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Preview: The Guardian newspaper: Editorials & reply | guardian.co.uk

Editorials | The Guardian



Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice



Published: Tue, 23 Jan 2018 11:44:30 GMT2018-01-23T11:44:30Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2018
 



The Guardian view on cyberwar: an urgent problem | Editorial

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 17:42:22 GMT2018-01-22T17:42:22Z

The internet is now used as a low-level weapon of war. How should Britain best defend itself?

In the desperate scramble to rearm before the second world war there was always an undercurrent of pessimism. “The bomber will always get through,” Stanley Baldwin warned. In his dark fantasies, destruction and poison gas rained from the skies and obliterated civilisation. That isn’t quite what happened, though the bombers did their best. Today’s equivalent is the feeling that the hacker will always get through, and that attacks on computer networks will become the most devastating form of future warfare.

There are certainly grounds for fear. Technological civilisation is now built on software, much of it desperately insecure. Even when the software itself is secure – and you’d assume that the CIA at least would use properly secured software – the human parts of a bureaucracy can fail, as is shown by the extraordinary case of a teenage hacker, Kane Gamble, operating from his bedroom in Leicestershire, who managed to impersonate the director of the CIA and the deputy director of the FBI and gain access to part of their emails, which included a great deal of classified material.

The British government is projected to spend £1.9bn on cybersecurity between 2016 and 2021. This is for all departments, including the MoD, the surveillance agency GCHQ and GCHQ's front window, the National Cyber Security Centre.   

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The Guardian view on Germany’s social democrats: no easy options | Editorial

Mon, 22 Jan 2018 17:39:55 GMT2018-01-22T17:39:55Z

Germany’s main centre-left party has voted for more talks about going back into government with Angela Merkel. But the SPD’s acute divisions remain

Germany has now been without a government for more than three months, and it could be at least the end of February before Angela Merkel can start her fourth term as chancellor – if she ever can. It is surely significant that two successive elections have each been followed by record-breaking difficulties in forming a government. It is a reminder that the once seemingly commanding large parties are dwindling in Germany, just as they have dwindled elsewhere in Europe. German party politics is fragmenting: there are now six different party groupings in the newly elected Bundestag or parliament.

Following the weekend vote by the social democrats (SPD) to begin detailed coalition talks with Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU-CSU bloc, normal political business may now reassert itself to some degree. Nevertheless, there are still major hurdles to jump, of which the largest will be a referendum among SPD members on the deal, and success is not guaranteed. Even without serious hitches, it may be fully six months before a new government is finally formed in Europe’s richest and most important country. This may not do much to shake Germany’s economic credibility. But it is putting unfamiliar pressures on Germany’s party and governmental systems. The fact that Mrs Merkel has long been Europe’s dominant leader in spite of never having secured an overall majority should not disguise the importance of these new signs of weakness.

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The Guardian view on Davos and inequality: a demagogue takes advantage

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 18:05:33 GMT2018-01-21T18:05:33Z

Democracies will fall under the spell of populists like Donald Trump if they fail to deal with the fallout of globalisation

The rich, as F Scott Fitzgerald noted, “are different from you and me”. Their wealth, he wrote, makes them “cynical where we are trustful” and their affluence makes them think they are “better than we are”. These words ring truest among the billionaires and corporate executives flocking to the Swiss ski resort of Davos this week. The highs recorded by stockmarkets, the tremendous monopoly power of tech titans and spikes in commodity prices reassure the rich cosmocratic class that they have weathered the storm of the financial crisis. The moguls can talk safely about inequality and poverty. But they will do little about it because they do not think their best interests are aligned with citizens. This is a mistake of historic proportions.

Since 2015, Oxfam calculates, the richest 1% have owned more wealth than the rest of the planet. The very wealthy think they no longer share a common fate with the poor. Whatever the warm words at Davos, no company bosses will put their hands up to the fact they play one country against another in order to avoid taxes; no firm will be honest about their attempts to stymie trade unions or about how they lobby against government regulation on labour, environment or privacy that tilts the balance of power away from them and towards the public. The largest western corporations and banks now roam the globe freely. As memories of the financial crisis recede, they are going back to the myth that they are no longer dependent on national publics or governments. Lobbyists for the corporate world claim that markets are on autopilot, that government is a nuisance best avoided.

Davos is a Swiss ski resort now more famous for hosting the annual four-day conference for the World Economic Forum. For participants it is a festival of networking. Getting an invitation is a sign you have made it – and the elaborate system of badges reveals your place in the Davos hierarchy.

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The Guardian view on sporting diplomacy: scoring not shooting | Editorial

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 17:55:13 GMT2018-01-21T17:55:13Z

The joint North-South Korean ice hockey team planned for next month’s Winter Olympics is a small win, whatever their fortunes on the rink

Will a flag and half a dozen ice hockey sticks solve the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula? Of course not. If, as planned, a joint North-South women’s team strides forth under a pro-unification flag at next month’s Winter Olympics in the South, it will be a very small step forwards. But that is one of the paradoxes on which all sports diplomacy rests – it matters because it does not matter. The idea of using sports to improve fraught relations dates back at least to the Olympic Truce reached in Ancient Greece, supposedly on the advice of the Oracle at Delphi. The monarchs of Elis, Pisa and Sparta agreed that the hosts, athletes and accompanying parties would be able to participate in the games without any risk. In the modern age, ping-pong diplomacy helped thaw cold war tensions between the US and China. Sport is powerful as a symbol of national identity and vigour that engages the public, often passionately. Yet set beside bigger conflicts it is comically irrelevant – and therefore much safer. A nation may feel embarrassed at a loss, but no one dies.

A second paradox is that sports are about both competition and cooperation. George Orwell, writing a few years after the 1936 Berlin Olympics, took an exceptionally bleak view of international contests. Serious sport was “bound up with hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of all rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence: in other words it is war minus the shooting,” he concluded.

Related: Winter Olympics 2018: who will shine for your country at Pyeongchang?

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The Observer view on our new tabloid format | Observer editorial

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:03:06 GMT2018-01-21T00:03:06Z

From the French revolution to Brexit, this newspaper has put itself at the heart of the issues of the moment, whatever its size

Today, we are proud and excited to launch our new design for the Observer. We think it’s vital for a newspaper to shed its skin from time to time, to reimagine itself for loyal readers and to welcome a new generation to our journalism. The aim of the new look is to make the paper a little sharper and a little friendlier, while not compromising the scope and depth of its engagement with politics or the arts, foreign news or sport, innovation and ideas and all the light and shade of life.

The Observer is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

A polarised politics has led to unprecedented official attacks on expert opinion and established fact

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The next phase in this unending tragedy could prove even more dangerous | Observer editorial

Sun, 21 Jan 2018 00:03:06 GMT2018-01-21T00:03:06Z

The next phase in this intractable and bloody tragedy could prove the most dangerous yet

The conflict in Syria, triggered by a grassroots uprising in 2011 against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad, is usually referred to as a civil war. But this description bears scant relation to what is happening there now. Syria has become an international battleground pitting the great powers, regional neighbours and supranational ethnic and religious forces against each other in a fight for strategic influence, territory and power. After last week’s unveiling of plans for deeper US engagement, this struggle may be about to enter a new, even more dangerous phase. The battle for Syria has produced no clear winners as yet. But there is no doubt who are the losers. Up to half a million Syrians have died, more than 5.4 million are refugees, and 6.1 million are internally displaced. Every day, more death and destruction rains down. In the past week, tens of thousands of civilians in the north-western Idlib province have been uprooted, many of them for a second or third time, by Russian and Syrian airstrikes and shelling. In total, more than 200,000 people have fled. Aid organisations and activists say hospitals and schools have been repeatedly targeted and supply routes blocked.

The Observer is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

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The Guardian view on a caring capitalism: healing an unhappy society | Editorial

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:51:10 GMT2018-01-19T16:51:10Z

It is time to base the economy on a more rounded view of human nature than that one that just considers individuals as selfish calculators of utility

The zero-sum game of competition for money and status that has gripped societies over the past 30 years have made their publics richer overall and given them longer lives of better quality. It has led to an embarrassing wealth of consumer goods. But it is also increasingly clear that the me-first model of modern economies is a big source of unhappiness. When life feels like a cut-throat contest each one of us is encouraged to chase income and rank. In a rat race improving one’s income causes others to feel dissatisfied with theirs. One person’s pay rise is another’s psychic loss. Envy spreads despair, encouraging workers to devote more time to making money than to family or community.

Such competition weighs heavily on national wellbeing. A slice of Britain seem to be losing hope; the lives of poorer citizens are unhappier than their richer peers in ways that simply having less money cannot explain. Our story revealing that private insurers refuse policies to people suffering even mild mental health conditions shows how those who suffer could be shut out of society. Medical research shows that happier people heal quicker, worrying given measures of wellbeing show the proportions of people satisfied with their health, home and income to have fallen over the past three years.

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The Guardian view on Jacinda Ardern: pregnant with meaning | Editorial

Fri, 19 Jan 2018 16:43:25 GMT2018-01-19T16:43:25Z

New Zealand was the first country to give votes to women. Now it gives childcare to the prime minister’s partner

Of course it ought not to be news that someone with an important job has a baby and then gets on with their work while their partner gets on with the childcare. Men do it all the time. Even some women do, if they are rich and powerful enough to turn their childcare over to paid help. But the announcement by Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand, that she will have a child, take six weeks’ parental leave, and then leave the bulk of the childcare to her partner, Clarke Gayford, is still important. It’s an assertion of everyday equality from the first country in the world to give women the vote.

Ms Ardern and Mr Gayford are not exactly a couple like any other: she’s the prime minister, and he’s a television presenter, whose show centres on him killing and eating fish. But their relative prominence makes the impact of their decision greater. Even Mr Gayford’s screen persona as a macho outdoor man increases the significance of their announcement. It demonstrates that they recognise there’s an important sense in which neither of their high-powered jobs is going to be as influential as the work they do as parents.

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The Guardian view on the private finance initiative: replace this failed model | Editorial

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:33:56 GMT2018-01-18T18:33:56Z

Forty years of increasingly dogmatic approaches to the financing of public services have led to the collapse of Carillion and a damning National Audit Office report

Long ago, in a political galaxy far away, privatisation and outsourcing in public services were not always dogmas but instead acts that could involve a degree of pragmatism and some balancing of interests. After the postwar Attlee government and before Margaret Thatcher’s long reign in British politics, decisions about the relationship between the public and private sectors were often practical compromises, not ideological fixations. Government’s role was always and necessarily central, but it could be flexible about forms of ownership and systems of regulation and governance. At first, even Mrs Thatcher only argued that it was reasonable for private companies to compete to provide public services.

Since the Thatcher era, habits, assumptions and arguments have relentlessly ossified. Part of this is political – the post-Thatcher generation of politicians faced publics that could prefer private to public (in housing, notably), lower taxes to higher ones, and disliked overmighty trade unions. Part of it is economic – the decline of the industrially based, sometimes publicly owned, economy with strong collective bargaining and the growth, in its place, of a globalised and financially led service sector, often offshore, driven by shareholder value and characterised by hyper-rewards for management and low pay and insecurity for many employees. The upshot, nearly 40 years on, is that governments have behaved as though they are historically powerless to control the terms on which public goods are provided. In fact, only government is powerful enough to set those terms.

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The Guardian view on prayer: the heart of a heartless world | Editorial

Thu, 18 Jan 2018 18:32:41 GMT2018-01-18T18:32:41Z

The British still pray, even if they don’t think that it can change anything

Britain may be an increasingly secular country, but that does not make it rational or atheist. Thank God, half the country will respond: a survey recently published by Tearfund, a Christian charity, shows that about half the population still prays more or less regularly, among them 20% of those who describe themselves as having no religion. This is in line with other recent ComRes surveys, such as the one showing that in 2013 25% of the population believed angels exist. Like those beliefs, the habit of prayer has far outlasted the habit of churchgoing, and even any form of conventional Christian belief, and is declining far more slowly through the generations – 45% of those under 35 still pray. So what do they think they’re playing at?

There can’t be one answer to that question, because prayer itself is an enormously varied activity. Some prayers are blessings, and some are maledictions; some, like the words to “God Save the Queen”, combine both requests. Prayer can be public or private, communal or individual; and these are not the same distinctions, since prayer can be performed as an individual with an audience, or in private by someone who believes themselves part of a much wider congregation. Public prayer can be a signal of virtue and a form of shameless manipulation; it can also be a genuinely humble acknowledgement of our lack of virtue, as when Willy Brandt dropped to his knees in front of the memorial at the Warsaw ghetto. For some people it is an act of attention: an attempt to hear the silence for long enough that a small voice may be heard as well. Some things are clear in this confusion. The first is that there is no scientific basis to believe praying for other people does them any good at all. This is not disproof. It is just one of those questions not susceptible to controlled experiment because it is impossible to set up an experiment in which it is certain no one is praying for the control group of people who are supposed not to be prayed for. On the other hand, there is evidence that prayer and religious belonging is beneficial to those who pray and believe.

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The Guardian view on Anglo-French relations: Brexit’s entente cordiale | Editorial

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:26:20 GMT2018-01-17T18:26:20Z

A weakened British prime minister and a dynamic French president may not see eye to eye over everything, but they can learn from one another

The recent history of relations between British prime ministers and French presidents is characterised by a gap in affection bridged by recognition of common interest. David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher had complex, sometimes tense alliances with François Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac and François Mitterrand. None lost sight of the need to manage an ancient rivalry with professional cordiality. In that spirit, on the eve of a summit meeting with Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron has approved a plan for the Bayeux tapestry to be displayed in the UK. This is a demonstration of Mr Macron’s fluency in gesture, pointing to two nations’ shared cultural ancestry. But their two leaders are far from kindred spirits.

Mr Macron styles himself as a crusading pro-EU centrist – a personified antidote to the ethos of Brexit that defines Mrs May’s leadership. There are other tensions, predating the UK’s decision to quit the EU but complicated by it, notably the migration bottleneck at Calais. Mr Macron has pledged to renegotiate the Le Touquet accord that allows UK border police to operate in France. Within France his handling of asylum and immigration – with humane rhetoric undone by callousness on the ground – has dismayed his political base. The Calais border is sure come up at Thursday’s summit, with reports suggesting the UK will pay more to prevent migrants crossing the Channel. There will be a show of Anglo-French cordiality, highlighting defence and security cooperation.

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The Guardian view on China’s spreading influence: look in the gift horse’s mouth | Editorial

Wed, 17 Jan 2018 18:20:44 GMT2018-01-17T18:20:44Z

There is growing concern about Beijing’s attempts to shape the thinking of politicians and the public overseas

The arrest of a former CIA agent this week is the stuff of a classic murky spy tale. Though he is charged with unlawfully retaining national defence information, the US reportedly suspects that he leaked the names of informants. An earlier report alleged that China imprisoned or killed multiple US sources between 2010 and 2012. Both countries have plans for tackling espionage. But analysts, intelligence agencies and politicians are now debating how to handle the subtler challenge of Chinese influence activities: a “magic weapon” neither cloak-and-dagger nor transparent.

China says it does not interfere in other countries’ domestic affairs. Yet all nations seek to sway foreign governments and citizens towards their own priorities, interests and perspectives. The question is how they do so, and how far they go. (No one should pretend that western nations always act above board.)

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The Guardian view on Carillion’s collapse: no hiding place | Editorial

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:09:29 GMT2018-01-16T18:09:29Z

It’s clear what went wrong with the giant outsourcing company. Those responsible must pay the penalty

The smoke from Carillion’s billion-pound disaster is beginning to clear and the wounds are starting to hurt. Subcontractors do not know when they will be paid what they are owed or if they will be paid for work outstanding. As a result they are having to make people with mortgages and car loans redundant. Councils are making panicked arrangements to cover school dinners. Ministers are making urgent arrangements to replace a major defence contractor. Accident investigators are moving in. Yet it is clear enough what went wrong. The urgent matter now is to understand why it did, and act to stop it happening like this again.

The roots of the crisis in private finance projects lie in austerity. The dramatic fall in the number of public sector contracts after the coalition came to power in 2010 and abruptly slashed funding for schools and other public projects intensified competition between the major suppliers. Margins were cut, profits eroded, and the number, rather than the size, of contracts became the way of generating cash flow. No surprise then that when two of Carillion’s biggest building projects, the new hospitals in Liverpool and the West Midlands, hit problems, Carillion itself was in trouble. That may explain why ministers handed it a further £2bn of contracts after the first of three profit warnings last summer. Meanwhile Carillion’s bankers were getting nervous. Reports suggest that the state-owned RBS was the first creditor to say “no more”.

Carillion relies on major contracts, some of which have proved much less lucrative than it thought. 

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The Guardian view on returning the Rohingya: a bad deal, worsened by haste | Editorial

Tue, 16 Jan 2018 18:09:12 GMT2018-01-16T18:09:12Z

Myanmar and Bangladesh have agreed to repatriate the 650,000 refugees who have fled violence in Rakhine state within two years. Many are concerned – and rightly so

The 650,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who have fled what the UN human rights chief has called “a textbook case of ethnic cleansing” must have the right to return to their homes in northern Rakhine state, Myanmar. To say otherwise would be to concede to those who forced them out – the security forces and militias who have raped and beaten civilians, burned houses and killed even infants. Authorities say the campaign is directed against militants who attacked police, but the civilian toll speaks for itself. Despite this, some of the Rohingya now living in wretched conditions across the border in Bangladesh have said they wish to go back.

It is equally clear that refugees must not be forced to return. Many more of them, according to NGOs supporting them, are determined never to go back or are terrified of doing so without guarantees of their security, property, livelihoods and freedom of movement. Some were persuaded to return after escaping previous waves of violence, only to find their lives in peril again. Previous episodes of displacement and return “do not inspire confidence”, the House of Commons international development committee has warned, noting the failure to consult refugees and expressing its grave concerns about plans to send them back.

The Rohingya are Muslims who live in majority-Buddhist Myanmar. They are often described as "the world's most persecuted minority". 

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The Guardian view on Carillion: reaping the consequences of corporate greed | Editorial

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:31:07 GMT2018-01-15T18:31:07Z

The failure of the outsourcing behemoth must be explained. Then we need a better way of managing public services

To get a sense of the impact of the failure of Carillion, you only have to look at how far its ripples are spreading. Uncertainty now hangs over Aberdeen’s £750m western bypass, Sunderland’s biggest ever regeneration project, the glamorous new hospital in Liverpool, and another in Smethwick, the £350m Midland Metropolitan hospital. The ripples reach thousands of homes where military families live which Carillion is contracted to manage, the trains they are contracted to clean, and the school dinners they are contracted to make. The tentacles of this giant construction and outsourcing company, valued at £2bn only the summer before last, reached into the nooks and crannies of every part of the UK’s public services. It was a kind of parasitic growth in Whitehall growing fat on the contracts that government fed to it. It must not now be allowed to nationalise its losses.

It is bleak for Carillion employees, direct and indirect. David Lidington, the Cabinet Office minister, promises wages will be paid, but in the longer term jobs are in doubt; the pension fund is in deficit. Much-needed public investment will be delayed. Investors have lost everything: but what of Chris Grayling, the transport minister who awarded nearly £2bn of contracts, even after the company first issued profit warnings? Ministers insist the taxpayer is protected, but eyebrows were raised at the time at what looked less like a good deal than a bid to keep Carillion afloat. The government could have declared Carillion too risky to work with. It didn’t.

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The Guardian view on Egyptian democracy: it would be a good idea | Editorial

Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:00:02 GMT2018-01-15T18:00:02Z

Within months Egyptians will get a chance to elect a president. The result is not in doubt. The country’s future is

Earlier this month Egypt’s authorities announced the dates for the nation’s next presidential poll. Yet before the starting pistol has been fired, the winner seems not in doubt. The country’s current president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, will almost certainly be his nation’s next president. A growing list of potential candidates have either withdrawn their bids or have seen them blocked. The man with the best chance of tapping the discontent in the Arab world’s most populous nation had been Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general who narrowly lost the country’s only free presidential election in 2012. His lawyer took to Twitter to claim that the government had forced him to pull out.

This is a profoundly depressing but wholly expected turn of events in Egypt. Now the main threat from within the establishment is a former military chief of staff, though doubts linger over whether he will end up on the ballot. The army is reported to be secretly buying up private media groups to back a Sisi presidential run. All the signs point to the election being little more than a rerun of the 2014 poll, when Mr Sisi won 96% of the vote. Ludicrously, Mr Sisi’s opponent in that two-person contest finished third behind the spoiled ballots. Mr Sisi, a former head of the army, is coy about running again but everyone expects he will.

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The Guardian view on UK defence strategy: Britain’s priorities must be European | Editorial

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 17:44:27 GMT2018-01-14T17:44:27Z

Brexit or no Brexit, the UK and France must use this week’s summit to work more closely together on military and security issues

Whether Brexit happens or whether it does not, one thing will not change. Britain will need a defence strategy for the future that better reflects its real place in the world. Geographically, Britain’s place is going nowhere, Brexit or no Brexit. Geopolitically, the world is changing. As China’s power rises, the US turns isolationist under a dangerous president, terrorist and cyber-threats continue and nuclear arms proliferate. Britain’s defence strategy needs to adapt and keep pace.

Prime ministers and defence secretaries still talk as if Britain is a global power with post-imperial reach, able to deploy a sweeping range of armed forces and weaponry in support of allies, principally the United States, from the Irish Sea to the Pacific. Most of Britain’s wars and deployments since 1945 have been made on that basis, with some exceptions like the missions in Northern Ireland and the Balkans. But this is not sustainable on the scale of the past, either politically or financially.

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The Guardian view on contemporary art in schools: a joyful idea reborn | Editorial

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 13:42:06 GMT2018-01-14T13:42:06Z

In the 1940s, School Prints were a visionary notion to bring affordable, adventurous artworks into classrooms. Reinvented for the 21st century, they still are today

In 1946, a letter was sent out to a number of British artists. It began: “We are producing a series of auto-lithographs … for use in schools, as a means of giving school children an understanding of contemporary art. By keeping the price as low as possible, we are able to bring this scheme … within reach of all Education Authorities.” This was the beginning of a project called School Prints. The idea had been that of a dashing Etonian (and European federalist) called Derek Rawnsley, who died in 1943 while in the RAF. It was carried through by his young widow, Brenda – an equally dashing figure who, fluent in Arabic and French, had served during the war as an intelligence officer in Algiers, Cairo and Palestine, and undertook missions such as a clandestine visit to a bombmaking factory in Germany.

Not knowing a great deal about art, she co-opted someone who did: the critic Herbert Read. Between them they persuaded artists including John Nash, Tom Gentleman and Barbara Jones to contribute to the project. Schools enthusiastically embraced their gentle, playful images, which included a harvest scene, dray horses and a fairground. In 1947, having already persuaded Henry Moore to make an abstract work for her, she broadened the series to French artists and – by dint of hiring an aircraft and employing her considerable charm – convinced Dufy, Picasso, Léger, Matisse and Braque to take part. Though less popular with postwar British schoolteachers, the French set is the one that has best stood the test of time.

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The Observer view on the government’s environment and obesity plans | Observer editorial

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 00:05:12 GMT2018-01-14T00:05:12Z

Only when she tackles producers and retailers will May have workable strategies on recycling and healthy eating

Last week, Marks & Spencer withdrew the “cauliflower steak” from its shelves. Essentially a thick slice of cauliflower that came with a sachet of lemon and herb drizzle, the product was widely criticised for its excessive plastic packaging and sizable markup, retailing at a “special offer” price of £2.

That a retailer thought it saw an opportunity in marketing a slice of raw vegetable in this way reveals much, not just about our penchant for faddish food trends, but our attitudes towards waste. As a society, we produce far too much of the stuff: every year in the UK, 1bn plastic food trays are sent to landfill. We collectively throw away £13bn of food each year. Recycling rates in England lag far behind those of countries such as Germany.

The Observer is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

Related: We won’t save the world by watching celebrity nature shows | Lucy Siegle

The 5p charge for carrier bags resulted in the number of single-use plastic bags in circulation plummeting by 85% in six months

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The Observer view on Donald Trump | Observer editorial

Sun, 14 Jan 2018 00:05:12 GMT2018-01-14T00:05:12Z

The president is a disgrace to his country on so many levels

It is almost one year since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th US president. Will he last another 12 months? Day after tumultuous day since 20 January 2017, Trump has provided fresh evidence of his unfitness for America’s highest office.

The Observer is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper, founded in 1791. It is published by Guardian News & Media and is editorially independent.

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