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Sunday, September 22, 2019
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Suffering is not relative | Paul Chadwick 22 Sep 2:13pm Suffering is not relative | Paul Chadwick
Fallout from a woefully misjudged Guardian editorialA Guardian editorial online last Sunday was prompted by the imminent appearance of the memoir of a former UK prime minister, David Cameron. Its overarching assertion was that privileged people do not govern the UK well. Its theme was that because Cameron came from a privileged background, he lacked empathy for the people who suffered as a result of policies he pursued when in office between May 2010 and July 2016. A theme like that could generate strong views pro and con; many editorials do. It could involve a harsh character analysis; public figures must expect that. The way the editorial initially elaborated its theme was woefully misjudged. “I am personally completely devastated that it was ever published in any form in the Guardian, and that we caused distress to so many people,” the editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, told me in one of our exchanges about what had happened.
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Forget Brexit. The new battle is over Jeremy Corbyn’s successor | Zoe Williams 22 Sep 2:04pm Forget Brexit. The new battle is over Jeremy Corbyn’s successor | Zoe Williams
The bid to remove Tom Watson was about more than the deputy leader’s support for the remain causeLabour is a remain party,” Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, said on Saturday night to a room in Brighton that exploded. Emily Thornberry arrived at the People’s Vote rally wearing a blue top with a necklace of golden stars, calling for Labour to become the party of remain. Keir Starmer, John McDonnell, Diane Abbott, Clive Lewis, Tom Watson: all of the high-ranking members of the shadow cabinet are openly remain. Some 90% of constituency Labour party motions on Brexit call for the party to campaign unambiguously for remain. It has the features of a showdown not between the leadership and the members but between a very tight inner circle – which no longer even includes McDonnell, the shadow chancellor – and everybody else. But atmospherically, it feels more like an ultimatum delivered in a rocky relationship. “Do this or I’ll leave” is never the starting point of the row, or even its apex. By the time that person says it, and means it, the balance of power has already shifted.
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The Guardian view on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour: it should be a broad church | Editorial 22 Sep 2:00pm The Guardian view on Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour: it should be a broad church | Editorial
The Labour leader ought to be true to his ideological roots and must not attempt to force members to back his Brexit policy on the back of trade union votesThe seeds of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership victory of 2015 were sown more than a decade earlier on the floor of a Labour party conference in Brighton. Then the Labour leader was Tony Blair and he had, in 2003, taken Britain into the Iraq war with predictable and disastrous consequences. By 2004, when Iraq was descending into chaos, Labour members were
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The Guardian view on machine learning: a computer cleverer than you? | Editorial 22 Sep 1:56pm The Guardian view on machine learning: a computer cleverer than you? | Editorial
There are dangers of teaching computers to learn the things humans do best – not least because makers of such machines cannot explain the knowledge their creations have acquiredBrad Smith, Microsoft’s president, last week
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Why do aviation addicts fly in the face of reason? | Letters 22 Sep 1:02pm Why do aviation addicts fly in the face of reason? | Letters
In the wake of the global climate strike,
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Canadian contrasts gave birth to Gilead | Letters 22 Sep 1:01pm Canadian contrasts gave birth to Gilead | Letters
Margaret Atwood | Top 10 buildings | 100 best books | BBC Sounds | Labour infightingYou say Margaret Atwood’s childhood “was spent in the Canadian wilderness” (
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Radical verse versus the poetic traditions | Letters 22 Sep 1:00pm Radical verse versus the poetic traditions | Letters
Poetry that breaks the rules is not the only poetry worth reading, argues
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Brian Adcock on infighting at the Labour conference – cartoon 22 Sep 1:00pm Brian Adcock on infighting at the Labour conference – cartoon
a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/picture/2019/sep/22/brian-adcock-on-infighting-at-the-labour-conference-cartoon">Continue reading...
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Saudi Arabia won’t attack Iran. But it may pay someone else to | Nesrine Malik 22 Sep 12:47pm Saudi Arabia won’t attack Iran. But it may pay someone else to | Nesrine Malik
The US is being fooled that it needs to rescue its ally in the Middle East. The Saudis always get others to fight for themThere is a longstanding joke told in the Middle East about Saudi Arabia’s reluctance to fight its own wars. “Saudi Arabia will fight until the last Pakistani,” the punchline goes, in reference to the fact that Pakistani troops have long supported Saudi’s military endeavours. The punchline has expanded lately to include the
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The British economy creates lots of jobs – not lots of pay rises | Philip Inman 22 Sep 10:34am The British economy creates lots of jobs – not lots of pay rises | Philip Inman
The UK has created many part-time or self-employed roles, with new full-time posts going to older workers, mainly in and around London Jobs, jobs, and more jobs. That is Britain’s economic success story of the last 10 years. While public services crumble and the welfare budget continues to be squeezed, when planning for a no-deal Brexit has displaced almost all other activities in Whitehall, ministers can always point to
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Corbyn has committed to a people’s vote, so why do remainers still attack him? | Owen Jones 22 Sep 9:44am Corbyn has committed to a people’s vote, so why do remainers still attack him? | Owen Jones
A Labour election victory is the only viable route to ending the UK’s polarising culture war over BrexitEssential to the success of any struggle is to recognise when you have won. It is less than a year and a half since the
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She holds the key to the Brexit deadlock. But will Arlene Foster dare use it? | Katy Hayward 22 Sep 9:19am She holds the key to the Brexit deadlock. But will Arlene Foster dare use it? | Katy Hayward
Improbably, the DUP leader finds herself with the power to change the course of European historyYou may not realise it, but Arlene Foster is one of the most powerful politicians in contemporary Europe. In the bizarre and tumultuous state of British politics, this fact is one that will stand among the most historically significant. It is an extraordinary situation. Foster is a member of a regional legislative assembly that hasn’t sat for
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Think only authoritarian regimes spy on their citizens? | Kenan Malik 22 Sep 5:30am Think only authoritarian regimes spy on their citizens? | Kenan Malik
Use of AI surveillance technology is becoming the global norm, even in liberal democracies Almost half the world’s countries now deploy AI surveillance systems. So says a new report,
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Golden toilets, golden arches. As for David Cameron... | David Mitchell 22 Sep 5:00am Golden toilets, golden arches. As for David Cameron... | David Mitchell
Like the thieves who stole the glittering khazi, our memoir-hawking former prime minister seems to have got off scot-free Like most people, I enjoyed the news of
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Tiny changes might seem insignificant. But they are how we save the planet | Peter Beaumont 22 Sep 5:00am Tiny changes might seem insignificant. But they are how we save the planet | Peter Beaumont
Greta Thunberg and her Extinction Rebellion peers remind us that activism is not just about lobbying for change, but doing it ourselves There is a celebrated line in Jared Diamond’s
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May I have a word about… Facebook claiming the word ‘book’ | Jonathan Bouquet 22 Sep 4:30am May I have a word about… Facebook claiming the word ‘book’ | Jonathan Bouquet
Does Mark Zuckerberg think people are too stupid to know the difference between the social media giant and, well, a book? It’s the bare-faced impudence of Facebook that takes the breath away. Mark Zuckerberg’s seemingly uncontrollable behemoth, having exerted ownership over “like”, “wall”, “poke” and “quest”, is now seeking to lay claim to the word “book” in Europe. It was
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What is it about Britain that has produced such a litany of failed leaders? | Will Hutton 22 Sep 4:00am What is it about Britain that has produced such a litany of failed leaders? | Will Hutton
Today’s Tory and Labour politicians lack the will of their predecessors to reach out to others across the social divide Britain faces a crisis of political leadership. Neither the right nor the left of politics is capable of throwing up a figure who can bind their respective coalitions together and sustain parliamentary majorities best to navigate Brexit or Remain and their aftermath. Faith in parliamentary democracy is plummeting; belief in strongman politics is rising; the view that there is an elite, of which the political class is a member, intent only on feathering its own nest and pursuing its own sectarian interests, is widespread.
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The failed Watson plot exposes what really scares Corbyn and his coterie | Andrew Rawnsley 22 Sep 3:00am The failed Watson plot exposes what really scares Corbyn and his coterie | Andrew Rawnsley
Instead of focusing on winning the election, the Corbynite left are desperate to tighten their grip on the party for fear it will be broken by another defeat On the eve of the Labour conference, a
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Holyrood must show its heart is in the right place for all its citizens | Kevin McKenna 22 Sep 2:30am Holyrood must show its heart is in the right place for all its citizens | Kevin McKenna
While showing compassion for the dying, the government must do more for those living on the margins Those of us who have been disobliging of Holyrood’s attempts to micro-manage Scottish society should resist the urge to gloat now that they are beginning to unravel. At the end of last week, John Swinney, Scotland’s education minister, was compelled to make a
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Labour has travelled a long way from the first Euro referendum to the third 22 Sep 2:00am Labour has travelled a long way from the first Euro referendum to the third
Corbyn is claiming to emulate Harold Wilson in staying neutral over Brexit. But the reality of 40 years ago was very different My friend Tom McGuinness, who will be known to many as the lead guitarist in Manfred Mann (now the Manfreds), recently spotted a most moving Churchill quote on a D-Day memorial in Normandy. “Men will be proud to say ‘I am a European’. We hope to see a day when men of every country will think as much of being a European as of being from their native country.” Having at one stage early in the second world war proposed a union between Britain and France, the great man cooled on the idea. Later he called for a United States of Europe, but he was not in favour of our joining. Nor was Clement Attlee, Labour prime minister from 1945 to 1951. As for Attlee’s successor as Labour leader, Hugh Gaitskell, he was passionately against it, arguing that it would be an insult to “a thousand years of history”.
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Boris Johnson’s confrontation: don’t lose sight of the real story | Kenan Malik 22 Sep 2:00am Boris Johnson’s confrontation: don’t lose sight of the real story | Kenan Malik
The PM’s hospital encounter led to an online frenzy while the state of the NHS was forgotten ‘The problem with politicians and political activists is that they are trapped in their own little bubbles.” If there’s one complaint that defines our age, it’s the accusation that those involved in politics are too removed from “real” people. The trouble is, when political activists show that they have the same concerns as everybody else, the complaint gets turned on its head. “But that’s not a real person, that’s a political activist.” So it was with the confrontation last week between Boris Johnson and
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Insights... efficiency is fine, but happiness at work is another kettle of fish | Thorsten Bell 22 Sep 1:30am Insights... efficiency is fine, but happiness at work is another kettle of fish | Thorsten Bell
Vietnam’s fish-filleters show less banter is more productive, but people like to chat We are having a productivity crisis. More of us are working, but since the crash we’ve made almost no progress in getting more out of each hour. In part, that’s why we’ve had the longest pay squeeze in two centuries. But what affects our productivity? An answer has come from an unlikely source – fishmongers in Vietnam. And those of a sociable disposition are not going to like it. Many economists recognise the benefits of having similar companies in proximity. The story goes that “clusters” of particular types of businesses lead to higher productivity because people learn from each other. But does this apply to proximity of workers within a firm? Not so much is the answer from
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The Observer view on the Afghanistan peace process | Observer editorial 22 Sep 1:00am The Observer view on the Afghanistan peace process | Observer editorial
America has a duty to make sure that democracy does not fail When Donald Trump revealed a secret plan for a “peace summit” with Afghan Taliban chiefs at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland earlier this month, the news caused a sensation. The idea that a group, officially designated as terrorists by the United States, was to be given the red-carpet treatment reserved for important allies shocked many in Washington. In fact, Trump had
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We fight for security and pensions | Letters 22 Sep 1:00am We fight for security and pensions | Letters
For the University and College Union, better working conditions and contracts are every bit as important as pensionsPhilip Inman gave a misleading account of the University and College Union’s campaigns to defend university pensions and fight for job security and a manageable workload (“
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The Observer view on Labour’s lack of leadership over Brexit | Observer editorial 22 Sep 1:00am The Observer view on Labour’s lack of leadership over Brexit | Observer editorial
Voters will not be fooled by Corbyn’s foolish prevarication Britain is gripped by political crisis. We have a prime minister bent on taking Britain out of the EU in just over a month, even if it means crashing out with no deal, with dreadful consequences for jobs and growth, for regional inequalities and for the union. Lacking any democratic mandate, Boris Johnson has shut down parliament for five weeks in an attempt to stop MPs from blocking him, a move whose legality the supreme court will rule on this week. Yet the Labour party is heading into its conference this weekend riven by splits over Brexit and sectarian attempts by Jeremy Corbyn’s allies to scrap the position of deputy leader. It represents a breathtaking failure of leadership by Corbyn. Never has Britain been in such desperate need of a leader of the opposition who can take on a prime minister who appears prepared to ride roughshod over the rule of law and who has shown such rank disregard for our democratically elected representatives. Yet Labour seems determined to show voters that it, too, is a hopelessly divided party that cannot reach consensus on its internal party structures, let alone a clear position on Brexit or a vision for the country.
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For authoritarians, stifling the arts is of a piece with demonising minorities | Elif Shafak 22 Sep 12:59am For authoritarians, stifling the arts is of a piece with demonising minorities | Elif Shafak
As well as misogyny and homophobia, censorship is now a weapon for the popular rightEarly this month, Brazil’s leading literary event, the Bienal do Livro Rio, found itself at the centre of the country’s culture wars when a comic book was ordered to be confiscated by the authorities. The
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