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Editorials | The Guardian

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

Published: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 16:51:39 GMT2017-09-20T16:51:39Z

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

The Guardian view on Trump at the UN: bluster and belligerence | Editorial

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:02:25 GMT2017-09-19T18:02:25Z

The US president is wrong to think that nations acting in their own self-interest would on their own create a more stable world. Countries need to work together under rules to which they agree to adhere

Whatever its difficulties, the United Nations must surely be cherished. Founded in 1945 under US leadership after the defeat of Nazism and imperial Japan, the UN remains the central pillar of the global order. At its core has stood the ambition that peace, international security and human rights would be better protected than they were by the 1930s League of Nations (whose founding treaty the US Senate refused to ratify). The UN is the only existing forum where the representatives of all nation states can be brought together to try to address crises and common challenges.

Donald Trump’s first address to the organisation’s annual general assembly was anticipated with dread by many – and rightly so. This US president is after all the first in history to have made heaping scorn on the UN something of a pastime. His views on the subject have ranged from crude hostility to abject ignorance. The speech he delivered was scripted – not the ramblings of a maverick whose taste for rash tweets and cheap provocations have become an almost daily routine. It was deeply worrying all the same. Unlike his eloquent predecessor, President Trump trades in crass belligerence. His speech will be remembered for its ominous language.

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The Guardian view on the Lib Dem conference: keeping calm and carrying on | Editorial

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:59:04 GMT2017-09-19T17:59:04Z

Vince Cable’s party is positioning itself for a change in the political weather

For a party so badly scorched by its experience of power, and with only a fifth of the seats it held three years ago, the Liberal Democrats had some cause for optimism as they gathered in Bournemouth this week. In Vince Cable they have a new yet experienced and well-respected leader. The vote for Brexit gave them a renewed sense of purpose and encouraged a surge in members, taking their numbers to over 100,000. Despite their poor showing in this year’s general election, they boast a markedly stronger parliamentary team, including Sir Vince, his deputy Jo Swinson and newcomer Layla Moran.

The leader highlighted their two opportunities in his speech on Tuesday. Labour’s divisions over the EU created the Liberal Democrats’ opportunity with remainers; but the more recent evolution of its policy gives them hope that a hard Brexit can be avoided if “political adults” work together. Though Sir Vince has pledged that his party will not be “Ukip in reverse”, he hopes its pro-European stance will place it on the right side of history, as opposition to the Iraq war did.

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The Guardian view on car finance: risky credit | Editorial

Tue, 19 Sep 2017 17:56:50 GMT2017-09-19T17:56:50Z

Too many motorists have been seduced into credit-fuelled purchases by the thought of having ever-flashier marques. These have left buyers increasingly vulnerable to a drop in used-car prices

The idea that one can get something for nothing underlies much of modern-day marketing. This patter has been used to lure motorists into opening their wallets for vehicles they perhaps had considered beyond their reach. As our series on debt shows, personal contract purchase agreements, PCPs, now account for 80% of new cars sold. Drivers think they have chanced upon an extraordinary bargain: it is cheaper to pay for a brand new BMW than purchase a secondhand Ford Focus. They are motivated, no doubt, by the idea that the model and marque of car they drive will move them up in the pecking order of life. Mercedes has doubled its UK sales since 2010.

In reality nothing in life is free. PCP monthly payments are lower than hire purchase ones because they do not cover the whole cost of the car. What consumers are “buying” is the difference between the current value of the car – less any deposit – and the expected value of the car at the end of the contract. When the PCP agreement is over, most drivers still need a car. Their options are either: pay an agreed hefty lump sum to keep the car; hand the keys back and start again; or use the value of the current car to start again with a new finance deal on a different car. It’s the last option that drivers have been taking, relying on rising used car prices to provide equity that allows them to purchase a flashier motor or a deposit to reduce the next set of payments.

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The Guardian view on Saudi Arabia: the seventh son rises | Editorial

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:30:30 GMT2017-09-18T18:30:30Z

A crackdown on dissent by the youngest heir apparent in Saudi history will not help the desert kingdom find a way out of an economic mess at home and misguided entanglements abroad

The ascension in June of Muhammed bin Salman as crown prince of Saudi Arabia was an instant Rorschach test for observers of the desert kingdom. Is he a reformer prepared to drag his kingdom, a repressive regime that writes very large welfare cheques, into the 21st century or a callow princeling whose rise to power could destabilise the region? The 31-year-old prince has undoubtedly amassed great power and dominates Saudi economic, diplomatic and domestic policy. The crown prince, known as MBS, is also the architect of the bloody quagmire of the Yemen war and a hardliner in the current Gulf row with neighbouring Qatar. His father, King Salman, 81, is not in good health, walks with a stick and suffers from brain fades in meetings. By anointing his seventh son as the youngest heir apparent in Saudi history, the ailing monarch has signalled a decisive break with the past.

If the first few months are a reliable guide, then the omens for the future are not good. The palace coup that saw MBS take power was bloodless. In the summer’s Game of Thrones, his powerful uncles and rivals were either sidelined or placed under house arrest. The sense of how riven the Saudi royal house is could be gleaned from reports, sourced from within the court, claiming the other leading contender for the throne had a drug problem. Last week it emerged that Saudi authorities had launched a crackdown on dissent, targeting Islamic thinkers, public critics and political rivals. Two prominent clerics were taken away for failing to publicly declare their support for the crown prince’s stance toward Qatar. Neither cleric is reflexively conservative – one famously declared homosexuality a sin but added that it shouldn’t be punished in this world. Both are popular with the Saudi public, with millions of Twitter followers. Another journalist has been banned from writing opinion columns, while human rights activists have been given outlandish eight-year prison sentences for peaceful campaigning. Whatever MBS’s public face, this intolerance of dissent is almost paranoid.

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The Guardian view on Stanislav Petrov: an unsung hero | Editorial

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:26:33 GMT2017-09-18T18:26:33Z

At the height of the cold war, one man did his bit to save the world, and no one knew

It takes about half an hour for a nuclear missile to travel between the population centres of Russia and the US, its warheads freighted with the end of the civilised world. At the height of the cold war, when detection systems were less sophisticated than today, there would have been as little as 15 minutes for the other side to react in. On a couple of occasions the world brushed past such a catastrophe – once in 1962 at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, when a captured Russian double agent, Oleg Penkovsky, gave Gervase Cowell, his Secret Intelligence Service handler at the British embassy in Moscow, the agreed signal that a nuclear attack was under way. Cowell, experienced and crafty, decided that his agent had been arrested and did not pass the message on to his superiors. Had he done so, the ambassador would have had to ring London and someone there would have had to make the fatal decision under terrible pressure of time.

The other hero whose name is known to history was the Russian colonel Stanislav Petrov, the news of whose death has just reached the west. In September 1983, at a time when the Soviet military really believed that Ronald Reagan might launch a nuclear assault, Col Petrov was the only officer on duty at a control centre for the Soviet early warning satellites when the computers told him that first one, and then five more, missiles had been launched from the US towards Russia. He decided on his own authority that these were false alarms: if there was to be a first strike, he reasoned, it would have more than five missiles. So he warned no one. An accidental Armageddon was averted. We can’t know whether anyone higher up the chain of command would have made the same judgment – with less time, and under even more pressure – but both stories show that it’s not just discipline that keeps nuclear weapons under control. Judgment and well-timed insubordination have sometimes saved us, too.

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Editorial | The Guardian view on Ryanair: the low expectations airline

Mon, 18 Sep 2017 18:24:15 GMT2017-09-18T18:24:15Z

The forced cancellation of 400,000 people’s flights is bad for them and for the business too

Michael O’Leary, the boss of Ryanair, once told an interviewer that he was born “with bullshit on tap” – a rare case of his giving the media a story they already had. On the other hand, he was certainly telling the unvarnished truth then, in a way unusual among his publicity stunts. He has not actually brought in standing room only flights, charges for using the lavatories, or even charges for employees who charge their phones at work, all of which he has from time to time threatened to do. The underlying disdain for both passengers and employees is genuine, too. Sometimes it spills over into the real world, at the moment in the fiasco over his pilots’ holiday entitlement, which has left 18 million customers in an anxious limbo while they wait to find whether their flights booked over the next eight weeks will be cancelled. Around 400,000 of them will learn tonight if they have been unlucky; 80,000 will have to wait a day or more for replacement flights. It’s a mess. It’s also a natural consequence of the way that Ryanair does its very successful business.

Anyone who uses its website knows that every transaction, every click, is an attempt to win an advantage. Most customers believe they can come out ahead and the company is still usually cheaper than its competitors. “Our booking system is full of people who swore they would never fly with us again,” boasted Mr O’Leary yesterday. But cheapness has its price. The Ryanair model is part of a more general move towards a world where the customer has only themselves to blame. The cancellation and rescheduling of a flight has normally a chain of consequences – cars have been hired, hotel rooms booked – for which Mr O’Leary disclaims all responsibility. The present problems may be symptomatic of deeper troubles. The rerostering of pilots’ holidays suggests a workforce stretched too far. So do recent problems with punctuality. The low-cost airline risks becoming the airline of low expectations.

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The Guardian view on Boris Johnson’s pitch: a ludicrous fantasy | Editorial

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 17:53:21 GMT2017-09-17T17:53:21Z

The foreign secretary’s job application for prime minister promises an impossibly good deal from Brexit

Her Majesty’s secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, Boris Johnson, is an accomplished confidence man. Like all conmen, he appeals to the larceny in the blood – the wish of the mark to get an impossibly good deal. Mr Johnson’s 4,000-word job application (he wants to be prime minister) in last Saturday’s Telegraph is a masterclass in doublespeak and smarm. Almost everything it says about the prospects of a deal is palpably false, but that hardly matters. It would be worrying in any other foreign secretary, but we know better than to expect this one to share the truth, even if he is in possession of it. However, it is enormously revealing about the state of opinion in the Conservative party. He smells the larceny in the party’s blood; he knows how it wants to be seduced.

The members of the Conservative party who might still make him prime minister want to believe Britain is “the second-greatest power on Earth after America”, or at least that it was that as late as “the early years of this century”.

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The Guardian view on Germany’s election: slow and steady | Editorial

Sun, 17 Sep 2017 17:53:09 GMT2017-09-17T17:53:09Z

Angela Merkel is fighting a campaign almost entirely on domestic issues, but the results are vital to the rest of Europe

Germans head to the ballot box next Sunday. If polls are anything to go by (in Germany they’re deemed reliable), Angela Merkel is heading comfortably for a fourth term in office. The economy is doing well, confidence is high, and Mrs Merkel’s main opponent, the Social Democrat Martin Schulz, has failed to land any damaging blows on her.

So the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) is steady in the polls at 37%, and the SPD (Social Democrats) can only muster 20%. Most of the suspense centres on what kind of coalition might emerge under Mrs Merkel this time. The CDU and the SPD have been in coalition since 2013; will that be renewed? Or will a different pattern emerge, perhaps one excluding the SPD but combining the CDU with the liberal, business-friendly Free Democrats (FDP), 9.5% in the latest polls, and the Greens, currently at 7.5%? Few now expect the kind of political upheaval which might produce a coalition between the SPD, the Greens, and the former communists of Die Linke.

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The Observer view on the rollout of universal credit | Observer editorial

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 23:05:25 GMT2017-09-16T23:05:25Z

It is a flawed and cruel system that should be stopped

‘We will govern in the interests of ordinary working families”, pledged the latest Conservative manifesto, a line that will ring increasingly hollow in the next few years. By 2022, millions of families will find themselves thousands of pounds a year worse off: not as a result of sluggish wage growth or the rising cost of essentials, rather, as a direct result of this government’s decisions to cut financial support for low-income working parents while it delivers expensive tax cuts for more affluent families.

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The Observer view on Boris Johnson’s analysis of Britain’s ills | Observer editorial

Sat, 16 Sep 2017 23:05:25 GMT2017-09-16T23:05:25Z

As last week’s extraordinary article revealed, the foreign secretary has no understanding of the damage caused by Conservative policies

Yesterday, the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, published an extraordinary 4,000-word article setting out his vision of a glorious British future outside the “trusses” and regulations of Brussels. It was wrong on every count, yet was a fascinating window into the contemporary conservative mind living in a parallel universe only fleetingly in touch with reality, but which is leading the country to perdition and division. It cannot be allowed to pass uncontested and unchallenged.

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The Guardian view on the London tube bomb: keep calm and carry on | Editorial

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:59:46 GMT2017-09-15T17:59:46Z

A sense of proportion is something we can all bring to the struggle against terrorism

We cannot rely forever on the incompetence of our enemies but we should enjoy it while it lasts. The bucket bomb on a London tube this morning was undoubtedly intended to kill and maim as many people as possible. That it failed does not diminish the malevolence of its makers. It was no more discriminating than the lorries and cars driven into crowds around Europe this past year have been; in a horrible way it was even more nihilistic than the abominable Manchester bombing, which targeted music lovers, whom some perversions of Islam would see as sinners. But it failed. Shocking and frightening though the experience of the tube passengers must have been, it could have been very much worse.

By now, the responses to these attempted atrocities is well practised. The politicians express shock and disapproval, the police get on with their work, the commenters of all shades of opinion prepare the pieces explaining why this has proved them right all along and – in this year’s development – President Trump says something crass and unhelpful. As is always the case with his tweets, there is no way of knowing whether what he claimed is actually true: did Scotland Yard have the perpetrator under surveillance? If it had been true, he would have once more been guilty of tweeting out classified intelligence just as he did after the Manchester bombings. But it seems to be just another example of his capacity for quick-witted confabulation. It’s notable, though, that Mr Trump’s tweets drew a public rebuke from the prime minister and from the Metropolitan police, who both called his remarks “unhelpful”. It’s another example of the growing lack of trust in his judgment. That is not a result of any terrorist campaign, effective or otherwise.

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The Guardian view on deportation: contempt of court and of decency | Editorial

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:58:22 GMT2017-09-15T17:58:22Z

The deportation of Samim Bigzad, in defiance of a high court order, shows that the government cannot be trusted to uphold the rights of individuals

Three judges have now told the Home Office it was wrong to deport an asylum seeker back to Afghanistan – where he says armed men are looking for him already – and that it should return him to the UK at once. By not doing so, the Home Office has shown its contempt not only for decency, but for British law. Samim Bigzad believes he is a target for the Taliban because he worked in construction for the Afghan government and US companies. His asylum claim was rejected, but his lawyers applied for a judicial review. A high court judge ruled that he should not be removed while the process was under way. That order arrived when he had already been put on the second leg of the flight. He was not removed immediately and it took off shortly afterwards.

Then a second high court judge has ruled that the home secretary is in prima facie contempt of court and must secure his return. A third – rejecting the government’s request to set aside that ruling – has reiterated that he should be brought back at once. It now appears that the Home Office may be arranging his imminent return, although it said in a statement that it was correct to deport him and is continuing to pursue legal action. It was wrong to send him to Kabul and it should have complied earlier.

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The Guardian view on universal basic income: tax data giants to pay for it | Editorial

Fri, 15 Sep 2017 17:57:11 GMT2017-09-15T17:57:11Z

Hillary Clinton should have ‘thrown caution to the wind’ and backed yearly payments to US citizens. These could’ve been dividends from a fund financed by levying duties on tech giants that profit from a collective loss of privacy

In politics it is claimed that the important things are not what candidates say, but what voters hear. Hillary Clinton’s memoir, What Happened, finesses this by suggesting that it might be as vital to understand what politicians considered before discarding. One surprising policy proposal the former Democratic presidential candidate contemplated was a form of universal basic income (UBI). Mrs Clinton eventually backed away – but now thinks she should have “thrown caution to the wind”. Her campaign suffered from the lack of inspiring policies to energise voters. For the most centrist, wonkiest politician of her generation to think of replacing incrementalism with such a big idea is both welcome and instructive.

UBI has been seen as a utopian dream that dissolves when one is awake to the pitfalls of paying people to do nothing and the practicality of finding the money for it. Mrs Clinton favoured Alaska’s UBI model where a fund financed by the state’s oil boom pays out a yearly dividend to every citizen. It’s a popular policy, delivering more than $4,000 a year to every household. It has reduced poverty and has helped make the state one of the most equal in the US. The cash is not seen as encouraging indolence, with voters viewing it as bounty from shared resources that helps the poorest most. Not every state has an oil boom to tap. Mrs Clinton tried, and failed, to make the numbers work by looking at spectrum levies. But if data is the new oil, why not tax the Googles of this world for the use of customers’ data? These could capitalise a fund that makes annual payouts. Citizens could then see they had collectively traded their privacy for something more tangible than tweets. Tech firms might squeal. But one of the fund’s biggest contributors would be Facebook – its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, backs UBI as an idea. He, and others, could now do so with their cash.

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The Guardian view on Theresa May and parliament: show some respect | Letters

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 17:08:08 GMT2017-09-14T17:08:08Z

Complacent disregard for dissenting views cost the prime minister her majority. She needs to change her style accordingly

In the simplest of terms, political leadership requires having a goal and a plan to reach it, plus winning arguments in support of both.

Theresa May has a goal: leaving the EU. (She has others but deludes herself if she imagines they can be given any priority over Brexit.) The means she has chosen, triggering article 50 before settling on a coherent negotiating strategy, have put the UK at a disadvantage and increased the risk of chaotic failure. In place of argument, the prime minister has relied on mechanical soundbite or on citation of the referendum result. But that is not a personal mandate to enact Brexit as she chooses. When she sought one in a general election, she was humiliated.

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The Guardian view on outrage and art: the new no longer shocks | Editorial

Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:44:58 GMT2017-09-14T16:44:58Z

The fury provoked by Rachel Whiteread 25 years ago is unthinkable today – thank goodness

In 1993, an artwork by Rachel Whiteread was the subject of the biggest scandal in British art since the notorious Tate bricks affair of 1976, when the gallery was publicly pilloried for having squandered public funds on a sculpture by Carl Andre consisting of 120 firebricks. Ms Whiteread’s work was House, the concrete cast of a condemned terraced dwelling in the East End of London, which she had made under the aegis of the arts commissioner Artangel. House stood for only 80 days, but it was a remarkable lightning rod for debate, attacked and defended with equal fervour. The Liberal Democrat leader of Tower Hamlets council at the time denounced it with particular enthusiasm, calling it “utter rubbish” and “a little entertainment for the gallery-going classes of Hampstead”.

Others, though, greeted it as a masterpiece and called for it to have a permanent life (which was not the artist’s intention), comparing its destruction to the iconoclasm of the English Reformation. One critic wrote lyrically of the cast’s uncanny ability to draw the viewer into “the world of the photographic negative, with its phantom-like reversal of known fact; the world that Alice enters through her looking glass; the world that lurks behind the molten silver mirror in Cocteau’s Orphée”. Meanwhile, it was sucked into arguments about housing and the fabric of London, about the British and their relationship to art, about political extremism and multiculturalism.

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The Guardian view of offshore wind: cheaper and greener | Editorial

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 18:47:02 GMT2017-09-13T18:47:02Z

Electricity generated from whirling fans among the waves means that nuclear is rightly vanishing as the answer to meet our energy needs and our climate goals

The precipitous drop in the price of electricity from offshore wind turbines should be a tipping point for green technology. In 2014 the current generated by a forest of giant whirling fans out at sea was priced at around £150 per megawatt hour. In the latest auction this week the comparable cost dropped as low as £57.50/MWh. Even when the cost of providing back-up capacity for still days is added, the cost of producing energy from offshore wind is little more than £70/MWh. Compared to the new Hinkley C nuclear plant which produces electricity at a cost of £92.50/MWh, one has to wonder whether as a nation we should persist with nuclear energy as an option to reduce our greenhouse gas output.

Hinkley looks like a dinosaur even before it arrives on earth. It’s unclear whether the unproven design will ever get built. If it does, the cost of complying with safety and anti-terrorism standards may well be prohibitive. Hinkley was conceived when the conventional wisdom was that we would start to run out of hydrocarbons. Fears of a runaway price for oil and gas now look overheated. The government has however supported plans to install a nuclear power plant, backed by French and Chinese state operators, costing £18bn. Nuclear power has a trump card: it is a zero-carbon technology which delivers a continuous, uninterrupted supply. This may be a consideration in the years ahead if the UK banned petrol engines and only allowed electric cars. Imagine, say nuclear fans, the surge of demand when everyone got home and plugged in their motors. But we are not there yet.

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The Guardian view on Cambodia: a local crisis and a regional shift | Editorial

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 18:46:23 GMT2017-09-13T18:46:23Z

The government has charged the opposition leader with treason and silenced independent media as strongman Hun Sen tries to hold on to power. But its actions reflect a broader dynamic

Cambodia’s Hun Sen is one of the world’s longest standing leaders. His party has been happy to hold elections as long as it knows it is going to win, and to embrace underhand tactics or outright force when things don’t go quite as planned. Another poll looms next year and, after more than three decades in his post, the prime minister and former Khmer Rouge commander says he has decided to continue for 10 more years to ensure stability.

Voters seem less keen on his unending tenure – and the Cambodian People’s Party knows it. A gradual expansion of space for civil society, activism and political activity went into reverse after the opposition united and did better than expected in 2013’s poll. The process accelerated last year as the CPP grew more nervous. It suffered again in this year’s local elections. It has overseen strong growth and reduced inequality. But there is widespread anger over rampant corruption and land grabs. An overwhelmingly young and increasingly urban population, more knowledgeable and sophisticated than their parents thanks to city life, social media and travel, feel they owe the government little.

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The Guardian view on homelessness: do ministers care?

Wed, 13 Sep 2017 18:45:53 GMT2017-09-13T18:45:53Z

The rising tide of rough sleeping and families ending up in temporary accommodation should have alerted the government to the effects of its policies. It’s shocking that no one seemed curious about this hardship

The National Audit Office report into homelessness lays bare the legacy of human waste caused by the callous indifference and intellectual vacuity of Compassionate Conservatism, a Tory creed – promoted by David Cameron – where responsibility shifted from the state to individuals, families and communities.

Looking at the NAO’s assessment of the cack-handed way that the housing safety net was handled, this “philosophy” appears an empty political slogan designed to shield the Tory party from the charge it was balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. It’s no surprise that a mixture of high rents and welfare cuts put people out on the streets. Rough sleeping more than doubled since 2010. The numbers of households in temporary accommodation rose by 60%.

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The Guardian view on the Sky takeover bid: good for Karen Bradley | Editorial

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 19:22:20 GMT2017-09-12T19:22:20Z

At last a Conservative culture secretary who dares to stand up to Rupert Murdoch. Now it is up to the competition watchdog to prove its worthCongratulations Karen Bradley! The secretary of state for culture, media and sport has become the first Conservative in office since John Major to stand up to Rupert Murdoch in his quest to expand his global media empire. Mrs Bradley had been considering the bid by 21st Century Fox, effectively controlled by the Murdoch family, to buy the remaining 61% of Sky, the pan-European broadcaster and internet services provider, that it does not already own. She had been minded to refer the bid on the grounds of media plurality to the competition watchdog – the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – on the advice of the broadcasting regulator Ofcom, the prospect of which would hardly cause Mr Murdoch much lost sleep, since his companies relish scrapping with dominant web giants like Google. When it came to broadcasting standards, Ofcom dismissed concerns over the Murdochs’ commitment to the taste and truthfulness of his companies’ output. Yet the culture secretary disagreed, saying “non-fanciful concerns” about the Murdochs’ commitment to standards meant she would have to refer the deal to the competition regulator on these grounds, too. This opens up a new front against Mr Murdoch, who has expressed a wish to make Sky News – an impartial broadcaster – more like Fox News, a highly partisan rightwing US outlet accused of peddling conspiracy theories and fake news. The “Foxification” of Murdoch’s UK news station is something, the culture secretary correctly points out, that should be investigated. What is remarkable is that Mrs Bradley has done the right thing by looking at the questions of character, culture and criminality that the rest of the world fixates on when dealing with the Murdochs. Ofcom, on the other hand, has questions to answer about its apparent naivety in dealing with the takeover. When Ofcom discovered that Fox News had no code of compliance despite broadcasting in this country, it allowed Fox to produce one and abide by it. Just a day after Fox News put in a place its code, it ran a false story, politically significant in the US, besmirching the reputation of a murdered Democratic National Committee official, saying he had been a traitor. The story was retracted a week later, but four months on, no action has been taken against those responsible. There has been no apology to the dead man’s family, who publicly explained that claims of treason had added to their grief. In August Fox News, acting CEO Rupert Murdoch, was taken off air in Britain. If actions can be interpreted as an admission of wrongdoing, then Fox News is guilty. But so is Ofcom. The regulator failed first to police Fox News and then to recognise that the legal threshold for referring the bid on grounds of broadcasting standards was low, and easily met in the case of the Murdochs. That was a mistake by Ofcom – and one the culture secretary could not repeat. Continue reading...[...]

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The Guardian view on the European Union: sticking together | Editorial

Tue, 12 Sep 2017 18:38:51 GMT2017-09-12T18:38:51Z

With public trust in the EU rising, the mood on the continent is upbeat. While challenges remain, the bloc is moving forward with an agenda that Brexit Britain cannot ignore

Not all that long ago the European Union seemed to inspire doubt not hope: a project reaching its 60th anniversary looked to many as if it might be heading for its death bed, or at least the emergency room. The eurozone, some said, would soon crumble as a result of faulty construction and rash policies. A populist wave was certain to sweep away institutions based on liberal democracy and shared sovereignty. Citizens would irreversibly turn their backs on a club which apparently combined high-mindedness and inefficiency.

With Brexit, 2016 was the EU’s annus horribilis. The year before that the refugee crisis, critics said, had exposed the EU as a fair-weather construct – unable to cope with the unforeseen. In 2014, extremist parties had already made spectacular gains in the EU parliament. In its bleakest moments the EU, it was said, had been a reputable and worthy project but one with perhaps a limited lifespan. The politics of fear were about to send it to the dustbin of history. Today, this doomsday narrative no longer applies. For one thing, Brexit has produced no domino effect. Britain’s despondency serves as daily proof that the path must be avoided by others. Far from breaking up, the eurozone is set to grow at the fastest annual pace since 2011. The migration issue hasn’t disappeared, but with the numbers down, its disruptive impacts on politics seem for now contained. Populism is no longer seen as an irrepressible force. Far-right slogans calling for a continent-wide Patriotic Spring in 2017 have come to nothing.

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