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Editorials | The Guardian

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

Published: Fri, 15 Dec 2017 15:55:23 GMT2017-12-15T15:55:23Z

Copyright: Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. 2017

The Guardian view on Rupert Murdoch: a man out of time | Editorial

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:42:23 GMT2017-12-14T19:42:23Z

The billionaire is leaving entertainment for news. That’s a worry since he indulges in trust-only-your-prejudice journalism. The UK regulator should call him out on it

It scarcely seems possible to think that Rupert Murdoch is walking away from the film and TV factories he spent a lifetime building. Yet on Wednesday the media mogul confirmed the rumours: he was out of the entertainment business – selling his Fox assets to Walt Disney, a bigger firm, in a $66bn deal. If the deal passes the regulatory hurdles, the Murdochs will be left with a 5% stake in the newly enlarged Disney company. This is a case of Mickey Mouse roaring and the Fox running. Battles are not won by retreating. Mr Murdoch has tasted defeat. He has turned away from popular culture, realising perhaps that he could not dominate the landscape as he would have liked.

Mr Murdoch did try: his studios produced the popular Simpsons cartoon and the X-Men movie franchise; he created Europe’s largest satellite TV provider; and his company ran one of India’s most-watched channels. But in a changing world he appeared like a man out of time. In entertainment the internet is undermining the dominance of mass media and handing power to new content providers such as Amazon and Netflix as well as tech giants like Apple, which plans an entertainment division. Viewers increasingly prefer to pay subscriptions to these providers for streamed content rather than for cable or satellite services. These web-based video-on-demand channels provided the must-see shows of recent years, such as House of Cards.

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The Guardian view on deporting rough sleepers: rights and wrongs | Editorial

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:40:02 GMT2017-12-14T19:40:02Z

For more than three years the Home Office ran a shaming and unlawful policy just to undermine the right to free movement

The high court has robustly rejected the Home Office case that citizens of the EU and the European Economic Area were abusing their right to be in the UK if they were sleeping rough. The government has finally been forced to acknowledge that it is not illegal to be too poor to pay for a roof over your head, and it is illegal to return such people to their country of origin.

This policy of picking up, detaining and then “sending home” EU citizens belongs entirely to Theresa May. Five years ago, when she was home secretary and Downing Street only a glint in her eye, she announced that she intended to create a “hostile environment” for people living in the UK illegally. Critics warned that it would turn landlords, GPs and teachers into immigration enforcement officers; the Home Office duly began hoovering up information from interactions between migrant workers and the state. Three years ago, jobseekers from EU and EEA countries were banned from claiming housing benefit, precipitating hundreds of low-paid workers into insecure housing and some on to the street. Soon, the idea that rough sleeping was an abuse of the right of free movement was being tested on the ground. In Operation Adoze, launched in November 2015, 127 rough sleepers from EEA countries were detained and removed in eight weeks. It became part of the official administrative removals policy; charities that work with street sleepers, like St Mungo’s and ThamesReach, were recruited to pass information about their clients to the Home Office, leading to their removal.

Related: Please help us tackle urgent problems of homelessness and destitution

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The Guardian view on Myanmar: telling the truth about the Rohingya | Editorial

Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:39:07 GMT2017-12-14T19:39:07Z

Research by Médecins Sans Frontières suggests that at least 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were killed in the first month of attacks in Rakhine state

More than 6,700 Rohingya Muslims were shot, burned and beaten to death in the first month of the brutal campaign against them that began in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August. According to this estimate from Médecins Sans Frontières, they included at least 730 children, some plucked from their mothers’ arms to be murdered. The Myanmar government version is that 400 died as security forces battled terrorists. There is no ethnic cleansing and no genocide, it says. The army cleared itself of all allegations of rape and killing. But extensive testimony from survivors, and the sheer number who have fled to squalid conditions in Bangladesh – more than 640,000, more than half the Rohingya population – speak for themselves. Multiple previous reports have described murder, the systematic use of rape and other crimes against humanity by soldiers, police and local militias. In this context, the arrest of two journalists working on stories about the violence might sound a minor concern. But it is both alarming and telling. The Ministry of Information has said that the reporters “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media”. The arrests reflect the authorities’ determination to suppress the truth about what is happening in Rakhine state; they continue to tightly control access for even humanitarian aid. UN officials, the US and others are increasingly outspoken about what is happening. Though the UN security council should refer the country to the international criminal court, no one expects it to do so. But the courage of survivors, and others, means that the lies will not stand for ever.

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The Guardian view on Chris Froome’s failed drugs test: transcending limits | Editorial

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:25:47 GMT2017-12-13T19:25:47Z

The battle to get ahead of the drugs cheats will never be won but that’s no reason for abandoning it

This Sunday, in one of the biggest nights of the sporting calendar, the BBC’s sports personality of the year is decided. Apart from the shortage of women, the other striking feature of the 12-strong shortlist is that only one of the contenders favoured by bookies – the boxer Anthony Joshua – comes to the contest free of the small nagging questions about their fitness to be heroes. The latest to be questioned is the four-times Tour de France champion Chris Froome, who faces further inquiries over an “adverse analytical finding”. The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that questions had been raised by a test carried out in early September when Britain’s best cyclist was on his way to victory in La Vuelta, the Spanish race that, in an almost unprecedented feat, he won only a few weeks after winning the Tour de France. The test suggests he exceeded the permitted levels of the asthma drug salbutamol, which as an asthmatic he can take in strictly controlled amounts. He protests that he stuck to the advice of his doctors, and Team Sky is confident that further testing on the speed with which his body absorbs the drug will exonerate him – as, last month, Bradley Wiggins, a former Team Sky member, was cleared of “jiffygate” doping allegations.

Of the other leading contenders, the distance runner and icon of the London Olympics Mo Farah has now split from the controversial coach Alberto Salazar, strongly denying that it was connected with allegations of misuse of prescription drugs. Lewis Hamilton is a tax exile – as indeed is Chris Froome. They are all rich far beyond the dreams of Sunday night’s voters: Anthony Joshua, the boy from Watford, is tipped to be the first boxing billionaire. Their trouble is that they compete in a world of eye-watering rewards, where marginal advantage is the alchemy they all seek. It would be hard to design a better system to incentivise the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

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The Guardian view on Roy Moore’s defeat: sweet justice in Alabama | Editorial

Wed, 13 Dec 2017 15:59:54 GMT2017-12-13T15:59:54Z

The Republican’s candidacy was backed by Donald Trump. It mobilised Democrats and embarrassed many in his own party. But it does not follow that Trump is finished

Doug Jones’s victory over Roy Moore in Alabama’s special Senate election is a victory for decency over indecency. Mr Jones deserved to win for reasons of morality alone. The contest should have been an open-and-shut decision. Alabamians had to choose between a Democrat who convicted two Ku Klux Klansmen for their roles in the notorious 1963 black Baptist church bombing in Birmingham, and a Republican who romanticises Alabama’s slavery era, calls Native Americans “reds” and Asians “yellows”, and who was accused by multiple women of inappropriate behaviour up to sexual harassment and assault, in several cases when they were underage. (He has denied their allegations.)

Mr Moore was an outrageous candidate from a defiant and angry political tradition that has been energised by Donald Trump. His defeat feels like an act of sweet justice – because it is. It is in part a win for #MeToo and will have consequences for that movement. He lost largely because Alabama’s African Americans rallied in heroic numbers to support Mr Jones and because a slice of the Republican electorate balked at him (including many white women – though 63% of those who voted still backed him, while 98% of black women supported Mr Jones).

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The Guardian view on the Brexit vote: mutiny wanted | Editorial

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:55:43 GMT2017-12-12T19:55:43Z

Parliament has the chance on Wednesday to make certain that MPs can hold ministers to account over Brexit terms. They must seize the opportunity

MPs’ debates on the EU withdrawal bill have mainly been serious and often of high quality. Tuesday’s attempts to blunt the bill’s sweeping “Henry VIII” powers were a notable example. Yet so far the debates have made few substantive changes to the bill itself. On Wednesday that will have to change. MPs are scheduled to debate and vote on amendment 7 to clause 9 of the bill, moved by the Conservative MP Dominic Grieve. This would require any final UK-EU Brexit deal to be put to a meaningful parliamentary vote. It is the most consequential of all the amendments to the original bill and it is important that Mr Grieve’s amendment is carried. Another climax will come next week, when the government’s attempt to put the 2019 leave date into law will be challenged.

Most MPs wanted Britain to remain in the European Union. But the result of the referendum has made many cautious about insisting on parliament’s role in its aftermath. The general election, which might have provided clearer authority for parliament’s involvement, instead resulted in confusion. In the absence of a second referendum, parliament’s role is still as constitutionally supreme as ever. It is also politically necessary for parliament to hold ministers to account, and to ensure that the terms of any eventual Brexit are as much as possible in the national interest. The referendum said nothing about those terms. The government on its own cannot decide them – and has shown itself incompetent at trying to do so. The job of agreeing terms therefore belongs to parliament.

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The Guardian view on Putin in Syria: victory and desolation | Editorial

Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:50:36 GMT2017-12-12T19:50:36Z

The Russian president has been on a victory lap to Syria and the Middle East, intent on showing that he has outplayed the US in the region

Vladimir Putin went on a victory lap of Syria and the Middle East this week, intent on showcasing his ability to secure the upper hand against the US in the region. On a surprise visit to a Russian airbase on the Syrian coast, he demonstratively embraced the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whose hold on power Russia’s military intervention has all but saved. “Friends, the motherland is waiting for you,” Mr Putin told a detachment of Russian soldiers. “You are coming back home with victory.”

Meanwhile, in eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held suburb of Damascus where Russia had announced earlier this year that a ceasefire would take hold, children living under siege are starving. Despite the “de-escalation” deal, Syrian government forces continue to pound the area, backed by Iranian and Russian allies in an attempt to score a decisive victory. These two scenes spoke volumes about Russia’s calculus, and about the realities it has helped create on the ground. That the Russian president has now announced a substantial troop withdrawal must be taken with a barrel of salt. Similar pledges have been made before and remain unfulfilled. On Tuesday a Kremlin spokesperson said Russia would retain a sizable force in Syria to fight “terrorists”. Russia’s definition of “terrorism” in Syria is like that of the Assad regime, which equates it to political opposition.

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The Guardian view on the Tory truce over Brexit: the war goes on | Editorial

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:12:18 GMT2017-12-11T19:12:18Z

When Conservative MPs as different as Kenneth Clarke, Bill Cash, Nicky Morgan and Iain Duncan Smith agree, it can only mean their unity will not survive for long

Conservative MPs of every ideological hue queued up to praise Theresa May’s interim agreement with the European Union on Brexit on Monday. That in itself ought to make any sensible person wary about what was taking place. For when Kenneth Clarke, Iain Duncan Smith, Sir Bill Cash and Nicky Morgan all say they are united about Brexit policy, it can only mean one thing: that the thing they claim to agree about is worth very little. For these MPs are not comrades but enemies. They combined for an afternoon to produce the political equivalent of a Christmas truce on the western front in the first world war. All that can be said with confidence is that this truce, like the one on the western front, will not last.

The strikingly different ways in which the MPs expressed their praise for Mrs May underlined their wide range of motives. After Mrs May had produced her report from Brussels, ending with the remarkable claim that it would be welcomed by those who voted leave in 2016 as much as by those who voted remain, MPs came up with an array of reasons for congratulating her. Mr Clarke, who was first up, welcomed the fact that the open border with Ireland will require regulatory alignment. Mr Duncan Smith celebrated the fact that UK rules would begin to change as soon as the transitional period began. Mr Cash said there were still plenty of issues to disagree about. Ms Morgan was cheered by the fact that Mrs May had resisted calls to walk away from the table. Monday’s parade of prime ministerial ring kissing by the various different wings of the Conservative party had all the credibility of a protestation of undying affection and loyalty by rival family bosses at a mafia wedding.

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The Guardian view on NHS funding: hospitals are hurting | Editorial

Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:11:27 GMT2017-12-11T19:11:27Z

Lord Kerslake is a big beast in the public sector. His resignation from the hospital trust he chaired ought not to be dismissed as a face-saving exercise. The Treasury is imposing a brutal decline on resources for healthcare

Bob Kerslake has been a big figure in public service for most of the past 20 years. He was a successful chief executive of Sheffield city council, before he was enticed to Whitehall where he became permanent secretary at the Department for Communities and Local Government, and for a time head of the civil service. In 2014 he left Whitehall to run King’s College hospital foundation trust in south London, and in 2015 he was made a member of the House of Lords. His public image is of a combative man who is not afraid to speak his mind and who is passionate about public service. It is little surprise that the opposition have sought his advice.

On Sunday night, Lord Kerslake announced in these pages that he was resigning from King’s in protest at what he called – correctly – the failure of government to face up to the depth of underfunding in the health service. Such a high-profile resignation by a well-respected figure is profoundly embarrassing, and he correctly anticipated a counter-attack. On Monday morning it was widely reported that he was expecting to be asked to step down by NHS Improvement, the regulator created by the Conservatives to monitors trusts’ financial management, because King’s is spending way over its budget, and has been since before he took over. King’s is now a hospital in special measures, adding to the impression that Lord Kerslake jumped before he was pushed.

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The Guardian view on the Grenfell inquiry: hear the victims’ voices | Editorial

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 18:14:40 GMT2017-12-10T18:14:40Z

The government appears to want a narrow investigation of the technical failings that led to the catastrophic fire in west London. That will only add to the families’ sense of neglect

Exactly six months after the Grenfell Tower fire in which 71 people died, the first formal sessions of the inquiry begin on Monday. What happens between then and Tuesday evening in Holborn Bars, the great Victorian red brick building in the centre of London chosen to host the public hearings, is likely to be decisive in the inquiry’s success or failure. The survivors and the families of the victims are still profoundly mistrustful of the state that failed them so catastrophically on the night of 14 June. There is a great deal to be done if they are to have confidence in the inquiry’s findings.

The tragic – and, many believe, wilful – failure of central and local government to respond to tenants’ well-founded concerns about the management of their block, and the resistance at ministerial level to enacting recommendations made by an earlier inquiry into the Lakanal House fire in a similar block in south London in 2009 is only the start of the charge sheet that has so undermined confidence. The immediate response from the prime minister down to individual Kensington and Chelsea councillors was pitiable. The institutional inadequacies, newly itemised in a report by the neighbouring London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, found a total absence of leadership. And even now, six months later, 103 families, including 29 with children, are still in emergency accommodation, waiting to be rehoused. That history alone puts an exceptional burden on the inquiry.

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The Guardian view on Hastings pier: in need of support | Editorial

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:30:10 GMT2017-12-10T17:30:10Z

The community worked hard and gave generously to save one of Britain’s great coastal landmarks. Their efforts must not be in vain

Hastings pier is a beautiful reincarnation of a Victorian extravaganza, a 21st century reimagining of one of the most familiar playthings of the seaside culture of a century ago. It has been saved through an innovative financial structure that involved setting up the first ever community benefit society, raising nearly £1m in shares from local people, and a multimillion-pound investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

When it was first opened in 1872 it was described as the peerless pier. This year it was voted the people’s pier of 2017; and in the ultimate accolade, in October its lovely new pavilion, clad in wood recycled from the original pier that had largely been destroyed in an arson attack in 2010, won the year’s most prestigious design award, the Stirling architecture prize. Then, within a matter of weeks, this ambitious project in heritage regeneration and civic engagement ran out of money and went into administration. The outlook is tough, but it is not beyond hope. And its revival should be a matter of national concern not only for the pier itself, but for what it stands for: a model of what can be achieved through the efforts of civil society.

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The Observer view on Trump and Jerusalem | Observer editorial

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:21Z

US foreign diplomacy driven by ego in pursuit of the ultimate deal is no plan for Middle East peace

One of the first principles of international relations is that effective diplomacy is always prosecuted in pursuit of clear foreign policy objectives, which makes Donald Trump’s theatrical and ego-driven speech recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his plan to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv not only dangerous but baffling.

Trump’s foreign policy aim on the Israel-Palestine question, as far as it has been articulated, is to secure a peace deal that none of his predecessors in the White House could achieve; the “ultimate deal”, according to his boast.

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 Observer view on Ofsted as a champion for deprived children | Observer editorial

Sun, 10 Dec 2017 00:05:21 GMT2017-12-10T00:05:21Z

The education watchdog continues to offer an invaluable service

Under the leadership of its former chief inspector, Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted’s annual reports became an important vehicle for airing difficult truths about our education system. It seems his successor, Amanda Spielman, remains committed to that tradition.

On Wednesday, Spielman will use her first annual report to highlight how our education system is, perversely, most failing the most disadvantaged groups of young people. Some schools manipulate admissions to keep out children with learning difficulties in the first place; others move them “off roll” by excluding them so their results do not count towards a school’s position in the league tables. These children often end up shunted into underperforming pupil referral units or being home-schooled by parents unfairly pressurised into doing so, despite being ill-equipped. Young people in juvenile offender institutions are similarly consigned to some of the poorest-quality education provision in the system. With enough political will, there are fixes. But these marginalised groups of children have long gone ignored by the system.

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The Observer view on Brexit developments | Observer editorial

Sat, 09 Dec 2017 21:30:18 GMT2017-12-09T21:30:18Z

Brexit deal hints at a new realism. Now reasonable voices most speak in unison

Breaking up is hard; breaking up and building a new relationship is even harder. That was the warning from Donald Tusk, president of the European council, in the wake of the deal struck in the early hours of Friday: the most difficult challenges in negotiating Brexit lie ahead.

He’s right. Theresa May did indeed manage to snatch what at many points last week looked an unlikely result, reaching an agreement that allows both sides to declare “sufficient progress” made on Britain’s Brexit bill, EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border in order to move on to the next stage of talks.

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 Brexit divorce: Tories divided | Editorial

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:07:03 GMT2017-12-08T19:07:03Z

The puzzle of Northern Ireland has seen Theresa May commit to a soft Brexit. But politically she advocates a hard Brexit, outside the single market and customs union. This tension cannot be sustained

Divorce is often a stressful, hostile process, riven by bad feeling on both sides. For Theresa May’s government, leaving a union with Europe is proving to be a humiliating experience. It has been embarrassing to witness ministers pursue a strategy of bluster, blunders and climbdowns to deliver the misguided exit from the European Union. On Friday morning the terms of the divorce settlement were reached, two months later than expected. In surrendering to reality, Britain could begin talking about how we could rub along once the divorce was finalised. It is instructive that Brexiters in the cabinet congratulated Mrs May for her capitulations, which only weeks ago they would have viewed as treason. The Tory leavers know that the ultimate prize – to depart the EU – is within their grasp. They are prepared to put aside their supposed principles to achieve it.

This is not the end of the marriage but it is the beginning of its end. The needed restoration of faith in the stability that a union of purpose provides will not come through recriminations. To inspire confidence one must demonstrate it in oneself. Yet the 15-page deal crystallises the divisions within the Conservative party. It is significant that the passage on Northern Ireland commits the UK to full regulatory alignment with the EU after Britain leaves the bloc “in the absence of other agreed solutions”. This goes beyond areas of cooperation under the Good Friday agreement and would tacitly commit Britain to many facets of EU membership as a default option post-Brexit. Such an outcome would be anathema to ardent Brexiters, who fantasise about being able to conduct free trade deals outside of the “protectionist” EU.

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The Guardian view on social housing: time to fight for affordable rents | Editorial

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:04:16 GMT2017-12-08T19:04:16Z

Margaret Thatcher promised a property-owning democracy. She created a nation of private landlords

The Guardian launches its Christmas appeal on Saturday. This year it is on behalf of charities that support destitute people who are seeking asylum, and the young homeless. The reasons for their plight are often complex but the headline explanation is simple: social housing is scarce and getting scarcer; rents in the private sector are rising; and housing benefit is falling.

On Friday the specialist journal Inside Housing published research that showed a new and significant factor behind the sharp rise in the numbers relying on emergency support. The right to buy, first introduced in 1980, already abandoned in Scotland and soon in Wales, was successfully reinvigorated in England by David Cameron five years ago. It has been a boon to the buy-to-let market and a curse on councils that find themselves renting them back at hugely inflated cost. Soaring house values have turned what should be a place to live into a golden asset. Former council properties have been snapped up by private landlords. In the most prosperous areas, up to 70% of former council homes are now privately let. Private rents out of London average over £200 a week while council rents are nearer £90 a week.

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The Guardian view on plastic bottles: make water available on tap | Editorial

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 19:00:59 GMT2017-12-08T19:00:59Z

Thankfully the campaign to cut our plastic habit by making free fresh water widely available is gathering momentum

Like a wave building far out at sea, the momentum behind universally available cool fresh water is growing steadily. It is driven by the realisation that the world’s plastic habit must be broken, quickly. It’s reckoned that a million plastic bottles are bought worldwide every minute; the meaning of this number is best expressed in the images of mountains of litter made of this virtually indestructable material piled by the tides on to otherwise deserted beaches in remote corners of the globe. It is an unnecessary disaster. There is no reason why water has to come wrapped in its own environmentally lethal packaging. This week, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan pledged to develop a city-wide network of water fountains and refill stations. A Bristol-based campaign to set up refill stations in city centres and seaside resorts is flooding across Europe. Australian cities such as Melbourne have digital maps showing where drinking fountains are available. There could be so much more – airside refill stations in every international airport to slash the thousands of bottles jettisoned at security would be a good start. A refill station on every platform in every railway station would be even better. The choice between income from retail outlets or a low-cost move to help end plastic pollution is really no choice at all.

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The Guardian view on universities and the market: winner takes all | Editorial

Fri, 08 Dec 2017 00:01:27 GMT2017-12-08T00:01:27Z

Student fees were supposed to create competition for the best students and the best courses. Instead they’ve just inflated top pay and vanity building projects

On average, graduates earn more than their peers who have not been to university. But it doesn’t require a maths degree to know that averages don’t tell the full story. The potential earnings of a law student at a top university are likely to far exceed those of a media studies graduate from an institution at the bottom of the league. And neither is likely to earn anything like the £800,000 paid this year in salary, plus “golden handshake” benefits, to Christina Slade on her departure as vice-chancellor of Bath Spa university.

The case for such huge salaries is familiar enough. It is claimed that competitive remuneration is essential to recruit the best candidates. This is a natural consequence of the deliberate marketisation of higher education, of which tuition fees have become the misleading emblem. There is a lot wrong with the fee system, but although it is impossible to count those who are deterred, the number of school-leavers from poorer backgrounds going to university is rising. A new report by the National Audit Office shows that the proportion of disadvantaged school-leavers in higher education is now 26%, up from 21% in 2011 – far fewer than from richer households, but not conclusive proof that fees limit access.

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The Guardian view on Trump and Jerusalem: undiplomatic diplomacy | Editorial

Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:58:22 GMT2017-12-07T18:58:22Z

Donald Trump brags that he is a dealmaker – but he looks like a conman, offering the impossible because he has no intention of making good on his promise

Thirty years ago this weekend the first intifada began in a Gaza refugee camp, when an Israeli army lorry collided with a civilian car, killing four Palestinians. The uprising spread like wildfire and burned for six years. It was a popular expression of frustration over 20 years of occupation that took both the Israelis and the Palestinian leadership, at the time in exile in Tunisia, by complete surprise. This week Donald Trump drove a truck into the most sensitive of Palestinian grievances: the status of Jerusalem. Days of rage have been called. Years of fury may follow.

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The Guardian view on the Brexit crisis: time to stop the fanatics | Editorial

Wed, 06 Dec 2017 18:50:12 GMT2017-12-06T18:50:12Z

The DUP’s veto and the government’s incompetence have emboldened the extreme leavers to press for no deal. They have to be defeated

If the EU referendum taught this country’s pro-Europeans anything, it ought to be that they lacked the political focus and discipline of the leavers. Pro-EU campaign complacency proved no match for pro-Brexit fanaticism, with catastrophic results. Something similar is now in danger of happening again, as the Brexit process reaches a critical milestone: the end of phase one of the Brexit talks. If Britain is not to pitch out of the EU without a deal, it is vital that history does not repeat itself. But the danger of that is very great.

The trigger for the current crisis was the Democratic Unionists’ derailing of the draft EU-UK phase one deal in Brussels on Monday. That happened because of an inexcusable political oversight. The UK government did not share the content in advance with its DUP backers, who pulled the plug, fearing that Northern Ireland would be put into a special status separate from the rest of the UK.

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