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The Week UK - 14 April 2018

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Conventional wisdom has
been around for ages, but
people forget to challenge
what it means. Or why we
continue to repeat it.
At Orbis, we’ve always
questioned common thinking
to avoid sleepwalking into
common results.
Watched pots do eventually
boil, and they’ve
served our clients well.
Ask your financial adviser for
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Watched
pots
do boil
4 NEWS
The main stories…
What happened
Poison gas in Syria
What the editorials said
Once again, the Assad regime has shown a “callous contempt
for humanity”, said The Guardian. It has now defied
international law on “dozens” of occasions
Russia and the US moved closer to direct
since it first deployed the nerve agent sarin
confrontation this week when Donald Trump
five years ago. Yet the Damascus government
warned Syria and its Russian allies there
is not solely to blame. It is Russia’s control of
would be a “big price to pay” for a suspected
Syria’s western airspace and the Kremlin’s
chemical attack on Syrian citizens that left at
“implacable veto” of “any effective
least 48 dead. The president said all options
countermeasures” at the UN that allows
were “on the table” for punishing the
such acts of barbarity. The confused signals
“heinous” use of chemical weapons – allegedly
from the White House over its commitment
chlorine and sarin – in the rebel-held town of
to Syria hardly help, said The Times. Only
Douma in Eastern Ghouta, close to Damascus.
days before the Douma outrage, Trump was
Footage posted by opposition groups showed
the bodies of men, women and children, some A child in a field hospital in Ghouta talking of the “rapid withdrawal” of all US
troops from Syria, now that the battle with
foaming at the mouth. However, at a meeting
the jihadists of Islamic State is almost won. He should think
of the UN Security Council this week, Russia claimed the
again. Otherwise, Russia, Turkey and Iran will be left to carve
attack was a “fabrication” staged by the rebels.
out their own spheres of influence.
Britain and France joined the US for emergency talks to
The most pressing threat is of a “misunderstanding” between
examine options for responding to the attack. On Tuesday,
the superpowers that leads to “a military clash”, said The
Trump tweeted that Russia should “get ready”, because
Daily Telegraph. Indeed, the risk is “growing by the day” with
missiles – “nice and new and smart” – would soon be fired
embassies stripped of staff as a result of the latest round of titat its ally Syria. Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon warned that
for-tat diplomatic expulsions. These are “dangerous times” –
missiles would be shot down and their launch sites targeted
possibly more dangerous even than the Cold War.
if they threatened Russian personnel.
What happened
Battling violent crime
The Government unveiled a new crime prevention strategy
this week in the hope of reversing the rising
tide of knife and gun violence. Among the
planned measures are extra stop-and-search
powers and tougher restrictions on buying
knives online, as well as a ban on the sale of
acid to under-18s. The report also promises
new money to tackle the causes of youth
violence, and calls on social media platforms
to stop hosting content that promotes gang
violence. The plan follows a spate of stabbings
in London that have taken the capital’s
murder toll to more than 50 this year.
What the editorials said
A 17-year-old girl died in her mother’s arms last week
in London after being shot from a passing car, said The
Economist. In that 48-hour period, two other youths died
in the capital, one from gunshot wounds, the
other after being stabbed. London has had
more murders than New York in the past two
months, yet it’s an exaggeration to claim that
our capital is now a more dangerous place.
London’s murder tally last year (130) was “far
lower” than that of the Big Apple (292), “let
alone that city’s peak of 2,245 in 1990”.
Violent crime is still at a relatively low level,
agreed The Independent, and is concentrated,
for now, in certain districts of London. But
the problem is spreading. “For the sake of
Labour welcomed the measures but said they
pushing back against the Americanisation,
would have a limited effect, given the loss of
nationalisation and militarisation of London’s
Amber Rudd: undermined
21,000 police officers in England and Wales
gangs, we need to take action before things
since 2010. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, dismissed
really do get out of control.” Tackling this issue will require
claims that there was a direct link between police numbers
more than simply money, said The Sunday Telegraph. Rather,
and the increase in violent crime, but her position was
it requires a “reassessment of priorities”. Officers need to
undermined by a leaked report from her own department
spend less time at the station, pursuing “hate crime” on social
that said budget cuts may have contributed to the rise.
media, and more time in “active policing” on the beat.
It wasn’t all bad
At their wedding this weekend,
Harold Holland, 83, and Lillian
Barnes, 78, may experience a
sense of déjà vu: they first tied
the knot on Christmas Eve 1955.
The Kentucky couple divorced
50 years ago after 12 years of
marriage, and have five children
together. They met again at a
family reunion last year, and as
Holland puts it, “one thing led
to another”. Joshua Holland,
the couple’s grandson and the
minister who will perform the
ceremony, says the pair are
“like two teenagers in love”.
A Dorset adventure
company is inviting thrill
seekers to spend the
night sleeping (or
attempting to sleep)
harnessed to a bed that
hangs from a cliff over
the English Channel.
The “Portaledge”, a
contraption that is
“anchored” to a cliff
top, first caught on in
California’s Yosemite National Park with climbers who wanted to
see sunsets and sunrises. Now, Young’s Adventure Solutions in
Poole is offering the overnight experience at the price of £500 for
two – including an evening meal and champagne lowered down in
a hamper. “You don’t really need to be a climber, but you definitely
need a head for heights,” said the company’s owner, Eddy Young.
A British-led expedition will
travel to Antarctica in search of
the explorer Ernest Shackleton’s
ship, Endurance, which sank in
1915. The story of Shackleton
and his crew’s survival, after
five months of isolation and
a 720-nautical-mile dash to the
island of South Georgia, has
become the stuff of legend. The
wreck has lain at the bottom of
the Weddell Sea ever since.
While other search attempts
have failed, this expedition,
whose primary aim is to study
the Larsen C ice shelf, will be
the first to scour the seabed
using unmanned submarines.
COVER CARTOON: HOWARD MCWILLIAM
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
…and how they were covered
NEWS 5
What the commentators said
What next?
Prepare for “something spectacular” from the US, said Patrick Cockburn in The Independent.
In devising his retaliation for the Douma attack, the president will want to find an impressive
gesture that makes a sharp contrast with Barack Obama, whose “timidity” in the use of
American strength he condemned. What’s more, Trump has a new National Security Adviser
at his elbow who is even keener than his boss on the deployment of US military might, said
Elias Groll in Foreign Policy. John Bolton “has rarely found an American adversary whose
relationship with the United States would not be improved by a bombing campaign”.
At the UN talks, the US and
Russia blocked each other’s
proposals for a fact-finding
mission: the Americans
insisted that the investigators
should apportion blame for
the attack, while Russia
wanted that left to the
Security Council. The
Organisation for the
Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons (OPCW) said that it
planned to send an inspection
team to Douma “shortly”.
It’s hard to see what good that would serve, said Robin Wright in The New Yorker. The
awkward truth is that Syria offers few good targets that the Russians could not quickly rebuild.
When the US hit a Syrian base with cruise missiles last year after a previous gas attack, the
damage was reportedly repaired in a few days. Anyhow, it’s far too late to affect the war’s
outcome. With Assad back in control of most of Syria’s major cities, his opponents face
“almost impossible odds”. Western outrage smacks of hypocrisy, said Simon Jenkins in The
Guardian. Some will ask what the difference is between the use of chlorine or sarin and Nato’s
“horrific cluster bombs and white phosphorous”. As for the killing of civilians, our own forces
are hardly blameless. The monitoring group Airwars reckons 8,000 were killed in the fall of
Mosul last summer, mostly by “inevitably indiscriminate Iraqi, American and British missiles”.
On the contrary, said William Hague in The Daily Telegraph, there’s an overwhelming case
for military intervention. When Assad first used sarin in 2013, I was foreign secretary and
recommended that Britain should join the US in a missile strike. MPs chose to disagree and we
are seeing the consequences in an emboldened Damascus regime. For nearly 100 years, we have
prevented the use of chemical weapons on the battlefield. If we once again fail to register our
outrage with sufficient force, they could soon become “just another aspect of war”.
With Eastern Ghouta now
almost under government
control, Assad is expected
to focus on recapturing the
northwestern province of
Idlib. But a major offensive
risks angering Turkey, which
is keen to avoid a further
flood of Syrian refugees
across its southern border.
What the commentators said
What next?
Teenagers are “paying a high price” for our failure to confront violence, said Harriet
Sergeant in the FT. Not only were 80 people stabbed to death in London last year, but “an
extraordinary 300-400 non-fatal stabbings take place every month in the capital”. Cressida
Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, says social media is partly to blame for fuelling
the violence, and other experts agree. “Everyone knows if a boy is being called out,” says a
teacher who works in a pupil referral unit for children excluded from mainstream schools.
“It’s discussed at school. The girls say, ‘Well, you’ve got to do something!’” Youths have
been further egged on by “drill”, a popular, ultra-violent subset of rap music that originated
in Chicago and which glorifies gangs and drug culture. There’s no easy answer to this problem,
said Sebastian Payne in the same paper. But we could learn from Glasgow, which once “held
a notorious reputation for violence”. Officials there turned things around with a “holistic
approach” involving public health, education and policing.
The Government’s new
crime strategy includes
measures to tackle
so-called “county lines”
drug trading, under which
urban gangs use children as
young as 12 to traffic drugs
in suburban or rural areas
using dedicated mobile
phones or “lines”.
We could also learn from the example of New York, said James Treadwell on The
Conversation. Once synonymous with urban crime, the city has been “spectacularly
rehabilitated” since the mid-1990s. This is generally attributed to the concept of zerotolerance policing, but what really made that policy effective was that it was “well-resourced
and politically supported”. The NYPD chief Bill Bratton was able to hire 6,000 extra officers
to help bring order to the streets. The Tories, alas, are starving the police and other public
services of resources, said Zoe Williams in The Guardian. According to the emergency services
watchdog, the police budget will fall by £700m by 2020, by which time officer numbers in
England and Wales will be down to 120,217. Spending on youth services, meanwhile, fell by
50% between 2010 and 2017. Child mental health services “are also in crisis”. When will the
Government realise that “sympathetic, responsive policing cannot be done on the cheap”?
THE WEEK
Sixteen years ago, I wrote in this space about a report arguing that
supermarkets were driving local shops and services out of business
so fast that Britain would soon become a country “of ghost towns
and villages”. Somehow, the high street survived, though not as dominant as it once was and by no
means everywhere. But will it survive what The Times columnist Iain Martin calls “the wrecking ball”
of Amazon? Now, as he says, even high streets in affluent boroughs are “pockmarked” with vacant
sites and temporary bargain stores selling tat for a few weeks before moving on. And every empty
shop, every hollowed out high street, is a “win” for online retail giants such as Amazon.
It is extraordinary to see a sitting US president continually attacking an American company (see
p16), but it’s hard to deny Donald Trump’s claim that Amazon has put “many thousands of retailers
out of business”. How will it all end? In The Daily Telegraph, Michael Deacon imagined looking back
one day at the “gloriously democratic” internet age: how it enabled, for the first time, “rabid antiSemites, Stalin apologists and white supremacists” to build “enormous followings of the vulnerable,
angry and ill-informed” – and at how successful it was at destroying jobs, “killing the music industry,
closing every magazine and newspaper on Earth, and concentrating 98% of the world’s wealth
among a handful of sociopaths in California”. Well, happily we’re not there
Jolyon Connell
yet. But if we consumers don’t change our habits, one day we may be.
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The Met chief Cressida
Dick is setting up a task
force of 120 officers to
focus on London’s most
violent gang members, and
individuals in known crime
hotspots, reports The Daily
Telegraph. The strategy –
similar to that used against
Al Capone by Chicago
police in the 1920s – is to
take these people off the
street “for any crime”.
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14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Politics
6 NEWS
Controversy of the week
Yulia Skripal discharged
Mind the gap
To know the scale of a problem is not always to understand
it, “but it is a start”, said The Guardian. For the first time,
organisations with more than 250 employees have been forced
by law to publish the data on the gap in pay between men and
women; the deadline was midnight last Wednesday. As a result, we
learnt that eight out of ten companies and public sector bodies pay
their men more than women. The average pay gap for the UK last
year was 18.4% (that is, women’s median hourly earnings are
18.4% lower than men’s). But some sectors are worse than others:
construction and finance have gaps of well over 20%. And the
situation in some companies is particularly shocking. At Ryanair,
average pay for women is 71.8% lower than for men. Theresa
May condemned the “burning injustice” of a system that allocates
rewards so unevenly. At the very least, though, exposing the
problem “should make it impossible to ignore”.
Ryanair: a pay gap of 72%
But do these figures really reveal a burning injustice, asked Clare Foges in The Times. “We have been
told, day after day, that villainous businesses are paying women 20, 30, 50% less than men – the
implication being that women are being short-changed while doing exactly the same jobs.” No
doubt this happens, but it is rare. Paying men and women different wages for the same job has been
illegal since 1970. The pay gap comes about because fewer women are in higher-paid roles. And
what the “dumb data” doesn’t reveal is the “multitude of reasons” for that: “Many women choosing
to work flexibly, preferring different careers, not wanting to devote 60 hours a week to the office.”
True, but that doesn’t mean there’s no discrimination at play here, said The Economist. Ryanair’s
pay gap is so big because the vast majority of its pilots are men, and the vast majority of its cabin
crew – who earn perhaps a quarter of the pilots’ wages – are women. This suggests not an equal pay
problem, but a “recruitment problem” when it comes to female pilots. Overall, men and women’s
pay starts to diverge from the childbearing years. The “motherhood penalty” is often followed by the
“good daughter penalty”: women tend to be more conscientious about looking after elderly parents.
No doubt this is partly a matter of personal choice, but also one of wider cultural biases.
There are “complex social questions” at work here, agreed The Times. Higher paid jobs – IT and
engineering – tend to be dominated by men, less well paid jobs – nursing, primary school teaching –
by women. “Are women paid less because they opt for these professions, or do these professions pay
less because women opt for them?” Lack of female ambition is perhaps part of the explanation, said
Suzanne Moore in The Guardian. “But really, in every industry? In every sector?” From finance to
universities to county councils, women are paid less than men. Publishing the data is a start, but it
only clarifies what a massive cultural shift would be required to “equalise the numbers”.
Spirit of the age
On YouTube, it’s out with
the make-up tips and in with
revision advice, courtesy of
the “study tubers”. The
newest wave of teenage
vlogging stars includes
Ruby Granger, 17, whose
academic-themed channel
has amassed 13 million
views, and includes sped-up
clips of her working at her
desk for up to 15 hours at
a time. While the “study
tubers” aim to support
and motivate other pupils,
education campaigners
have warned that they
run the risk of causing
“collective hysteria” around
exams if they encourage
unattainable goals.
One in four children under
the age of six now own a
smartphone, according to a
survey by the digital retailer
MusicMagpie. Almost half
of those that do spend over
20 hours a week on it.
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
Good week for:
Hamilton, the hip-hop musical, which was the toast of this
week’s Olivier Awards, winning seven of the record 13 categories
in which it was nominated.
Wildcats, which could be reintroduced to England to help cull
grey squirrels. Ben Goldsmith, a millionaire Whitehall adviser to
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, has already spent £200,000
supporting the re-introduction of beavers; he has offered to fund
the new scheme. Gove is apparently “open to the idea”.
Bad week for:
Gateshead Council, after it was forced to deny that its new
LED street lights caused cancer, miscarriages and nosebleeds.
Online conspiracy theories had claimed that the lights were fitted
with 5G technology as part of a government trial, and that this
had sinister health effects on wildlife and people. In a Facebook
statement, the council assured citizens that there was no basis to
any of the scare stories.
Hot pepper-eating contests, after a nameless competitor
in New York who ate the world’s hottest chilli developed an
excruciating headache and had to receive emergency medical care.
The offending chilli, the Carolina Reaper, rates about 1.6 million
on the Scoville heat scale; a jalapeño, by comparison, comes in at
between 2,500 and 8,000 on the same scale.
Terry Gilliam, whose movie about Don Quixote, often cited as
the most ill-fated production in cinema history, was delayed for
release yet again. A legal battle over who owns the director’s rights
to the film, which has been 20 years in the making, is responsible.
The daughter of the former
Russian double agent, Sergei
Skripal, who was poisoned
along with her father last
month using a nerve agent,
was discharged from
Salisbury District Hospital on
Monday night. Yulia Skripal
will require further treatment,
but has been taken to an
undisclosed secure location
in the UK while her future is
discussed. Moscow claims it
is being denied access to the
victims, but reports suggest
the 33-year-old has refused
consular assistance and may
seek political asylum. Sergei
Skripal is no longer in a
critical condition, and doctors
hope he will be able to leave
hospital “in due course”.
Sugar tax introduced
The UK’s new tax on sugary
soft drinks came into force
last Friday, meaning drinks
manufacturers will now
pay a levy (starting at 18p
per litre) on drinks sold that
contain more than 5g of
sugar per 100ml. The tax,
aimed at tackling childhood
obesity, was announced by
George Osborne in 2016.
The Treasury estimates it will
raise £240m per year, to be
spent on school sports and
breakfast clubs. An estimated
50% of manufacturers have
already cut the sugar content
of their products to avoid the
levy, though in many cases
sugar has been replaced by
artificial sweeteners.
Poll watch
For the first time since the
general election, Theresa
May is more popular with
the British public than
Jeremy Corbyn, with -13
to -23 favourability ratings
respectively. The number of
people who think Corbyn is
doing a good job of leading
his party has fallen by
14 points since December.
YouGov/The Times
61% of young people say
they regularly feel stressed,
and 54% are worried about
their finances. The average
happiness of 16- to 25-yearolds is down to its lowest
since 2009.
Prince’s Trust/Telegraph
Twenty years on from the
Good Friday Agreement,
58% of those aged 18 to 34
in Northern Ireland say most
of their friends are of the
same religion as them.
Sky Data/Sky News
Europe at a glance
Neumünster,
Germany
Puigdemont freed:
The former
Catalan leader,
Carles Puigdemont
(pictured), has
been freed on bail
from prison in
the German town
of Neumünster.
A German state
court ruled that
he cannot be extradited to Spain for trial
on “rebellion” charges, since there was
no “evidence of violence” – a necessary
condition for the equivalent charge in
German law. He could still face extradition
on the less serious charge of misusing public
funds (by holding Catalonia’s independence referendum). However, Germany’s
justice minister has noted that proving
that charge “won’t be easy”. Some Spanish
politicians expressed fury at the failure to
extradite him, but PM Mariano Rajoy said
his government respected the decision.
Berlin
Suspected marathon plot: Police in Berlin
arrested six men on Sunday over concerns
of a possible knife attack on runners and
spectators at a half-marathon event in the
city later that day. German police had
begun a surveillance operation on one
of the men after a tip-off from a foreign
intelligence agency, as the suspect was
alleged to be an acquaintance of Anis
Amri, the Tunisian man who killed
12 people, and injured dozens more, by
driving a truck into a Christmas market in
central Berlin in December 2016. The six
men were later released owing to a lack of
concrete evidence to justify their detention,
but the investigation is still ongoing. In a
separate incident, a man drove a van into a
crowd in the city of Münster on Saturday,
killing two people and then himself. The
police said the man was a “psychologically
disturbed” German citizen with a
record of making violent threats,
and they do not suspect a link to
Islamist terrorism.
NEWS 7
Moscow
Telegram to be blocked: Russia’s telecoms
regulator has applied to a Moscow court
for a ban to be imposed on the encrypted
messaging app Telegram, which is used by
political activists. The app, co-created by
the Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov,
allows for free instant messaging – and
self-deleting chats – among groups of up
to 5,000. It has attracted more than 200
million users since its launch in 2013. Last
month, Russia’s supreme court ordered
Telegram to hand over encryption keys
to the FSB (the successor agency to the
KGB), but Telegram has failed to meet the
deadline. Telegram claims it doesn’t have
any such keys to hand over, and that such
a request is in any case unconstitutional.
China has already banned the app outright.
Nantes, France
Show of force: French authorities deployed
bulldozers, tear gas and 2,500 riot police
on Monday to raze a decade-old anticapitalist protest camp on the site of an
abandoned airport project at Notre-Damedes-Landes, near Nantes. In January, after
years of dithering by previous governments, President Macron finally dropped
plans for an airport to be built on the
1,600-hectare site, but the protesters who
had made their homes there – turning it
into a utopian experiment in autonomous
living – had demanded the right to stay
put. The tough action against the so-called
ZAD (“zone to be defended”) – which has
inspired similar anarchist camps across
France – is being seen as an attempt by
Macron to send a strong message to
France’s trade unions, who have called
a series of strikes aimed at forcing him to
abandon his reform plans (see page 19).
Vienna
Ban on headscarves in primary schools:
Austria’s new government – a coalition of
the centre-right People’s Party and the
far-right Freedom Party – has announced
plans to ban young children, up to around
the age of ten, from wearing headscarves
to kindergarten or school. Chancellor
Sebastian Kurz said the goal was to
“confront any development of parallel
societies in Austria”, a phrase used by
both Kurz’s party and his far-right allies to
describe what they see as the threat posed
to traditional Austrian culture by some
Muslims. The education minister said
the “child protection law”, which will be
drawn up later this year, was a “symbolic
act” aimed at protecting Austrian culture.
Last year, Austria’s head of state, President
Alexander Van der Bellen, called on all
women to wear headscarves in a protest
against what he said was a surge in
Islamophobia in the country.
Catch up with daily news at www.theweek.co.uk
Budapest
Orbán wins big: Viktor Orbán (pictured), the
Hungarian PM regarded by Western governments
and the EU as worryingly authoritarian, won last
weekend’s parliamentary elections by a landslide.
His right-wing anti-immigrant Fidesz party took
49% of the vote, securing him the two-thirds
majority needed to amend Hungary’s
constitution. The extreme nationalist Jobbik party
came second with 20%. The win secures Orbán a
third term in office, and is likely to bolster his campaign to rein in the media and
restrict the activities of NGOs working on migration-related issues – in particular the
Open Society Foundations of the billionaire philanthropist George Soros. Orbán has
already announced the immediate closure of the remaining newspapers critical of his
government, and said he’ll go ahead with a controversial “Stop Soros” package of bills.
International election observers, in an unusually strong criticism of an election in an
EU member state, criticised the vote as flawed on account of its “intimidating and
xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing”, which they said
had “constricted the space for genuine political debate”. But UK Foreign Secretary Boris
Johnson tweeted his congratulations to “our Hungarian friends” Fidesz and Orbán,
on their election victory. Hungary is seen as a potential UK ally in Brexit negotiations.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
8 NEWS
The world at a glance
Norristown, Pennsylvania
Cosby retrial: The retrial began
this week of Bill Cosby, who is
accused of drugging and sexually
molesting Andrea Constand, 45,
in 2004. The first trial collapsed
last June, when the jury failed to
reach a verdict. At the new trial,
the judge is allowing evidence
from five other women who
have made similar claims against Cosby (only one was allowed
to testify last time). On the first day of the trial, it emerged that
Cosby paid $3.4m to Constand to settle a civil suit in 2006. On
his arrival at court, Cosby faced a protest by Nicolle Rochelle
(pictured), a former actress who appeared on The Cosby Show.
New York
FBI raids Trump lawyer’s office: In a dramatic escalation of
President Trump’s legal woes, FBI agents raided the New York
office of his long-time personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, on
Monday, and seized “privileged communications” between Cohen
and his clients. Cohen’s own lawyer said the warrant for the raid
was obtained by federal prosecutors in New York following a
referral by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating
collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. According
to The New York Times, which broke the news of the raid, the
FBI agents seized documents relating to a payment of $130,000,
which Cohen has acknowledged paying to the pornographic film
actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. Trump called
the raid on his lawyer’s office a “disgrace”, a “witch hunt” and an
“attack on our country”.
Mountain View, California
Google staff protest: More than 3,000 Google staff have
signed a letter of protest to its CEO, Sundar Pichai,
objecting to the licensing of Google technology to
the Pentagon’s controversial drones programme –
and urging him to promise that “neither Google nor
its contractors will ever build warfare technology”. The US
defence department’s Project Maven uses a Google AI system
to interpret footage captured by drones, and thus improve the
targeting of strikes. “We believe that Google should not be in
the business of war”, states the letter. It argues that the firm’s
involvement with Project Maven compromises its “Don’t Be Evil”
motto, and “will irreparably damage Google’s brand”.
Washington DC
Sanctions target oligarchs: The US government announced a range
of new targeted sanctions last Friday against Russian tycoons,
government officials and companies with close ties to President
Putin. The sanctions were designed to punish Russia for its
interference in the 2016 presidential election, and its “increasingly
brazen pattern of malign activity around the world”. The Russian
rouble and stock markets fell heavily in response. On Monday
alone, an estimated $16bn was wiped off the value of the holdings
of more than two dozen of Russia’s richest oligarchs. In particular,
investors dumped shares in the aluminium producer Rusal and
other businesses controlled by Oleg Deripaska (see page 51).
Millbrook, Alabama
“Murder-felony” sentence:
An Alabama judge has sentenced
an 18-year-old man to 65 years
in prison for crimes including the
murder of one of his friends, even
though the victim was in fact shot
dead by a police officer. Lakeith
Smith (pictured) was 15 when he went with four older friends
to commit a series of burglaries. Police surprised them during a
break-in, and a 16-year-old, A’Donte Washington, was shot dead
when he pulled out a gun. Under Alabama’s accomplice liability
laws, Smith is criminally responsible for the “felony-murder” of
his friend. The three other burglars, who unlike Smith pleaded
guilty, accepted 25-year terms.
Washington DC
Zuckerberg grilled: Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg swapped
his trademark jeans and grey T-shirt for a suit and tie this week
when he visited Washington to face the wrath of politicians over
the data-harvesting scandal. The social media giant last week
revealed that the data of 87 million Facebook users had been
improperly shared with the political consultancy firm Cambridge
Analytica. Speaking to a Senate committee, Zuckerberg
apologised for not doing enough to prevent his platform from
being used for harmful purposes including data harvesting, “fake
news, foreign interference in elections and hate speech”. “It was
my mistake, and I’m sorry,” he said. He also told senators that
Facebook was in an “arms race” with Russian operatives who
were seeking to exploit the social network for political ends.
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
Curitiba, Brazil
Lula begins jail term: Brazil’s
former president Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva surrendered to police last
Saturday to begin a 12-year sentence
for accepting favours from construction companies. Lula,
a popular left-winger previously seen as a front runner in this
year’s presidential election, denies the charges and says they are
politically motivated. His imprisonment followed days of high
drama. On Thursday, the supreme court voted to jail him, and set
Friday as the deadline for Lula to hand himself in. For two days,
however, he remained holed up in a union building in São Paolo,
with crowds of supporters trying to stop him leaving to hand
himself in. Hundreds have now set up a protest camp outside the
prison in Curitiba where he has been taken to begin his sentence.
The world at a glance
Manama, Bahrain
Gigantic oil and gas find: The tiny Gulf
state of Bahrain has announced that it has
located vast reserves of shale oil and gas in
an exploration field off its western coast
– a discovery so large that it stands to
make Bahrain a major player in the global
market and alter the balance of power
among oil-producing nations. The Khaleej
al-Bahrain basin is believed to hold
80 billion barrels of shale oil, which is
equivalent to Russia’s entire reserve and
would make Bahrain the world’s biggest
shale oil producer. Currently, Bahrain has
only 125 million barrels of reserves. The
field also has an estimated 14 trillion cubic
feet of gas. Bahrain was the first Arab
nation to start producing oil, in 1932, but
compared with its neighbours it has had
limited resources to exploit, and is one of
the poorest of the six Arab Gulf states.
Nurpur, India
School children killed: At least 27 people,
including 24 primary school children aged
between four and 12, were killed on
Monday when a school bus left a
mountain road and crashed down into
a steep ravine, in the state of Himachal
Pradesh in northern India. The accident
happened about 200 miles from the state
capital, Shimla, and involved a bus
carrying about 40 children from Wazir
Ram Singh Pathania Memorial School in
the town of Nurpur. Hundreds of local
people scrambled to the crash site to help
free trapped passengers and ferry them to
a nearby hospital. India has one of the
world’s highest road traffic fatality rates,
according to figures from the World Health
Organisation. More than 200,000 people
are killed on India’s roads annually,
according to the latest UN figures.
NEWS 9
Seoul
Park
sentenced:
South Korea’s
former
president Park
Geun-hye
(pictured) has
been found
guilty of
charges
including bribery, coercion and abuse
of power, and sentenced to 24 years in
prison. Park, 66, was removed from office
in March 2017 and arrested three weeks
later. She was found guilty last week of
taking bribes and pressuring companies
to give money to organisations run by the
family of her close friend, Choi Soon-sil.
Choi was sentenced to 20 years in prison
in February for her part in the scandal.
Beijing
Bible sales banned: China
has banned online retailers
from selling the Bible,
making Christianity the
only one of China’s major
religions – the others
being Buddhism, Taoism
and Islam – whose main
holy text cannot be sold
via standard commercial
channels. The ban on
online sales means that the
Bible can only legally be
sold in church bookshops.
China’s leaders have lately
called for increased efforts
to “Sinocise” religions, as
part of President Xi
Jinping’s promotion
of traditional
values.
Virunga,
DR Congo
Rangers killed:
Five wildlife
rangers and their
driver were killed
in an ambush in
Congo’s famed Virunga National Park on
Monday, the single most deadly attack in
its history. The park is famed for its rare
mountain gorillas and other endangered
species; more than 170 rangers have died
there protecting animals from poachers
and traffickers over the past 20 years. This
latest attack was blamed on one of the
local “Mai Mai” militia groups. These
were originally founded in the 1990s to
fight cross-border attacks from Rwanda,
but some are now involved in the
complex web of inter-ethnic conflicts,
anti-government violence and separatist
insurgencies that have led to the current
humanitarian crisis in the country.
Riyadh
First cinema:
Saudi Arabia is
to open its first
cinema for 35
years later
this month,
screening the
global blockbuster Black
Panther
(pictured). Men
and women will be allowed to sit together
at the luxury cinema built in a repurposed
concert hall. More cinemas are planned in
40 Saudi cities over the next five years,
part of the country’s drive – under Crown
Prince Mohammed bin Salman – to
modernise and diversify its economy.
The country did have some cinemas in
the 1970s, but they were all closed down
at the instigation of powerful clerics.
Boracay, Philippines
Tourism island shut down: President
Duterte has announced that the Philippines’
best known holiday island, Boracay
– known for its white sand beaches and
coral reefs – must close to tourists for six
months to upgrade its sewer systems. More
than 4,000 people and 195 businesses on
the tiny island are said to have no access to
sewers. “You go into the water, it’s smelly,”
said Duterte. “Smell of what? Of s**t.” In
ordering the closure, Duterte was accused
of pandering to business, as Manila had
recently signed a deal with a Chinese firm
to build a $500m casino on the island: this
deal has since been “shelved”.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
10 NEWS
Welby’s path to God
It was never Justin Welby’s
ambition to go into the Church.
In fact, he didn’t particularly
want to be a Christian, says
Rachel Cooke in The Observer.
At Cambridge, he answered
God’s call “kicking and
screaming”. His faith grew
but, even so, he went into the
oil industry, where he worked
happily for many years; then,
in the late 1980s, he began to
get the “horrifying” feeling
that he was being called to
the priesthood. During his
discernment process, when
asked why he wanted to be
ordained, he replied: “Well, I
don’t really.” And what would
he do if he was turned down?
“I’ll go back to London and
take my wife for the most
expensive meal I can afford,
to celebrate,” he added. But
the Church did want him, and
now he is the Archbishop of
Canterbury – having to deal
with everything from royal
weddings to historic sex abuse
cases against a backdrop of
declining attendance in an
increasingly secular world.
It’s a huge responsibility and
a great privilege – and also
a bit bizarre. As leader of the
Church of England, Welby,
62, is supposed to be an
“instrument of communion
and a focus of unity”, which,
he says, is a strange thing to
contemplate in the morning
when you’re shaving: “Do I
look like a focus of unity, I’ll
think, as I stand in front of the
mirror. Do I see here an
instrument of communion?”
Being fired by The Beatles
For half a century,
entury, Pete
Best has been known
as the unluckiest
kiest man
in pop – the Beatle who
wasn’t. His association
with the band
d dates
back to 1959,, when his
mother, Mo, launched
The Casbah Coffee
Club in the cellar
of their large
Victorian
house. Georgee
Harrison,
John Lennon
and Paul
McCartney
helped paint
its walls,
then
performed
there on
its opening
night (and
People
often thereafter). Later, when
The Beatles needed a drummer
for their residency in Hamburg,
they remembered that Pete
(who’d also formed a band)
owned a drum kit and invited
him along. There, they
improved hugely, and back in
England they earned a devoted
following. Then in 1962,
just after EMI gave them a
contract, Best was fired. Now
76, he accepts the decision. But
what still rankles is that, rather
than break the news to him
themselves, his bandmates got
their manager, Brian Epstein,
to do it. “He said, ‘Pete, I don’t
know how to tell you this. The
boys want you out’ – those
were the words.” Ringo Starr,
deemed a better drummer, had
been lined up to replace him.
A year later, The Beatles were
the biggest band in the world.
Best hasn’t seen McCartney
since, but he says his door is
always open. “We’re senior
statesmen now,” he told James
Hall in The Daily Telegraph.
“How many years we’ve got
left on the planet is really
predictable. Let’s talk about
things in general. Stick a bottle
of Scotch on the table and let’s
have a good old bash.”
Sexism Down Under
Julia Gillard took some hard
knocks when she became
Australia’s first female PM
in 2010. The opposition
leader, Tony Abbott, gave
a speech in front of “ditch
the witch” posters; her clothes
came under relentless scrutiny;
a cartoonist depicted her
naked with a strap-on dildo;
shock jocks discussed ways
they’d like to kill her;
even Germaine Greer
mocked her “big
arse”. Gillard
(pictured), 56, thinks
it’s got better since,
she told Julia
Llewellyn Smith in The
Times – but the
pace of change
is frustratingly
slow. “In
Australia, where
distances are
so long, we
joke how
kids chant,
‘Are we there
yet?’ with
monotonous
regularity;
I feel, ‘Are
we there
yet?’ too.”
Tan France is something of a rarity on US television, says Helen
Rumbelow in The Times: a gay Muslim man, from Yorkshire,
married to a Mormon cowboy. One of five gay style experts who
star on Netflix’s hit makeover show Queer Eye, he was brought up
in Doncaster by immigrant parents from Pakistan. His father died
when he was 14 and, having always known that he was gay, France
came out to his mother two years later. “I said, ‘I’ve always been
different’, and she agreed. She didn’t seem shocked. ‘So be it,’ she
said, and my family have been great since.” By then, he’d set his
sights on becoming a fashion designer, and aged 17 he blew his
savings on a trip to New York. He loved it so much, he spent the
next ten years shuttling across the Atlantic, working in temp jobs
while he set up his brand (which led to him being discovered by
the producers of Queer Eye). Now France, 34, lives in Utah with his
husband Rob France, an illustrator who was brought up on a cattle
ranch in Wyoming. Neither of them drinks alcohol, but there have
been some cultural barriers to overcome. “Going to my in-laws’
house is always interesting,” he says. Once, they invited him to join
them as they castrated a herd of cattle. It was “the most upsetting
thing I’ve ever seen. I cried, so I had to go back to the kitchen. But
they are the most lovely people, I love them very much.”
Viewpoint:
Viewpo
Farewell
The politics
po
of hair dye
“There are two types of cosmetics. You
can reme
remember it like diabetes: type one is
naturally occurring (or rather, it appears
to be), an
and type 2 is clearly something you
have don
done to yourself. Concealer is type
one, and lipstick is generally type two.
But with hair dye, whether it’s type one
or two often
oft seems to depend on gender.
For women,
wome hair dye is culturally
accepted as an overt cosmetic choice, but
for men, it suggests concealment. Lots of
men don’t
don’ like going grey; they could
easily change
cha
it, yet to do so is associated
with shame.
shame On the surface, this seems
unfair. Underlying
it, though, is the
Un
deeper unfairness
that old looking men
unf
are allowed
allowe to be newsreaders and old
looking women
aren’t.”
wo
David Mitchell
in The Observer
Mi
Eric Bristow,
five-time world darts
champion known as
the “Crafty Cockney”,
died 5 April, aged 60.
Steven Bochco,
groundbreaking
TV writer who
co-created Hill Street
Blues and L.A. Law,
died 1 April, aged 74.
Isao Takahata,
co-founder of Japan’s
Studio Ghibli, died 5
April, aged 82.
Ray Wilkins, football
pundit who had
captained Chelsea
aged 18, died 4 April,
aged 61.
Desert Island Discs is on a short break
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Briefing
NEWS 13
The march of the deepfakes
New technology makes it alarmingly easy to create videos of people doing and saying things they never did
You can also create fake videos that
When did the technology take off?
lip-sync along to a chosen audio track.
Not until recently. Specialists have
Researchers at the University of
for years been able to create realistic
Washington last year synthesised realistic
computer-generated imagery (CGI)
videos of Barack Obama speaking, by
of people: Hollywood studios, for
mapping audio from one speech onto
example, have used the technology to
an existing video of him talking. The
create fleeting appearances of, say, dead
program converts audio files of an
actors in franchise sequels. But hitherto
individual’s speech into realistic mouth
the process has been expensive and
shapes, which are then grafted onto the
laborious. For example, in 2012 it took
head of that person in another video.
a team of 12 digital effects artists seven
months to make a 60-second advert
How worrying is all this?
that resurrected Audrey Hepburn for
Potentially very. The technology is
the purposes of selling Galaxy chocolate:
shockingly invasive of privacy, let alone
the film was shot with a lookalike, then
copyright. And it won’t just be celebrities
the team used her film catalogue to
who are affected. On deepfake forums,
create a CGI version of her face, and
there are frequent requests for help
painstakingly finessed the animation
in producing face-swap porn videos of
frame by frame. Now – as became
Back from the dead: Audrey Hepburn reanimated
ex-girlfriends, classmates and teachers.
strikingly clear in the first well-publicised
In the public sphere, the technology could be even more toxic.
outings of the user-friendly version of the technology – it can be
It could be used to hoax governments or to cause international
done without editing skills, using only a powerful PC.
conflicts. Hostile powers could use fakes to smear public figures,
or to show a leader declaring war, or soldiers committing
What had the technology been used for?
atrocities. Just as worrying, if deepfakes become common, real
Almost inevitably, it had been used to create porn – so often the
footage could be waved off as bogus. The fake news crisis, as we
driver of technological change. In December 2017, a user of the
website Reddit named deepfakes started posting fake but realistic- know it today, may be only the beginning. “The cues that people
have used to determine the authenticity of information are in many
looking videos of celebrities engaged in explicit sex. By January,
cases no longer sufficient,” says Craig Silverman, media editor of
a free app, FakeApp, had been created, sharing the “deepfake”
BuzzFeed News. “Just about everything can be fabricated.”
technology. It has since been downloaded more than 120,000
times. In the early part of this year, the BBC reported on an
So why are people creating this technology?
“explosion” of fake pornography online – with Michelle Obama,
It has certain bona fide applications. It could save Hollywood a
Ivanka Trump, Natalie Portman and Emma Watson among
pot of money in CGI. It could be used for advertising. “Coke may
those most victimised. The technology has also been used for
want to convey joy by putting your friends in a hip music video,”
more innocuous purposes: creating satirical videos of Donald
says one tech writer; Gap could superimpose your face on a body
Trump or inserting Nicolas Cage into films he didn’t appear in.
type matching yours and convince you it’s worth trying out their
new leather jackets. Mostly, though, it has been created because
How do deepfakes work?
software developers find it novel and exciting.
First, the user gathers a large number of photos or videos of their
target – so it helps if it’s a famous person – along with the video
into which they wish to insert him or her. Then they feed the data
What can be done to protect us from the worst of it?
into FakeApp, or similar apps such as Face Swap, which use a
We need to establish “new signals of trust”, says Silverman. If
form of artificial intelligence (AI) known as deep learning – hence
there is a slew of faked news videos, then people will have to get
deepfake – to combine the face in the
used to verifying such information
source images with the chosen video
before they trust it. This could be
Neural networks: AI’s “animal brain”
(see box). This requires a big graphics
done in a variety of ways. CryptAt the core of the deepfakes code is a “deep neural
processing unit and a vast amount of
ography can be used to guarantee
network” – a computing system vaguely inspired by
memory, and the quality is variable.
that a video is from a trusted news
the biological neural networks that make up animal
brains. Such systems “learn” – or progressively
But it’s getting so good, says tech
organisation: it can be signed with
improve their performance – by analysing vast
writer Antonio García Martínez, that
a unique key. Photos and videos also
amounts of data, acquainting themselves with the
soon we’ll be able to superimpose
come with metadata – showing where
information via trial and error, and developing
anyone’s face onto “anyone else’s,
and when they were captured, which
something like human flexibility; rather than needing
creating uncannily authentic videos
can be used to test their veracity.
to be preprogrammed with fixed rules, they rewire
of just about anything”.
Faked porn has already been banned
themselves by absorbing patterns in the data. Neural
from many sites, and some of these
networks have driven many striking recent
Can voices be faked too?
improvements in artificial intelligence, in areas such as already use AI programs to spot
Absolutely. The principle is the same
translation, speech recognition and image recognition. fraudulent videos: search engines can
– you simply feed lots of recordings
scan a vast repertoire of online data
FakeApp uses a suite of neural networking tools that
of the person you want to fake into
to see if a particular video has been
were developed by Google’s AI division and released
to the public in 2015. The software teaches itself to
an AI program and tell the software
spliced together from one or more
perform image recognition tasks through trial and
what you want them to say. A team
parts. But ultimately, says Kevin
of sound engineers recently used deep- error. First, FakeApp trains itself, using “training data” Roose in The New York Times,
in the form of photos and videos. Then it stitches the
learning software to analyse 831 of
“there’s probably nothing we can
face onto another head on a video clip – accurately
John F. Kennedy’s speeches and then
do except try to bat the fakes down
preserving the facial expression on the original video.
created a convincing approximation
as
they happen, pressure social media
These technologies have been developed by online
of him reading a speech he never
companies to fight misinformation
communities, where developers are often happy to
actually gave – the one he was due to
aggressively and trust our eyes a little
share techniques; the pace of progress is fast.
deliver on the day of his assassination.
less every day”.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Best articles: Britain
The EU’s rules
are designed to
aid Germany...
Larry Elliott
The Guardian
... but would
America’s rules
be any better?
Sean O’Grady
The Independent
Taming the
abuses of the
wild wild web
Emma Duncan
The Times
When
misogyny
ruled okay
Jenny McCartney
UnHerd.com
£135 billion. That’s the latest figure for Britain’s annual trade
deficit, says Larry Elliott. It’s a huge sum and one, alas, that is
steadily growing. Of course, many factors lie behind this trend,
but a big one that’s often overlooked is our membership of the
EU. Why? Because its trading arrangements were designed to suit
other countries, not us. Brussels has put its energies into sweeping
away barriers to a free trade in goods – a boon to a manufacturing
nation like Germany – but not in services, which is our strong suit.
So even though we now sell more to the rest of the world than we
buy from it (a surplus that has increased fivefold since 2012, to
£39bn), and even though we run a surplus in services with the EU,
we’re still deep in the red owing to our vast deficit with Europe in
goods. Some say Brexit will make things worse. But if the UK
were now outside the EU and “weighing up the pros and cons of
joining a club whose trading rules amplified our weaknesses and
nullified our strengths”, would we really “be gagging to join”?
Whatever else Brexit brings, one thing is for sure, says Sean
O’Grady: we’re all going to have to learn to be less “fussy eaters”.
Why? Because the UK will need to strike a free trade deal with the
world’s largest economy, the US – and America sure as hell isn’t
going to let us sell it our steel, Range Rovers and banking services
if we don’t take its chlorinated chicken and hormone-stuffed beef.
Look at the latest annual report setting out America’s wish list
with trade partners, including the EU. It wants to scrap all manner
of restrictions, including various rules on pesticides and animal
welfare. It objects to the COOL (“Country of Origin Labelling”)
regulations that tell consumers where meat comes from. And it
wants to scrap the geographical protection system, so stand by for
Californian champagne and a “Minnesota Melton Mowbray Pork
Pie”. It also believes that cloning technologies are beneficial for
herd improvement and present no food safety issues. “So
post-Brexit, chances are you’ll be shopping blind, unable to avoid
genetically modified American ‘cheddar’ even if you wanted to.”
All over the country, lawyers are toasting each other in “magnums
of Château d’Yquem”, says Emma Duncan. They’re going to clean
up advising companies on new, bafflingly complex EU regulations
governing what companies can do with our online data. And we
too should raise a glass to the arrival of this “regulatory juggernaut”.
No more will outfits like Cambridge Analytica be able to harvest
the details of millions of Facebook users. Under the General Data
Protection Regulation, companies will need our explicit consent
to sell on our data; they’ll have to be hotter on security issues; and
they’ll have to enforce our “right to be forgotten”, deleting things
we wish we hadn’t put on the web – they’ll face huge fines if they
don’t. Yes, there are downsides: small companies will find it hard
to absorb the cost of compliance, so it will restrict competition
and entrench the power of the very corporations who’ve been
taking advantage of us. Yet slowing the advance of the tech
industry is no bad thing. Humans just aren’t designed to adapt
to very rapid change. I, for one, could use a pause before lurching
into whatever “fresh hell” artificial intelligence has in store for us.
The #MeToo movement has sparked much needed debate about
the way men treat women, says Jenny McCartney. It has shone
a light on those forms of male behaviour that escape the remit of
the law. But the trouble with this new form of shaming is “how
selective it can be”. The journalist Toby Young, for example, has
had to resign from two education boards after crude comments
he’d made in the past regarding women, such as expressing his
enthusiasm for “big breasts”, were brought to light. In The
Guardian he was monstered as a right-wing bigot. Yet compared
with the comedian Frankie Boyle, soon to talk at a Guardian Live
event, Young was a non-starter on the misogyny front. Just six
years ago, Boyle did a routine which majored in fantasies of
violent sexual abuse. He wasn’t alone. As “porn chic” seeped into
the culture in the noughties, the “rape joke” became a staple on
the comedy circuit. The new sexism was edgy, it was cool, and
many feminists, “wary of not seeming ‘sex-positive’”, gave it a
free pass. So before rushing to revile the likes of Young, we’d do
well to “recall the full picture of how sexism and violent misogyny
got comfortable at the cultural table, and who allowed them in”.
NEWS 15
IT MUST BE TRUE…
I read it in the tabloids
Huge crowds recently
gathered in the village of
Harpur, in India’s Bihar state,
to watch a holy man pull a car
along with his penis. The
man, known only as Penis
Baba, can be seen in a video
fiddling under his robes and
apparently attaching a tow
rope to his private parts,
before staggering backwards
and seeming to pull the
heavy vehicle some 100ft.
Baba, who reportedly left the
village as a child to practise
penance, remarked: “It is not
art. It is the power of God –
the power of devotion.”
The Tory
backbencher Jacob
Rees-Mogg has been
en accused
by The Beano of copying the
“trademarked imagery”
of one of its best-known
characters, Walter the Softy
(pictured). Beano sent a
“cease and desist” letter
to the MP, claiming that
he was guilty of mimicking
everything from Walter’s
glasses and hair parting to
his vintage apparel and his
appreciation of classical
music. “A swift response on
this matter would be greatly
appreciated,” the letter
stated, “to avoid getting
Teacher involved.”
An “anti-capitalist” beetroot
is attracting bids of more
than £5,000 on eBay. The
beetroot reportedly played a
crucial role in a dinner hosted
by the left-wing Jewish
group Jewdas, which was
attended by Jeremy Corbyn.
According to the Daily Mail,
Corbyn’s dinner companions
held the beetroot aloft while
shouting “F*** capitalism!” –
in a satirical take on the traditional Passover feast. The
proceeds of the vegetable’s
sale will go to Babel’s
Blessing, which offers Englishlanguage lessons to refugees.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Best of the American columnists
16 NEWS
Martin Luther King: a martyr for the ages
“This is a painful time of year for
usefulness to his cause, his country,
me,” said Jesse Jackson in The New
and his people”, said The Washington
York Times. It forces me “to remember
Post. King should stick to his proper
the most traumatic night in my life”.
battle grounds “in Chicago and
Fifty years ago, I’d come to Memphis
Harlem and Watts”, said The New
with Martin Luther King Jr to support
York Times.
sanitation workers in their fight for
better working conditions. On 3 April
But if America loathes marchers, it
1968, King delivered a rousing speech
loves martyrs, said Jesse Jackson. And
in which he urged his audience to
the bullet in Memphis made King a
keep fighting for racial and social
martyr for the ages. In 1983, Ronald
justice, and spoke of how God had
Reagan signed a law creating a
encouraged him “to go up to the
national holiday in King’s name. And
mountain” and survey what lay before
King’s spirit lives on: “It has been our
him. “I may not get there with you,”
moral guidepost for 50 years.” It is
he intoned, “but I want you to know
his spirit that guides the high school
“We, as a people, will get to the Promised Land”
tonight that we, as a people, will get
students of Parkland, who are pushing
to the Promised Land.” The next
for sensible gun control. It is his spirit
evening, standing on the balcony of his motel, he was shot dead.
that animates the Black Lives Matter movement. Almost every
progressive movement wants to claim him, said Simon Balto in
The assassination reverberated around the world, said Sherrilyn
Time. Spearheading the commemorations in Memphis last week
Ifill on CNN.com. Riots broke out in US cities. It radicalised
were leaders of the major labour unions and the Poor People’s
black activists who turned against his strategy of non-violence.
Campaign, founded by King, which demands economic and human
But it also led, days after the killing, to the passage of the Fair
rights for poor Americans of all backgrounds. Yet what was
Housing Act, the final significant civil rights legislation of the era.
striking was that no one even mentioned Black Lives Matter, several
It had an immediate impact in Memphis too, said Jenny Jarvie in
of whose leading activists were that same day arrested by Memphis
the LA Times. Almost at once, Memphis City Council voted to
Police as they protested outside an immigrant detention facility. It
recognise the sanitation union and pay higher wages. But what
all serves to highlight the awkward reality “that racism is as much a
many forget, said Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone, is that a year
driving force in our politics, culture and society as it was on the day
before his death King had fallen out of favour with the American
of King’s assassination”, said W. Darin Moore in USA Today. Last
press and public. He’d caused outrage with a speech condemning
year, “more black people died at the hands of the police than the
the war in Vietnam, arguing that America should instead devote
number of black people who were lynched in the worst year of Jim
its resources to a “War on Poverty”. In the following days,
Crow”. Fifty years on, we are still grappling with the “unfinished
168 newspapers denounced him. King has “diminished his
work for which King paid the ultimate sacrifice”.
Trump vs. Amazon: right target, wrong messenger?
federal tax, and last year paid $211m in
One dangerous thing about demagogues,
state taxes. It’s also said that thousands
said Jeet Heer in The New Republic, is
have lost their jobs due to competition
how easily they can tarnish a good
from Amazon; but, Amazon has offset
cause. Take Donald Trump and his war
that by itself creating jobs for 300,000
against Amazon. In the past week, he
US workers. No, the real issue here
has been taking potshots on Twitter at
“is Trump’s Bernie Sanders-style
Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos,
misunderstanding of economics”.
accusing the company of putting retail
stores out of business and exploiting the
On the contrary – the real issue here,
US postal service. That has helped slice
said David Dayen in The New Republic,
$75bn off the company’s market
is “that government has been propping
valuation. Yet Trump’s motives are
up the company for the entirety of its
almost certainly personal. He’s obsessed
existence”. Amazon may pay sales tax
with Bezos because Bezos also owns The
now that it has warehouses in every
Washington Post, which has been critical
Jeff Bezos: the president’s bête noire
state, but for almost two decades it never
of the president. According to one White
charged sales tax on online purchases; and through this simple
House source, Trump wonders, “How can I f**k with him?”.
price advantage it won its market share. It has benefited hugely
That poses a dilemma for progressives: undoubtedly Amazon
under Trump, too, not just from corporate tax breaks, but from
needs to be reined in. But instead of using anti-trust laws to do
a change in federal procurement laws that allows the Department
so, Trump’s approach, like Vladimir Putin’s, “is to subordinate
of Defence to buy all commercial items on Amazon. Yet to my
Amazon not to government but to his personal whims”.
mind, all the arguments about anti-trust violations, taxes and so
on are “subplots in a far larger story”, said Matt Lewis on the
But what terrible crime has Amazon committed, asked Michael
Daily Beast, the story of a battle not so much of “big vs. small”
Tanner in the National Review. For years, it has been engaged
as of “virtual vs. local”. Once, businesses were tied to a com“in a nefarious plot to sell me things I want at a price I like.
How evil can it get?” Trump says it has caused the postal service munity and owed “at least some perfunctory responsibility for
to lose money; yet Amazon has actually helped it make some by its wellbeing”. With a company like Amazon that tie is lost. Even
increasing the volume of package delivery. The tech giant is also if it doesn’t destroy jobs, it destroys the bricks-and-mortar
retailers that make up a neighbourhood. “If the public ultimately
in the dock for skimping on tax and, true enough – thanks to a
sides with Trump over Amazon, it’ll have little to do with the
series of exemptions and credits – it paid no federal income tax
details and everything to do with fear of a dark future.”
last year. But from 2015 to 2017, it stumped up $1.2bn in
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
BEDS, SOFAS AND FURNITURE FOR LOAFERS
LOAF.COM
BATTERSEA
NOTTING HILL
SPITALFIELDS
GUILDFORD
Best articles: International
NEWS 19
President Macron: can he really change France?
case, said Pascal Perri in Les Échos
Emmanuel Macron had it
(Paris). But ministers are messing
coming, said Silvia Ayuso in El País
it up by introducing silly schemes
(Madrid). As night follows day,
of their own, such as a road
French presidents sooner or later
“eco-tax” to help pay for the
run into fierce opposition from
railways. All that will do is enrage
militant unions. Last week, some
car drivers. Rail reform was never
of the 150,000 workers of the
high on Macron’s agenda, said
state-run rail network, SNCF,
Leo Klimm in Süddeutsche
began a three-month battle to
Zeitung (Munich), so it’s odd he
stop the government curbing their
should pick this fight now. Maybe
generous pay and benefits. For two
he hopes to emulate Margaret
days last week, just one in seven
Thatcher and be seen as a resolute
high-speed trains were running
reformer. But if he has to bow to
and regional services were limited;
the unions, he’ll have jeopardised
a third of Eurostar crossings to
the passage of far more essential
London were called off. The
CGT boss Philippe Martinez: make-or-break time
reforms – reducing high taxes on
hard-line CGT and other unions
business and sorting out the universities. Yet the strike is also
plan to continue such two-day stoppages every week until
make-or-break for CGT boss Philippe Martinez, said Politico.
the end of June. Air France pilots are striking too. It’s all too
France’s unions aren’t as strong as they used to be. But the
reminiscent of 1995, when Jacques Chirac was forced to back
ranks are outraged at Martinez’s failure to block labour
down after a massive strike paralysed the country for weeks.
reforms, and his hard-line advisers are urging him to stand
And in an eerie echo of 1968 (see page 29) students added
firm in the present strikes.
to the chaos by staging protests against Macron’s university
reforms. Will Macron too be forced to accept defeat?
Macron has also got to face down the students, said Capucine
Gilbert in Ouest-France (Rennes). He wants to change the
Macron is avoiding the taboo word “privatisation”, but that’s
present system under which every student who passes the
the logical outcome of his reforms, said Fabien Grasser in Le
Quotidien (Esch-sur-Alzette). The SNCF will turn from a public baccalaureate high school exam is entitled to go to university in
their home area. This has put such pressure on popular subjects
institution into a public limited company, with the state as
like law that universities have had to resort to selecting students
majority shareholder. Whatever Macron says to the contrary,
by lottery. To the fury of student radicals, Macron now wants
the ideal of disinterested public service “will yield to the logic
of profit”. It isn’t really Macron’s doing, said Politico (Brussels). oversubscribed universities to select on merit instead. And an
attack by masked men on students protesting in Montpellier
France is under pressure to comply with EU directives to open
has now sparked action across the country – the undergraduate
its rail services to private competition by 2020. Germany and
campus of the Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris has been occupied.
Britain have already done so – SNCF itself owns a 70% stake
in Keolis, which operates in the UK. But France has been
Nurses and energy workers are joining the strikes as well, said
dragging its feet. The reforms would enable private operators
Laurent Joffrin in Libération (Paris), and the government looks
to challenge SNCF on high-speed networks within two years
to be in trouble. The disputes may all have disparate causes, but
(and regional trains within five).
they share a common theme: the French reverence for the idea
of the state as social protector, and the perennial resistance to
In its present state – owing s46bn – the SNCF couldn’t survive
reform. That still appeals to many people in France, on the
the competition: it just can’t go on guaranteeing jobs for life
far-right as much as the Left. It’s hard to see them letting go.
and retirement at 52. So the government actually has a good
PAKISTAN
The hatreds of
a patriarchal
society
Dawn
(Karachi)
JAPAN
You must wait
your turn to
have a baby
The Mainichi Shimbun
(Tokyo)
How extraordinary that a Pakistani woman feted abroad for her bravery should be so detested in her
own land, says Asad Hashim. Malala Yousafzai has lived in Britain since being shot by the Taliban
in 2012 for daring to campaign for education for girls. You’d think Pakistanis would be proud to
see her lauded on the world stage and awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But no. Many see her as a
“Western stooge” who won fame by “maligning Pakistan and its values”. Death threats discouraged
her from returning, and when she did finally make a brief visit last month, it was to a chorus of
angry voices proclaiming, “I am not Malala”. What an appalling instance of our country’s rampant
misogyny. Another women’s rights campaigner celebrated in the West is Mukhtar Mai, who
survived a horrific gang rape ordered by a tribal council, then sought justice instead of taking her
own life, as custom demands. She was widely vilified; the then president Pervez Musharraf even
suggested that Mai and her ilk “voluntarily had themselves raped” in order to gain foreign citizenship. These brave people are something that the patriarchy abhors: women who refuse to be silenced.
Women being discouraged from having children? That’s the last thing you’d expect in a country in
headlong demographic decline. Yet in workplaces across Japan where women make up most of the
staff, that’s just what’s happening, says the Mainichi Shimbun. Japanese women are being told by
their managers to wait their “turn” before having a baby. In one recent incident that caused a public
outcry, an employee in a childcare centre who discovered she was pregnant was “harshly” chided by
the centre’s director for “selfishly breaking the rules”. He had set up a strict schedule for female staff
taking time off to give birth and she had broken it. In another incident, a 26-year-old working in a
Tokyo cosmetics firm was told by a supervisor she’d only be allowed to have a child in ten years’
time: she was emailed a document mapping out childbirth schedules, with the warning that “selfish
behaviour will be subject to punishment”. And even when female staff aren’t explicitly told to stick
to a schedule, many put off getting pregnant so as not to “cause trouble to colleagues”. Businesses in
most countries can find ways to accommodate pregnant staff. Why can’t Japan learn to do the same?
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
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Health & Science
NEWS 21
What the scientists are saying…
Caffeine: no boost for one in ten
Downing an espresso is supposed to boost
energy levels, but for around one in ten
people, it may have the opposite effect.
Some years ago, scientists discovered that
variations in a specific gene control the
way the body metabolises coffee. People
with two copies of this variant (about
50% of the population) are “fast”
metabolisers: coffee gives them a jolt, and
then it’s gone. Some 40% have one copy
and are “moderate” metabolisers. The rest
are “slow” metabolisers. This means the
drug lingers longer in the body – and that
appears to have consequences. In 2006, a
team from the University of Toronto found
that slow metabolisers who drink a lot of
coffee are more likely to suffer heart
attacks than faster metabolisers; now they
have found evidence that caffeine also saps
their energy levels. For their study, the
team recruited 100 male athletes and
tested their DNA to determine how fast
they metabolise coffee. They then gave
them either a dose of caffeine or a placebo,
and asked them to cycle 10km as fast as
possible. The fast metabolisers completed
the course 7% faster, on average, after
ingesting caffeine than after the placebo;
the moderate metabolisers performed
about the same both times; while the
slow metabolisers were 14% slower. The
researchers speculate that when caffeine
stays in the body, it narrows the blood
vessels, restricting the flow of blood and
oxygen to tiring muscles.
New drugs to fight MRSA
The discovery of a class of drugs that
attacks the superbug MRSA has raised
hopes of progress in the fight against
antibiotic resistance. A team of scientists
at Rhode Island Hospital in the US
tested 82,000 lab-made molecules on
Pasta is back on the menu
roundworms infected with methicillinresistant Staphylococcus aureus, and
found that two showed particular promise.
Created in the 1960s to treat cancer and
acne, they are forms of retinoid, chemically
similar to vitamin A. In tests, these killed
not only normal MRSA cells by weakening
their cell membranes, but also the ones
that lie dormant, evading detection and
then emerging later – with added resistance
– to reignite the infection. When used in
tandem with an existing antibiotic on
mice infected with a resistant form of
MRSA, the drugs wiped out 95% of the
“persister” cells. The team described their
findings as very promising, but warned
that it will be years before they’re ready
for human trials – and in the meantime,
resistance will keep growing.
A glimpse of the distant universe
A “blue supergiant” nine billion light years
away has become the most distant star
The jazz singers of the frozen Arctic
Bowhead whales are the jazz musicians
of the animal world, keeping up
a 24-hour stream of intricate and
ever-varying songs during their long
winter breeding season, scientists
have discovered. Over four winters,
researchers recorded a colony of some
200 whales as they swam under the ice
off the east coast of Greenland. During
this time, they counted 184 distinct
melodies. Each season brought a
new set of songs, and no songs were
repeated between years. Humpbacks are the only other whale species known to sing
complex songs, but their music, though melodious, is different. “If humpback whale
song is like classical music, bowheads are jazz,” said research leader Dr Kate Stafford,
from the University of Washington. “Their sound is more free-form.”
Because bowhead whales – which can live for more than two centuries and weigh
up to 100 tonnes – spend the year in the Arctic, never migrating to more accessible
waters, their habits are little studied. The team do not know if it’s only the males that
sing (as with humpbacks), nor why their songs are so varied. “I don’t know why they
do this remarkable singing, but there must be a reason,” said Dr Stafford.
ever spotted. With the exception of
supernovae – the dazzling explosions of
dying stars – individual stars (as opposed
to clusters) are normally only detectable
by telescopes up to a distance of about 100
million light years. In this case, however,
an unusual magnifying effect known as
gravitational lensing caused the star,
dubbed Icarus, to become visible at nearly
100 times this distance. The phenomenon
occurs when gravity from objects within
the normal range of telescopes bends the
light emitted by objects behind them,
creating “cosmic telescopes”. Astronomers
from institutions including the University of
California, Berkeley, first noticed Icarus in
2016 as a small point of light that became
progressively brighter. They eventually
calculated that it was a star bigger than
our Sun whose light was being boosted
by a factor of about 2,000 by a massive
galaxy cluster five billion light years away.
Icarus’s light has travelled so far that
astronomers were seeing it at a point when
the universe was some five billion years
old, long before our solar system formed.
No weight gain from pasta
Eating pasta regularly needn’t cause you
to pile on the pounds, provided it’s part
of a healthy diet. People often assume that
because pasta is a refined carbohydrate it’s
best avoided. But unlike potatoes, white
bread and short-grain white rice, pasta is
a low-glycaemic food: it releases energy
slowly and doesn’t cause blood sugar to
spike. Scientists from Canada analysed
30 trials involving people who had eaten
pasta as part of a low-GI diet, and found
no evidence that it led to increased weight
or higher fat levels; in fact, the pasta eaters
often lost weight. However, they were only
consuming it in modest quantities (three
half-cup servings a week, typically).
Bag charge is “working”
The number of plastic bags littering
British seas has fallen sharply,
suggesting that making retailers charge
for them is working, reports The Times.
The Centre for Environment, Fisheries
and Aquaculture Science analysed
almost 2,500 research trawls carried out
around the UK in the past 25 years and
found that, since 2010, the likelihood of
nets bringing up plastic bags has more
than halved. Wales introduced its charge
in 2011, Northern Ireland followed suit
in 2013, Scotland in 2014 and England in
2015. Since then, the number of plastic
bags issued by big retailers in England
has fallen by 80% – equivalent to six
billion bags a year. Yet the report’s
findings highlight the fact that bags
are only part of the problem: there has
been no change in the volume of plastic
bottles and food packaging brought
up in trawls, while the amount of debris
from fishing boats has increased.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
22 NEWS
Pick of the week’s
Gossip
The fashion world has been
reeling from rumours that
Anna Wintour, the longtime editor of US Vogue,
is planning to stand down
after the September issue.
Publisher Condé Nast has
flatly denied the story, but
that has not stopped
fashion pundits trying to
imagine what the world
would look like if Wintour –
one of the industry’s most
influential, and formidable,
figures – did leave the post
she has held for the past 30
years. As David Carr once
put it in The New York
Times: “She does not put a
finger in the wind to judge
trends: she is the wind.”
Russell Crowe has raised
£2m to fund his divorce, by
auctioning off a trove of his
personal possessions and
movie memorabilia. Many
of the lots in “The Art of
Divorce” sale in Sydney
went for far more than their
estimates. A jock strap
Crowe wore in Cinderella
Man sold for £4,500 (from
a £330 estimate), while
Maximus’s breastplate,
from Gladiator, went for
£83,000, nearly five times
its estimate. “Exciting, isn’t
it?” said Crowe as the sale
got under way.
Katie Price is planning to
run the London Marathon
dressed as a giant lung.
The model turned
entrepreneur has vowed to
complete the 26 miles to
raise funds for the British
Lung Foundation, which
has supported her mother
since she was diagnosed
with idiopathic pulmonary
fibrosis. Price has run the
marathon before, and “she
knows it will be harder in
the costume, but is determined to make it around
the route”, said a friend.
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
Talking points
Gaza: on the brink of a bloodbath?
Hashem Zakout was meant
breached, Hamas stands to
to be volunteering at his local
gain from these protests, as
hospital in Gaza last weekend,
they’re distracting attention
said Donald Macintyre in
from its own mismanagement
The Observer. Instead, the
of Gaza, which has
24-year-old ended up in
contributed to the wretched
casualty himself, after
conditions of the enclave.
being shot in the knee while
“Unemployment is chronic.
throwing stones at Israeli
Hunger is rampant. Water
troops across the border. He
is undrinkable. Electricity is
is one of hundreds of Gazans
available for only two to four
to have been wounded since
hours per day.”
the launch last month of a
six-week border protest known
Hamas appears to have
as the “Great Return March”.
“changed its tactics, if not
The protests are designed to
its ideology”, said The
raise awareness of the
Economist. After a decade
harshness of life in the coastal
of building up its “military
Gazans protesting at the border
enclave, and to support Gazans’
muscle”, it has recognised the
demands to return to their ancestral homes in
limitations of this approach. Israel’s Iron Dome
what is now Israel. Zakout is among the luckier
missile-defence system intercepts cross-border
protesters. More than 30 others have been killed
missiles, and it regularly destroys Hamas’s
by Israeli snipers, among them a 14-year-old boy tunnels. Rather than launching a full-blown
and a Palestinian video journalist.
conflict with Israel, and risk being blamed by
Gazans for further worsening their plight,
The fact that the crowds of Gazan protesters are
Hamas is hoping to advance its interests
“largely if not entirely” unarmed cuts little ice
through mass demonstrations. Hamas may be
with Israel, said Hussein Ibish in Foreign Policy
orchestrating the current protests, said Patrick
(Washington DC). What it fears – and what
Cockburn in The Independent, but it didn’t
Hamas, the increasingly unpopular militant
instigate them. The original impetus came
group that has controlled Gaza since 2007,
from ordinary Gazans who are fed up with
hopes – is that “the border is somehow breached the impossibility of living under an Israeli and
and large numbers of young men cross over into
Egyptian blockade, and with their own “selfwhat used to be their country”. Israeli officials
seeking” leaders. “The most dangerous aspect of
warn that such an event could precipitate a
the situation in terms of its potential for violence
“bloodbath”. But even if the border isn’t
may be that nobody is really in charge.”
A new centre party: do we need one?
“It is easy to set up a political party,” said
Andrew Rawnsley in The Observer. You just
have to register with the Electoral Commission
and raise enough cash to fund deposits for your
candidates. In the first three months of this year,
35 new political outfits were formed, including
the Aspire party, Save Us Now and the
Psychedelic Future Party. What’s harder “is
creating a new party with the potential to get
to power”: since 1900, only one new entrant
– Labour – has gone on to govern the UK. But
many would argue that, today, conditions are
ripe for a new political movement, said Michael
Savage in the same paper. And it emerged this
week that one is being set up by a network of
entrepreneurs and philanthropists keen to
“break the Westminster mould”. The new party,
established by Simon Franks, the co-founder of
LoveFilm, will aim for the centre ground, and it
will have access to £50m in funding.
About time too, said Rachel Sylvester in The
Times. “There are so many people who feel
politically homeless” in Britain at the moment,
faced with a choice between Jeremy Corbyn’s
Labour party and a Conservative party in thrall
to the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg. A survey for
the National Centre for Social Research last year
found that 56% of the British public do not feel
that any of the political parties represent their
views. Doubters point to the failure of the SDP
in the 1980s, but politics today is far more fluid.
“Brexit has scrambled the party Rubik’s cube,
mixing up the political colours.” In France,
Emmanuel Macron has shown that a party built
from scratch can go on to triumph only months
later. If a socially and economically liberal
alternative were set up in Britain – one which,
of course, opposed Brexit – moderate Labour
MPs would join in droves. The Lib Dems
“would almost certainly fold into it”, and
some pro-European Tories might jump ship too.
It would soon be “a force to be reckoned with”.
Actually, said Dominic Lawson in the Daily
Mail, a centrist, pro-EU party already exists;
it’s called the Lib Dems and it polled only 7.4%
at the last election. Besides, who would lead the
new centrists? Owen Smith? David Miliband,
now running a charity in New York, is
sometimes mentioned as a “king over the water”
– which only shows how short of talent they are.
Successful parties spring up to represent a class
or a cause, said Stephen Daisley on his Spectator
blog. Centrism itself isn’t enough: a Labour rightwinger like Liz Kendall has little in common
with a Tory left-winger like George Osborne. A
centre party would do little except rob Corbyn’s
Labour of votes – although, on second thoughts,
that might be “a cause worth signing up for”.
Talking points
Salisbury: Russia muddies the waters
Who was responsible for
the manner of delivery.
the attack in Salisbury?
(In this case it is thought
The theories put forward
to have been turned into
by Moscow have been so
a gel, and smeared on
“irreverent and numerous”,
Skripal’s front door.) But
it’s as though they’re
by asking these facetious
throwing anything at the
questions, Moscow
wall and seeing what sticks,
distracts the world from
said Andrew Roth in The
the important ones, such as:
Guardian. The nerve agent
if it has no illegal chemical
deployed against Sergei
weapons stocks, why
Skripal and his daughter
doesn’t it open its military
Yulia was made in Sweden;
labs up to inspection?
British secret services
Yulia and Sergei Skripal before the attack
orchestrated the attack.
The British government’s
How did we know there was an attack,
job is to fend off the propaganda assault, but
a Russian MP asked last week; while at the
owing to unforced errors, it is now on the back
UN, its ambassador zeroed in on the fate of the
foot, said Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. Last
former double agent’s pets. Were the bodies of
week, the head of Porton Down stated that his
these “important witnesses” (two guinea pigs and
lab had not identified the precise source of the
a cat that starved while Skripal’s house was
nerve agent. No surprise there: the scientific
sealed up) destroyed as part of a cover-up?
analysis was only part of the jigsaw; intelligence
work completed it. But unfortunately, Foreign
This is what the Russians do when found out,
Secretary Boris Johnson had earlier claimed
said the FT: outraged denials are followed by
that “the guy” at Porton Down had told him
campaigns of misinformation aimed at sowing
that the toxin definitely came from Russia.
confusion and doubt. We’ve seen it time and
Inevitably, Moscow has seized on this
again, from the murder of Alexander Litvinenko
discrepancy to claim that Britain’s case is in
to the annexation of Crimea. It’s so predictable,
tatters. Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t helped, said The
said The Times: they’ve even questioned
Observer: his self-indulgent scepticism has also
why the Skripals didn’t die, if they really were
lent credence to the mendacious pro-Kremlin
poisoned with deadly Novichok. Yet Moscow
narrative being promoted on social media.
knows full well that the toxin isn’t necessarily
Vladimir Putin’s autocratic, kleptocratic regime
fatal: a Russian scientist exposed to it
is seeking to undermine the values of democracy,
accidentally in 1987 recovered consciousness
international law, openness and truth. We
after ten days. It all depends on the dose and
cannot allow this vision to triumph.
TV fakery: how often are viewers misled?
Earth’s Natural Wonders,
It was a remarkable scene, said
footage of the Italian Dolomites
Patrick Sawer in The Daily
had been used in a sequence
Telegraph. In 2011, viewers
about Nepal. As for wildlife
of the BBC’s Human Planet
documentaries, they’re rife with
watched agog as the Korowai
fakery: scenes that are hard to
people of West Papua,
capture in the wild are often
Indonesia, built a tree house,
filmed in zoos, or under other
way up in the forest canopy, for
“controlled conditions”, while
a family to use as their home.
cameramen have admitted to
Up and up the tribespeople
The “commissioned” tree house
getting so desperate waiting for
climbed while, in a voice-over,
something to film on location,
Sir John Hurt marvelled at the
they’ve resorted to entrapping subjects, using
daily effort required to carry babies, supplies
sweets or prey.
and even pets to this shack, balancing
precariously 115ft above the ground. It made
Of course they have, said Giles Coren in The
for extraordinary television. There was just
Times. It costs a fortune to go on location.
one problem: the sequence was staged. When
They can’t hang around forever, nor return with
another BBC team recently returned to the
nothing. But having worked in “factual” TV for
region, and asked after the tree house, they were
told that no one has ever lived in it: the Korowai years, I can tell you it’s never 100% true. On
panel shows, witty guys tell “off the cuff” jokes
said they’d been “commissioned” to build it,
supplied by gag writers; on reality TV shows
and had pretended to move in, “for the benefit
recreating Victorian times, participants order in
of overseas programme makers”. Their own
homes are built on stilts far closer to the ground. pizzas when the cameras stop rolling. Putting the
truth on TV is expensive, and the truth is often
dull. We know this, which is why we make
The BBC has admitted to a breach in its
a “dumbness pact” when we watch TV. How
“editorial standards”, but let’s face it, this
else to explain viewers ever believing that in
happens a lot, said Janet Street-Porter in The
West Papua people live high up in the air,
Independent. Just after the Korowai fakery
“like something out of Gulliver’s Travels”.
emerged, it had to admit that in a series called
NEWS 23
Wit &
Wisdom
“A neurosis is a secret you
don’t know you’re keeping.”
Kenneth Tynan, quoted
in The Observer
“We keep a special place
in our hearts for people
who refuse to be impressed
by us.”
French philosopher Jean de
La Bruyère, quoted on
The Browser
“Capitalism without
bankruptcy is like
Christianity without hell.”
Astronaut and businessman
Frank Borman, quoted
in Forbes
“If power corrupts,
the reverse is also true;
persecution corrupts
the victims, though
perhaps in subtler and
more tragic ways.”
Arthur Koestler, quoted
in The Independent
“The role of mythology is
to shield us from history.”
Sylvie Laurent in Le Monde
Diplomatique
“A vacuum is a hell of a lot
better than some of the stuff
nature replaces it with.”
Tennessee Williams, quoted
in the Portland (Maine)
Press Herald
“No matter how cynical you
become, it’s never enough to
keep up.”
Lily Tomlin, quoted in
The Washington Post
“Our chief want in life is
somebody who shall make
us do what we can.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson,
quoted in
The Wall Street Journal
Statistics of the week
There are 24,000 coffee
shops in Britain, and new
ones are opening at a rate
of three a day. By contrast,
pubs are closing at a rate of
around 20 a week. There are
now around 50,000 pubs.
Daily Mail
The “net property wealth” of
30-year-olds has fallen to an
average of £10,000, from
£29,000 a decade ago, while
that of people in their early
60s has grown, to £165,000.
Office for National Statistics
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
24 NEWS
Sport
Football: Manchester City humbled
was “just how little” it took to floor City:
“So, this is the thing with Pep Guardiola’s
Liverpool scored their three goals in 19 minutes,
philosophy,” said Ian Ladyman in the Daily Mail.
United in just 16. The best teams “do not collapse
The Manchester City manager has a “special”
in that manner” – certainly not twice in four days.
approach to football. “But when it goes wrong,
The trick is forcing City to defend, said Martin
it goes really wrong.” We’ve seen that twice in
Keown in the Daily Mail. “If you attack them, they
the past fortnight when, for the first time in
are as vulnerable as anyone else.” Their defenders
Guardiola’s coaching career, his team conceded
have practically had “their deckchairs out for the
three goals in two consecutive matches. First, last
majority of this season” – but when called upon
Wednesday, City were hammered 3-0 by
last week, Nicolás Otamendi, in particular, let the
Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League
side down. In their last 12 matches, the side have
quarter-finals; then, on Saturday, their arch-rivals
now kept just five clean sheets.
Manchester United came back from two goals
down to defeat them 3-2. Victory over United
In attack, too, cracks have opened, said James
would have secured the Premier League title with
Ducker in The Daily Telegraph. The wastefulness
a record six matches to spare – instead, City must
that infuriated Guardiola last season has “come
wait until this weekend at the very earliest. And
Otamendi: let the side down
back to haunt” the club: Raheem Sterling
on Tuesday, in the second leg of the Champions
missed two chances against United. And City
League tie, they lost again: Liverpool won 2-1 (5-1
are struggling to produce late goals – only once in their last
on aggregate), knocking City out of the competition.
11 matches have they scored after the 60th minute. Obviously
there’s no need for “dramatic change”, said Martin Samuel
Make no mistake, this is still “a special City team”, said Oliver
in the Daily Mail. After all, it was just two weeks ago that this
Kay in The Times. In 32 Premier League games, they have
team humiliated Everton, reducing them to 18% possession at
amassed 84 points and scored 90 goals. They are certain to win
Goodison Park. And Champions League success will surely come,
the title, and will stand out as “the most memorable champions
“one day”. But City cannot afford to be “complacent”. Liverpool
of recent years”. But on the rare occasions that opponents have
and United have found a way to beat them – and they will both
“dared to lay a glove on them”, their “frailties have been
be even better next season.
exposed”. What was remarkable about the two losses last week
Golf: a markedly unpopular Masters champion
second most disliked pro golfer. He has been
They say that everyone loves a winner, said
“dogged by allegations” over his departure
Alasdair Reid in The Times. But at the Masters
from the University of Georgia: there were
last weekend, that wasn’t quite the case. Few
claims that he was suspected of cheating and
champions can ever have been “treated as
stealing from the locker room. Yet despite
frostily” as Patrick Reed was in Augusta: when
such controversy, there’s no denying that he
the 27-year-old American dropped shots, the
is “a naturally talented golfer”.
crowd gave off a “sense of quiet satisfaction”.
Yet despite his errors over the final 18 holes,
For the giants of the sport, it was a disappointing
when he failed to break par once, he hung
weekend, said Derek Lawrenson in the Daily
on to win his first major. It was just reward
Reed: a “crushing performance”
Mail. Going into the final round, Rory McIlroy
for his “crushing performance” earlier in the
was playing superbly. But he suffered “a complete loss of nerve”
tournament, when he scored under 70 in each of the first three
and finished in joint-fifth place, six shots behind Reed. Tiger
rounds. And it was all the more impressive considering Reed
Woods, meanwhile, had entered the tournament as one of the
had never finished higher than 22nd at the Masters; last year, he
favourites, yet he was “just a little off in all departments”. Still, he
didn’t even make the cut. Although Reed’s previous achievements
shot a three-under-par 69 on the final day – “a respectable result”
were modest, he has always been known for his “cockiness”,
for a man playing in his first major in three years. Once he has
said Paul Hayward in The Sunday Telegraph. That’s why he’s
a bit more “golf under his belt”, he can “still be a contender”.
so unpopular – a 2015 poll of players found that he was the
“Have-a-go heroes” of the Commonwealth Games
Sporting headlines
Telegraph. The Cook Islands
The Commonwealth Games
(population: 17,000) took bronze
are always a rather unusual
in the mens’ pairs bowling – the
tournament, said Rick Broadbent
Pacific country’s first ever medal
in The Times. They stand out for
in a Commonwealth Games.
their “eclecticism”, with stars
And in the men’s lawn bowl
competing alongside “have-atriples, Norfolk Island – “a tiny
go heroes”. A notable example
stretch of land” in the Pacific
of the latter is Bernard Chase,
Ocean, east of mainland
a 63-year-old dreadlocked
Australia – also took bronze.
grandfather from Barbados.
He suffered a heart attack last
Hursey: a tournament “darling” With a population of just 1,700,
the former penal colony has just
year – but competed in the
one lawn bowls club; its team featured a
shooting nonetheless, despite having glaucoma.
62-year-old taxi driver and a 55-year-old farmer,
And one of the “darlings” of the tournament is
the eighth-generation descendant of Bounty
Anna Hursey, an 11-year-old who has found “a
mutineers. Few people had given the team
novel way of spending the school holidays”: she
“much chance” – especially not in their bronze
played a key role in the Welsh table-tennis team
medal match against Canada, a country of
that made it to the quarter-finals.
36 million. Yet the enormous disparity in size
It’s in lawn bowls, above all, that underdogs
“proved happily irrelevant”.
have thrived, said Ben Bloom in The Daily
Formula One Ferrari’s
Sebastian Vettel won the
Bahrain Grand Prix. He has
a 17-point championship lead
over Lewis Hamilton, who
came third.
Commonwealth Games
English swimmer Adam Peaty
won gold in the men’s 100m
breaststroke and silver in the
50m. South Africa’s Akani
Simbine won the men’s
100m gold; and Trinidad
and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee
Ahye triumphed in the
women’s race.
Rugby union Saracens scored
nine tries in their 63-13 win
over Northampton. Exeter
beat Gloucester 46-10.
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
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theweeksociety
theweeksociety
LETTERS
Pick of the week’s correspondence
A pay conundrum
Exchange of the week
To The Times
Your article on gender pay
speculates whether women are
paid less because they opt for
certain jobs, or if these jobs
pay less because women opt
for them. I was intrigued to
discover, when doing research
in this area in the 1970s and
1980s, that women made up
only 6% of the high-paid, highstatus medical profession in the
US. In the USSR, by contrast,
where doctors had roughly the
same pay and status as bus
drivers, 75% of doctors were
women. Which comes first,
the chicken or the egg?
Dr Elizabeth Vallance,
London SWI
Dealing in Syria
To The Guardian
To The Times
Syria is smashed, its cities in rubble, half its population
displaced, and to bring this about Bashar al-Assad has had
to mortgage his country’s independence to Russia and Iran.
And Turkey is helping itself to a new security belt in the north.
Assad has failed his country and people, and should be held
accountable for this and his myriad crimes.
Merely pointing the finger at Western failures in Syria misses
the full picture. No country and no actor comes out of this hell
with any credit at all. Moreover, the most damaging external
interventions in Syria in terms of destruction and killing were
non-Western, those of Russia, Iran, Turkey and Islamic State.
The Gulf states ran a largely inept proxy war as well.
The question now is, after so much destruction and
suffering, how can we give some meaning to the hundreds
of thousands of innocent Syrians killed in these wars?
Reconstruction and reconciliation are vital, but so too is
political change and more inclusive government.
Chris Doyle, Director, Caabu (Council for Arab-British
Understanding)
Trimble’s concern
Matthew d’Ancona suggests that but for “sanctimonious
procrastination” caused by memories of the Iraq war, the UK
could be part of a righteous Western military effort to confront
the regime of Bashar al-Assad. It must surely have occurred to
him that if Britain and the US had not led the attack on Iraq,
then Syria might well not be where it is today. And if the
West charges gung-ho into yet another major Middle Eastern
conflict, the unforeseen consequences may be even greater and
more grotesque than those of the 2003 invasion.
Joe McCarthy, Ireland
Man’s Hour
Given the recent discussions
about gender equality,
what signals does Radio 4’s
Woman’s Hour programme
send about the supposed
availability of women to
listen at 10am on weekday
mornings?
Peter Richardson, Amersham,
Buckinghamshire
To The Guardian
In your report concerning the
20th anniversary of the Good
Friday agreement, David
Trimble, we are told, said that
any deal to keep the region
within Europe would destroy a
key tenet of the agreement: that
there would no constitutional
change without majority
consent in Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland’s voters
voted in the 2016 EU
referendum to remain in
the EU: is David Trimble
concerned by the constitutional
change that Brexit is forcing
upon Northern Ireland without
majority consent there?
Anna Corne, Edinburgh
Guarding war spoils
To The Daily Telegraph
This month, it will be 150
years since an Anglo-Indian
expeditionary force stormed
the Abyssinian fortress of
Magdala to liberate the British
consul and others who had
been held for over six months
by the Emperor Theodore II,
unmoved by Queen Victoria’s
requests for their release.
Benjamin Disraeli, newly
appointed as prime minister,
To The Guardian
received news of victory early
on 26 April 1868, “gorgeously
arrayed in a dressing gown
and in imposing headgear”,
as an awed cabinet colleague
recorded. With characteristic
hyperbole, he reported to the
Commons that “the standard
of St George was hoisted on
the mountains of Rasselas”,
and raised income tax from
fourpence to sixpence to cover
the cost of the campaign.
Is it wise of the V&A to
make the spoils of war available to the current Ethiopian
regime, even in the form of
a loan? Guarantees of safe
return could be hard to obtain
and enforce. On no account
should the Emperor’s necklace,
presented to Disraeli, leave
Hughenden, the home he
adored, where it is displayed
by the National Trust.
Lord Lexden, London SW1
Cost-saving vices
To The Times
Your correspondents note the
health damage of smoking and
drinking but also of outdoor
pursuits. What they omit to
mention is that smokers and
drinkers pay huge amounts
of additional taxes and also
die younger, saving pension
schemes large sums of money.
The biggest cost growth for
health and care in the next 20
years is likely to come from the
slowly declining fit, living in
frailty, not the sudden deaths
of those making poor
consumption decisions.
We should try to wean
smokers and drinkers off their
unhealthy consumption, but
this is unlikely to save the rest
of us any money.
Peter West, health economist,
London SW20
What’s teaching
got to do with it?
27
world equipped with high IQ
genes which, together with
background, guarantee success,
with the school adding little. If
only we teachers had known!
If genes are as important as
Young and others insist, it does
ask questions of the drive to
improve social mobility. If
schools are limited in the
difference they can make,
do we fuss too much about
“good” and “bad” schools?
The genetic research Young
quotes implies that pupils with
low-income parents tend to
have fewer of the high IQ
genes, and so will do less well
in exams. But research shows
that this belief is itself an
important reason low-income
children do less well in schools
in Britain and the US than in
the Far East. In China and
Japan there is an assumption
that all children can do well.
Those who are less able simply
have to work harder, which
they do, and these countries
have a much shorter tail of
poor performance at age
16 than we do in the UK.
Barnaby Lenon, Oxford
Unisex choirs
To The Times
The Derbyshire Constabulary
male voice choir has been told
to accept women. Insofar as
the human voice is a musical
instrument, surely that’s like
telling a brass band to accept
violins, or a string ensemble
to accept percussion?
Rebecca Carter, London W10
Female common sense
To The Times
If Derbyshire’s chief constable
is serious about gender equality
he should stand down in
favour of a woman, who
would undoubtedly have the
common sense to reinstate the
male voice choir.
Bob O’Donnell, Loughborough
To The Spectator
As someone who
spent much of his
working life teaching
at Eton and Harrow,
it was amusing to
learn from Toby
Young that privately
educated pupils
achieve better exam
results than pupils in
other schools because
they came into the
“And what do you do?”
© COLIN SHADBOLT/PRIVATE EYE
● Letters have been edited
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
In partnership with
I’ve had a soft spot for Haynes Hanson and
Clark (HHC) since founder Anthony Hanson
introduced me to the delights of Burgundy’s
Morey St Denis. Long considered the least
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HHC also have some brilliant exclusive agencies, such as
for Raveneau, the greatest maker of Chablis. It is all very well
to seek out the greatest examples of specific wine regions, but
Ch. La Rocaille Graves,
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The Sangiovese grape may reach
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most of the time we must satisfy ourselves with lesser-known
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April are excellent examples of their type, for prices that
make them desirable on a regular basis, rather
than trophy wines that only pass our lips on
From
special occasions.
£8.85
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Bruce Palling
Wine Editor — The Week Wines
unctuous, it’s perfect with light fish
Chateau Valflaunes,
dishes or simply by itself.
Esperance Pic Saint Loup
2015 Interestingly, Proprietor
Riesling Steinterrassen 2016
Fabien Reboul spent a
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Riesling is an extraordinarily
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Oregon and New Zealand
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around for approximately 500
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years and falls very much into
the Pinot Noir grape has
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actually owned by the
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municipality of Krems and its
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35 hectares of vines fall within the city
mistake this as a well-made Crozeslimits. There is a delightful lemon and
Hermitage from the northern
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Rhone, with its excellent floral
its stony freshness on the palate. The
overtones. Yet again, an excellent
perfect Riesling to convert any sceptics.
wine enhanced by being from the
exceptional 2015 vintage.
Chablis Premier Cru Dampt
2016 Good Chablis is one of
Basa Blanco, Rueda, Telmo
the most life-enhancing wines
Rodriguez 2016 I admit to
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having quite a lot to learn
£23.20
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about
Spanish
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as
I
£20
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Premier Cru Chablis with no
haven’t been exposed to many
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oak barrels used, which
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more pleasurable when I
opportunity for the fruit to be
realize how intriguing they
unvarnished. Daniel Dampt
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himself by focusing on local
the minerally zinginess defining all
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great Chablis. The 2016 vintage was hit
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levels were way down. This is
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a clean citrusy backbone with peach
premier cru Chablis of the vintage.
like flavours. The opposite of
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ARTS
Review of reviews: Books
29
Book of the week
Philip Hensher in The Spectator. This
was, after all, the year when President
Nixon was elected, and some of the
The Long ’68
largest marches in the UK “were in
by Richard Vinen
support of Enoch Powell’s most
notorious speech”. Moreover, ideas
Allen Lane 464pp £20
about
what constituted political or
The Week Bookshop £18
personal progress could differ radically:
at Lanchester Polytechnic in 1971,
For those old enough to remember
students greeted Margaret Thatcher
it, 1968 was “an exciting time to
with cries of “Fascist pig! Get her
be alive”, said Piers Brendon in the
knickers off!” – while Eldridge Cleaver
Literary Review. In and around that
of the Black Panthers proposed that
year, protest movements broke out
“rape could be an insurrectionary act”.
across western Europe, America and
In the longer-term, too, 1968 had
beyond, inspired by causes ranging
Students hurling stones on Rue Saint Jacques, 1968 some dark consequences, said Andrew
from opposition to the Vietnam War to
Hussey in the Financial Times. Much
support for the liberation of black people, women and gay
of the violence of the ensuing decade – including that of the
people. The severest unrest occurred in France, where the
Red Brigades in Italy and the Baader-Meinhof Group in West
student-led événements of May 1968 resulted in the “worst
Germany – originated in the ’68 generation’s disgust with the
street violence since the Second World War”. In Britain, by
“compromises of social democracy”. More generally, Vinen
contrast, 1968 was a more sedate affair, typified by protesters
argues that the ideas of 1968 “fizzled out” as baby boomers
and policeman linking arms at one rally and jointly singing Auld
“faded into middle age and centrist politics”. And yet in
Lang Syne. In The Long ’68, historian Richard Vinen focuses on
concluding that “in most ways ’68 was thumpingly defeated”,
events in four countries: the US, France, West Germany and
I wonder if Vinen hasn’t missed trick, said Andrew Marr in The
Britain. While the book’s “analytical” approach prevents Vinen
Sunday Times. Many of today’s radical rights campaigners, as
from fully capturing the heady atmosphere of 1968, this is still
well as Jeremy Corbyn and his followers, seem to “drill back
an “able” study, underpinned by “encyclopaedic” knowledge.
directly” to that period. Were time travellers from Leeds and
One thing Venin demonstrates in this “excellent” book is that
Sussex Universities in 1968 to attend a Momentum rally,
“1968 was not quite as ’68-ish as we have come to assume”, said
I suspect they would “feel completely at home”.
Dictator Literature
Novel of the week
by Daniel Kalder
Oneworld 400pp £16.99
Ordinary People
The Week Bookshop £15.99
by Diana Evans
Chatto 336pp £16.99
“Writing history is not usually a heroic
pursuit,” said Gerard DeGroot in The Times.
“Daniel Kalder, however, deserves a medal.”
To research this book, he spent years wading
through the prose of dictators, ranging from
such “titans of tyranny” as Lenin and Stalin
to lesser despots such as Franco and Gaddafi
(pictured). And he found that virtually all
produced “mind-numbing drivel”. Kalder, however, tenaciously stuck to his
task, and the result is a “highly entertaining” cautionary tale about our capacity
to be “wooed by dangerous demagogues spouting gibberish”. In contrast to his
subjects, Kalder is an acerbic observer. “Were it to somehow vanish from time
and space, the history of the printed word would be enriched,” he writes of
Mao’s philosophical essay, On Contradiction.
Not all dictators were equally atrocious writers, said Michael Burleigh in the
London Evening Standard. As a classical poet, if not as a philosopher, Mao was
“not bad”; Stalin had gifts as a “ruthless simplifier”. However, only one of the
book’s subjects – the ex-journalist Mussolini – emerges as a “writer of talent”.
According to Kalder, Il Duce’s 1910 erotic novel, The Cardinal’s Mistress,
“wriggles and writhes with exuberant fleshiness”. He adds that Mussolini’s
mistake was to confuse his “gift for words with a superhuman ability to change
the course of history”. This book is a good source of pub quiz questions, said
Christopher Tayler in the FT. Which three dictators wrote and published novels?
Answer: Franco and Saddam Hussein, as well as Mussolini. Yet as a work of
history, it struggles to engage, mainly because “there are only so many amusing
ways of pointing out that this or that text is either a ponderous exercise in
Marxist-Leninist theory, or a badly written and repetitive right-wing rant”.
The Week Bookshop £14.99
In this intelligent and thoughtful novel,
Diana Evans charts the struggling relationships
of two black couples in their 30s, said Hannah
Beckerman in The Observer. Michael and
Melissa live in Crystal Palace, while their
friends Damian and Stephanie have decamped
to Surrey. All four yearn for excitement and
fulfilment, yet find themselves “stifled by the
monotony of family life”. Deftly observed and
“elegiac”, Ordinary People is a sharp portrayal
of the “disenchantment and estrangement of
long-term relationships”.
While this novel is very funny, you’d “better
like your comedy acrid, bitter and spicy”, said
Richard Godwin in the London Evening
Standard. Much like John Updike, whom she
recently praised, Evans “positively gambols
over the crushed dreams of her characters”.
While she isn’t afraid to “go deep into the foul
rag-and-bone shop of the heart”, her tortured
souls are always “warmly drawn”, said Jude
Cook in the Literary Review. Written in
“inquisitive, deliciously exploratory prose”,
Ordinary People “is a joy from start to finish”.
To order these titles or any other book in print, visit
www.theweek.co.uk/bookshop or speak to a bookseller on 020-3176 3835
Opening times: Mon to Fri 9am-6pm, Sat 9am-5.30pm and Sun 10am-2pm
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Theatre
The Fantastic
Follies of
Mrs Rich
Playwright: Mary Pix
Director: Jo Davies
Swan Theatre, Waterside,
Stratford-upon-Avon
(01789-403493).
Until 14 June
Running time:
2hrs 40mins
(including interval)
★★★
Theatre
Pressure
Playwright: David Haig
Director: John Dove
Park Theatre, Clifton
Terrace, London N4
(020-7870 6876)
until 28 April; then on to
Ambassadors Theatre,
West Street, London WC2
(020-7395 5405)
6 June to 1 September
Running time:
2hrs 50mins
(including interval)
★★★★
Drama
saxophones and sung mostly
This sparkling Restoration
by Mrs Rich, who is brought
comedy, originally named The
joyously to life by Sophie
Beau Defeated, was written in
Stanton in “full period fig”. And
1700 by Mary Pix, a name now
Colin Richmond’s “ravishing,
unjustly forgotten, said Ann
painterly backdrops” make clear
Treneman in The Times. Hearty
exactly where each scene is set.
congratulations are due to the
Stanton is “magnificently
RSC for excavating her “hoot”
foolish” as the would-be
of a play and glamming it up
duchess, said Jane Edwardes
“with endless frou-frou and
in The Sunday Times. She
fripperies”. The main plot
“puckers her lips and arches
concerns the machinations of
her eyebrows” like a Restoration
a wealthy widow, Mrs Rich,
pantomime dame. In a strong
as she schemes to marry her
cast, another stand-out is Sadie
way into the aristocracy. The
Shimmin as a “dotty, drunken
bubbling themes are (of course)
landlady”. Tam Williams
status, power, money and sex
portrays the defeated beau
– and the stage “buzzes with
(of the original title) with the
entrances and exits” from a
Stanton: “magnificent”
requisite idiotic foppishness, said
host of characters all hovering
Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph. Two
amusingly on the brink of unbelievable.
gorgeous lurchers nearly steal the show, and
There are also three or four subplots swirling
there’s even an Act V woman-on-woman sword
around, making Mrs Rich a “heady combo
fight involving pantaloons and feather dusters.
of Legally Blonde, Keeping Up with the
“Now when did you last see that at the RSC?”
Kardashians and Blackadder”.
In my view this does not amount to the
rediscovery of a hidden classic, said Michael
The week’s other opening
Billington in The Guardian. The plotting is
The Way of the World Donmar Warehouse,
“wayward” and the dialogue lacks the “verbal
London
WC2 (020-3282 3808). Until 26 May
felicity” of the great Restoration wits. Yet
James Macdonald’s is “the kind of production
director Jo Davies and her alchemical team have
one had almost given up hope of seeing: a
turned a “pretty average play into theatrical
restoration of a comic masterpiece more
gold”, by means of a scintillating production
concerned to mine the author’s text than
full of invention. Grant Olding has written
explore the director’s ego” (Guardian).
a series of “beguiling songs”, backed by four
blue skies ahead. “Does Ike
“The pleasure of a good
plump for Krick’s can-doishness,
yarn well-told is an elemental
or Stagg’s Dalkeith mithering?”
ingredient of theatre,” said
At first, as everyone argues over
Sarah Crompton on What’s On
incoming fronts, we slightly
Stage. And David Haig’s “utterly
worry that the entire play
engrossing” play about the
might consist “of the boring
little-known but vital role of
bits” of the weather forecast,
weathermen in the run-up to
said David Jays in The Sunday
D-Day is a real cracker. First
Times. This is, after all, a conflict
seen in 2014, Pressure stars
that “plays out over isobars”.
Haig himself as Dr James Stagg,
But fear not. It’s “gripping”.
the dour Scottish meteorologist
This excellent play is
charged with giving life-or-death
ultimately about “unsung heroes,
advice to General Eisenhower
responsibility, integrity and the
on when to order the Allied
nature of bravery”, said Sarah
invasion of Normandy. It’s an
Hemming in the FT. Haig gives
“unostentatious” play that has
an “immensely moving”
a “quiet intensity” to it,
performance as the intense,
covering a lot of ground without
Haig: “immensely moving”
driven Stagg. And there are fine
ever “resorting to patriotic
turns too from Malcolm Sinclair as the “flinty
cliché”. And it’s also wonderfully funny.
yet likeable” Eisenhower, from Laura Rogers
This excellent touring revival, at Park Theatre
as a “quietly stoic female lieutenant”, and from
in north London until late April, has just
Bert Seymour as a supportive young officer.
announced a “well-deserved” transfer into the
West End from (appropriately enough) 6 June.
Haig’s taut, amusing and illuminating play
CD of the week
has a great set-up, said Dominic Maxwell in The
Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour
Times. It’s Friday 2 June 1944. Dr Stagg, the
Decca Records £9.99
RAF’s senior meteorologist, is newly embedded
On this superb album, country star Musgraves
with Eisenhower, and has grave doubts about
sings of such un-Nashville subjects such as
whether the weather – balmy but with a storm
acid, futurism and LGBTQ rights. “Regardless
brewing, he believes – will support the planned
of genre, you’ll be hard pushed to find a better
invasion on Monday 5 June. By contrast, Stagg’s
collection of pop songs this year” (Guardian).
American counterpart, Colonel Krick, sees only
Stars reflect the overall quality of reviews and our own independent assessment (4 stars=don’t miss; 1 star=don’t bother)
Book your tickets now by calling 020-7492 9948 or visiting TheWeekTickets.co.uk
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
© HELEN MAYBANKS/RSC; ROBERT DAY
30 ARTS
Film
A Quiet Place
Dir: John Krasinski
1hr 30mins (15)
Keep quiet and you’ll live
★★★★
Thoroughbreds
Dir: Cory Finley
1hr 33mins (15)
Chilly psychological
thriller
★★★
Love, Simon
Dir: Greg Berlanti
1hr 50mins (12A)
Gay teen comedy
★★★
Ghost Stories
Dirs: Jeremy Dyson and
Andy Nyman
1hr 38mins (15)
Woooo!
★★★
ARTS 33
“You’ll need a lie down after this,” said Ed Potton in
The Times. Starring Emily Blunt and directed by her
husband, John Krasinski, this gripping movie is set in
a world overrun by ravenous aliens who respond only
to sound. Keep quiet and you’ll live – a devastatingly
simple premise that makes for “the scariest film I’ve
seen in years”. Blunt and Krasinski excel as Evelyn
and Lee, parents eking out a living with their children
in the woods, but the standout performer is Millicent
Simmonds, a hearing-impaired actor who plays their
deaf daughter, said Kim Newman in Empire. Thanks
to her, the family know sign language, which has
helped them to survive. Some scenes stretch credulity, said Geoffrey Macnab in The Independent.
Evelyn is pregnant, so she must give birth without making a sound – nail-biting stuff, but not wholly
plausible. If the film has a flaw, it’s that it never lets up, said Stephanie Zacharek in Time. “There’s
little breathing space between its breathtaking moments.” Previously best-known as an actor,
Krasinski announces himself as “a serious creative talent”, said Brian Viner in the Daily Mail. Given
the plot line it feels inappropriate to say it, but all involved deserve “a loud round of applause”.
A “black-hearted neo-noir” from first-time director
Cory Finley, Thoroughbreds “plays a little like
Hitchcock’s Rope for mean girls”, said Tom Shone in
The Sunday Times. Most of it takes place in the vast
mansion in Connecticut where Lily (Anya TaylorJoy) lives with her narcissistic mother and obnoxious
stepfather, whom she loathes. Then she makes a new
friend, the sociopathic Amanda (Olivia Cooke), who
suggests they find a way to murder the ghastly stepdad.
They enlist the aid of a seedy local drug dealer, but
inevitably things don’t go according to plan. Finley’s
chilling portrait of this moneyed elite is brilliantly
observed, down to the details of how they wear their clothes and hair, said Joshua Rothkopf in Time
Out. As a result, you can’t help but “laugh your way through the shivers”. This “macabre comedy”
could “easily have seemed grotesque, silly and self-indulgent”, said Geoffrey Macnab in The
Independent. “Instead, thanks to the perfectly judged performances of its two young female leads,
and writer-director Finley’s gift for acerbic irony, it is both unsettling and frequently very funny.”
This “infectiously entertaining” film is something
of a landmark, said Benjamin Lee in The Guardian.
It’s the first wide-release, big-budget teen comedy
to feature a gay protagonist. Nick Robinson plays
Simon, a charming, well-adjusted American high
school kid with kind, supportive parents (Jennifer
Garner and Josh Duhamel). His problem is that
he hasn’t come out, and his online flirtation with
an anonymous schoolmate threatens to expose
him and jeopardise his closest relationships. It’s
heartening to see a mainstream studio picture with
a gay hero, but how disappointing the film should
be so “twee and anodyne”, said Ed Potton in The Times. For Simon’s “sickeningly clean-cut”
group of friends, drinking too much coffee appears to be “the ultimate vice”. Even so, Robinson’s
thoughtful performance makes him a thoroughly engaging lead, said David Goldberg in Time
Out. Love, Simon may lack the “bitchiness” of other teen films, but it is such a “sweet, serious
high school romance”, one can’t help feeling it should have “been around decades ago”.
The terrifically entertaining Ghost Stories is “a
fairground ride with dodgy brakes”, said Peter
Bradshaw in The Guardian. Adapted from their own
successful stage play, writer-directors Andy Nyman
and Jeremy Dyson have created a horror anthology
in the tradition of such 1960s classics as Dr. Terror’s
House of Horrors. Nyman himself plays Professor
Goodman, a sceptical academic who introduces three
tales of unexplained phenomena. A nightwatchman
(Paul Whitehouse) experiences a terrifying vision; a
schoolboy (Alex Lawther) has a fright driving home;
and a retired City trader (Martin Freeman) encounters
a poltergeist. Like Professor Goodman, we start off feeling we’ve “seen it all before”, said Geoffrey
Macnab in The Independent, then the film becomes increasingly frightening – and more fun. As often
with anthology films, despite the fine performances, the limited screen time allotted to each part only
allows “so much emotional investment”, said Alex Godfrey in Empire. What’s ingenious about Ghost
Stories is the way it plays with elements familiar to horror fans, sometimes making fun of them and
sometimes using them to deliver genuine chills. It’s at its most effective when it “plays it straight”.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Art
34 ARTS
Exhibition of the week Monet & Architecture
National Gallery, London WC2 (020-7747 2885, www.nationalgallery.org.uk). Until 29 July
Claude Monet (1840from the canvas”
1926) is “one of art’s
– while the
guaranteed crowd“exhilarating” The
pleasers”, said Mark
Path through the
Hudson in The Daily
Cliff at Varengeville
Telegraph. Indeed,
(1882) presents the
such is the impressionist
eponymous track
master’s popularity that
as a “hot, dark gully
museums have devoted
leading to a tantalising
major exhibitions to
glimpse of wild blue
seemingly every aspect
yonder”, and is
of his life and work: his
“intensified” by
paintings of water lilies,
a cottage glimpsed
the Normandy coast,
in the distance. At
gardens and even
its best, this is a
haystacks have all
“rapturous” show,
been “raked over
said Jackie
in blockbuster after
Wullschlager in the
blockbuster”. The
FT. However, there are
difficulty for museum
moments when it “falls
curators is to find
short”: it contains too
anything fresh to say
many “so-so rural
Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge, Reflections on the Thames (c.1900)
about him – a challenge
scene fillers”, and its
to which the National Gallery has now risen with this intriguing
theme would have “dumbfounded” the artist himself. Given that
new exhibition. The show investigates the artist’s hitherto
Monet never actually mentioned an interest in architecture, the
unexplored interest in architecture, bringing together more than 75 exhibition’s premise “sits awkwardly with his work”.
paintings depicting everything from Venetian palaces and Paris
boulevards to the foggy banks of the River Thames. The result is Yet it hardly matters when the paintings are so ravishing, said
a display rammed with “magnificent, life-enhancing” paintings
Rachel Campbell-Johnston in The Times. Indeed, you can’t help
that will “make the heart sing”. Arguably the show somewhat
but marvel at how colour “dances across the surface” of the
“overstates” the importance of buildings in Monet’s paintings,
pictures here, dissolving them into “a shimmering haze” of light.
but it shows off his “radical vision” to “spine-tingling” effect.
The show’s chronological layout comes to a “stunning climax”
with Monet’s “foggily atmospheric London skylines”, along with
There are indeed some glorious pictures here, said Laura
a series of extraordinary views of Rouen Cathedral and, finally,
Cumming in The Observer. We see the light streaming in through
his “glimmering” paintings of Venice. The focus on architecture
the “sloping glass roof” of Paris’s newly completed Gare Saintmay be dubious, but it doesn’t matter. “You don’t need intellectLazare, and a view of Amsterdam “so hazy it’s nearly vanishing
ual excuses to enjoy this show – just quite simply delight in it.”
Where to buy…
Tom Hammick:
Lunar Voyage
at Flowers Gallery
The artist Tom Hammick creates work
in a distinctive style that evokes both
the simplicity of a child’s drawing and
the unsettling, folkloric scenes depicted
in medieval German woodcuts.
A typical Hammick image might
depict an isolated house in a forest, or
a group of roughly characterised figures
engaged in an activity that is impossible
to identify: on the surface, the subject
might seem charmingly naive, but as in
one of the more gruesome Grimm tales,
the sense that something awful is about
to happen is never far off. With this
new series of woodcuts, Hammick
explores space travel, incorporating any
number of cultural references: Georges
Méliès’s Voyage dans la Lune, Stanley
Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the
TV series Thunderbirds and Buckminster
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
Chamber (2017), 76cm x 71cm
Fuller’s geodesic domes. The pictures
balance bright, psychedelic colour and
disarmingly simple figuration with
night skies so deep and dark as to
be disorientating, eliciting fear and
childlike wonder in equal measure.
Prices range from £2,500 to £13,000.
82 Kingsland Road, London E2
(020-7920 7777). Until 5 May.
The Government has
placed a temporary
export ban on a rare
work by Peter Paul
Rubens, to prevent
it being sold abroad,
says Chris Hastings
in The Mail on
Sunday. Arts
Minister Michael Ellis
this week announced
that the export of the
Flemish artist’s 1609
work Head of an
African Man Wearing a Turban (above) would
be delayed until at least July, in order to give
a British museum or gallery a chance to match
the asking price of £7,695,860. The work was
purchased by The Getty museum in Los Angeles
last year, as part of a $100 million (£71 million)
sale of 16 artworks by an unnamed private
collector in Britain – reportedly the Norfolkbased Italian aristocrat Count Luca Rinaldo
Contardo Padulli di Vighignolo. Its value rests
partly on the fact that it is one of the few existing
examples of a 17th century European artwork
featuring an African man. Experts believe the
subject is someone Rubens met, possibly in
Italy, rather than a posed model. The painting
has been in Britain for more than 100 years.
© THE BALTIMORE MUSEUM OF ART, PHOTOGRAPHY BY MITRO HOOD; TOM HAMMICK/FLOWERS GALLERY/BRIDGEMAN IMAGES, 2017
A travel ban for the African?
The Week reviews an
exhibition in a private gallery
The List
37
Best books… Rose Tremain
The acclaimed novelist Rose Tremain picks her favourite books. She is talking
about her memoir, Rosie: Scenes from a Vanished Life, on 28 April at the
Stratford Literary Festival (www.stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk)
The Diaries of Samuel
Pepys ed. Robert Latham
(Penguin £18.99). The most
entertaining and honest picture
of an age (1660s London) that
has ever been written. Pepys,
like a shape-shifting sprite,
pops up in a thousand different
places, from the Navy Office
to the privies of his detested
neighbours. His description
of the Great Fire of London
has never been surpassed.
Eugénie Grandet by Honoré
de Balzac, 1833 (Vintage
£7.99). A heartbreaking story
about a father and daughter,
living in France after the
Napoleonic Wars. A hoarder
of gold, who forces his family
to live a life of poverty,
Grandet Sr is tormented by his
daughter Eugénie’s passion for
her dilettante cousin Charles,
and is determined to take his
revenge on them both.
Bad Land by Jonathan Raban,
1996 (Picador £12.99). When
I want to remind myself how
well-carpentered prose works
on the page, I read this book.
Charting the tragedy that
unfolded in Montana in the
early 20th century, when
thousands were lured by false
promises of prosperity to try to
make a living from arid land,
it explores the vast canyons
that often lie between men’s
hopes and their realisation.
On the Black Hill by Bruce
Chatwin, 1982 (Vintage
£8.99). By miles the best of
Chatwin’s books, this novel
evokes the passion and the
pain suffered by those who
work the land. Twins Lewis
and Benjamin Jones, fierce in
their love for each other, lead
lives blighted by their father’s
anger and disappointment.
Their joys and sorrows are as
vivid and affecting as anything
imagined by Thomas Hardy.
Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates,
2000 (4th Estate £16.99). This
is Oates’s standout book, daring to bring Marilyn Monroe
to life through a fictional
working of her tormented
yearnings. I’ve recommended
this novel to hundreds of
people. If you haven’t read it,
go get it and stand amazed at
its hallucinatory power.
Titles in print are available from The Week Bookshop on 020-3176 3835. For out-of-print books visit www.biblio.co.uk
The Week’s guide to what’s worth seeing and reading
Showing now
Alfred Molina returns to his acclaimed role as
the painter Mark Rothko in John Logan’s hit
drama Red. Alfred Enoch also stars, while
Lifeline This 10-part medical
thriller from Spain imagines
what would happen if
the human heart carried
memories. Sun 15 April,
C4 22:05 (55mins).
North Korea’s Secret
Slave Gangs Panorama
investigates a form of slavery
practised in North Korea,
in which workers are sent
abroad to earn money for
the repressive regime. Mon
16 April, BBC1 20:30 (30mins).
The Queen’s Green Planet
A film following the Queen
and other members of the
royal family as they support
a project to build a network
of national forest parks across
the Commonwealth. Mon
16 April, ITV1 21:00 (60mins).
The True Cost of Green
Energy It’s called a carbon-
neutral fuel, but what is the
impact of burning wood
instead of coal? Dispatches
goes to the southeastern US
to investigate. Mon 16 April,
C4 20:00 (30mins).
episode of a three-part documentary exploring the racially
motivated murder of Stephen
Lawrence in 1993. Tue
17 April, BBC1 21:00 (60mins).
Films
The Spy Who Came in from
the Cold (1965) Cold War spy
Book now
La La Land in Concert, the Oscar-winning
movie is given a live orchestral screening.
27 May, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London
WC2 (020-7087 7760).
Programmes
Stephen: The Murder that
Changed a Nation The first
Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World,
Whitechapel Gallery, London E1 (020-7522
7888). The American artist has trawled the
world, from rainforests to rubbish dumps, to
create this show. There is a walk-in aviary where
visitors can wander among zebra finches, and a
cabinet devoted to objects found while mudlarking on the Thames’ banks. Ends 13 May.
Booking is open for Grange Park Opera’s
second season in its new home in Surrey. The
imaginative programme includes a production
of Oklahoma! and the premiere of Pushkin,
a new opera from Russia. 7 June-7 July, West
Horsley Place, Surrey (01962-737373).
Television
Mark Dion’s Library for the Birds of London
Michael Grandage once again directs. 4 May28 July, Wyndham’s Theatre, London WC2
(0844-482 5120).
Just out in paperback
Move Fast and Break Things by Jonathan
Taplin (Pan £8.99). The story of the tech
behemoths Facebook, Google and Amazon
is, says Taplin, one of progressivism obscuring
“a new, anti-democratic capitalism of the most
merciless sort”. It’s a “wry summary” (Times).
The Archers: what happened last week
Jim is shocked to learn about Alistair’s break-up. Emma grumbles to Jazzer about the noise at
Grange Farm now Will and the children have moved in. Jazzer sympathises; Jim has exchanged his
keyboard and headphones for a piano. Jim offers Alistair his spare room, but Alistair hasn’t given up
hope. Will panics when Harrison tells him he’s spoken to Ed. In fact, Harrison just wants to talk about
cricket. Jennifer fills Lilian in on how Brian was forced to retire from the farm. He’s now not speaking
to anyone and refusing to cooperate with Adam. Adam’s struggling to get to grips with Brian’s filing
and tells Ian that he never appreciated how much work Brian did. Will’s paranoia gets the better of
him and he becomes convinced Ed has told Emma about the hit and run. Ed reassures Will that he’s
forgotten everything they discussed. Alistair tells Shula that he can see how insensitive he has been
and they should consider counselling. Shula says there’s no point. Alistair moves in with Jim. At the
BL meeting, Brian announces he has retired from managing Home Farm and is retiring from chairing
BL too. The board agree that with Brian gone, they can continue with the contract under Adam.
drama starring Richard Burton,
adapted from John le Carré’s
novel. Wed 18 April, Film4
11:00 (135mins).
127 Hours (2010) Danny
Boyle’s real-life drama
stars James Franco as
a mountaineer who gets
trapped in a canyon in Utah.
Sat 21 April, C4 01:00 (95mins).
Children’s drama
A Series of Unfortunate
Events Season two of the
excellent adaptation of
Lemony Snicket’s darkly
comic novels about the fate
of the Baudelaire orphans.
Streaming on Netflix.
The Dangerous Book for
Boys Bryan Cranston helped
turn the non-fiction bestseller
into a comedy about a trio of
brothers inspired by their late
father’s handbook. Streaming
on Amazon Prime.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Best properties
38
16th and 17th century manor houses
▲
Gloucestershire:
Arlington Manor,
Arlington, Bibury.
An attractive Grade
II village house that
dates back to the
mid-17th century,
with beautifully
landscaped gardens
and grounds. It is
also listed in Pevsner.
Master suite, 2
further beds with
dressing rooms, 1
further bed, 4 further
baths, 1 further
dressing room,
kitchen/breakfast
room, garden/dining
room, barn/cinema
room, library, study,
drawing room, boot
room, cellar; 1-bed
cottage, parterre
garden and extensive
grounds. £1.75m;
Knight Frank
(01285-659771).
▲ Somerset: Manor House, Wootton Courtenay, Minehead. A beautiful Grade
II 17th century manor house in a central village location, with enchanting gardens
and fine views of Exmoor countryside. Master suite, guest suite, 3 further beds,
family bath, kitchen/breakfast room, dining room, sitting room, study,
cloakroom; patio area and vegetable garden. £640,000; Stags (01398-323174).
▲
West Sussex:
Ecclesden Manor,
Angmering. A Grade
II medieval manor
house with views
to the coast and
landscaped grounds.
It has origins as early
as 1324, and was
rebuilt in the 15th
century with further
enlargement in 1634.
6 beds, bed 7/sitting
room, 3 baths,
dressing room,
kitchen, 4 receps,
library, utility room,
study, flower room,
cellar, garage; lake,
orchard, woodland,
barn, tower,
greenhouse, 10 acres.
£2.95m; Savills
(01798-345980).
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
on the market
39
▲ Somerset: The Old Parsonage, Bath. A handsome
Grade II* detached house built in the 1680s, and added
to in 1715. It also has pretty outbuildings that provide
four self-contained annexes. 3 suites, 2 further beds,
2 further baths, morning room/bed 6, 3 receps, kitchen;
pretty gardens. £950,000; Carter Jonas (01225-747250).
▲
Wiltshire: Holt Manor, Holt, Trowbridge. A
beautiful Grade II property that dates back to the
17th century and sits in its own parkland. Master suite,
3 further suites, 4 further beds, 2 further baths, 4
receps, kitchen/breakfast room, library, study; 5-bed
Dower House; 2-bed Lodge; outbuildings; around
93.4 acres. £5.95m; Strutt & Parker (020-7629 7282).
Worcestershire:
Queenhill Manor,
Queenhill, Uptonupon-Severn. A
lovely timber-framed
16th century manor
house in a peaceful
rural hamlet, with
around 1.9 acres of
grounds, including a
lake. The property
requires refurbishment, and has
outbuildings with
conversion potential.
5 beds, family bath,
reception hall, dining
room, drawing room,
sitting room, study,
kitchen/breakfast
room. £775,000;
Knight Frank
(01242-246959).
▲
▲
Lincolnshire:
Manor House,
Stroxton, Grantham.
A charming Grade II
manor house set in
around 1.2 acres of
delightful gardens.
Master suite,
5 further beds,
2 further baths,
entrance hall,
drawing room,
dining room, office,
kitchen/breakfast
room, orangery,
utility room, cellar,
2 attic rooms,
3 garages;
workshop, barns
and outbuildings.
£950,000; Strutt
& Parker (01780408640).
▲
Buckinghamshire:
The Old Rectory,
Great Linford. A
lovely restored Grade
II rectory enjoying a
secluded position on
the edge of the village,
and adjoining Linford
Manor Park. The
property dates to
Elizabethan times, with
extensions added both
in the Victorian and
Edwardian eras.
Master suite, 2 further
suites, 3 further beds,
2 further baths,
playroom, library, loft,
kitchen/breakfast/
family room, 4 receps,
sewing room, study,
orchard; about 2 acres.
£1.75m; Jackson-Stops
(01525-290641).
▲ Dorset: The Manor House, West Stafford. A Grade I manor house built
in the 17th century. Master suite, 5 further beds, 3 further baths, dressing
room, study/sitting room, kitchen, 3 receps, storage/reading area, cellar,
garage; 2-bed cottage, stable, gazebos, greenhouse, tennis court, pool,
meadow, parkland, 20 acres. £3.25m; Knight Frank (01935-812236).
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
PROPERTY
MARKET REPORT
Advertisement feature
First impressions are key to selling your home.
From online property searches to the all-important viewing, making a good first impression is vital
to attract the largest number of potential buyers.
When it comes to selling your
home, first impressions really do
count. According to exclusive research
commissioned by Strutt & Parker, 76%
of property purchasers agree that first
impressions are everything when they
visit a property, and 66% say they are
vital when it comes to viewing a
property online.
So, in a world of quick clicks and snap
decisions, over a third of buyers spend
less than five minutes viewing a property
online before deciding whether they
want to visit it, how do you give your
property the edge?
“The market over the past year
has become more cautious,” says
Michael Houlden, Head of Strutt &
Parker’s Cambridge office. “In the past,
agents could put something online,
knowing it would sell. It’s not that
straightforward anymore.”
He believes the best way to make a
good first impression with buyers is
by using professional photography.
“These should be high quality shots that
the client couldn’t take themselves,”
he explains. “We use specialist
photographers who know how to shoot
a house so it looks its best.”
In Michael’s experience, it’s important
to show the right number of pictures.
“Fewer than eight and buyers wonder
what you’re hiding, more than 12 and
you’re increasing the possibility they’ll
see one they don’t like and click off.”
Of course, a photographer can
only shoot what’s in front of them,
and Michael says that’s when agents
need to brief vendors properly. “I have
no qualms about telling someone their
front door needs painting or the
windows need cleaning.”
Once the images have done the trick
and a potential buyer has decided to
visit your property, what’s the secret of a
successful viewing?
“I used to joke, pack off the kids and
dog to your nearest and dearest, bake
some bread, put the coffee on and light
the fire,” laughs Michael. “But making a
place smell nice, especially if you have
pets, opening the doors to the garden
in the summer and keeping the house
warm in winter, all helps to make a
property appealing.”
While refreshing a property with a new
coat of paint or a new carpet can help
to create a good first impression, most
agents advise against putting in a new
kitchen or bathroom because buyers
often see these rooms as an opportunity
to make their own mark on a home.
“It’s absolutely worth taking expert
advice and updating a home before
putting it on the market,” says Michael.
“Every year, the standout sales, where
the properties have achieved well
over the guide price, are the ones that
have been presented dressed and in
immaculate condition.”
What buyers say about
viewing a property
84% agree the most important thing
about buying a property is that you
get a good feeling when you walk
through the front door
76% say that first impressions are
everything when viewing a house
66% agree that first impressions are
everything when it comes to looking
online for a house
35% decide to view a property in 5
minutes or less after seeing it online
Source: OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK respondents
planning to buy a home in the next five years.
Research carried out between 29 January and
7 February 2018.
Ewen, Gloucestershire
Guide Price £1,500,000
Situated on the edge of the village, this traditional Grade II
Listed Cotswold house dates from the mid-17th Century and
enjoys southerly views over the surrounding countryside.
Abingdon Road, London W8
Asking Price £3,000,000
An impressive and very special five-bedroom maisonette,
with its own private street entrance, excellent entertaining
space and a terrace.
Cirencester office 01285 897415
Kensington office 020 8023 9792
To find out more about current market trends, visit
struttandparker.com/the-residential, or to view a range
of properties across the UK, visit struttandparker.com
Brought to you by
LEISURE
Food & Drink
41
What the experts recommend
Restaurant Sat Bains Lenton Lane,
Nottingham (0115-986 6566)
I cannot understand why Sat Bains has
only two Michelin stars, says Tom Parker
Bowles in The Mail on Sunday. Every dish
we eat at his restaurant is evidence of a
“truly great chef with a brilliant brigade,
all cooking at the peak of their powers”.
And to make it even better, there is no
“avant-garde tomfoolery” or guff about
“stories” and “journeys” here – just
absolute dedication to perfection. An Isle
of Skye scallop, lavishly caramelised and
yet perfectly pearlescent, is served with
wobbling wafers of braised pig’s trotter
and lentils, and scented with a “whisper”
of garam masala. Sweetbread, gently
poached, comes as burnished spheres filled
with garlic butter. This is “God’s own
version of chicken Kiev” – an astonishing
and “gleefully intense” dish on a “cloud”
of celeriac puree. And a Maris Peer potato,
poached in kombu butter and finished
over embers, with tart cream cheese and
chives, and a wodge of Danish caviar, has
flavours that “don’t just sing, but lustily
holler about the earth and the sea”.
Ten-course tasting menu is £110;
“not cheap, but supersonic value”.
Sorrel 77 South Street, Dorking, Surrey
(01306-889414)
This “tremendous” restaurant, which
opened last year, is housed in a “pretty
little building” full of wonky wooden
was “lissom” and superb – as were two
puddings, one involving dehydrated carrot
and ice cream (“tastes much better than it
sounds”). “What a brilliant, brilliant
meal.” £90 a head for nine courses.
Kettner’s Townhouse: an “ultra-modern” menu
beams and “mind your head” signs, says
Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph.
It was built 300 years ago, when
“apparently everyone in England was the
height of a garden gnome”. Apart from
occasionally having to stoop a bit, I found
it hard to fault. The chef is Steve Drake,
who held a Michelin star for more than
ten years at his previous place in Ripley –
and his “special” talent shines through
in every mouthful. Standouts on our ninecourse tasting menu included a scallop,
smoked cauliflower, cucumber and
curry cannelloni that was a “tiny
swirling blizzard” of textures and flavours.
Excellent salt-baked beetroot was “tangy,
tingly, salty and sweet”. Poached monkfish
Kettner’s Townhouse 29 Romilly Street,
London W1 (020-7734 5650)
Kettner’s has been a beloved Soho stalwart
since 1867, so three cheers for Nick Jones
(the Soho House boss) for bringing it back
to life with such dedication and flair,
says Nicholas Lander in the FT. After
a two-year refurbishment to restore it to
its former glories, Kettner’s reopened in
January – complete with champagne
bar, piano bar, and a beautifully decorated
and furnished main restaurant, with an
impressive chandelier providing flattering
lighting. Plants dotted around the room
and the waiting staff’s uniforms add to the
old-fashioned air. Indeed, the “carefully
created impression is that everything is
just as it was when Kettner’s first opened
its doors” a century and a half ago. Chef
Jackson Berg’s menu (though “ultramodern”) lives up to the grand setting.
We enjoyed fine fish starters of cured sea
bream with clementines and purple basil,
and thin slices of raw Gigha halibut,
followed by deeply satisfying mains of
Toulouse sausage with potatoes aligot, and
roast Banham chicken with pommes Anna.
Welcome back, Kettner’s, we’ve missed
you. Starters £8-£13; mains £12-£26.
Recipe of the week
Adding the sweetness of dried fruit to the depth and richness of kid meat results in a dish that is one of the greats of
world food, says James Whetlor. I always have a jar of ras-el-hanout in the kitchen – it’s a really useful seasoning. You could
use 800g of diced kid here in place of the shanks, if you prefer. Serve with harissa and couscous.
Kid shank, apricot and pistachio tagine
Serves 4 4 kid shanks 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped 2 onions, finely chopped 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 60g butter, melted
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground 2 tsps ras-el-hanout spice blend ½ tsp ground turmeric 400ml stock or water 10 saffron strands,
soaked in warm water for 10 minutes small bunch of coriander, leaves chopped, stalks reserved 150g dried apricots, roughly chopped
1 medium preserved lemon, rind only, roughly chopped 50g pistachios, roughly chopped honey, to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper small bunch of mint, leaves picked, to serve
© SOHO HOUSE-KETTNER’S TOWNHOUSE
• Mix together the shanks,
tom
tomatoes,
onions, garlic,
melted butter, spices (apart
mel
from
fro the saffron), 1 tsp of salt
and 1 tsp of pepper. Cover
and refrigerate for a few
hours
hou or overnight.
• When
Whe ready to cook, put
the marinated meat in a large saucepan
and cook, uncovered, over a moderate
heat for 20 minutes until a sauce has
formed and thickened.
• Add the stock or water, along with the
saffron and its soaking water, the coriander
stalks, dried apricots and the rind of the
preserved lemon.
• Cover and simmer gently over a low
heat for about 2 hours or until the meat is
completely tender. Top up with a little water
if it dries out.
• When the shanks are cooked, remove
any excess fat from the sauce and add the
pistachios, then the honey, and the salt and
pepper to taste.
• Serve scattered with the coriander and
mint leaves.
Taken from Goat: Cooking and Eating by James Whetlor, published by Quadrille at £20. To buy from
The Week Bookshop for £18, call 020-3176 3835 or visit www.theweek.co.uk/bookshop.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Consumer
New cars: what the critics say
Volvo XC40
from £27,905
Auto Express
A strong new entrant
into the market for small
premium SUVs, the XC40
is noticeably more youthful
than its Volvo stablemates,
and strikes a nice blend
of comfort and “cruising
refinement”. Outside, it
looks both chunky and
cute, while the interior is
full of nice touches, such as
(optional) boot dividers to
stop your shopping rolling
around and, at the higher
specs, leather upholstery
and heated seats.
LEISURE 43
The Sunday Times
This car looks so terrific
that its rivals seem “halfbaked” in comparison. It’s
distinctive without being
contrived, and minimalist
without being stark; even
the most basic model
boasts a state-of-the-art
touchscreen with “slick”
virtual instruments. Dense
and tough in the best
Volvo tradition, the XC40
isn’t exactly sporty, but it’s
“perfectly pleasant” to
drive – firm, comfortable
and with good cornering.
The Daily Telegraph
The XC40 is a smooth,
“brisk” performer, with
light yet responsive
controls and lots of grip.
It’s roomy, with plenty of
space for tall passengers,
and the emphasis on
safety makes it feel like a
“sanctuary”. Not only is it
fitted with an autonomous
emergency-braking system
and an extra airbag for
the driver’s knees, but it
will steer you away from
oncoming cars if you drift
onto their side of the road.
The best… books for young readers
▲
Big Dog, Little Dog For
children aged three and
under, this lift-the-flap book
ook
by élo brims with comic
collage animals that
undergo ingenious
transformations (£8.99;
Walker Studio).
Whoever You Are
Dia Hendry’s second
Diana
book about the Coggin
boo
family in their clifftop
home is a quirky, witty
adventure for eight to
tens, involving a
kidnap and a beautiful
horse, which will
appeal to fans of Enid
Blyton (£6.99; Hodder).
▲
Robinson Peter Sís’s version
rsi
rsion
of Robinson Crusoe for four
our
to sixes explores themes of
imagination, bullying and
friendship, and has gorgeous
eous
jungly pictures and maps
(£12.95; Thames & Hudson).
).
Tips of the week…
… how
w
to beat internet snoops
ps
● Download all the data Google has on
you using its Takeout tool; you can then
delete it. Do this with Maps in particular,
unless you want your movements known.
● To stop Facebook advertisers targeting
you, go to Settings, then select Ads on
the left of your screen, click on “Ads on
apps and websites off of the Facebook
Companies” and select No.
● To check whether your email has
been compromised, enter your address at
haveibeenpwned.com. If the answer is yes,
change your password: the longer it is, the
more secure it will be.
● Little-used email accounts are a gift to
hackers. Either delete them or change the
password and enable two-step verification.
Disconnect linked services such as cloud
storage too.
● Never give an app access to your address
book or your friends’ profiles.
● Avoid internet-connected gadgets: most
have poor security.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
▲ Song of the Dolphin
Boy Splendidl
Splendidly illustrated
by Peter Bailey,
Bailey Elizabeth
Laird’s
Lai
story for
f children
aged
age six to eight
eig is about
a Scottish boy whose
dolphin
dol
friends are
threatened
thr
by
b pollution
(£6.99;
(£6
Macmillan).
Macm
And
A
nd
d for tho
those who
have every
everything…
Tin cans are liable to rust, so if you decide
to use one as a desk tidy, make sure it’s
made from sterling silver. For an extra
£20 you can have this one engraved with
up to three letters.
£945; www.tiffany.co.uk
SOURCE: THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Where to find…
mystery holidays
Surprise Me will book you a mystery
European city break: just give them your
preferred dates and departure airport.
A week before you leave they’ll send you a
weather forecast, followed by a scratch card,
a few days later, telling you where you’re
going (from £85 for three days; srprs.me).
Mystery Break has 50 destinations in
Europe, with themes such as “cultural”
and “romantic”. You can exclude places
you’ve been to already (from £225 for two
nights; www.mysterybreak.co.uk).
Magical Mystery Tours are based in the
US, and can include long-distance flights.
You will fill in a detailed questionnaire
(from £800 for a weekend, including a £200
research fee; magical-mystery-tours.com).
Wix Squared After a phone conversation
about your likes and dislikes, you get
a choice of three countries. To keep the
mystery going on arrival, you can have
your itinerary sent day by day (from
£1,000 excluding flights; wixsquared.com).
SOURCE: THE DAILY TELEGRAPH
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
SOURCE: THE SUNDAY TIMES
▲
▲
The List of Real Things
Sarah Moore Fitzgerald’s
poignant but funny tale
of a 14-year-old girl trying
to cope with her younger
sister’s fantasies after the
death of their parents. For
readers aged 11 and over
(£6.99; Orion).
(£6
Travel
LEISURE 45
This week’s dream: meeting the Kalash people of Pakistan
remains, including hilltop citadels
If you’re tired of “the usual August diet
once stormed by Alexander, and
of Mediterranean villas and Tuscan
“extraordinary” Gandharan Buddhist
pools”, try a trip to the Kalash Valley
monasteries with Hellenistic stupas.
on Pakistan’s North-West Frontier, says
Beyond Chitral, with its famous fort,
William Dalrymple in the FT. Set high
there are no good roads, but the tour
in the “stunning” Hindu Kush
operator Wild Frontiers can arrange
mountains, this bucolic oasis is home
jeeps, a cook and accommodation in
to the pale-skinned, blue-eyed Kalash
a “beautifully carved” house in the
people, whose unique religion is
Kalash village of Rumbur.
arguably the most ancient in south Asia.
Timber-framed houses tumble down
Some say the Kalash are descended from
the cliffsides of the narrow valley, and
Alexander the Great’s generals, others
from every balcony there are views of
that they are the last survivors of the
terraced fields dotted with mulberry
Aryan tribes who wrote the Rig Veda
and fig trees. Watermills “straight
in the second millennium BC. Once,
out of a Bruegel canvas” rise above
they lived across Pakistan’s northern
Kalash children in Pakistan’s “stunning” northwest
a mountain torrent. The local Qazi,
territories, but in the 19th century they
or priest, will tell you about the
were persecuted at the instigation of
Kalash’s face tattoos, shamans, religion and supreme god, Khuda.
Wahhabi mullahs. Now, they live only in three remote valleys.
The road north from Islamabad takes you through the beautiful The Foreign Office advises against travel here, but Wild Frontiers
(020-8741 7390, www.wildfrontierstravel.com) says the route is
Swat Valley, which spent two years under Taliban control from
safe and offers full insurance. A 16-day private tour costs from
2007 and bristles with police and army checkpoints. Along the
£2,685pp, excluding international flights.
way are some of the world’s most “intriguing” archaeological
Hotel of the week
Getting the flavour of…
Remembering Dr King in Memphis
The Cow,
Dalbury Lees, Derbyshire
Set in a quiet village that provides
a good base for exploring the
“prime rambling territory” of the
Peak District, this new 12-room
“boutique inn” is “well-designed,
well-run and fun”, says Tom
Chesshyre in The Times. The 19th
century building is eclectically and
attractively furnished, with lots of
wood, zinc and reclaimed items
(milk churns have been repurposed
as bar stools, while a table is
fashioned from an old butcher’s
block). The well-equipped rooms
have “shiny” bathrooms with
walk-in showers and Molton
Brown toiletries. The menu mainly
comprises small plates for sharing
– good, if a little “odd”. Doubles
from £120 b&b, 01332-824297,
www.cowdalbury.com.
It’s 50 years ago this month that Martin
Luther King Jr was assassinated. On 4 April
1968, the great civil rights leader was fatally
shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis,
Tennessee, which has since been transformed
into the National Civil Rights Museum, and
it is well worth a visit, says Nigel Richardson
in The Sunday Telegraph. There are tableaux
dramatising milestones in the civil rights
movement, such as the Montgomery bus
boycott, and you can see mesmerising
footage of the “Mountaintop” speech King
gave the night before his death, while the
motel’s room 306 has been preserved as it
was when King was murdered on its balcony
by the white supremacist James Earl Ray.
See www.civilrightsmuseum.org.
A culinary adventure in Malta
Food may not be the first thing that springs
to mind when you think of Malta, but for
an island only 17 miles long and nine miles
wide, it packs “a weighty culinary punch”,
says Matthew Fort in The Daily Telegraph.
Situated at “the marine crossroads of the
Mediterranean”, it has been repeatedly
colonised – by Greeks, Arabs, Sicilians and
others – and its cuisine reflects that history.
There’s plenty of traditional food to be found
(notably rabbit with tomatoes, onions, garlic
and white wine – almost a national dish).
But there are new restaurants serving more
ambitious fare too. For chic design and
contemporary international cuisine, try
Risette and Panorama. And for “brilliant”
takes on everything Maltese, head to
Townhouse No3 or the more relaxed Noni.
Valletta, the Maltese capital, is a 2018
European Capital of Culture. Visit
www.valletta2018.org.
Summer on a Swedish island
Set about 60 miles off Sweden’s mainland,
Gotland is the country’s largest island, a
windswept rural “paradise” once beloved
of the director Ingmar Bergman and still
a popular summer escape for Stockholm’s
movers and shakers, says John Wogan in
The New York Times. Fringed by sandy
beaches, limestone cliffs and clapboard
fishing villages, it is a full 109 miles long
and 32 miles wide, and has a lively capital,
Visby (population: 24,300), and a growing
collection of “design-forward” boutique
hotels, excellent restaurants and “charming”
Nordic design shops. Throw in several fine
museums (such as the Fornsalen, whose
collection spans 8,000 years of the island’s
history) and an impressively balmy summer
(this is one of the sunniest spots in Sweden),
and you have “a compelling reason to skip
the mainland entirely”. For accommodation,
try Hotel Stelor (www.stelor.se), Fabriken
Furillen (www.furillen.com) and Revolver
Hotel (+46 70 639 39 01).
© WILDFRONTIERS.COM
Last-minute offers from top travel companies
Historic market town
The Cawdor dates back to
1765 and is set in the heart
of the Welsh town of
Llandeilo. A 3-night stay costs
from £120pp b&b. 0800-103
2660, www.rarebits.co.uk.
Arrive 31 May.
Short break in Switzerland
The Hotel Chalet Swiss is a
charming and traditional hotel
in Interlaken. Four nights’ b&b
costs from £698pp, including
Liverpool flights and overseas
train transfers. 020-3636 1931,
www.tui.co.uk. Depart 1 June.
Highlights of France
Begin in Paris, sample wine
tasting in Beaune, historic
Avignon and the French
Riviera, with 8 days’ b&b
from £1,239pp. 0344-272
2060, www.gadventures.co.uk.
Depart 24 June from Paris.
Seven nights in Cape Verde
Spend a week at the five-star
beachfront Hilton Cabo
Verde Sal Resort on a b&b
basis. From £957pp, including
London flights. 0871-474
3000, www.onthebeach.co.uk.
Depart 14 May.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Obituaries
47
The “Queen of Africa”: fearless, ruthless and defiant
The years of imprisonment hardened
her, she said – they scarred her soul
and taught her how to hate. Returning
to Soweto in the 1980s, burning with
anger, drinking heavily and apparently
paranoid, she became a liability to her
own movement. At a rally in 1986, she
endorsed a series of “necklacings”, in
which suspected police informers and
other enemies had petrol-soaked tyres
placed around their necks. “With our
boxes of matches and our necklaces,
we shall liberate this country,” she
said. That year, from her large house
in Soweto, she founded the Mandela
United Football Club. Its members,
regarded as her personal bodyguards,
terrorised the township and were
Born in the Eastern Cape in 1936,
accused of committing a string of
Nomzamo Winifred Zanyiwe Madikizela
violent crimes at her instigation, said
was the daughter of devoutly Methodist
Paul Trewhela on Spotlight.Africa. The
teachers, and one of nine children. As a
most notorious was the 1989 murder
child she was a tomboy, and a fierce one.
of Stompie Seipei, a 14-year-old boy
According to her biographer, she was
who was abducted, beaten and “kicked
involved in numerous fights, and when
around like a football” before having
she tired of using her fists, she fashioned
Winnie Mandela: implicated in hideous crimes
his throat slit. The Soweto doctor who
herself a knuckleduster by driving a nail
treated him before he died was shot dead, while one of the
into the bottom of a tin can, which she swung at her sister,
witnesses to the atrocity was reported to have had his teeth
ripping her face (she said she’d been aiming for her arm). For this,
knocked out, before being whisked to a prison in Zambia, to
and other misdemeanours, she was thrashed by her mother,
stop him testifying about Winnie Mandela’s alleged participation
Gertrude. Yet mother and daughter were close, and Winnie, only
in the killing.
nine at the time, was devastated when her mother died. And for
all her aggression, she had a selfless side to her character, which
During Nelson Mandela’s 27 years in prison, Winnie Mandela
led her to study social work at university. Although her family
was allowed to visit her husband no more than twice a year. She
had struggled, it had not been particularly poor. Working as a
had not remained faithful to him, but when he was released, in
social worker in a hospital in Johannesburg opened her eyes to
1990, she was by his side, delivering a black power salute for the
what she described as the “abject poverty under which most
cameras. The following year, he
people had to live”, as a result of
stood by her when she was
the “inequalities of the system”.
“She was tortured; her food was served
convicted of abducting Stompie
Seipei, and sentenced to six
Regal, elegant and beautiful,
on the unrinsed lid of a sanitary bin; and
years in jail (reduced to a fine
Winnie had many suitors in the
she slept on the floor of a 10ft x 5ft cell”
on appeal). Even after they
1950s, said The New York
separated, he gave her a role in
Times, but in 1957 she met and
his National Unity government. But she was so insubordinate he
fell in love with Nelson Mandela, by then a leading figure in the
fired her soon after, and when their divorce was finalised in 1996,
liberation struggle. He was 18 years her senior, and they married
he admitted that she’d been “cold” to him after his release, and
a year later, after he’d divorced his first wife. Their marriage was
blatant in her infidelity. “I was the loneliest man during the time
unconventional from the start. He was, at that time, preoccupied
I stayed with her,” he said.
with organising the defence for the five-year-long Treason Trial,
and, as commander of the ANC party’s armed wing, lived in the
In 1997, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission,
shadows. Determined not to be subsumed by her husband’s
reputation, she became active in the resistance herself, and – while chaired by Desmond Tutu, found that she’d been “politically and
morally” responsible for at least a dozen “gross” human rights
pregnant with their first child – was briefly jailed for taking part
violations committed by Mandela United. Tutu begged her to
in a mass protest against laws restricting black women’s mobility.
show remorse; grudgingly, she conceded that things had gone
On her release, she found she’d been sacked from her job. Then in “terribly wrong”. She was easily demonised, yet many South
Africans shared her view that the brutality of the apartheid regime
1961, soon after their daughter was born, Nelson Mandela went
had necessitated a violent response – and that the fight for justice
underground; he was arrested in July 1962 and sentenced to life
was ongoing. Thus she remained a powerful force within the
in prison in 1964. With her husband and many other leaders of
ANC, and served in several government roles until 2003, when
the movement either in prison or exiled, Winnie Mandela worked
she was convicted of fraud and sentenced to three years in jail
tirelessly to keep his name, and the struggle, alive. She endured
(which was overturned on appeal). Even after that, she remained
daily harassment by the police, and many beatings; she was often
a revered figure, and in 2009 she was re-elected as an MP.
dragged out of her bed in the middle of the night, and spent
491 days in solitary confinement from 1969 to 1970, said The
At Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013, Winnie insisted on
Independent. She was tortured; her food was often served on
standing by his coffin, as though she was still his wife. But two
the unrinsed lid of a sanitary bin, or covered in bird droppings;
years earlier, she had given an interview in which she castigated
and she had to sleep on the floor of a 10ft x 5ft concrete cell.
him for losing his revolutionary zeal in prison, and making too
Yet she refused to be broken, and on her release she resumed
many concessions to his white oppressors. “He let us down.”
her campaign. In 1976, she was banished for eight years to a
Defiant to the last, she said: “I am not sorry. I will never be sorry.
remote, white-only town in Orange Free State, where she lived
I would do everything I did again if I had to. Everything.”
in a one-room shack that was twice burned down.
“Rarely can there have
been someone who was
called to greatness and
yet failed that calling as
decisively as Winnie
Madikizela-Mandela,” said The
Guardian. One of the defining figures of
the anti-apartheid struggle, she showed
extraordinary levels of courage in the face
of unspeakable brutality and vicious
injustice. She became known as the
“Mother of the Nation”, and the “Queen
of Africa”. But by the time of her death
last week aged 81, “she was neither, her
reputation irrevocably mired in murder
and fraud”.
Winnie
MadikizelaMandela
1936-2018
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
CITY
Companies in the news
...and how they were assessed
CITY 49
WPP: Sorrell cornered
In every crisis there is opportunity, and investors in WPP have lost no time demanding
“sweeping” changes at the world’s biggest advertising conglomerate, said Simon Duke in
The Sunday Times. Sir Martin Sorrell, who built the group from scratch, is under internal
investigation for alleged “personal misconduct” – and faces “mounting pressure” to
offload the group’s £3.5bn market research business. Big shareholders also want “a clear
succession plan”. Even if Sorrell, 73, is exonerated, “his days as the king of Adland may
be numbered” amid talk that the group, comprising “hundreds of ad, marketing and PR
agencies”, could be broken up. Sorrell, who “unreservedly” denies claims made by a
whistle-blower that he misused company funds, “believes the allegations were deliberately leaked by directors to force him out”. Certainly, “if someone wanted to create
mischief there was no better time”, said Alex Brummer in the Daily Mail. The industry’s
evolving model has hit WPP badly and shares have fallen 40% in a year. Sorrell, who
took home £70m in 2015, has always been controversial. But it is “genuinely dispiriting”
to see one of Britain’s great business builders thus reduced, said Jeremy Warner in The
Sunday Telegraph. It used to be said he would be carried out in a coffin. “Unfortunately
for the pint-sized dynamo, the knives are out and the coffin waits in reception.”
Shire/Takeda: Japanese predator
Despite heightened political uncertainty, a potential US trade war with China and fraught
Brexit negotiations, companies have embarked on “an unprecedented number” of big
acquisitions this year, said the Financial Times. A series of “megadeals” in a recordbreaking first quarter saw takeovers worth more than $1.2trn in total. M&A activity is
about “a third ahead of 2007, the previous high-water mark for takeovers”. The latest to
weigh in is Japan’s top drugmaker, Takeda, which is pondering a $40bn takeover of its
FTSE 100-listed rival Shire. After a briefing in Tokyo last week, there’s no doubt that
Takeda, which began life in 1781 selling herbal medicines in Osaka, is serious, said Alex
Ralph in The Times. Grabbing Shire, which specialises in rare diseases and neuroscience,
would boost the Japanese predator’s presence in the crucial US market, where Irelandbased Shire made most of its $14.4bn sales last year. Still, as the smaller of the two firms,
there are questions as to whether it can summon the necessary firepower. Under UK
takeover rules, Takeda has until 25 April to reveal its intentions, but it shouldn’t bank on
having the field to itself. Both Pfizer and AbbVie are possible contenders.
Suntory/Coca-Cola: sweet spot?
When Lucozade cut its sugar content last year, “sales swiftly lost their fizz”, said Lex in
the FT. “Angry fans,” meanwhile, “have likened Ribena’s new low-sugar recipe to drain
cleaner.” Both brands are now owned by Suntory, which insists that it is motivated by
consumers’ “growing thirst for healthier drinks”, rather than avoiding the Government’s
new sugar tax. But it is clear that you “tamper with a winning formula at your peril”.
More drinks-makers than expected have avoided the levy by tweaking their recipes: the
tax is expected to raise £240m annually – half the original forecast. “As much as 43% of
the total is expected to be raised by Coca-Cola”, which has widened its sugar-free range,
but hasn’t dared “risk a repeat” of 1985’s disastrous “New Coke” reformulation.
Seven days in the
Square Mile
Markets spent the week see-sawing
amid rising geopolitical worries. US
stocks climbed on Tuesday as investor
concerns about trade tensions between
the US and China eased after President
Xi promised to cut import tariffs and
urged dialogue. But a wave of further
losses was triggered after President
Trump warned Russia to “get ready”
for US missiles in Syria. The US decision
to apply further sanctions to Russian
individuals and companies saw billions
wiped off the value of stocks in Moscow
and other centres like London. The
rouble suffered its worst one-day fall for
over two years, amid concerns about the
Russian economy.
Shares in Tesco jumped after the
supermarket rewarded patient investors
with the group’s first annual dividend
since 2014, in defiance of the gloom
elsewhere on the high street where new
stores are reportedly opening at their
lowest rate since 2010. Tesco’s pre-tax
profits climbed to £1.3bn last year –
a rise of almost 800% on 2016.
The CBI warned that a “bonfire” of
EU rules post-Brexit would mean more
costs than benefits for British business.
Centrica, the parent of British Gas,
courted renewed criticism for hiking the
prices of its dual fuel tariff by an average
5.5% in a move that will hit 4.1 million
households. The former owner of BHS,
Dominic Chappell, said he planned to
sue Sir Philip Green and contest a
proposed boardroom ban, to repair
his “tarnished” reputation.
Deutsche Bank: no more Cryan, but a lingering sense of “weltschmerz”
Following a two-week board battle and three
years of growing losses, Germany’s troubled
biggest bank has ditched its Yorkshire-born
chief, John Cryan, for a homegrown German
alternative “steeped in auditing, risk control
and retail banking”, said Jenny Strasburg in
The Wall Street Journal. The elevation of
Christian Sewing, who joined Deutsche Bank
as an apprentice in 1989, signals a “humbler”
and more “regionally focused” future for
Deutsche after years of “sputtering attempts
to regain a spot among global investmentbank powerhouses”.
haemorrhages, “the gods of finance saw fit
to punish the unluckiest Briton in Germany
since the Cold War” with Brexit, an “arid
bonus pool” and a “role” in the Donald
Trump-Russia scandal (Deutsche has been a
supportive lender to Trump). It’s to his credit
that the bank isn’t in total free fall. “The guy
never stood a chance, yet he hung on
despite the crushing ‘weltschmerz’.”
You’d have to be “daft” to covet Cryan’s job,
agreed The Economist. “Too big for its home
country but trailing the American giants”,
Cryan and Sewing: a humbler approach Deutsche “is in a pickle whoever runs it”.
“And just like that, the most tortuous tenure
A retreat from investment banking will
in high finance is over,” said Thornton McEnery on Dealbreaker.
regrettably mean that “the P45s will be flying” in London, said
com. Appointed to revive the crisis-racked bank in 2015, Cryan
Matthew Lynn in The Daily Telegraph. But in the bigger battle to
has instead presided over a catastrophic loss of value – shares
remain European top dog, post-Brexit, the City “just got very
have roughly halved on his watch – with admirable stoicism. As
lucky”. Without a major global bank of its own, it is hard to see
well as poor fundamentals, lay-offs, infighting and asset
Frankfurt as a real challenger. “The Germans have blown it.”
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
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Talking points
CITY 51
Issue of the week: Russian sanctions hit the City
The Russian gold rush has turned toxic in London. Who should bear the blame?
Six months ago, Oleg Deripaska pulled
Lynch, Citigroup and JPMorgan.
off quite a feat on the London Stock
True, the prospectus detailed “38 pages
Exchange, said the FT. “In the first UK
of risk factors”, but was EN+ really ever
listing of a Russian company since
“a suitable candidate for the London
Moscow’s invasion of Crimea in 2014”,
Stock Exchange”? It’s certainly “not
Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest
proving a top advert” now. Deripaska’s
oligarchs, persuaded blue-chip investors
banker friends are deserting him, along
to buy shares in his hydropower-towith “freaked out” investors and
aluminium conglomerate, EN+. Last
former partners like the commodities
week’s announcement of “the harshest
giant Glencore. Dealing with Deripaska,
US sanctions ever imposed on Russia’s
they’ve just discovered, is “a risky
economy” hit all Russian Londonbusiness”. How EN+ operates at all is “a
listed stocks hard. But Deripaska was
puzzler”, given that the sanctions “appear
particularly badly whacked. Shares
to stop it transacting in US dollars”.
in his company Rusal, which produces
7% of the world’s aluminium, plunged
“Loyalty counts for nothing in the City”,
55% in Hong Kong; in London, EN+
and Deripaska’s banking chums can’t
Oleg Deripaska: “crippled” by sanctions
immediately lost 42% of its value.
“be seen to have anything to do with
Deripaska’s close ties with the Kremlin effectively “crippled his
him for fear of US reprisals”, said Jeremy Warner in The Daily
business empire”. He may now need state support and will
Telegraph. “He may even struggle to find a bank through which
probably get it. “The Kremlin does not want to see a Russian
to pay his London electricity bills.” When EN+ floated, lots of
industrial giant collapsing as the result of White House policy.”
people asked how the City could have stooped so low – “and jolly
smug they are feeling about their prescience now”. But investors
The US charge sheet against Deripaska includes allegations
“took the risk and are now paying the price. That’s how stock
that he “bribed a government official, ordered the murder of a
markets are meant to work.” The UK and US security services
businessman and had links to a Russian organised crime group”,
are said “to have hit the roof on discovering that Deripaska was
said Alistair Osborne in The Times. He vigorously denies them.
tapping the London market for money”. Yet if they were so
“But maybe it helps explain why it took 11 banks to float EN+”,
angry, why didn’t they stop it happening? “The blame for this
including three of Wall Street’s biggest: Bank of America Merrill
screw-up lies in policy and government weakness, not the City.”
Palm oil: what the experts think
trade tensions between
● Palmed-off
Western governments
Iceland has become
mulling a palm oil ban,
the first major
and Indonesia and
supermarket to ban
Malaysia, where
the use of palm oil
90% of all palm oil is
in its brand-name
produced”, said Jillian
products because
Ambrose in The Daily
of concerns about its
Telegraph. “In Indonesia
environmental impact.
alone, it is estimated that
The news is a fillip to
areas of rainforest the
green campaigners,
size of 146 football
Bornean orangutans: under threat
said Ivana Kottasová
pitches are lost every
on CNNMoney.com.
hour as the industry races to keep up with
Half of all packaged products sold in
booming global demand.” As a result, the
supermarkets contain palm oil, according
number of Bornean orangutans has more
to the World Wildlife Fund – it’s used in
than
halved between 1999 and 2015,
everything from shampoo to frozen pizza –
leaving fewer than 100,000 in the wild.
and “production is expected to double by
2020”. Yet consumers are becoming
● Investment case
“increasingly aware of the environmental
Iceland reckons its move will reduce
costs”. Multinational brands, including
demand for palm oil by more than 500
Nestlé, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson
tonnes annually. That’s a drop in the
and Procter & Gamble, “have pledged to
achieve zero de-forestation” when sourcing ocean of the wider market – and, tellingly,
there was little movement in shares of
the oil. But Greenpeace argues that they’re
London-listed palm oil producers, such
“still not being transparent about supply
as Equatorial and DekelOil, as a result.
chains” and are in danger of missing those
Indeed, Iceland’s announcement coincided
targets. Iceland’s decision to ditch palm oil
altogether – “We don’t believe there is such with a stellar set of figures from producer
MP Evans, which reported a “record year”
a thing as guaranteed sustainable palm
for production and profit in 2017 and
oil”, says MD Richard Walker – is “a
rewarded investors with a “special
direct response to the industry’s failure
dividend”, said Morningstar. According
to clean up its act”. Who’ll be next?
to the company, the outlook for palm oil
“remains positive”. Maybe less so if
● Counting the cost
“mum’s gone to Iceland”.
The Iceland pledge “comes amid brewing
Taxing times
The start of the new tax year
has created winners as well as
losers, says Gavin Jackson in the
Financial Times. Which camp are
you in?
Winners
Minimum wage workers, who’ll get
above-inflation pay rises of 4.4%, for
those older than 25 on the national
living wage, and 5.4% for those aged
between 18 and 20, whose hourly
rate will rise to £5.90.
University graduates The repayment
threshold for graduates who started
courses after September 2012 has
risen from £21,000 to £25,000.
Drivers Fuel duty has been frozen for
the seventh consecutive year, saving
the average driver £160 this year,
according to the Treasury.
Losers
Wealthy Scots The Scottish
parliament has used its taxation
powers for the first time to introduce
four extra tax rates, taking more
money from higher earners.
Shareholders The tax-free dividend
allowance has fallen from £5,000 to
£2,000, costing around 2.27 million
Britons an average of £315 this year.
Working age benefit claimers
All but disability-related benefits
remain frozen, costing the average
affected household £450 by
2020, according to the Institute
for Fiscal Studies.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
52 CITY
Facebook can’t
be trusted to
police itself
Jennifer Saba
Reuters Breakingviews
Why foreign
investors still
fancy Britain
Editorial
The Economist
De La Rue:
passport to
petulance
Jim Armitage
London Evening Standard
The rise and
rise of the
cranberry
Gwynn Guilford
Quartz
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
Commentators
Senators grilling Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg this week got
straight to the crux of the matter, says Jennifer Saba. Facebook’s
business model depends almost entirely on advertising. In
exchange for allowing consumers to use the social network for
free, it mines information to sell to brands – and it gets by far “the
better end” of the deal. Furthermore, “confusing terms of service”
obscure the true nature of the agreement. Facebook does provide
tools that let members control who they share their data with, yet
“effectively deploying them is not an easy task”. Even Zuckerberg
accepts that the average person rarely understands the terms of
service, but he essentially defended the status quo. He said he’d
be open to “the right regulation”, and senators “were content to
leave the matter there” – which may explain why Facebook shares
gained 4% that day. So long as the $450bn company’s ad-driven
business conflicts with users’ privacy interests, it cannot be trusted
to police itself. “US lawmakers have zeroed in on the correct
Facebook target. Whether they pull the trigger is another matter.”
“Britain is not exactly bending over backwards to attract foreign
investors,” says The Economist. Deterrents include the prospect of
a hard Brexit, the threat of a re-nationalising Labour government
and the Government’s own “unwelcoming rhetoric” about
foreign money, which it links to asset stripping and tax avoidance.
For all that, international buyers “have been splurging”. Under
Theresa May, “foreign investors have bought British firms at a
faster rate than under any other recent Prime Minister”. How
does this tally with the Government’s promise of a crackdown?
May’s rhetoric is aimed “at the many Britons who hold takeovers,
especially foreign ones, in low regard” – Kraft’s 2010 grab of
Cadbury remains a particular bogey. Yet the Government’s actual
policy moves have been deliberately “modest”. May recognises
the benefits that foreign takeovers can bring: new owners often
introduce better management and technology – “both useful
when productivity growth is so weak”. With Brexit looming,
tough policies to block international capital would be “reckless”.
Expect foreigners to continue fancying Britain for a while yet.
“The tower of twaddle” over blue passports “has seen Brexiteer
mania reach new heights of farce”, says Jim Armitage: “How
dare the Government allow the French to win the high-security
contract to print our glorious non-EU passports.” Perhaps
emboldened by the row, De La Rue, the British printer that lost
the contract, is mounting an appeal. “To Home Office old hands,
it’s déjà vu all over again.” In 2009, when De La Rue snatched
the deal from the US firm 3M, “the Americans cried foul too”,
in a similar display of petulance. It’s also worth remarking that
for the decade that 3M ran the contract, “we didn’t hear a peep”
from the “patriots” protesting now. De La Rue’s “Land of Hope
and Glory” lobbying feels like “poor judgement” from chief
Martin Sutherland – and not for the first time. His clumsy
handling of a recent profit warning “gave the worst possible
view of the company”, prompting shares to crash. Sutherland
will only have himself to blame if his next job is fending off a
foreign takeover bid. “Imagine the Brexiteers’ bleating then.”
“America doesn’t have much in the way of native fruits grown at
any commercial scale.” Yet, thanks to savvy marketing, the
humble cranberry has achieved “global domination”, says Gwynn
Guilford. How sad that it now finds itself “an unlikely pawn” in
the burgeoning US-China trade war. According to China’s latest
list of proposed tariffs, dried cranberries will face import duties of
40%. No wonder US growers are “upset”. The berry first became
an American staple when the Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant
ordered cranberry sauce to be served in a Thanksgiving feast for
troops in 1864. Later, it “craftily” conquered the juice aisles by
mixing with apple and raspberry juice, while, more recently,
dried cranberries infiltrated baked goods and energy snacks.
“Cranberry creep” is well established in Europe, which takes
nearly half of US exports; China, where cranberries are popular
among the health-conscious young, accounts for about 7%. The
“improbable” international rise of the cranberry is a distinctively
American story of “relentless reinvention”. What a shame that the
president is prepared to put this “unsung” innovator at risk.
City profiles
Elon Musk
“Half a million frustrated
would-be Tesla Model 3
owners” have got used to
the electric carmaker missing
production targets, says
Danny Fortson in The
Sunday Times. But investors
still believe in founder Elon
Musk. Following “a cascade
of bad news” including a
fatal accident, a credit
downgrade and an ill-judged
April Fool about bankruptcy,
shares in the “deeply lossmaking” firm (valued more
highly than Ford) were
expected to take a drubbing
last week. But, hey presto,
they jumped. Backers cite the
promise of Tesla’s battery
and artificial intelligence
tech. But “more than any
company on the planet”,
Tesla relies upon faith in
its “brilliant but quixotic
founder”. Musk is once again
sleeping at the company’s
plant, to iron out production
issues. As he recently
tweeted: “Car biz is hell.”
Billy Bragg
More than three decades
after penning the hit single
A New England, singersongwriter Billy Bragg has
“been invited by the Bank
of England to lecture City
financiers” about building
a better one, says Patrick
Collinson in The Guardian.
The self-proclaimed
Corbynite, who gigged
for striking miners in the
1980s, was due to speak
at Threadneedle Street this
week at the invitation of chief
economist Andy Haldane,
who is keen to “shake up”
the thinking of City types
“more used to discussing
gilt-edged securities” than
radical politics. Bragg said
that his main theme would
be the “increasing alienation”
of ordinary citizens. “I’m not
going to be calling for the
overthrow of capitalism,” he
said. On the other hand, “I’m
not there to be polite”.
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Shares
CITY 55
Who’s tipping what
The week’s best buys
Breedon Group
Investors Chronicle
The UK’s largest construction
materials group owns around
60 quarries, 26 asphalt plants,
200 concrete plants and
substantial mineral reserves.
There’s strong demand, and
organic growth is being
boosted by acquisitions.
Buy. 80p.
Electrocomponents
The Times
Thanks to cost cutting and
improved customer service,
the electronics distributor
has revealed strong revenue
growth with good margins.
With scope for a dividend rise
or M&A, the outlook is
positive. Buy. 598.5p.
St. Modwen Properties
The Times
After a turbulent 2016, this
property regeneration specialist
has turned it around, and
upped its exposure to incomeproducing assets. With a
£1.7bn portfolio, there are
plans to double housebuilding
by 2021. Buy. 392.8p.
NetApp
The Daily Telegraph
This US data storage specialist
has “dynamic new
management” and unique
software designed to fit the
growing trend for hybrid
storage. Undervalued, and set
to benefit from tax changes.
Buy. $60.04.
Topps Tiles
The Times
Britain’s largest supplier of
floor tiles is performing well in
a softening housing market by
focusing on commercial
customers, and opening
boutique stores with premium
offers to combat price
competition. Buy. 69.75p.
Augean
32
Directors buy
5.6m
30
28
26
Nov
Dec
DFS Furniture
Investors Chronicle
The sofa retailer has been
troubled by declining profits
and investment requirements.
But the dividend has been
maintained, thanks to
improved cost controls, and
trading momentum is
“positive”. Hold. 185p.
Greene King
The Sunday Times
The pub group has a good
track record and bullish
management, but it’s been hit
by tough trading and rises in
the living wage and business
rates, and is selling off assets.
Avoid. 474.8p.
Next Fifteen
Communications
Investors Chronicle
The digital marketing group’s
strong momentum faltered in
2017, but organic revenues
have recovered and spending is
under control. Recent
acquisitions netted new global
clients, including Cadbury and
Honda. Hold. 450p.
Feb
Mar
Apr
Non-exec Christopher Mills
pocketed £956,000-worth of
shares in the waste
management group, via a
trust. Chair Jim Meredith and
non-exec Roger McDowell also
increased their stakes,
showing faith in future growth.
…and some to hold, avoid or sell
BTG
ShareCast
JPMorgan has cut its target
price for the UK pharma,
citing lower sales of established
drugs and problems with
PneumRX, its upcoming lung
therapy. Full-year results in
May will give a clearer picture.
Hold. 633p.
Jan
Form guide
Renew Holdings
The Daily Telegraph
Shares in the engineering
services and specialist
housebuilding group have been
volatile. But it is performing
strongly with a promising
order book, and debt should be
eliminated by the year end.
Hold. 388p.
Sophos Group
The Daily Telegraph
Shares in the security software
outfit were hammered after
revenue growth slowed
following the launch of a new
product. But the firm is “an
attractive acquisition target”
and “can still grow at 15-20%
a year”. Hold. 427.6p.
Shares tipped 12 weeks ago
Best tip
B&M European Value Retail
Investors Chronicle
down 1.38%
Worst tip
Dignity
The Daily Telegraph
down 50.79%
Market view
“Concerns about an
escalation of military conflict
between the US and Russia
within Syria [are] hanging
over investor sentiment.”
Jane Foley of Rabobank.
Quoted in the FT
Market summary
Key numbers
numbers for investors
Key
investors
FTSE 100
FTSE All-share UK
Dow Jones
NASDAQ
Nikkei 225
Hang Seng
Gold
Brent Crude Oil
DIVIDEND YIELD (FTSE 100)
UK 10-year gilts yield
US 10-year Treasuries
UK ECONOMIC DATA
Latest CPI (yoy)
Latest RPI (yoy)
Halifax house price (yoy)
£1 STERLING
10 Apr 2018
7266.75
3995.86
24446.21
7067.56
21794.32
30728.74
1331.95
70.57
3.99%
1.40
2.79
2.7% (Feb)
3.6% (Feb)
+2.7% (Mar)
$1.420 E1.148 ¥151.875
Best
shares
Best and
and worst performing shares
Week before
7030.46
3881.04
23730.40
6874.57
21292.29
30180.10
1323.85
68.00
4.11%
1.35
2.74
3.0% (Jan)
4.0% (Jan)
+1.8% (Feb)
Change (%)
3.36%
2.96%
3.02%
2.81%
2.36%
1.82%
0.61%
3.78%
WEEK’S CHANGE, FTSE 100 STOCKS
RISES
Price
% change
1160.00
+14.74
Micro Focus Intl.
3267.00
+7.72
Johnson Matthey
1199.50
+7.34
WPP
2380.50
+6.56
Royal Dutch Shell A
2419.00
+6.52
Royal Dutch Shell B
FALLS
Evraz
Direct Line In.Grp.
GKN
Glencore
Randgold Resources
389.70
352.80
426.00
346.50
5726.00
–8.80
–7.72
–4.53
–2.74
–2.65
BEST AND WORST UK STOCKS OVERALL
3.80
+216.67
Pebble Beach Sys.Gp.
0.03
–62.02
Flowgroup
Source: Datastream (not adjusted for dividends). Prices on 10 Apr (pm)
Following the Footsie
7,800
7,700
7,600
7,500
7,400
7,300
7,200
7,100
7,000
6,900
Nov
Dec
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
6-month movement in the FTSE 100 index
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
SOURCE: INVESTORS CHRONICLE
Arbuthnot Banking Group
Investors Chronicle
The bank’s commercial
division has gone from
“strength to strength”: deposits
are up 500%; the loan book
has trebled; and the private
arm has written £201m in new
business. Buy. £13.20.
Directors’ dealings
The last word
56
How Preston hit rock bottom –
then took back control
in England – got itself off
The city of Preston in
the floor. How a council
Lancashire dates back
that only a few years
to Roman times. It is
back hugged the multilisted in the Domesday
national Lendlease,
book as Prestune. It’s
which was due to build
where inventor Richard
the Tithebarn, now
Arkwright kickstarted
espouses localism. How
the cotton trade. Yet ask
a place that has been on
local people to tell you
the wrong end of the
its history and they jump
past 40 years mustered
straight to 2011. That
the confidence to strike
was Preston’s year zero,
out on its own. The
when the grand schemes
answer each time has
for the city fell apart. For
something to do with
more than a decade, the
Matthew Brown.
council had bet everything
on a massive shopping
When the Tithebarn
mall. The Tithebarn
dream died, Brown was
would sprawl over the
in the council cabinet,
city centre, cost £700m
although not in the
and be built by two of
Labour mainstream.
the biggest developers on
The covered market: a multimillion-pound revamp used local contractors
Something about him
the planet. It was going to
suggests he will always swim alone. Over the lunchtime din of
have a Marks & Spencer, a multiplex and a huge John Lewis
a pub, he casually mentioned his adoption as a baby and how it
store. It was the lottery ticket, said the council leader. The lifeline,
had left him with “a sense of not being good enough”. His days
the turnaround, the magic bullet.
are spent in a clerical job with the Department for Work and
Pensions; evenings are devoted to books on left-wing economics.
Then came the banking crash, and cranes across the country
He makes more radical statements than 99% of Westminster
stopped dead. Businesses grew cooler on the Tithebarn until, in
politicians, in a diffident tone, as if he is unsure which sandwich
November 2011, John Lewis pulled out. The council found its
to get. And in the time we spent together, I never once caught him
sums no longer added up and killed the entire scheme. Where
with both his shoelaces done up.
once there was a master plan, Preston now had a vacuum. Such
stories lie scattered all over post-industrial Britain. Yet “the
Early in his teens, Brown was
T-word” serves two purposes
watching the BBC’s Question
for Prestonians: the story
when Tony Benn came
reminds them of the
“Small cities trailing big histories rank among Time
on – and it was as if postwar
precariousness of their perch;
the flotsam of 21st century capitalism”
Britain’s most eloquent
and it also marks the point at
socialist was talking directly
which everything changed.
to him. Margaret Thatcher
was in charge and Preston was on the slide (“Some of the
Small cities trailing big histories rank among the flotsam
social housing was like a Third World country”). His
of 21st century capitalism. With a big enough dowry (some
commitment to social justice and economic democracy made
subsidies, perhaps, or free roads and cheap labour), they might
him marginal, even within Labour – until 2011 came along
catch the eye of a passing multinational bearing some dubious
and the council began groping around for new ideas. In
inward investment. A distribution warehouse, say, with povertymeetings, Brown quoted research showing “big supermarkets
pay jobs, or a high street killer of a retail park. That was Preston
cost jobs” and urged colleagues to expand the city’s handful
at the start of this decade – and it’s several other places still.
of cooperatives. “People were like, ‘Can this stuff work?’ The
council officers were suspicious.” Yet in 2012, Preston declared
But the city council no longer plays that game. Instead it has
itself the first living wage employer in the north of England. To
adopted a guerrilla localism. It keeps its money as close to home
take on the loan shops, the council backed a credit union. But
as possible so that, amid historically drastic cuts, the amount
the transformative moment came as Brown worked with a
spent locally has gone up. Where other authorities privatise,
Manchester-based consultancy, the Centre for Local Economic
Preston grows its own businesses. It even creates worker-owned
Strategies (CLES), on how to harness public services.
cooperatives. Now Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn praises Preston
for its “inspiring innovation”. Westminster thinktankers talk
Public services are something Preston has a lot of. Come out
about “making a pilgrimage” – and they are only half-joking.
of the train station and on the left are the grand county council
Even the actor Michael Sheen has dropped by.
offices. In the centre is the city council, right next to the
municipally owned Harris Museum. A few minutes farther on
There is much talk of a “Preston model”, of this place being
and you are amid a forest of buildings belonging to the University
Corbynism on Earth. But what’s most remarkable is how
of Central Lancashire. Then there is the police force, the sixth
somewhere so beaten-up – with its streets a mix of empty
form college, the housing association... Like so many other towns
shops and rough sleepers, and having the highest suicide rate
THE WEEK 14 April 2018
© CHRISTOPHER THOMOND/GUARDIAN NEWS AND MEDIA; JON SUPER/GUARDIAN NEWS & MEDIA
The Lancashire city, hit by decades of industrial decline and years of budget cuts, turned its fortunes
around – by spending its money locally. Aditya Chakraborrty reports
The last word
57
turnaround, especially as their budgets
shrank from £750m to £616m. The
county’s pension fund is now building
student accommodation in the city and
doing up a hotel. Over the next few
These public bodies account for
months, Brown will get two new
thousands of jobs and hundreds of
worker cooperatives off the ground –
millions in spending. Yet calculations
one in IT, the other in food. He talks
in 2013 showed that a mere fraction
about establishing a local bank for
– one quid for each £20 spent – stayed
Lancashire. But right now his pride is
in Preston. Much of the rest was going
the multimillion-pound revamp of the
to building firms headquartered in
covered market, built by family firm
London, say, or to global catering
Conlon using local contractors, which
companies. Years before the engineer
opens in February. Asked about
Carillion keeled over and the rest of
Brown’s localism, the firm’s chairman
the country realised the importance
Matthew Brown: inspired by Tony Benn
Michael Conlon shrugs: “If a client
of which particular private firms take
said to me, ‘I want all your staff to wear kilts’, I’d say: ‘Which
public money, Preston had already begun fretting about where its
tartan would you prefer?’” But the increase in work means that
pounds were going. “There was all this money in the community
each major firm involved in the market can point to more
and it was leaking out,” says Brown. The Federation of Small
Businesses has published research by CLES showing that for every apprenticeships or employees.
pound spent with a small or medium-sized firm, 63p is re-spent
A few minutes from the market is a lovely Georgian square
locally. That drops to 40p for every pound given to a large or
where, among the solicitors’ and accountants’ firms, stands
multinational company.
a statue of Robert Peel. Residents built it in gratitude for the
Brown’s team persuaded six of the public bodies on their doorstep Conservative prime minister’s repeal of the corn laws in 1846,
the point at which Britain converted to free trade. It remains the
to commit to spending locally wherever possible. It sounded
establishment creed, but Preston’s guerrilla protectionism suggests
commonsensical; yet it defied procurement convention, which
how it might break down.
trades cost against quality and rarely thinks about the
environment or society. “You don’t go in saying, ‘Have you
For decades this city has been one of the many losers in Britain’s
thought about an alternative to neoliberalism?’” says CLES chief
political economy. Its great achievement has been to recognise
executive Neil McInroy. “It’s practical. You say to the housing
how badly it has lost out at the hands of finance and Westminster
association, ‘How would you like to do more for your residents
– to London, in short. The
so they’ll be better off and pay
tantalising possibility is that
their rent on time?’”
“In 2015, Lancashire county council put
other towns and cities might also
To hear how that conversation
school meals out to tender. Local firms using come out as losers: that
Britain could form a coalition
sounded from the other side of
Lancashire farmers won every contract”
of loser regions, stretching from
the table, I visited Community
outer London through south
Gateway, which manages 6,500
Wales to Strathclyde. “If there is anything we are trying to protect
homes around Preston. In a tower overlooking the docks, where
ourselves against, it’s shareholders,” says Martyn Rawlinson, the
ships once came in, head of finance Phil McCabe explained what
councillor in charge of finance. “Those people who live hundreds
the new regime meant to his team. Once they outsourced repairs
– thousands – of miles away and just extract value from our
and grass cutting; now they are in-house. There’s been no
community.”
drop-off in quality, only marginal rises in cost, at most. They
meet every quarter with counterparts at the other public bodies
Bombing around in his “smelly” hatchback, its dashboard
to compare notes. CLES gives each a progress report. McCabe’s
warning of low fuel and a faulty catalytic converter, Rawlinson
latest update calculated that he was still spending £3,934,672.51
gestured towards the hospital and talked about other large public
a year outside Lancashire. Most of that was on construction, then
sector employers. “They’re the only things that save our arse from
consultancy and vehicle management. The implication was clear:
the s**t.” But what if Brown and Rawlinson walked along the
this shy man who had spent decades looking after the payroll and
main shopping thoroughfare of Fishergate, and told the banks
the rainy-day fund would now be judged by his localism.
and chain stores that they expected them also to do more for the
city? These businesses also “extract value”, taking Preston pounds
He is battling what economists call “path dependency”. Decades
and shunting them down to London.
of hollowing out, and of contracts going to big companies
elsewhere, means Preston doesn’t have much of a local economy
Perhaps Brown is already pushing his political speed limit.
left. There is no shoal of eager contenders clamouring for each
The same council that talks about social value also published
new job. Some firms simply aren’t used to applying for big
a committee report last summer bemoaning the city’s lack of a
contracts, so need coaxing. In other cases, Community Gateway
Zara store. In 2016, it flogged a Grade II listed building to a hotel
asks bidders to detail how they will employ locally, provide
group specialising in stag weekends. Brown and his supporters
training and partner with other local businesses.
have achieved a lot in a culture that sometimes views him
quizzically. “Matthew’s a very bright guy,” council leader Peter
In 2015, Lancashire county council put a contract to provide
Rankin says. “I’ve encouraged him where his ideas have had
school meals out to tender. That was impossibly large for local
firms, so officers broke it into bite-sized chunks. There was a tender prospects. Other things, I’ve had to say, ‘Pfft – forget it!’”
to provide yoghurt, others for sandwich fillings, eggs, cheese,
Yet Brown believes others will catch on. Preston’s ideas could
milk, and so on. One contract was split into nine different lots. It
spread, he thinks, to Birmingham, Oldham, Bristol. And he’s off:
meant officials actually shaping a market to fit their society – and
“Imagine if every Labour city were setting up its own banks,
it worked. Local suppliers using Lancashire farmers won every
supporting worker-owned businesses and credit unions? Imagine
contract and provided an estimated £2m boost to the county.
it. That would be our way of taking back control.”
In 2013, the six local public bodies spent £38m in Preston and
This article previously appeared in The Guardian © Guardian
£292m in all of Lancashire. By 2017, those totals stood at £111m
News and Media Ltd 2018.
in Preston and £486m throughout the county. That is a huge
and cities, while Preston’s private sector
has shrivelled its public sector has
grown and grown to fill the gap.
14 April 2018 THE WEEK
Crossword
58
THE WEEK CROSSWORD 1102
This week’s crossword winner will
Thi
receive
rec
an Ettinger (www.ettinger.
co.uk)
co.
Soft Calf Passport Case in navy,
which
whi retails at £70, and two Connell
Gui
Guides
(www.connellguides.com).
An Ettinger passport case and two Connell Guides will be given to the sender of the
first correct solution to the crossword and the clue of the week opened on Monday 23 April.
Send it to: The Week Crossword 1102, 2nd floor, 32 Queensway, London W2 3RX, or email
the answers to crossword@theweek.co.uk. Tim Moorey (www.timmoorey.info)
ACROSS
1 Polo carelessly packed by
this pompous chap? (7,5)
8 Back packs fail to be more
quickly available (7)
9 Star is able to get work (7)
11 Prepare to swallow Tory cut (4)
12 Blond vacuous type interrupts
US agent (4-6)
13 Schoolmaster is one of the
classroom (7)
15 Thought about lives being
wasted (7)
18 Ministry studies the latest
stuff in building (3,4)
20 Cameron unwinding here? (7)
21 What’s furthest down flask in
bag? (10)
23 Could be Scandinavian fools
rejected (4)
25 Aquatic bird from severe
north (7)
26 In the midst of great worry
about only little time (7)
27 It’s Americans at fault for
narrow-minded attitude (12)
DOWN
1 Employee who shouldn’t have
been in the limelight? (9)
2 One not well disheartened (4)
3 Colt, say playing with mare
behind tree (7)
4 Strange code and strange
conduct deemed correct (7)
5 Followers in hot French town
working (7-2)
6 Quick attack capturing pawn (5)
7 Roma clip spoilt broadcast (8)
10 The German turns up in blue (3)
14 Famous politician tweaking
lover’s toe (9)
16 Huge flans coming up will do
the trick (9)
17 Game sketches on the radio (8)
19 Class remains disruptive (7)
20 Mum’s blemish needs a
cosmetic (7)
21 Nick is nearby regularly (3)
22 Tax once levied on plutocrat?
It helped to some extent (5)
24 Returning in charge of
centres (4)
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
11
10
12
13
14
18
15
19
21
16
17
20
22
23
24
25
26
27
Name
Address
Clue of the week: Wise picker of bonds (5) The Sunday Times, Mephisto
Solution to Crossword 1100
ACROSS: 7 Seaman 8 Telegram 10 Legitimate 11 Mimi 12 Arch
13 Lightening 15 Presbyterians 17 Upside-down 18 Sars 19 Sloe 20 Bowler
hats 21 Assister 22 Lorenz
DOWN: 1 Telegraph poles 2 Impish 3 Inviolable 4 Straightforward 5 Blue
6 Egomania 9 Administrating 14 Tarantella 16 Epidemic 18 Sphere 20 Butt
Clue of the week: The French tucking into roly-poly jam puds for starters
(4,5 first letters J & L)
Solution: JUMP LEADS (le inside jam puds anag)
The winner of 1100 is Lin Jones from Wolverhampton
8
1
2
9
7
5
3
5
4
3
6
8 7 2
1
5
4
6
3
1
5
7
4
3
6
8
4
Sudoku 646 (difficult)
Fill in all the squares so that
each row, column and each
of the 3x3 squares contains
all the digits from 1 to 9
Solution to
to Sudoku
Sudoku 645
228
Solution
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