me and
my conscience, where I wanted my
wages to come from.
Maybe I was an idiot to walk away,
but I?m a clean idiot. When I give an
opinion, it?s about nothing other than
what I think is right. I gave up a lot to
protect that. If the government is also
clean, it should listen to me.
?If the machines are capped, thousands of
high street bookies will disappear.?
For me, this is the big one. Yes they
probably will and I don?t want them
to. I want bookies to stay on the high
street, not be burned away by the
furnace of the internet.
But the world I loved is already gone.
Bookies are no longer places to swap
tips, laugh, grumble and celebrate
together. FOBTs have made them pits
of anger and misery. Abuse of workers
has soared. The 3.30 at Plumpton
comes and goes unnoticed, as the
zombies thump, thump, thump their
money into the machines, chasing
losses that won?t come back.
Capping them won?t restore the
past. Maybe 2,000 bookies would close.
But that?s about a changing world. If
they?re only being kept open by the
uncontrolled losses of the poor and
addicted, that?s not the answer.
Bookshops and toyshops ? even
?shmongers and greengrocers ? can?t
seem to compete with the internet
either. Nobody wants them to close.
And they wouldn?t close if they got a
licence to sell smack, at 25% duty to the
government. But that?s not the answer.
It?s a bitter pill I?m swallowing here.
I love bookies, but if uncapped FOBTs
are the only thing keeping them open
then they have to go under.
Woody Johnson
Can Trump?s new
man in London
?nd a purpose?
The billionaire businessman and New York Jets
owner has arrived in the UK, taking up his post
as US ambassador. But does the president have
a clear strategy for him, asks Edward Helmore
ohnson & Johnson billionaire
Robert Wood ?Woody? Johnson
IV ?ew in to London on Friday,
ready, per protocol, to present
his credentials to Boris Johnson
and begin a three-year stint as
the Donald Trump-selected US ambassador to the UK.
The 70-year-old billionaire was a
somewhat surprising nomination by
Trump, since Johnson had initially
offered his backing to Jeb Bush?s
presidential campaign. His arrival in
London has been much anticipated
? not least because it comes after
an eight-month lapse in official
representation; Obama appointee
Matthew Barzun departed in January.
America?s newest emissary to the
Court of St James faces a taxing agenda
including preparing the ground for
a possible state visit by Trump, who
abandoned a planned visit in June
after it was deemed that accompanying
protests would undermine Theresa
May, his diplomatic ally.
Another early task for Johnson
will be to smooth relations with the
mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, with
whom Trump has feuded on and off
for more than a year. Last month, Khan
told the Observer he was ?a reluctant
participant in this dialogue?. ?We?re
not schoolchildren,? Khan said. ?He?s
the president of the United States, so
I?m unclear what his beef is with me.?
Johnson?s appointment has been
interpreted in diplomatic circles as
signalling a desire for closer ties with
the UK ? a change from the previous
administration, which pursued a shift
in US strategic priorities from the UK
and Europe to the Paci?c rim.
That said, the new US ambassador
to the UK has only ever had a ?eeting
relationship with, or experience of,
diplomacy. But as a political megadonor, Johnson does ?t the pro?le of
prior assignees to the London posting,
one that is only very rarely awarded to
career diplomats. Instead it is offered
as a prestige appointment.
Barbara Bodine, director of the
Institute for the Study of Diplomacy
at Georgetown University, said that
only once had the United States sent
a career diplomat to the UK. Barzun,
the Obama appointee, was a leading
Democrat fundraiser. Anna Wintour,
a major fundraiser for the Hillary
Clinton campaign, was said to be in
the running for the appointment had
Clinton won.
Ambassadors traditionally receive
letters of instruction from the White
House detailing strategic priorities,
but it?s not clear that?s happening in
Trump?s case, said Bodine. ?I do not
know if our president is providing
detailed, policy-based instructions to
Ambassador Johnson or others,? she
said. ?We?ve sent you some turkeys,
but on the whole there?s been an
effort to send responsible, credible
representatives of the US government
with appropriate backgrounds to
deal effectively with the multitude of
interests we share.?
As a major businessman, Johnson
very likely has the basic international
skills to be effective, Bodine added.
?London is one of the largest embassies
with a very experienced team of
diplomats,? she said. ?So from an
embassy point of view, our interests
will be well served. The question will
obviously be, will there be a consistent
and coherent message to work from??
The Johnson appointment is in
keeping with many other prestige
ambassadorial roles that the Trump
White House has offered to hitherto
diplomatic ingenues. They include the
ambassador to Israel, David Friedman,
a bankruptcy lawyer who advised
Trump?s campaign; Nashville private
equity investor William Hagerty,
ambassador to Japan; and Callista
Gingrich, the wife of former House
speaker Newt Gingrich, nominated as
ambassador to the Vatican.
Johnson has long had a colourful
business background in the United
States ? not unlike the president. He
is a friend of Trump?s and they have
adjacent estates in the equestrianfocused township of Bedminster, New
He will have the
advantage over
career diplomats of
being able to directly
phone the president
Jersey. Johnson is known as a reliable
Republican donor. And Johnson?s
funds are not in short supply. Johnson
& Johnson, the pharmaceutical giant
founded in 1886 by his great-greatgrandfather, is number 32 on the list
of the world?s largest companies, with
a market capitalisation in excess of
$338bn and annual revenues in excess
of $70bn.
Johnson supported George W Bush
in 2000 and 2004, and in 2008, he
raised $7m for John McCain in a single
evening. ?I only take on things I really
believe in,? he told the New York Times,
adding that he was ?motivated by a
belief in the democratic process?. He
supported Mitt Romney in 2012.
In the US, however, the importance
of Johnson?s new role is measured
largely by what it means for the New
York Jets, the NFL team he purchased
in 2000 for $635m. It is as the owner
of this high-pro?le sports franchise
that Johnson is best known ? and not
always fondly. The team is among the
worst-performing in the league and has
not made the playoffs since 2010. In
fact, as recently as January 2016 Donald
Trump taunted Johnson in a tweet:
?Woody Johnson, owner of the NYJets,
is @JebBush?s ?nance chairman.
If Woody would?ve been w/me, he
would?ve been in the playoffs, at least!?
Last month the New York Post sports
commentator Mark Cannizzaro wrote
a piece headlined ?Woody Johnson
should stay far, far away from the Jets?.
He noted that the owner hadn?t yet been
to see the team train during pre-season
and concluded: ?And maybe it?s best
that way, because the further away from
his team, and the men he hired to make
football decisions for him, the燽etter.?
Cannizzaro noted that this Jets team
were predicted by almost everyone to
be the worst team in the league this
year. (For the duration of his three-year
ambassadorial term, Johnson will turn
over day-to-day operations of the club
to his brother, Christopher.)
Several other Trump appointees,
domestic and international, have
interests in sports. Jamie McCourt, the
former CEO of the Los Angeles Dodgers
baseball team, has been nominated
to become ambassador to France and
Monaco. Education secretary Betsy
DeVos has an ownership stake in the
basketball team Orlando燤agic.
Johnson is also a philanthropist
who has made signi?cant donations to
medical research. He has helped lobby
for and fund efforts to increase federal
funding for both lupus and diabetes,
and also established the Alliance for
Lupus Research after his daughter
Jaime was diagnosed with the disease.
Casey, his eldest daughter from his ?rst
marriage, died in January 2010 after
neglecting to take insulin for diabetes.
Johnson subsequently donated
millions to research to ?nd a cure for
the condition.
Like Trump, Johnson has faced
questions about his tax arrangements.
In 2006 he was grilled in the Senate
over a scheme that allowed him, and
others, to offset taxable gains from
stock sales, losing the US Treasury
an estimated $300m. Johnson later
settled an Internal Revenue Service
hile the family no
longer has any
management role
in Johnson & Johnson, its substantial
holdings continue
to support a lavish American dynasty.
In 2003 heir Jamie Johnson directed
Born Rich, a documentary examining
the relationship of the ultra-rich to
dysfunction (one of the documentary?s
subjects was a young Ivanka Trump).
One of the last family members to work
Born Robert Wood Johnson IV on 12 April
1947 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. His
father was the president of Johnson &
Johnson for four years. He is divorced
from Nancy Sale, with whom he had three
children; in 2009 he married Suzanne Ircha,
with whom he has two children.
Best of times In 2000 he bought the New
York Jets. Last week he was con?rmed as
the new US ambassador to the UK.
Worst of times In 2010 his daughter
Casey died of diabetic ketoacidosis. In
2006 Johnson was asked to testify before
the Senate?s permanent subcommittee
on investigations with regard to a tax
avoidance scheme. The acquisition of
the New York Jets has not proven a huge
success, with the team regular failing.
What he says ?As the UK undergoes
a complex transaction, politically and
economically, there are opportunities and
challenges for the United States. I believe
I can make a contribution by drawing
both on my business and philanthropic
What they say ?Woody Johnson?s
comments that he would rather have
@MittRomney win the election than his
@nyjets win games shows real
patriotism.? ? Donald Trump, 2012
at the company ? until he was ?red ?
was 87-year-old J燬eward Johnson Jr,
known for creating life-size bronze
statues of people doing ordinary things.
The 1987 book Johnson v Johnson
looked into the family battle over the
will of J Seward Johnson, who had left
his $500m fortune to his third wife,
Barbara (Basia) Piasecka, a former
chambermaid in the Johnson household
who married the patriarch when he
was 76 years old and she was 34. The
court case brought to challenge the
will reportedly lasted for four months
and involved 210 lawyers from 22 law
?rms at a cost of $24m in legal fees. The
book?s author, Barbara Goldsmith, later
said she?d set out to describe ?a pattern
of neglect and narcissism among plenty,
of wealth without a higher purpose, of
no rules and no communication?.
Whether or not Johnson can
succeed in smoothing the unusually
choppy waters of the ?special
relationship?, he will have the
advantage over career diplomats
of being able to directly phone the
president, whose attention is not
known to linger for long.
Johnson?s appointment does ?t
squarely in the tradition of presidential
appointments to the UK established
when Joseph P Kennedy was posted by
Franklin D Roosevelt. At a minimum,
Johnson will, like Barzun (a wealthy
?nancier who is married to the Jack
Daniel?s heiress), be able to afford to
entertain lavishly at Win?eld House,
the Regent?s Park mansion that serves
as home to US ambassadors and sits in
12 acres of grounds.
After being sworn in at the White
House last week, Johnson turned to a
bust that Barack Obama had exiled but
which Trump had restored. Johnson
signalled his approval, announcing:
?This is the greatest privilege of my
life, as I stand here in the Oval Office
and look upon the statue of Winston
Churchill, who our president brought in
on his ?rst day.?
| 33
Wh all Britons could
learn from partition
Page 36
Statues are not the issue. These are
?history wars?, a battle over the past
It can only be a good thing that national stories so long seen as established fact are being challenged,
both in the US and in Britain. In the process, injustices that have long been hidden are now being revealed
Members of the Loyal White
Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
protest at the foot of a statue
of Thomas J ?Stonewall?
Jackson in Charlottesville
over the proposed removal
of a statue of Confederate
General Robert E Lee.
Photograph by Pat Jarrett
s a teenager growing up in Newcastle, I
played a small role in a long campaign of
attrition waged by my generation against
the city council. Our single objective was
to ensure that by the end of each weekend the statues of central Newcastle all had a traffic cone on
their heads, or had been made to look silly in some
other way. As well as providing them with traffic
cone hats (the classic), we balanced empty beer
bottles on the outstretched hands of those statues
striking heroic poses. If that didn?t work, we?d try
wedging cigarettes between their bronze lips.
Each week, the council would remove the
traffic cones and clean up the monuments. Each
weekend, we would pour out of pubs and clubs
and, under the cover of darkness, climb up plinths
again and put back the cones, bottles and cigarettes. The statue to the great railway engineer,
George Stephenson, near the city?s Central
Station, and much lower than most of the others,
demanded less drunken climbing and so became
our favourite target.
It was not that we had any issue with George
Stephenson, or with any of the other ?gures from
the past whom the good people of the city had
chosen to memorialise. It was just that we instinctively found these memorials pompous, kitsch
and ripe for ridicule and we revelled in making
them look preposterous. Youthful disrespect,
perhaps, but we found it amusing. Statues don?t
seem so funny now.
In Charlottesville a young woman was killed
while protesting against white supremacists
who, alongside groups of neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and the Ku Klux Klan, chose a statue of
Confederate general Robert E Lee as the rallying
point for their gathering.
In the US and the UK, drab, grey monuments
that, just a few years ago, we might have paid little
attention to are at the centre of heated and angry
debates. More than 30 US cities are in the process
of removing memorials to the Confederacy, or
have already done so. Each removal is accompanied by a policing operation aimed at preventing
violence. In Britain, serious violence has been
avoided but tempers have frayed and divisions
exposed over the fates of statues to Cecil Rhodes
and Edward Colston, the Bristol slave trader.
Despite the anger and the violence, little of this
is really about statues. They?re the focus, not the
issue, which is probably why Donald Trump was
so keen to talk about them rather than his refusal
to denounce neo-Nazis. This, ultimately, is a battle
of ideas. It is a new chapter in what the Australians
call the ?history wars? ? political struggles in
which versions of the past that have long gone
largely uncontested are exposed and challenged.
As statues, along with the names of streets,
schools and other institutions, have been one of
the ways in which certain versions of the past
have been given literal solidity and the hint of
official recognition, they have become physical
targets in a con?ict that is otherwise about what
is less tangible ? ideas and history.
The great untruth around which everything
pivots is the idea that the defenders of these statues
are the defenders of history and truth; while those
who want to see them toppled or contextualised
are the Huns at the gate, who would destroy
national histories and bring down great men.
As a result of this positioning, we?re yet to have
a proper debate about the contention that statues
always represent some form of historical truth.
Instead, we?ve had a torrent of near-identical
?where do you draw the line?, ?thin end of the
wedge? arguments, the weakest of which are so
ues are being co-opted and misused. The truth is
that they are performing the function for which
they were erected. Paid for and erected by southern lobby groups, rather than local people, they
were intended to reinforce white supremacy and
shore up a romanticised and profoundly distorted
version of the civil war and its causes.
If the motivation to build monuments to the
Confederacy had really been about southern heritage, why did it take 80 years for the programme
of memorialisation to get properly started? If
history was the driver, surely the south would
also be full of monuments dedicated to the slave
system that made it the richest place on earth in
the late 1850s? If this was about history rather
than racism, why is it that the only Confederate
general not to have been honoured with such a
statue is General Judah Philip Benjamin, the only
signi?cant Jewish ?gure to have emerged from
the Confederacy?
The defence of history
argument is bunk. That
Trump has regurgitated it
should make that clear
formulaic that they could surely have been written by an algorithm. The faux innocence of the
writers of such pieces is painfully disingenuous.
Yet something potentially positive and signi?cant is emerging because, as the new history wars
play out, the defenders of statues to slave traders and imperialists in Britain, and Confederate
generals in the US, might prove their own worst
enemies. By choosing to draw their lines and
make their stands around the defence of statues,
they are accidently allowing histories that might
otherwise have remained hidden to be revealed.
Here and in the US, the back stories of the
statues, and the shadowy organisations and individuals who paid for them, are being revealed. As
are details of the murderous careers of the men
memorialised in marble and bronze. The very
aspects of history that these monuments were
intended to conceal are now freely circulating.
By attempting to brush aside Edward Colston?s
pivotal role in the early decades of British slave
trading and directing all attention on to his philanthropy, his defenders have protested so much
and for so long that more people know more
about Colston and Bristol?s role in the slave trade
than ever. By keeping the debate going, Colston?s
defenders have achieved what historians like me
never could. Had his statue been quietly removed
years ago, the ugly details of his amoral life would
never have become so widely broadcast. A bigger cat is out of the bag in the US, as millions are
learning that many Confederate statues, around
which the neo-Confederates and white supremacists are rallying, are not 19th-century monuments, but cheap, mass-produced, cookie-cutter
memorials erected in the 20th century. Many date
not from the 1860s but the 1960s, and are therefore younger than some of the white supremacists
determined to defend them.
The implication in much recent reporting has
been that, by becoming totems around which
those white supremacists are rallying, these stat-
hat about their locations? The four
Confederate monuments that, until
recently, loomed over Baltimore ? a
city that was never part of the Confederacy and in which African-Americans make
up 64% of the population ? were never intended to
defend southern heritage but to assert power over
black Americans. The defence of history argument
is bunk. The fact that Donald Trump has regurgitated it should make that clear.
As the genesis stories behind these statues
become more widely known, the myth that this
is about history and heritage is beginning to collapse. These statues have a history all right, but
one that has precious little to do with the civil war
and everything to do with racism, and by defending them that history is being splashed across
front pages. This was not the game plan.
What those who are ?ghting the history wars
from behind these monuments have in their
favour is that most of us, for understandable
reasons, have an almost instinctual opposition
to the removal of statues; we ?inch at the idea of
antiques of any sort being toppled or removed.
The stones of the past have become almost fetishised ? we are roused to anger when developers
win permission to demolish Victorian buildings
and moved to sorrow when ?re or ?ood claims
a slice of the past. Far more shocking are images
of deliberate destruction ? the dynamiting of the
Bamiyan Buddhas by the zealots of the Taliban,
the destruction of parts of ancient Palmyra by the
thugs of Isis.
But we are growing more sophisticated as we
come to understand that not all monuments were
created equal and that some were erected for
cynical reasons that have little to do with history
or heritage. History, after all, is a process, not a
position, and it is not best written in bronze and
marble. It is complex, plastic and ever-changing;
all things that heroic statues are not.
Historians spend their days engaged in the
literally endless task of reshaping and expanding
our view of the past, while statues are ?xed and
in?exible. Whatever we decide to do about them,
here and in the US, we need to accept that statues
are not delivery systems for the public understanding of history and that some were principally created to silence marginalised voices rather
than commemorate events past.
David Olusoga is a historian and broadcaster. His
most recent book is Black and British: A Forgotten
Established in 1791
Issue No 11,779
Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Telephone: 020 3353 2000 Fax: 020 3353 3189
Labour?s move could transform Brexit debate
ach week that passes takes us closer
to March 2019, the deadline by which
Britain must have negotiated a transitional exit deal with the European
Union, or face the economic catastrophe of falling off a cliff-edge. Yet, as the clock has ticked,
confusion has reigned. The 14 months since
the EU referendum have been characterised by
rhetorical posturing, fuzzy logic and position
papers peppered with contradictions and questionable assertions. The country?s two main
parties have hedged their bets and ducked and
dived in relation to the great dilemmas posed
by Brexit, rather than engage in a rational and
honest conversation about how to pursue the
national interest in extraordinary times.
So today?s intervention by Sir Keir Starmer,
the shadow Brexit secretary, is to be welcomed
as a signi?cant development. Writing in the
Observer on behalf of the Labour party, Starmer
states unequivocally that Labour would seek to
keep Britain in the single market and a customs
union during a transitional period, and possibly
in the longer term. This is not yet a workedthrough negotiating strategy. But it represents
a pragmatic shift towards the only conceivable
transitional arrangement Britain should be
seeking, and puts clear water between the main
parties for the ?rst time. Theresa May?s government insists that in 2019 Britain must leave
both the single market and customs union.
Until now, Labour?s Brexit policy has lacked
clarity. The recent election manifesto pledged to
put the economy ?rst by retaining the bene?ts
of the single market, while also promising to end
freedom of movement. How that happy endstate was to be achieved was, to put it kindly,
not spelt out. This evasiveness undoubtedly
served Labour well in the general election. But
it has undermined the party?s ability to hold the
government to account for its own shambolic
approach to Brexit. It is also politically unsustainable, this far into the Brexit process, when
shadow ministers are unable to articulate or
agree on what Labour actually thinks.
Now Labour has at last made a choice and
deserves credit for adopting the only shortterm position that makes sense. Negotiating a
transitional deal is all but impossible to achieve
within 18 months, given that talks on the deal
cannot even start until the UK and EU have
reached agreement on three complex and
contentious issues: the ?nancial bill Britain will
owe the EU on exit; the rights of EU citizens
living in Britain and British citizens living in the
EU, and who will oversee them; and arrangements for the Irish border. Any deal will also
require unanimous support from every other
EU nation, and rati?cation by both the European parliament and European council.
British negotiators should be focusing on
the immediate and critical substantive issues,
such as the Irish border, then turning their
minds to the long-term settlement; not wasting time and energy on the impossible task of
negotiating a transitional deal. This means,
as Labour suggests, we must seek to keep all
our economic arrangements and relationships
with the EU intact for a period after we give
up membership of the EU?s political club. This
is necessary to allow the time and space to
negotiate a ?nal deal. Yes, keeping the economic status quo, while giving up our power
to shape the rules that govern it, is very much
a爏econd best to full membership of the EU.
But there is no way round that.
A transition period, by de?nition, comes to an
end. What comes next? Here, Labour has also
markedly shifted its tone. Starmer explicitly
leaves open the door to remaining in the single
market and a form of customs union, so long as
a ?nal deal includes arrangements for managing migration more effectively. This is, for now,
a sensible position: Britain may well have more
luck negotiating some more signi?cant brakes
on freedom of movement now than David
Cameron did prior to the referendum. The EU
today is more self-con?dent and less blighted
by existential fears than the EU of two years
ago, thanks to an economic upturn and the failure of far-right nationalists such as Marine Le
Pen in France and Geert Wilders in the Netherlands to gain power.
abour has clari?ed its stance and opted
for a Brexit approach that is practical.
Compare and contrast with the Conservatives? chaotic journey without
maps. In recent days, ministers have published
several position documents intended to clarify
Britain?s negotiating strategy for a transitional
deal. Together they give the impression of
a government that continues to cling to the
fantasy that Britain can, in the now notorious
words of Boris Johnson ?have its cake and eat
it?. Philip Hammond and Liam Fox jointly
wrote two weeks ago that Britain will leave
both the single market and the customs union
at the end of the Article 50 process. But there is
no realistic acknowledgement in these papers
of the gigantic difficulties that this would create. On issues from the Irish border to customs
arrangements, the government has simply
stated what it wants, no matter how unfeasible
its demands. There was, at least, a signi?cant
concession on the European court of justice:
the government seems to have conceded that
the UK will continue to be affected by EU law.
The government?s approach so far to the
historic question of Brexit borders on the
irresponsible. Yet, still, ministers continue the
deceitful charade, while every day the uncertainty deepens for businesses making investment decisions and EU citizens living in this
country. Last week the government celebrated
a report indicating falling immigration ?gures. But those statistics are in fact a sign of a
spluttering economy in which industries such
as food production are suffering from a lack
of workers and the NHS is unable to recruit
enough doctors and nurses. New research from
KPMG suggests that this is the shape of things
to come, with signi?cant numbers of younger,
better-educated and better-paid EU nationals
considering leaving the UK.
That Labour has ?nally screwed its courage
to the sticking place on Brexit could be a gamechanging moment. Next month the EU withdrawal bill returns to parliament for its second
reading. The bill?s provisions on the European
court of justice would effectively make Labour?s
transitional proposal to stay in the single market all but impossible. So, not before time, battle
must and will be joined in the House of Commons. It?s now down to moderate, pragmatic
Conservative MPs to break ranks and rally
behind Labour to bring some sanity and realism
to the Brexit process. If this parliament votes
to sacri?ce Britain?s economic interests on the
altar of Conservative party unity, history will
not remember it fondly.
Britain must not allow itself to be dragged into Trump?s futile war
Donald Trump?s view on the con?ict in
Afghanistan was highly critical in 2011 when
he tweeted that the US was ?wasting lives and
money? there. He later termed Barack Obama?s
strategy a ?complete waste?, saying it was ?time to
come home?. Trump stood on his head last week,
ordering the deployment of additional American
troops and committing the US to an open-ended
war that he vowed to ??ght to win?. So which
Trump is right ? the pre-election sceptic or
today?s ardent warrior? The answer is neither.
When Obama took office in 2009, he raised US
troop levels to around 100,000, part of a Nato force
of about 150,000. His plan was to turn around a
war that had already dragged on too long, then
hand over to better-trained and equipped Afghan
army and police forces. The handover duly took
place in 2014, but the con?ict was not over. Since
then, security has steadily deteriorated.
Obama was right to try, and Trump wrong to
prematurely scorn his efforts. But what the 2009
surge ultimately proved was that even the most
modern armies cannot wholly overcome the sort
of unconventional, guerrilla campaign at which
the Taliban excel. More than 2,400 US soldiers
have died in Afghanistan since 2001, and more
than 450 British troops. But according to US estimates, government forces now control less than
60% of the country.
Given this galling history, Trump?s ?new strategy? ? adding around 4,000 soldiers to the current
US total of just under 10,000 and asking Nato
allies, including Britain, to send a similar number
? makes no sense. Such paltry reinforcements will
make little or no difference on the battle?eld. The
bulk of the ?ghting will in any case continue to be
undertaken by Afghan security forces, who are currently dying at the rate of about 30 a month. Nor is
the move likely to provide relief for civilians. There
were a record 1,662 civilian deaths and 3,581 people
injured in the ?rst half of this year, according to
UN ?gures. Armed con?ict has claimed the lives of
26,512 civilians and injured 48,931 since 2009.
Trump?s rejection of nation-building and his
insistence that the mission?s focus is ?killing
terrorists? who might one day strike at America
betrays a deeply parochial ignorance. In launching the invasion in 2001, George W Bush mistakenly failed to distinguish between al-Qaida and
the country?s Taliban rulers. His hunt for the
perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks morphed into
forcible regime change. But you cannot hope to
destroy terrorist safe havens and networks unless
a country?s indigenous forces and citizens are
broadly on your side. If you do not have a reasonably competent, friendly government in Kabul,
nothing you achieve will last. Ignoring the Afghan
nation?s needs is not an option.
While Trump?s new policy stance is as unhelpful
and as uncomprehending as his old one, it need not
be the last word. An international diplomatic push
is essential to forge a consensus position among
regional parties. This means a joint effort to bring
about a cease?re, followed by peace talks, sponsored by the US, Russia, China, India and Iran, too,
however counter-intuitive that may be for Trump.
Pakistan should also be included. There is no
point in Trump threatening Islamabad. It has
been done before, to no avail. Pakistan?s legitimate
security and strategic concerns must be taken into
account in any Afghan settlement. If the US were
to genuinely engage in multilateral diplomacy,
it might be surprised at the degree of common
ground on combating illegal drugs, securing
borders, halting refugee ?ows, enhancing regional
stability and suppressing Islamist extremism.
The US and the government of Ashraf Ghani
must also accept that the various elements comprising the Taliban have an undeniable stake in the
country?s future. For their part, Taliban leaders
and allies must accept that they will never be rid of
foreign interlopers without a political agreement
with other national groups, parties and minorities.
A western offer of unconditional talks is already
on the table. Now is the time to enlist UN help in
relaunching a comprehensive internal dialogue.
As Friday?s murderous Islamic State attack on a
Shia mosque in Kabul demonstrated, some extremists utterly reject peace and care nothing for the
Afghan people (or indeed the people of Syria, Iraq,
Libya and Somalia). Extirpating this ubiquitous
menace also requires a united international effort,
for there can be no compromise with terror. But
Trump?s sole focus is on war and more war. The
number of US air strikes since he took office is
already more than twice the 2016 total, hence the
spike in civilian casualties. Until he adopts a more
imaginative approach to making peace, Britain
must refuse any request to send more troops to
Afghanistan ? and say no to Trump?s war.
Soviet tanks roll into Prague
The Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia was
not only a crime; it was a blunder of historic
proportions. It is still too early to strike a ?nal
balance ? But one thing is certain. By sending
in their troops the Russian leaders confessed
their political bankruptcy and revealed the
weakness of the entire Soviet system. They
have, at the same time, increased that weak-
ness. By occupying Czechoslovakia they
have, in effect, announced that the Soviet
system is so vulnerable that it cannot allow
free speech and so brittle that it dare not
permit experiment.
The Soviet action demands condemnation:
but just to condemn is an inadequate reaction.
For this risks treating the Soviet behaviour as
an aberration. But this is precisely what it is
not. The Soviet invasion falls into a familiar
pattern: the Pavlovian reaction of all intensely
conservative and autocratic regimes faced
with a challenge to their authority. ?
What we have been witnessing in
Czechoslovakia is not the birth of a new
Soviet mood of aggression, but the beginnings of the death-pangs of a hopelessly ossi?ed system. By acknowledging to everyone?
that they are absolutely obliged to revert to
the most blatant use of force, lies and secrecy,
the Soviet leaders are also announcing that
their present system is doomed.
?Apart from the usual
qualities of a diplomat,
he should have a short
hair cut, a bald head, a
zinc-lined stomach and
inexhaustible patience.?
Sir Donald Hopson
on his successor as
ambassador to Beijing
The Graduate (X): Ostensibly about a
young man who returns home from
college with all sorts of clean-limbed
honours; the only subject he hasn?t
majored in is women. Wife of his father?s
business partner (played by Anne
Bancroft) completes his education like a
vet giving a pony an enema.
Brie?ng, edited by Edward Mace
Can Labour?s change of course
over Brexit change Britain?s fate?
The party has realised that most of its supporters don?t want to crash out of Europe. Now to persuade some Tories
here are two kind of battles in politics:
the noisy ones and the stealthy ones. The
high-decibel clashes grab all the attention
because they generate visible mayhem and
buckets of gore. So eyes have been on the Conservatives over the summer weeks as the Brexit battle?eld has resounded to the clang of Tories swinging
war hammers at other Tories.
All the while, another struggle, one conducted
in the shadows, has been taking place at the apex
of the Labour party. This battle has been much less
cacophonous, and thus not noticed, but it is of great
potential signi?cance. This battle has been about
the position Labour should strike and it matters
because it has big implications for the fate of the
Brexit legislation when parliament returns next
month. Key members of the shadow cabinet have
been wrestling with the argument over August
and it came to a head in the past few days. In your
Observer today, we bring you the ?rst news of the
Labour?s posture since the referendum might be
generously characterised as constructive ambiguity and less kindly described as consciously
incoherent. Having a foot in both camps served
Labour well when Britain went to the polls in June.
The recent analysis by the British Election Study
came to the conclusion that it helped the party to
maximise its support among convinced leavers and
furious remainers. Yet an increasing number of
Labour voices have been arguing that fudge is not
a sustainable strategy for a party that aspires to be
taken seriously as the next government.
Today, in our pages, Keir Starmer, the party?s
principal spokesman on Brexit, brings a new clarity
to Labour?s position and, in doing so, ?nally de?nes
a clear dividing line with the Tories. He announces
that Labour, previously evasive on this issue, will
seek to keep Britain within both the single market
and a customs union during any transitional period
which follows its departure from the EU.
What has prompted this shift by Labour and
why now? One reason is the calendar. When MPs
return to Westminster in September, the ?rst
business on parliament?s plate will be withdrawal.
They will debate the gargantuan slab of legislation paving the way for Britain?s departure. Given
the trouble and strife in the Cabinet, the principal
party of opposition ought to have many opportunities to serve both its own cause and the national
interest by giving the government hell. Labour?s
ability to expose the many holes and contradictions
in the government?s position was going to be terribly handicapped if the party?s own posture lacked
credibility. In discussions with other members of
the shadow cabinet, Mr Starmer has been heard to
argue that Labour would look ludicrous if its representatives could not give a straight answer to the
question whether or not Britain ought to remain
within the single market during the transition.
The new Labour position that he has crafted
comes with advantages and risks. It will be broadly
popular with trades unions and business organisations, which largely favour keeping Britain within
the single market. Members of both stand to suffer
from a cliff-edge Brexit which sees Britain crash
out of the world?s most prosperous free trade area
without a viable agreement about the future relationship. Putting the Labour frontbench behind
keeping Britain in the single market beyond 2019
has the effect of widening and strengthening the
arguments for a softer Brexit. Labour is also offering some succour to those who think that Britain
would be sensible not to torch all its bridges to
Europe and close down all its options during the
transition ? including the ultimate option for the
country to change its mind if it doesn?t like the look
of where it is going to end up.
The shift will be welcomed by the substantial
wedge of the parliamentary Labour party who
have been agitating for the leadership to take a
more robust position against the government. It
will not be popular with the tiny minority of MPs
who favour a stark Brexit. Then there is the larger
number of Labour MPs who, while regretting the
referendum result, think it has to be honoured and
doing that means ending freedom of movement.
There will be those who will be uncomfortable
and there will be others who will be cross with a
policy which means supporting the continuation
of freedom of movement for at least two years after
Britain has left the EU. Mr Starmer may face some
turbulence from MPs still fearful of doing anything
that can be painted as trying to defy the referendum result. Hardcore Brexiters will have a go at
Labour. So may some of the more ardent remainers
who want Labour to oppose Brexit altogether.
The party?s new position remains vague about
the ?nal destination that it wants for Britain. About
that, Mr Starmer argues for staying ??exible?. He
can be mocked for this. But not by Tory ministers.
Not when their negotiations with the EU have yet
to agree the basics of withdrawal and no one is
expecting much progress when those talks resume
in Brussels this week. Not when members of the
Cabinet can?t give an agreed description of what
they want the future relationship with the EU to
look like. The ?position papers? recently published
by the government ooze so many uncertainties that
they ought to be called ?options papers?.
This change in position could not have happened without the agreement of Jeremy Corbyn,
and that could not be taken for granted at the
start of the debate between senior members of
the shadow cabinet. Earlier this year, the Labour
leader walked through the same Aye lobby as
Theresa May for the vote to trigger Article 50 and
he whipped Labour MPs to join him there. It is less
A sni? of power has
wafted into Labour
nostrils, and that scent
has in?uenced the mood
at the top of the party
than two months since he ?red three frontbenchers when they supported an amendment to the
Queen?s Speech calling for Britain to stay within
the customs union and the single market.
The Labour leader, a career-long Eurosceptic,
has not agreed to recalibrate the party?s position
on Brexit because he has fundamentally changed
his mind about the EU. But Mr Corbyn is more
of a politician than his detractors or his admirers
often acknowledge. On some things, at least, he can
do pragmatism and triangulation as well as any of
the other grubby compromisers in the rough old
trade. His inner circle and his allies in the shadow
cabinet include both Eurosceptics and Europhiles.
He has surely noticed ? everyone else certainly
has ? the dislocation between his views about the
EU and those of the crowd who adored him at
Glastonbury. The younger voters who helped him
to upset election expectations in June are overwhelmingly opposed to Brexit, as are many of his
most passionate devotees within the party. A poll
for Labour List, conducted before the announce-
ment of this shift, found a substantial majority of
party members thought Labour had not adopted a
Brexit policy that was sufficiently different to that
of the Tories.
sniff of power has wafted into Labour
nostrils since June, and that mindconcentrating scent has in?uenced the
mood at the top of the party. The shadow
cabinet has had to think about what they would
face if this minority Conservative government were
to collapse and an early election propelled Labour
into power to take charge of the Brexit negotiations.
In the probably more likely scenario that the election comes later, Labour would obviously hope to
reap a dividend at the ballot box if the Tories have
delivered a bad Brexit deal or a disastrous no deal.
In the event that Britain?s departure from the
EU goes horribly wrong, Labour wants to be able
to heap all the blame, every last ounce of it, in the
laps of the Conservatives. That will be harder to do
if Labour has been seen as an accomplice of Tory
Brexit. It has been the cry of both the Lib Dems and
SNP that Labour has been conspiring to facilitate a
Tory drive towards an economically ruinous hard
Brexit. They have attacked Mr Corbyn as a ?red
Tory? when it comes to Europe. That has stung
a little. It has also increased the pressure from
Labour MPs for their party to bring some stronger
opposition to bear on the government.
This brings us to the most important question
about Labour?s shift. Can it force a change on the
government? It is possible. Labour?s position on
the transition has the potential to be a rallying
point for parliamentary opposition to a hard Brexit.
The Lib Dems and the Nationalists back continuing membership of the single market. So the key
will be persuading sufficient Conservative MPs to
join hands with the opposition parties against the
government. Lines of communication are already
open between opposition MPs and around 20 Tory
backbenchers who might be willing to support
amendments to the Brexit legislation.
By my rough and ready calculation, there are
sufficient Tory MPs who agree with the Labour
position on the transition to conceive of it assembling a majority in parliament. Mobilising them
will partly depend on how artful Labour can
be about waging this struggle in the Commons.
Success will also be contingent on the struggle
within the breasts of these Conservative MPs
between their party loyalties and their consciences.
That will be the next battle to watch out for.
In Edinburgh, I understood how farce
can be more persuasive than argument
If Brexit the Musical were to tour the whole country, who knows what e?ect it might have?
to open up British agriculture and public services
to US multinationals. Dr Liam Fox, surely one of
the most inadequate politicians to hold high office
since 1945, has simply no idea of the dynamics of
world trade nor the likely negotiating position of
his cherished non-European counterparts. He is
as vapid as Brexit the Musical?s Andrea Leadsom.
For perhaps the biggest message from the show
is that there is no wider cultural constituency for
Brexit. The Foxs and Leadsoms are cultural oddities. It is true that some of England?s poorest areas
? eight of northern Europe?s 10 poorest regions
are in England ? voted Brexit, but this should be
understood as a proper protest against a status
quo that provides so little for them. The millions
of disadvantaged are not natural allies of Johnson,
?Govey? or now Jacob Rees-Mogg.
he Edinburgh festival fringe at its peak
mounts more than 1,800 shows a day, but
this year from my sample it was Brexit the
Musical that really caught my imagination.
From the ?rst scene, where a Boris Johnson in
Union Jack underpants realises with horror that
Leave has won ? ? We will bugger the economy,?
he sings ? to the last, where he and his sidekick
?Govey? ?nally discover the plan that will save
them and the country from ?catastrophe?, you
are ever more uncomfortably aware that however爀ffective a Brexit satire, it is trumped by
Brexit truth.
This joyful assault on bumbling, hypocritical
Tory politicians completely at sea faced with the
forces they have unleashed never misses its target.
The portrayal of limelight-loving Andrea Leadsom as vaingloriously prejudiced and supremely
ignorant particularly resonates ? as does a David
Cameron who, after his resignation, no longer
has to pretend he likes ordinary people. A Boris
Johnson who bounces with effortless unjusti?ed
self-con?dence from debacle to debacle is also
more than recognisable ? the buffoon-in-chief in a
cast of buffoons.
You ?nd yourself shaking your head in disbelief
at the familiar follies, even while you laugh. The
generosity of the writing makes the characters all
too human prisoners of their own idiocy. Yet these
are the people and party who run the country:
why is such a shower not exposed to more satire
and mockery?
It would be so much better if we did not have
to live through the consequences of Brexit, but
too many people are emotionally invested in the
Brexit case to allow argument, facts and reason
to change their minds. Satire ? showing how the
project and people behind it are completely farcical ? has the better chance of persuading millions
in any imminent electoral or second referendum
test that they have been sold a pup and must save
themselves from both the perpetrators and the
Yet Chris Bryant, the musical?s author, could
not have anticipated the position papers that the
government has published over the past fortnight
in which it is becoming clear that the planned
special and deep relationship that it wants with
the EU is to become a shadow member ? with
This Boris
from debacle
to debacle,
bu?onin-chief in
a cast of
no control. Britain will shadow the EU?s product
regulations and the bulk of EU law; it will respect
indirectly the judgments of the European court of
justice; freedom of movement will continue; we
will create a shadow customs union; the border
with Ireland will remain open. And we will pay
a bumper cheque, as even Boris Johnson now
recognises, for the privilege. The Brexiters will
be able to say we have left the EU, when in fact
we will be shadow EU members with even less
of a voice than Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland. It is one of the great cock-ups in British
The reasons why are obvious. There is no viable
option but to stay as close to the EU as possible.
Every key economic constituency ? trade unions,
universities, technology startups, manufacturing, including the food and drink industries, the
City, agriculture, the creative industries, the NHS,
the big four accountancy partnerships and magic
circle law ?rms, foreign direct investors ? are
losers from leaving the EU. The property market
is freezing. Real incomes are under pressure. The
pound ? now a ?toilet currency? ? is close to parity
with the euro. The Tory party ? for it is the Tory
party that has created this mess ? is fearful for its
very future.
Nor are there huge easy trade deals to compensate for the loss of European markets. China,
pledged to create Made in China 2025, is no soft
touch; nor is India; and the US has long wanted
James Witt as Boris
Johnson with Virge
Gilchrist as Theresa May
in Brexit the Musical at
the Edinburgh fringe.
Photograph by
Russell Cheyne/Reuters
s we reach 2018 it will be game on: there
is a potential majority in the House of
Commons for at the very least insisting
on a referendum on the ?nal deal ? being
a shadow EU member with no say or control ? or
maybe even stopping the process completely with
a second general election. Great countries don?t
go over cliffs without some attempt at saving
This parliamentary majority can only be
unlocked by the Labour leadership changing its
position of studied ambiguity, building on the
piece written by Keir Starmer in these pages today.
National and party interest are aligned ? one of
the happiest positions for any politician. Privately,
a number of former Brexiters in business and the
media regard the whole exercise as an unfolding disaster. Blair and Brown were permanently
frightened of the right: Corbyn, especially now,
does not have to follow the same callow path.
But when we?re faced with the next test of
public opinion, however it happens, the economic
case for continued EU membership and having
a say in its rule-making has to be rammed home,
along with the high ground argument about
making common cause with European countries
who share our values against the world?s Donald
Trumps and President Xis.
But above all, let?s make the EU case full of
hope ? and, on top, a carnival of fun and mockery.
There爉ust be multiple versions of Brexit the
Musical mounted in every pro-Leave constituency in the country, continually revised as every
twist and turn in the story becomes ever more
incredible. Every old people?s home, every exmining or ex-steel town, every seaside resort fearful of immigration should see the show and laugh
at Brexit. Let?s smile our way to victory ? and use
satire, that most British of re?exes, to consign
Preti Taneja Why all Britons could learn from partition
As cultural strife
resurfaces, the
events remind
us we?re all
he coverage has been wide, the
tone circumspect, the voices
diverse as the 70th year since the
partition of the Indian subcontinent has been marked across media and
cultural institutions in the UK.
People I know from all generations
and backgrounds have watched, read
and listened; then, aghast, confessed
that they had only basic prior
knowledge of the brutal politics that
caused one of the biggest migrations
in human history, that saw the
rape of thousands, the deaths and
displacement of millions, the division
of entire families, with repercussions
still felt today.
I already knew how little place
these devastating events have in our
mainstream national consciousness ?
but this month brought it home.
My earliest memory of seeing
partition and Indian independence
discussed in the British media was in
1997, when India and Pakistan turned
50. A picture of Gandhi was on the front
page of the Independent newspaper. I
looked closer ? it wasn?t Gandhi. It was
Ben Kingsley as Gandhi from the ?lm by
Richard Attenborough, only the caption
on the picture was wrong.
My parents were ?rst-generation
Indian immigrants; I grew up with
the usual level of nostalgia, cultural
protectionism and pride, balanced
with the determination to excel at
integration. There was no clinging to
notions of ?Mother India?. But that
newspaper error was piercing. Back
then, I aspired to become a journalist,
and suddenly the profession seemed
tarnished. This felt carelessly offensive,
even personal. In a strange reversal,
I felt ashamed for Indians in Britain;
embarrassed that a revered ?gure
such as Gandhi could be usurped in a
national newspaper by the actor who
played him in a British ?lm.
An apology was printed: ?Sorry ?bout
that?. It only made things worse. That
apostrophe was a shrug, a bantering
wink, a ?nothing to get upset about,
old chap?. In those words, I suddenly
understood what the dividing line of
?unconscious bias? ? known, in its
more ugly form, as institutional racism
? looks like on the page, and what side
of it I was being put on.
Before that, there had been 1974?s
Plain Tales from the Raj series, which
offered ?a panorama of British India
recorded by some of those who lived
in it? on Radio 4. In 1987, when India
and Pakistan turned 30, journalist
Zareer Masani published a book from
the research on her follow-up series,
Indian Tales of the Raj. ?Why are the
British so obsessed with the Raj??
asked her Indian interviewees, who
included industrialist Ratan Tata. That
?rst generation didn?t want to look
back, preferring to bury old trauma and
humiliation. In the UK, their silence
conveniently tallied with a mainstream
white culture used to thinking about
the Raj, at best in a cavalier ?sorry ?bout
that (but we did give you the trains)?
kind of way; and at worst as a golden
age for Britain.
Still, in 1997, I thought we were a long
way from the days of Enoch Powell?s
1968 so-called ?rivers of blood? speech,
made as my parents arrived here to
study and eventually to settle. To many
like them, that speech hit deeply.
The resurgence of Powell?s rhetoric
and sentiments has had devastating
effects on this country, stoking racial
fears in white communities, reigniting
insecurities in many ?rst-generation
Asian immigrants, undermining the
con?dence of those ?who were born
here?, even as in public we laugh off
nonsensical calls that we should ?go
home?. I can?t help but wonder if
greater representation of people of
colour in schools, cultural institutions,
media and arts industries, and better
knowledge of empire and partition,
imparted regularly to all via those
same modes (in the way that the
British glories, losses, heartbreaks
and triumphs of the second world
war are) might have helped to halt the
pernicious re-use of Powell?s ideology.
A shaming thought again ? though this
time I know the shame is not mine.
One of the most telling segments I
heard this summer was on Woman?s
Hour. Gul, an immigrant, and her
second-generation daughter, Urvashi,
talked about their relationship with
Gul?s former home: Pakistan. One
wanted to forget, the other longed to
know it ? one was so glad for Britain?s
opportunities, the other wondered if
she would have been happier there:
being born and growing up in Britain
as a person of colour, she never felt
secure. That must have been difficult
for her mother to hear, but it?s a feeling
that too many young people of colour
have growing up in the UK. It?s real
source is not only in the silences at
home, but the silences in our society.
hings are changing. In public life,
this year it seems a new generation are making an English,
sometimes regional-accented,
noise about lack of diversity, con?dent
enough to call out institutional racism
in public. They came of age in the late
1980s and 1990s. Their history is refugee, their origins are immigrant. The
gap in mainstream knowledge of how
they came to be here is being ?lled, and
by them. In some quarters, it seems they
are being heard. But it?s an uphill struggle: we still have Raj-era nostalgia on our
screens, a dearth of BAME role models
in teaching, from primary to professorial
level, at senior levels of publishing, arts
and education administration and in the
media. Three or four people of colour (if
that) per organisation remain the exception, not the rule.
By the centenary of partition in 30
years? time, I want to feel honourbound and yet yawningly familiar with
the Indian ?lest we forget? archive
footage being rolled out again, the
recorded memories of those who lived
through partition, even while being
moved and deeply respecting their
sacri?ce. To see BAME names in the
credits of all programmes, not just on
BAME themes, and not feel a weird
sense of pride in a person I?ve never
met because they are from a minority
community. I want to have people of
all backgrounds roll their eyes, not in
amazement, but because they already
know more about the events than the
radio is telling them.
Everyone in this country is a
postcolonial subject, bound by a shared
history, beyond religious or racial
communalism. That?s what the proli?c
and diverse partition coverage this year
has begun to admit into our national
conversation ? and it is way overdue.
Preti Taneja?s debut novel We That Are
Young is published this month by Galley
Beggar Press
Exams change but
we continue to fail
the non-academic
Michael Gove meant well with his reforms, but the few
that were implemented only rewarded the brightest
ere?s an unlikely sentence: in 2012,
Michael Gove was right about something.
I say this as a former teacher who, at the
time, was dealing with his terrible ideas
on a daily basis. But, if he?d managed to pull it off,
the faff over GCSE results this week would have
been very different.
On Thursday more than half a million children
got their GCSE results. That?s the equivalent of
every person in Sheffield receiving an envelope
one morning telling them if they are a ?pass? or a
?fail?. That may sound harsh, but under the new
regime, introduced last week, children are split
into ?strong? passers, ?standard? passers and
a group of children with such low grades that
politicians dare not speak about them in public,
but presumably call them ?sub-standard? in their
internal emails.
In Wales and Northern Ireland, there was less
change as exam boards in those countries stuck
to the old format because of major concerns
about what the English were up to. (Scotland,
as ever, ignored the whole thing and carried on
with its own system). Hence, not only are grades
more difficult to compare across year groups, it?s
also hard to compare children in each country.
It was not supposed to be like this. If all had
gone to Gove?s original plan, most children would
have received grades for taking whiz-bang ?more
rigorous? exams, while some children would have
received grades for a smaller version of the GCSE
? maybe called a GCSE ?half-certi?cate?.
Unfortunately, all did not go to plan. What
Let?s rewind. Back in 2012, Gove was concerned by a problem that most politicians
wilfully ignore. Every year a small percentage
of children gain nothing more than a handful of
E-G grades. These are pretty useless for moving
on to college, jobs or apprenticeships (most want
D grades as a minimum). Schools can predict
who these children are, even before they start
their GCSE course at age 14. The guesses are
not always bang on, and schools avoid telling
children that they are expected to do badly, but
if you ask a headteacher to be brutally honest,
they can point you to these kids with alarming
At the other end of the spectrum, a lot of
children were getting top grades, making it dif?cult for universities or employers to pick off the
most talented. This was not unexpected. Over
time, generations get gradually smarter, under a
phenomenon known as the Flynn effect. Although
the government added the A* grade in the 1990s,
by 2012 the proportion of children getting A or A*
had hit 20% in some subjects.
Hence, Gove?s not-stupid idea was to make
GCSEs a bit harder for most kids: add an extra
grade at the top (a sort of A**), while giving children at the bottom an alternative exam. Instead
of bamboozling an E-grade pupil by dragging
them through the entire maths GCSE curriculum, teachers would teach half the content to a
low-attaining child so they could understand it
at a deeper level, which was more akin to what
standard employers wanted.
So far, so credible. And then, the Daily Mail
happened. ?Return of the O-level: Gove plans to
scrap dumbed-down GCSEs?, screamed the front
page one sunny day in June. Immediately, the
Liberal Democrats went into incensed overdrive. Because it was 2012, this mattered. Nick
Clegg sprung up on telly, saying he would block
the change. No one wanted a return to the days
when bright kids could access one type of exam
and froze out the others, he said. A fair point, but
not what was actually being suggested. Still, a
battle ensued, and Gove?s idea ? which spiralled
into something remarkably odd over the coming
months ? was on the ropes.
By 2013 Gove gave up. He stood in parliament
and sheepishly told MPs his two-tier plan was ?a
bridge too far?. The man who battered teachers
into submission on other reforms rolled over on
his plans for the children who most struggled.
Despite all this, Gove quietly forged ahead with
his favourite bits of the plan. And so, on Thursday,
children received grades for newly-reformed
GCSEs. Most noticeably, numerical grades (9 to
Illustration: Dominic McKenzie
1) replaced lettered ones (A* to G) in English and
maths. All subjects will gradually change over the
next two years.
The magical 9 grade appeared for the ?rst
time, reserved for only the super-smartest kids.
What children must know for the new exams is
deeper, harder and more rigorous. All the things
that Gove promised for the brightest, yet none of
the changes for the rest. Even worse, there has
been a fudge over changes to the middle grades.
Subsequent education secretaries were caught
out by the political difficulty of implementing
harder exams.
In a bid to stop anyone from noticing if loads
of kids did worse, Nicky Morgan announced
that the 5爂rade ? which is incomparable to any
past performance measures ? was to become the
new ?standard? at which pupils passed GCSEs.
Colleges and universities dutifully started raising their admissions policies, only to realise
that if they all did so, 150,000 children who had
previously got Cs, and so could be let into their
doors, would now get 4s and be disbarred from
Greening made no mention
of the pesky children
receiving a 3 grade or below
and what it meant for them
entry. In order to avoid this problem, Justine
Greening started telling employers and universities to keep accepting 4 grades as a pass mark.
She told everyone: Don?t worry, a 4 is a ?standard
pass?, while a 5 is a ?strong pass?.
But what did that mean? No one really knew!
(They still don?t).
Meanwhile, she made no mention of the
pesky children receiving a 3 grade or below, and
what the new grades meant for them.
ence, on Thursday morning more than
half a million children received an
envelope containing a series of numbers
or letters that told them whether they
had ?passed? or ?failed? their new GCSEs. For
the super-brightest, there was pride in getting a
9 grade. Just 2,000 children got the top grade in
each of their core subjects. For elite universities,
the job of picking out the cr鑝e-de-la-cr鑝e just
got easier.
But what did ?ve years of turmoil ? of lessonplanning, teacher-training time, new textbooks
and hours of extra revision ? do for the kids most
in need? Very little. If your child got a 4 grade,
there is uncertainty about their ability to get a job
or go to university. For the kid who got below a
4, life is no different at all. We switched their E
grade for a 3 grade, and that?s it.
Hundreds of thousands of man-hours and
pounds to make life easier for a few Oxbridge
dons. For everyone else, a bridge too far, meant
struggling kids received no bridge at all.
In Liverpool, a rare housing story to celebrate
ast weekend, 24 newly renovated
houses in Liverpool were opened
to the public so that prospective
tenants could apply to live there.
Within a day all were taken.
That these houses exist at all is something of a miracle, as they are part of
the Welsh Streets, an area of handsome
Victorian terraces that national and
city government, at a cost of millions in
public money, spent more than a decade
trying to destroy. Their survival shows
how, sometimes, persistent campaigning can defeat the monolithic, clumsy
and capricious thinking of authority.
The Welsh Streets were victims of
the Blair government?s housing market
renewal initiative, which was one of the
more perverse applications of market
ideology to social issues. Launched in
2002, it saw the problem of rundown
city neighbourhoods as being one of
excessively low property values, which
it sought to address by, among other
things, spending hundreds of millions of
pounds on the demolition and clearance of thousands of what were seen
as ?obsolete? houses across northern
England and the Midlands.
It repeated the much-derided
rehousing policies of the 1960s ? the
crude condemnation of houses as
?slums?, the failure to see inherent value
either in building stock or in the communities contained therein, the belief
that social ills could be cured by attacking their physical fabric. But it came
with less of the 1960s idealism about
the new homes that might be created.
The programme failed to acknowledge
the value of respecting the past, with its
memories and the sense of continuity
and identity that it brings. According to
one campaigner, it was also an overreaction to the decades-long decline of
industrial cities, and failed to notice that
a corner was being turned.
In Liverpool, in areas such as An?eld
and Granby, it led to the forced eviction of hundreds of people from homes
that, in some cases, they had occupied for decades. Homeowners were
obliged to sell for low prices, which
were insufficient to buy replacements.
Communities were broken up. Whole
neighbourhoods went into ?managed
decline?, which meant streets vacated
and ?tinned up?, some demolished, and
a few determined residents left behind
in what became frightening wastelands.
The Welsh Streets, an area built by
Welsh developers and Welsh labour
? ?hewn?, as walesonline put it, ?from
the clay and slate of Wales by the sweat
of a generation of migrant workers?
? became famous. This was partly
because Ringo Starr was born there,
in Madryn Street, but also because the
destruction of these houses, of a type
that in London would sell for six- or
seven-?gure sums, looked particularly
wanton. Liverpool city council, incentivised by national government funding,
planned to demolish 440 homes, and set
about buying them up, emptying them
and creating mini-ghost-towns.
Whatever good might have come of
the housing market renewal project
? reports by National Audit Office
and the Audit Commission suggested
that it was limited ? was curtailed in
2011, when the coalition government
decided to terminate what had been
planned as a 15-year programme.
Liverpool city council, arguing that
most residents wanted the new homes
they had been promised, pushed on
with its demolition plans.
In January 2015, following a public
inquiry, the demolition plans were
stopped by the then communities secretary, Eric Pickles. The decision, said
Saved: refurbished homes in Liverpool.
the city?s mayor, Joe Anderson, was ?yet
another kick in the teeth for long-suffering residents?, but the council ? having
no other option ? set about plans for
refurbishment. It went into partnership
with Place?rst, a company that had successfully renewed derelict terraces in
Accrington. Their big idea was to build
for rent, not sale, at sufficiently low rates
to be accessible to nurses, careworkers,
university lecturers and others usually
priced out of good-quality housing.
There would also be homes for social
rent and others for sale and combinations of renting and selling.
he 24 houses just snapped up
are the result of a pilot project
for a plan to create about 300
homes, mostly through refurbishment. Place?rst has worked out
ways to recombine the traditional
houses to make homes of two, three and
four bedrooms. It improved the planting and the paving in the streets and
cleared out the old backyards, alleys
and rear extensions in order to make
communal gardens. The intention, I?m
told, was to make place where ?kids can
play and people can really get to know
each other, not like standing in a lift in a
block of ?ats?. Anderson now says that
the plans are ?really exciting? and will
?breathe new life into the area and give
it a long-term sustainable future?.
Throughout the long struggle over
the Welsh Streets, their most persistent
champion has been Save Britain?s
Heritage. The campaign group?s
Liverpool heritage expert Jonathan
Brown says that it challenged the
official line that the houses were substandard, outdated and beyond repair.
Although they had problems, they
were, ?according to the council?s own
statistics, in above-average condition.
House prices were rising. These houses
had survived two world wars, Margaret
Thatcher, and the 1981 Toxteth riots,
and now Tony Blair came along with all
this money to knock them down.? The
option of renovating old houses to modern standards is, Brown says, ?actually a
futuristic sustainable housing form?.
Save Britain?s Heritage was joined by
some local residents, but not all, as one
effect of housing market renewal was
to divide communities. Some wanted to
keep the streets they knew, others saw
new houses as the only way to end the
damp and rats from which they were
suffering. The option of getting the best
of both worlds ? the one now being
implemented ? was not available.
If the Welsh Streets are now heading
for a happy ending, it is also, as Brown
says, ?bittersweet?. The residents who
were there over a decade ago were
moved out and scattered, although
some are now returning. Money has
been wasted. But, if by much too convoluted and destructive a route, it has been
demonstrated that the past has a value
to the present, and you don?t have to
scrub it all out and start again.
Far from being powerless as prime minister (?Even in power, politicians are
all too often powerless?, Comment, last
week), Theresa May is the one person
who could save her country and her
party from the catastrophe of Brexit, by
rediscovering her Remain convictions
and siding with her chancellor.
Why should the referendum result
be set in stone when, surely, democracy
means being able to change one?s mind
in the light of the mounting evidence
of self-harm by triggering article 50?
(?Why Britain?s voters must have a second referendum on Brexit?, Comment,
last week).
Article 50 was triggered before the
Brexit election, which lost the government its mandate for making us
all poorer and laid bare the lies of the
Brexiters that we would have �0m a
week for the NHS. What could be more
undemocratic than the �n bribe to
the DUP, when the majority of the
electorate in Northern Ireland voted to
remain in the EU?
This government clings to power by
stealing Ukip?s clothes, even when its
policies have been totally discredited,
and even when it means acting against
the interests of employers and workers
alike. In the absence of opposition from
Labour, Mrs May is the one person
with the power to avert the impending
car crash of Brexit.
Margaret Phelps
Vernon Bogdanor sets out a compelling case for a second referendum, but
with one ?aw: he did not discuss the
Vernon Bogdanor?s article last week.
possibility that the other 27 EU members might want to change the terms
of our membership before effectively
cancelling the article 50 process. In
particular, they might want to change
the budget rebate.
Many people think that the 2016
referendum was totally inadequate,
with a simplistic, single-question ballot
producing a narrow majority (of those
who voted, not the total electorate)
deciding the most important political
and constitutional decision of our lifetimes. To avoid another unsatisfactory
result, the public would need to know
the terms, not only of Brexit but also of
our possible continued membership of
the EU, before voting.
With just 18 months to go, there
simply isn?t enough time for two consecutive negotiations and a unanimous
decision by the EU27 for us to stay,
even if the government was prepared
to try. Sadly, the only chance of remaining in the EU will be if the House of
Commons decisively rejects the Brexit
agreement well before March 2019.
Andrew Bethell
Our Pro?le of the designer Thomas
Heatherwick (?Pied Piper followed
by a wealthy cult?, last week, page 28)
said his Museum of Contemporary Art
Africa was funded by businessman and
philanthropist Jochen Zeitz. It will
house the Zeitz art collection; V&A
Waterfront, the development in which
it sits, has funded the project.
?Bags of experience? (Observer
Magazine, last week, page 47) priced
a M Hulot bag at �5. It actually costs
�0. Apologies to disappointed shoppers.
Sir Paul Jenkins, former head of the
government?s legal services, is an
associate member of Matrix Chambers,
not, as we said, an employee (?Ex-legal
We are seriously thinking of allowing
our fate to be determined by a minority
of 37.5%. Whereas in a parliamentary
election we can look forward to voting
again after a few years, the result of a
referendum offers no such opportunity.
To achieve a truly democratic vote,
surely more attention should be given
to matters such as the minimum
turnout required and the minimum
required majority of the winning vote.
As it is, the referendum result we have
does not command respect as the ?will
of the people?; only the will of just over
a third of them.�
Jack Longhurst
Sutton Cold?eld
Vernon Bogdanor quotes George Eaton
arguing that to hold a another referendum would show disrespect to those
who voted for Brexit. However, did not
the 2016 referendum show disrespect
to those 16- and 17-year-olds who were
denied a vote on an issue that will arguably affect their lives more than any
other age group?
Dr Richard Bewley
Glossop, Derbyshire
Vernon Bogdanor says voters must
have a second referendum on Brexit.
But if the result of the democratic, lawfully held referendum of 2016 is disrespected, why should anyone who does
not feel so inclined respect the result of
a second referendum either? The SNP
approach that referendum results only
count if you agree with them is a recipe
for anarchy.
David Harris
London SW13
chief rejects May?s ?foolish? claim on
EU court?, News, page 1, last week).
?Men under 45 are three times more
likely than women to kill themselves?
(Cover line, Observer Magazine, 13
August). We meant three times as
Homophone call: ?I?m not towing the
line...? (?If you avoided people telling
you to eff off you?d never get a decent
interview?, New Review, last week,
page 6.
Write to Stephen Pritchard, Readers?
Editor, the Observer, Kings Place,
90 York Way, London N1 9GU, email tel 020
3353 4656
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: (please insert
Letters to the Editor in subject ?eld). For conditions go to
Cutting tuition fees in half would
be fairer than abolishing them
Theresa May can still act to
counter Brexit?s worst e?ects
Read them at
1. The only 4 spaghetti recipes you?ll
ever need
2. Ex-legal chief attacks May?s ?foolish?
claim on European court of justice
3. The last person left who daren?t diss
the Donald? David Mitchell
4,?My stepdad won?t stop watching
porn in our house Mariella Frostrup
5. Robert Webb: ?I was never very good
at being a boy?
6. Why voters must have a second
referendum on Brexit Vernon Bogdanor
7. Taylor Swift?s punch-the-air moment
for girls Eva Wiseman
8. Swedish stores step up invasion
9. Ronnie Wood interview
10. Matic?s United move may leave
Chelsea feeling blue Daniel Taylor
You report on the debts facing graduates who have taken out loans to cover
tuition fees (?Getting to grips with
a �,220 student debt??, Personal
?nance, last week). A recent Institute
for Fiscal Studies report puts the average debt at over �,000.
Jeremy Corbyn has committed a
future Labour government to scrapping tuition fees, arguing that the
state should pay for all students on the
grounds that university education is a
?common good? because of the contributions graduates make to the nation.
But abolition would create a different
unfairness because graduates? average
earnings are higher than non-graduates,
and so they gain a ?private bene?t?.
That there is a common good and a
private bene?t suggests the cost should
be shared. Fees at the current level of
�250 cover the entire cost of tuition
for most arts and social sciences and
85% of the costs of laboratory subjects,
thus putting emphasis on the private
bene?t. But abolition would change the
balance towards a common good view.
Reducing fees to half the costs of
tuition would be much fairer and would
reduce any deterrent effect (particularly for students from poorer families).
A debt on graduation of �,000 to
�,000 would seem less of a mountain.
Dr Kenneth Edwards
Name and shame those statues
Catherine Bennett (?The once mighty
are falling??, Comment, last week)
discussed the problem of revised social
attitudes towards statues and whether
offending ones should be removed. The
answer might be that they remain in
place, but as tastes change the inscription
could be supplemented by one which
could ?name and shame?, or reaffirm, the
character of the individual concerned, in
line with public opinion.
Len Gray
West Yorkshire
The cure for gender imbalance
Your article ?Councils need 12,000 more
women to close gender gap? (News,
last week) focused on ways to achieve
quantitative equality in local government, but neglected the need to improve
qualitative equality.
Many local government norms and
ideals are still oriented towards men.
Hertfordshire?s county hall, where I
serve, has a door marked ?lady members cloakroom? ? wording from a
bygone age, tand a reminder that female
councillors have been seen as an exception rather than a norm. Our minuting
practice attributes the remarks of a
female chair to a chairman. It is also
custom in meetings to say, ?Thank you,
chairman? when invited to speak, a
gender-loaded phrase which harks back
to a time when women were waiting
for an invitation from men to feed into
the political debate through suffrage.
If we are serious about breaking down
barriers to encourage more women into
politics, we have to think bigger than
simply swelling their ranks to match
those of men. Prevailing norms that
hinder recruitment, selection, election
and progression of aspiring female politicians need addressing. We need the
most inclusive working environment
possible for councillors of all genders
and none, to match the modern, ?exible,
instructive and rewarding work that
being a local representative entails.
Charlotte Hogg
Liberal Democrat councillor
St Albans
Milton?s well-trodden path
We are told that Milton made a
little-known journey to Italy and this
surprising fact has ?emerged? (?When
Milton met Galileo: the collision of
cultures that helped shape Paradise
Lost?, News, last week). However,
there was nothing not already well
known to Milton scholars, and probably not to anyone who has read Milton,
particularly when he described his
visit in his Areopagitica: ?There it was
that I found and visited the famous
Galileo grown old, a prisoner to the
Inquisition, for thinking in Astronomy
otherwise than the Franciscan and
Dominican licencers thought.? So,
familiar, rather than surprising. I look
forward to other revelations, such as,
?Tennyson smuggled money to revolutionaries in Spain? or, ?Browning
eloped with a disabled woman?.
Brent Elliott
Trouble on the top deck
Thomas Heatherwick?s ?expensive,
inefficient and faulty? London bus
(Pro?le, last week) features an unpleasantly cramped upper deck, with low
headroom and mean little windows.
The buses it replaced had a spacious upper deck with tall windows,
which made travelling a pleasure.
Heatherwick and his wealthy followers probably never need to travel by
bus, but for ordinary Londoners he has
diminished our daily lives.
John Wilson
London NW3
Rees-Mogg is no Bannon
Lenin claimed that ?worse is better?,
meaning that the more unpopular
governments make themselves, the
more likely is revolution. On that basis,
the defenestration of Steve Bannon
(?An increasingly isolated Trump cuts
a pathetic and discredited ?gure?,
Editorial, last week) is bad news for
those of us who oppose neo-liberal,
authoritarian trends, since he undoubtedly encouraged the worst aspects of
the Trump administration. In contrast,
if the Tories choose Jacob Rees-Mogg as
their leader, that would be brilliant.
Jeremy Cushing
he young mother was almost
incoherent with anger. Shouting over the lusty cries of her
baby she explained how the
damp in her high-rise ?at was making her child ill, and pulled a corner
of wallpaper back to reveal ugly black
mould marching up the plaster. Earlier,
another council tenant had shown me
a urine-soaked stairwell where, she
said, drug addicts gathered every night,
making her afraid to go out, a prisoner
in her own home. A few days later
I爓itnessed bailiffs storming a cottage
to evict a farmworker and his frightened
family, the father desperately clinging
to the燿oorframe in a futile attempt to
block their way.
As an 18-year-old junior reporter,
fresh out of an independent school and
away from a comfortable middle-class
home for the ?rst time, I found myself
pitched into a world of which I knew
little. Learning my trade on a big city
evening newspaper was a passport into
alien lives, from the pomp and power
of those in authority to those that
today we would call the left behind,
those who looked to ?their paper? to
articulate their worries, their needs. It
educated me. It changed me.
Last week we heard Jon Snow?s
re?ections on today?s media ? how the
digital explosion has not ?lled the void
left by a severely diminished local press
nor allowed the voices of the disadvantaged to be heard to any great effect.
He rightly worries that the media
draws its intake from too narrow a
spectrum; middle-class, often privately
educated, not sufficiently diverse,
without the capacity ?to reach into
swaths of society with whom we have
no connection?.
That?s true, but it is also true that the
regional press, that fast-disappearing
training ground, once enjoyed healthy
pro?ts and employed a much broader
intake; so-called posh boys like me
were very much in the minority. Caught
in a vicious spiral of declining advertising and falling circulations, newspapers
today cannot afford large staffs to do
the sort of foot-slogging that so many of
us did in our youth. Stories go untold.
Would Grenfell Tower have happened
if a vigorous local media were reporting
tenants? concerns and putting pressure
on the council? I doubt it.
It all feeds into the current crisis of
faith in journalism ? a trade that failed
to foretell the crash of 2008; failed
to predict that Britain would vote to
leave the EU; failed to see that Trump
would win; failed to see that Theresa
May would lose her majority. There are
many reasons for this but lack of money
is chief among them. When the media
is struggling to make a pro?t, it can?t
have teams of journalists out in the ?eld
listening, reporting ? and confounding
the accepted view.
That lack of faith is now fuelled and
exploited by a new breed of politician,
with Donald Trump as chief cheerleader. Backed into a corner, they blame
?fake news? produced by ?bad people?.
That mantra is feeding into complaints
to this paper: too often I will receive
emails that make no attempt to tell why
a story might be wrong: it is simply
labelled as fake. No one is pretending
that a choir of angels inhabits every
newsroom ? Leveson taught us that
? but to condemn every outlet and its
output as corrupt is a gross distortion,
and it misses the point: shoot the messenger and democracy loses.
ut with all that, the media can
do more to help themselves.
Readers are quick to tell us
when we are wrong, unfair, or
when we stretch credibility to breaking
point. They don?t like it, for instance,
when we claim to know the mind of
the nation. A headline over a recent
piece on a popular pub chain ? ?How
Britain fell for Wetherspoon?s? ? drew
this response from a reader. ?Britain
has not fallen for Wetherspoon?s, only
those that frequent it have, and even
then many of them really haven?t. This
standard journalistic practice of claiming an inaccurate uniformity (?England
mourns Princess Di?, etc) is part of what
led me to suspect and reject newspapers
as a teenager.?
A quick search of Observer headlines over the past two years revealed a
few more examples of these sweeping
claims: ?Britain has grown rich by chasing the cash. Now it has lost the scent?;
?Whether we like it or not, Britain is
now a nation of ?at-dwellers?; ?Britain
is becoming mean and narrow-minded?;
?The Spice crisis: how the ?zombie? drug
is devastating Britain?; ?The Mexican
wave sweeping across Britain?; ?Vic and
Bob, Britain?s favourite Dadaist comedians?; and, rather bizarrely, ?Britain
gripped by saga of ?ve whales beached
on the North Sea coast?.
When the media have repeatedly
proved not to know the minds of their
audience, it?s surely time to start turning
down the dial on so many overheated
headlines before even more of that
dwindling爁aith is lost.
Contact us Email
Phone 020 3353 4791 Fax 020 3353 3196
| 39
Agenda Problems that won?t go away
A long wait for the
demise of fat cat pay
?How long will it be necessary to pay
City men so entirely out of proportion
to what other servants of society
commonly receive for performing
social services not less useful or
difficult?? Given that John Maynard
Keynes asked that question in 1913, the
answer is: ?At least 104 years, JM old
son.? Fat cat pay was a toxic issue in the
years immediately after the ?nancial
crisis but as time has rolled on, public
attention has shifted to other matters.
That being said, there is still plenty
of resentment about the discrepancy
between average salaries and the
bloated packages available in Britain?s
boardrooms. When Theresa May was
pitching to be Conservative leader
and prime minister, she vowed to
crack down on corporate excess in a
speech so barnstorming that her sole
competitor, Andrea Leadsom, pulled
out of the race an hour later, albeit for
multiple reasons.
Since then the proposals seem to
have been watered down and look
highly unlikely to include, for instance,
greater powers for shareholders to
block pay deals. Instead, proposals
due out this week are set to include
mandatory disclosure of the pay gap
between executives and workers.
So maybe, more than a century
after he asked the question, Keynes
will get his answer. Whether it will
be in English, rather than corporate
gobbledegook, is another matter.
JM Keynes: City pay is toxic 104 years on.
Even the FCA wants
you to make a PPI claim
For anyone who hasn?t had enough of
phone calls offering untold riches via
compensation for mis-sold PPI, now
the campaign is hitting the TV, radio
and billboards. In this case though, it
won?t be bogus cold calls but advice
from reputable City watchdog the
Financial Conduct Authority.
The FCA has grabbed 18 banks by
the ear and forced them to stump up
�m to fund the campaign, with two
years to go until the cut-off point for
claims. The regulator is trying to mop
up the last victims of the UK?s biggest
mis-selling scandal and is acutely
aware that major banks are still sitting
on billions in unpaid compensation.
The big four lenders ? HSBC, Barclays,
RBS and Lloyds ? have about �5bn
set aside between them.
The scandal proved to be bigger than
anyone expected. When it emerged,
regulators estimated about 3爉illion
people had been affected. That has
since snowballed to 12 million, who
have so far received more than �.4bn.
By launching a national campaign,
the FCA hopes it can winnow out the
last remaining claimants and get their
money back ? something that will also
allow the banks to draw a line under
the whole sorry affair.
Share price, pence
Jul 28
Aug 11
Aug 18
Aug 25
Quote of the week goes to former Treasury
mandarin Nick Macpherson, who tweeted
that quantitative easing was ?like heroin?
because it?s addictive and has unwanted
side-e?ects. Maybe up to a point, but did
Lou Reed, Iggy Pop or Elliott Smith ever
write a song about monetary stimulus?
A good week for
Christian H鋜tnagel,
the boss of Lidl?s
UK operation, who
took the reins late last year and is already
enjoying a place in the sun. The Germanowned discounter has shot past Waitrose
as cash-strapped shoppers hunt for
bargains. Lidl arrived in the UK in 1994
and has grown rapidly, now boasting 650
shops. This week its market share reached
a new high of 5.2% as quarterly sales rose
by 18.9%. Some retail analysts now think
that Lidl and fellow German discounter Aldi
could double their market share to capture
a quarter of the British grocery spend. Lidl
currently sits seventh in the supermarket
league table. Sixth-placed Co-op will be
looking over its shoulder.
All bets o? if bookies
lose their cash cow
GVC, owner of betting brands such as
bwin and Sportingbet, has been sidling
up to Ladbrokes like a prime racing
stud eyeing a comely mare. The British
gambling scene has witnessed several
happy unions of late, with Paddy
Power teaming up with Betfair, and
Ladbrokes? own tie-up with Coral still
less than a year old. Analysts now think
another round of consolidation is on
the cards. GVC has con?rmed that it
spoke to Ladbrokes about a deal worth
up to �6bn, but talks broke down.
The prospect of a revived deal is sure
to capture attention next week when
Ladbrokes posts half-year results.
But the elephant in the room is the
government?s gambling review, now
due in October, which could include a
recommendation for a reduction in the
maximum stakes on ?xed-odds betting
terminals (FOBTs), the industry?s
cash cow. GVC is thought to have told
Ladbrokes that it would take a large
chunk of its money off the table if the
FOBT verdict proves harsh. Analysts
at Barclays think a �maximum stake
on FOBTs would see Ladbrokes forfeit
�0m in lost revenues, so GVC?s logic
looks sound.
Even if no merger materialises,
Ladbrokes and its high street rivals will
already be preparing for life without
their most pro?table product. For once,
the house might lose.
Aug 4
Shares in the world?s largest advertising
company, WPP, slumped by 10% after it
slashed profit forecasts for a second time,
warning of political uncertainty and slow
economic growth across several markets.
A fashion blogger in
Jimmy Choos. Getty
What could you buy with �1m in your
pocket? According to the Jimmy Choo website, you could buy nearly 330,000 pairs
of Klerise 150 black suede platform
pumps (right), a ?shoe of dreams?
complete with ?hotfixed crystals?.
At least you would get some
value for money, as the shoes will,
the website says, ?make you feel
like a million dollars?.
Alternatively you could just buy
the company. That?s what Michael
Kors did, in a deal agreed last
month and likely to be approved by
the company?s shareholders at a
general meeting in September. That means
next Thursday?s interim results are likely to
be Jimmy Choo?s last as a listed company before it sashays its way into
private hands. It was a brief catwalk
appearance on the FTSE for the luxury
shoemaker, which floated in October 2014.
It dipped its toe into the water at �40 and
the shares have since hotfooted their
way to �29, a pretty decent
return for investors selling
up to Michael Kors. Perhaps
they?ll celebrate with a pair
of those Klerise 150s. Treat
yourselves: you deserve it.
A bad week for Lee Jae-yong, the acting
chairman of South Korean electronics giant
Samsung. The billionaire was sentenced
to ?ve years in prison for crimes including
perjury and o?ering bribes. The court found
that Lee sought to
bribe his way into
the favour of nowdeposed president
Park Geun-hye.
Lee?s lawyers
said he would appeal
against the conviction,
and the case
could end up
going all the
way to the
Postscript Shoppers in short supply
Why Provident was no
longer providing pro?ts
Phone buyers smarten
up - to dismay at Dixons
When Dixons Carphone shares
dived after last year?s vote for
Brexit, investors worried that jittery
consumers would scrap plans for ?big
ticket? electrical goods such as TVs and
fridges: that would have affected the
Dixons part of the merged company.
But it sailed through last year as
shoppers kept spending.
So it was ironic that last week?s pro?t
warning was prompted by shoppers
failing to shell out for new mobile
phones at Carphone Warehouse. That
part of the business was thought to be
relatively insulated from economic
uncertainty, as manufacturers came
up with new features to lure the
gadget-happy. It looks like consumers
Hollow ring: new phones fail to entice.
have realised that �0 or more for
a smartphone is a big-ticket buy ?
albeit one most of us spread over the
length of a phone contract. Why not
economise on that?
Seb James, Dixons? ever-optimistic
boss, reckons the iPhone 8, due next
month, will get customers excited
again. He?ll no doubt be glued to Apple
boss Tim Cook?s interminable launch
for the phone even more than normal.
Peter Crook left Provident Financial,
best-known for doorstep lending, last
week after a second pro?t warning in
two months. His attempt to replace
Provident?s army of self-employed
agents, established 130 years ago, with
iPad-wielding permanent employees
came a cropper when faulty software
fouled up appointments, resulting in
falling debt collections.
Investors perhaps should have seen
this coming. After Provident joined
the FTSE 100 in 2015, Crook posed for
a picture at his credit card business?s
office at a City of London skyscraper,
not Provident?s traditional Bradford
HQ. Cards grew bigger than doorstep
loans for Provident, but meddling with
a business that relied on relationships
and local nous was his undoing.
Growth in UK consumer spending and
business investment ground to a halt in
the three months to June, official ?gures show. The pound keeps on falling,
rendering imported goods more costly
for British consumers, with little bene?t so far for exports. High in?ation
when wages aren?t keeping pace makes
for a potent cocktail, the toxic effects of
Shoppers have voted with their wallets.
which have left shoppers reeling. The
rate of growth in consumer spending
was a meagre 0.1% in the three months
to June, the slowest rate of growth
since the last quarter of 2014.
Just as alarming was the marked
slowdown in business investment,
which has been completely eroded
since the 0.6% recorded in the ?rst
quarter and is now ?at as a pancake. Separately, the Confederation
of British Industry said retail sales
declined in the year to August, dashing
hopes that they would hold steady. The
one bright spot, if it could be called
that, is that UK GDP growth was con?rmed as 0.3% in the ?rst quarter of
the year. That?s pretty sluggish but better than a downward revision. Given
the in?ation rate, it seems increasingly
unlikely that the Bank will raise interest rates before late 2018, according to
some pundits; other say the Old Lady
could even hold her ?re until 2019 if
current conditions persist.
Even superheroes
may not be able to
save Hollywood?s
desperate summer
At the time of year when queues usually form for popcorn
and the money pours in, box o?ce revenues are plunging.
Where are the blockbusters? Mark Sweney reports
s the summer ?lm
season draws to a close,
Hollywood ?lm bosses are
set for some serious soulsearching: entering its
penultimate weekend, the
US summer box office is heading for its
lowest return in more than a decade.
When the ticket stubs for summer
are totalled up, they will paint a bleak
picture: takings are expected to be
down by as much as 15% year-on-year
to an estimated $3.8bn. The heroics
of summer hit Wonder Woman have
failed to shore up a take for the period
? the Hollywood summer typically
runs from the ?rst Friday in May to the
Labor Day holiday in early September
? that is $600m lower than last year.
The true scale of the potential
problem facing the industry can be
seen in the precipitous drop in movie
attendance this summer, down 52%
year-on-year to 385 million at the
time of writing. It is the lowest level of
attendance since the summer of 1992,
when Batman Returns ruled the US
box office.
So what has caused one of the most
dire summers in modern US ?lm
history? And what can Hollywood do
about it?
Superheroes ?ll the sky
Superheroes have continued to be
invincible at the box office with
Wonder Woman, the second instalment of Guardians of the Galaxy and
Spider-Man: Homecoming accounting
for almost a third of the US summer
box-office take.
?Superhero ?icks are the only thing
?ring on all cylinders in terms of a speci?c genre right now, so don?t expect
to lose those codpieces and breastplates just yet,? says Jeff Bock, senior
box-office analyst at industry analyst
Exhibitor Relations. ?In fact, with
Wonder Woman shattering the glass
ceiling this summer, plan on a whole
new wave of female heroism over the
next few years.?
The superhero genre has ?ourished
and Hollywood has started to develop a
potentially dangerous overdependence
on its continued success. It is striking
to recall that, little more than a decade
ago, more often than not superhero
?lms were box-office kryptonite.
By 2019, it has been estimated that
there will be something like 25 superheroes appearing in individual and
ensemble ?lms, raising the question
of when the superbubble will burst.
?About then, we must be hitting peak
superhero,? says David Hancock, a ?lm
analyst at data ?rm IHS Markit.
This year, Warner Bros is looking to ape Marvel?s Avengers success
by bringing together its DC Comics
heroes ? Superman, Batman and
Wonder Woman ? in an ensemble
?lm, Justice League. This follows
the introduction of the antihero cast
of characters in the Will Smith-led
Suicide Squad, which Universal is
quasi-copying with its ?dark universe?
of monster ?lms, ranging from this
summer?s The Mummy to forthcoming
attractions The Invisible Man, Dracula
and vampire hunter Van Helsing.
?Is 25 too many? You bet it is,? says
? which prompts another one to
Biggest US summer box o?ce totals, $bn
Mid-budget ?lms dry up
2005 - Star Wars Revenge of the Sith
2006 - Pirates of the Caribbean 2
2007 - Spider-Man 3
2008 - The Dark Knight
2009 - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
2010 - Toy Story 3
2011 - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt2
2012 - Marvel Avengers Assemble
2013 - Iron Man 3
2014 - Guardians of the Galaxy
2015 - Jurassic World
2016 - Finding Dory
2017 - Wonder Woman (estimate)
Source: comScore
Bock. ?But right now, Hollywood is
stuck in a rut and it needs a safety net ?
superhero ?icks ?t that bill right now.?
Sequelitis sets in
The issue has been building up for
years, but 2017 could well mark the
point of peak sequel, with the market
awash with over 40 sequels, reboots
and remakes scheduled throughout the
year. With almost one a week to watch,
Hollywood?s safety-?rst approach of
attracting a repeat audience, or reviving a built-in fanbase, is facing the law
of diminishing returns.
From Tom Cruise?s remake of
The Mummy to a big-screen rehash
of David Hasselhoff and Pamela
Anderson?s 90s TV hit Baywatch
(recast with the usually reliable star
power of Dwayne Johnson and
Zac Efron), audiences were
not impressed.
This year also saw noticeable franchise fatigue for banker
brands such as Cars, Alien,
Transformers and Pirates of the
Caribbean, all of which plummeted in popularity compared
to their predecessors (in the
US at least).
?There are a number of
franchises that are clearly
waning ? and sequels,
which are a different
beast, drop off about 10%
to 15% each time on average,? says Hancock. ?But
you need to remember
that the industry is about
much more than just the
US these days. So a Pirates
or a Transformers may
have pulled in a lot less
in the US than previous
incarnations, but globally they have done well
Daisy Ridley in The Force
Awakens: the next Star
Wars film is due this winter.
In a typical summer season, about 250
?lms ? from studio blockbusters to
independent movies ? are released.
This year there were just 208.
?The last time I saw ?gures that low
was in 2011, the year ?lms made in the
budget-stricken ?nancial crisis of 2009
were released,? says Richard Cooper,
?lm expert at consultancy Ampere
In recent years the major Hollywood
studios have dramatically cut back the
number of ?lms they make annually
and focused on spending more on
fewer blockbusters that they believe
represent the best chance of achieving
big box office returns.
In 2005, the top ?ve Hollywood
studios released 173 ?lms; last year
that dropped to 118. In 2016 Disney, the
home to blockbuster franchises from
Marvel and Pixar and the Star Wars
?lms, became the ?rst studio to break
$7bn at the global box office ? from just
13 releases.
?It is mid-budget ?lms and their
fans that have tended to suffer,? says
Cooper. ?Those that the Hollywood
studios are not sure are going to attract
a huge audience so don?t want to risk
?nancing and pushing out.?
Over the course of a year, 100 ?lms
take 92% of the US box office, and the
other 650 releases ?ght for the rest.
Fans of smaller ?lms and non-blockbuster fare are increasingly ?nding less
and less to entice them to the cinema.
The Net?ix e?ect
The boom in popularity of streaming
services such as Net?ix, which has
more than 100 million global subscribers, is beginning to pose a real threat to
the Hollywood movie model.
The deep-pocketed digital upstarts
have contributed to the so-called new
golden age of television, funding shows
such as Net?ix and Sony?s �0m coproduction The Crown.
Big-name writers, directors and
actors that viewers are more accustomed to seeing in cinemas are now
regular ?xtures on the small screen
? from Brad Pitt in Net?ix?s War
Machine to Nicole Kidman, Reece
Witherspoon and Laura Dern
in an all-star cast in HBO?s Big
Little Lies.
For ?lm fans, theatres still
have an allure for the launch
of big movies, but in the new
world, where all media is
competing for eyeballs
and time in the ?leisure
economy?, the Net?ix
threat is rising.
?Hollywood is
no longer in just
a skirmish
with streaming content, but
an all-out battle for viewership
supremacy,? says Bock. ?Yes, there
will always be room for both,
but the tide is de?nitely turning
towards online distribution, and
Hollywood needs to ?ght back.?
Chinese hits and misses
China has rapidly grown to become
the second-largest ?lm market in the
world but it is a hard place to predict a
hit. This year the US-China co-production of Matt Damon?s The Great Wall,
the most expensive feature ever shot
in China, turned out to be a box-office
?op, while the domestically produced
action ?lm Wolf Warriors 2 slayed all
In fact, it made almost $800m in
China: the second-biggest box office
take by a ?lm in a single market, passing Avatar?s US performance and only
behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
It has only made $2m in the US.
?The immersion of China and US
cinema hasn?t quite lived up to the
box-office expectations Hollywood had
pined for,? says Bock.
?The synergy of action ?lms, stars
and directors is a difficult task to make
work on a worldwide basis ? especially considering there is only one Vin
Diesel ? and the cultural barriers are
so acutely different when it comes to
what each speci?c audience enjoys.?
Shifting schedules
Summer used to be a box-office battle
royale between the Hollywood studios,
vying against each other for bums
on seats. But this year several traditional ?summer? ?lms were released
Beauty and the Beast and The Fate
of the Furious, launched in March
and April respectively, have each
grossed $1.2bn globally. If they had
been launched in the summer period
they would have added $725m to
American box office ?gures for the
season, putting them up year-on-year.
?One feature of recent years is that the
?summer?, in terms of the release of
blockbuster movies by the US studios
in particular, has begun earlier and
earlier, as ?lms have been [scheduled]
so as not to cannibalise each other?s
audience,? says Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association.
What can be done?
The short answer is: nothing. The yearto-date ?gures for the US box office
show it is down only about 5%. That
is not going to be enough to set off the
alarm bells, even if the dire attendance
numbers should.
?I refuse to jump on the bandwagon
that the movie theatre experience
is heading for extinction,? says Paul
Dergarabedian, senior media analyst
at comScore. ?I would say the industry
has to evolve in order to remain viable
and that there are many early warning signs that will allow for a course
correction, rather than bracing for the
impact of an inevitable decline.?
In terms of the immediate future he
reckons that with Justice League, Blade
Runner: 2049 and Star Wars: The Last
Jedi heading for cinemas in the runup to Christmas, there is a very good
chance that the overall US box office
could recover and even rise slightly
over last year.
Longer term, Bock says that there
needs to be a move to more high-quality ?lm-making, as exempli?ed by the
Marvel and Pixar ?lms.
?They spend time incubating their
projects, most notably in the script
stage,? he says. ?If it?s not on the page,
it?s not on the screen. Sequels aren?t the
death of Hollywood, but rotten, stinking, middle-of-the-road continuing
sagas could be.?
Lights, camera, inaction ? could Brexit
hurt the British ?lm production boom?
Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot,
was one of this summer?s few
authentic hits. Photograph by
Clay Enos/Warner Bros
he British ?lm production boom,
from blockbusters including the
new Star Wars trilogy to smaller
domestic ?icks and European
co-productions, has played a role in
propping up growth in the UK economy following the Brexit vote.
However, producers ? including
the backer of a ?lm about that most
British of ?gures, Winston Churchill ?
have warned that severing links with
Brussels will endanger the industry.
Lionsgate, which released Churchill in
June, worries that Brexit will impede
the already complex process of funding, ?lming and releasing a multimillion-pound product.
One Lionsgate-backed ?lm that
might have struggled post-Brexit is
Rupert Everett?s directorial debut
about Oscar Wilde?s last days, The
Happy Prince, now ?nished and awaiting release. ?Lots of ?lms are multiterritory European co-productions,
like The Happy Prince for example. It is
being made with UK, Luxembourg and
German money,? says Zygi Kamasa,
the UK and European chief executive
of US-based Lionsgate, which makes,
?nances and distributes ?lms such as
the recently released The Hitman?s
?We currently don?t even know
what it means for movies like that once
Brexit occurs. What is the opportunity
to keep those productions through
EU funding? What does it mean for
funding those movies? Could there be
levies, or issues getting German funding into a British movie, for example?
There are risks associated with Brexit.?
Film-makers and ?nanciers also fear
that Brexit could see the UK?s role in
European co-productions threatened
because Britain will not be eligible
for support from a ?1.4bn (�3bn) EU
funding pot designed to support ?lms
across the continent.
Currently, British productions such
as Breathe, Andy Serkis?s directorial
debut starring The Crown?s Claire Foy,
bene?t from an EU programme called
Creative Europe. This fund allows
British ?lms and European co-productions to receive support that can range
from straight funding to a better chance
of being aired in cinemas around the
continent through a kickback-style
subsidy based on ticket sales.
Brexit could also affect the attractiveness of British ?lms being picked
up for distribution in Europe ? for
instance in France, which has incentives to screen EU-funded ?lms.
Creative Europe has supported the
Baby Driver: recipient of some of the UK
government?s �0m tax relief incentive.
distribution of 115 UK ?lms including Paddington, A United Kingdom,
Suffragette and I, Daniel Blake.
Switzerland-based production company Silver Reel says there is a Brexit
scenario in which the UK could lose its
status as the lead shooting location on
some ?lms if leaving the EU means a loss
of eligibility for perks. Silver Reel has
spent more than �0m making more
than 35 ?lms in the last decade, including Breathe and Hampstead, starring
Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson.
?Brexit makes it more
political. We might
have to restructure
production so that the
leading country is
somewhere else?
Claudia Bluemhuber, Silver Reel
?All of our work is either pure UK
productions or co-productions,? says
Silver Reel?s Claudia Bluemhuber. ?We
need to ?gure out how UK productions
can work as a European production
to make sure we can still get them
distributed in other European countries. Brexit is going to make it more
political. We might have to restructure
production in a way that the leading
country is somewhere else.?
Last month, the UK arm of Creative
Europe said that there would be
?no immediate material changes? to
companies and organisations applying for funding, at least until the end
of 2018. The European commission
has attempted to allay fears that with
Brexit looming the UK might already
be being frozen out of funding, saying
that there will be ?no negative bias
against UK applicants?.
So far the air of uncertainty that
surrounds the potential impact of
Brexit hasn?t affected the UK?s role
in European co-productions or the
British ?lm-making sector. The weakening currency and huge ?nancial
carrot of tax credits for ?lm companies
choosing to shoot here continues to
make Britain attractive. ?For the coming 24 months we are actually looking
to increase our activity in the UK,? says
Bluemhuber. ?The weak pound is good
because, along with the tax breaks, we
get a lot of production value.?
In May, the French maker of the
lavish TV period drama Versailles took
advantage of the weakening pound to
open a UK office to look to invest ?50m
in English-language ?lms.
Kamasa points out that in ?nancial
terms it is the big US studios who
are driving the UK ?lm industry, and
this accounts for much of the sector?s
recent success. Last year, just 18 bigbudget Hollywood ?lms accounted for
�1bn of the �6bn spent on all ?lms
made in the UK. ?The majority of the
boom is being driven from US companies coming to the UK ? the Marvel
?lms, Star Wars ? driven by the UK tax
credit,? he says. ?That shouldn?t change
at all because of Brexit.?
Sources say the government ? which
paid out almost �0m in tax relief
last year to the makers of blockbusters
including Baby Driver, Star Wars and
the Trainspotting sequel, as well as TV
dramas including The Crown ? has ?no
appetite? to make any move against
the tax credit system that has fuelled
Britain?s movie-making boom.
But Kamasa, who is chairing a BFI
commission looking at the health of the
?lm sector, says that Brexit is the latest
issue to weigh on the increasingly pressured independent ?lm business. ?True
British independent ?lm, responsible
for ?lms like The King?s Speech, is
struggling and could continue to struggle,? he says. ?Those ?lms are eligible
for tax credits but the ?nancing, distribution and marketing of those ?lms is
getting harder and harder.?
Kamasa says that the move to the
fewer-but-bigger Hollywood blockbuster mode is potentially of more
concern than the impact of Brexit.
?Studios are going bigger and the
sector feeling the squeeze the most is
British independent ?lm,? he says. ?I?m
seeing less of them come across my
table and ?nding it harder to get them
?nanced because of the competition
out there.?
Mark Sweney
World leaders need to shove central bankers
back into the wings ? or it?s curtains for us all
Action on betting
machines and TV
ads is vital, but so
is help for addicts
entral bankers were back in
the spotlight this weekend
as some of the biggest names
gathered in the US ski resort
of Jackson Hole.
Investors were hopeful of
a sign from Federal Reserve boss Janet
Yellen and Mario Draghi, the head of
the European Central Bank, to illuminate the future path of interest rates in
their respective jurisdictions.
Yellen is under pressure to talk up
the strength of the US economy and
worry out loud about the threat of
in?ation. This would be seen as a proxy
for saying that interest rate rises will
resume soon.
Financial traders want Draghi to
be more explicit about when he will
stop pumping money into the eurozone economy. They understand that
interest rates are unlikely to nudge
upwards, but believe it is reasonable
for him to say when the ECB expects to
ease back on the current policy, which
amounts to ?60bn of quantitative
easing a month, and allow their City
clients to plan their investments.
Little was said to startle the trading community. Yellen was more
concerned with rebutting Republican
claims that ?nancial regulation was
holding back growth. Draghi talked
obliquely and left no one any the wiser.
Most observers were already aware
that the conference in Wyoming was
a holding operation. That?s why the
heads of many major central banks
were absent, including Bank of
England governor Mark Carney.
But the level of anticipation was
still great, and illustrated a disturbingly high level of anxiety around the
smallest changes in interest rates.
Unfortunately this is an almost daily
feature of the stock and bond markets,
which have given up on governments
of any colour doing something signi?cant to boost investment and growth.
There was a ?urry of excitement
when Donald Trump was elected
president on a platform of steep tax
cuts and infrastructure spending
commitments. Markets raced ahead as
Trump talked about 3%-plus growth in
perpetuity, or at least for the majority
of his presidency.
That euphoria soon dissipated
as Trump found himself mired in
rows with Congress over Obamacare
and, more recently, the prospect of
a shutdown of the federal government as Congressional rules prevent
Washington borrowing more money ?
the so-called debt ceiling.
Investors saw that the global economy would continue to rely for growth
on consumer spending spurred by
cheap central bank money. This is the
new normal, and underpins why the
majority of central banks are cutting
rates at the moment, not raising them.
Indonesia is among those to have
cut their main interest rate. Likewise
Brazil and Hungary. Some countries
have increased rates, but the balance is
with the cutters.
This all goes to show that every
country these days needs low rates
to keep its economy moving. But as
the 2008 ?nancial crash illustrated,
plentiful credit is a dangerous route to
growth. In the end, banks lend to people and businesses that cannot repay
? and the system falls over.
The answer must be for governments to take centre stage and shove
the central bankers bank into the
wings. The forum for this should be the
G20, which is the most inclusive and
representation international grouping
that is not so unwieldy that it cannot
make decisions.
G20 leaders gathered in Hamburg
last month to no great effect. All the
talk was of Trump?s private meetings
with Russia leader Vladimir Putin, and
protests on the city?s streets against
It was one of several missed
opportunities for Chinese president
Xi Jingping, Indian prime minister
Narendra Modi and Mexican president
Enrique Pe馻 Nieto, who sat with the
other 16 national leaders and European
Union representative Jean-Claude
Juncker, to call for an end to beggarthy-neighbour policymaking. It just
leaves every country reluctant to take
on the burden of investment by itself.
Instead, they prefer the invisible hand
of the central bank, and spending is
funded by debt, not tax receipts.
If Trump won?t play ball, they should
continue without him, as they did
when he quit the COP20 climate deal.
Otherwise another crash looms.
Workers are still far away from real boardroom in?uence
reg Clark is going to disappoint
millions of workers this week
when his white paper on corporate governance is published.
Clark is one of the cabinet?s more
thoughtful characters. As business
secretary, he has impressed executives
with his grasp of the subject and steady
approach. Yet this will count for little
on the shop?oor when he con?rms
that Theresa May?s proposal of a place
for workers? representatives on the
board has bitten the dust. Bosses will
get to choose between designating a
non-exec to represent workers, nominating a director from the workforce,
or establishing an advisory council.
Clark will say that, in the round,
his reforms make big business more
accountable: but without direct access,
workers remain on the sidelines.
or British bookmakers, waiting
for the government?s review into
the gambling industry must feel
like watching a roulette wheel
slowly come to a halt. Due in early
summer but shelved until October, the
review could be an in?ection point for
gambling regulation.
Focus on problem gambling is
sharper than ever after last week?s
report by the Gambling Commission,
which concluded that the government and the industry were not doing
enough to tackle it. One key ?nding is
that the number of addicts who play
?xed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs)
? the controversial machines that let
punters stake �0 every 20 seconds ?
has increased signi?cantly.
Public anger about FOBTs has
grown and, while the Treasury fears
that curbing the machines could
diminish its tax take, No 11?s voice may
be drowned out by the prospect of an
easy political win.
The review?s verdict on gambling
advertising, which has ballooned in
recent years, will be just as signi?cant.
As it stands, ads such as those featuring
Ray Winstone?s disembodied head urging punters to ?bet now!? (responsibly)
can?t appear before the 9pm watershed
except during a live sports event. Given
the sheer volume of televised sport, it
is an exception that renders the rule all
but useless. Again, the government will
face intense lobbying ? those ads are
hugely lucrative for broadcasters.
However, important as the review
is, it distracts from a less visible but
larger problem: the lack of resources
for treating addicts. While counselling organisations such as GamCare
and YGAM do great work, specialist
treatment in the UK is woefully thin on
the ground. There is just one gambling
addiction clinic in the UK, in London
and funded by the GambleAware charity. It has a six-month waiting list.
Gambling is not afforded the same
priority as alcoholism or drug addiction within Public Health England.
Improving treatment should now
attract as much focus as clipping the
gambling industry?s wings.
The EU is not the enemy of the state. Time to think again
hen I referred in my last
column to Chancellor
Philip Hammond as the
only grown-up minister in
this chaotic cabinet, I was unaware that
he had just put his name to a joint article in the pro-Brexit Sunday Telegraph
with his arch-foe Liam Fox, making the
following statement: ?We respect the
will of the British people ? in March
2019 the United Kingdom will leave
the European Union. We will leave
the customs union? we will leave the
single爉arket? ?
True, this was followed by reports
that he wanted, in effect, to retain
quasi-membership for several years,
but the two emphasised that such a
precaution ?cannot be a back door to
staying in the EU?. There were also
reports that Hammond had in some
mysterious way scored a victory, which
contrasted vividly with other reports
that his attempt at some kind of coup
had been foiled.
Certainly, what he put his name to
in that article was not good news for
those of us who ?rmly believe it is not
too late to arrest the progress of Brexit
in its tracks. But then the shenanigans
in the present cabinet?s approach to
Brexit negotiations call to mind Alice
in Wonderland telling the Hatter:
?Sometimes I?ve believed in as many as
six impossible things before breakfast.?
The fact of the matter is that
this government is so unstable that
anything could happen in the next two
months. It is an open secret that up to
half a dozen members of the cabinet,
and at least one double-breasted
outsider, are metaphorically polishing
their daggers. As my colleague
Andrew Rawnsley has pointed out,
the only thing holding up a revolt
against Theresa May is fear that, by
precipitating yet another election, the
assassins might end up with Jeremy
Corbyn in Downing Street.
But Shakespeare?s ?vaulting ambition? is a powerful factor in politics,
and there are those who wonder how
Theresa May can survive the party
conference in October unscathed.
Which brings us to the Labour
party?s position on Brexit, which most
people seem to regard as every bit as
confused as the Conservative one.
It is generally assumed that the
problem with Jeremy Corbyn?s
lukewarm opposition to Brexit during
the referendum was that he is a lifelong
Eurosceptic and thinks the EU is a
capitalist conspiracy against workers.
But most enlightened Labour MPs
and trade unionists are more aware
than Corbyn seems to be that the EU is
in fact very strong on workers? rights.
As for Corbyn?s apparent fear that the
EU is the enemy of publicly owned
corporations, he must surely be aware
of the degree to which so many of our
so-called ?privatised? utilities and
much of our transport network are
already in the hands of continental
state-owned concerns.
It seems to me that Labour now has
a golden opportunity to capitalise on
the strong pro-European feelings of the
young, as manifested in recent surveys
and, indeed, in the last election.
In which context, there was a
powerful open letter not long ago to
Corbyn in his (and my) local paper,
the Islington Tribune, from a longtime
Labour party member, Michael Wolff.
He told Corbyn: ?Despite your
current popularity, your ambiguity
about the EU and that sense that you
are out of step with our nation?s youth
on Brexit won?t keep the momentum
you?ve created rolling in your favour.?
The message was epitomised in the
headline: ?My message to Jeremy:
Don?t let our young people down, burst
the Brexit bubble.?
For those of us who care more about
this nation than the Brexiters, the
situation is urgent. Professor Vernon
Bogdanor at King?s College, London,
maintains that Labour?s electoral gains
in June ?raise the question of whether
the decision in the 2016 referendum
is ?nal: for, although Labour was not
a Remain party this year, the British
Election Study found that the party?s
?soft Brexit? policy played a large part
in its substantial gain in votes. In
constituencies where over 55% voted
Remain, the party achieved a swing of
around 7%.? Bogdanor concludes that
?the election was the revenge of the
The state of our nation is pitiful
enough without the addition of selfin?icted damage. The hospitals, the
care homes, the rail service ? too many
services are, to adapt May?s phrase,
?just about managing?.
This is bad enough, but the
economy has slowed down as well:
as the economist Simon Wren-Lewis
points out, the slowdown was at ?rst
aggravated in 2015 and 2016 by the
continuing austerity policy, but more
recently has been hit by the impact
on real incomes of the Brexit-induced
devaluation of the pound.
Now, in theory one of the few
bene?ts of that depreciation should
have been a rebalancing towards
exports, and some surveys suggest that
export orders are rising. But, as WrenLewis says, so far the depreciation ?has
not led to any compensating increase
in exports because ?rms are not going
to expand markets that might soon
disappear because of leaving the single
market or customs union?.
We are coming up to the 50th anniversary of the devaluation of the pound
under Harold Wilson in 1967. Then
as now, commentators worried that
for a long time the trade balance was
not improving. Then they discovered
the ?J-curve? ? the immediate effect
had been to worsen the balance of
payments by making imports dearer
and exports cheaper. But eventually the
improvement in price competitiveness
led to a better trade performance.
But I am with Wren-Lewis: this
time, any J-curve effects are likely to
be offset by the deleterious impact of
Brexit if our political leaders do not
have the gumption to tell the electorate
it made a grave mistake in last year?s
referendum. Time to think again!
In Leeds (main picture) and Manchester,
leaders are angry over more funds for
Crossrail (top), and even the former
chancellor (above) has called for a fast
coast-to-coast line across the north.
All aboard the north?s rail powerhouse
The region has lofty ambitions, despite the furore about London?s stranglehold on funding, writes Gwyn Topham
he call to arms from northern
leaders, led by Manchester
mayor Andy Burnham, was
clear: ?The disparity between
transport in the north of England and London must now
be addressed.? Commitments must be
honoured, rail lines built, and the cities
of the north showered with the kind of
money London had enjoyed.
Last week?s transport summit in
Leeds attracted unprecedented attention, fuelled by popular indignation over
Crossrail 2, another expensive scheme
for the pampered south, apparently
being given the go-ahead just as electri?cation in the north was on the back
burner. Yet many in the rail industry
argue that the narrative of gold for London and crumbs for the north masks a
different picture.
One senior ?gure said leaders were
?gobsmacked? that Chris Grayling, the
transport secretary, had tripped into a
story of northern betrayal: ?It?s extraordinary ? and a very poor reflection of
what?s actually going on.?
The current fury dates back from July,
when it was London?s planners who
were gloomy. Political consensus over
Crossrail 2 led to development funding
being announced in the 2016 budget,
and a preferred route lodged by Transport for London. But the plan was stuck
in Grayling?s in-tray, and omitted from
the Tory manifesto.
A meeting between old foes Grayling
and London mayor Sadiq Khan on 18
July at City Hall was unexpectedly productive. New hurdles were set: the capital would have to raise more money to
fund construction, and review its plans.
A joint communiqu� was prepared ? one
Grayling believed would signal his curbing of London?s claims. Khan meanwhile
had research prepared to ?debunk the
myth? that London received more than
its share of funding.
But before that the Department for
Transport had another announcement:
on 20 July came news that Network
Rail?s cock-ups and escalating electri?cation costs would mean projects that
had been ?paused? in 2015, such as electri?cation of the Midland mainline, were
?nally abandoned, as was electri?cation
from Cardiff to Swansea.
Wales declared itself rocked by the
betrayal, but the headlines were all about
fears that promised upgrades between
Leeds and Manchester could disappear
next ? especially after a document specifying Network Rail?s work for the next
?ve years said infrastructure upgrades
would be ?dealt with separately?.
On 24 July, the Grayling-Khan state-
ment on Crossrail 2 was issued, and
viewed as a ?green light? for the London
scheme. Reaction in the north, led by
Burnham, was furious. An IPPR North
report claimed that the north would
have received �bn more transport
investment if it matched London levels; and a petition to demand just that
clocked up 80,000 signatures.
Debate was further stirred last week
by George Osborne, the former chancellor, who called on the government to
build a fast line from Liverpool to Hull
and reaffirm its wavering commitment
to a northern powerhouse.
Osborne?s more signi?cant contribution has been the creation of the ?metro
mayors? and Transport for the North,
which are helping unify the region and
give it renewed voice. TfN is putting
together Northern Powerhouse Rail, a
set of strategic, step-by-step interventions designed to eventually knit into a
fast, connected coast-to-coast railway.
TfN chair John Cridland says: ?It
needs political sign-off and will only
work if we have the commitment of business and civic leaders. What we?re trying
to achieve is genuinely transformational:
to have 1.3 million northerners within an
hour?s rail travel from four of the north?s
major cities. The number now is 10,000.?
Yet while the north has cried foul over
transport cuts that may never occur,
the true regional losers have struggled
to make their voices heard. MP Lilian
Greenwood, chair elect of the Transport Select Committee, says: ?They?ve
been clearly capturing the headlines but
other regions feel even worse done to. As
a Midlands MP [for Nottingham South]
I?m thinking no one ever remembers us.
People here have been very concerned
about the scrapping of Midland mainline
electri?cation: it?s obviously very important for economic regeneration.
?We?re also home to the UK?s largest
concentration of rail engineering businesses. The message to them has been
that we will press ahead with electri?cation ? so most suppliers haven?t pressed
ahead with diesel technology.?
Like Burnham, she questions how
government calculates the benefits of
investment, which skews policymakers towards London, where 70% of rail
journeys start and ?nish. ?But if you?re
serious about growing the economies of
the Midlands and the north, you have to
look at investment in transport there.?
In Wales, the feeling of betrayal is
even worse: electri?cation was stopped
one month after the Conservatives
promised more infrastructure for Northern Ireland, in a deal with the DUP. Ken
Skates, economy and infrastructure cabinet secretary in the Welsh government,
says it was a huge disappointment: ?It
seems another example of investment
being taken from here, to use to prop up
another part of the coalition.?
Meanwhile, electrification of many
lines between Liverpool and Greater
Manchester has taken place, and key
pieces of the Ordsall Chord, a new
stretch of rail through Manchester, were
put in place this month.
TfN?s plan will be published by the
end of the year, when key decisions on
HS2 and Transpennine upgrades are
being considered ? a point at which the
requirement for hard cash will be tested.
Insiders are divided over whether talk
of betrayal is premature or just the north
keeping Whitehall focused. But one says:
?If anything is going to be in Network
Rail?s infrastructure funding, it?s this.
There?s no doubt they?ve signed up to it.?
It?s the post-dad era at 21st Century
Fox ? but don?t cheer too loudly yet
I?m not
with dad:
Rupert and
ere are a couple of mighty
portents. James Murdoch,
chief executive of 21st
Century Fox, gives a million dollars to the AntiDefamation League. He
tells his staff that ?standing up to Nazis
is essential; there are no good Nazis?.
(Thank you and goodnight, President
Trump.) Meanwhile, News Corp, the
residual newspaper wing of the old
Rupert empire, records losses of $817m
for the year.
James Murdoch is doing what most
high-pro?le bosses around the US
have been doing since Donald Trump
blundered into his Charlottesville
quagmire of grotesque equivalences:
he?s manifesting disgust and rowing for
the shore. News Corp, preparing more
layoffs in Australia and belt-tightenings everywhere it operates, is doing
something rather more amazing. It is
behaving like a normal company: dancing to the tune of the balance sheet and
shareholder pressure, not to the whim
of an 86-year-old tycoon.
There was always going to be a
moment, in a long line of triumphs and
humiliations, when the conglomerate
Rupert Murdoch built, almost from
scratch, would ?nd itself locked in
make-or-break transition, when the
problems of any family business ? succession, aptitude, relationships ? would
have to be tackled. That moment is
arriving fast.
On one level, James and his elder
brother, Lachlan, are taking control.
Dad no longer prescribes far-reaching
policies (as he did until relatively
recently ? ordaining, for instance, that
News Corp news be sheltered behind
a paywall ? until it wasn?t). Nor is dad
welcome any longer in the chaotic stew
of Fox News, swimming in payoffs for
sexual molestation claims past.
But cleaning a stable long subcontracted to Roger Ailes RIP isn?t easy.
There?s an ideological tug-of-war as a
?imsy, tainted story ? about murdered
Democratic aide Seth Rich, allegedly
leaking Hillary Clinton emails ? disintegrates so fast it has to be apologised
for (though not all Fox?s ?friends? accept
that). There?s difficulty in shifting from
Trump too quickly because the audience
won?t follow, leaving Fox News cash?ow exposed. And there is, naturally, a
question of leadership after Ailes.
You don?t have to be particularly
cynical to see this pile of ordure as a
threat to a full Murdoch takeover of Sky
in Britain and Europe. But don?t stretch
cynicism too far. This is the post-dad
era. James Murdoch is, perforce, trying
to turn 21st Century Fox into an orderly
business that acknowledges ordinary
corporate rules. Rupert the Sun King
won?t be around much longer. His
brand of power-mongering is way out
of time ? blown apart at the last British
general election, terminally damaged
by cuddling too close to Trump.
In the brave new world of Amazon
and Google, Facebook and Net?ix,
Fox can seem relatively puny. This is
a world in which noisy ?talent? and
chaotic chums no longer ?t. This is the
world of clean up your act or quit.
Which is where that second portent
comes in. When, in the wake of the
phone-hacking scandal, the old empire
was cut in two, all the newspapers (plus
Australian TV and a few other business interests to keep cash ?owing)
were lumped into a new version of
News Corp and required to keep investors happy. No more Rupert paying
way over the odds for the Wall Street
Journal and shuffling print outlets like
a deck of cards. Lachlan, with added
discipline, took over.
You can see much of the outcome in
the latest accounts. The notional values
of the group?s print papers are slashed.
Its three big Australian papers are sud-
denly worth 40% less. Its British papers
have shed $360m. More signi?cantly,
the book value of Foxtel, the Australian
TV company, has also taken a $290m
cold bath.
The big picture ?gures aren?t very
imposing either. Total revenue $8.14bn,
down 2% from $8.29bn last year.
Revenue in the UK down to $1.04bn ?
compared with $1.28bn a year before.
Advertising, again, taking the biggest
hits; cover price rises ? temporary salvation by attrition ? taking the strain.
This is a world where
noisy ?talent? and
chaotic chums don?t
?t. It?s a world of clean
up your act or quit
There is, to be sure, a keen irony to
the UK situation. Some $96m went west
with the collapse of sterling after Brexit.
?While the impact of Brexit is difficult
to predict, it could signi?cantly affect
the ?scal, monetary and regulatory
landscape, lead other member countries to consider leaving the European
Union, result in additional volatility and
disruption in the ?nancial and other
markets and have an adverse impact
on the company?s businesses,? says the
annual report, without delving into
regions of self-harm or revealing the
slightest acquaintance with Sun policy.
Too gloomy overall? Digital revenues
? up 3% to an overall 25% level ? bring
a touch of optimism. The Times, in
particular, is putting up a good print
?ght. There is clearly further room for
?efficiencies? that will keep the cost
base under control. Other disparate
enterprises under the group umbrella
have a better growth potential. But it
will all be a struggle, the kind of struggle that newspapers outside the Rupert
realm have been facing for years.
There?s now much more of a level
playing ?eld. The Sun is a problem:
9.4% down year on year in print sales. A
benign Murdoch can?t ?y to the rescue.
Loss makers such as the New York Post
must be under severe threat again. The
Wall Street Journal needs a big lift, steering it clear of hapless Trumpism. There
are challenges, challenges everywhere.
In short, we are heading ever deeper
into a media landscape where the stability of the Murdoch transition from
one generation to the next is under
searching question. Hurrah! shout all
those who have made roasting Rupert
part of their life?s work. Hurrah! add
students of corporate morality and
simple organisation ? the squeeze of
normality is on, the future beginning to
take shape. But don?t, perhaps, expect
adulation unalloyed. Dad?s buccaneering devotion to print has been one of
the props of the press worldwide for at
least two decades. Expect some horrid,
all-too-normal collapses if it?s gone.
Journalists aren?t
the ?elite? ? or any
other class either
on Snow delivered a blockbuster of
a lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, some of
it in full hair-shirt mode. Grenfell
Tower, he said, had demonstrated that
today?s journalism lay ?comfortably
with the elite, with little awareness,
contact or connection with those not
of the elite?. He felt ?on the wrong
side of the terrible divide that exists in
present-day society and in which we
are all, in this hall, major players. We
can accuse the political classes for their
failures, and we do. But we are guilty of
them ourselves.?
Well, of course there are lessons from
Grenfell (including the hollowing-out
of local news). But guilt ? amid waves of
diversity targets ? can be overdone.
Journalism, like many other jobs (say,
nursing) has become an almost exclusively graduate calling over the years ?
though with rock-bottom wages, at the
local level, that most nurses would jib
at. It is, nevertheless, a kind of elite role
in Grenfell terms.
When Jon (educated Winchester
Pilgrim?s School via Ardingly) looks
around his own C4 News studio, who
does he see? Matt Frei, educated at
Westminster School and St Peter?s College, Oxford. Krishnan Guru-Murthy,
educated at Queen Elizabeth?s Grammar School, Blackburn, and Hertford
College, Oxford. Cathy Newman,
educated at Charterhouse and Lady
Margaret Hall, Oxford. With Fatima
Manji, lately of the LSE, waiting in line.
Is this some covert cause for shame?
No: the camera sees a team of formidable professionals, experienced people ?
largely free from commercial pressures
? who can uncover stories and pursue
unpopular causes. They are not representatives of one class or another. They
are trained journalists: and that training means an ability to dig and discover
wherever the news takes them.
Enforced move
will cost C4 dear
oving out of London (to
Salford for the BBC, shortly
to Birmingham for C4) comes
at a price. Just look at the ?gures, as assembled by Enders Analysis.
The BBC lost 62% of its staff when
it moved departments to MediaCity:
that was twice as much per person on
redundancy (�,000) as on relocation
(�,000). The Office for National Statistics, incidentally, lost 90% of its London staff when it moved to Newport.
Only 620 C4 employees are involved.
They are commissioning and support
staff. They do not make programmes
and carry no manufacturing base with
them. They are also highly skilled men
and women, many of them also tied to
London because their partners? jobs.
If 62% of C4 staff don?t go to Brum,
that would be a near-�m redundancy
bill, � on relocation and another big
chunk of cash on hiring replacements.
Reckon �m gone in any case, says
Enders. This is a heavy burden for C4
as advertising stalls, a prescription for
upheaval that does no one any good:
and an endgame that is pure political
show, as government seeks to dragoon
a state-created asset and thoroughly
degrades it in the process.
Editor: Shane Hickey
Personal ?nance
CASH | 45
Need help to claim after a ?ight delay?
As ?rms cash in, beware the small print
An expected cheque
to compensate you
after your air travel
plans were disrupted
can now turn into a
three-?gure bill.
Anna Tims reports
When passengers are stuck at an airport due to delays they are entitled to statutory compensation, but the job you can do yourself for free can turn into a costly business. Getty
?It?s what they are
doing now there is
a deadline on PPI
claims. For them it
is money for free?
Martyn James, Resolver
the Observer with the same story and
a number have posted similar experiences on the review website
All say they were unaware that they had
entered a binding contract with FDCT
and, although the website states that no
fees are payable if a claim is unsuccessful, none of those charged three-?gure
sums has received the statutory compensation via the company.
The only clue that a submitted web
form is a contractual commitment is hidden in the terms and conditions which
claimants are supposed to have read
before sending their details. These run to
several pages, yet the website maintains
a claim takes three minutes to submit.
FDCT, registered as E.Asthampton
Ltd, is run by three members of the Ryan
family from the same address in Northampton. Director Naomi Ryan told the
Observer that the company had provided
many customers with an ?effective and
successful service? and its charges hadbeen met ?without question?, although
she would not specify how many claims
it had won. She declined to comment
on individual complaints, but all the
complainants contacted by us have now
been told that they do not owe anything
because FDCT accepts they never
received a con?rmation notice of their
contract as required by the Consumer
Contracts Regulations.
?We recently became aware there may
have been an issue with the sequence and
format of our website and so contacted
Trading Standards for their advice,? she
said. ?As a result, changes to the way we
treat the information we receive from
the initial web form have now been
introduced, along with changes in the
way we present our pre-contract information to the consumer.?
She failed to explain what these
changes were, or why customers were
being pursued for payment without
receiving promised compensation.
Butterworths, the solicitors subcontracted to pursue claims, declines to
say how many cases it has successfully
handled on behalf of FDCT, but says it
is ?reviewing its relationship? with the
company. Northampton trading standards told the Observer that it was investigating a number of complaints.
Since 2014, when the supreme court
ruled that passengers can claim for
?ight delays, a number of claims ?rms
have sprung up to pro?t from the action.
Some pocket more than 40% of any payout in fees, although they have no special
powers to pursue claims and passengers
If a ?ight departing an EU city or with an
EU airline is cancelled or delayed by more
than three hours you may be entitled to
compensation. This also applies to ?ights
leaving Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway
and Switzerland. The sum ranges from
?250??600 per passenger depending on
the delay and the distance. You should also
receive food and drink, access to phone
and email and, if you?re stranded overnight,
accommodation. Passengers on cancelled
?ights should be rerouted or refunded.
Airlines will often claim the
problems were due to ?extraordinary
circumstances? beyond their control
to duck out of their legal obligations.
The law is hazy on what counts as an
extraordinary circumstance, but over the
years court rulings have tightened up the
de?nition and technical problems don?t
Airlines will often deny responsibility.
count unless they can be proved to be an
inherent manufacturing fault.
Nor can airlines blame crew sickness
or inclement weather since these are
deemed an inevitable factor when running
an airline and they are supposed to have
contingency plans.
Write to the airline yourself, including
the ?ight details and stating that you
are claiming under EU Denied Boarding
Regulation 261/2004. Which? provides
template letters. You?ll need to know the
distance of the ?ight to calculate the sum
you are due (go to
If the airline refuses to pay out you can
take your case to whichever approved
dispute resolution service it is registered
with, or if it has not signed up to one, to
the Civil Aviation Authority?s Passenger
Advice and Complaints Team. If you still get
nowhere and feel you have a case, you can
take the airline to the small claims court
or hire a specialist solicitor with a proven
track record such as Bott & Co.
Anna Tims
can put in a claim themselves with the
airline for free.
Extraordinarily, although claims management ?rms specialising in ?nancial
services, personal injury or employment
have to be authorised and regulated by
the Ministry of Justice, those handling
?ight compensation cases do not. Anyone can therefore set up a website and
tout for custom from aggrieved passengers, and the small claims court is the
only recourse for those who feel they
have been misled.
?Flight compensation is what ?rms
are doing now that there?s a deadline on
Cash on
the web
For all the
and savings
best buys
go online
hen Richard Watson
arrived back at Gatwick
13 hours late after a holiday in Dubai he immediately applied for compensation from the airline, browsing
the internet for advice to check that爃e
was eligible. One of the first links on
the燝oogle search page was Flight Delay
Claims Team (FDCT) based in Northampton, which offers to manage airline
compensation claims on a no-win, nofee basis. The website states that a claim
can be submitted online in three minutes
and the average payout is ?400 per passenger.
?I thought the company would check
if I was eligible and then act on my behalf
if I wanted them to,? he says. ?I supplied
my details via the web form, but heard
nothing until three months later when
they sent me a reminder of an invoice I
had never received demanding �0.?
This summer thousands of airline
passengers will have been stuck at airports awaiting delayed ?ights. Many will
be entitled to claim statutory compensation under EU rules, but some of those
who do so run the risk of being ripped
off by ?rms offering to help.
Watson, from Essex, queried why he
was being billed and was told that by
submitting the web form he had contracted FDCT to act on his behalf. He
says when he asked what services had
been rendered he was merely told to pay
up. Within two weeks the demand had
risen to �0.
John Troelson of Hereford and
Suzanne Burdett of Coventry also submitted what they thought were enquiries to FDCT after their respective ?ights
were delayed. Troelson heard nothing
back and opted to make a claim through
another ?rm.
But nearly a month later he opened
a letter from Butterworths solicitors
saying it had been instructed by FDCT
and asking him to sign papers. He says
he signed nothing but soon received a
reminder from FDCT to pay a �7.01
invoice he had never received. He?s now
being chased for �4.08.
?All I did was go on the website to
see what that company had to offer,? he
says.�I never instructed them or signed
any documents sent by them or their
legal team.?
Burdett?s experience appears identical. She is now being threatened with
court action unless she pays �7. ?I have
rung and mailed repeatedly to discuss
what it?s for,? she says. ?All calls to their
office are fruitless ? there?s ?no one available? or they are ?in a meeting? and any
emails are just replied to with a demand
for the cash.?
Two other readers have contacted
PPI claims,? said Martyn James of the
complaints website Resolver, which has
received a number of enquiries about
FDCT. ?For them it?s money for free
because the payments are a legal entitlement and should be properly regulated.?
Watson, who has now instructed aviation solicitors Bott & Co after the airline
refused the claim he made himself, says
he was misled: ?I had no intention of
entering into a contractual agreement
and I did not sign any documentation. If
FDCT had spelled out in advance what
charges I may have incurred, I would not
have submitted my details.?
46 | CASH
Anna Tims
I was reported
to three credit
agencies for one
missed payment
I missed a repayment on my RBS
credit card because I didn?t receive
that month?s statement. The ?rst I
knew about it was when I got a letter
stating I had been charged �.
RBS customer services were very
accommodating and removed the
charge since I had always paid in full
and on time. However, it said that
the debt had been reported to three
credit reference agencies.
It has taken three letters to RBS
CEO Ross McEwan (none of which
have been acknowledged), around
12 calls to different divisions of RBS
credit cards, three letters to credit
reference agency Experian and two
to Equifax to try to get a notice of
correction applied to my record.
The third credit reference agency
I have not managed to make contact
with at all.
Initially, RBS refused point blank
to send any notice of correction. It
then agreed to look into it but nothing has happened.
RA, London
It is, of course, your responsibility to
pay your credit card bill regardless of
whether you receive a statement, but
it?s depressing that RBS did not send
a reminder and give you a chance to
make the payment, especially, as you
say, you have an unblemished record.
Companies registered with credit
reference agencies wield enormous
and largely unchecked power, for
they can report any debt ? however
minute or justi?able ? and impede your
chances of getting credit. Moreover,
the marker remains for six years and
you cannot have it removed even if you
dispute it.
All you can do is apply a note
explaining why you contest it and even
that, as you?ve found, can be hard to
coax out of a corporate monolith.
When The Observer intervenes RBS
decides to remove the marker and
refund the late payment fee and interest as a gesture of goodwill because it
was your ?rst missed payment. It con?rms debts are automatically referred,
regardless of circumstance.
It would now be wise to pay your
card by monthly direct debit and set up
an online account.
West?eld has put an expiry
date on our wedding gift
We were given a � gift voucher for
West?eld Stratford City shopping
centre as a wedding present in May
last year, which had to be collected
from the centre. We went to pick it up
this June and were told it had expired
the previous month.
Nowhere on the details of the order
con?rmation form, which we had to
take along as proof of purchase, does
it mention a 12-month deadline.
West?eld insisted that even though
it was not mentioned on the form,
there was noti?cation on the terms
and conditions page and also on the
delivery page before purchase.
Crucially, as we were not the purchaser, we had no way of knowing.
PM, London
There is indeed no mention of this
vital燿etail anywhere on the order
con?rmation form your friend gave
you, despite a section headed ?important information?.
West?eld tells me that the 12-month
expiry date is outlined in the terms
and conditions and the point of sale.
It seems oblivious to the logic that, as
gift cards are usually given as gifts, the
recipient won?t have seen the pre-purchase information.
Only after The Observer points this
out does it twig. ?We appreciate that
the gift card con?rmation note should
also contain the expiry date, which
would assist customers if the gift card
is provided as a present,? it says.
?We have updated this process to
ensure the gift card con?rmation note
also includes the expiry date. As a gesture of goodwill, and to say ?thank you?
for raising a customer need, we have
extended the gift card.?
Two weeks after this promise you
have still not been contacted, however,
and it is certain there will be many
other recipients in the same boat.
The very existence of expiry dates is
contentious since the store has pocketed the money and will pro?t handsomely if customers forget to use their
cards in time. Gail Cohen, director
general of the UK Gift Card & Voucher
Association, explains that it is to help
businesses manage their accounts and
to shield them from future liabilities.
Expiry policies must be displayed on
the card or voucher, but in your case it
wasn?t, strictly speaking, a voucher ?
rather the con?rmation of the online
purchase of one which had to be
collected instore.
If you need help email Anna Tims at or write
to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings
Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU.
Include an address and phone number.
Rate %
Fee �
Sainsbury?s Bank
0345 111 8010
Yorkshire Building Society
0345 120 0874
Yorkshire Building Society
0345 120 0874
0800 030 4640
0800 030 4640
Metro Bank
5 years
020 3427 1435
Yorkshire Building Society
0345 120 0874
bbr tracker + 0.74%
2 years
0800 030 4640
bbr tracker + 0.84%
2 years
0800 030 4640
bbr tracker + 0.99%
2 years
0800 030 4640
First Direct
o?set bbr tracker + 2.54%
0845 610 0103
Yorkshire Building Society
o?set ?xed
0345 120 0874
Savings Builder
Min �
Bank of Cyprus UK
Online Easy Access Account
Ulster Bank
Secure Trust Bank
120 Day Notice Variable
Int Acc 24
Kent Reliance
Regular Savings Account 3
easy access
0800 255 200
easy access ATICD
0345 7888 444
easy access
easy access
1.55 120 days notice
easy access
0345 122 0022
020 7332 4250
Union Bank of Intia (UK) Ltd
1 Year Fixed Term Deposit
1 year
Paragon Bank
2 Year Fixed Rate
2 years
3 Year Investment Gtee
Growth Bond
3 years
Vanquis Bank Ltd
4 Year Savings Bond
4 years
Vanquis Bank Ltd
5 Year Savings Bond
5 years
Paragon Bank
easy access
2 years
Limited Edition Easy
Access Isa (2)
Virgin Fixed Rate Cash
e-Isa 266
Direct Isa
easy access
Income Bond
easy access
0500 500 000
Children?s Bonds (36)
5 years
0500 500 000
Virgin Money
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.
Provider card name
0% O?ers
AA Dual
32 months purchases
Sainsbury?s Bank Nectar
32 months purchases
43 months balance
40 months balance
Santander All in One
Barclaycard Platinum
American Express
American Express
Platinum Everyday
fee %
Not Available
Not Available
Not Available
Not Available
1% standard
plus intro bonus
0.5% standard
plus intro bonus
Table compiled 25/08/17. In case of late changes, always check rates and terms before transacting.
All above ?gures from independent ?nancial research company Defaqto (
Five of the best Lakeside towns in Europe
1. Savonlinna Finland
Four hours from Helsinki, Ovaninlinna
castle in the middle of Lake Saimma
hosts a renowned opera festival in July
and August each year. There are also
plenty of water-based activities: ?shing,
kayaking, swimming. However, Savonians are traditionally very laid-back, and
happy to while away their afternoon
at a waterside restaurant serving fresh
?sh lunches and tart berry deserts.
On the bank of Lake Annecy, the
tranquil village of Talloires happens
to be where Haitian dictator ?Baby
Doc? Duvalier arrived after being given
political asylum in France in 1986. But
don?t hold that against it: it?s a peaceful
alternative to the main town of Annecy,
30 minutes? drive away. It also has an
array of ?ne dining options, including the Michelin-starred Jean Sulpice
restaurant at Auberge du P鑢e Bise ? a
hotel once visited by Brigitte Bardot
and Charlie Chaplin ? and Aux Jardins
des D閘ices, in the 17th-century Abbaye
de Talloires hotel. There are three
beaches nearby, and Talloires is an easy
base for cycling and hiking.
Stay at Turtialan Lomakyl� Holiday
Village. One-bedroom self-catering cabin
from ?80; turtialan-lomakyla
2. Titisee-Neustadt Germany
Try to see past the comedy name:
Titisee is the largest natural lake in the
Black Forest, perfect for a family pedalo
outing. Medieval Neustadt is a spa town
with cute streets, lots of cuckoo clock
shops and a huge waterpark. Longdistance trails start from the Seestrasse
promenade and there are spectacular
views from 1,190-metre Hoch?rst
mountain. Rent a bike and ride the
B鋒nle-Radweg trail past breweries,
waterfalls, farms and a huge viaduct.
Stay at Villa des Fleurs. Doubles from ?90
room-only; lavillades?
5. Ohrid Macedonia
Stay at Action Forest Active Hotel. Doubles
from � B&B;
3. Izn醞ar Spain
An hour?s drive north of M醠aga,
the small town of Izn醞ar looks across
the Embalse de Izn醞ar ? the biggest
reservoir in Andaluc韆 ? from a rocky
mount. Established in the eighth
century, the site includes the ruins of
a 1,200-year-old castle, and its Barrio
del Coso is a timeless maze of narrow
streets . The lake itself has a beach for
swimming and canoes or sailing boats
for hire.
Stay at Cortijo las Rosas holiday cottages
just outside Izn醞ar. From ?55 a night for
two or ?82.50 for four;
4. Talloires France
Straddling the border between Albania
and Macedonia, Ohrid sits on the lake
of the same name. The Church of Saint
Jovan Kaneo is on a cliff above a harbour full of brightly coloured ?shing
boats, and there?s a scattering of small
beaches. A few miles south, the Bay of
Bones museum reconstructed prehistoric village built on stilts over the lake.
The name refers not to human bones
but to the many animal remains found
in the water, some of which are on display inside. Visitors can scuba dive to
see the excavations under the water.
Stay at Villa Sveta So?ja. Doubles from
?60 room-only; vilaso?
Words: Grace Holliday and Will Coldwell
Photographs: Alamy
To see the full list of lakeside
towns, and thousands more top
10s on everything from the
world?s best restaurants and
hotels to walks and beaches, visit
(60F) Hull
20 Rain
17 Showers 18 Showers 17 Fair
19 Fair
19 Fair
19 Showers 19 Fair
24 Fair
20 Fair
19 Fair
19 Fair
17 Fair
20 Fair
23 Fair
19 Fair
19 Fair
19 Showers 19 Fair
20 Fair
19 Rain
16 Showers 16 Showers 17 Showers 18 Cloudy
18 Cloudy
18 Rain
16 Showers 16 Showers 17 Showers 18 Cloudy
18 Cloudy
24 Fair
17 Cloudy
17 Fair
16 Showers 17 Fair
19 Sunny
23 Fair
17 Cloudy
18 Fair
17 Showers 18 Fair
20 Fair
27 Sunny
24 Fair
21 Fair
21 Fair
21 Fair
17 Cloudy
17 Fair
18 Showers 18 Fair
25 Sunny
22 Fair
20 Fair
20 Fair
20 Sunny
21 Fair
26 Fair
21 Fair
20 Fair
21 Fair
18 Sunny
22 Fair
23 Fair
20 Fair
19 Fair
19 Showers 19 Fair
21 Fair
18 Fair
19 Fair
18 Showers 19 Fair
19 Fair
24 Fair
18 Cloudy
18 Fair
17 Showers 17 Fair
20 Fair
1/17 Allusive criticism deemed to be apposite
9 Stupid (7)
10 Title holder? (5)
11 Asian capital on the Red River (5)
12 Physical record kept of 10 details (7)
13 Travelling salesman and trader (6)
15 Clear ?uid portion of blood (6)
18 Natural or synthetic fertiliser (7)
20 It?s taken by a ?elder to dismiss a player in
baseball and cricket (5)
22 Down in the dumps (5)
23 Go in again (2-5)
24 Phrase said in situations that require
immediate and/or fast action (2,4,2,4)
2 A?ect (5)
3 Former direct phone line between the
White House and the Kremlin (7)
4 Witch?s laugh (6)
5 Spur; projecting part (5)
6 Category of rock, being of solidi?ed molten
magma (7)
7 Create an emotional response (6,1,5)
8 Chief assistant; major domo (5-4,3)
14 Free from: in the absence of (7)
16 Milk-like; pertaining to milk (7)
17 See 1 Across
19 Deep cavity (arch) (5)
21 Certain dance out?ts (5)
Stuck? For help call 0906 200 83 83 or text OBSERVERQ followed by a space, the day and date the crossword appeared another space
and the CLUE reference (e.g OBSERVERQ Sunday5 Across7) to 88010. Calls cost �10 a minute, plus your telephone company?s access
charge. Texts cost �per clue plus standard network charges. Service supplied by ATS. Call 0330 333 6946 for customer service (charged
at standard rate).
20 Fair
18 sh
Manchester 20
New York
18 sh
Birmingham 23
Nottingham 21
Rio de Jan
Bournem?th 23
San Fran
Ronaldsway 18
Hong Kong 35
S?hampton 23
Sao Paulo
27 sh
19 sh
Stornoway 18
33 sh
18 sh
Teignmouth 21
L Angeles
18 sh
31 st
30 st
Weymouth 20
Washington 27
N Orleans
33 sh
Wellington 13
First Quarter 29 Aug
Weather last week
Weather this week
Warmest by day: Jersey,
Channel Islands (Tuesday)
Coldest by night: Fort
Williams, Highland
(Monday) 2.0C
Wettest: Tiree, Argyll and
Bute (Weds) 50mm
Sunniest: Shoeburyness,
Essex (Friday) 12.3hrs.
Chance of rain
23 f
25 f
21 f
22 sh
20 f
21 f
33 s
34 s
28 f
28 s
29 s
30 s
29 f
31 f
30 s
29 s
28 s
28 s
21 f
25 f
26 f
24 f
23 f
21 c
20 c
21 sh
19 f
19 r
20 f
19 c
28 st
30 f
31 f
29 st
25 st
25 s
25 st
26 st
25 st
26 st
26 f
30 st
20 c
18 r
20 sh
20 s
15 f
23 s
29 f
31 f
28 f
25 sh
21 f
24 s
22 f
25 s
28 f
27 f
25 f
21 s
32 s
31 s
31 s
30 s
30 s
30 s
30 st
29 s
29 f
29 s
29 f
27 s
19 Fair
癈 Wthr (Maximum temperature and overall condition)
16 Showers 17 Showers 18 Fair
Pressure in millibars,
(inches in brackets)
20 Fair
22 Showers 17 Cloudy
Low pressure over the Atlantic with
a cold front north of the British Isles
will lead to a few showers across
Scotland and Ireland on Sunday. High
pressure will bring sunny spells to
much of England and Wales. This high
pressure will also bring generally dry
weather to northern France, Belgium
and northern Germany. A couple of
showers and thunderstorms will form
over central and western Spain, with
a few showers over Portugal. The odd
shower or thunderstorm will form
in the afternoon over central France,
southern Germany, Switzerland and
northern Italy. Much of central and
southern Italy will remain dry due to
high pressure to the west over the
Mediterranean. Rainy periods will occur across southern Sweden into the
Baltics and northern Poland.
20 Sunny
20 Fair
Moon rises
17 Fair
18 Fair
24 s
NE England, SE Scotland, SW Scotland, NE Scotland: Broken cloud and sunny
spells today with the odd shower, mainly in the afternoon. A light south-westerly wind. Max 15-20C (59-68F). Mainly cloudy tonight with the odd shower. A
light south-westerly wind. Min 8-15C (47-59F).
W Isles, N Isles, NW Scotland: Broken cloud and sunny spells today with the
odd shower, mainly in the afternoon. A light to moderate south-westerly
wind. Max 10-18C (50-64F). Mainly cloudy tonight with showery spells. A light Dublin
south-westerly wind. Min 8-15C (47-59F).
Northern Ireland, Ireland: Broken cloud and sunny spells today with the odd
shower in the afternoon. A light south-westerly wind. Max 18-22C (64-72F).
Broken cloud tonight with the odd shower in the west. A light south-westerly
Sun rises
Moon sets
wind. Min 13-15C (55-59F).
Channel Is, Cent S England, SW England, W Midlands, Wales: Mainly dry today
with sunny spells for most. A light northerly wind. Max 19-25C (65-75F). Broken cloud in the north tonight with the odd shower, mainly clear in the south. A
light south-easterly wind. Min 10-15C (50-59F).
SE England, London, E Anglia, E Midlands: Dry today with long sunny spells for
most. A light northerly wind. Max 21-25C (70-75F). Broken cloud in the north
tonight with the odd shower, mainly clear in the south. A light south-easterly
wind. Min 10-15C (50-59F).
Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, NW England: Largely dry today with sunny spells. A
light south-westerly wind. Max 18-22C (64-72F). Broken cloud tonight along
with the odd shower; largely dry with clear spells in the south. A light southwesterly wind. Min 10-15C (50-59F).
18 Fair
Birmingham 26 Fair
18 Showers 16 Showers 16 Showers 17 Showers 17 Cloudy
(70F) Hull
Manchester 24 Fair
癈 Weather (Maximum temperature and overall daytime weather conditions)
Your forecast for the week ahead
Sunset over the harbour at St Malo, Brittany.
Forecasts and graphics provided
by AccuWeather, Inc �17
nothing. The yearto-date ?gures for the US box office
show it is down only about 5%. That
is not going to be enough to set off the
alarm bells, even if the dire attendance
numbers should.
?I refuse to jump on the bandwagon
that the movie theatre experience
is heading for extinction,? says Paul
Dergarabedian, senior media analyst
at comScore. ?I would say the industry
has to evolve in order to remain viable
and that there are many early warning signs that will allow for a course
correction, rather than bracing for the
impact of an inevitable decline.?
In terms of the immediate future he
reckons that with Justice League, Blade
Runner: 2049 and Star Wars: The Last
Jedi heading for cinemas in the runup to Christmas, there is a very good
chance that the overall US box office
could recover and even rise slightly
over last year.
Longer term, Bock says that there
needs to be a move to more high-quality ?lm-making, as exempli?ed by the
Marvel and Pixar ?lms.
?They spend time incubating their
projects, most notably in the script
stage,? he says. ?If it?s not on the page,
it?s not on the screen. Sequels aren?t the
death of Hollywood, but rotten, stinking, middle-of-the-road continuing
sagas could be.?
Lights, camera, inaction ? could Brexit
hurt the British ?lm production boom?
Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot,
was one of this summer?s few
authentic hits. Photograph by
Clay Enos/Warner Bros
he British ?lm production boom,
from blockbusters including the
new Star Wars trilogy to smaller
domestic ?icks and European
co-productions, has played a role in
propping up growth in the UK economy following the Brexit vote.
However, producers ? including
the backer of a ?lm about that most
British of ?gures, Winston Churchill ?
have warned that severing links with
Brussels will endanger the industry.
Lionsgate, which released Churchill in
June, worries that Brexit will impede
the already complex process of funding, ?lming and releasing a multimillion-pound product.
One Lionsgate-backed ?lm that
might have struggled post-Brexit is
Rupert Everett?s directorial debut
about Oscar Wilde?s last days, The
Happy Prince, now ?nished and awaiting release. ?Lots of ?lms are multiterritory European co-productions,
like The Happy Prince for example. It is
being made with UK, Luxembourg and
German money,? says Zygi Kamasa,
the UK and European chief executive
of US-based Lionsgate, which makes,
?nances and distributes ?lms such as
the recently released The Hitman?s
?We currently don?t even know
what it means for movies like that once
Brexit occurs. What is the opportunity
to keep those productions through
EU funding? What does it mean for
funding those movies? Could there be
levies, or issues getting German funding into a British movie, for example?
There are risks associated with Brexit.?
Film-makers and ?nanciers also fear
that Brexit could see the UK?s role in
European co-productions threatened
because Britain will not be eligible
for support from a ?1.4bn (�3bn) EU
funding pot designed to support ?lms
across the continent.
Currently, British productions such
as Breathe, Andy Serkis?s directorial
debut starring The Crown?s Claire Foy,
bene?t from an EU programme called
Creative Europe. This fund allows
British ?lms and European co-productions to receive support that can range
from straight funding to a better chance
of being aired in cinemas around the
continent through a kickback-style
subsidy based on ticket sales.
Brexit could also affect the attractiveness of British ?lms being picked
up for distribution in Europe ? for
instance in France, which has incentives to screen EU-funded ?lms.
Creative Europe has supported the
Baby Driver: recipient of some of the UK
government?s �0m tax relief incentive.
distribution of 115 UK ?lms including Paddington, A United Kingdom,
Suffragette and I, Daniel Blake.
Switzerland-based production company Silver Reel says there is a Brexit
scenario in which the UK could lose its
status as the lead shooting location on
some ?lms if leaving the EU means a loss
of eligibility for perks. Silver Reel has
spent more than �0m making more
than 35 ?lms in the last decade, including Breathe and Hampstead, starring
Diane Keaton and Brendan Gleeson.
?Brexit makes it more
political. We might
have to restructure
production so that the
leading country is
somewhere else?
Claudia Bluemhuber, Silver Reel
?All of our work is either pure UK
productions or co-productions,? says
Silver Reel?s Claudia Bluemhuber. ?We
need to ?gure out how UK productions
can work as a European production
to make sure we can still get them
distributed in other European countries. Brexit is going to make it more
political. We might have to restructure
production in a way that the leading
country is somewhere else.?
Last month, the UK arm of Creative
Europe said that there would be
?no immediate material changes? to
companies and organisations applying for funding, at least until the end
of 2018. The European commission
has attempted to allay fears that with
Brexit looming the UK might already
be being frozen out of funding, saying
that there will be ?no negative bias
against UK applicants?.
So far the air of uncertainty that
surrounds the potential impact of
Brexit hasn?t affected the UK?s role
in European co-productions or the
British ?lm-making sector. The weakening currency and huge ?nancial
carrot of tax credits for ?lm companies
choosing to shoot here continues to
make Britain attractive. ?For the coming 24 months we are actually looking
to increase our activity in the UK,? says
Bluemhuber. ?The weak pound is good
because, along with the tax breaks, we
get a lot of production value.?
In May, the French maker of the
lavish TV period drama Versailles took
advantage of the weakening pound to
open a UK office to look to invest ?50m
in English-language ?lms.
Kamasa points out that in ?nancial
terms it is the big US studios who
are driving the UK ?lm industry, and
this accounts for much of the sector?s
recent success. Last year, just 18 bigbudget Hollywood ?lms accounted for
�1bn of the �6bn spent on all ?lms
made in the UK. ?The majority of the
boom is being driven from US companies coming to the UK ? the Marvel
?lms, Star Wars ? driven by the UK tax
credit,? he says. ?That shouldn?t change
at all because of Brexit.?
Sources say the government ? which
paid out almost �0m in tax relief
last year to the makers of blockbusters
including Baby Driver, Star Wars and
the Trainspotting sequel, as well as TV
dramas including The Crown ? has ?no
appetite? to make any move against
the tax credit system that has fuelled
Britain?s movie-making boom.
But Kamasa, who is chairing a BFI
commission looking at the health of the
?lm sector, says that Brexit is the latest
issue to weigh on the increasingly pressured independent ?lm business. ?True
British independent ?lm, responsible
for ?lms like The King?s Speech, is
struggling and could continue to struggle,? he says. ?Those ?lms are eligible
for tax credits but the ?nancing, distribution and marketing of those ?lms is
getting harder and harder.?
Kamasa says that the move to the
fewer-but-bigger Hollywood blockbuster mode is potentially of more
concern than the impact of Brexit.
?Studios are going bigger and the
sector feeling the squeeze the most is
British independent ?lm,? he says. ?I?m
seeing less of them come across my
table and ?nding it harder to get them
?nanced because of the competition
out there.?
Mark Sweney
World leaders need to shove central bankers
back into the wings ? or it?s curtains for us all
Action on betting
machines and TV
ads is vital, but so
is help for addicts
entral bankers were back in
the spotlight this weekend
as some of 
Журналы и газеты
Размер файла
23 927 Кб
The Observer, newspaper
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа