Archive for ‘Observer’

January 20, 2014

Of all the institutions Savile corrupted, the BBC had the least right to be surprised by his crimes

Sir Jimmy Savile OBE KCSG

I’m sure that the BBC’s managers will be appalled by the Observer’s revelation that Jimmy Savile molested or raped hundreds – maybe a thousand – girls and boys. I have enough faith in their humanity to believe that the hairs on the back of their necks will stand on end when they read one of the victims’ lawyers telling us: “Savile never had a quiet day.”

Whether he was in the Top of the Pops studio or touring in a BBC camper van with a dirty mattress in the back, his dead eyes were always looking out for young, disadvantaged fans, so intimidated by his fame he could do anything to them.

Carry on reading

January 13, 2014

When Tories say “we are all in this together,” their ‘we’ does not include them.


As we are living in a time of sacrifice, Osborne might make amends for his stupidity and reverse his policy. He might say, as the Americans do, that wealthy foreigners living in Britain must pay taxes on their foreign earnings, like the rest of us. He might even end the obscene situation in which wealthy Britons can escape taxes by pretending to be foreigners, most notably, the noble Lord Rothermere, proprietor of the patriotic Daily Mail.

More hard choices for Osborne? More sacrifices he will not shrink from demanding? Don’t be a fool. With the exception of a tiny proposal to make foreigners pay capital gains tax on their British homes, he won’t consider passing the burden to those best able to carry it.

Read the whole thing

January 9, 2014

Reform the first casualty of Britain’s gormless culture wars

The unions that held these islands together and regulated their dealings with the outside world are straining, maybe to the point of collapse. Crises always provoke good writing and the uncertainty about England’s relationship with Scotland and Britain’s relationship with the European Union has produced two books that are well written, well researched and well worth reading. Unfortunately, both end with calls for action that will appeal only to the converted. Without meaning to, their authors reveal the impossibility of producing a coherent reform programme in a country caught up in the double standards of its gormless culture wars.

Carry on reading

January 6, 2014

Food banks: cowardly coalition can’t face the truth about them

I went to the Trussell Trust food bank round the corner from the Observer’s offices just before Christmas. If I hadn’t been reading the papers, I would have assumed it represented everything Conservatives admire. As at every other food bank, volunteers who are overwhelmingly churchgoers ran it and organised charitable donations from the public.

What could be closer to Edmund Burke’s vision of the best of England that David Cameron says inspired his “big society”?

Carry on reading

December 16, 2013

How tight does Saatchi have to grasp a woman’s throat before high society shuns him?

Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi (EXCLUSIVE)

Once it was easy to know how to stay in high society. The first commandment of American politics spelt it out: “Never get found in bed with a live man or dead woman.” A man discovered bedding another man is not now the scandal it once was – and for that advance much thanks. A man who kills a woman may be pushing it a bit – even in these non-judgmental times. But a man grabbing the throat of his wife, as if he is beginning to strangle the life out of her, in public view at a Mayfair restaurant – well, my dear fellow, who will damn you for such a trifle?

Carry on reading

December 9, 2013

Iain Duncan Smith’s legacy of poverty and waste


It has been another noisy week for the quiet man. Iain Duncan Smith decided that the chancellor’s statement on the economy made Thursday a good day to bury bad news. With a shabbiness entirely in keeping with the work and pension secretary’s low character, he sneaked out the admission that he would fail to hit the 2017 deadline for the introduction of his universal credit when no one was looking.

The truth that he had wasted more money than an army of benefit fraudsters on a grandiose IT system had been dragged out of him like a confession from a hardened criminal.

Carry on reading

December 5, 2013

The segregation of women and the appeasement of bigots


For over a week now, astonished reaction has been building to the decision of Universities UK to recommend the segregation of men and women on campuses. The astonishment has been all the greater because, in a characteristic display of 21st century hypocrisy, the representatives of 132 universities and colleges clothed reactionary policies in the language of liberalism.

It could be a denial of the rights of a woman hater – or ‘representative of an ultra-orthodox religious group’, as our finest institutes of higher learning put it – to allow men and women to sit where they please. The Muslim or Orthodox Jew could refuse to speak in such intolerable circumstances. The university would then have infringed his freedom of speech if it did not segregate.

Carry on reading

December 4, 2013

The Cult of the Supreme CEO


The great leader’s followers know he goes “absolutely mental” at the tiniest deviation from the party line. He screams his contempt for the offender in public so that all learn the price of heresy. Go beyond minor breaches of party discipline and raise serious doubts about the leader’s “vision” of global domination and that’s the end of you. “You’re toast,” he says, and his henchmen lead you away.

In private, his underlings mutter that the leader is a “sociopath” with “no capacity for compassion”. Even though he terrifies them, their hatred of him is far from complete. When he relaxes, the great leader can be charming. His favour brings reward. The further you move up the hierarchy, the more blessings you receive, and the more you believe the leader’s propagandists when they hail his “originality” and “rigour”. History is vindicating the leader. His power is growing. The glorious day when the world recognises his greatness is coming.

Carry on reading

November 25, 2013

Universities should be the last place to ban free speech


[From the wisely anonymous author of Jesus and Mo]

On the morning of 3 October, Chris Moos and Abhishek Phadnis put on joke T-shirts, of the kind students wear the world over, and went to man the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist Society stall at the London School of Economics freshers’ fair. The bullying the university authorities visited upon them for the next 36 hours should provoke the most important free speech court case to hit British universities in years. It certainly deserves to.

Carry on reading

November 18, 2013

George Osborne and the worst of all possible worlds


Picture the most Conservatives’ most avowed enemies. They think that when Nye Bevan said Tories were “lower than vermin”, he was being too generous. They believe that any Conservative or Conservative-led government will, as a matter of course, grind its boots into the faces of the humble while planting warm and loving kisses on the backsides of the mighty.

On one point, however, even they may make a concession. Whatever else it does, a Tory government will protect taxpayers. Conservatives believe in encouraging prudence and responsibility. They think the individual is best placed to make decisions about his or her welfare. Let the government take too much of other people’s money and it will waste it on dangerously misconceived attempts at “social engineering” or, as the Conservatives said of Gordon Brown, use it to create a “client state” of bribed voters.

George Osborne’s conduct at the Exchequer has destroyed their one reason for tolerating Conservative rule. He has all the Tory vices and none of the Tory virtues…

Carry on reading


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