breaking news from the world of ideas

by Gavin Haynes
Tuesday, 27
July 2021

Another golden handshake for Alan Rusbridger

British journalism is in trouble — Rusbridger's new job shows us why

Alan Rusbridger is a hard act to follow.

Perhaps that’s why so many in British public life are replacing their top staff with Alan Rusbridger.  

Five years after he fully and finally left the Guardian — amidst some smoke and light gunfire regarding the future direction of the paper — the owlish Assange-fan is back at the helm of a British magazine.   

Alan has just been announced as the new editor of Prospect. The left of centre ‘journal of ideas’ that has published Clive James, David Goodhart and Joseph Sitglitz.  

Clearly, Alan is a man who can delegate. In 2010, while Guardian hacks were up against another round of redundancies, he was both writing a book about learning to play a fiendishly hard Chopin piece on the piano, and, presumably, learning to play a fiendishly hard Chopin piece.  ...  Continue reading

by Ben Sixsmith
Monday, 26
July 2021

The meaning of the Speaker’s Corner stabbing

Offensive or irresponsible speech should never be met with violence

The legend of Speakers’ Corner holds that all lawful opinions, however eccentric, may get a hearing. Atheists, evangelists, Marxists, Irish Republicans and ideologues of every other stripe have been holding forth in Hyde Park for more than a hundred years. In 1999, Lord Justice Sedley said that Speakers’ Corner “demonstrates… the tolerance which is both extended by the law to opinion of every kind and expected by the law in the conduct of those who disagree, even strongly, with what they hear.”

Well, nowadays it does not always work like that. A Christian evangelist has been stabbed while wearing a Charlie Hebdo t-shirt. Last year the woman was escorted out of Hyde Park by the police after threats were made against her life by Islamic firebrands. Asked about the incident, Mayor Sadiq Khan said...  Continue reading

by Henry Hill
Monday, 26
July 2021

Why the SNP doesn’t expect a second referendum any time soon

Grassroots nationalists are being led on a merry dance by the party

The ‘Yes movement’, as the Scottish separatists like to style themselves, is at war with itself again.

It is split on several axes — I have written about them before. But this time the issue is not just over independence strategy or gender politics, but the law: have the SNP illegally spent funds raised for ‘indyref two’?

That’s the question now being formally investigated by Police Scotland, acting on complaints from nationalists and the results of an initial ‘fact-finding mission’.

If you’ve missed the story, the Nationalists previously raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for a ring-fenced fighting fund for the second referendum they keep insisting is coming. Yet there is today no evidence of it in the party’s annual accounts. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Monday, 26
July 2021

The attention economy turns violent in Asda

A recent supermarket brawl was powered by digital incentives

A brawl broke out in the Clapham branch of Asda last Friday, leading to the arrest of two men in their thirties and two women in their late teens. All four of the individuals were dressed in superhero costumes.

They stormed into the store, jumping onto shop display cabinets and shouting, before staff and security intervened. One of the ‘superhero’ men punched a female shop floor worker. A separate clip then showed a chaotic fight that seemed to be taking place in the stockroom.

Reports have emerged that the aim was to create viral content. The channels have since been deleted, but on Friday a TikTok account still existed that showed several similar (albeit less violent) clips involving misbehaviour by people in superhero costumes. ...  Continue reading

by Ed West
Monday, 26
July 2021

Nigel Farage is a model ex-politician

The former Ukip leader hasn't disgraced himself, unlike many former PMs

My least populist political opinion is that we should pay MPs £1m a year. Saying that, it would be impossible to raise their salaries because numerous hugely-popular online MPs would wail about nurses and teachers being the real heroes, and get 36,000 retweets.

Money doesn’t solve all problems — but it solves a lot of them, and if you want to raise the prestige or status of a career, paying more is a simple way to do it. Singapore has by the far the best-paid lawmakers in the world, and so Singaporean politics attracts the very brightest people, and the city-state is extremely well run. Intelligence doesn’t bestow honesty or humanity, but on average a group of very intelligent people will make better decisions than a team of men on the street. ...  Continue reading

by UnHerd
Friday, 23
July 2021

Trump Insider: Chances of 2024 run just got a lot higher

Freddie Sayers spoke to former Trump advisor Jason Miller

Few people can claim to have as close access to “Trumpworld” — the circle of advisors around Donald Trump — as Jason Miller. In fact, he spoke to the former president himself just yesterday.

Having been the chief campaign spokesman for the 2016 Trump campaign, Miller was drafted back for the final months of the re-election campaign, in June 2020. He co-presented a podcast, The War Room, with Steve Bannon, which was removed from YouTube following the Capitol Hill violence on January 6th, and he is currently CEO of a new social media platform, Gettr.

My first question: how likely is it that Donald Trump will run for President again in 2024? ...  Continue reading

by Amy Jones
Friday, 23
July 2021

Labour’s Covid strategy isn’t working

Starmer has ignored the plight of his working class base throughout the pandemic

Keir Starmer’s recent ‘pinging’ to begin his fourth stint in Covid self isolation on Wednesday could hardly have come at a worse time. With both Johnson and Sunak already self-isolating after their own Covid contacts, one might’ve hoped the Labour leader could make a bit of headway against some of the Tories more illiberal Covid policies.

Alas, he instead spent much of Wednesday afternoon vacillating on ID cards — first opposing them, then settling into a far more familiar holding pattern of benign neutrality. “Let’s see what the government comes forward with” a source close to Starmer remarked, as he retreated to his isolation, with certainly no opposition to the principle to be seen. ...  Continue reading

by Alexander Faludy
Friday, 23
July 2021

Old surveillance habits die hard in Orbán’s Hungary

The Pegasus revelations shouldn't surprise us — Hungary is in love with spying

This week Budapest’s journalists were abuzz with the rumours that an ‘important announcement’ was to be made on Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Facebook page.  Those who thought this would be an acknowledgment that the revelations from the Pegasus project about intensive surveillance of Hungary’s leading investigative journalists and civil rights lawyers merited a parliamentary enquiry were left disappointed.

Instead, Orbán announced that Hungary is to have a referendum on five questions relating to ‘the future of Hungarian children’. All relate to LGBT+ education — an issue of contention between Orbán and the EU. ...  Continue reading

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