Top news from The Times, Daily Telegraph, The Indepedent and The Guardian newspapers
When watching the Olympics, did you think I wonder if she’s on her period? Ross George did. She tells Guardian readers:
My gold medal goes to Fu Yuanhui – for talking openly about her period
Well, if dressage can be a sport, why not your body clock?
The swimmer’s admission of what affected her Rio Olympics performance shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. It’s one more step towards stamping out a pathetic taboo
It’s not a taboo in the Guardian:
Menstruation: the last great sporting taboo
When Heather Watson crashed out of the Australian Open this week, she put her poor performance down to starting her period – publicly breaking the silence on an issue that affects all sportswomen. But why is it still something we never hear about?
My period may hurt: but not talking about menstruation hurts more, Rose George
Menstrual taboo is bad enough for female athletes such as Heather Watson.
On the second Menstrual Hygiene Day, Ellie Mae O’Hagan looks at what NGOs are doing to break the taboo around periods
Bad blood: the taboo on talking about periods is damaging lives
Is the great female athlete Serena Williams wrong?
Why are you fat? Why are you not fat? Polly Tonybee knows. She writes in the Guardian:
The Tories must tackle the real cause of obesity: inequality
When fat meant prosperous and jolly and thin meant poor and mean, it was about inequality. Now that fat means you’re poor and thin means you’re on message, it’s all about inequality. The only thing that fits for all is that the rich and knowing want to school you.
Polly want to ban advertising of certain foods to youngsters watching telly.
Obesity is no one’s choice, as everyone wants to be thin: young children now worry about body image, and rates of anorexia – obesity’s evil twin – are rising.
The simple fact is that we eat more calories than we can burn off. When the poor had no cars and central heating, they walked and worked in manual jobs. They were thin. The rich with their hearths, carriages and desk jobs were fat.
To be obese signifies being poor and out of control, because people who feel they have no control over their own lives give up…
It signifies the post-war miracle of plentiful food for all.
It is inequality and disrespect that make people fat…
…the social facts suggest Britain would get thinner if everyone had enough of life’s opportunities to be worth staying thin for. Offer self-esteem, respect, good jobs, decent homes and some social status and the pounds would start to fall away.
This abstraction that being thin means you have more to live for and have higher self-esteem is bizarre, as is the news that being fat means you have psychological issues. Food isn’t eaten because you’re greedy, don’t walk enough, don’t do physical labour and it’s cheap. Food is State-sanctioned therapy. And you’re the victim.
The Duke of Westminster has died. There will be no land grab for his vast estates in London’s Mayfair and Belgravia. Chinese and Russian investors can stable the horses. The Duke, whose family gained their estates thanks to an ancestor’s friendship with William the Conqueror, who took charge of the land after a successful invasion, has left the spoils of war to this heirs. The Guardian is upset that the State won’t get their chunk of change:
…the sixth duke is said to have left an estate worth £9.9bn upon his death this week to his son and yet, despite the fact that inheritance tax is supposedly payable on all estates on death worth more than £325,000, it has been widely reported that very little tax will be due in this case.
He did? No. He left the estate to a trust managed by his son. As the departed Duke said:
I’d rather not have been born wealthy, but I never think of giving it up. I can’t sell. It doesn’t belong to me.”
It belongs to the trust. Indeed, the Guardian adds:
The English legal concept of a trust is believed to have been developed during that era, when knights departing the country with no certainty of returning wanted to ensure that their land passed to those who they thought to be their rightful heirs without interference from the Crown. Trusts achieved that goal and the concept has remained in existence ever since, representing the continual struggle of those with wealth to subvert the rule of law that may apply to others but that they believe should not apply to them.
No. They are using the rule of law to stay legal.
The late Duke had this advice for his heir: “He’s been born with the longest silver spoon anyone can have, but he can’t go through life sucking on it.. He has to see himself as a caretaker, keeping the estates in good shape in his lifetime. It took me ten years just to understand what I had inherited.”
George Monbiot wants to tell us about his meals in the Guardian. We live in an age of narcissism, so a broadsheet writer talking about his dinner is staple fare:
I’ve converted to veganism to reduce my impacts on the living world
The world can cope with 7 or even 10 billion people. But only if we stop eating meat. Livestock farming is the most potent means by which we amplify our presence on the planet. It is the amount of land an animal-based diet needs that makes it so destructive.
We should slaughter all the animals?
An analysis by the farmer and scholar Simon Fairlie suggests that Britain could easily feed itself within its own borders. But while a diet containing a moderate amount of meat, dairy and eggs would require the use of 11m hectares of land (4m of which would be arable), a vegan diet would demand a total of just 3m.
And lots of manure to grow the stuff with? Human shit is only good for columnists to make a living. The rest of us need horse, bird, pig and cow shit.
Rothamsted tells us:
Livestock manures are a valuable source of nutrients in many organic rotations. Making best use of these nutrients:
• contributes towards economic sustainability
• minimises pollution of the wider environment
Can you have good animal shit without animals to do the shitting? Monbiot adds:
Not only do humans need no pasture, but we use grains and pulses more efficiently when we eat them ourselves, rather than feed them to cows and chickens.
If not more animals to create more animal manure to grow crops with, is the option to go for increased GM crops and artificial fertilisers?
This would enable 15m hectares of the land now used for farming in Britain to be set aside for nature.
Nature? Are human beings not natural?
File under: show us your shit.
Policy Exchange sound like a revolting bunch. The Guardian reports on their plans to bran you all with a barcode:
British people should be given a “unique person number” to help the government keep track of the population following the vote for Brexit, according to a new report by a leading thinktank.
What has Brexit to do with being anti-human?
The paper from Policy Exchange said people feel Britain is being used as an “economic transit camp” and these fears could be allayed by creating a “population register”.
The Übermensch at Policy Exchange can go first. Form an orderly queue while we heat up the banding irons.
What is the point of education? The Telegraph looks at Lisa Duffy’s views on the matter of who decides what children learn at school. Duffy is a councillor in Cambridgeshire. She wants to lead UKIP. She wants a say in what children can be taught at school.
A “total ban” on Muslim state schools has been called for by Lisa Duffy, the Ukip leadership hopeful.
Ms Duffy, who is expected to be announced as once of the candidates in the party’s leadership race at noon today, has called for Islamic faith schools to be shut down in a bid to tackle radicalisation.
Duffy knows best. She wants to ban traditions she considers to be the wrong ones. An attack on freedom of education can be readily linked to an attack on freedom of worship, something any liberal country should hold dear.
Maybe Duffy doesn’t like what she sees as intolerance preached as faith schools. Maybe this is why Duffy wants to ban them, censor views alternative to her own? Duffy is a bansturbator. She tells the Express:
“I will be calling for the Government to close British Islamic faith schools. That doesn’t mean I am picking on British Islam…
Wrong. It does.
“…but if you think about what our security services are looking at 2,000 individuals that have come from those faith schools. When does indoctrination start?”
Dunno, Lisa. Where did you learn your illiberal views?
“I am not far right, I am very much common sense and centre right.”
Lisa affects to know what the country’s values are and then undermines them. Freedom for all is great so long as it is freedom from things Duffy doesn’t much like.
Why should the State know better than parents? Why should education be so politicised? Why should education adhere to a homogenous ‘norm’ proscribed by the elite? Parents must be free to chose the schools that reflect their own prejudices, views and wants.
Why doesn’t the State do something truly radical: ask teachers what they think and let them set the curriculum? (And interfering parents are every bit as dire as the State dictating what is right thinking.)
And if not religious schools, then why non-faith State schools, places where moving targets, new techniques and measures of learning create a system lacking substance – where children are schooled not educated. State schools are often out-performed by their religious-orientated rivals, where knowledge can be tested across ages and critical thinking is encouraged and engaged.
Lisa Duffy should try it.
The country is in crisis. The Telegraph reports on a consumer panic:
German discounter Lidl is removing its brand of fruit yoghurts and honey peanuts from the shelves because it fails to tell customers they might contain milk and peanuts.
Only ‘might’? Not ‘do’. Supermarkets are hedging their bets.
What else might a pot of yoghurt or packet of nuts contain? Pretty much anything, right?
When a man armed with a bomb blew himself up outside a music festival in Germany, the media went into action. Why had he done it?
Reuters went into action: “Syrian man denied asylum killed in German blast.”
The poor man. He was killed in a country that denied him asylum. This man suffered terribly at our hands. Reuters continues:
A 27-year-old Syrian man who had been denied asylum in Germany a year ago died on Sunday when a bomb he was carrying exploded outside a music festival in Ansbach, Germany…
A bomb he was carrying exploded? Was he taking it a museum, having found it?
Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said the man had tried to commit suicide twice before.
And he failed a third time. The “bomb exploded”. He was “killed”. He is the victim.
The Guardian leads with: “A 27-year-old man who had been denied asylum dies after explosion in southern German town”
The BBC: “Ansbach explosion: Syrian asylum seeker blows himself up in Germany.”
A failed Syrian asylum seeker has blown himself up and injured 15 other people with a backpack bomb near a festival in the south German town of Ansbach. The 27-year-old man, who faced deportation to Bulgaria, detonated the device after being refused entry to the music festival.
He was clearly an avid music fan. Denied entry he had nothing else to live for – well, aside from a new life in Bulgaria.
CNBC: “Bomb-carrying Syrian dies outside German music festival; 12 wounded.”
Al Jazeera: “A 27-year-old Syrian man died when a bomb he was carrying in a rucksack went off outside a music festival in Germany and wounded 12 people, an official said. A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office in Ansbach said the attacker’s motive wasn’t clear.”
The bomb went off. He did not detonate the bomb. It just went off. Why he died remains a mystery.
The Mail: “Syrian suicide bomber – nicknamed ‘Rambo’ – who blew himself up outside German music festival had pledged allegiance to ISIS, had Islamist videos at his home and had enough chemicals to make ANOTHER bomb.”
Ah. That’s why the asylum seeker was killed when the bomb he was carrying went off. He was an Islamist trying to murder people. Thanks to the Mail, the mystery has been cleared up.
The Guardian creates the world-class clickbait headline: “Jeremy Corbyn: Labour could win snap general election.”
But wait a moment. Did Corbyn actually says it? Does he think Labour can win the General Election?
The Conservative government has had “a field day” amid Labour divisions, Jeremy Corbyn has said in a Guardian interview, while insisting he believes the party could win a snap general election…
…when asked whether Labour could win a potential snap election this autumn or next spring, Corbyn seemed confident. “We’re going to go for it and win it,” he said.
‘Seemed confident’. He seems delusional.
Is the Guardian beyond parody? In “The highway to summer hell leads straight through the Hamptons” Emma Brockes moans about holidaying in the exclusive enclave. Damned is she forced to holiday at one of the resort towns on the Long Island coast, where the average property goes for over $1m.
The American summer tradition of clearing out of cities for the beach every weekend is at odds with an equally strong tradition of avoiding inconvenience. But for some reason the beach always wins.
Six hours on the road with small children in the back? No problem. A two-hour tailback? Just part of the package. A three-hour journey out of Penn Station to East Hampton, on a train so crowded you have to stand the whole way? Deal with it.
She then knocks the UK:
Granted, unlike in Britain, where you can stand up for hours on a train to get to a beach that looks like a large mudflat, at least the sand on Long Island is pretty. The dunes are pristine, the weather is hot and, if you trudge far enough from the path, you don’t have to see another human for hours.
Hell is other people with loads of money.
And Emma is earning out of her hols to the Hamptons, having on June 30 this year written more about her jolly hols:
The apartment complex was on a stretch of idyllic, empty beach and a five-minute drive from a town where a litre of coffee, a bag of pistachios and a small strawberry ice cream cost a fortune…
Pass the bucket. No, not to be sick in it. If you and the other 1 per cent can chuck a few coins in the thing, we and The Guardian (£173 pre-tax loss!) would be ever so grateful…
Oi, fatso! David Aaronovitch has a plan to win the “obesity war”. He writes in the Times:
It’s not enough to fiddle about with food labelling and a distant sugar tax. Bans may be draconian, but they’re essential
Bans are for censors. No ‘may’ about it. They are draconian. They are not essential.
Of course, we could try to attach the same opprobrium to being fat as to being a smoker.
Second-hand fat? We are getting fatter, yes. We are getting fatter because we do less. We have more down time. More of us live in small flats – stairs burn calories (just ask the aged who downsize). We have central heating. We have telly. Is there shame in being a smoker? No. although people who light up electronic cigarettes, especially the ones with the glowing end, do look like twats.
And what of the facts? Chris Snowdon notes:
All the evidence indicates that per capita consumption of sugar, salt, fat and calories has been falling in Britain for decades. Per capita sugar consumption has fallen by 16 per cent since 1992 and per capita calorie consumption has fallen by 21 per cent since 1974.
And Tim Worstall has an interesting aside:
One more little factoid on this: the current average UK diet has fewer calories than the minimum acceptable diet under WWII rationing. Quite seriously: we are gaining weight on fewer calories than our grandparents lost weight on.
Back then you could be fat and jolly. Now you must be fat and unhappy. The bitter and thin want revenge.
Ban fast-food outlets from stations and airports. Ban the sale of confectionery and sugary drinks to the under-16s. Ban the sale of over-sugared products in supermarkets (as measured by a ratio of sugar to other nutrients). Ban the bringing into schools of unhealthy foods. Ban the presence in offices (like our own here at The Times) of vending machines that seem to sell mainly crisps and chocolate. Specify a weight-to-height ratio limit on air passengers wishing to avoid a surcharge.
In short: bash the poor.
Transfer Balls spots this utter drivel in the Daily Telegraph. Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry has been called up to Germany’s Olympic football team. Lest you suppose news that a bit-part Arsenal player missing a few games with an Olympic hangover was not big news, the Telegraph says you’d be wrong. It is huge.
Gnabry featured on loan for West Brom last season [3 matches played], but has impressed Arsene Wenger this pre-season, and has been tipped for a more important role at the Emirates this season.
More important than no games for Arsenal last season?
His departure for the Games leaves Arsenal a man short in their midfield, and could even force Wenger’s hand in the transfer market.
Who could replace Gnabry, the player who made nine starts for Arsenal? Richard Amofa Harry Yorke have an idea.
Who would be a suitable replacement? Either Alexandre Lacazette and Riyad Mahrez could probably do the job. Many would feel Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is also capable, but the forward today distanced himself from a move to the Gunners.
Got that? The Premier League’s best player last season, the exciting young French striker or the thrilling Dortmund striker could do the job of Gnabry.
Indeed. What about Ronaldo? Surely he deserves the chance.
Former BBC staffer Paul Mason is making some sort of point about Sports Direct and Newcastle United FC tycoon Mike Ashley and his underlings:
What is striking, when you consider the modern reality of precarious work and coercive management, is how the concept of human rights stops at the factory gate.
The workers of Georgian England had no democratic rights or access to law. But the 21st century is supposed to be an age of universal rights. Every one of the practices described at Sports Direct appears to not just have broken employment law, but also violated the human right of the citizen not to be bullied, shamed, endangered or sexually harassed.
So things are better now because there are laws and human rights. Sports Direct’s working practises can be tested in a court of law. The workers have redress. Things are much improved. So what exactly is Mason’s point?
The Daily Pogba: an at-a-glance look at news of Juventus and Franc footballer Paul Pogba, wanted by Manchester United.
The Daily Star says Manchester United have bid £85m for Pogba. It’s not enough. Juventus have snubbed “Jose’s offer”. The idea that United manager Jose Mourinho has any say in how much the club should pay for the player is fanciful. United is run by the Glazer family from a shopping mall in the USA. They do the business.
The Guardian says the opening offer is not £85m, but £100m. And it’s not yet been made. The Guardian appears to be acting as a negotiator, adding: United are expected to make an opening bid of £100m with £13m of that performance-related add-ons.”
The Mirror also trumps the Star. Pogba is the paper’s “£100m man”. But it agrees with the Star that the money is Mourinho’s. According to both papers it is the manager not the Glazers who will make Pogba the world’s costliest player.
The Sun, having told us Pogba joined United for £105m last weekend, focuses on the player’s private life.
Today the Sun’s Phil Cadden reports: “MIAMI VICE Paul Pogba pictured smoking E-cigarette while on holiday with Romelu Lukaku in Miami.”
“These snaps of the £105million Manchester United target will have Jose Mourinho fuming,” writes Cadden of the player he told us had already joined United and is now reduced to a “target”. He adds: “Pogba, who met up with Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, is wanted by United and Real Madrid.”
Ah, yes, Real Madrid. AS (Spain) says Pogba has been using his clothes to speak of his desire to play for Real. Below the headline “Pogba’s little message to Real Madrid? He is ‘all in white'”, the Spanish tabloid reports:
Pogba posted a photo on Instagram, along with the words “all in white”, which of course set off speculation, some of it fevered, that this was a clear wink to Real Madrid, who of course play in all white…
Real Madrid do not play in trousers. Fact.
More Pogba balls all summer.
Brexit Balls aplenty in the Guardian, where Rachel Cooke is remembering past holidays in those halcyon days of the 1970s, when Europe was still called ‘The Continent’:
In France she eats a croissant:
Even as I finished it, licking my finger to gather every last flake, I worried that such an ambrosial delight might never pass my lips again. If this turned out to be so, I wasn’t sure life was going to be worth living.
She would go on to drink fizzy water, eat white yoghurt, “sticky cheese that was stinky”, snails and enjoy the “superiority of French food”. She was a “miniature gastronomic zealot” high on French supermarket fodder. And then it all ended:
You know where this is going. Brexit feels to me like grief, and, deep in mourning, I can’t stop thinking of the loved one, and all that she brought me. Of course, it’s possible to exaggerate the effect the EU has had on our eating habits.
Possible. And here it is. The European Union makes the apricot jam thicker and the butter more creamy. The EU allowed you to travel to France and eat food. The EU gave you bottled water. The EU did it all.
Things would have changed anyway, in the end; British supermarkets, for better or worse, sell sushi now.
Sushi is from Japan – a country NOT in the EU (yet). We eat sushi and more expensive foods because we are richer than before, and many of us spend large chunks of our considerable down time watching cheap-to-make cooking shows and celebrity travelogues on the telly.
In the 1970s, British foodies could watch Graham Kerr on telly, The Galloping Gourmet, a celebrity chef the Guardian calls “The Roger Moore of the mandolin, the Nigel Havers of the hob, the David Niven of the knife block”.
The wealthy British imported coffee and tea and spices long before the EU existed.
Buy Cooke says “it’s difficult not to see this as a door closing – a refrigerator door, behind which there sits, in my dreams, an oozing brie de Meaux, a blushing hunk of culatello, and a small bowl of salty Nardin boquerones. How much more expensive are such treats likely soon to be?”
Well, that would depend on demand for already pricey foodstuffs. There’s a reason they don’t sell frozen snails at Tesco and they do sell sushi – “for better or worse.” They also sell Thai food (again, not from the EU) and lots of things from Australia, Canada and America.
She then accuses the people who voted for Brexit of being culturally backward, tasteless to the core, a slack-jawed, reactionary majority of bad-food lovers.
The celebrating Brexiteers are in a frenzy of nationalistic pride right now… Do they think freedom lies in grey meat and flaccid pastry?
No. See The Great British Bake Off.
Is it a case, for them, of better-the-cheap-British-cheese-you-know-than-the-dubious-foreign-stuff-you-don’t?
No. It’s a case of wine, a box of curry, a few spring rolls, kebabs, nachos, burgers and reruns of Fanny Cradock’s Fanny’s Kitchen on the magic box.
When not leaving for her place in Tuscany, Polly Tonybee remains at his keyboard talking to Guardian readers about Brexit and all that inconvenient democracy.
Having called David Cameron “the man who sauntered effortlessly along a privileged path”*, Polly Toynbee – old school: Badminton (day pupil fees £5,650 per term); daughter of the literary critic Philip Toynbee (school: Rugby; friend of the Mitford sisters); granddaughter of the historian Arnold J. Toynbee (Winchester College), and great-great niece of philanthropist and economic historian Arnold Toynbee (after whom Toynbee Hall in London is named); dated the man who would become Boris Johnson’s uncle – adds:
What is to become of us? Cameron has led us into a state of paralysing uncertainty, at the mercy of erratic negotiations with 27 countries over which we have no say. Take back control?
Those are 27 countries over which the UK has no control.
Are you paralysed with uncertainty? Are you unable to find your own arse without a politician taking your hand and showing you the way? Are you wailing and weeping about the future? Get this in the Mirror:
A Labour official who voted on Jeremy Corbyn’s future wept today as she claimed colleagues were “bullied and intimidated” ahead of the crunch ruling.
Johanna Baxter was one of the 32 National Executive Committee (NEC) members who voted 18-14 to put Mr Corbyn on the ballot paper in the Labour leadership election – without MPs’ backing.
— The World at One (@BBCWorldatOne) July 13, 2016
Or are you just getting on with things, like a grown-up should?
Let’s end the uncertainty just Trigger Article 50. Get on with it. The working-classes have spoken. Join here.
*No problem with Tonybee’s good fortune, but why use another’s good fortune as a stick to beat them with?
Rub your eyes Arsenal fans. The Telegraph says Arsenal are planning to gazump Chelsea and bid – get this – £65m for Real Madrid’s Alvaro Morata.
The Sun tells us Arsenal will offer Morata £144,000-a-week, making him their third highest paid player behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The Daily Mirror says Morata to Arsenal is very much on because the player wants Champions’ League football, something Chelsea can’t offer.
But would Arsenal really bid such a huge sum for a talented but far from sensational player? The Tele says Chelsea are “more than willing to pay that price”. The Blues want to stick Morata up front with new boy Michy Batshuayi. But Morata “would rather move to the Emirates than Stamford Bridge”.
The Standard says Arsenal are offering too much. “Chelsea bid £51m for Alvaro Morata,” says the London free paper.
The Indy says Morata to Arsenal is on. But in case it isn’t, the paper of record names NINE other strikers who could join Arsenal. The list is a sensation, featuring, as it does, Brazilian superstar Neymar. Neymar to Arsenal! That would be the same Neymar of whom the Indy wrote on July 1 this year:
Neymar’s contract with Barcelona has been extended until 2021… The announcement ended speculation that Neymar was unhappy in Spain and was looking to move to another club.
It did – unless the Indy has to find 10 names for a dire story on Arsenal strikers.
Of course, there is balls and there is utter balls. We’ll leave you with the news from 2014 that Morata already plays for Arsenal:
Such are the facts.
Andrea Leadsom clenched her fist and smacked Theresa May, her rival for the Tory Parry leadership, right below the belt and into the ovaries. May has no children. Leadsom has three children. This, reasons Leadsom, makes her a better human being than May, more able to think of the future and other people.
In the numbers game, Dear Andrea is, of course, not as good as the old woman who lived in the shoe (loads kids), Rose West (eight children) but a bit better than Jezebel (two kids). Leadsom is a lot better than Mother Teresa, Gloria Steinem, Dame Helen Mirren and Dolly Parton (no children between them).
This was is what Dear Andrea told the Times:
She also said this:
Dear Andrea is supported in her leadership campaign by Ian Duncan Smith. Dear Ian has already stated: “I believe that Andrea’s strong family family background… will make her a great prime minister for the UK.”
This attack seems awfully familiar. In 2001 top Tory Norman Tebbit (three children) backed Duncan Smith (four children) to beat Michael Portillo (no children, married and who spoke of his “homosexual experiences” – what Tebbit called “deviance”) in the Tory leadership race. Said Tebbit: “He [IDS] is a remarkably normal family man with children.”
Portillo was winning the race. After the gay story was fanned, he lost. IDS won.
PS: Leadsom has accused the Times (like May, and unlike Leadsom, the paper backed Remain in the EU Referendum) of “gutter journalism”. The writer stands by her story.
What Mrs Leadsom said:
Rachel Sylvester: “Do you feel like a mum in politics?”
Andrea Leadsom: “Yes. So…
RS: “Why and how?”
AL: “So really carefully because I am sure, I don’t really know Theresa very well but I am sure she will be really really sad she doesn’t have children so I don’t want this to be ‘Andrea has children, Theresa hasn’t’ because I think that would be really horrible.
“But genuinely I feel being a mum means you have a very real stake in the future of our country, a tangible stake.
“She possibly has nieces, nephews, lots of people, but I have children, who are going to have children, who will directly be a part of what happens next.
“So it really keeps you focused on ‘what are you really saying?’. Because what it means is you don’t want a downturn but ‘never mind, let’s look ahead to the ten years’, hence it will all be fine. My children will be starting their lives in that next ten years so I have a real stake in the next year, the next two.”
So, she said it, then.
Phillip Collins is of the mind that “party members choosing leaders is pure folly“. Why? That’s how many clubs chose their leaders. Collins doesn’t write the headlines for his Times story, of course.
Below it he opines that Tory Party members acting “in the name of democracy, are making a shambles of our democracy”.
As it is with the Tories so it is with Labour, he argues: “The gap between the parliamentary party, in which 172 MPs have declared no confidence in their nominal leader, and the members at large is breaking Labour apart.”
You might not like who the members chose, but that’s the system. Collins should be more bothered by the EU Referendum in which anyone of voting age did get to choose. More than a week after the Leave campaign won nothing has been done to trigger Article 50 and with it UK’s Brexit from the European Union.
At this point Corbyn supporters piously intone that “democracy” is on their side. They say, as if it clinched the argument, that Mr Corbyn has a mandate from the membership which renders dissent illegitimate. The numbers from the Labour leadership ballot are, indeed, clear. Mr Corbyn won a handsome mandate to be leader of the party. But he did not also win a mandate to be a hopeless leader of the party. There is no mandate to trail a leaderless Tory party in the midst of a nervous breakdown by seven points in the polls. Mr Corbyn did not win a mandate to be a general who cannot command the confidence of his parliamentary cavalry.
Democracy is not a single event. The first clause of the Labour Party constitution commits it to taking the cause of working people to parliament. It is a charter for victory for a party that was founded, out of the trade union movement, to take control of the levers of the state as a government. Labour was therefore a parliamentary institution before it was a members club. Labour MPs represent, within the party, the voters who put them into parliament. They have a democratic mandate too, larger in number than the members and a viable leader has to retain the confidence of all parts of the Labour structure.
The catastrophic election system introduced by Ed Miliband in 2014 fails to respect the Labour Party’s tiered structure. Candidates are proposed by MPs but the vote is conducted entirely by the membership. Between 1922 and 1981 Labour’s leader was chosen entirely by the parliamentary party. In 1981, Tony Benn’s intervention established an unwieldy electoral college in which MPs held 30 per cent of the vote, members the same and trade unions 40 per cent.
The terrible answer that dropped out of the bottom of that Heath Robinson machine was Michael Foot. But at least the college made some reference to the different levels of Labour Party democracy. Certainly it was preferable to the current disaster in which any ex-member of the Socialist Workers Party can vote for less than the price of a pint. The Labour Party is left with just one option. Sign up the moderates, of whom there are more in the nation than the Corbynistas, and then let the new leader abolish the system.
There are 84 Conservative MPs, people actually paid out of public funds to conduct politics, who believe that Andrea Leadsom should be prime minister. Somebody as smart as former leader Michael Howard should be ashamed of himself
You might have thought, with Labour helpfully providing a primer in what not to do, that the Conservatives might draw the obvious lesson. Perhaps it will. Those who know the party better than I do suggest that Theresa May will win and that 199 Tory MPs took the sensible option in yesterday’s second leadership ballot. Yet there are 84 Conservative MPs, people actually paid out of public funds to conduct politics, who believe that Andrea Leadsom should be prime minister. Somebody as smart as former leader Michael Howard should be ashamed of himself. It is scarcely credible that, fired with fervour, Tory MPs will risk setting their membership against the bulk of their colleagues in parliament.
Mrs May’s victory yesterday was so overwhelming that the contest should be stopped. She should offer Mrs Leadsom the business brief and Mrs Leadsom should accept. Between 1965, when the system that Ian Macleod described as the “magic circle” was abolished, and 1998, when that dangerous radical William Hague gave the members a say, Tory MPs chose their leader. They should do so now. Then the party can get on with the task of forming a government without taking the risk that its membership is as far from political credibility as the Labour Party’s.
Yesterday, as Mrs Leadsom toured the television studios telling interviewers that she would absolutely tell Vladimir Putin to stop if he got a bit uppity and taking questions on her questionable curriculum vitae, Tim Loughton MP led a march from her rally to Parliament Square, chanting leaden Leadsom slogans along the way. As I watched the Leadsom march on Westminster I had a dream, of a deputy investment bod from a fund management company who voted both for and against gay marriage becoming prime minister. This was a delicious parallel to last Monday when, as Labour MPs gathered in parliament to declare his leadership defunct, Mr Corbyn chose to address a rally in the square outside. With the MPs lost, he took refuge in the members.
The Tories are choosing a prime minister and it would be a disaster if they did the same as Labour. It is, in any case, a democratic outrage that the next prime minister will be chosen by the 0.3 per cent of the electorate who happen to be odd enough to be members of the Conservative Party. Can any of them, I wonder, see the irony of their regular sermons about the lack of “democracy” in the EU? Probably not. These are people who have taken hold of the wrong end of the stick in order to beat the country with it. The candidate of their looking-glass world is the wholly ill-prepared Mrs Leadsom.
Just over 2 per cent of the nation are members of a political party. These members are not representative even of the people who vote for their party, let alone of the nation. They have no monopoly on the idea of democracy, which does not stop at the constituency meeting. Political parties are not sacrosanct organisations that bend to the whims of their votaries. They are simply useful agencies for gathering collective opinion. They have to look up as well as down, at the stars and not just the gutter. We will have to trust that the Tory members in the shires will do that.
Dunno really. I tend to think that chess club members get to choose the officers and leaders of the chess club. Tory party members get to choose the leader of the Tory party.
Tony Blair is “on the couch”, says the Daily Mail. There are questions over the former Prime Minister’s sanity, writes Stephen Glover. Blair is “delusional”. Blair “has some kind of Messianic complex”. Blair is a “near lunatic”. Blair is “manipulative and devious”. Blair is “an extreme narcissist”.
Vain, pushy, manipulative, self-regarding and self-absorbed. So what. He’s a politician, and one who, most worryingly of all, wore his god on his sleeve. The sadness is that the voters are now being portrayed as victims of his sorcery and trickery. If you accept that he duped you, then you accept that you are easily duped. It’s the same narrative that infects the post-Brexit haze and seeks to portray the white working classes as ignorant scum.
Did we all believe Saddam Hussein could launch chemical weapons within 45 minutes? Did you believe in New Labour’s “ethical foreign policy”evident in Nato’s attack on Serbia over Kosovo in 1999 that established the rule of a humanitarian intervention? Blair called the Kosovo intervention “a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship”.
Did you nod when Tony Blair, champion of “humanitarian warfare”, said in 20014:
“…the notion of intervening on humanitarian grounds had been gaining currency. I set this out, following the Kosovo war, in a speech in Chicago in 1999, where I called for a doctrine of international community, where in certain clear circumstances, we do intervene, even though we are not directly threatened.”
Did you feel good when Blair said in that 1999 address:
Looking around the world there are many regimes that are undemocratic and engaged in barbarous acts. If we wanted to right every wrong that we see in the modern world then we would do little else than intervene in the affairs of other countries. We would not be able to cope.
So how do we decide when and whether to intervene. I think we need to bear in mind five major considerations
First, are we sure of our case? War is an imperfect instrument for righting humanitarian distress; but armed force is sometimes the only means of dealing with dictators.
Blair was clear: if the United Nations failed to act, then individual countries should go it alone.
Were you one of the 412 MPs who voted to use “all means necessary to ensure the disarmament of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction”?
No matter if you did or did not. The Chilcot Report clears you of blame. This was Tony Blair alone. It was his “private war”. The political elite are in the clear. The Guardian says Chilcot can “restore trust in the process of decision-making in government”. The New Statesman says Chilcot will “drain the poison that has built up in our national life since Blair took the calamitous decision to follow the US into invading a country that its president knew zip about”.
Invading Iraq was not a calamity of moral and ethical convictions, a horror show for the media and Westminster, a disaster fuelled by “sexed-up” political flimflam over substance. It was just the ultimate expression of mad Tony’s diseased brain.
Now let’s hang the bastard and be made clean.
“We are all tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime,” opined Tony Blair. If he’s the criminal what were the causes of his crime?
Natalia Potanina, who claims to be exiled in Britain, wants £5 billion from the pockets of Russian Vladimir Potanin. Christina Estrada, 54, would like £196 million off her ex-husband Dr Walid Juffali, 61. Estrada’s claim includes £58,000 for two luxury handbags – every year. Seems reasonable.
Frances Gibb suggests that such claims, if approved, would “cement the UK’s reputation as the country favoured by the ultra-rich for their divorce disputes.” Well, not quite. The party who seeks the massive pay-off for martial services surely would give consideration to making a claim in a British court. The wealthy party would most likely prefer the case was heard elsewhere, like in, equal opportunity, Saudi Arabia, perhaps, or Russia.
An odd little Brexit story in the Guardian, which reports that “almost half of voters aged 18 to 24 cried or felt like crying when they heard that the UK had voted to leave the European Union”.
A poll for the London School of Economics, called “Inside the mind of the voter”, found that 47% of the youngsters wanted to cry when they lost the vote. You will recall that just over 48% of voted for the losing side in the EU referendum.
And is news that young people cry, especially those who like the cosy EU, shocking?
PS : can anyone find the question the pollsters asked?
Mark Scott has news for those of you who voted Remain. You can Leave. Mark Scott is European technology correspondent for The New York Times. And he’s off:
I’ve grudgingly accepted that 52 percent of my fellow citizens wanted to leave the European Union… But… with a heavy heart, I’m applying to become an Irish citizen, saying goodbye to Britain just as it wants to say goodbye to Europe.
So long, Marc. You can work for a competing economy in another country that offers a better deal.
Remain supporter Oliver Imhof (one for nominative determinism, there) is getting his passport, too. He tells Guardian readers:
Above all other ideological affiliations, I am a democrat. And as a democrat I have to accept a defeat. I have to accept being oppressed by a majority of an older generation that seems intent on depriving us of our future. This is why I am leaving this country.
David Lammy, your snobby MP, doesn’t much like democracy. He can apply to join a country that shares his values, like Russia, Saudi Arabia or Zimbabwe. After all, as The Independent‘s Matthew Norman notes: “The Labour Party is over and Jeremy Corbyn’s stupidity brought it down.” Lammy might be looking for a job soon – and we can vote him out.
So why did Jamie Vardy reject a move to Arsenal? Was it because when, as reported, his agent called Arsenal to tell them about the “escape clause” it was just a ruse to get a rival team to bid for his client and so kickstart negotiations on a new deal with Leicester City? Vardy was on £70,000 a week when the agent called Arsenal. After Arsenal bid the £20m (Sun) / £21m (Telegraph) / £22m (Guardian) to trigger Vardy’s release, and offered him a reported £120,000 a week, the player scored a new deal with the Foxes worth £100,000 a week basic and maybe bonuses for ‘loyalty’, goals and appearances.
Other reasons why Vardy snubbed Arsenal are all over the media.
Sky: “Vardy: Arsenal style put me off.”
Words from Vardy: nil.
The Guardian: “It appears as though Vardy feels that he has unfinished business at Leicester.”
Gary Lineker: “A show of loyalty from @vardy7″
Telegraph: “…it is understood he was always reluctant to leave Leicester.”
At least it had nothing to do with money.
Abdul Rahman Haroun, 40, left his native Sudan in 2004. On August 4 2015, Mr Haroun walked through the 31-mile long Channel Tunnel and claimed asylum. The Express says there is “outrage” as “migrant is freed”. It laments the “border shambles” that allows Haroun to be a free man. Reading that you might suppose that Mr Haroun escaped any legal censure for his actions.
The Independent’s headline is at odds with the Express. It turns Mr Haroun from migrant to “refugee”. The Indy sums up: “Refugee Abdul Rahman Haroun given nine-month prison sentence for walking through Channel Tunnel to reach UK… He was prosecuted under Victorian legislation – the Malicious Damage Act 1861 – for ‘obstructing an engine or a carriage using a railway’.”
The Express quotes an MP who says Haroun received only a “slap on the wrist”. The MP says Haroun should have been deported automatically. The Express says Haroun benefitted from a “soft touch” justice system. Haroun has been “rewarded [for his criminality] with leave to remain and taxpayer handouts”.
The Mail says Haroun is “free to work and live here… if he has a wife and child under 18 he can bring them to Britain”.
Mr Haroun is free. That much is true. But only because from the time of his arrest until January this year Mr Haroun was a prisoner at HMP Elmley in Kent. In December 2015, the “African migrant” (Telegraph) was granted permission to remain in the UK as a refugee.
In January, he was bailed. At Canterbury Crown Court Mr Haroun, who “braved speeding trains” (New York Times) pleaded guilty.
The Daily Star sees no bravery. It states: “Migrant who walked through Chunnel free to live here – despite guilty plea.” The paper adds: “The news comes after truck drivers told of their fears of another summer of migrant mayhem in Calais, France.”
The final word is with the judge, Adele Williams, who “acknowledged Haroun had travelled from Sudan ‘in a state of desperation'” (Sky News). She added: “The reason why the courts of the United Kingdom take such a serious view of this criminality is that those who enter in this way seek to evade the authorities, who can, therefore, have no check upon who is entering the country. In the world in which we live of international crime and terrorism that is a very serious matter.”
So was the bigger crime in letting a man wander through the Channel Tunnel undetected?
PS – Mr Haroun plans to appeal his conviction.