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Donald Trump, the fascist Ruth to the rescue

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The one state


Why cancer screening won’t save you

David Lynch: sculptor of nightmares
Remembering VS Naipaul
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October issue 20th September
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December issue 15th November
Winter double issue 13th December
March issue 31st January 2019
April issue 7th March


September 2018


The one state solution

Rethinking Israel-Palestine
20 Two states of denial
In a provocative essay, a leading Israeli
politician calls for his compatriots to embrace
the one-state solution
26 Bulldozing a vision
How the two-state dream faded: a report from
the West Bank

32 Breaking news
How Metro became Britain’s most-read newspaper
36 Prospect Portrait Ruth Davidson
She has a reputation for being a different type
of Tory—but just how far can she go?
40 The dark side of cancer screening
Everyone knows that early diagnosis can save a life.
32 What if everyone is wrong?
44 Called to account
Decisions taken by power-hungry men in Frankfurt
have hampered the first 20 years of the euro
50 An Elizabethan Brexit
Our current crisis bears an uncanny resemblance to
that facing Elizabeth I in the late 16th century


Letters & opinions ProspectLife

4 Letters 71 Home front
6 A second referendum?
72 The wild frontier
7 New parties, old egos
Sparks of life
8 Remembering Naipaul
73 In play
Stopping as the season starts 72
9 Morality and markets BENJAMIN MARKOVITS
DIANE COYLE plus HANNAH BERRY’S Things to do this month
plus ANDY DAVIS’S cartoon strip
85 Prospect events
investment column 74 Classical musing Join us at our Book Clubs,
10 A taste of Prospect online Your mob, my populus talks and debates
Feminism and the climate CHARLOTTE HIGGINS
STEPHANIE BOLAND plus The way we were Endgames
plus STEPHEN COLLINS’S IAN IRVINE 87 The generalist crossword
cartoon strip
75 Bad habits DIDYMUS
12 The view from Stockholm And finally... 87 Enigmas & puzzles
Brief Encounter
Speed data
88 Frances O’Grady
15 The gap of ages
“First news memory? England
Whatever you do, don’t
winning the World Cup in
be young
1966. But the flour bombing of
the 1970 Miss World contest left
The Duel a more lasting impression”
16 Is Donald Trump a fascist?
Listen to the
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For Roger Scruton the western 76 Results from our biggest and
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supreme over modern music Get the latest analysis on
IVAN HEWETT Policy report: Prospect’s website:
61 Sculptor of nightmares Reviving the north prospectmagazine.co.uk
Including the Chair of the
David Lynch’s memoir offers a 81 A mayor writes
Low Pay Commission on how Brexit
glimpse behind the curtain BEN HOUCHEN could undo years’ worth of progress,
WENDY IDE Kate Devlin on our smartphone
81 In search of the rich life
64 Rest for the wicked CAROLINE FLINT obsession and Ian Thomson on the
curious history of Dante on screen.
A brash US talent delights in
82 Policy focus: the northern
breaking taboos of all kinds
transport question @prospect_uk, @prospect_events
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66 Books in brief prospect_magazine
82 The NP problem
68 Recommends JAY ELWES

Letters & opinions

letters@prospectmagazine.co.uk • @prospect_uk

Goodbye Google
Farewell Facebook,
Big Tech
Please don’t invade Time to break up
Britain’s vanishing

absurdity of by-elections for he-

In fact

reditary peers in the Lords was


­excellent, and I agree that the up-

| £5.95

Think again. Think

May’s per chamber needs further reform.

summer me
ltdown More 16-34 year olds say they
But I am writing as the spokes- often or always feel lonely (8 per
What starts

person for Daughters’ Rights, cent) than those aged 65 or over

if Brexit

which recently brought a case (3 per cent).

stops? to Strasbourg on behalf of five Community Life Survey, 2017-8
The backlash,
Zoe Williams
and Nick Clegg
the opportunities
and the surprises
daughters of peers. They are chal-
on a new Europe
lenging the government because Montenegro has 20 troops in
Syria’s conspiracy
correspondent | Wilde
days in Paris
rat-only election
they would like to stand in these Afghanistan as part of Nato’s
by-elections but are unable to do
sperm | The aristoc
The problem with

T 23/07/2018 15:33
ongoing mission—more per capita
so because of their gender. than the US (its official contribution
Our argument is very simple: is 8,475).
Switching focus while this system exists it is almost NBC News, 18th July 2018
Zoe Williams (“The Left road to remain,” August) tempts us down exclusively for men, and this state-
the path of “if only the past had been different, the future would be sanctioned discrimination at the Of the National Gallery’s 2,300
so much better.” We should resist and focus on the today. heart of parliament must end. works of art, 21 are by women.
The vote to “Leave” was perfectly rational and, contrary to what Should we not attempt to cre- BBC News, 6th July 2018
Williams suggests, went deeper than the left/right divide. Jeremy Cor- ate a level playing field for wom-
byn’s cohort on the left of Labour has been consistent in its opposition en? It is 2018 and time to get this In a survey of 40,000 Americans,
to the European Union. wrong righted. more Muslims (51 per cent)
Being able to remove those who make your laws is as much a con- Charlotte Carew Pole supported same-sex marriage than
cern for “well-heeled Surrey voters” as for factory workers in the Pot- white evangelicals (34 per cent).
teries. Now the focus must be on avoiding the youth unemployment Get it right Religion News Service, 1st May
levels of southern Europe—we ought to create an industrial base which Those of us who are doing our 2018
serves our needs. The left must embrace national renewal and pri- best to avoid a Brexit which would
oritise local communities, which are more than tiny links in global damage both this country and the The Zerão football stadium in
supply chains. rest of the EU have quite enough northern Brazil was designed to put
Gisela Stuart, former Chair, Vote Leave on our hands without having to the midfield line exactly over the
contend with the fantasies of Wolf- equator, so that each team defends
gang Munchau (“Europe does not a different hemisphere.
All change please would such a highly effective com- want us back,” August). His ver- Twisted Sifter, 9th April 2018
Brexit will harm everything the left missioner not be given a second sion of events if Britain were to
decide to remain is a remarkable In 2017, Australia was the most
should want. It must be stopped. term? Zeid tellingly observed that
popular country for millionaires to
But I agree, vigorously, with Zoe “to be re-elected in my job would example of “having your cake and
migrate to—10,000 individuals
Williams that to succeed in that be to fail” because it would have eating it” in reverse.
worth US$1m or more went there,
objective with no vision of our own required him to pull his punches In those circumstances, as-
while 4,000 moved out of the UK.
is to risk becoming self-interested rather than to speak out. suming this takes place before the The Guardian, 6th June 2018
and complacent. The problem is that, even Article 50 cut-off date, the prime
If you’re on the left, change is though the UN General Assembly minister would not write to Don-
This year for the first time, Netflix
an imperative. Recognising that is elects the high commissioner, per- ald Tusk (as Munchau suggests)
received the most nominations
easy. Far harder is describing that manent members of the Security to “ask for Brexit to be reversed.” (112) for the US TV Emmy awards,
changed world and then getting Council act as if they have a veto. He or she would simply withdraw beating HBO (108), which had led
there. So where did “Remain” go Three of them cannot wait to see the letter triggering Article 50, all networks for the past 18 years.
wrong? Were we swindled by the Zeid’s back. which was a unilateral decision. Slate, 12th July 2018
siren salesmen of easy change? Did UN Secretary General António The UK would then remain a
we fail to describe our destination? Guterres has nominated as the next member of the EU on the current On the classic British Monopoly
Or did we forget the imperative? high commissioner former Chilean terms. Perhaps Munchau could board, Old Kent Road is the only
As “Remain” starts to seem pos- President Michelle Bachelet. The stick to economics, about which property south of the River Thames.
sible again, it is worth contemplat- Trump administration wasted no he writes well, and keep out of Wikipedia
ing a tragedy. It happens if we suc- time in warning her to “avoid the politics.
ceed by throwing obstacles in the failures of the past.” David Hannay, House of Lords
path of others but offer no destina- As a victim of torture, Bachelet
tion of our own. That would betray brings a unique perspective. With Commode conundrum
a country that needs change. rights under widespread attack, Whilst your readers seem unlikely
Jolyon Maugham QC people worldwide will depend on to agree on Brexit, I wonder if they
her to be a forceful champion. can achieve a consensus on the
Failure is not an option Ken Roth, Executive Director, burning question of our times:
Tom Fletcher’s article on the out- ­Human Rights Watch Why do modern on-train toilets
going UN High Commissioner for require the operation of two but-
Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hus- Unequal opportunities tons to close and lock the door but
sein (“UN-diplomatic,” August) Martha Gill’s article (“The ­ermine only one to unlock and open it? “Let’s try a little less smile, Mona”
raises a disturbing question: why election,” August) regarding the John Eoin Douglas, Edinburgh
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Dominic Grieve

Georgia ahead of the Presidential election

The world is concerned that main political forces in the country underestimate the Russian threat

f all former Soviet states, on the events of 2008. The UK security
Georgia has been the main agencies have provided Georgia’s Ministry
candidate for future of Internal Affairs with the information
membership of the Euro- that large-scale riots are being organized
pean Union and NATO over in Tbilisi after the outrageous statements
the last years. However there are still of the ruling party politicians on the 2008
some factors which may hinder the Euro- events in South Ossetia. It may become a
Atlantic integration of the good incentive for the political elite in
Transcaucasian nation. To identify the Georgia to get back to the foreign policy
problems we need to pay our attention to approved by the western partners. The US
domestic political processes in Georgia, and EU politicians in their turn have
which plans to hold presidential election scheduled for September-October 2018 a
on October 28, 2018. Despite the number of meetings with representatives
international support the Georgian of the Georgian opposition Davit
government received after the August Bakradze and Grigol Vashadze to
war of 2008, the presidential race is demonstrate their support to the
nevertheless filled with heated debate as candidates if the Georgian Dream party
to the reasons of the bloodshed in South fails to implement all anti-Russian

Ossetia. The ruling Georgian Dream initiatives the international community
party supported an independent has proposed.
presidential candidate Salome At the moment we can safely say that
Zurabishvili whose remarks caused public the government of Georgia is fully aware
outcry both in Georgia and abroad. Mrs. To stand up to Russia is Georgia’s only that if it defies the international efforts to
Zurabishvili believes it was Georgia that way out of the political maze stand up to Russia, the Euro-Atlantic
started the war back then. The statement integration of the country will be put to
not only runs counter to the pro- away from Moscow’s destructive foreign question while the international
European political course of the nation, it policy, it will jeopardize further community may well prefer the opponents
also makes NATO doubt whether to toughening of international sanctions of the acting government during the
continue its military cooperation with against Russia. Therefore both domestic forthcoming presidential election. Despite
Georgia. The efforts that international and foreign policy of Georgia directly their extremely hardline stance on Tbilisi’s
funds and western diplomatic missions in affect the interests of international foreign policy London, Washington and
Tbilisi have been making over the years community, while the front-runner of the Brussels highlight the great geopolitical
instantly become worthless when the presidential race Salome Zurabishvili significance of Georgia in the modern
government of Georgia suddenly fails to surely needs to explain to the western world. Backing sanctions against Russia,
show its willingness to essentially defend partners the ambiguous remark she made rejecting the economic and political
western values in the face of the threat with the approval of the ruling Georgian dialogue with the country and
coming from Russia. Considering that Dream party. investigating crimes of the Russian
stability of the foreign policy is pivotal It is worth noting though, that military in Syria – all of it goes neatly
when estimating democracy development politicians from the European Union and along with Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic future.
in that country, improvement in relations the United States have timely reacted to In case the nation’s ruling powers fail to
of Russia and Georgia may seriously the developments in Georgia by comply with the recommendations of the
hinder the effective cooperation of Tbilisi increasing the number of diplomats and international community, western
with the European Union and with representatives of civil society sent to partners will have every right to
NATO. Tbilisi from Summer 2018 onwards to strengthen global security by helping the
The lack of a clear anti-Russian adjust the perspective of the Georgian people of Georgia elect a leader whose
attitude in Tbilisi may compromise Dream party members on the political foreign policy will correspond to the
Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations as situation around the world. Missions from international environment and will ensure
well as frustrate NATO’s plans to the USAID, McCain Institute, The that Georgia acquires membership of the
strengthen its military positions in Heritage Foundation are working hard to European and North Atlantic institutions
Transcaucasia which entails huge bring back the hardline anti-Russian as soon as possible.
financial and geopolitical costs for attitude to the election campaign in Dominic Grieve is Conservative MP for
NATO members. In fact if Georgia shies Georgia by reopening fierce public debate Beaconsfield

Anne Perkins

New parties and old egos

A new political force might sound attractive. But the oddballs who start them spell trouble

here is a new fact in British pol- parties. But he was in the end capable of
itics: the homeless voter. This uniting against an enemy. He was the only
class spans centre-right to cen- Tory leader Labour would work with in the
tre-left. Its members are united 1940s and—in return for co-operation—put
by their pro-European views Clement Attlee in charge of the home front.
and metropolitan lives—in short, they are The arrangement worked because Attlee
the sort of people who used to benefit from was, by temperament, a team player. Col-
the political status quo. legiate politicians can work around yawn-
Even if Dominic Grieve (opposite) tact- ing chasms in ideology. In the 1970s Michael
fully downplays the possibility, there are Foot, a bookish CND idealist, forged a
rising murmurs about realignment. Middle- respectful alliance with Jim Callaghan, a
of-the-road MPs despair at parties they see hard-bitten union fixer. In the 1980s, one-
as hijacked by the extremes and paralysed on nation Tory Willie Whitelaw was indispensa-
Brexit. Conversations on the doorstep, they ble to the ideologue Margaret Thatcher. In
say, suggest that today’s electorate is not so the 1990s, John Prescott, a one-time union
different from that which used to smile on militant, wanted a Labour government more
Blair and Major—a worried country could be than he disliked what Tony Blair stood for.
rallied to moderation once more. The lesson of a new book on political part-
But what’s missing from these conversa- nerships, by former Labour MP Giles Radice,
tions, which imagine a new party mapping is the enduring importance of matching initi-
neatly onto the pre-ordained contours of vot- ators and facilitators—the dazzling Church-
ers’ preferences, is perhaps the most impor- ills with the modest Attlees who actually get
tant factor of all in politics—personality. Mosley started the New Party in 1930 things done.
Even if you want a new party, it pays to think Labour has too often forgotten the
hard about who you want to pull it together. Steel disguised real disagreements over pol- importance of this mix, succumbing to the
The SDP, a cautionary tale for the centrists, icy. And in the end, Owen would never con- sectarian zeal of the late Blair years or the
may have been disadvantaged by first-past- cede enough to make the partnership work. factionalism of today’s Corbynites. So have
the-post, but as much as anything else it Paddy Ashdown, who eventually emerged the Tories. Indeed, one of the great frailties of
failed to “break the mould” because of indi- as leader of the merger of the Liberals and Theresa May’s government is the lack of per-
viduals who simply couldn’t get on. the SDP-minus-Owen, spoke with unusual sonal glue. With Damian Green and Amber
A new party is a fragile thing: there are chill to the BBC about Owen’s determination Rudd gone, May is alone, zigzagging her way
no established precedents, no institutional to keep the SDP alive, even if this destroyed solo through a blue-on-blue firestorm that
memory to hold conflicting personalities the Lib Dems: “He was not a team builder, threatens to engulf her. Whether it does or
together. Yet it is just those big, forceful poli- he couldn’t create a team, he couldn’t work not will depend as much on personalities
ticians who kick against constraints that are with a team.” That ultimately did for Owen’s as anything else. It is striking that Grieve—
tempted to create something new. They try— career in Britain, but Ashdown added “he an unusually cerebral politician—has pin-
as David Owen eventually did with his “conti- would have been president in the US.” pointed the thing that could make him walk
nuity SDP” in 1991—to create a party around Many generations have had a charismatic away from his party: not some high principle
themselves. They are Emmanuel Macrons original like Owen with a tendency to culti- on Europe but a Boris Johnson leadership.
without the supportive electoral system. vate followers rather than colleagues. Oswald Which brings us back to those homeless
Owen, whose career trajectory arcs from Mosley broke with both the Conservatives centrists. The Lib Dems have a long road
passionate European to “Leave” campaigner, and Labour, and was briefly the darling of back into voters’ hearts, so maybe it is time
has been the great disrupter of his gener- the glamorous left before the appeal of the for an ego. But the lesson of history is that
ation. He was always at odds with Roy Jen- adoring crowd led him to demagoguery. A both awkward-squad sorts like Anna Soubry
kins, the senior figure in the Gang of Four. generation before that, it was the serial split- who revel in argument, and limelight-hug-
Nor, later, could he forge a partnership with ter Joe Chamberlain who Churchill thought ging charmers like Chuka Umunna need
David Steel, the Liberal leader during the “the most live, sparkling, insurgent, compul- to be handled with care. They need to fig-
mid-80s Alliance years. This was not only sive figure in British affairs.” All these figures ure out who their Attlees and Whitelaws are.
because of the Spitting Image puppet depict- ultimately left political ruin in their wake. Then again, if the only ego on offer is John-
ing Steel in Owen’s top pocket, the very jun- Churchill himself might be seen as son, we’re in for disruption that will leave eve-
ior partner in an Owen appreciation society. the ultimate ego in 20th-century politics, ryone running for cover.
The arrogance of Owen and the mildness of and in his own words “re-ratted” between Anne Perkins is a freelance writer

Sameer Rahim

The debt we owe Naipaul

Yes, he was a flawed character, but VS Naipaul was a literary giant

n December 1950, a young Vidia But to dismiss him as a mere Islamo-
Naipaul wrote a letter from Oxford phobe is too easy. Among the Believers, his
back to his family in Trinidad. “I 1979 account of travelling in four Muslim
want to come top of my group,” countries, was published soon after the Ira-
he said, “I have got to show these nian Revolution. In this prescient work,
people that I can beat them at their own Naipaul ruthlessly identifies the contradic-
language.” By all measures of formal pub- tions inherent in Islamism: religious men
lic commendation, VS Naipaul, who died were ready to embrace western technol-
on 11th August at the age of 85, came out ogy, but not the thought that allowed it to
top of his group. He won the Booker and develop; they looked to an idealised Islamic


the Nobel Prize among many other acco- past for comfort, but comparing their pre-
lades; in 1990 he was knighted. Along with sent weakness with the west’s strength only
Chinua Achebe, he inaugurated what is brought discontent and ultimately violence.
now called post-colonial fiction. Naipaul By the time of A Bend in the River—a
leaves us 30 books written over 50 years, withering account of the self-deceptions
evenly split between fiction and non-fiction. of both the coloniser and the once-colo-
He mastered every genre, from the pun- nised—something had hardened in Nai-
gently witty stories of Trinidad street life paul. The sympathetic portrait of the
in Miguel Street (1959) and his tragi-comic “unnecessary and unaccommodated” Mr
masterpiece A House for Mr Biswas (1961), Biswas had curdled into the aphoristic cer-
to the Conradian darkness of A Bend in the tainty of the later novel’s famous opening,
River (1979). He invented a fair few gen- admired, among others, by Barack Obama:
res as well—most notably the beautifully A success obsessed with failure “The world is what it is; men who are noth-
controlled autobiographical fiction of The ing, who allow themselves to become noth-
Enigma of Arrival (1987). ment—the novel follows a character based ing, have no place in it.”
But despite his astonishing achieve- on his own father, Seepersad Naipaul, an Every writer emerging from the periph-
ments, the obituaries and social media aspiring writer perpetually short of cash. ery owes Naipaul an immense debt of
comments have been rather grudging. Though it starts slowly, the novel soon gratitude. In a time when there were no
Unlike Philip Roth, another giant of post- delivers brilliant comic sequence after clamours for “inclusivity” or “diversity,” he
war letters who died earlier this year, there comic sequence. Our flawed hero is always and his brother Shiva, also a fine novelist,
was no late flowering. His last book, the searching for a home to call his own—a clawed their way to the centre. When there
2010 travel narrative The Masque of Africa, search with wider political resonances for a were no models for how to write literary
rehashed old stereotypes about the con- descendant of Indian indentured labourers. novels about an Indian Trinidadian com-
tinent. Patrick French’s 2008 authorised Biswas’s fear of failure is overwhelming. munity, Naipaul had to invent a style. The
biography drew attention to Naipaul’s “How terrible it would have been,” Naipaul scars he suffered along the way were plain
troubled relations with women, especially writes, “to have lived without even attempt- for all to see—more often than not he was
his first wife Patricia, whom he repeatedly ing to lay claim to one’s portion of the Earth; the one who exposed them.
cheated on with prostitutes. to have lived and died as one had been born, Last month, I was at a party at Buck-
He was always ready to trash an old unnecessary and unaccommodated.” ingham Palace to mark the Man Booker
friend (Anthony Powell, Paul Theroux) or The same feeling of dislocation caused Prize’s 50th birthday. Naipaul was there,
dismiss a canonical writer (he said, loft- the author immense pain and rage—feel- enthroned on a wheelchair, staring straight
ily, that he could never share Jane Aus- ings he could only contain within the con- ahead. I bent down and told him how much
ten’s “sentimental sense of the world.”) tours of his balanced prose. In his travel his work meant to me. I tried to shake his
That in making such comments he was books he sought out others similarly hand but it was curled into a tight fist. I
often practising what West Indians called wounded by colonialism and doomed, as he assumed he could no longer speak; but
“Picong” or provocative banter was usually thought, to an inauthentic mimicry of the no, I was told, he could speak, but on this
missed when his comments were set down west. Many turned to nativism or religious occasion he was choosing not to. It was a
in bald print. fundamentalism to hide their shame. About piquant—or picong—comic moment, a last
But we shouldn’t forget that he was a such men Naipaul could be harsh, and he piece of playfulness from a man who had
great writer, and his greatest book is Bis- makes generalisations, especially about lived so long and seen so much.
was. Written between the ages of 25 and Muslims and black Africans, that will make Sameer Rahim is Prospect’s Managing Editor
28—an astonishingly precocious achieve- many readers wince. (Arts & Books)

Economic View: Diane Coyle Investment: Andy Davis

Markets vs Property No fast cars

A new book sets one of the Right’s favourite ideas against another Pension freedom pitfalls

alf a decade ago Michael In contrast, Radical Markets argues that he pensions transfer tsunami
Sandel, the political philos- individual property rights create a form of powers ahead. Savers moved
opher, struck a chord with monopoly power, entrenching inequality. £11bn in the first quarter of this
his bestseller What Money Its proposals draw inspiration from a differ- year to new pension schemes, the largest
Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits ent tradition in economics, known as mar- quarterly total since the government gave
of Markets. Sandel gave multiple examples of ket design. This sees markets as processes all over-55s the freedom to withdraw
money buying what it ought not: the right to of exchange governed by rules rather than their pension savings and do what they
name nursery schools, prison cell upgrades, simply as monetary transactions. It can fix like with them.
a fast track through airport security and markets that aren’t working properly and The former pensions minister, Steve
more. Published while the financial crisis create them from scratch where they’re Webb, grabbed much attention for
was still fresh in memory and shortly after missing. This thinking has been applied suggesting some might choose to blow it
Occupy Wall Street, Sandel’s argument that in auctions of government bonds and on a Lamborghini. But there are taxes to
the market had gone too far seemed to res- even of different parts of the radio spec- pay if you really were to blow the lot, and
onate with the left. But a decade on from trum. It has also been used in money-free in practice most of the cash is moving
the crisis, the verdict that there is too much exchanges such as matching kidney donors from gold-plated final salary pension
market is challenged by a book that argues to recipients. schemes into individual pension pots
for more—far more. In general, economists are fans of holding bonds and shares. These offer no
In Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism extending market processes to more guarantees about future income and are
and Democracy for a Just Society, Eric Posner domains, seeing carbon markets, for vulnerable to crashes.
and Glen Weyl assert that markets have not instance, as a more effective way of reduc- With “drawdown” pensions, instead
spread nearly far enough. The book has sev- ing CO2 emissions, or online platforms as of buying a fixed annual income which
eral eye-catching proposals: that digital com- a more efficient means of matching supply vanishes when you die, you keep the
panies should pay for personal data; voting and demand. But the ideas advocated in funds inside a tax-privileged wrapper
credits that would allow people to pay to cast Radical Markets clearly go further. after you retire and access them as
multiple votes on the issues they care most required. Compared with an annuity, you
about. But most significantly it argues that gain control of your money and anything
left over can be passed on. But again,
everybody would have to state their valuation
of everything they own (with exceptions for
“Hume wisely wrote, the new freedom comes with risks. In a
small items of sentimental value) and pay a property is ‘a convention crash, your nest egg can vanish, if you
wealth tax on the total. To keep things hon- enter’d into by all the live “too long” or withdraw too fast you
est, someone who put a higher value on one can run out of money.
of those possessions would have the right to members of society to In this world of freedom and insecurity,
purchase it. No individual would have any bestow stability’” one of the few certainties is that is that it
property rights. In effect, all property would pays to keep a close eye on fees. While
be held in common and there would be a per- you are paying in, managers’ charges are
petual market in everything. The book is thought-provoking. But it capped at 0.75 per cent of the fund’s
Setting aside the practical challenges, commits the error Sandel identified, of tak- total value. Since the fund tends to grow
Posner and Weyl argue that this system ing markets too far. It would be good to end as people save, this suits managers well:
has many advantages. It is a redistributive the veto some property owners have over their fees grow in proportion.
wealth tax (as the rich own the most), and new house building by limiting their own- But when people retire, there is no cap
raises a large amount of revenue, perhaps ership rights. But somewhere there is a on charges and their fund will gradually
enough to support a generous universal social limit. As the wise David Hume wrote shrink—a headache for the managers
basic income. It is also economically effi- in his Treatise of Human Nature, property is since their fees will do the same. This is
cient, allocating property to the people who “a convention enter’d into by all the mem- why average drawdown fees are higher
value it most. bers of society to bestow stability on the than when you’re paying in. But higher
This is free market thinking but not as we possession of… goods, and leave everyone fees on a shrinking pension is a terrible
know it. Most economists see property rights in the peaceable enjoyment of what he may deal. Pension freedoms sound attractive,
as the solution whereas Posner and Weyl see acquire by his fortune and industry.” Effi- but that freedom comes with risk—your
them as the problem. Since Ronald Coase, ciency is not the only criterion for the eco- pension pot might just spring a leak.
the Nobel Prize-winner revered by free mar- nomic good.
keteers, property rights have been seen as Diane Coyle is Bennett Professor of Public Andy Davis is Prospect’s Associate
essential to enable transactions. Policy at the University of Cambridge Finance Editor

A taste of the latest from Prospect online: Stephanie Boland

Feminist fix for a man-made problem

Mary Robinson’s humorous fight against climate change

ary Robinson, a former Some may bristle at that, but the gender leaders in the Trump mould who disdain it.
president of Ireland and dimension is something the UN agenda on Here in the UK, politics has become scle-
UN High Commissioner climate change recognises. It points out that rotic while Brexit dominates. Amid frenzied
for Human Rights, has environmental hazards have the worst effect news, climate change keeps being knocked
been fighting for action on on the world’s poorest, who are dispropor- down the agenda. And yet, as Higgins said,
climate change for over a decade. But now tionately female. After two tropical cyclones “Climate is one of the top priorities whatever
she’s doing it in a new way. With comedian hit Vanuatu—the sort of small Pacific nation you’re interested in. If your concern is migra-
Maeve Higgins, Robinson has created a new which stands on the frontline of the coming tion, it comes back to climate change: the
podcast, Mothers of Invention, to highlight the struggle against climate chaos—one wom- worse climate change is, the more people are
importance of tackling global warming. en’s counselling centre reported a 300 per going to be migrating.”
When I met the pair in London, Higgins cent increase in new domestic violence cases. Similarly, although Robinson admitted
pointed out that humour is a useful thing Then there was the report which found that that “we’re not in a good place globally”—
to have in the climate change conversation. women and children are 14 times more likely citing Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris
Curiosity—and a willingness to ask stupid to be injured or die during a natural disaster. Agreement—she takes comfort from the
questions—goes a long way. The UN also notes that women’s involve- fact that frameworks to make progress are
As the title suggests, there is a femi- ment in political decision-making helps still in place.
nist aspect to the podcast, which tells the deliver sustainable solutions. “I spend a lot of “At the moment, we’re not on course for
stories of people—principally women— time in Africa,” Robinson said, “and women a safe world. But if we can see it in terms of
who are leading initiatives to fight back are really on the move there.” She cited “big” what a better world could be—for health, for
against climate change. “Climate change is initiatives like a ban on plastic bags in Kenya, jobs, for our economic future…” She trailed
a man-made problem and needs a feminist instigated by a woman minister. off. “How can we possibly not care about a
solution,” Robinson said. “It isn’t gender- But how to instigate that change else- safe world for our children and grandchil-
neutral,” Higgins added. “It affects women where? In some places, the fight against cli- dren? For me, that’s incomprehensible.”
the most and the worst.” mate change is belittled by “strongman” Stephanie Boland is Head of Digital at Prospect

Stephen Collins
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The view from Stockholm: Maddy Savage

Sweden’s immigration battle

The traditionally tolerant Nordic nation is taking a hard-right turn

n one of the defining moments of the The Sweden Democrats’ neo-Nazi roots from the mainstream to the nationalist right,
last Swedish general election, the do not seem to matter. They’re framing the more liberal supporters of both the Social
country’s then prime minister and debate, forcing Sweden’s traditional political Democrats and the Moderates are now jump-
leader of the centre-right Moderate parties to toughen their tone. Cutting high ing ship. The Left Party has seen its support
Party Fredrik Reinfeldt called on unemployment levels and subsequent wel- double to 9 per cent since the last election,
Swedes to “open their hearts” to refugees and fare payments to the foreign-born population reeling in disenfranchised Social Democrat
argued that they would help to build a bet- is at the crux of the Moderates’ current cam- voters attracted to its more humanitarian
ter Sweden. The world looked on at a tradi- paign, alongside a promise to tackle the ris- approach, while the Centre Party, which has
tionally tolerant nation embracing openness. ing numbers of high-profile shootings in the campaigned against restrictions on the right
Now, as Sweden prepares to head to troubled suburbs where many immigrants to family reunification, has also picked up
the polls once again, its image is of a coun- live. On the centre-left, the Social Democrats voters from the Moderates.
try divided. Things began to shift in 2015, have pledged to continue to slash refugee In this fluid and fragmented landscape,
just a year after the last election, when the numbers and argued that Swedish lessons Sweden has a tough challenge ahead. Form-
Nordic nation took in a record 163,000 asy- should become compulsory for foreigners ing a traditional centre-right or centre-left
lum seekers. Local authorities struggled to seeking to claim benefits. government won’t be easy, with neither bloc
cope with the influx amid intense national While both sides of the mainstream have likely to have a majority and both sides ruling
debates about potential integration prob- made integration a focal point of their cam- out a coalition with the Sweden Democrats.
lems and rising support for the country’s paign, their policies remain hazy. Immigra- Potential political constellations move
anti-immigration party, the Sweden Demo- tion was something of a taboo in Swedish into view. Some of Sweden’s smaller centre-
crats. The government changed tack, slam- society in recent decades, especially among right parties could end up teaming up with
ming shut the country’s open-door policy, the middle classes. Nuanced debates about the Social Democrats. There is even talk
which had previously granted asylum to all policy just didn’t take place. The discussion of a potential German-style grand coali-
Syrian refugees. only got going when things started to spiral tion across the political mainstream. That’s
None of this has stopped the march of the out of control at the height of the refugee cri- unlikely, but conceivable as a last resort to
nationalists. After winning 13 per cent of the sis, and the Sweden Democrats were free to keep the nationalists out of power.
vote in 2014, their support swelled to around own the issue from the start. Neither situation is one that Sweden’s tra-
20 per cent, and has stayed there. Several Arguably, the fact that the nationalists are ditional big parties are keen to discuss. Even
recent polls have them running narrowly still gaining ground might suggest that voters though it is conversations not had that have
behind the centre-left Social Democrats, led looking for a harsher line on immigration still got the Sweden Democrats this far, the final
by the country’s current Prime Minister Ste- doubt the mainstream will deliver on their stretch of the battle against them looks set to
fan Löfven, which is currently on course for newly populist promises. be dominated by more political evasion.
a record low of 24 per cent. The centre-right Yet while stricter immigration policies Maddy Savage is a British journalist based in
Moderates languish in third. have done little to stem the flow of voters Stockholm

Burnt cars after recent riots in Stockholm; Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Sweden Democrats, a hard-right party with neo-Nazi roots;
Swedish footballer Jimmy Durmaz gives a statement after receiving racial abuse from fellow Swedes
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Speed data

The gap of ages

Whatever you do, don’t be young

Change in typical hourly pay since 2009

22-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 Baby boomers

-3% -1% 53%

Youth clubbed
The slump hit the pay
packets of the young 44%
hardest—and the
recovery has been
weaker for the
under-40s too 28%

Baby boomers (1946-65)

Generation X (1966-80)
he financial crisis was a disaster for Later on to the ladder
everyone, but young adults were Millennials are half as Millennials (1981-2000)
hardest hit. Those in their twen- likely as boomers to
ties were the only age group to see have bought a home Aged: 22 27 32
a pay squeeze of over 10 per cent. Ten years by the age of 30
on, as they head into their thirties, this group
still has the most ground to make up.
Even before the crisis, the young were Pushed out
slipping behind their parents in important
respects, with home-ownership in particu-
By 40, millennials
look set to spend
+3 days
extra commute per year
lar slipping out of reach. Britain’s post-war three extra days a
baby boomer generation thrived by buying year commuting to Baby boomers
young. But it’s become much harder since— work compared to
millennials today are half as likely to own boomers at that age Millennials
their home by 30 as their parents’ genera-
tion. Meanwhile, commute times are on the
up for the young. High rents and prices seem Change in weekly expenditure since 2000
to be pushing them further away from work. Make do and spend
Grumpy boomers may suspect this is all It’s not the young Consume
down to feckless youth blowing their cash on that are splurging the same 15%
fancy phones, holidays and meals out. But in on holidays and less

fact, if anyone’s burning through extra cash lunches out. The

it’s older generations. At the turn of the cen- 25-35s used to
tury young adults and older workers spent consume the same Old
Young Old Young
more or less the same. A decade and a half as the old, but
on, the young were spending 15 per cent a post-crisis the
week less than those approaching retirement. 55-65s spend 15
Those lazy clichés about avocados should be per cent more
toast. 2000 2014

The Duel

Is Donald Trump a fascist?

Talia Lavin Andrew Stuttaford


YES In the American political conver-

sation, there seems to be a divide
between those who see Trump as a sui generis
uses with regard to immigrants; with govern-
ment secrecy and barbarity; with rampant
disregard for the truth and florid, bald-faced
Puzzle your way through the often-con-
tradictory political positions that Trump
has adopted over the years, and you will not
horror—his vulgarity and brazenness arising corruption. I would argue for Occam’s razor find too much consistency beyond his dec-
like Aphrodite from sea-foam, to dominate in our language and outlook as well. Call a ades-long insistence that America is being
American political and popular culture— fascist a fascist, and check his actions before exploited by its trading partners and its allies.
and those who frustratedly point out that they can sink to the worst depths of the his- That is neither a fascist, nor always an unfair
our current leadership is drawing on innate tory of that word. viewpoint, even if it can at times curdle into
American traditions of hatred and terror that paranoia and xenophobia. It’s also worth
date back to the country’s inception. Broadly, noting that he has typically taken a hard-
one can call these two schools: “We’re better line stance on crime and illegal immigra-
than this,” and “Well—no, we’re not.” tion. These two topics have been legitimate
I’m in the latter camp. You don’t have to causes of concern, but as we saw in 2016 they
look too far to find the roots of the current contain plenty of potential for a media-savvy
administration. Look how the civil rights political entrepreneur and his dog whistle.
of black people are today continually, bru- Trump has an ear for a good catchphrase.
tally violated. Just look at the Bush-era tor- “America First” has a shabby past, which
ture programme’s architects, all of them he must have known, but in addition he will
unpunished. If you do look further back, the have known that, to an electorate not famous
ghosts of the lynched and the mass graves for its knowledge of history, those two words
of genocide lurk in the American psyche; could be repackaged as a declaration of
the descendants of those who perpetrated uncomplicated patriotism, nothing more. To
these crimes walk among us. But some- deploy them was not sinister, but tasteless,
thing doesn’t have to be uniquely terrible, or
unprecedented, to be ghastly. And the cur-
rent administration has long ago earned its
NO “Fascism” once had a reasonably
precise meaning, shaped by refer-
ence to specific ideas, policies and regimes.
something that will not have worried Trump.
That is a priority with disturbing conse-
quences, but fascism will not be one of them.
role as inheritor to the worst instincts and But, as early as 1944, George Orwell was
actions of American history.
It’s no accident that Trump has enthusias-
tically adopted slogans that echo authoritar-
complaining that it was a term used in ways
that had degraded it to little more than a
“swearword.” Nearly 75 years later that is
YES There are many insults you can
use to describe Donald Trump,
his ridiculous appearance or the cesspit of
ian and crypto-fascist movements of the past. still the case. After all, as insults go, “fascist” his character. But “fascist” is not an insult
“America First,” a Trumpian refrain, was the works very well. in this case; it’s a descriptor, and a necessary
slogan of US Nazi sympathisers in the 1930s. Donald Trump (for whom I did not vote) and accurate one.
“Enemy of the People,” when referring to the is many things, many of them disreputa- The Italian writer Emilio Gentile wrote
press, was a favourite epithet of Stalin’s. It’s ble—or worse—but to label him a fascist is about the “myths, rituals and symbols” of
not as if these historical echoes are secret, or not only misleading, but credits this former fascism, saying it created a kind of secu-
as if Google is blocked in the White House. Democrat, former independent and cur- lar cult, aiming to “abolish the boundaries
Occam’s razor suggests, therefore, that they rent Republican with a degree of intellectual between the religious and political spheres.”
are intentional: of a piece with the dehuman- coherence, however appalling, that he simply The sight of red-hatted crowds cheering
ising rhetoric of “infestation” that Trump does not possess. Trump at one of his rallies evokes this secular

cultishness. It is a crude kind of worship caught crossing the border illegally. Children deportations, violent deterrence, restric-
practised by the cult of Trump, with its own cannot legally be incarcerated, thus the cal- tion of visas, police terror and voter disen-
symbols and catchphrases. Indeed the name lous resort to separations. Yet, following pro- franchisement. This is a presidency of racist
“Trump” is wielded as a weapon all over the tests, the policy was abandoned. A judge then white fear and rage—anyone who knows any-
US against racial and religious minorities, as ordered the administration to return the chil- thing about America knows it is a mistake to
schoolteachers have noted in particular. dren to their families. In some 80 per cent of underestimate that force, a force I’m happy
Trump’s dog-whistle racism was a central the cases it has done so. The failure to reunite to call fascist.
feature of his campaign. But as president he the remainder is a result of bureaucratic fail-
has eased off, except when he wants to dom-
inate the news cycle. Instead, with the help
of like-minded aides, he sets the hounds on
ure and a horrifying lack of empathy: their
parents had been deported. NO As Nuremberg rallies go, the mid-
August “Unite the Right” march in
Washington DC, to mark the anniversary of
people he disfavours, primarily immigrants.
His “Muslim ban,” though initially struck
down by courts, was reinstated and upheld
YES Merely because the courts have—
just—held in check the worst
instincts of our racist demagogue of a presi-
last year’s lethal disturbances in Charlottes-
ville, was a flop. Maybe two dozen people
showed up. There is no “national crisis” in
by the judicial system, leading to countless dent doesn’t mean we’re not in a moment of the sense that you mean.
US residents being cut off from relatives in genuine national crisis. (It should be noted It is true, disgustingly, that a handful
other countries. Much worse was the barbaric that Trump is doing his best to stack the judi- of neo-Nazis are running on the Republi-
policy of separating children from their par- ciary, including the Supreme Court, with can ticket (they have been disavowed by the
ents at the border, and imprisoning children nominees.) The fact that public outcry and party). These were in overwhelmingly Dem-
in inadequate and even improvised facilities. lawsuits could mitigate some of the damage ocratic districts that no Republican of any
This revealed a staggering lack of humanity. done by a hideous policy of family separation type would have any chance of winning.
Even now, in defiance of a court dead- doesn’t mean the instincts that gave rise to it There was minimal turnout—the North Car-
line, 572 children have been functionally are any less cruel, or that the minds behind it olina nominee was picked with 824 votes—
orphaned by the US government, which will not continue to inflict violence on those careless vetting and administrative mess-ups.
has no plan for reuniting these families. An who can least resist it. In that Illinois “race” too there was only one
administration willing to create such direc- Republican nominee.
tives—and in command of forces willing to To be sure, the Republicans will put up
carry them out—is not flippantly called fas- with other oddballs on their slate, as will the
cist, per Orwell’s worries. It is one whose Democrats, and, yes, Trump is adept with a
innate fascism long ago began to reveal itself. dog whistle. But, however unpleasant that
may be, it is more means than end. This

NO Sure, fascism operates as a kind

of political religion, as does Com-
munism. But those are ideologies of total
is not some sort of return to Jim Crow, or
anything like it. Rather, it is part of a more
direct assertion of America’s national inter-
immersion. It would have been absurd to est, together with populism, and, of course,
watch the distinctly worshipful adulation of always, there is the self-promotion of Don-
Obama in 2008 and conclude that Bolshe- ald J Trump.
vism was on the march. It is no less absurd Trump’s agenda features tougher
to look at cheering “red-hatted crowds” and enforcement of immigration law. The votes
tremble at the thought of Il Duce redux. As for dismissing emboldened racists as are not there for the substantive reform
You maintain that Trump’s name is a “fringe,” this should be done carefully in that Trump favours—switching to a merit-
wielded against minorities “all over the US,” America—we have a dismal history of pure, based system on roughly Canadian lines.
and cite the claims made by schoolteach- unfettered white supremacy. This year, sev- Enforcement of democratically passed laws
ers. Well, despite those claims, the Centers eral open neo-Nazis are running, or have is hardly shocking, but enforcement should
for Disease Control and Prevention found no run, for elected office, from California to Illi- be tempered with humanity, and there
increase in bullying between 2015 and 2017. nois to North Carolina—all on the Republi- Trump more than Obama—no saint in this
That is not to deny that there were incidents can ticket. The “Jewish question” has arisen respect—falls short.
or to downplay them. Nor is it to deny that, repeatedly among these candidates. The guardrails of American democ-
beyond the schoolyard, Trump’s rise gave a This is no coincidence: the tone is set at racy are holding, the judiciary is not being
noisy racist fringe a sense of empowerment, the top. Trump, for all his crudeness, under- “stacked” and, in November’s midterm elec-
but to see this as evidence that fascism is on stands how to exploit racial fault lines. Wit- tions, the president will almost certainly lose
its way is a mistake. ness his war against NFL athletes protesting the House—with results he will not enjoy.
Turning to immigration, the so-called against police violence. “Most of them want The authoritarian streak I referred to
“Muslim ban,” a crudely drawn anti-terror- to show their ‘outrage’ over something most earlier is real enough, but there is no drift
ism measure, was introduced with a careless- of them can’t define,” he says repeatedly, as if to fascism.
ness and—there is no getting away from this they have not explained eloquently that they Talia Lavin is a journalist based in New York
administration’s authoritarian instincts—a are protesting against racist violence. Andrew Stuttaford is a contributing editor of
callousness that proved self-defeating. After This racial demagoguery extends to National Review
pressure from the courts, the ban was weak- Trump’s closest aides; Stephen Miller and
ened. It was diluted further by the Supreme Lee Cissna are working to denaturalise citi-
Court. Checks and balances still work. zens, restrict legal immigration, and terrorise Is Donald Trump a fascist?
You mentioned the separation of migrant an undocumented populace of millions. All Vote now on our Twitter poll:
children from their families. This happened this is intended, as Laura Ingraham put it on prospectmagazine.co.uk/issues/
under Bush and Obama, but on nothing Fox News, to prevent “demographic change” september-2018
remotely like the same scale. What mainly that scares the aging white majority. There Last month we asked Prospect readers
changed matters was the Trump administra- is no way to prevent demographic change Should big tech be broken up?
tion’s decision to start prosecuting “all” those and its political consequences without mass They answered: Yes 67% No 33%
5 – 6 October
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One state
One of the few things that most Israelis and
Palestinians can agree on is that the old dream
of a two-state solution is fading. Diplomats
mouth the mantra with less and less conviction.
But how to revise, or replace, the old blueprint?
A single state, with equal rights for all, is
controversial—where would it leave the Jewish
state, or the cherished promise of Palestinian
independence? But after 25 years of failure,
the world needs to engage with new ideas for
achieving a resolution.

Download and listen to Prospect’s free podcast

at: prospectmagazine.co.uk, iTunes, or
wherever you get your podcasts. Our writers
discuss the challenge of bringing peace to the
Holy Land. Is it time for a radical plan?

Two states of

In 1993 Israel and the Palestinians signed only way to keep our nation secure. But before the first Intifada
began in 1987, waking many Israelis up to the injustices of occu-
the Oslo peace accords, the first step pation, we were among the very few people in Israeli politics to
down a path that it was hoped would lead insist that no enduring resolution to the conflict in our region
could be imposed by force alone, and to call instead for a nego-
to two independent states living in peace, tiated two-state solution. It wasn’t easy: we were called traitors,
side-by-side. A quarter of a century on, well poisoners, Trojan horses and more.
But within a few short years, what we had called for—what
that dream is shattered beyond repair and we had been told was impossible—became Israeli policy. What’s
Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the more, it had been agreed to by the Palestinians themselves.
On a sunny September day in Washington, Yitzhak Rabin,
Knesset and chair of the Jewish Agency the Israeli prime minister, and Yasser Arafat, the leader of
for Israel, proposes a bold new plan: a one- the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, shook hands in the
White House Rose Garden. The two men agreed to a process of
state solution mutual recognition, which the world understood would one day

lead to two separate states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace
any years ago, my friends and I were lonely side-by-side.
voices. It was a time of hubris, of outright Israeli So what an irony that today I find myself charged with the dif-
denial that peace was our best strategic alter- ficult task of telling Israel and the world something else that it
native. Since 1967 Israel had occupied Palestin- doesn’t want to hear: that the two-state solution is dead. A quar-
ian territory, telling ourselves that this was the ter of a century on from the Oslo Accords, the two-state solution

“Israel started building its great wall

before Donald Trump ever had the idea”

lies in tatters. There is no peace process. There is very The pre-condition to moving things forward is not
little hope left. And yet somehow, we must still find a negotiation, in the old sense of one side swapping some
way for Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side, cards for the other’s, but rather one side—the Israelis—
with equal rights within a single international border. becoming ready to relinquish some of the deck of cards
It is time for a progressive one-state solution. I accept on which it has an exclusive grip. Only then can we start
that this view is as unpopular among Israelis today thinking about moving from a monopolised space to a
as the two-state solution was long ago. But, as I shall shared one, as we know in our hearts we must one day
explain, it is our only hope. do if we are to enjoy the real security that can only come
through a just and durable peace.
But we seem to have less readiness the for requi-
HOW THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION DIED site compromises than ever before, as has been made

wo states may once have been wildly contro- abjectly clear by Netanyahu’s new quasi-constitu-
versial, but it has long since become a plati- tional Nation State of the Jewish People law, which was
tude. We mouth the mantra without stopping passed in July. It elevates long-standing day-to-day dis-
to ask whether it had already passed its expiration crimination into a formal ethnic hierarchy, by asserting
date. Where once the formula was a practical possibil- that “the right to exercise national self-determination
ity, and the best prospect for peace that we had, today in the state of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”
it is a hollow phrase. It provides a refuge for dishon- This shows contempt not only for the people of the
est people, like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, occupied territories, but also for the Israeli Arabs who
who refuse to countenance making the real sacrifices we used to like to claim as co-equal citizens.
it would inevitably require. Netanyahu still pays lip service to the two-state solu-
It is often said it takes two to tango, but two states tion—mouthing the phrase doesn’t cost him a thing. But
just won’t happen unless one tangos first: Israel. For he wilfully refuses to develop any strategy that could
this is not a conflict between equals. In the dishonest make it happen, so when he says the words it is noth-
blame game we eternally play, all pious Israeli patri- ing but a cynical evasion. Netanyahu is, in practice, an
ots like to think in terms of a 50-50 share of responsi- arch conservative who simply wants to defend Israel’s
bility with the Palestinians. But if—a big if—this were position of dominance for now, and put off the whole

ever true, it is certainly not true today. question of the conflict so that it becomes someone else’s
Try to forget the past. Whatever the historic mis- problem to deal with down the road. In the meantime,
takes of the Palestinian side, they cannot justify Isra- he deepens our country’s racialised character.
el’s wrongdoing in the here and now. For the conflict And yet, with all of this going on, because we hear
is today—fundamentally—one between the privileged that “two state” phrase all the time, too many of us
and the deprived. Israel now enjoys 100 per cent of Israelis kid ourselves that a two-state solution still is—
the privileges between the Jordan River and the Med- and always will be—an option. That matters for our
iterranean Sea. Freedoms, resources, power, politi- standing in the eyes of the world, and it matters, too,
cal rights and industrial clout: all of these things are because it makes us feel that at some point, somehow, in
monopolised by us. some entirely unspecified manner, a way will be found

to draw a line under the conflict. We can entertain that soothing certain that “they,” all Palestinians, hate Israel. The sourness of
thought without doing anything about it. What we can’t do, how- Netanyahu and his cabinet ministers, as well as the suspicious-
ever, is hope to make it a reality. ness of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah col-
For the two-state solution is, quite simply, no longer viable. leagues, a tired bunch often more interested in entrenching their
Why not? Because the long-dominant Israeli right, with the active own position internally than in really moving things on, are an
if tacit support of successive Labor leaders, has changed the facts obstacle to concrete change.
on the ground. In sum, everything—the political geography of the settlements,
For one thing, numbers matter. Israel was able to push the deepening split between Gaza and the West Bank, the nation-
through a withdrawal—of sorts—from Gaza in 2005 and deal with alist turn of politics—is now pushing against a two-state solu-
the practical consequences of bringing the settlers there back into tion, and the compromises from Israel that would require. It is no
Israel proper because they numbered in the thousands. Back in longer on the table. We won’t move forward until we face the truth
the 1990s, when West Bank settlers were still counted in tens, about that.
rather than hundreds of thousands, it might still, had it mustered
the political will, have been able to withdraw from there too, and
so cleared the way for a viable a Palestinian state. But no longer.

Those settlers, who now number around 400,000, can vote for srael can try to forget the occupation, and in day-to-day life it
the Knesset—entirely unlike the two million or so Palestinian sometimes succeeds. But running away from this argument
adults living under occupation in the West Bank, the overwhelm- is morally irresponsible. It debases a real democracy into the
ing majority of Arabs in East Jerusalem or anyone living in Gaza. sham of an “ethnic democracy.” In an uncertain world, where the
And the settlers form an increasingly powerful bloc, even before politics of a declining America are increasingly mercurial, contin-
you consider their family and friends within Israel proper who uing with an occupation that most of the world condemns leaves
may also vote in their interest. you lonely, and so carries strategic risk. Looking forward 100 years
in this part of the world is not easy: try to do so, and some things
are frightening, and many things are always unclear, but they
“Everything is now pushing against become much more so without a plan for a just peace.
a two-state solution and the So if two states are no longer an option, we need to start talk-
ing about how we can allow Israelis and Palestinians to co-exist in
compromises from Israel that it a single state. Today we already have one version of the one-state
would require” solution, the Greater Israel dream of the right, which involves a
single state which is—as now—beset by discrimination. But my
own proposal comes from a very different place—the idea that we
Furthermore, of course, Gaza has taken its own ugly turn can create a single state that treats all its citizens equally.
during the last decade of separate Hamas rule, sundering the Think of our political structure as a building with three levels.
putative Palestinian state. Even more fundamentally, the mood The first storey—the foundation—of the new building contains the
for compromise within Israel, as across so much of the planet, principles upon which the entire future state will be built. Every
has passed. Back in the 1990s, walls seemed to be coming down person between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is
worldwide: the Soviet Empire spluttered out, and the old iron entitled to the same equal rights—personal, political, economic
curtain countries were being integrated into the west; apartheid and social. They include the right to protection and security, equal
was negotiated away; peace was being brokered between deadly treatment, freedom of movement, property, judicial recourse and
enemies in segregated Northern Ireland. Amid the bloodshed the right to vote for, and be elected to, public office. Regardless of
of the first Intifada, Israelis were forced every day to confront your citizenship, Israeli or Palestinian, you will be bound by the
the reality that they, too, were living amid another conflict; same constitutional framework and principles and entitled to the
and the way the world was going suggested that the way out of same fundamental liberties, without discrimination based on eth-
that was compromise. But now—post-9/11, post-Iraq, post-7/7, nicity, faith or national affiliation.
with Europe struggling to keep its borders down, and national- The middle level of our building will be divided between
ism everywhere on the rise—we live in a different age; the walls the tenants: an agreed-upon, logical division and separation
are back. between the two self-identifying collective groups in the form of
Nowhere is that more true than Israel, which started build- two self-governing polities. There will be different ways of split-
ing its great wall before Donald Trump ever had the idea, and ting things up—with, say, more or less devolution to individual
which has developed considerable skill in using aggressive secu- regions or cities, and more or less regard paid to where Arabs
rity to keep the deep conflict over its land from intruding on the and Jews actually live, as opposed to the historic green line. But
day-to-day life of its citizens. It is less “two states,” more two par- all of this is second order, and should be soluble, once the princi-
allel universes. ple of self-government built atop of shared and universal rights
Meaningful words have long been palpably absent from the of citizenship is agreed.
peace enterprise, but—more than that—the whole melody is Each self-governing community (or “nation”) will express the
adversarial in tone. If talks ever were to result in a peace agree- respective aspirations and values of the Israelis and the Pales-
ment, it would be a peace tinged with suspicion and hostility. tinians, in its own allotted space and as it sees fit in accordance
Many Palestinians are convinced that every Israeli is either a with its own traditions. Like individual American states or the
West Bank settler or a soldier, because the shared spaces between Scottish nation within the UK, each community will be free to
the two peoples have now shrivelled to the point where these are pursue its own domestic social policy within this middle level.
the only Israelis they will ever encounter. And many Israelis are But more than that, again mindful of its own traditions, each
Supporters of an inclusive one-state Greater Jerusalem, which is very
solution tend to agree on the basic diverse and includes the east of the city
principles—a state where all citizens which Israel annexed in 1980, might
enjoy the same political rights. But when need to have a special status. Settling
it comes to the details of how it would that would be fraught. And the Federation
work there are competing plans. Movement’s plan leaves Gaza to one side,
Burg favours a union of two “nations,” as a separate entity. That locks a Jewish Nazareth
but there is an arguably even more majority into the new single state, but

radical plan, outlined in the map here, offers scant hope to the most desperate
mooted by the Federation Movement, part of the Palestinian population.
which is backed by several prominent
Israelis. Modelled on the US, with its 50
individual states, the new nation would
be formed of 30 cantons—20 with a
Jewish majority, 10 with an Arab (or
Druze) majority. Each would manage its Tel Aviv
own internal affairs, on both sides of the
“Green Line” which currently separates
the occupied West Bank from Israel
proper, while a federal constitution would
guarantee the rights for all.

Gaza City



Jewish majority
Arab majority
Druze majority
Greater Jerusalem JORDAN
Gaza Strip




of our “nations” will have some room to conduct its own rela-
tions with the rest of the world.
But we cannot stop building there. Because the hostilities and
violent frictions of the past could return at any time, constant co-
ordination between the tenants is essential. And so a third storey
will have to be constructed for that purpose—a superstructure, A Palestinian perspective
joining both our polities in a federation. The federation of Israel
and Palestine will direct its attention both inward and outward.
Using the powers accorded to it by the twin communities of Israel

and Palestine, the government of the central federation will also here is little doubt that ultimately Palestinian Arabs
have the muscle to be the back-stop enforcer of the constitutional and Israeli Jews will have to find a way to live together
system in the territory between the Jordan River and the Medi- in the same land, undivided by borders. Whether this
terranean Sea. would be an undivided single state, or a federation of some
After all, there will never be quiet and reconciliation here sort, will have to be worked out through an arrangement that
unless a language of common values can be created. A murderer is viable and agreeable to both sides. Until then the “one-
state solution” remains more of a slogan than a programme,
in one community must be considered a murderer in the other. We
something to be further developed before this future attractive
have had enough of the intolerable situation in which the same act
prospect can ever become a reality.
is considered a heinous crime on one side and a supreme expres-
Even though there is rough parity between the numbers of
sion of patriotism on the other. Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs living in historic Palestine,
as matters now stand it is the Israeli state that dominates the
“The ideal of inclusive and equal entire land—exploiting it as its own, and privileging the Israeli
Jewish citizens. When one farmer in the South Hebron hills,
citizenship for everybody who where the settlers are doing all they can to drive out local
Palestinians [such as him], was asked whether the settlers
lives across this small and war- can stay, he responded that as far as he was concerned they
weary corner of the Earth is a could, but he added a rider. “There is plenty of room, but only
on condition that they act like human beings.”
noble and inspiring vision” As long as Israel reigns supreme, and can violate
Palestinians’ rights to the land and discriminate against them
with impunity—whether they be disenfranchised people
While each state will collect taxes from its own citizens and living under occupation, or Palestinians living as citizens
maintain its own institutions, their infrastructure will be co-ordi- within Israel itself—there is little likelihood that the present
nated. The federal administration will ensure that water sources reality will change. Without outside pressure allied with fresh
from the mountains are shared with the lowlands, that rivers are thinking, we are unlikely to get any closer towards finding an
kept clean for their entire length. If water and other resources equitable way to share the land.
are controlled from the top for the good of all, then many of the Raja Shehadeh is a Palestinian lawyer and an award-winning
questions about which community gets to control every last slope author; he is currently based in Ramallah in the West Bank
and scrap of land will become less fraught. The federation will
see to it, too, that road signs should use the languages of all the
region’s drivers; the same in both Netanya and Nablus, with the
aim being—as with an interstate American highway—to connect
people, rather than keeping them apart.
It is also on the federal level that the co-ordination of asylum
and immigration policy will have to be settled, including the rights
of return for both Jews and Palestinians. Vis-à-vis the outside
world, beyond the historical region between the Jordan and the
Mediterranean, a successful Israeli-Palestinian federation could
in time evolve into a framework that other political entities could
join in a sort of regional union, although only for those polities
that could accept the obligations deriving from the democratic
and constitutional principles of the building’s foundation floor.
The proposed building attempts to solve most of the issues on

the agenda, but not all. Those who hanker after an integrated sin-
gle state will find only partial satisfaction in the federal structure.
Advocates of a two-state solution will find some of their wishes
addressed in the middle level, while those dedicated to individual
rights will get partial satisfaction as reflected in the binding con-
stitutional infrastructure.
That’s all fine, the cynics will say, but what about security? I Palestinians run away from tear gas fired by
would respond to the cynics with cynicism: “Do you agree with Israeli forces during a “Great March of Return”
everything else? When we accomplish everything else, it will be demonstration near the Israel-Gaza border

a lot easier to deal with security issues.” And to those Jews and Palestinians, working together—must be ready
delving more deeply, I would pose a question of my own. to confront those, also both Jews and Palestinians, who
Did anyone ever think open borders between Germany cannot. None of us can any longer afford shelter behind
and France were possible? Peace between Spain and polite fictions about a peace process that processes
the Netherlands, or reconciliation between Russia and nothing, indeed a process that doesn’t exist.
Germany? When the environment changes, so do the
threats, and so does one’s perspective on security.
To everyone else I will say this. Have faith that we

are strong; that we can afford to abandon a strategy of he 1948 Declaration of Independence established
fear, and move to a perspective of trust. If I’m wrong, Israel as a “Jewish state.” This has always been
we won’t be any worse off than before. And if I’m right, the biggest obstacle to the idea of a single state—
then the current obsession with security will change how can it be both Jewish and, if non-Jewish votes are
so much as to be unrecognisable. As indeed it recently to enjoy their full weight, also democratic? In the early
changed in response to Iraq’s disintegration, Syria’s years of the State, the concept of “Jewish” was more civil
fragmentation and Egypt’s decline, so it will change and cultural. Today it has a different interpretation that
dramatically again in the face of a Palestinian-Israeli is more religious and nationalistic. As a result, Israel has
partnership that will be completely different from any- de facto two sources of authority: the democratic and
thing we have ever known. the theocratic, colliding and contradicting each other
constantly. Furthermore, one resident does not equate
to one vote, since it has been decided in advance that the
THE ROAD TO ONE STATE votes of one ethnicity are bound to prevail. The federa-

ow will we get there? In theory, the argument tive formula I am proposing, of two self-governing com-
should not be such a hard sell. It would start munities working within one federation, can solve that
from the assumption that our fates, Israeli and seemingly intractable problem.
Palestinian, are intertwined and that it is ultimately use- Politically, it will undoubtedly require some of the
less to ignore reality. Cancers left untreated on one side Israeli political continents to move. The left, or parts of
send secondary growths to the other, and there isn’t a it, has to depart from the Zionist paradigm, and move
wall in the world that can stop them. into a more inclusive paradigm. Israel must belong to all
But given current Israeli politics, this is a formi- of its residents, including Arabs, not to the Jews alone.
dably challenging sell. It is easier to foresee that the Then we can forge the new and creative alliances that
argument for a just single state will ultimately have to will be required to really move things. On the Israeli Arab
prevail, than to envisage how it will do so. The process side, those who believe in integration within general
of getting there could turn out to be painful. One pos- Israeli society must prevail over the separatists, in order
sibility is that we shall slide slowly into a new conversa- to create a real bridge between the two communities.
tion, as the situation gradually deteriorates towards a Some on the right, like President Reuven Rivlin are
point where it is so stark that one state is the only via- dedicated territorialists, but also sincere democrats.
ble way forward, that can no longer duck debate about They are dedicated to comprehensive human rights,
what sort of state that will be. which means they are potential partners in building
Another disturbing possibility is that we will be a single state. Wiser Palestinians—intellectuals and
jolted out of our current complacency by a shock or activists alike—are also increasingly pressing more for
a trauma. All the big moments in Israeli history have the right to vote, rather than for an independent state
responded to trauma—the 1973 war led to a strategic purely for the sake of having one.
peace with Egypt, while the first Intifada gave birth to A combination of these three—a new Israeli left, the
the Oslo Accords. Or maybe, instead, someone—per- democratic Israeli right, plus new and courageous Pal-
haps from the right—will pass a Knesset resolution that estinian thinkers and leaders—might sound unlikely.
clarifies realities, by calling for the official annexation But in time it could be formed into a coalition which
of the West Bank, just as we did with Jerusalem and the just might begin to crack the ice.
Golan Heights. It will certainly not happen overnight. We might have
But how much better it would be if we could get there to cross troubled waters. And we might well have to park
without trauma, by fixing our politics instead. In par- for a while longer in that dead-end street called “Two
ticular, we need to overcome the partition wall between States.” But the ideal of inclusive and equal citizenship
Jews and Arabs—not only physically, but also figura- for everybody who lives across this small and war-weary
tively in terms of politics. We cannot and should not corner of the Earth is a noble and inspiring vision. It also
leave the Arab society in Israel as an alien and perpetual offers a way ahead, as it becomes more and more obvi-
opposition bloc in the Knesset, but must work together ous that the old routes into the future are running out
across ethnic lines. We need to stand shoulder to shoul- of road. If we can find the guile and the courage to take
der, within Israel proper, and then in the Palestinian it, we can transform our iconic conflict into an iconic
territories too. The outmoded and ossified parties, in symbol of reconciliation that will inspire other warring
Palestine as well as Israel, need to be opened up to chal- nations and states to find their own way out of the quag-
lenge, by those who are unafraid to see the country they mire of hatred and animosity.
are living in as it really is. Those of us with eyes to see it— Avraham Burg is an Israeli politician and former Knesset speaker

a vision
Donald Macintyre, reporting from the the vegetables,” but “disastrous” for his wheat and olives. And he
is determined to resist being forced, as if it were a once in a gener-
West Bank, explains how the old dream of ation event, to carry his own youngest son on his shoulders from
two states is slipping beyond reach his birthplace. “I won’t do it,” he says.
Whether he will succeed in resisting is another matter. Susiya is

in “Area C”—the mainly rural 60 per cent of Occupied Palestinian
itting with Nasser Nawaja and his father Moham- Territory under direct Israeli military control. A significant minor-
med on the floor of his flimsy wood-framed shack at ity of the Palestinians, estimated at 300,000, live here together
Susiya, in the rocky, windswept South Hebron hills, with the vast majority—around 400,000—of all the Israeli settlers.
you sense how the history of the last 70 years is bound Area C is easily the biggest territorial chunk of an independent
up in their journey here—short though it was by the future Palestine, so without it there is not going to be the two-state
standards of many Palestinian families. In 1948, Mohammed, peace deal that the international community has long espoused.
then aged two, was carried on his father’s shoulders as they But ultra-nationalist members of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coa-
walked four miles north to flee advancing Israeli forces, like lition want to see much or all of it unilaterally annexed by Israel.
over 700,000 other refugees who lost their homes in what is now If Susiya is demolished, it will be yet another case of the creeping
Israel. Susiya was just across what would become the 1949 armi- de facto annexation which hard-right ministers want to formal-
stice line, in the West Bank, which after the first great round of ise. Since a plausible Palestinian state would require settlements
fighting stopped was controlled by Jordan. to be dislodged, their expansion makes a peace deal correspond-
But after the 1967 Six Day War, the West Bank—along with ingly more difficult.
Gaza and East Jersualem—was occupied by Israel, paving the way Since its last move, Susiya’s story has been one of demolitions,
for the settlers. And so, in 1986, it was the toddler Nasser’s turn to settler violence, damage to Palestinian property, expulsion orders,
be carried on Mohammed’s shoulders from his birthplace. Three and ultimately vain appeals to the Israeli courts. In international
years after the establishment of a nearby Jewish settlement, the law, the settlement—like all those in the West Bank—is illegal. But
Palestinian residents were ordered by the Israeli military to leave in Israeli law, Susiya’s Palestinian residents are caught in a clas-
to make way for an Israeli archaeological park around the ancient sic Area C trap. The ostensible reason for the Susiya demolition
ruins of a synagogue; no matter that a mosque had also existed orders is that the residents, forcibly transferred over 30 years ago,
there since the 10th century. The families constructed a new, built their present dwellings without permits, which is true. But
makeshift Susiya, where today its 240 residents remain squeezed it is virtually impossible for Palestinian residents—unlike Israeli
precariously, between two Israeli-imposed “security zones,” which settlers—to secure such permits. Between 2000 and 2014, 2,020
exclude them from much of their previous land. To Susiya’s north Palestinians embarked on the heavily bureaucratised process of
is that archaeological park; to its south are the red-roofed settle- applying to the Israeli authorities for building permits. Just 33
ment houses, homes to 950 Jewish residents, with their own syn- were granted. Dismantling Palestinian Susiya would be a symbolic
agogue, community centre and swimming pool. It could expand but logical extension of the discriminatory process which many
again without fuss, if the only Palestinian residents were once are saying has already killed the two-state solution.
again uprooted.
Which is just what the Israeli authorities intend. Israel’s mil-
itary has court authority to demolish seven of the ramshackle

dwellings, the first step in a process to move the Palestinians from sraeli-controlled Area C was never supposed to last. It’s a
their land to the impoverished West Bank city of Yatta. But the hangover from the Oslo accords, the first of which prompted
Nawajas have been fellahin, peasant farmers, in the area for gen- the famous handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Ara-
erations—the very way of life, along with their land, that they are fat on the White House lawn 25 years ago this September. It’s easy
now under military orders to abandon. Nasser is an activist; but to forget the excitement and hope the accord generated among
also a farmer to his fingertips. When we last met back in the late millions of Israelis and Palestinians. It was designed to lead to a
spring, he broke off to worry aloud about the heavy rain beating lasting peace between the two peoples by 1999. But supposed to
unseasonably on the nylon roof above us—it might be “good for be an interim staging post, Oslo became the endpoint.
“‘How can you be an occupier
in your own country?’ is the
rhetorical question posed by
one Israeli minister”

A member of the Establishing a Palestinian Authority with heavily against the accords by the Israeli right, including the
Palestinian circumscribed autonomy in the cities, Israel rid itself present Prime Minister Netanyahu. And in November
security forces of any obligation regarding the welfare, education 1995, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing fanatic as
in Susiya and other essential services for the Palestinians, with- he left a Tel Aviv peace rally.
out sacrificing its overall control of the occupied terri- Whether or not Oslo would have led to a two-state
tories. As Yossi Beilin, the Labour politician who was solution had Rabin lived, without his lustre and personal
the accord’s key Israeli architect told me, “the problem authority as a general and war hero, the chances were
with Oslo is not that it’s dead but that’s it alive.” greatly reduced. Immediately after the White House
The agreement was always flawed. For one thing, signing, Beilin—acting alone—had opened secret talks
it gave Israel carte blanche to continue building settle- overseen by himself and Arafat’s deputy Mahmoud
ments in occupied territory in (what has proved to be Abbas, to produce the blueprint for a full two-state
an indefinite) interim period. Opposition mounted. agreement. That was achieved, with tragic timing, in
Hamas rejected the agreement and unleashed a spate October 1995; Beilin, temporarily abroad, intended to
of suicide bombings, after a Hebron settler, Baruch put it to Rabin early the following month as the basis for
Goldstein, murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers in the completing negotiations. Ahmad Khalidi and Hussein
Ibrahim mosque, the site, holy to both Jews and Arabs, Agha, the two Palestinians who had done the detailed
of Abraham’s tomb. There was virulent incitement negotiation of the outline agreement, travelled to

Gaza on 1st November and secured Arafat’s parallel assent. But It was hardly an impossible dream, so how has it come to be
on 4th November, Rabin was killed. regarded as unattainable? One factor is the shrinking of Beilin’s
Beilin thinks that Shimon Peres, who immediately succeeded centre-left peace camp in Israel’s domestic politics. Most Israelis
Rabin, made a serious error by refusing to make the two-state said they favoured—and still do—a two-state deal. But they blame
blueprint the centrepiece of his 1996 election campaign. “He the Palestinians for the failure of the Barak-Arafat Camp David
said I can only do this once I have a personal mandate, and not talks in 2000, then the subsequent, second intifada, as well as the
before,” recalled Beilin. Instead Peres lost the election to Netan- doomed Ehud Olmert-Abbas talks of 2008. But some American—
yahu—who brought the post-Oslo process to a halt. and in the case of Camp David—also Israeli officials disputed this
apportionment of responsibility. Israel always took more account
“Likud has never scrapped its own of its own strident anti-deal minority, than of the Palestinian belief
that Arafat’s “historic compromise” of 1988, ratified at Oslo, set-
founding document claiming a tling for 22 per cent of historic Palestine, left scant room for fur-
‘Greater Israel’ from the Jordan to ther concessions. Nonetheless, the Israelis spun—and came to
believe—that there was “no partner for peace.”
the Mediterranean” A similar narrative embedded itself in the Israeli psyche
after Ariel Sharon’s withdrawal of 8,500 settlers from the
Two state diplomacy did not permanently stop—it resumed, Gaza Strip in 2005. Disengagement from Gaza potentially
after Ehud Barak’s 1999 defeat of Netanyahu. Yet the paradox set a momentous precedent. But Sharon was determined to
of the next quarter century was that, as the basic contours of a act unilaterally, denying Abbas a political dividend—which
two-state solution became progressively clearer, the prospect of might have helped him win the fateful 2006 elections against
it became more elusive. Partition would return to what it had Hamas—and refusing to link the move to any wider peace plan.
been between 1949 and 1967: 78 per cent of historic Palestine And disengagement—by design, and in contradiction to ear-
would be Israel’s, and 22 per cent the Palestinians’. lier deals—started to separate Gaza from its markets in Israel
A land swap would probably allow a couple of the biggest and the West Bank. After Hamas seized full control of Gaza in
Jewish settlement blocs to be sited within Israel while the other 2007, that separation rapidly accelerated, halting all exports
settlers would be evacuated. There would be a capital for both and destroying Gaza’s economy. But the Israeli right—again
states in Jerusalem, respectively west and east, and at least a including Netanyahu—was deaf to the idea that this impover-
recognition by Israel of the wholesale dispossession of 1948— ishing separation was something Israel had imposed. Instead,
what the Arabs call the nakba, or catastrophe—underpinned by it popularised the argument, “We left Gaza to the Palestinians
a symbolic return for a minority of Palestinian refugee descend- so they could prosper in peace, and all they did was fire rockets
ants, with compensation for the large majority. at us. That’s what happens when we give up territory.”

Street, and on most of it Palestinians are barred even

THE NEW NORMAL from walking.

ack in the 1990s a gruesomely funny sketch in Today, the Hebron settlers are no longer deemed an
the Israeli television satire show, Hahamishia embarrassment; they enjoy the Israeli establishment’s
Hakamerit, depicted three long-skirted female moral and political esteem. In 2012 Gideon Saar, an
Jewish settlers cheerfully swapping cooking tips in a annexationist tipped as Netanyahu’s successor who
Hebron street. The scene is wholly normal except that was then education minister, expanded a programme
two of the women, without halting their homely discus- of school visits to Hebron, saying that “the Arabs
sion of whether olive oil can be re-used, fire their M16s mustn’t get the mistaken notion that Jews can be
at a (presumably Palestinian) target off camera, while uprooted from Hebron.” In 2015, State President Reu-
another hurls a hand grenade. ven Rivlin, one of Likud’s relative moderates, officially
Underlying this caricature was an assumption that opened a visitors’ centre at the Beit Hadassah settle-
most of the show’s mainstream audience would see its ment. And last November, the government approved
characters as, well, crazy. Ideological settlers were still a new, fifth settlement in Shuhada Street which would
seen as an outlandish fringe minority. True, the num- bring another 31 Israeli families to Hebron.
bers had grown rapidly; but there were around 100,000
Jewish settlers across the whole West Bank, a small
constituency in a population of 5.5m. Today there are
“‘We have a right-wing
at least 380,000 settlers in the West Bank, as well as government and Knesset,’
the 200,000 in East Jerusalem—an increase that has
convinced some analysts that it is now “too late” for said one settler. ‘We have
two states. waged a long struggle, and
And it’s not just about the numbers. Hebron, is in
many ways a microcosm of the wider occupation and the we’re winning’”
only Palestinian West Bank city with settlers in its heart.
After the Goldstein massacre, Rabin considered remov- All of which reflects a wider political shift. Israelis
ing the Hebron settlers but eventually decided this often point out that Hamas has never rescinded its noto-
would have to await a final peace agreement. Instead rious charter, pronouncing the whole of historic Pales-
the greatest impact of the atrocity was on the Pales- tine as Arab land. But while Hamas did, in May 2017,
tinians themselves; to prevent revenge attacks the mil- signal it could entertain a state on pre-June 1967 bor-
Two states, few itary imposed a six-month curfew and then closed part ders, Likud has never scrapped its own founding doc-
statesmen: of Shuhada Street, the city centre’s main artery, to Pal- ument claiming a “Greater Israel,” from the Jordan to
(from left to estinian vehicles. The neighbourhood began to empty Mediterranean. Where even the hardline Ariel Sharon
right) PLO of its Palestinian residents, and the bustling shops and would talk in office about the “occupation,” none of the
leader Yasser markets, which had once made this commercial hub of Netanyahu cabinet would use that term, and some sen-
Arafat and the southern West Bank, began to wither into the deso- ior ministers simply proclaim the whole land as right-
Israeli prime late ghost town of today. fully Israel’s. “How can you be an occupier in your own
minister Things got much worse during the second intifada. country?” is the rhetorical question posed by ultrana-
Yitzhak Rabin, With settlers so close to the Palestinians, Hebron was an tionalist education minister Naftali Bennett.
who signed the incendiary flashpoint. Between 2000 and 2007, Pales-

Oslo Accords in tinian militants killed five Israeli civilians, and 17 Israeli nnexation may not happen. Netanyahu seems
1993; Shimon security force personnel. The Israeli military killed 88 comfortable with the status quo, continued
Peres, who Palestinians—over half of whom were “not taking part occupation and expanding settlements, without
failed to in hostilities,” according to the Israeli human rights any change to the legal status. But with senior Israeli
campaign for agency B’Tselem. politicians freely discussing formalising their conquest,
two states in the I visited Hebron this year, as I had a decade earlier, it is becoming easier to imagine this than partition into
1996 election; with Yehuda Shaul, who had served in a combat unit two states. And right now, the international dynamics
Benjamin there at the peak of the second intifada, and has since only reinforce this sense. In his book last year, The Only
Netanyahu, who founded Breaking the Silence, a veterans’ group which, Language They Understand, the International Crisis
has overseen in Shaul’s words, thinks “the military should be for Isra- Group’s Nathan Thrall argued it would be “irrational”
Oslo’s demise el’s defence and not for the oppression and occupation for Israel to end the occupation, unless the US and the
of Palestinians.” rest of the world imposed costs on it for not making con-
Steel shutters and cages on every window protect cessions which exceed the relatively modest price—for
the few remaining Palestinian residents from stones Israel—of maintaining and entrenching the status quo.
thrown by their Israeli neighbours. International vol- Sometime in the future, that could happen. Among
unteers were still preparing to escort the 100 remain- US Democrats the traditionally bipartisan assumption
ing Palestinian pupils from the neighbourhood’s girls’ of “Israel right or wrong” is fraying. The EU, in many
school to guard them from the hostile children in the respects the sleeping giant among Israel’s allies as its
adjoining four settlements. More than 600 Israeli sol- biggest trading partner, could at some stage impose a
diers protect around 850 residents of four distinct set- robust ban on trading with companies in occupied terri-
tlements. Only settlers can drive their cars on Shuhada tory. However, there is little sign of serious movement

in Europe for now, and Donald Trump’s Washington has been dou- wing government and a right-wing Knesset. We have waged a
bling down on uncritical loyalty to Israel. Of course Jared Kush- long struggle, and we’re winning.” On the other flank, the soldier-
ner and Jason Greenblatt are supposedly working on his “deal of turned-anti-occupation campaigner Shaul, who describes him-
the century.” But Trump’s moving of the US embassy to Jerusa- self as a “two-state extremist,” is convinced that the settlers have
lem, and remarkable boast to have taken the defining city of the created a myth about the power—and supposed immovability—
entire conflict “off the table” makes a mockery of that. He has also conferred on them by the recent expansion. The biggest growth in
cut funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency, and remains settler numbers, he points out, is in Beitar Illit and Modiin Illit—
electorally dependent on a fanatically pro-Israel Christian right. around 100,000 residents in all—which are both communities
The last time the US actually used its huge potential lever- bordering the green line, so it would be easy enough to resettle
age on Israel—which includes the $3bn a year it spends on Israeli them in Israel itself or—by trading land—to draw a future border
defence—was at the outset of the process which led to Oslo. incorporating them in Israel.
George HW Bush suspended $10bn of loan guarantees to bring

a resistant Yitzhak Shamir, Israel’s prime minister, to the table. hose numerous settlers in Beitar Illit and Modi’in Illit are
But the early 1990s proved the high watermark of the conviction principally there not for ideological reasons, but for cheap
that America’s interests were served by using an Israeli-Palestin- and effectively subsidised housing. Indeed all the settle-
ian solution as a way to stabilise the wider Middle East. Few can ments depend on Israeli government subsidised utilities, educa-
believe that today. With Syria, Yemen and Libya ravaged by war tion and other services provided—at formidable taxpayer cost—by
and with Islamic State a major security threat to the west, the Israel under laws and military orders which could, if the politics
Palestinians look increasingly marginalised on the world stage. changed, easily be reversed. Convinced the settlers can indeed be
Meanwhile, a Saudi-led coalition of Gulf States now regard the evacuated if the will exists, Shaul rejects Beilin’s plan for a set-
Palestinian cause as less important than a strategic alliance with tler right to remain “because it legitimises the settlements,” and
Israel—and the US—against Iran. potentially does so ahead of negotiations with the Palestinians.
Most fundamentally, he is convinced it is a “fantasy.” “Do you
really see a scenario when Israel leaves its citizens living there
POWER WITHOUT A PRICE without its protection?”

ll this helps to explain the loss of faith in the two-state
solution since Oslo. Even Yossi Beilin, still working away
on the conflict at 71, is updating the old blueprint in the
“If Israel doesn’t have an incentive
light of subsequent events, and thinking anew. Under his new to end the occupation, or a
two-state plan, the smallprint of which is being developed in con-
junction with London’s Chatham House, Palestinians would get
disincentive to continue, why
a state on 22 per cent of the total land: the West Bank, Gaza and would Israel give it up?”
East Jerusalem. So far, so conventional. But there is a twist; any
of the settlers beyond the major blocs—nearly 200,000 in all— Shaul, like many frontline Israeli anti-occupation activists, is
who wanted to could stay put. They’d retain their Israeli citizen- no fan of the alternative of a binational state, in which an Arab
ship, but would live under Palestinian sovereignty, without the majority would be wholly possible, effectively spelling the end
Israeli military to protect them. Those remaining would then be of Israel’s existence as we know it, a prospect he thinks his com-
matched by a similar number of Palestinian refugees who would patriots would never accept. “For 50 years you couldn’t remove
be returned to Israel proper. The continuation of the idea of Israel from the occupied territories,” says Shaul. “Now you
“Israel proper,” alongside a new Palestine, means this remains a think you can dissolve the state. Are you nuts?” Unlike Beilin,
variant of the two-state model, differentiating it from the Avra- the crucial obstacle for Shaul is not the evacuation of the set-
ham Burg plan (p20). But, with the same emphasis on seeking tlers, but rather Israel’s continuing stubborn reluctance to offer
justice without displacing all the settlers, the line between the two the Palestinians a fully-fledged state. Even Rabin never made
visions becomes a little hazy. Like Burg, Beilin talks about “con- an offer like that, but—Shaul thinks—under him the dynamics
federation,” and a series of joint Israeli-Palestinian institutions, were pushing that way. Today’s central problem, he insists, “is
covering security, water, and communications, as well as freer a lack of political will by Israel to end its control over Palestini-
movement than today. ans. If Israel doesn’t have an incentive to end the occupation, or
But does he seriously think the most ideologically driven a disincentive to continue, why would Israel give it up?”
settlers would suddenly co-exist peacefully with their Arab Back in Susiya, Nasser Nawaja, as a refugee, no doubt
neighbours—and vice versa? It would, Beilin admits, be a “real dreams of a single, if binational, Palestine, stretching from “the
challenge” but in his view “not impossible.” Many settlers, he river to the sea.” But he says bluntly: “It won’t happen; Israel
thinks, would leave for Israel with financial compensation. His doesn’t want it. And it doesn’t matter what I want but what the
plan focuses on them because, he is quite clear, the “biggest fear Palestinian people will accept.” He does believe that they would
of any prime minister, left or right, is the evacuation of settlers. buy “a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel.” And so they
This “huge stumbling block,” he believes, “is more of an obstacle might, but only if the world gives Israel a formidable “incen-
than Jerusalem or the refugees.” tive” to agree to it too. Western politicians repeatedly assert that
But Beilin’s ideas have many critics, on both the left and right. “time is running out” for the two-state solution. Without action
The Hebron settlers’ spokesman Yishai Fleisher sees no need for as well as words, they are willing that warning to become a self-
a negotiated agreement “permitting” the settlers to stay. “Why fulfilling prophecy.
should we waste our time talking about this? I have to tell some of Donald Macintyre is the author of “Gaza: Preparing for Dawn” (Oneworld).
my leftist friends that there are 600,000 settlers, we have a right- The paperback is out in October
Pull it down. We’re a modern country.
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How Metro beat the red tops
to become the most-read
newspaper in Britain
jane martinson

oon after moving into Downing Street, Theresa May port networks in cities, but also because of its bottom line. Despite
hosted a private dinner for the editor-in-chief of the an existential crisis in the print advertising market, it turned up an
Daily Mail, Paul Dacre. Not long after, the then-for- £11m profit last year.

eign secretary Boris Johnson was snapped, in shorts,
running alongside the editor of the Sun, Tony Gal- hort, balding and with the slightly bulldog expression
lagher. If asked to think of a successful tabloid editor, most peo- of someone most often to be found reading proofs at an
ple would think of a man (yes, probably still a man) like one of hour when most of us are getting ready for bed, Young has
these two—at one and the same time thoroughly plugged in with worked for every tabloid newspaper in the UK and one, the Daily
the powerful, yet also obsessed with retaining a populist touch. News, in New York. A former editor of MailOnline and survivor
Yet the editor of the most-read newspaper in Britain is a man of the freesheet battle which raged in London during the nough-
called Ted, a man you probably haven’t heard of, and certainly ties as editor of London Lite, he has also been night editor of the
not a man in the habit of popping into Downing Street for a téte- Sun and executive editor of the Daily Express, where he ended up
a-téte with the prime minister. Ted Young was appointed Editor in a legal dispute with the controversial owner Richard Desmond.
of Metro, the freesheet distributed around all UK cities, in 2014 Young is already waiting on the top floor of Northcliffe House,
when it still lagged behind the far better known paid-for rivals, the Kensington headquarters of DMG Media, which owns Metro,
the Mail and the Sun. in a room done out in what could be called executive chintz when
You can sneer at its seemingly apolitical, even bland, mix of I arrive for our interview. With a set of papers spread out before
news and celebrity, and yet in March 2018, Metro was confirmed him on the mahogany table, Young says that the Metro office sev-
as the UK’s most-read newspaper—bigger than its more famous eral floors lower is currently being renovated. “We don’t usually
stablemate, the Daily Mail, bigger even than the Rupert Mur- get this treatment,” he says, picking up his china teacup.
doch-owned Sun, which has topped the list of most-read daily Despite his long and storied career, I’d never so much as
titles since 1978. Just reflect on the myriad of ways that newspaper clapped eyes on him during my years as a media journalist.
has enlivened, coarsened and pushed to the right Britain’s politi- Young rarely gives interviews or attends industry gatherings.
cal discourse during its long decades at the top, and you’re likely “I’m very hands on and I don’t get out much,” he says. “I would
to judge that the new occupant of the No. 1 spot is worth getting much prefer to go for a pint with my team than gallivant around
to know. posh media parties.”
As for those of us on the inside of the media industry, swotting Young typically travels in from his home in Richmond for
up on Metro should be a higher priority—not only because of its a 12-hour day, five days a week and lists his professional inter-
reach, with 1.5m copies of Metro distributed every day via trans- ests “outside of his passion for news” as rugby and being a “long

suffering supporter of Newcastle United.” He is good On the Monday after the EU referendum in 2016,
company, coming alive as he talks about how England’s Metro’s front page showed a night-time picture of par-
World Cup campaign (at its height when we meet) has liament with the headline: “The lights are on but
affected headlines and deadlines. So far, so Fleet Street nobody’s home.” The chancellor was the subject of
central casting. “Hammond Egg on his face,” the day after his U-turn
Yet one of the first things Young did after his appoint- on a taxes for the self-employed. The paper has criti-
ment was to assemble an editorial team dominated by cised Diane Abbott, but it hasn’t campaigned system-
strong older women. He insists that the first of these, his atically against the newly left-wing Labour Party in the
deputy Ruth Baillie, attend our interview. The two make way that much of Fleet Street has. The day after the last
a brilliant double act, sparking off each other and occa- election, Metro put a beaming Labour leader giving a
sionally finishing each other’s sentences. thumbs up on the front page with a headline which read
After Young mentions that the senior members of his “Stormin’ Corbyn.”
50-strong team include not just Baillie (a former pro-
duction editor of the Evening Standard) but a female
news editor, night editor and chief sub, Baillie says, “With only five London
“We’ve got a core of older women, which is interesting.”
“I tell you where it’s interesting, it’s interesting in confer- reporters, the emphasis
ence,” says Young. is on giving wire copy
the Metro treatment”
When I ask how, Baillie adds: “We’re all terribly sen-
sible… You know it’s a lot of fun but we don’t want any-
thing tacky.”
Not sexist? “God, no, not sexist,” she demurs. The Young and Baille suggest a commercial logic to the
Metro team are not averse to pictures of scantily clad lack of bias: advertisers respond warmly to it. So do
Love Island contestants (“There are certain images of readers. Young, with a French wife and two adult chil-
women without many clothes on which are fine…”) but dren, says, “I won’t go into the political views that bang
women are taken seriously, she says. around in my family because they’re every political
So, no “Legs-it”? I ask, referring to the controversial shade.” But the editor and his deputy admit to voting
Mail front page in which a discussion between the prime differently at elections. Although they don’t tell me how,
minister and Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, talking to friends and former colleagues suggests that
over Brexit was reduced to a blown-up picture of their Young is more “right of centre” and more likely to back
lower halves. Brexit than his deputy. Yet reticent about his views as he
“Oh no, that was unbelievable!” begins Baillie, “I is, it is apparent that he is more interested in running a
could not believe it.” Young starts to sound uncomfort- successful newspaper than using it to shape the public
able and mutters some dissent. “No, no, no Ted it was debate. Metro has been critical, but rarely vitriolic, about
not acceptable,” says Baillie, until her boss says sternly, all sides over the past two years, mostly sticking to “facts
“We are not here to slag off the Daily Mail!” I start to get not opinion” coverage.
an idea of what their conference is like. If it is money, rather than the editor’s prejudices, that
Whereas George Osborne, the editor of Metro’s rival talk with Metro, he sees to it that it does so in an even-
freesheet, the Evening Standard, gives great attention to handed way. The paper received 300 complaints in the
his paper’s editorials, relishing in needling May, Metro run-up to the 2016 referendum for publishing a front-
runs no leaders at all—its closest equivalent is called page cover-wrap advert on behalf of the “Leave” cam-
“Metro Talks,” which is more like a letters page. It is all paign. Then, the following day, it published the same
about a quick and easy read on the way to work, and has cover-wrap on behalf of Remain. Young refused to run
taken a bet that readers don’t want to be told what to one without the other, making a combined £500,000 for
think. That could be shrewd: while Metro turns a profit the company in the process. They were so determined to
the Standard was recently reported to be in the red. balance out the coverage that Baillie says they literally
Unlike the Standard, which has consistently given did a lineage count with “Boris and the bus” on one side
its support to Conservative politicians, Metro has and “Project Fear” on the other.
never backed a political candidate. But even disa- As for political hobnobbing Young says he has been
vowing a position can be a position in polarised times invited to Downing Street but has only agreed once.
like this. During the last general election, Metro ran Typically, he sends a political reporter. After the cabi-
interviews with every party leader with the exception net’s weekend at Chequers, he is scathing about politi-
of Ukip leader Nigel Farage. He declined an invita- cians “briefing their pals.”
tion after accusing the paper of being biased against For all its proclaimed neutrality, some discern in
his party. Young’s paper a certain social liberalism, for example
“We are a very broad church… People pick us up the way it covered the abortion vote in Ireland. There
as they’re running for the tube and they know what were lots of pictures of those supporting a change—
they’re going to get, which is a fair report of the Young insists that it was simply reporting the story.
world,” says Young. “We just don’t want to have politi- “We reported the celebrations—and when people came
cal bias,” says Baillie, while Young says, “We give eve- back, we reported that.” Although Metro runs stories
rybody a hard time.” about immigration fears, the team will typically try to

balance that with quotes from an NHS worker talking about the and people know they can trust us…” says Young. “People are say-
medical staff needed. It doesn’t, as some tabloids do, feel like the ing newspapers are dead but we seem to be bucking the trend.”

newspaper of a country under siege.
Young and his deputy suggest that this desire for straight he apolitical nature of the paper goes back to Metro’s launch
news, or as close to possible, comes from a desire to serve their in March 1999, and the idea had one surprise backer: Paul
readers, who do not want anything else. Referring to her own chil- Dacre. The Daily Mail Group’s editor-in-chief told SJ Tay-
dren, Baillie says, “Our kids don’t want stuff shoved down their lor, the Mail’s authorised biographer: “I knew the young hated
throats.” Essentially Metro’s editors want the paper to reflect their heavy politics and so Metro could have no ideology. It would be
readers’ views, or lack of them, rather than influence them. a politically free zone, a class-free read... This paper had to be
With only five London-based news reporters, the 50-strong totally different from our different products, but have the indis-
staff are largely production based, essentially taking wire copy putable signature of Associated Newspapers.”
and giving it the Metro treatment. But Young, the son of two jour- Keeping politics out of Metro was also, of course, a way of
nalists who worked for the Guardian and Manchester Evening News, ensuring that the paper did not cannibalise the paid-for papers
talks about wanting to “return to old-fashioned values.” He may Dacre had edited. Metro had been the brainchild of the current
be an admirer of the legendary campaigning journalism of the owner’s father, the Third Viscount Rothermere, who had been
Hugh Cudlipp-era Daily Mirror, but admits his paper is unlikely impressed by a freesheet called Metro on a visit to Stockholm. His
to ever enter, let alone win, a Cudlipp Award for campaigning tab- son, Jonathan, was 30 when his father died, suddenly, in 1998,
loid journalism. “We never enter awards. We just think it’s a waste leaving him with a new title—and instructions to launch Metro
of time. My award is £11m profit and revenues up 6 per cent.” quickly before the Swedes could bring it to the UK. “He loves
Metro,” says someone close to the current Lord Rothermere. “It
“There’s a huge problem was a big, big bet he took early on in his tenure at the head of the
company and it has delivered more than anyone expected.”
with fake news and people Rothermere allowed Metro to be run from a separate site to the
Mail in the early days, allowing the editorial and commercial team
know they can trust us” to develop some independence from suspicious colleagues else-
where in Northcliffe House.
Metro’s core readership—with an average age of 39—is 20 years One of the earliest executives, Mike Anderson, realised that the
younger than those reading the Mail, Telegraph and Express, and paper had somehow to be sold as a high value rather than valueless
also more likely to be educated and in work. One Mail executive or “free” product. He promoted the idea of a “Metro Moment,” an
called this “a demographic to die for.” The most popular papers undivided 20 minutes reading time on the way into work every
produced—evidenced by the lack of any returns at all, the empty day. This moment, as Anderson puts it, saw commuters thinking
bins which suggest that all 1.5m copies have been picked up from “I hate my job, I hate my boss, I want to set up a bar in Thailand.”
all locations—were those marking the death of music legends As a freesheet Metro didn’t qualify for industry circulation fig-
Prince and David Bowie. ures, such as the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC), but that
The rejection of overt spin has found an echo in a digital age in spurred it to develop in-house analytics. It could soon show, for
which digital fakery has escalated doubt about the veracity of all example, that its promotions had high take-up rates: this was
journalism. “I think there’s been a huge problem with fake news lapped up by advertisers, particularly in fields which might help

different part of the Mail Group. It might be Brit-

ain’s best-read paper, but—for one commentator who
declined to be named—“Metro is a tired brand with zero
traction and zero future.” Last year, there was talk of the
Mail Group selling up.

he argument used two decades ago—and today—
is that Metro’s audience does not read existing
papers, so could not harm paid-for rivals. Its
owners might have hoped that these younger readers
would graduate to proper paid-for titles but since the
advent of smartphones they have all graduated online.
And in an economy getting the jitters over Brexit,
Metro is now having to work harder for commercial suc-
cess. Newspapers have seen their share of display adver-
tising plunge, and newsprint has soared in cost—up by 8
per cent, from £330 to £360 per tonne, since the pound
fell after the EU referendum.

Pressures have mounted and the Standard, 24 per

cent owned by the Mail Group since 2009, recently
became embroiled in a cash-for-content scandal, with
Osborne denying the charge of letting corporates buy
favourable stories. Young looks shocked when asked
if they would consider writing favourable stories for
Left: Ted Young commuters daydream: travel, technology and entertain- financial reward, saying, “Readers are not stupid!” he
peers out from ment. Metro was “pretty much an instant hit,” accord- says. “It would be suicide.”
behind a recent ing to Anderson. It is said to have broken even in just Newspapers have traditionally been at least as much
issue; David over a year, an impressive feat; the Group’s last newspa- about power as profit. After the referendum, when the
Bowie and per launch, the Mail on Sunday, took 14 years to do that. editor of the Sun dismissed the theory about print being
Prince adorn Within eight months of launching in London, which dead, he was referring to its political influence. The
the most still accounts for 900,000 of its read copies, Metro had Standard may have lost £10m in the year to Septem-
popular issues. expanded to Manchester. By 2001, Metro was being pub- ber 2017 but it’s still written about, not least because
Above: Ruth lished in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Newcastle, Leeds and of its high-profile editor. Metro insiders like to say, “The
Baillie ponders Birmingham too. Standard is talked about, the Metro is read.”
a pun This expansion into the local newspaper market But for how much longer? Almost 20 years after its
was also marked by bitter legal disputes, starting with launch, Metro is at a turning point. It foretold the dom-
Manchester where the Guardian-owned Manches- inance of “free” ad-funded information targeted at
ter Evening News owned the right to the name Metro. readers, and continued to defy the gloomsters by prov-
When the Swedish group that launched the original ing that some newspaper readers, specifically those of
Metro finally published its first UK-based newspaper busy commuters, value a basic print product.
in Newcastle, the Mail Group sued them over the use It is the antithesis, not just of politically-motivated
of the title. tabloid journalism, but also of the sort of campaigning
This open warfare only ended when the chief exec- investigative journalism published by the Guardian and
utive of Trinity Mirror, still the largest regional news- Times here, and the New York Times and Washington Post
paper publisher in the UK, came up with the idea of currently thriving in Trump’s America. But in less than
a franchise agreement. The idea was a simple one: by two decades, Metro has transformed from something
agreeing to print and distribute Metro, local papers described to one executive as a “shitty little freesheet”
effectively received a share of national advertising reve- into a successful paper with a young audience who
nue in return for local distribution and printing. appreciates its basic news coverage. Whatever its future
That seemed like a win-win. But just one of these prospects, Metro has shown that there is a market, per-
franchise agreements remains (in Manchester), which haps even still growing, for a newspaper based on facts
might be a first indication that Metro’s financial model in a world that increasingly seems to be anything but.
is running out of steam, or else further evidence of the Jane Martinson is a media commentator and professor of
decline in local newspapers. The truth is probably a financial journalism at City University
bit of both.
For Metro’s ability to withstand the slump in print
advertising is showing signs of fatigue; profits have
fallen from the £15m reported in 2017. Threatened by Download and listen to Prospect’s free podcast at:
prospectmagazine.co.uk, iTunes, or wherever
the expansion of Wi-Fi on the tube as well as rising news- you get your podcasts. Jane Martinson talks about
print costs, the future is not assured for a paper with no Britain’s biggest newspaper—it’s free, it’s got no
control over its own website, which is run by an entirely opinions, is that what people really want?

Prospect Portrait

The truth about Ruth

She has a reputation for being a different kind of Tory—
but just how far can Ruth Davidson go, asks Dani Garavelli

efore Ruth Davidson went for relation to being a Church of Scotland- say, determined it should not be presented
her new job, she had her hair going lesbian, or a Tory in post-Thatcher as some big “gay moment.” But David-
cut very short. Looking back Scotland—that is her unique selling point. son has an instinct for publicity, and the
at 2011 and her audacious bid That same authenticity is the rea- announcement received a good deal of
to lead the Scottish Conserv- son why Davidson, the newbie, beat her respectful attention.
atives after just a few months as a mem- more experienced rival, Murdo Fraser, to The thrust of her message, reiterated at
ber of the Holyrood Parliament, she now become leader of the Scottish Conserv- a recent gender summit, was that she and
sees the gesture as over the top. After all, atives. And seven years on, it is also why, her partner Jen Wilson were just ordinary
no one in the party had made her sexuality even without a Westminster seat, moder- women who would juggle the demands
an issue. But at the time, she felt she was ate Tories are latching on to her as a poten- of childcare and a busy working life. But
making an important point: elect me, and tial future prime minister, an ambition she now, as all her Tory counterparts at West-
you’ll know what you’re getting. I will not denies perhaps a little too forcefully. So, minster sink into the quagmire of Brexit,
change to suit your purposes. after successfully resuscitating the Tories Davidson’s forthcoming spell of absence
That directness is the core of Davidson’s north of the border, could Davidson really on maternity leave looks serendipitous.
appeal. There are other ingredients: her offer her party, and Britain, a brighter She’ll quit the scene in October, allow-
effervescence, her bawdy humour and the tomorrow, beyond the Brexit storm? ing her to sit out the next six months and
counterbalance she provides to the stuffy Davidson’s determination to do things return in the spring, just after Brexit is
ranks of Tory men. But it’s her unshakea- on her own terms was in evidence again supposed to be done.
ble sense of her own identity, an insistence earlier this year when she revealed her In the meantime, the 39-year-old
on being “out and proud”—whether it’s in IVF pregnancy. She was, party sources Remainer is energetically ensuring that

she is not forgotten in her absence. This Fairgrieve. Russell Fairgrieve, the former the same school year as Davidson’s sister.
summer she stuck her neck out by loy- owner, was an old-guard, patrician Tory “I reckon most people here would think of
ally backing Theresa May’s unpopular MP and, notably, a staunch Europhile. themselves as middle class.” “They call this
Chequers White Paper, but also reached The Davidsons upped sticks again in 1983, ‘the Bubble,’” adds a white-haired woman
out across the Brexit divide by launching when Ruth was five, moving to Lundin walking her dog along the sands. “You can
Onward, a new Tory think tank that’s sup- Links on the coast of Fife where Douglas see why. Over there, there is activity,” she
posed to help the party reach out to the had a job in whisky exports. said, pointing towards the yellow oil plat-
next generation. And in September she Compared to the early lives of David form bases at the BiFab fabrication works
will publish a none-too-subtly titled book, Cameron, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees- at Methil which were themselves recently
Yes She Can: Why Women Own the Future. Mogg, her childhood was certainly run- threatened with administration. “But in
Rather like Profiles in Courage, the book of-the-mill: not for her Eton, or anything Lundin Links nothing much changes.”
John F Kennedy wrote about the giants of like it, but a comprehensive school, Buck- The Davidsons still live in Lundin Links
US history three years before running for haven High. While the young Nicola Stur- and everyone knows them, though not eve-
the White House, Yes She Can’s focus on geon has said she was politicised by the ryone knows Ruth is their daughter. One

inspirational women is surely intended to Proclaimers song, “Letter From Amer- girl looked it up on Wikipedia just to check
borrow a little of her subjects’ stardust. ica,” Davidson was educated in the shadow I was right. It’s a friendly village; every sin-
Equality campaigners who still trench- of one of the many Scottish places it gle person I pass smiles and says hello,
antly oppose the Tories will point out that lamented: Methil, a town where the power and it occurs to me that it’s here Davidson
they were until recently the party of Sec- station is now demolished and the docks developed her easy-going public persona.
tion 28, which restricted teachers’ ability have been in remorseless decline. It’s also a part of the world that voted Con-
to talk positively about gay people. David- servative until the second half of the 1980s,
son’s personal critics also suggest that she and where the values of community, coun-
wasn’t willing to stand up against the so- try and church are well embedded. That,
called “rape clause,” a rule that requires combined with her parents’ work ethic, has
some mothers to prove their pregnancy given Davidson a blue-collar Conservatism
was the product of assault in order to qual- that believes in striving, personal respon-
ify for certain benefits. Even so, her new sibility and social mobility; it’s a “no one
book will ensure that, amid what could owes you a living” Conservatism that was
be the ugliest Conservative conference in once—pre-Thatcher, pre-poll tax—com-
recent history, there in the newspapers will mon enough across Scotland.
be Davidson: heavily pregnant, putatively But long before she was in a position
progressive and one of the few Tories any- to air any such political vision, Davidson’s
where with something to smile about. future was almost cut short. When she
How did she take Scotland from being was five years old, she was run over out-
the lost Tory cause to the party’s last side the family home, crushed by a lorry,
source of comfort? What sort of path did which broke her leg, fractured her pelvis
this state-educated lesbian take to get and severed her femoral artery. “I remem-
into the Conservative Party, which was ber feeling someone put a blanket over me
so deeply out of favour across Scotland? Winning smile: the Scottish Tories reaped on the tarmac,” Davidson recalled in an
And what were her origins? The answers the benefits of the independence vote interview. “Then I remember opening my
to these questions highlight a good many eyes in the ambulance and my mum being
misunderstandings about modern Scot- But the Davidsons owned their own there… then I blacked out again.” She
land in general, and about Davidson home, which was near The Old Manor was given a 50/50 chance of survival and
in particular, especially regarding the Hotel. Lundin Links—with its then-seg- spent months in a full-body cast. But after
degree to which her Conservatism veers regated men’s and ladies’ golf clubs—was reconstructive surgery, the future would-
from the mainstream. a far cry from Castlemilk where Doug- be voice of Scotland’s strivers fought back
las had started out. Stand on the shore- to become the only girl on the boys’ foot-

he Davidson parents were from tra- line facing south towards Leven, you can ball team.
ditional working-class stock. Her see the wind turbines and oil platforms of Davidson and her older sister, now
father Douglas, who was at one Scotland’s energy sector. As children pad- a doctor in Newcastle, were the first in
time a professional footballer with Partick dle in the rockpools, all that industrial their family to go to university. At Edin-
Thistle, was the son of a factory worker and hubbub seems far away. The village itself burgh, she felt uneasy among the public
auxiliary nurse. He was brought up in Cas- is pretty and well ordered; there are homes schoolboys. “I remember her as quick-
tlemilk on the south side of Glasgow and with names like Birch Tree Cottage and witted and a ferocious swearer,” recalls
left school at 16. Her mother, Liz, came flowerpots on the doorstep. A notice out- the political journalist Alex Massie, who
from a neighbouring estate. side the volunteer-run library advertises an first met her on the university debat-
By the time Ruth was born in Novem- amateur production of The Winter’s Tale. ing circuit, where she was “good, but not
ber 1978, however, the family had already Inside there is an exhibition of old photos, world-beating.” She hadn’t come out back
moved to Selkirk, in the rural Borders some of the beach thronging with visitors. then, which may have added to her sense
where Douglas became a junior man- “Lundin Links was always about tour- of dislocation. But mostly it seems to have
ager for the textile company Laidlaw and ism,” says one man, whose daughter was in been born of the same distaste for the

elite that has much more recently been on

show in her scarcely-disguised dislike of Target in sight: is Ruth Davidson
Boris Johnson. gunning for the Tory leadership?
This first became plain when she went
up against him in the BBC’s Brexit debate
at Wembley Arena. It has been evident
ever since. When asked about Johnson’s
likening of the Irish border to the line
between the London boroughs of Camden
and Westminster, Davidson was wither-
ing: “This is a serious and technical issue
that requires serious minds to give it the
correct amount of thought. It’s not really
one for casual disregard.” In August, she
again took the former foreign secretary to
task over his inflammatory comments on
the burqa.
Her disdain is perhaps rooted in the


fact that, unlike Johnson, Davidson had to
make it for herself, and—as she might see
the contrast—where the entitled Etonian
is always finding ways to use the country
to further his ambitions, her politics are
born of conviction.
Like many a Tory hero of the past,
Davidson wanted to join the armed forces,
but her childhood injuries ruled that out. of 2009. The young Tory, who had made mentary elections, Malcolm Macaskill,
She joined the Territorial Army instead, the journey from new-blood to candidate a Tory stalwart who topped the party’s
but in 2006 she sustained service-ending in no time, threw herself at the solidly- Glasgow list, was deselected amid a bitter
injuries jumping through a window dur- Labour seat as if it were a marginal. She row over his business history. He was later
ing training. (It’s hard to imagine Johnson knocked on doors that had been ignored paid a five-figure settlement by the Scot-
doing the same, at least without the cam- by Conservatives for years and was met, as tish Conservative Party over its decision to
eras present.) She went on to become a often as not, with grudging respect. remove him.
journalist on the Glenrothes Gazette, King- She lost, of course, but her show of Amid that turmoil, Davidson was a
dom FM and then the BBC. Though her energy and determination helped get breath of fresh air. And helped by her asso-
ideology was already formed, she wasn’t in her on to the candidate list for the seat of ciation with Goldie, she replaced Macaskill
any political party in her twenties. It was Bromsgrove in Worcestershire, which had at the top of the Glasgow list. Overall, the
in 2009, when she quit journalism to do a fallen vacant in the wake of the expenses Scottish Conservatives fared badly that
masters in international development at scandal. She didn’t get selected—but year, losing two seats as the SNP cleaned
Glasgow University, that she finally joined this dalliance with an English seat was up with an overall majority. But under the
the Tories. an early signal that we shouldn’t assume Scottish electoral system Davidson still got
At the time, the Labour government that her ambitions stop at the border. As a Holyrood seat. She had made it to the
in London was looking exhausted. But in it turned out, in the 2010 Westminster Scottish Parliament.
Scotland the Conservatives were as unpop- election she fought—and lost—in Glas- When, soon after, Goldie announced
ular as ever: in the 2010 general election gow North East again. her resignation as leader, Davidson
Gordon Brown took 41 Scottish seats to emerged as a potential successor. Where
David Cameron’s one. Offering her ser- “She knocked on doors her main rival, Murdo Fraser, had big
vices to a party where volunteers were in that had been ignored plans to detoxify the Scottish Tories
short supply, Davidson soon ended up by splitting from the national party,
working for the Scottish leader Annabel
by Conservatives for the “kick-boxing lesbian,” as she was
Goldie, a moderate with a charismatic per- years and was met with tagged, didn’t just talk about change—
sonality. She immediately saw in David- grudging respect” she embodied it. It hardly mattered that,
son an opportunity to change the party’s beyond LGBT issues, her views were tra-
dynamic. “The first thing that strikes you Though safely ignored by the outside ditional: church-going, pro-military,
when you meet Ruth is her positive aura,” world at the time, the Tory Party in Glas- with robust views on crime and punish-
Goldie said. “She has an enthusiasm and gow at the time was a hotbed of intrigue. ment. Her conventionality came wrapped
vibrancy tempered by common sense and There were accusations of internal vote- in a feisty, no-nonsense package that
a real practical grasp of priorities.” rigging, and dark mutterings about new somehow looked modernising. Even
Most Scottish political journalists’ first members suddenly appearing at selec- though Fraser had been regarded as
memories of Davidson’s Tiggerish zeal date tions to vote on party lists. Among all this, favourite from the start, she won in a nar-
from the Glasgow North East by-election just weeks before the 2011 Scottish Parlia- row final vote.

She had done it. But there were teeth- And now Davidson’s appeal was assuming
ing problems. She lacked experience,
and support from the small parliamen-
A path to power? UK-wide importance: without those extra
MPs, May wouldn’t have had the numbers
tary party, and was often trounced by to govern.
Alex Salmond at First Minister’s Ques- Even if Ruth Davidson wants to be prime

tions. Initially too, she guarded her pri- minister, the road from Holyrood to No 10 espite her ascent, there are those
vacy, becoming defensive if she was is long and winding. who see Davidson as “policy-lite.”
asked about her faith or sexuality. But She’s not devoid of ideas—some
that changed when she started receiving Find a Westminster seat before the next of her thinking on education has been
letters from young gay men telling her leadership election co-opted by the SNP—but she is perhaps
she had inspired them. She grasped her Timing is Davidson’s first problem. better at defining what she doesn’t want
responsibility—and perhaps her potential Assuming the Tories dump May before Scotland to be rather than what she does.
appeal—as a role model. 2022, Davidson will need to be in That’s bound up with the symbiotic rela-
The 2014 independence referendum the Commons in order to stand. That tionship between the Tories and the SNP.
marked the beginning of Davidson’s means a Tory MP, ideally Scottish, Davidson needs the threat of a second
real rise. Suddenly the Scottish Tories standing down and Davidson winning independence referendum to kick back
had something to campaign on, and for the by-election. Will an MP be willing against, which is why she talks about it
the first time in decades they sensed to sacrifice his or her seat? And will the endlessly while simultaneously urging the
they were on the winning side. Labour, electorate be happy about voting in a SNP leader “to get back to the day job.”
the main opposition, led the rather dull by-election foisted upon them for such So how far can she go? Her confidantes
“Better Together” campaign, but it was transparent reasons? hesitate at that question. Some maintain
the Scottish Conservatives that reaped that Scottish First Minister is the extent of
the rewards from its success. By the 2015 Persuade enough MPs to vote for her the ambition of a forceful woman who is
General Election, Labour’s decision to The liberal, “Remain”-backing caucus in not yet 40, and that might be plausible if it


fight for No alongside the Tories meant the parliamentary party is small, which were not still so hard to see how the Tories
“Red Tories” graffiti was being daubed means Davidson will have to win the could win a majority at Holyrood. Despite
all over their former strongholds. Mean- votes of those who disagree with her. their recent strides, they’ve not won the
while Davidson’s grin was ubiquitous, as Not impossible, but it could be tough to popular vote since the 1950s, and various
she was photographed pulling pints, and make the MPs’ top two. structural factors, such as the large pub-
sitting on tanks and buffaloes. lic sector workforce, probably limit their
She also had a knack for attracting new Win the membership vote appeal. So it is hard to imagine that her ear
recruits. Adam Tomkins, a professor in In the final vote the wheels are likely is entirely deaf to all the Westminster chat-
constitutional law and now a Conservative to come off. The elderly, Leave-sup- ter over who will succeed May—the Scot-
MSP, met Davidson in 2012 while working porting, socially-conservative member- tish Tory leader, untainted by the rolling
on devolution. “Though I had never in my ship—which probably numbers around catastrophe of Brexit, looks an ever-more
life voted Tory, the more time I spent with 120,000—has the final say. Will they appealing option.
Ruth, the more I realised that we had a lot plumb for Davidson or an arch-Brexiteer? But is she a realistic one? After all, she’s
in common… Then I went to the Scottish not even an MP. History shows that it’s
party conference and Ruth was making possible for an ambitious Scottish Tory to
her leader’s speech. She joked: ‘It’s hard Strong Opposition.” The Conservative become an MP, leader of the Westminster
to come out... as a Scottish Conservative,’ brand was somewhat muted. party and PM all in one go—Alec Douglas-
and when she said it, she looked at me. I In 2016, for the second time in two Home did it when he renounced his peer-
thought: ‘Yes, that is probably what I am.’” years, she had a good referendum—this age back in 1963, and found a pliant MP to
More and more people have undergone time as an energetic spokesperson for the step down and create a by-election.
similar conversions. At the 2016 Scottish lacklustre “Remain” campaign. She lost an The comparison with that grouse-
Parliamentary elections, Davidson dou- ally when David Cameron quit, but soon moor grandee is not one that Davidson
bled the number of Conservative seats enough threw her weight behind May. would necessarily welcome, and—besides
and knocked Scottish Labour back into Though not a Westminster candidate (see box) the obstacles are formidable. It
third place, becoming—astonishingly— last June, Davidson reprised her “strong could very well be that a Brexit-obsessed
the leader of Scotland’s main opposi- opposition” line to even greater effect. The UK Conservative party is not in the mood
tion. Whereas Scottish Labour struggled SNP was pushing Brexit as a justification for her brand of common sense. But
against the separatists, she presented for a second independence referendum, British politics has entered an uncer-
her party as the bulwark against a rising but Davidson tapped into a widespread tain period, in which the big parties are
nationalist tide and pulled off the personal public weariness. Having travelled across unloved, narrow and fractious, but also
coup of winning the seat of Edinburgh the country during each campaign from unpredictable. If the Conservative Party
Central. She campaigned as a Tory, but 2014 on, I was surprised to see once fired- is interested in reconnecting with the
seemed happy to put a distance between up SNP voters switching allegiance on the country as a whole, then just maybe it will
herself and the party. Theresa May tried it grounds they couldn’t face another trip look at Ruth Davidson and see in her a
last year with her “strong and stable” slo- to the polling station. The SNP lost 21 of winning candidate.
gan—only in Davidson’s case it worked. its 56 seats in the Commons, while the Dani Garavelli is a columnist for Scotland
The leaflets read: “Ruth Davidson for a Tories won 13, their best result since 1983. on Sunday
The dark side of
early diagnosis
For years, patients have been told that an early diagnosis
can save their life. What if this advice is wrong?
michael blastland

hat can add five years to your life without By moving the diagnosis forward, but leaving the date of death
lengthening it by a single day, improve the unchanged—hey presto!—the five-year survival after diagnosis
performance of the NHS while wasting its goes up. “Lead-time bias,” as this is known, means that claiming
resources, and make people grateful for success for cancer detection programmes with unadjusted rates of
unnecessary suffering? five-year survival after diagnosis is, to put it mildly, an inappropri-
The answer is early diagnosis. ate use of statistics. Some people—in Public Health England, for
Early diagnosis sounds like a no-brainer. The NHS has targets example—are aware of the problem and take pains to avoid it. Oth-
for speedy diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and offers screen- ers—including some doctors and health organisations that have
ing for a wide range of conditions, in babies, children and adults. promoted screening—are less careful.
Private medicine and charities offer even more. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the lead-time
Much of this early diagnosis can, without doubt, be a very good trick to denigrate the NHS: “I had prostate cancer five, six years
thing. What’s surprising is that in the wrong hands or the wrong ago,” he said in 2007. “My chance of surviving prostate cancer, and
circumstances, it can also be a very bad one. To make matters thank God I was cured of it, in the United States? Eighty-two per
more complicated, sometimes it can be hard to tell the good early cent. My chance of surviving prostate cancer in England? Only 44
diagnosis from the bad. The story of our attempts to put the logic per cent under socialised medicine.” In fact, in England, deaths
of early diagnosis into practice is a hard lesson in the human costs from prostate cancer are about 19.4 per 100,000 of the popula-
of failing to communicate that uncertainty, and the dangers that tion (according to Cancer Research UK); in the US, about 19.5
lurk in the intuitively obvious. (according to the National Cancer Institute)—about the same.
To see how easily we can be misled, start with a definitional The difference is that US men tend to be diagnosed earlier so
trick that makes early diagnosis appear a good thing, simply by their five-year survival appears better.
moving the goalposts. Imagine your cancer is diagnosed at a late One issue, then, is that we can be fooled by the data. The next
stage, aged 66, and you die from it four years later aged 70. Your is the more substantial question of the date of death itself. If early
cancer might have been sitting unrecognised for years. If only you diagnosis through screening doesn’t change that, then much of
had known. its promise is false, and any claimed improvement in the statis-
Then, in another life, your wish is granted. This is the parallel tics would be a lie. Does it have any effect? As that cross-Atlantic
world which, in a recent speech about how AI would soon tackle comparison of prostate cancer suggests, the answer is “not neces-
cancer, Theresa May held up as her vision of the future. “Every sarily.” In truth, all some people gain is more years knowing they
year, 22,000 fewer people will die within five years of their diagno- have cancer. The earlier diagnosis and treatment has no clear
sis compared to today.” So thanks to screening, you get your diag- effect overall on the age they die.
nosis earlier at, say, 62. And yet, the logic of “catching it early” suggests that it must
But now suppose that’s all it is—an early diagnosis. And make a difference. The chance of stopping cancer, for example,
suppose there’s no treatment for it or the treatment is unsuc- is genuinely greater if it’s detected earlier and more amenable
cessful (as we’ll see, this turns out to be a common scenario). to treatments, above all surgery, which we know often become
You still die at 70, having lived not a day more. But fear not; less feasible after it has spread. What’s more, many thousands
because you become one of those who do not “die within five of women and men affirm, with all the authority of personal
years of their diagnosis,” you can still be counted as someone experience, that they were themselves saved because screen-
who lives longer. ing ­discovered their illness. It’s hard to argue against that sort of

testimony. Not so very long ago, an American leaflet efits and harms play out for everyone. The bottom-line
advising women about breast cancer screening could benefit of screening seems clear. In the screened group,
say that if you didn’t go, “you need more than your three in 200 die of breast cancer; in the unscreened
breasts examined.” UK advice could be similarly bullish. group, four.
But that confidence now looks awkward, to say the But the harm is less obvious. To see it, focus on the
least. Although there have always been critics in an unscreened group on the right, where three women are
often-acrimonious debate, screening programmes face shown as “unaffected.” These are women who have can-
growing scepticism. A recent conference, co-hosted by cer that will never develop and never hurt them. Often,
Cancer Research UK’s Early Detection Centre, con- it’s carcinoma in situ—the “in situ” meaning that it stays
cluded as follows: “Decades after their implementa- put in the ducts where it begins and never affects the
tion, cancer screening programmes carry the burden rest of the body. If they are not screened, they never
of unresolved ethical issues and questionable out- know, never worry, never have treatment—and they’ll
comes… Expert consensus is that these programmes be fine. But if these women are screened then, since
should be reconsidered as they are not up to date with we don’t know if it’s carcinoma in situ, or a cancer that
our knowledge of the natural history of disease.” could kill, they’re likely to be treated—including with
mastectomy surgery. In some cases, then—and there’s
no knowing which—early diagnosis will be harmful.
“Many patients have been One way of summarising these group-level statistics
exposed to harm of which is to say that screening saves one from breast cancer but
treats three unnecessarily. Is it worth it? Many will still
they had no inkling, to no say yes, unequivocally. Better the chance of living, even
with the risks of over-diagnosis.
purpose, and then—of all But it is not clear how we should weigh-up potential
cruelties—felt grateful” benefit and harm, especially as the benefit—one in 200
saved—also needs qualifying: one in 200 is saved from
dying of breast cancer. When comparing mortality from
It’s a startling position, and will seem sudden and all causes, however, even that benefit is questionable. It’s
inexplicable to some who remember the old cam- not clear if either group—screened or unscreened—lives
paigns. What does it mean to say these programmes longer on average. Why not is uncertain—but it seems
should be “reconsidered”? that the screening itself carries a risk of causing other
This shifting opinion has unsettling implications kinds of harm. We can speculate that treatment that
for how people make sense of evidence, especially the would otherwise have been avoided, or even the screen-
evidence of their own intuition and experience. It also ing itself, is taking a toll on other aspects of health.
suggests that for decades many hundreds of thousands

of patients, and many thousands of doctors were mis- ll of which leaves a dilemma: if breast cancer
sold screening using the shaky logic of early diagnosis. screening saves some, while harming others—
Many will have been exposed to harm of which they had the net effect on all-cause mortality more or
no inkling, to no purpose, and then—of all cruelties— less cancelling out—what do we do?
felt grateful. David Spiegelhalter, a statistician at Cambridge, was
There’s a vital distinction here. If you have symp- part of the team that changed the breast cancer leaf-
toms—a lump, say, or a bleed—you don’t need screen- let to make it more balanced. Last year, he set up the
ing, you need a proper examination and diagnosis, and Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication
soon. That’s a type of early diagnosis that makes abun- partly inspired by that experience and a sense of the
dant sense. Similarly, if you have a strong family history need for good evidence without persuasion.
of a disease, it pays to watch out. “Earlier diagnosis of a serious disease might be ben-
Screening, on the other hand, attempts early diag- eficial for patients,” he told me, “but this should not be
nosis of people who are symptom-free. Unsurprisingly, a foregone conclusion. There is a need to consider the
it is not perfect. Interpreting white marks on a mam- overall impact on everyone affected, including those
mogram for example can be an uncertain art. How that would normally not have been detected, and those
those white marks will behave in future is in some cases for whom earlier diagnosis simply means more time
unknowable. All this means that early diagnosis also knowing they have the disease. Unfortunately, none of
entails early misdiagnosis—both by telling people they these people can be directly identified.”
are well when they’re not, and by telling them their con- At the end, a sceptical account of the balance in this
dition is more serious than it will really turn out to be. case of screening might read: a life saved, a life lost, a
With the latter comes the possibility of unnecessary great many needless treatments, a whole programme
anxiety, treatment—and harm. at great cost, the dedication of many professionals for
The diagram overleaf shows the outcomes for women many decades, the anxieties of many women… for what:

who are and are not screened for breast cancer. These a shuffling of fates, a lottery?
are now reported in the latest NHS breast screening Faced with such uncertainty, we need to under-
leaflet—a big improvement on the past. Only by com- stand why some of this evidence tends to be heard,
paring the outcomes like this do we see how both ben- and some isn’t.

To see how, go back to the chart (right) and the group on the Outcomes for women who are
left—the 200 screened women—and the 12 who are treated and
survive: we instinctively attribute their survival to the screen-
and are not screened for breast cancer
ing—and so do they. I had cancer; I was screened; they found it; Women aged between 50 and 70 Women aged between 50 and 70
I was treated; I lived. who attend screening who are not screened
Then look at the unscreened group. Eight are also treated
and survive, perhaps because they find a lump themselves, while
another three have cancer which is never found, but are unaf-
fected, as we heard.

So, 11 of the unscreened group with cancer (8+3) come
200 attend screening 200 don’t attend screening
through fine, while 12 of the screened group do (three of them
having unnecessary treatment for cancers that wouldn’t have
affected them).
But what do these people say about their experience? All 12 of
the screened group might say screening saved them. If they did,
all but one would be mistaken, while three might think they were
saved when in truth they were harmed unnecessarily.
15 develop 185 never have 15 develop 185 never have
By looking at the chart and asking what story each person breast cancer breast cancer breast cancer breast cancer
might tell, we see how every story about early diagnosis will
seem to confirm its worth, how no stories are told to doubt it,
how even bad outcomes are interpreted favourably. It’s known
as the popularity paradox: “The greater the harm through over-
diagnosis and overtreatment from screening, the more people
there are who believe they owe their health, or even their life, to
the programme.”
None are 3 die 12 are 3 are 4 die 8 are
Will any of those unnecessarily treated ever ask: “Would I unaffected from breast treated and unaffected from breast treated and
have been fine if left alone? Would I have avoided the needless cancer survive cancer survive
pain and anxiety of this whole procedure?” This will be the real
story for some, but never heard. No one knows if it is theirs. But it would also catch some healthy people by mistake: “23
This is the recurring pattern, everything in favour of one side: other people would be told they have dementia when they do not
experience, intuition, real individuals—celebrities perhaps—with [a false positive]. This is not just bad medicine, but harmful med-
names and captivating narratives, tragic or inspiring, full of con- icine…” she said.
viction, but often wrong. On the other side, group-level statis- If we add the four accurate positives to the 23 false-positives—
tics, anonymity and silence. Is it any surprise which dominated? and remember we’ve no idea which is which—that’s 27 out of 100
people who a legally-nervous doctor might feel obliged to warn of

s breast cancer a special case? Not necessarily. It’s a problem possible dementia; 23 of these 27 would be misinformed. The anx-
that’s characteristic of treatment for all manner of condi- iety for them and their families, the changes they might make to
tions: the intuitive but not-always reliable habit in those who their lives—do they continue driving? Do they feel safe alone?—are
get better—and those who treat them—to thank the treatment. awful to contemplate.
Underlying all these problems is another; the simple fact of Some professors it would seem, just like their patients, might
uncertainty. As we become more aware of screening’s untold sto- think in terms of hard information and wonder what could be
ries, this increases the uncertainty about which story might be wrong with demanding it. They might imagine compelling sto-
yours. Well, I say uncertainty is a simple fact, but in a letter to the ries. The power of these narratives, the degree of conviction they
London Review of Books in 2015, a professor and director of a uni- inspire—“sue the GPs!”—is in one sense impressive, but equally it
versity dementia services centre had no time for it. “The sooner is alarming: a one-eyed story that sees only benefit, but fails to see
someone sues a GP for failure to diagnose [dementia] as early potential harm, or the uncertainty in both.
as possible, the better,” she said. She wrote after it emerged that Not all screening is as hit and miss as for dementia. Differ-
there were widely varying rates of diagnosis for dementia in dif- ent types have different potential harms, and different balances
ferent parts of the country. It was outrageous, she said, that pub- of harm and benefit. The repeated point is that the intui-
licly-funded professionals could withhold such “information” tive benefit of “catching it early” does not apply equally in all
from their patients. Amen to that, you might say. circumstances.
But in reply, Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP who writes Is there also another bias lurking here: that in response to a
about evidence-based medicine, called the professor’s view dis- problem we must do something? Wherever this something seems
turbing. The UK National Screening Committee recommended to have an intuitively plausible rationale, arguments quickly fall
that screening should not be offered for dementia, she said. Why into place, evidence is selectively advanced, stories that confirm it
not? “Because false positive rates”—when an uncertain test tells predominate; stories that don’t are often untold.
you that you have an illness when you don’t —“are rife.” In early May, it was announced that 450,000 women had failed
Imagine 100 65-year-olds. Typically, you might expect to see to receive letters inviting them to breast cancer screening. Jer-
six cases of dementia. “If the background rate of dementia for emy Hunt, the then-Health Secretary, said that up to 270 could
65-year-olds is 6 per cent, screening would find four of the six,” die early as a result. He might have been premature. His own esti-
she says. That is, being imperfect, it wouldn’t catch everyone. mate has reportedly now fallen from up to 270 deaths to up to 74.

(An unusual example of a minister rushing to highlight bad news, y partner, Katey, is in her early 50s. “So, what am I
before checking if it stacked up.) No matter. Charities called it supposed to do?” she said, as we discussed this article.
“distressing,” “devastating,” an “appalling error.” “Should I go or not?”
But amid understandable public alarm, there was, perhaps, Alas, there is no “should.” I’m in no position to make the
one good to emerge: the full balance of the potential benefits decision for anyone else—and the data doesn’t tell us.
and harms—the group-level statistics—broke through into pub- “I know… that’s what I don’t like,” she said.
lic argument. The early campaigns, said Spiegelhalter, “were deliberately
aimed to increase the number of people going for screening, and
“Facing up to the limitations of were designed at a time when screening was seen as an unal-
loyed ‘good thing.’”
our knowledge leaves us feeling Now that over-diagnosis and over-treatment have become
recognised problems, he says, the ethos has changed—at least
vulnerable. But we always in places—towards encouraging an informed choice.
were, we just weren’t told” “Technically, we might say that the decision problem has
entered a “preference-sensitive zone”—meaning that two rea-
sonable people, faced with the same information, could come to
“I believe that the furore over the NHS Breast Screening different decisions about going for screening.” Hunt’s successor,
Programme error has resulted in unnecessary worry for those Matthew Hancock, could take note.
women who may not have received a breast screening invitation,” We tell stories to make sense of life, or maybe to pretend
said Paul Pharoah, an epidemiologist at Cambridge. that life makes sense. But we’re often tempted to make clearer
“Breast cancer screening has both harms and benefits and so, sense of the data than the data contains, as we’ve done with the
if some people have not been invited for screening they will have numbers on screening. Facing up to the limitations of our knowl-
avoided the harms as well as missing out on any benefits.” edge leaves us feeling vulnerable.
For the particular women concerned, aged around 70, he But we always were; we just weren’t told. The choice—for it is
added that we have little good evidence of the overall effect of a choice—is not black and white. The intuitively-obvious—“go or
missing one final check-up. This is the measure of our commu- you need your head examined”—has been a damaging delusion
nication failure: that a great many people feel justifiably fright- through which medicine has again proved capable of hurting and
ened and some feel outraged because we led them to believe misleading people on a huge scale.
that an inviolable practice had been violated—but it is a practice Michael Blastland is an author and member of the advisory board of the
whose effects we never understood. Winton Centre

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The single currency’s design isn’t perfect. But what’s really
hampered its first 20 years are decisions freely taken
by power-hungry men in Frankfurt
Adam Tooze

n the two decades that the euro has been around it has been branded as hopelessly
and inherently flawed, a failure, and a tragedy for Europe. Its critics have blamed
it for many things—from soup kitchens in Athens, to wild gyrations in the markets,
and the arrival of angry populists in Rome.
Yet for all the charges, Europe’s single currency, and the European Central
Bank (ECB) which manages it, are still here. No other institution has more influence on
Europe’s future than the ECB, and there is no obvious alternative to it. For better, or—
very often—for worse, it has dictated the single currency’s story since its creation. You
can’t fairly appraise the euro—which Britain never joined, of course, but whose fate will
have important consequences for us even after Brexit—without taking a view on the cen-
tral bankers who manage it. And those central bankers, especially Jean-Claude Trichet,
who headed the bank from 2003 to 2011, must shoulder much of the blame for Europe’s
sluggish recovery, and the disturbing rise of nationalism.

abandoning the sometimes useful option of national devalua-

IN THE B€GINNING tions. The alternative to reducing a currency’s value is to adjust
Central banks take time to establish themselves, and—at 20—the the economy to competitive pressures—in practice, that typically
ECB is young. Today the world’s markets hang on every word of means wage reductions. It is pretty toxic for bankers to be seen as
America’s Federal Reserve, which seems as permanent as any- imposing those—especially if those bankers are German. Rather
thing in the world of finance. But the Fed’s birth, in 1913, was than bringing the Europeans together, as was the plan, a common
mired in controversy; when it turned 20, in 1933, the US econ- currency that imposes asymmetric adjustment costs can thus
omy was in the grip of the Great Depression, which makes today’s descend into an orgy of mutual recrimination.
eurozone look like a picture of health. Indeed, if one goes fur- These are the dangers that lie deep in the structure of the euro-
ther back, the rows surrounding the First and Second Bank of the zone, frailties that would make it an ambitious project under any
United States—which were respectively railed against by Thomas circumstances. But the organism of the single currency at 20 years
Jefferson and Andrew Jackson—are a reminder that institutions old has been shaped at least as much by its environment, as its
charged with the governance of money always court controversy. original nature. What knocked the eurozone off its growth path
Capitalism and democracy can make difficult bedfellows and 10 years ago was not the chronic lack of competitiveness in Greece
central banks are caught in the middle. or Italy, or the difficulty of adjusting to that, but rather the global
As the issuer of currency, central banks are the lender of last financial crisis of 2008. And how the eurozone reacted to that chal-
resort both to high street banks and, at least normally, to govern- lenge was a matter of political choice—decisions made by national
ments too. They are thus expected to manage not only money, but governments, and above all the ECB. And the ECB’s performance
also—effectively—exchange rates, public debt, the stability of the was shockingly bad. We cannot blame this on unfortunate institu-
banking system and inflation. Furthermore, since wage inflation tional structures. It was a matter of deliberate choice.
is linked to employment, they also have to monitor the labour mar-
ket. Any action or inaction creates winners and losers. They may
declare themselves “independent” of elected government, but
central banks are inescapably political. When the first shocks struck in August 2007, the ECB offered
In the case of the eurozone, the difficulties are all the greater Europe’s banks a huge injection of liquidity—and then began
because it is the central bank for an economy the size of a conti- pointing fingers. The ECB blamed the Fed and the Bank of Eng-
nent, made up of regions as diverse as Belgium, Bavaria and Basil- land (BoE) who were in charge of the markets where the worst
icata, without the fiscal or administrative apparatus of a nation risks had been taken. Trichet, the conservative French Treas-
state to back it up. The ECB rests atop a network of national cen- ury bureaucrat at the head of European monetary policy, was
tral banks whose loyalties are inevitably divided between the euro- incredulous that the Americans had allowed Lehman Brothers to
zone and their national financial systems. fail. But Europe had nothing to crow about. Its own banks were
But that is only half the story. The euro was initially designed even more oversized, and their balance sheets full of even greater
to contain the dominant influence that Germany’s central bank risks. Under the so-called Basel II banking regulations, Europe
used to wield. To maintain their pegged exchange-rate against the indulged in an absurd faith in the self-insurance and the risk
mighty Deutschmark, the other central banks often had to march management of the private banks.
interest rates up and down in line with the Bundesbank. So they In 2008 it fell to national governments to bail out the banks,
saw an obvious attraction in pooling control in a transnational and they took the flak. But the liquidity support that the ECB
institution. For the Germans, the formation of a European mon- pumped in was no less crucial. The cash Trichet provided flowed
etary system reduced the upward pressure on its currency, which back into the coffers of national governments as the banks used
could otherwise have threatened the trade surpluses on which it to purchase supposedly safe government bonds. Trichet’s cri-
Germany prides itself. sis-fighting in 2008-2009 thereby tied Europe’s banks and gov-
The ECB was placed—from the beginning—in the crossfire ernments closer together, even while preserving the appearance
of European national identities and conflicts. The single cur- of normality.
rency was born out of a compromise between France and Ger- It was when the sovereign debts themselves threatened to go
many. Chancellor Helmut Kohl wanted to bind Europe irrevocably bad in 2010 that the game changed. Faced with a fiscal crisis first
together, limiting the scope for nationalist politics at home in Ger- in Greece, then Ireland and Portugal, with Spain and Italy loom-
many and elsewhere. François Mitterrand’s France wanted not ing in the background, the ECB swung into action. From 2010,
only to dilute Germany’s dominant role over monetary policy, but it became an aggressive and assertive actor in the struggle over
also create an economy on a scale that would allow some wiggle the politically charged question of Europe’s future financial
room for domestic social policy in an era of globalised capital. The constitution.
national horse-trading was built into this transnational entity: if
the ECB was going to be based in Frankfurt, argued France, then
One might well ask how very small countries like Greece and
Ireland could have such a disproportionate impact on the euro-

it needed to have a French boss. They agreed on Wim Duisenberg, zone’s giant economy. “Contagion” in the bond market is the
a Dutchman, only when it was promised that a Frenchman would standard answer. But epidemic metaphors are misleading. Bond
follow him. market contagion is not a natural phenomenon. It can only spread
The ECB opened for business on 1st June 1998, seven months if the central bank for some reason refuses to do what the Fed,
before the member currencies were irrevocably locked together the BoE and the Bank of Japan have always done as a matter of
to create the euro in electronic form, and three and a half years course: stand behind the debts of the sovereign. Despite issuing
before the notes rolled off the presses. From the off, political con- trillions in new debt, none of these countries suffered a bond mar-
flict shaped the new bank. In pursuit of a dream of an ever-closer ket panic. The difference in the eurozone was the ECB’s refusal to
European union, many economists warned, member states were play that essential stabilising role.

True, the ECB was, to calm Germany’s historic fear of Ireland’s banks threatened to tip its government
of inflation, by design barred from directly buying newly over the edge, Trichet still refused point blank to coun-
issued debt. But in 2010 new debt was not the problem. tenance “bailing in” their private creditors to sharing
What the ECB needed to do was to manage the giant the pain.
market for outstanding bonds. Rather than putting a Was Trichet driven to do all this by the Germans? It
floor under that market, Trichet dipped in and out. It will be some time before the archives are opened. The
was a deliberate tactic. When the eurozone governments evidence certainly suggests that he was constrained by
took steps towards fiscal discipline, Trichet backed the German members of his board. Jürgen Stark, his
them up in the market. When they appeared to be back- chief economist, is widely blamed for the extraordinary
sliding, he pulled out and let the markets rip. decisions both to raise rates in 2008 and then again in
The ECB often deals with critics by pointing to its 2011. And whenever Trichet did enter the bond market,
limited mandate. But in responding to this crisis, Tri- he could count on protests from the Bundesbank, an
chet far overstepped those bounds. His aim was nothing institution that retained some clout, even after most of
less than regime change. He was trying to use the cri- Europe’s central banks had been reduced to conveyor
sis to force the completion of the still-incomplete con- belts for ECB policy.
stitution of the single currency zone—on conservative But the Germans are just one voice: as the next gov-
terms. He wanted Europe’s politicians to agree to bind- ernor, Mario Draghi, would later demonstrate, the ECB
ing fiscal rules, to establish a bond market stabilisation does not have to genuflect to them. Besides, Angela
fund independent of the ECB, a fund that would keep Merkel needed the ECB to fix the European problem, as
the ECB forever clear of any obligation to stand behind much as the ECB needed Berlin. So German opposition
public debt. Until the politicians fell into line, he would could have been finessed. But rather than counterbal-
support the market only in extremis. Playing with fire, ancing, Trichet tended to amplify German conserva-
the ECB unleashed a conflagration. tism. On debt restructuring, the roadblock was the ECB,
When in the spring of 2011 Greece’s centre-left Pasok not Merkel or her finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble,
government suggested that it might be safer to write who were far more willing to broach the question than
down or restructure some of its debt, Trichet did not just Trichet. They wanted discipline all around—for bankers
stonewall—he sought to silence the debate by threaten- and reckless investors, as well as taxpayers. The euphe-
ing that if Athens publicly broached the issue, the ECB mism de jour was “Private Sector Involvement,” which
would cut off the funding lifeline to its banks. In the meant a “haircut” for bondholders. Germany’s political
name of protecting the reputation of Europe’s sover- leaders had a solid democratic mandate for demanding
eign borrowers, Trichet made himself into an intransi- that. The German public hated the bailouts and wanted
gent defender of creditor interest. the bankers to pay, even their own. Trichet, by contrast,
And when market pressure was not enough, Trichet was soft on bankers and creditors, while egging on the
did not hesitate to step across the boundary that notion- markets to discipline national governments and their
ally separated the central bank from national govern- citizens. This unappetising mixture was no mistake or
ments; he issued instructions to the governments of miscalculation. It was a deliberate, high-stakes gam-
Ireland, Spain and Italy, demanding spending cuts, tax ble, by a group of conservative technocrats that has left
increases and changes to labour law that reached deep Europe scarred.
into their internal affairs. Trichet used the ECB’s “inde- After an autumn of crisis that claimed the scalps of
pendence,” and the threat of the bond market, to dictate the elected Prime Ministers of Spain, Italy and Greece,
terms to elected governments. in December 2011 the European Fiscal Pact gave the
No such tough medicine was dished out to Europe’s conservatives the institutional win they wanted. On his
banks, which should, like their American counterparts, way out of office, Trichet had helped Berlin to hardwire
have been forced to recapitalise in 2008-2009, even if austerity into the circuit board of the EU. It was a politi-
that meant shareholders had to suffer. When the debts cal victory that has curbed fiscal policy as an active tool

From big vision to small minds: the story of the euro

1969 1988 1992 1998
European leaders agree on the France, Italy and the EU Commission Maastricht Treaty ECB opens in Frankfurt, with
ambition of montetary union, back monetary union— enshrines the plan Wim Duisenberg as President
paving way for the 1970 against Margaret Thatcher
Werner report on the
locking of exchange rates

1929 1979 1995

Gustav Stresemann proposes a European Monetary The name “the euro”
single European currency System is created is adopted
at the League of Nations

of economic governance. It thus contributed to Europe’s agonis- towards 50 per cent. The political scene was in uproar, with left
ingly slow recovery and low rates of public investment. and right-wing critics of the euro and the ECB on the march.
It was not until 2015, when the risk of outright Japanese-style
deflation hit, that the ECB finally put the foot on the monetary
WHAT€VER I SAID accelerator. In March 2015 it embarked on QE on a massive scale,
With his MIT training, Trichet’s Italian successor, Mario Draghi more than doubling its balance sheet by 2018. Most immediately,
has more expansionary, freewheeling instincts than Trichet. But this surge in liquidity provided some modest support to Europe’s
Draghi’s fiscal instincts are conservative. He co-signed Trichet’s recovery. But its political ramifications, by way of the bond mar-
fateful missive to Berlusconi in August 2011. If he was free to adopt ket, were far more dramatic. QE insulated the eurozone against
a more interventionist stance, it was in part because Trichet had any contagion from the renewed Greek debt crisis in 2015. As
done the dirty work of beating Europe’s governments into line. Syriza took Greece to the edge of disorderly default, in the rest of
When Draghi made his dramatic pronouncement in July 2012, Europe it was as if nothing had happened. There isn’t much risk
promising that he would do “whatever it takes,” he turned the of “contagion” when the ECB is draining the markets of availa-
ECB from the villain into the saviour of the euro. He spoke against ble bonds to buy. Here is proof that the entire sovereign debt crisis
the backdrop of a renewed crisis in Spain, and fears about Italy of 2010-2012 could have been avoided if Trichet had not chosen,
and Greece. But Draghi made those remarks to hedge fund inves- deliberately, to take Europe to the brink.
tors in London not so much out of desperation as exasperation. Even under Draghi, ECB protection comes with conditions. To
As he remarked to a friend, the Anglosphere’s incurable obsession qualify for ECB purchases, sovereign debt has to have an invest-
with the end of the euro, “sucked.” ment grade credit rating. Thus even as it dominates the bond mar-
The doubters in the City of London did not understand how ket, the ECB allows its own conservatism to be ventriloquised by
far Europe had come. Not only had Europe agreed to a banking the ratings agencies. Portugal’s left-wing coalition government
union, but—however bruising the negotiations, and however defla- hangs by the thread provided by one solitary investment grade
tionary the result—it had also managed to hammer out a fiscal rating. Italy will be subject to the same pressure if its new cabinet
framework. So Europe was evolving, and the commitment of its deviates any further from the path of respectability.
governments was far too large to be wound back, even in the face
of the long period of ECB intransigence.
Of course, the price paid for the ECB’s victory was huge. The
shock of 2010-2011, followed by a severe dose of austerity, tipped Reviewing this remarkable history one is forced to the question:
the European economy into a prolonged second recession. No one Why can the ECB exert such influence over Europe’s destiny? The
doubts there are many unproductive businesses in Italy and Greece answer is that, to all intents and purposes, joining the eurozone is
that are plagued by chronic underinvestment, but their current irrevocable. The UK is slowly discovering to its cost what “taking
misery and acute sense of helplessness owes more to the way their back control” entails. A departure from the euro would be more
economies have been run with anaemic demand. Even if market immediately disruptive of day-to-day life than even the hardest
liberalisation really is required, that would be far easier to pull that Brexit, because it would make itself felt at every cash machine,
off if the economy is humming and labour markets are tight. and money can move faster than patterns of trade.
The trans-Atlantic contrast is painful. Ben Bernanke’s Fed wel- Economists continually second guess the euro’s survival, but
comed Obama’s second presidential term in November 2012 with few politicians in Europe will seriously discuss it. And when they
a huge surge in bond buying: Quantitative Easing 3—aka “QE to do, it does not prove popular with the public. When shown the
infinity.” America’s central bank announced that it would not even exit in 2015, the Greeks chose to remain. Though they voted to
consider raising interest rates from zero until unemployment had reject the unreasonable terms set by the eurozone creditors in a
been brought down to 6 per cent. By contrast, the ECB allowed its referendum, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras nonetheless cut
own balance sheet to collapse. Credit and investment contracted. a deal to keep Greece in the club, far from being punished, he was
Bad debts piled up. As a generation of school leavers and grad- returned to power with an identical share of the vote. The alterna-
uates found themselves locked out of the labour market, youth tive is simply too horrible to contemplate. The turmoil in Rome,
unemployment in the hardest-hit eurozone countries soared which has handed power to the unpredictable Five-Star and the

Growth without 2002 2008 2011 2015

growth Euro notes and coins Global financial crisis: ECB A first bailout for Portugal, a second Alexis Tsipras wins Greek election,
The eurozone has often enter circulation provides liquidity support, for Greece. ECB raises rates amid a and then referendum against Europe’s
stagnanted but more but perversely twice raises rates second slump. Ireland’s governing austerity demands, but still ends up
countries have kept party collapses, then PMs tumble in signing a stringent third bailout. Greek
joining the original 11. Portugal, Greece and Italy voters stick by him in a second election
Flags indicate when

1999 2010 2012

The non-physical euro is 2003 Fiscal crisis in Greece, then Ireland, The newish ECB governor Mario Draghi
launched, and starts trading Jean-Claude Trichet Greece and Spain. Bailouts vows to do “whatever it takes” to
at $1.17 takes charge at the ECB for Greece and Ireland save the euro, soothing the markets

Fed, is only tasked with controlling inflation? If Bernanke and

Jean-Claude Trichet: his successor Janet Yellen could also target employment, why
the creator of the should the ECB not be expected to manage a similar feat? If Chi-
euro chaos? na’s regime understands the link between growth, jobs and legiti-
macy, and sets credit policy accordingly, why does Europe persist
in denying the obvious?
Institutions matter, but people make policy. The story that
posterity will eventually write about the ECB’s first 20 years will
depend on the next moves. Draghi is coming to the end of his
term, as are others on his team, like Benoit Coeuré. Who replaces
them is key. With the conservative Bundesbank president, Jens
Weidmann, in the running, it is possible to imagine a drift back


towards the Trichet line, with all the old tensions rising again.
Nor is this only a matter for Europe. With the increas-
ingly nationalist tide in American politics, it seems fair to won-
der whether the Fed would be able again to serve as a stabilising
anchor for the global financial system, as it did during the last cri-
sis by providing foreign central banks with the dollars they needed
to keep the system in business. Many ordinary Europeans may be
content with a euro managed by Draghi. But at some point, the
chauvinist League, has more to do with immigration than the sin- whole world may need Europe to act as a more assertive and cre-
gle currency, which—by two to one—most Italians still want to stay ative force on global monetary policy too. After the travails of its
in. Outside the areas of immediate crisis, the Eurobarometer poll first two decades, it may very well doubt whether Europe and its
records 80 per cent approval ratings for the euro. central bank are up to that global challenge.
This ought not be surprising. Even at the height of the crisis, Adam Tooze's new book on the financial crisis is “Crashed” (Allen Lane)
across the eurozone 87 per cent of adults were in work, mostly
enjoying modest increases in income. The Germans and the
Dutch have done very nicely. Hot spots like Paris are still bask- Download and listen to Prospect’s free podcast at:
ing in the afterglow of a real estate boom. Since 2006 seven addi- prospectmagazine.co.uk, iTunes, or wherever you get your
podcasts. Adam Tooze talks to Duncan Weldon about the
tional members have sought the protection of the world’s second
financial crisis. It didn’t quite happen how you think.
most important currency—Slovenia, Slovakia, Malta, Cyprus and
all three Baltic states. With the UK on the way out of the EU, Brus-
sels makes no secret of its aim to make the euro the common cur-
rency of the entire EU. And when Europeans glance at the travails
of neighbours who have kept their own currencies, pre-eminently
just now Turkey, this pro-euro sentiment is likely to be reinforced.
Meanwhile, misery has been concentrated in pockets of chronic
unemployment, on the “southern periphery,” above all among the
young. Their votes have impelled the rise of protest parties. But
those that have come to office have so far flinched from the ulti-
mate confrontation. There is simply too much at stake. Cultural highlights of
Even if there is no alternative and the only way out really is cat-
astrophic, this does not mean that there are no choices. What the the UK and Europe,
first 20 years of the euro show is that choices matter a great deal; it accompanied by
is just that most of those choices are concentrated in the hands of first-rate speakers
the central bank. If the description of the euro as a tragedy is over-
blown, the insistence that it is a tragedy which flowed inevitably Power & Patronage in Florence
from its design flaws is even more so. The financial crisis in 2008
Trips in February & October 2019
was the result of very real failures, but failures of governance com- Includes accommodation in a central
mon to western capitalism as a whole. The disastrous European 3-star hotel, breakfasts, a welcome
reaction that followed was a matter of choice. The ECB leader- dinner and lectures.
ship chose to exploit the crisis to force the pace of fiscal consolida-
tion. Whatever the euro’s design flaws may have been, it was this Find out more:
aggression that produced one of the most serious derailments of
+44 (0)20 3370 1988
economic policy in modern history.
Under Draghi, things have been more tolerable, because he has info@culturaltravel.co.uk
offered substantial monetary relief and—with conditions—been www.culturaltravel.co.uk
ready to protect governments from the bond markets. But the
ECB’s fundamentally conservative constitution remains in place.
Part of the Martin Randall Travel group.
Why, given Europe’s sluggish demand and need for investment, AITO 5085 | ABTA Y6050
are Europeans willing to accept a central bank which, unlike the
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our Summer Party in Westminster
An Elizabethan

A break with Europe, an economic
crisis, and a government on the brink
of collapse. Today’s crisis bears an
uncanny resemblance to that facing
Elizabeth I in the late 16th century

I: Division in government
matthew dimmock

doesn’t end well

illustration by ben jennings

acing a clamour of demands for a vision of post-

Brexit Britain and its place in the world, the belea- he cabinet and the wider Conservative Party
guered prime minister might find instruction in her are of course currently deeply divided over the
favoured period of England’s past. When asked by nature of Britain’s future relationship with Europe,
the Observer 13 years ago which historical figure she a split which was—until he flounced out of the For-
most identified with, Theresa May chose the indomitable Tudor eign Office—focused on the opposition between prime
queen Elizabeth I, a woman “who knew her own mind and achieved Brexiteer Boris Johnson, and the Chancellor Philip
in a male environment.” More recently, the press have been quick to Hammond, a cautious remainer.
invoke Shakespearean ideas of a sceptered isle and the defeat of the If it is any comfort to May, the late-16th century
Spanish Armada, and more diffuse golden-age mythologies, all of Privy Council was similarly split over England’s role
which will rouse cynicism in suspicious minds. But the late Tudor in the world. The queen was often forced to arbitrate
age really does have deeper lessons to teach us about the dark arts between two groups. The first advocated getting aggres-
of Brexit. sively stuck into Europe, clustered around the charis-
Elizabeth I did, after all, come to the throne facing her own matic and ambitious royal favourite Robert Devereux,
Brexit moment. In reconstituting the Protestant Church of Eng- Earl of Essex. The second sought to make the most of
land, she reinstated the break with Rome and papal authority that their isolation while preserving royal funds, promoting
her father Henry VIII had initiated earlier in the 16th century, peace and cordial diplomatic and commercial relations,
but which her sister Mary had bloodily sought to reverse. This focused on Elizabeth’s Principal Secretary Robert Cecil.
move rendered her heretical for the Catholic bulk of Europe. At One can argue the toss about whether the Brexiteers
a stroke, England was once again severed from the community of are more in the tradition of the tub-thumping belliger-
European Christendom. ents or the isolationists, but another parallel is harder
New strategies were needed. In 21st-century Britain, the imper- to miss. At times, this division completely paralysed the
ative is somehow to open up new markets, to boost exports; in business of government.
16th-century England, the same drive was given added urgency Today’s warring factions might reflect on how it all
by a seething conflict with Spain, the dominant Catholic power ended: Cecil triumphed. Essex followed a disastrous
and the standard-bearer for an aggressive Christian imperial- misadventure in Ireland—whose handling was a run-
ism. By the 1580s a creeping embargo was initiated to cut off Eng- ning sore for London then, just as it is amid the Brexit
land’s continental trading partners, generate internal dissent and discussions today—with a failed coup against the queen,
­governmental collapse. Elizabeth needed new allies, and fast. and he was beheaded at the Tower of London in Febru-
The way all this played out seems remarkably prescient. It sug- ary 1601.
gests five Elizabethan lessons for Brexit:
II: Don’t expect too much III: Selling weapons doesn’t endear

from your new allies you to the neighbours

F acing diplomatic isolation from mainland Europe and a
freeze on trade—the 16th-century equivalent of crashing
out of the continent on WTO terms, perhaps—the English crown
O ne thing the English could—and still can—produce
in large quantities was guns. Technological advances
and mineral wealth meant that by the late 16th century,
had little choice but to cultivate new allies beyond the traditional cheap cast-iron English cannon and shot drove a thriv-
realms of Catholic Christendom. By the end of her reign, Eliza- ing trade in materials of war. Here was something the
beth had made overtures to Muslim Morocco, Ethiopia, the Otto- Ottomans badly needed, following a sustained and drain-
man Empire, Persia, India, Java and Aceh, to Orthodox Christian ing conflict with Persia. There was just one problem.
Russia, even to China. She was doing “Global Britain” before Brit- Although Elizabeth was a heretic, she was still Christian,

“English trade remained resolutely dependent

ain even properly existed. and expected to abide by Christian rules. One of those—
enforced through papal decree—was that no Christian

on Europe. Elizabeth was accused of breaching

could trade in armaments with the “infidel.”

trust with ‘old allies and friends’”

The English response was to go rogue. They were pre-
pared to sell anything to anyone. Enterprising English mer-
chants, often funded by senior figures in the Tudor regime,
were exporting tin and lead to the Ottomans, and arma-
ments, metals, saltpetre and gunpowder to Russia, despite
Despatching a series of merchant-ambassadors with elabo- the protests of many European monarchs and a succession
rately crafted letters, Elizabeth offered flattery, asked for friend- of Holy Roman Emperors. One free-wheeling entrepreneur
ship and for favourable trading conditions, and darkly hinted at even exported 23 English-made cannons to Spain as Anglo-
the global ambitions of the pope, Spain and Roman Catholicism. Spanish hostilities simmered.
The strongest connections were those established with King Despite internal opposition and laws passed against the
Mulay al-Mansur of Morocco and the Ottoman Sultan Murad export of English guns—Walter Raleigh declared them too
III. Elizabeth had great hopes that both would help thwart important to fall into foreigners’ hands—
Spanish designs on England by attacking Spain and its posses- they were exported in large quantities as
sions in the Mediterranean. She also expected a rapid expan- England responded to its exclusion from
sion in English exports and intended to use the Ottomans as Europe by becoming the arms dealer of
a springboard to Indonesia and the spice trade. More than the Renaissance world. Observers con-
that, an alliance with the Ottomans offered small, marginal demned a “hateful and pernicious” trade,
England the chance to imagine itself holding court with the and came to see English gun-runners as
global powers of the age. “the troublers of all Christendom.”
Despite such potential gains, in pure PR terms this was a When confronted with the charge,
disaster—a lesson Liam Fox might reflect upon as he pursues Elizabeth simply denied everything,
shiny post-Brexit trade deals outside the EU. English trade protesting the English would
remained resolutely dependent on Europe, and her contem-
poraries lamented Elizabeth’s resolve to breach trust with
all her “old allies and friends” in favour of “professed ene-
mies to Christ.”
English polemicists decried the influx of cheap foreign
goods and their destabilising effect on a balance of trade
and national character. The English, they lamented, had
fallen under the spell of novelty. William Harrison lam-
basted the “fantastical folly of our nation” for their keen-
ness to dress in “the Turkish manner,” in “Morisco gowns
[and] Barbarian sleeves,” and he also lamented a recent
fashion for that unseemly Turkish invention, “the mousta-
chio.” Others deplored the deluge of “foreign” trinkets—
mainly jewellery, metalwork, ceramics, fine fabrics.
Diplomatically these “new confederates” promised
much but delivered little. English ambassadors were rou-
tinely frustrated in their attempts to cajole the Ottomans
and the Moroccans into conflict with Spain. The parsimoni-
ous Elizabeth can’t have enjoyed the constant demands
for presents. But the brutal truth was that a newly
lonely England had become the supplicant: the new
globalism it was initiating came at a cost.
IV: The promise of China is illusory

never sell arms to non-Christians, and insisting her only

motives were peaceful and legitimate commerce, and the
safety of her citizens. he single greatest prize of post-EU international relations for
For some, the world opened up by Britain’s EU exit May and the Brexiteers, as for Elizabeth I, is China. Some
is a place of similar opportunities. The new Depart- are still amazed that it has become the world’s biggest economy
ment for International Trade has taken charge of efforts on some measures, but the Elizabethans would see this as noth-
to promote British arms in a bid to use their sale to oil ing new: in the late-16th-century China was also the preeminent
the wheels of post-Brexit trade. Earlier this year Crown global power.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, deeply Back then it represented an unparalleled mercantile opportu-
implicated in his country’s bombing and blockade in nity, a long-established civilisation that produced sublime goods
Yemen, made a state visit to Britain to conclude the terms avidly collected in the English court.
of a £100m aid deal and negotiate the purchase of 48 New cartographic technologies convinced the queen and

“The English were prepared to sell anything

British-made Typhoon fighters. her courtiers that China was closer than anyone had ever imag-
ined—not on the other side of the world, but a short journey over

to anyone... England became the arms

the top of the globe, through unmapped Arctic regions: “not so
far remote” wrote Elizabeth in 1602, and yet tantalisingly out

dealer of the Renaissance world”

of reach.
Thirteen letters were sent from Elizabeth to China in the sec-
ond half of the 16th century in a desperate push for access. Some
travelled south and east, around the Cape and into the Indian
Ocean, others northeast or west into icy Arctic wastes. Not one
Billions in arms sales have subsequently been agreed, reached its destination, the English ships that carried them were
including to such places as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, the lost to inclement weather, mutiny or piracy. A diplomatic mission
UAE, Venezuela and China, hardly beacons of liberality. to China would remain a fantasy until the late 18th century, when
Little wonder a representative from BAE Systems recently George Macartney famously refused to kowtow before the Chi-
pointed out that, for them, Brexit was “no big deal.” nese emperor in 1793. If Global Britain’s post-Brexit advances to
No doubt the UK spies an oppor- Beijing take that long to bear fruit, we need to think in terms not
tunity to become a world leader in of a two-year “implementation phase,” but a 200-year one.
an increasingly rule-less world. In And even once that 1793 breakthrough came, Emperor
an uncanny echo of her idol Eliz- Qianlong failed to see what the British could offer. He wrote impe-
abeth I, May justified her recent riously to George III: “As your ambassador can see for himself, we
arrangements with Saudi Ara- possess all things. I set no value on objects strange or ingenious,
bia by arguing that they were and have no use for your country’s manufactures.” Oh dear.
in the national interest and Unlike Macartney, 21st-century British diplomats are prepared
would “keep people on the to prostrate themselves before China in the drive to secure a close
streets of Britain safe.” post-Brexit alliance, but it is not obvious that we’re getting much
in return. May’s trip produced fewer bankable wins than she’d have
hoped: as Fraser Howie commented, “they have all the cards…

V: You can’t keep clear

Britain has absolutely zero leverage.” To Elizabethans it would be
a familiar story.

of the Continent for long
fter decades of struggle to assert England’s place in the
world, Elizabeth I died in March 1603. Her successor James I
came to the throne with a very different set of priorities: by instinct
a unifier, he immediately sought to broker peace with the rest of
Europe. He therefore steered the crown decisively away from the
alliances cultivated by his predecessor, to the lasting chagrin of
English merchants and diplomats. Disgusted by Elizabeth’s trade-
driven realpolitik, he refused even to sign letters to non-Christian
monarchs and felt that dabbling in commerce would demean his
divine office. Hardly your archetypal remainer, he nonetheless
brought Britain back into the mainstream of Europe. Elizabeth’s
attempt to carve out a new role for England in the world beyond
Europe died with her. Theresa May should take note.
Matthew Dimmock is a Professor of Early Modern Studies at the
University of Sussex
The purpose of the Radical Party is to develop and promote a
Under Governments Right and Left,
modern, progressive and egalitarian vision of society, which the UK has become the 3rd most
draws on the successful northern European social market model, unequal of the OECD member states.
as a hard-headed alternative to the US inspired neo-liberalism of
the Conservative Party and the back-to-the-future Marxist
In 2016, British teenagers came
fantasies of the current Labour leadership.
bottom out of 23 OECD countries in
terms of literacy and 22nd out of 23 in
Under governments Right and Left, Britain has become the
terms of numeracy.
second most unequal of the major democracies. The cause of this
injustice is failure to modernise our discredited political system,
which has left millions of our fellow citizens economically and A boy born in Blackpool can now
politically disenfranchised. Wealth and self-determination follow expect to live 8.6 years less than a boy
born in Chelsea, and a girl born in
power: this must be the starting point for an effective agenda to Middlesborough 6.9 years less than a
eliminate poverty and exclusion and create a society of girl born in Chiltern District.
opportunity for all.
We believe in sustainable economic management and recognise Donations to political parties from
that public provision funded through general taxation is the wealthy individuals and organisations
only fair way to achieve excellent health care and education. grew from £44 million before the
2005 election to £100 million before
We stand for a strong and commensurate response to climate
the 2017 election.
change and a firm, partnership-based approach to global
defence and security threats.
With a government elected by 29%
We campaign for a judicial system which is effective, egalitarian, of the electorate and only 42% of
evidence-based and designed to promote a community that is those who voted, and no real
relationship between votes cast and
open, tolerant, values-based, trusting and humane. seats won, can Britain really claim to
be a true democracy?
We reject unambiguously the folly of Brexit and are committed to
developing a modern and positive vision of Britain’s role in the
World in the framework of our relationship with the European Research shows a clear correlation
between proportional voting and
Union and the United Nations. equality: wealth follows power. This
must be the starting point for building
Our political system has become a playground for fake news and a just, inclusive and forward-looking
self-seeking party donors, our leaders are an embarrassment, our society that is at peace with itself and
country has lost its way - but we will never progress if we don’t with the World.
know where we want to go. Join us in building a roadmap for
political reform and a better future for us all.


Promoted by P Gray, Secretary, on behalf of the Radical Party, both at 67 Divinity Road, Oxford OX4 1LH.

Arts & books

The last warrior

As a wartime general and peacetime president Charles de Gaulle fought for a
France made in his own grand self-image, finds Piers Brendon

n the dank evening of 22nd August 1962, a tall (at a time when the average Frenchman was 5’3”). He
dozen terrorists from the OAS, a paramili- was correspondingly aloof, shy and ungainly—Churchill
tary group opposed to Algerian independ- allegedly compared him to a female llama surprised in her
ence, ambushed General Charles de Gaulle. bath. But his quasi-mystical leadership style necessitated
In a scene memorably re-enacted in The Day such glacial remoteness and egotistical hauteur.
of the Jackal, gunmen sprayed the French president’s Cit- To inspire the masses, thought de Gaulle, a leader
roën DS19 with automatic fire as it sped through the Paris must be iron-willed, peremptory and impenetrable. He
suburb of Petit-Clamart. They hit at least 14 times, pen- must keep his distance and create a void around him-
etrating the coachwork, smashing the gearbox and punc- self—a feat eased in his case (though Jackson does not say
A Certain Idea of turing two tyres. Amazingly, de Gaulle and his wife Yvonne so) by his formidable halitosis. At staff college after the
France: The Life of were unharmed, though the general cut his finger slightly First World War, he was praised for his outstanding intel-
Charles de Gaulle while brushing broken glass off his jacket. Quite unmoved, ligence, seriousness and cultivation but, wrote one of his
by Julian Jackson he went on to inspect a guard of honour before flying home instructors, he spoilt those qualities “by his excessive self-
(Allen Lane, £35) to Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. To his prime minister assurance, his harshness towards other people’s opinions
Georges Pompidou, de Gaulle remarked contemptuously: and his attitude of a king in exile.”
“My dear fellow, those men shot like pigs!”
De Gaulle’s courage was on display throughout his
long career. During the First World War, he showed him-
self indifferent to danger, engaging the enemy so closely
“De Gaulle thought a
at Verdun that he was bayonetted in the thigh before being leader must keep his
taken prisoner. Similarly, during his march from the Arc
de Triomphe to Notre Dame on 26th August 1944 to mark distance—a feat in his
the liberation of Paris, de Gaulle ignored the rooftop snip-
ers (perhaps Germans, diehard Vichyites or anti-Gaullist case eased by his
members of the resistance).
Lofty, impassive and indomitable, de Gaulle appeared
formidable halitosis”
to be the embodiment of Gallic unity and strength. It was
easy, wrote one journalist, to imagine him encased in the In private de Gaulle revealed a softer side. He was
helmet and chain mail of a crusader. Churchill suggested devoted to his wife Yvonne, an old-fashioned lady who
that he was “the last survivor of a warrior race.” later tried to preserve an illusion of domesticity in the
Manifesting himself thus to the Parisian crowds, de Élysée Palace by washing his socks in a basin. He adored
Gaulle wrote in his brilliantly self-serving memoirs: “I his daughter Anne who had Down’s syndrome and, to his
felt I was… an instrument of destiny.” His Olympian per- intense grief, died aged 20 in 1948.
sonality excited comparisons with Napoleon, Louis XIV, But during the inter-war years, he concentrated sternly
Joan of Arc and Charlemagne. Around de Gaulle, in fact, on his military vocation. He ascended the ranks, exploited
reality and myth were so entwined as to be almost insep- the goodwill of his patron Marshal Philippe Pétain and
arable. But in this superb biography, a masterpiece of wrote books that developed theories of armoured combat
empathy as well as scholarship, Julian Jackson has prob- and offensive warfare, which Hitler read approvingly. Con-
ably made the best effort yet to elucidate the truth about vinced that war was the motor of history and that conflict
this awkward, opaque, vindictive and messianic man. “He with Nazi Germany was inevitable, de Gaulle advocated
is extraordinary,” noted one member of his 1944 provi- an alliance with Soviet Russia, “whatever horror we have
sional government. Back came foreign minister Georges for their regime.” He was shocked by the “terrifying col-
Bidault’s scribbled reply: “Lucifer was the most beauti- lapse” at Munich in 1938 and forecast that appeasing Hit-
ful of the angels.” ler would give the democracies only a brief respite, “like
Charles de Gaulle was born in Lille in 1890. His sur- the aged Madame du Barry on the revolutionary scaffold
name was later invested with a legendary aura, though it begging ‘Just a moment longer, Mr Executioner.’”
had nothing to do with nobility or with Gaul but appar- When the Blitzkrieg began in May 1940, de Gaulle’s
ently derived from the Flemish for “the wall.” His father tanks scored a rare initial success but, lacking wirelesses
Henri, the strongest influence in his life, was a bourgeois and dive-bomber support, they were no match for the co-
intellectual, deeply patriotic, conservative and Catholic. ordinated German panzers. As the debacle unfolded, he
Educated by Jesuits and then at St Cyr military academy, was promoted to be the youngest general in the French
where his grades were undistinguished, de Gaulle sported army and appointed to a post in the Ministry of Defence.
a Cyrano nose and grew to be nearly six and a half feet To give the government time to move to North Africa,

de Gaulle insisted that the fight should continue; but when the at not being told in advance about the Anglo-American invasion
defeatist Pétain took over he flew to England. He was welcomed by of French North Africa in 1942 that he privately hoped that Vichy
Churchill, who also thought him “l’homme du destin.” De Gaulle’s would “throw them back into the sea.” De Gaulle was always suspi-
own verdict at the time—“I am here to save the honour of France”— cious that Britain intended to annex France’s colonies, and the vic-
is endorsed in the final sentence of Jackson’s long book. torious Allies’ refusal to hand power to the Free French prompted
further explosions of anger. Churchill was torn between exaspera-
tion and admiration. More rows occurred before the D-Day landings
“Unable to work with other and Churchill wanted to send this “obstructionist saboteur” back
to Algiers, “in chains if necessary.” Roosevelt was only persuaded
politicians, he resigned in not to break with de Gaulle entirely by his adviser Harry Hopkins—

1946 saying: ‘I prefer my though he amused the president by conceding that the general was
“one of the biggest sons-of-bitches who ever straddled a pot.”
legend to power’”
lthough de Gaulle was excluded, to his lasting fury, from
the Yalta Conference in 1945, he proved indispensable to
De Gaulle’s five-minute, 400-word broadcast on 18th June was the the Western Allies. Hailed as the saviour of France, he was
first public call to keep alive the “flame of French resistance.” It not allowed to carry out what Jackson describes as a stealthy coup d’état.
only established his legitimacy but, as Jacques Maritain wrote, enun- De Gaulle became head of a provisional government, imposed order,
ciated a kind of “heroic chivalry” that gave back hope to his com- purged prominent collaborators (while merely disparaging Vichy-
patriots. However, his road to Calvary was hard. Most Frenchmen ites in general as “a handful of scoundrels”), belittled the Resistance
adhered to Pétain’s Vichy regime and de Gaulle’s first effort to rally (especially Communists), and savagely crushed dissent in Algeria.
support in the French empire, at Dakar in Senegal, was so bloodily When Parisians greeted Churchill enthusiastically on Armistice
repulsed that he contemplated suicide. Day, de Gaulle was heard to mutter: “Fools and cretins! Look at the
Elsewhere in Africa he fared better, and in Syria Free French rabble cheering the old bandit.” Publicly he expressed gratitude to
troops helped General Wavell drive out Vichy forces. He became the British prime minister, but it was plainly gratitude as defined
ever more hostile to his hosts, complaining that the only way to exit by Nietzsche (a philosopher he admired): “hatred wearing a mask.”
his HQ in Carlton Gardens was through Waterloo Place. He took to Unable to work with politicians he considered beneath him, de
using the royal “we” and referring to himself in the third person. “Our Gaulle unexpectedly resigned in 1946. “I prefer my legend to power,”
force and our grandeur,” he said, “reside only in our intransigence he said. For 12 years he burnished that legend. He founded a party
regarding the interests of France.” Shortly before getting malaria he supposedly above politics called the Rassemblement du Peuple
quipped: “mosquitoes do not bite General de Gaulle.” Français—a name which Marine Le Pen has now partially adopted
When America entered the war, President Roosevelt would in the hope of rebranding the Front National in Gaullist fashion.
not back de Gaulle, whom he termed “an apprentice dictator.” De Patiently, de Gaulle sat in supposed retirement, awaiting another
Gaulle in turn decried US imperialism and tried to play the west- national crisis. It occurred when an army putsch seemed imminent
ern democracies off against the Soviet Union. He was so incensed in support of the million French settlers (pieds noirs) engaged in a

And if it could now survive just one more decade it will be

the longest-lasting constitutional settlement since 1789. Of
course it also prompted charges that de Gaulle was an auto-
crat, even a fascist—the German Chancellor Konrad Ade-
nauer found him a bit “Führer-like.” Especially after he
made his own office directly elected, through a 1962 refer-
endum. Certainly he made frequent assertions in the spirit
of “L’état c’est moi.” He plunged into crowds, it was said, like
“the king meeting his subjects.” He took decisions without
consulting or even informing his ministers. He indulged in
bitter personal caprices, denouncing the US as an octopus
throttling Latin America, keeping Britain out of the Euro-
pean Economic Community, characterising Jews as a dom-
ineering elite, and in Canada intoning “Vive le Québec libre.”
De Gaulle also stretched his executive powers to the full,
controlling television, for example, a medium he mastered
thanks in part to his elephantine memory.
But though disguised by quasi-monarchical pomp, he
was in fact a politician answerable to the people. In May
1968 they erupted: millions of striking workers joined
student demonstrators in a social movement that virtu-
ally paralysed France. De Gaulle was completely wrong-
footed. At first he wanted the students to be smacked like
naughty children. But the sheer scale of the protests seems
to have plunged him into one of his moods of apocalyp-
tic despair. He flew secretly to Germany, perhaps to seek
the support of French forces stationed there, perhaps to go
into exile. Encouraged by General Jacques Massu’s loyalty,
de Gaulle returned to Paris and held a massive conserva-
tive rally during which he cynically blamed Communists
for the disturbances. These petered out but de Gaulle may
well have concluded that France did not deserve him. On
Man of Destiny: vicious struggle against Algeria’s National Liberation losing a referendum over government reform in 1969, he
(l-r) De Gaulle Front (FLN). As France teetered on the brink of civil resigned. He died in Colombey the following year.
rallies France war, President René Coty turned, as he put it, to “the Julian Jackson, who won the Wolfson Prize in 2004 for
from London in most illustrious of Frenchmen.” The National Assem- his book The Fall of France, recounts all this in authorita-
1940; soixante- bly invested de Gaulle with emergency powers and on 1st tive and superlative fashion. Pretty much everything that
huitards June 1958 he formed a government. At first, he employed can be known about de Gaulle is known, he says, and the
demand his his Delphic capacity for equivocation to reassure the dis- great strength of his book is its judicious selection and
resignation; and sidents. In Algiers he famously told a baying crowd, “Je magisterial assessment of the evidence. In particular he
his body, vous ai compris” (I have understood you.) But he soon con- shows that for all de Gaulle’s adamantine exterior, he had
wrapped in a cluded that decolonisation was the only option. a pragmatic capacity to bend and to adapt.
Tricolore, is De Gaulle arrested insurrectionary officers and sup- But though erudite, incisive and painstakingly bal-
taken on a pressed other opposition. He condoned both torture and anced, Jackson’s biography is no dry-as-dust study. He
military vehicle murder, largely carried out by his Paris police chief Mau- writes with verve and wit. He even sees the funny side of
through his rice Papon, who had deported Jews to Germany during de Gaulle, who was not above clowning on occasion. The
home town the war. In 1962, according to de Gaulle’s own account, general likened himself to Don Quixote and told André
he granted Algeria independence, though it was actually Malraux that his only historical rival was Tintin, though
won, as Jackson says, by FLN fighters and by interna- nobody realised it “because of my height.” Asked why he
tional pressure. He breezily betrayed the 300,000 native had paid so little attention to a political scandal jeopard-
Algerian auxiliaries who had backed the pieds noirs. De ising Anglo-French relations in 1969, de Gaulle replied:
Gaulle retained many imperialist prejudices. He trans- “Put it down to my inexperience.” Altogether this is a
formed other liberated French colonies into client tour de force, though happily for lesser mortals its author
states, disliked having African leaders at the Elysée Pal- can be found to nod. He has de Gaulle reading “Conrad’s
ace, and didn’t want his village to become, as he put it, Lucky Jim.”
Colombey-les-deux-Mosquées. Recalling Jean Cocteau’s bon mot that Victor Hugo
was a “madman who believed he was Victor Hugo,” Jack-

e Gaulle’s most permanent achievement in his late son suggests that the same conceit might be applied to
years was the creation of the Fifth Republic in 1958 de Gaulle. Those who experienced what Richard Nixon
and its later consolidation. Under his presidency called his “aura of majesty” held differing views about
it melded popular sovereignty with charismatic leader- who he truly was. But de Gaulle himself was quite clear.
ship, as Napoleon had hoped to do—and which Emmanuel “Roosevelt thought that I thought I was Joan of Arc,” he
Macron, notorious for his quasi-Gaullist insistence on the once said. “He was wrong. I simply thought I was Gen-
respect due to him and his office, aspires to perpetuate. The eral de Gaulle.”
new constitution created a political consensus, writes Jack- Piers Brendon, formerly keeper of the Churchill Archives
son, “reconciling the left to the state and the right to the Centre, is a fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge. His most
nation, the left to authority and the right to democracy.” recent book is “Edward VIII: The Uncrowned King” (Penguin)
Highlights Include:

Peter Hain

Mary Robin

Yotam Ottolenghi

John Bew

Steve Rich

David Omand

Jamie Susskind

Luke Harding

Michael Rosen

Pat Barker

Book online at David Wille


Principal partner Media partner

Lend me your ears

For Roger Scruton the western classical tradition reigns supreme over modern
music. But, as Ivan Hewett argues, other harmonies are available

here are many ways to write a philosophy of philosophers with strong opinions on music, Scruton
music—but two in particular stand out. One actually has a musical ear, and an ability to catch the
way is to approach music with the curious ear expressive kernel of a piece in a pungent or witty phrase.
of the ethnomusicologist open to all the vari- In his essay on Britten’s “Lyke-Wake” Dirge, Scruton
eties of music around the world. This critic points out the way the melody sung by the tenor repeats
sees them as embedded in specific forms of life—and only imperturbably, refusing to be unsettled by the surround-
really comprehensible when viewed within them—and ing harmonic turbulence. “The music has the quality
so is careful not to treat any musical culture as a yard- of a mediaeval fresco, with Christ in Majesty above the
stick against which to measure the others. The other way, writhing bodies in the pit below,” he says, a striking image
Music as an Art now seriously out of fashion, is to regard western forms which captures something essential in the music. Scru-
by Roger Scruton of music, especially the classical tradition, as central to ton is equally good at catching the essence of the pop
(Bloomsbury, £25) what music is, or ought to be, or could be. The problem songs he professes to despise, so well that one wonders
with this approach is that other forms of music are inevi- whether he doesn’t get a sneaking enjoyment from them.
tably found wanting when compared with these majestic He remarks of Mary J Blige’s “Get to Know You Better”
works. All that matters, for this kind of critic, is the inner that its limited melody is “emphasised by the yukky 13th
state of the solitary listener, communing with a long-dead chords and droopy vamping which open the piece, with
composer genius. a sound that suggests someone trying carefully to puke
It will come as no surprise to learn that Roger Scruton’s into a wine glass.”
new book Music as an Art falls into the latter category.

Scruton is a doughty defender of western classical music, or the first part, though, Scruton avoids sar-
a stance which is of a piece with his doughty defence of casm and vivid metaphor in favour of the careful,
conservative values in general. His rage against musical burningly lucid prose that he brings to the job of
modernism is very like his rage against architectural mod- analytical philosophy. Scruton’s public persona as fox-
ernism. It’s rooted in his belief that evolution is always bet- hunter-in-chief and right-wing provocateur means that
ter than revolution, and that the wisdom of ages is better some people might be unaware of his considerable powers
than the fashion of the moment. For Scruton it is our task as a philosopher. Within the world of professional philos-
to conserve the culture bequeathed to us and pass it on to ophy, Scruton takes a definite “anti-realist” stance. While
the next generations. We owe a debt to the dead as much some thinkers believe that music’s qualities inhere in the
as to the unborn. notes themselves, and that “stormy” music is in some way
literally stormy, Scruton inclines the other way. For him
all art, and especially music, is rooted in the subjective
“Scruton is good at experience of the onlooker or listener. “Music exists in the
ear of the listener, not on the page of the score, nor even
catching the essence of in the world of sound,” he says, meaning that it is our act

the pop songs he of listening that endows mere vibrations with meaning
and purpose. We hear sounds as music, just as we perceive
professes to despise” a weeping willow as being sad when it’s just a tree, and
are moved by a painting like The Scourging of Christ even
though what our retina literally takes in are mere patches
Music occupies a special place in Scruton’s life. It is of colour.
the art to which he feels closest, and the one to which It follows therefore that Scruton is suspicious of the
he has a practical connection. He’s an accomplished modernist composer John Cage, who wanted sounds to
keyboard player, who often plays the organ at his local “be themselves.” For Scruton, there is no “self” for sounds
church in Wiltshire. He is the composer of an opera as to possess; there is only the selfhood that we as conscious
well as other pieces. And he has written more about listeners give them. For the same reason, he is wary of cog-
music than any other art form. This new book comes 20 nitive science, which now rules the roost in thinking about
years after his vastly impressive and erudite Aesthetics of how our minds approach music. It deals not with the inten-
Music, and nine years after his follow-up volume Under- tional notes and harmonies that listeners hear, but with the
standing Music. dead vibrations that prompt them, and the grey matter
This new volume of essays amplifies the themes of within our skulls that “processes” them. He is very good at
those two earlier books. It is divided into two parts, the skewering the apparently neutral but actually deeply ten-
first of which tackles the nature of music’s connection dentious descriptions of music offered by some cognitive
to morality and the transcendental, and whether cogni- scientists. He quotes Aniruddh Patel’s description of a mel-
tive science can throw any light on the art. The second ody as a “tone sequence in which the individual tones are
part, which is much more entertaining, offers critical processed in terms of multiple structural relationships.”
reflections on all kinds of music, from classical quar- “But what is a tone?” asks Scruton. “Is it identical to a
tets to heavy metal and the avant-garde. Unlike many pitched sound, or something that is heard in a pitched

sound?” He follows up by writing that “even if we came up with a the- ll this is insightful as well as moving. But Scruton’s insistence
ory about the processing of music, it would not in itself be an account on music’s high purpose ultimately has a debilitating effect.
of musical understanding.” He pursues height and depth at the expense of breadth and
This essay is evidence of that fearlessness in the face of intellec- fine-grained texture, qualities which can only be found if one low-
tual fashion which is perhaps Scruton’s most admirable quality. His ers one’s gaze, and deigns to look at music’s everyday reality, amid
essay on music and the moral life insists that to be non-judgmental is the muddle of ordinary human life—and beyond the west, to music
itself an act of judgment, and that listening to music is an inherently in the wider world. That stance is more and more the stance of musi-
morally charged act, because it is a form of education for one’s feel- cology nowadays, but Scruton wants nothing to do with it. And yet
ings. This is why for him the essence of music’s importance lies in its even within his chosen field of classical music, his insistence on the
expressivity. Expression in music matters “because it is a manifesta- sovereign conscious subject can lead his critical judgments astray.
tion of the moral life, a way of inviting us to shape our sympathies in In his essay on Schubert’s tremendous unfinished quartet
response to a character imagined in musical form.” known as the “Quartetsatz” Scruton points out, quite rightly, that
the overall key of C minor is constantly challenged by what he calls
its “negation,” the tonally remote key of D flat major. What he
“Music and art make the doesn’t say is that as well as being vastly disruptive, this relation-
ship is also perfectly conventional. The harmony of D flat major,
beautiful more beautiful, the when sounded within the key of C minor, is known as “Neapoli-
tan” and was already common by the dawn of the classical era. The
moving more moving, and the expressive effect of this harmony as deployed by Schubert is power-
profound more profound” ful precisely because it is both ordinary and startling, but Scruton
doesn’t want to admit that. He wants to project our hearing of Schu-
bert’s quartet on to a higher plane—the lone subjectivity against the
Later on, Scruton goes further, saying that listening to music has uncomprehending universe—but in doing so he actually evacuates
the same “element of overreach” that we have in our dealings with the music of its richness.
each other, when we intuit an “I” that lies beyond the mere appear- Scruton’s lofty disregard for music’s history and social circum-
ance and utterances of the person in front of us. So is Scruton identi- stances leads him astray elsewhere. He castigates pop music for plac-
fying our feelings of transcendence in music with the hunger for that ing the performer at the centre of our attention. Has he not heard
“beyond” which we can never reach? If so, that would surely colour of Franz Liszt? It was the pianist’s magnetic presence that made the
those feelings with pathos, even a sense of tragic insufficiency. But ladies in his audiences swoon, not his compositions. And for much
that is not necessarily what we feel when faced with music, so Scru- of operatic history the composer was ranked some way below the
ton changes tack. He says that music and art “make the beautiful star singers who drew the crowds. The great singer Gemma Bell-
more beautiful, the moving more moving, and the profound more incioni tells us in her memoirs that the audiences for Meyerbeer’s
profound… They endow empirical emotions with the completeness Les Huguenots in Madrid in the 1880s weren’t even aware of the com-
and purity that in everyday life they could never attain.” Music, it poser’s name; for them it was “Les Huguenots by Roberto Stagno” or
seems, does not give us access to the transcendental, only the here whoever the leading tenor happened to be that night.
and now “in its purified and completed form. And maybe that is the Another example: Scruton blames the invention of the “lead
best that we can ask for.” sheet” in jazz for the recent downgrading of voice-leading in harmony.

A “lead sheet” is a musical shorthand useful for pop songs frets of the guitar, and in which the illogical sequence is
and jazz standards, which gives just the melody, the lyr- led by none of the voices.” Scruton’s response to a poten-
ics, and the sequence of chord changes that underlie the tially fruitful observation is to kill it stone dead, by bring-
melody. As such it treats harmonies as mere processions ing the song before the bar of traditional voice-leading,
of “vertical” aggregates, whereas “voice-leading” is to do where of course it is found wanting. In fact, the song is a
with the weave of melodies and subordinate lines which telling example of a phenomenon of colossal significance
constitute music’s “horizontal” element. (The combina- in world music, and of no small importance in classical
tion of horizontal elements at any moment will of course music as well. This is the relationship between the body
result in “vertical” chords that build upwards.) and the instrument, as mediated by techniques of playing,
Scruton is convinced that harmony works more effec- a relationship revealed by the shapes that a performer’s
tively the more securely it is rooted in ancient rules that hand at the piano or West African kora naturally “falls
govern voice-leading, but it is a fact that purely vertical into” when performing.
considerations have played a greater role in harmonic This complex relationship between action, instrument
movement over the centuries. We see this already in the and perceived result has had a massive influence on the
Baroque era, when musicians playing the accompany- language of music; but in classical music the influence
ing “continuo” part made use of a harmonic shorthand is subterranean, not acknowledged in textbooks, pre-
called figured bass, which shows exactly the same disre- cisely because it contradicts the rules. There is a clue here
gard for voice leading as a jazz lead-sheet—though a good that points us towards an entirely different conception of
player would be expected to keep voice-leading rules in music—more communal, where the sovereign isolated
mind. Voice-leading survived, for another three centuries subjectivity of the listener is no longer the focus of atten-
at least, but its grip loosened as the dominance of sacred tion. That ought to make it of burning interest to a philos-
vocal music—from which the rules of voice-leading were opher of music, but Scruton prefers to look the other way.
derived—faded into the past. And this is why his book in the end, for all its passion, feels
Scruton’s fixation on the norms of classical music curiously thin. Scruton is a vastly gifted philosopher and
means that when he stumbles across a door into a new way writer, admirably committed to the form of music that he
Poles apart: of thinking about music, he prefers to slam it shut rather loves. But there are so many more things in music than are
Franz Schubert than investigate. He says of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” that dreamt of in his philosophy.
and Mary J “the chords succeed each other in exactly the arrange- Ivan Hewett is the Daily Telegraph’s classical music critic and
Blige ment that is implied by the shift of the hand along the the author of “Music: Healing the Rift” (Continuum)

Sculptor of nightmares
David Lynch’s memoir offers a glimpse behind the curtain, says Wendy Ide

ans of the director David Lynch can be jolly interlude in which he steers us through a greatest hits
divided roughly into two categories: those of memorable animal deaths.
who see the man and his work as a puzzle to Elsewhere, readers might be surprised at the banality
be solved; and those who see him as a mystery of some of the anecdotes related by this sculptor of night-
to be embraced. Any book about Lynch—who mares. In place of wisdom about the art of filmmaking
seems to relish being a professional enigma—is likely to dis- we get him wibbling on at length about a really nice cake.
appoint at least one set of his admirers. And while Room Banality has always been present in Lynch’s work, except
to Dream, a blend of memoir and biography co-written by it’s usually juxtaposed with violence or some throbbing hint
the filmmaker, does shed some light on a man who, both of menace.
Room to Dream professionally and personally, is drawn to darkness, it is This kind of duality, which has been an abiding theme in
by David Lynch unlikely to fully satisfy either camp. Lynch’s films and television shows, informs
and Kristine The book explores Lynch’s creative process by tracing the structure of the book. Co-written
McKenna the threads of his childhood inspirations into the fabric of with critic Kristine McKenna, for-
(Canongate, £25) his adult work. However, it does little to unpick the knottier merly of the Los Angeles Times, it is
aspects of his oeuvre. Anyone who has seen Lynch inter- presented as a dialogue with two
viewed in public will know that he is a master of the art alternate perspectives. McKenna
of evasion. In conversation—and in his films for that mat- writes a chapter, usually anchored
ter—he is given to making gnomic statements which could to a film or television project, based
mean anything, or nothing. His answers in person are well- on exhaustive research and interviews
trodden paths that lead back to his safe spaces: his fond- with the filmmaker’s collaborators.
ness for transcendental meditation, for example. And while Then Lynch answers with a chapter
writing a memoir forces him to delve deeper than he would of his own, written in a kind of folksy
normally be comfortable with, the protective walls built up stream of consciousness, where he riffs
over a lifetime are not easily smashed down. on his memories (or in some cases his
Of course, Lynch’s idea of a safe space isn’t everybody’s: complete lack of them) about that
in one of the early chapters about his childhood there is a same period of his life.

The mirrored chapters are a neat device—up to a point. But while only a filmmaker but also a painter, sculptor, photographer, car-
in Lynch’s creative work the dualities are strikingly contrasted, in toonist, musician and dissectionist, all of which are discussed in the
this book Lynch and McKenna are too often on the same page. Lynch book—can only function if he is somewhat insulated from the world
circles around McKenna’s anecdotes but doesn’t always fully engage outside. This involves physical space: he lives in a separate building
with them. The result can, at times, be rather repetitive. to his fourth wife, Emily Stofle, and their daughter; and emotional
What he recalls and what he doesn’t, though, is pretty reveal- space: by his own admission, he is not exactly a hands-on parent to
ing. He has no memory, for example, of being offered the chance his four children.
to direct American Beauty (the 1999 film that later went on to win Lynch also prefers to be unmoored within temporal space—as dem-
an Oscar for Sam Mendes), nor the US remake of the hit Japanese onstrated by the indeterminate time zones in which many of his film
horror film The Ring. But he can remember being in Mexico City and television projects unfold. And it is also the reason, we learn, for his
at night and seeing “little funnel shapes of colour where the light aversion to graffiti. Artist and collaborator Anna Skarbek notes that
hit the walls.” He can also remember the quality of light in a sky “David hates graffiti… it dates things. When he lived in Philadelphia
glimpsed decades earlier and the sound of a pilot’s voice as he radi- he could walk down an empty street and feel like it was 1940, and graf-
oed ahead to air traffic control. He captures these moments beau- fiti erases that possibility.”
tifully: vivid little flashes of memory that puncture Lynch’s usual Finally, and most importantly for him, there is the spiritual space
soothing voice. offered by transcendental meditation. Lynch has practised this since
the early 1970s. “When I started meditating the anger went away,”
he writes. Before then, he says, inadvertently revealing his obsession
“Lynch has an idealised view with control and detail, “If I didn’t have my cereal exactly right I would
make life miserable for [his first wife] Peggy.”
of the 1950s—glinting with No matter how difficult this insulation might be for those around
chrome and optimism. But him, McKenna suggests that it allows him the space to nurture
a purity of vision, unpolluted by other people’s ideas. It results in
there’s a corrupting rot” skewed enthusiasms and a typically off-kilter view of everyday
objects. Here’s Lynch on curtains: “I love curtains. Are you kidding
me? I love them because they’re beautiful in and of themselves, but
Other subjects on which you might expect him to have something also because they hide something. There is something behind the
to say, he ignores completely. There’s a wrenchingly candid interview curtain and you don’t know if it’s good or bad.” Tables, meanwhile,
by McKenna with Lynch’s ex-girlfriend Isabella Rossellini—whom he views with suspicion. They are mostly too big, too high and cause
he met after casting her in Blue Velvet—in which she talks about the “unpleasant mental activity.”
anguish of their split. She speculates about the possible reasons for Keeping the rest of the world at arm’s length means that, when
being abruptly cut out of his life (he broke off the five-year relation- Lynch does decide to engage with current affairs, he can seem out
ship with a phone call telling her he never wanted to see her again) of touch, or at least naive about the workings of the media. During
and nearly 30 years later she wants some kind of clarification or clo- a recent interview with the Guardian, he mused that Donald Trump
sure. Lynch offers none, or at least not within the pages of the book. could go down as one of America’s greatest presidents “because he
The idea of a personal space, as the title alludes to, is central to has disrupted the thing so much. No one is able to counter this guy
the book and to Lynch himself. It goes beyond the notion of privacy, in an intelligent way.” After the first half of his answer was taken out
although that is certainly part of it. Lynch the artist—who is not of context, Lynch issued a further comment stepping back, possibly

Detective or the only time in a lifetime of baffling statements—artistic something which instigated a self-sufficiency evident in
pervert? Kyle and otherwise—that he has felt the need to clarify himself. Lynch’s can-do approach to everything from building a
MacLachlan One area with which he does engage politically is the garage for his landlord, to his (ultimately unsuccessful)
with Laura environment: he worries over GM crops and industrial attempt at designing prosthetics for The Elephant Man.
Dern and agriculture. Another theme is the change in the country- Lynch’s first love, artistically speaking, was painting.
Isabella side. “When I was growing up in Boise, the forests were But he has never felt constrained to just one medium.
Rossellini in healthy and rich and the way it smelled walking through Writing and directing, which have earned him the kind of
Blue Velvet; the woods was incredible.” Now “there’s global warming celebrity that he never wished for, are only part of a cre-
right, David and the bark beetle... That world of nature I grew up in ative continuum. Lynch doesn’t delineate between disci-
Lynch as a boy isn’t really there anymore.” plines; he just makes things. The Twin Peaks actor Dana
and directing Lynch was born in Missoula, Montana, the oldest of Ashbrook, who describes him as “the truest artist I’ve ever
Naomi Watts in three children, in 1946. His family moved around to facili- met,” tells how Lynch invited him back to his hotel room
Mulholland tate his father’s studies in entomology and agriculture, but after a day of filming to see a poster he was working on.
Drive settled in Boise, Idaho. It was this period which, the book “After 12 hours of shooting, he was going back to his room
suggests, seared the 1950s into Lynch’s psyche. In his films, and making more art—I love that about him.”
Lynch has a typically dualistic view of the 1950s: it’s partly The point isn’t laboured by McKenna but this almost
idealised—glinting with chrome and optimism; rich with spiritual, holistic way of thinking about art as an inter-
a kind of gilded innocence and boundless potential. But connected realm, rather than a neatly defined collec-
draw back the curtain, and there’s a corrupting rot which tion of activities, is something that chimes with Lynch’s
leaves shadows on his pristine Technicolor memories. transcendental meditation. Likewise, his often fatalis-
McKenna suggests that his father’s work with dis- tic approach to the creative act. He is a firm believer in
eased trees—nature spoiled from the inside—connected what he describes as “happy accidents.” A chance encoun-
with the young David’s fascination and fear of “the wild ter with the singer Rebekah Del Rio, for example, led to
pain and decay” beneath the surface of things. He talks a whole new scene in Mulholland Drive. And a degree of
of being enthralled by houses in which “the lights were luck might be at play elsewhere in Lynch’s career, certainly
dim… I’d get a feeling from these houses of stuff going on in the celebrity achieved by a filmmaker whose work is
that wasn’t happy.” deemed challenging even by arthouse audiences.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lynch’s childhood memo- Yet celebrity he is. And as McKenna observes, the level
ries are coloured by death and violence. He describes an of fame he enjoyed following Twin Peaks and Wild At Heart
arresting incident in which he and his younger brother wit- had its downsides. “When you permeate popular culture
nessed a naked, beaten woman walk out of the darkness. completely it responds by absorbing you, then assuming it
It’s a scene that lodged itself in Lynch’s memory and later knows you, then assuming it has rights where you’re con-
appeared in Blue Velvet, with Rossellini playing the dis- cerned.” All of which is an anathema to someone who best
tressed woman. creates in his own dreaming room. Perhaps, given all the
clutter and noise that comes with being this famous, just

nother formative aspect of childhood was his par- the act of being David Lynch is itself an artwork. It might
ents’ open attitude towards creativity. The Lynch just be the most important work of his career.
children were encouraged with their “projects”— Wendy Ide is Prospect’s new film critic

Rest for the wicked

A brash US talent delights in breaking taboos of all kinds, finds Josie Mitchell

ttessa Moshfegh is drawn to characters listed for the Man Booker, she suggested that the book
unwilling or unable to keep to the rules. was actually a send-up of the mainstream noir novel. She
They refuse to wash themselves or brush seemed amused that it had been taken seriously by the
their teeth; they binge on sex or substances; judges. “There are all these morons making millions of dol-
and they conceal their dirty habits from lars, so why not me? ... I thought, I’ll show you how easy
those around them. this is.” Her words were reminiscent of early interviews
In her first book, the novella McGlue, a brain-dam- with other outspoken female artists—Lena Dunham, Lily
aged, alcoholic sailor rolls around in the depths of an Allen, Adele—before they learnt how keen newspapers are
unknown ship, circling the possibility that he has killed on sensationalism. Well actually they’re still getting in trou-
his friend and lover. Her 2017 story collection, Home- ble, partly because, like Moshfegh, they seem drawn to con- My Year of Rest
sick for Another World, teems with “wild teens, limping tentious opinions, and partly because our culture tends to and Relaxation
men, young mothers, kids scattered on the hot concrete punish high self-regard in female public figures. That inter- by Ottessa
like the town’s lazy rats and pigeons.” These are people, view won Moshfegh a reputation for arrogance, and (she at Moshfegh
in Moshfegh’s words, “carrying the burden of their own least thinks) lost her consideration for the prize. Of course (Jonathan Cape,
wrecked consciousness”—who, placed in brutal scenar- we should also allow for the possibility that Moshfegh, like £12.99)
ios, tend to behave in brutal ways, with selfishness, nar- those other stars, knew exactly what she was doing—or else
cissism or obsequiousness. didn’t care.
At the age of 37, Moshfegh is one of America’s bright- Moshfegh’s new novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation,
est and brashest new literary talents. Her characters, features an unnamed narrator the same age as Eileen—
especially the women, are enemies to blind obedience though she could not be more different. “I’m tall and thin
or complacency, and have no interest in decorum. The and blond and pretty and young,” she tells us with old- “I’ll show you
title character of Eileen—Moshfegh’s brilliant 2015 novel, money assurance. “I looked like a model, had money I how easy this
which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize—is “furi- hadn’t earned, wore real designer clothing” and has just is”: Ottessa
ous, seething, my thoughts racing, my mind like a kill- graduated from Columbia. But despite her privilege, Moshfegh
er’s.” She has reason to be livid. It’s the mid-1960s and at life is not going well. Her parents are dead, hence all the
24 years old, she’s stuck in her cold little hometown, living money. (Not that they were that supportive when alive).
with a drunk father in the same run-down, filthy house In response, she’s sequestered herself in her Upper East
where her mother died of cancer. She goes to work each Side apartment with an “impressive library of psychophar-
day, but hardly cleans herself, urinates in jars and gorges maceuticals”—Trazodone, Ambien, Nembutal, Benadryl
on laxatives. Her ribs stick out but she feels fat and fleshy; allergy tablets, anything that will knock her out.
she chews chocolates and spits them back into wrappers— Contrary to what she tells her doctor, she doesn’t suf-
bad habits of someone navigating life through self-denial. fer from insomnia—she voluntarily wants to spend as little
time awake as possible: “I can’t point to any one event that
resulted in my decision to go into hibernation. Initially, I
“Unlike some in her just wanted some downers to drown out my thoughts and
censorious generation, judgments, since the constant barrage made it hard not to
hate everyone and everything. I thought life would be more
Moshfegh refuses to tolerable if my brain were slower to condemn the world
around me.”
simplify desire” The narrator is a stranger in her own life. The only peo-
ple she sees are an old college friend Reva, whom she treats
terribly, and Trevor, a banker in his thirties, who treats her
Moshfegh shows the mind trying to escape the body, or even worse. He “would periodically deplete his self-esteem
using the body to escape itself: bulging weight, acne scars, in relationships with older women, ie, women his age, then
pimples, colostomy bags. Her characters are either starv- return to me to reboot.” Reva visits with sycophantic con-
ing themselves or binging: on television or on food they sistency, though mostly to drink and comment enviously
later throw up. Although not gender-specific, she shows on the narrator’s waning weight. With no roots in the world,
how this is an especially intense struggle for women. For and no obligations, our narrator is free to seek total escap-
Eileen, living under a patriarchal system doesn’t just affect ism: so she begins sleeping for as many hours in every 24
her self-esteem—it infiltrates her sexual imagination. She as she can.
imagines her female colleagues with their “disgusting hus- Moshfegh’s women are as self-regarding as they are
bands,” or with their hands down one another’s bras, and self-loathing. When they are able to they use the men who
wants to vomit. “I can still remember my mental pictures try to take advantage of them: to get money, work, any-
of them in sexual positions, faces poised at each other’s pri- thing of value. This doesn’t mean Moshfegh fails to note
vate parts, sneering at the smell as they extended their car- gender oppression. Rather she shows how, despite her
amel-stained tongues.” character’s defiance, alcoholism, drug abuse and eating
Moshfegh is as frank in person as she is in her fiction. disorders take over her life. For her friend Reva, like many
In an interview with the Guardian after Eileen was short- of Moshfegh’s characters, going to a bar is “therapy,”

while at home for every sip of fizzy drink, she pours a dash of spir- When pressed, Moshfegh will say her writing is feminist, “because
its into the can. (Moshfegh has spoken with typical candour about I don’t hate women, I hope.” But she resists an outright statement of
her own struggles with the bottle.) But suffering does not necessar- loyalty. Much like her characters, she doesn’t want to be part of a com-
ily imply virtue, and pain does not necessarily entail victimhood. munity. She resists being inducted into a female literary heritage for
Though they are coerced into damaging their bodies by societal the same reason: “It’s hard when people want to compare me to other
pressures, they are also terrible and ridiculous people, sometimes women writers. It’s like they’re only searching their mind database
shockingly so. for women.” Instead, “Someone once compared something I wrote
“Sexual excitement nearly always made me feel sick,” admits to Nabokov, and I thought that was a huge compliment. I didn’t mind
Eileen, who works at a boys’ juvenile detention centre, but also tells that.” If we were to imagine Moshfegh under the apprenticeship of a
us about her rape fantasies. She hopes the man who does it will be master craftsman, then Nabokov it might be. She shares the author of
sweet, assuming this is the only way she will lose her virginity. Later, Lolita’s penchant for the macabre and the deranged—what he called
she rests her tongue on the glass of the window in a solitary confine- the “sacred danger” of the freak.
ment facility as she watches a 14-year-old boy masturbate. Such dis- My Year of Rest and Relaxation has also been compared to Bret Eas-
turbing details make Eileen such a vivid creature. ton Ellis’s American Psycho. Like Moshfegh’s narrator, Patrick Bate-
Moshfegh is brash and talented enough to evade the sometimes man is another numb urbanite alienated by wealth and privilege. But
censorious tendencies of the millennial generation—she refuses to whereas Bateman deals with his anger by murdering homeless peo-
simplify desire. These days we are supposed to work harder to change ple and torturing women, Moshfegh’s narrator just wants to sleep. “I
our culture so that it is less racist, sexist and homophobic. We police thought that if I did normal things,” she says, “held down a job, for
one another regarding how we communicate and behave, challenging example—I could starve off the part of me that hated everything. If
structures that were previously deemed normal. It’s a long-overdue I’d been a man I may have turned to a life of crime. But I looked like
process. And yet, the consequences are a hyper-vigilance to any opin- an off-duty model. It was too easy to let things come easily and go
ion that strays from the new orthodoxy, and a digital vigilantism that nowhere.” Ellis pushed at the outer limit of his reader’s capacity for
can be swift and savage. empathy, and Moshfegh does the same, though less violently.
Moshfegh, though, doesn’t shy away from creating protagonists Amid the gallows humour Moshfegh’s work has great optimism.
who have inappropriate desires. The narrator of My Year of Rest and My Year of Rest and Relaxation, with its archetypal characters—the
Relaxation cares little for consent, preferring Trevor (who sneaks into smart, rich model, the dickhead boyfriend—reads almost like a par-
her apartment and initiates sex while she’s asleep) to some pathetic, able. If there is a moral to her tale, it’s to reject apathy and emotional
liberal guy who’s “afraid of vaginas” and likes “masturbating to Chloë avoidance (a cowardly response to life’s vicissitudes), and instead live
Sevigny.” Her skill lies in showing how these divisive cravings grow courageously by looking for meaning in a world that may nevertheless
from the world of today. In a recent essay, she writes of how, as a teen- remain difficult and confounding.
ager, she baited a much older male writer, using his sense of sexual As the novel progresses, one becomes sensitive to its setting (New
entitlement to get what she wanted—literary mentorship. It’s a play- York, the year 2000) and the foreboding association with the Twin
ful upending of the narratives emerging in the #MeToo era. Towers (where Reva works). It’s a bold conceit, and one that in the
final pages, Moshfegh executes in tender prose, puncturing the sol-

hese off-kilter perspectives invest her writing with a freedom ipsism of her narrator. For all their detached humour, her books ulti-
from received wisdom that can be plain weird, but also deeply mately condemn escapism—via substances, sleep, irony—and instead
refreshing. Moshfegh has talked in interviews, for example, assert the importance of “diving into the unknown… wide awake.”
that the “primordial” female reproductive system encourages flexi- Moshfegh is also unusually honest about wanting to change the world
bility of thought in women, because the mind is “transformed without with her writing: “Sometimes it takes a god-complex to disrupt the
their consent every month.” It’s not a joke. In the context of a modern status quo.”
feminism that tends to downplay biological difference in the service Josie Mitchell works at Granta Magazine
of equality, the idea is impish and provocative. It reminds me of Gloria
Steinem’s marvellous thought experiment, in which she argues that if
men menstruated and women didn’t, women would be barred entry
to medical schools (“they might faint at the sight of blood”) and the
priesthood (“He gave this blood for our sins”).

Books in brief

Saving Britain: How We Must Radical Help: How We Can Remake Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient
Change to Prosper in Europe the Relationships Between Us and Wisdom Can Change Your Life
by Andrew Adonis and Will Hutton (Abacus, Revolutionise the Welfare State by Edith Hall (Bodley Head, £20)
£8.99) by Hilary Cottam (Virago, £16.99)
It was Alain de Botton’s How Proust Can
A common problem with arguments in You do not have to endorse every one of Change Your Life which started the publish-
favour of continued British membership of Hilary Cottam’s arguments about how truly ing trend for taking a famous author and
the European Union is that they often ignore dire our current welfare state arrangements mining their work for wisdom. While this
the underlying causes of the Brexit vote: the are to recognise that she is genuinely on to approach can seem contrived with some
disenchantment and regional disparities something in this book. authors, with Edith Hall’s subject, Aris-
that made people feel they really needed a Cottam, a social entrepreneur who works totle, the form is a perfect fit. The Ancient
change. The biggest strength of Saving Brit- on collaborative solutions to national prob- Greek philosopher, the student of Plato and
ain, written by peer Andrew Adonis and for- lems, argues that it’s imperative that we tutor of Alexander the Great, continually
mer Observer editor Will Hutton, both fierce help people who in one form or another have returned to the idea that the cultivation of a
pro-Europeans, is that it avoids falling into come to rely on the welfare state’s myriad ser- practical ethical life was the surest route to
this trap. It engages seriously with the under- vices—or who get lost within them—to take happiness or Eudaimonia.
lying factors behind the referendum result back control of their own lives. It’s vital that But as Hall, a classics professor at King’s
and recognises that a simple reversal of the we help them build on their own capabilities, College, London, shows us, Eudaimonia
Leave decision would not be sufficient to create their own connections and fulfil their isn’t something passive: “it requires posi-
solve Britain’s current woes. own desires. tive input,” and the development of self-con-
As you might expect, Adonis and Hutton In humane and beautifully written terms, scious habit. Split into 10 chapters, whose
believe that departure from Europe is folly, Radical Help details a series of experiments subjects range from decision-making to
and they painstakingly take apart the argu- around the country that have done just that— community living to coping with mortality,
ments for exit. Trading benefits will be illu- dealing with “chaotic families,” the unem- Hall’s book is an entertaining and instruc-
sory; our clout on the world stage diminished. ployed, benefit claimants and the lonely tive look at what a modern Aristotelian life
Crucially, more power concentrated in West- elderly living with chronic medical condi- might look like. Although hugely influen-
minster will not translate into more power for tions. The solution is renewal through rela- tial on Muslim and Christian philosophers,
deprived British regions. tionships, which will require harnessing his strictures go beyond religion and don’t
Simply remaining is not enough though; some very old as well as newer technologies. require any belief in the afterlife. And while
radical reform is needed on education, infra- It is a tale of successes and failures, and he thought women were defective versions of
structure and the world of work. In fact the sometimes of success followed by failure. men and defended slavery, as nearly all men
whole British economy needs restructuring Existing services struggle to adapt to new of his age and class did at the time, if alive
to give ordinary people more of a stake. The approaches, but given the right support can today, says Hall, he would be open to persua-
programme offered by Adonis and Hutton do well. When the money gets tight, though, sion that he was wrong on both counts.
is immensely wide-ranging, with devolution these ideas can be abandoned: they feel too His basic principle is to approach each
and immigration also given serious attention. “soft,” in more than one sense of the word. moral decision in a pragmatic rather than
The sheer breadth of the subject material, The biggest challenge, which Cottam a utopian frame of mind: ideals are less
coupled with the small space allowed for it— acknowledges, is not so much how to “scale important than results. His down-to-earth
the book is 200 pages—makes it feel a little up” (because the whole point here is that attitude was also evinced by his work on
breathless. But the enthusiasm is infectious. the system should be very local and individ- the natural world, where he prized obser-
In fact it feels rather like a manifesto for the ual) but how to make such ideas more main- vation above theory. (Hall says if Aristotle
rumoured new pro-EU political party. stream. One is left with a nagging query were alive today, he would be presenting
Adonis and Hutton propose a new “Great about how much success depends on the nature programmes in the mould of David
Charter”—something like a 21st-century exceptional individuals that Cottam seems Attenborough.) Hall’s book draws examples
Magna Carta—to kickstart a new era of Brit- able to recruit to her cause. But even so there from popular culture (she has a fondness
ish renewal. Whether you agree with that are powerful ideas here. This book should be for films from the 1980s) and draws in real-
prescription or not, this is certainly a book required reading for every politician, profes- life examples from her own and her friends’
which engages with the big issues of our time. sional and manager who seeks to make the lives. This lends a conversational tone that
And on the biggest of all—Europe—it is thor- UK a better place. They should ask them- suits her subject—recreating the congenial
oughly convincing. selves: how much of this could we do? atmosphere of an Athenian symposium.
Alex Dean Nicholas Timmins Sameer Rahim

The Lion and the Eagle: The City of Light: The Reinvention of Days of Awe
Interaction of the British and Paris by AM Homes (Granta, £14.99)
American Empires, 1783-1972 by Rupert Christiansen (Head of Zeus,
by Kathleen Burk (Bloomsbury, £30) £18.99) “I am a journalist not a soldier” one charac-
ter tells another in “Days of Awe,” the title
Just how special is the Special Relationship? The foundation stone of the Palais Garnier, story from AM Homes’s latest collection. He
In this compelling study, Kathleen Burk pre- Paris’s sparkling new opera house, was laid a and his novelist interlocutor have sneaked off
sents the relationship between Britain and mere six months before that of Montmartre’s from a genocide conference they are attend-
the US as a complicated dance, one of rivalry imposing Sacré-Cœur. The year was 1875, ing to pick apples and exchange sexual innu-
punctuated by pragmatic cooperation. The and France was a Republic once more. The endo. The pair’s academic interest in the
vantage point isn’t Washington or Westmin- Garnier and all its lavish opulence was the pain of others is unnervingly juxtaposed with
ster; it is the periphery of both countries’s culmination of the capital’s metamorphosis. their erotic playfulness. Homes, an Ameri-
empires: places such as the Canadian border, Rupert Christiansen navigates this period can writer whose best-known work The End
China, Japan and Latin America. of redevelopment via the relationship of its of Alice is narrated by an incarcerated child-
Burke is talking about the informal primary architects: Louis-Napoléon Bona- killer, has long been a master of exposing the
empire of financial and military clout. This parte III, who had been deposed in 1870, and lurid reality lying just beneath the everyday.
makes for apt comparison with contem- his fastidious Prefect of the Seine, Georges Here she exposes the banality of two selfish
porary America, with its client states and Eugène Haussmann. people who play with human suffering.
750 military installations in 130 countries. Louis’s ambition was simple. Rather Both absurdity and depredation are
Throughout the 19th century, wherever the than oppressing his citizens he would awe woven through the rest of the collection.
US looked, it found the British Empire. The them, not just through modern thorough- In “Brother on Sunday,” a macabre atmos-
two countries went to war in 1812; on several fares “roughly sketched out in blue, red, yel- phere hovers over a group of middle-aged
occasions in the 19th century they almost low and green crayons” but “in terms of sheer friends on a beach drinking mimosa cock-
fought again. spectacle, parade, pageantry and exhibition tails out of a thermos.
As its power ebbed, Britain needed the —one big long party.” From the extension of The pursuit of youth and how ageing
US. We conflated our “imperial interests the banlieues to updated water conduits and creeps up on everyone in the end is a run-
with those of the rest of the right-thinking the spacious tunnels of a vastly more hygienic ning theme. The hacked-off breast of a
world.” We couldn’t understand why the US sewer system—a major tourist attraction— woman who has battled cancer, the sagging
didn’t want to shore up its empire as a bul- Haussmann also masterminded landscap- flesh and the self-administration of Botox
wark of the global order. The animosities did ing projects that increased parkland from 20 shots before brunch—all expose an abun-
great harm in the interwar years when the hectares in 1850 to over 1,600 by 1870. dance of misery among otherwise privileged
US left Britain to cope with its international Many bemoaned the sweeping away of people. “I can’t stand it anymore, I’m miser-
responsibilities with diminishing resources. cramped, romantic streets. Christiansen, able,” the husband of the woman with can-
Dismantling the empire was a key part of however, an opera critic and cultural his- cer says when he tells her of his decision to
American policy. torian, takes a more nuanced approach: divorce her. He speaks, it seems, for every-
But as the US rose to its position of dom- although “an ideology of efficiency was the one in the story.
inance, American policymakers came to impulse,” the “clogged arteries” of Paris were In other stories, such as “Be Mine,” there
appreciate the strategic value of what was in dire need of a transplant. All this came at is something oddly disturbing about how an
left of the British Empire. As the head of the cost of displacing countless families, unnamed couple exchange seemingly innoc-
CIA covert operations said, “whenever causing astronomic increases in rent and fur- uous clichéd sentences.
there is somewhere we want to destabilise, thering the prosperity of the rich west side. Homes’s novels display her power to sus-
the British have an island nearby.” In 1968 Haussmann’s drive was relentless: the Île de tain terror and tension in a protracted nar-
an economically weak Britain announced la Cité slums were attacked “with a blow- rative; the short stories reveal her talent for
its withdrawal from its possessions east torch”—an evocative turn of phrase from the delivering the same effects in a more self-
of Suez. “The US administration was out- author who maintains the pace and energy. contained form. She doesn’t describe scenes
raged,” writes Burk. “It was the ultimate After two decades of construction came of blood and gore; instead, in the pages of
betrayal.” For Burk, this is an irony of his- Bismarck in 1870, a siege and the hideous Days of Awe, there is horror of a higher sort,
tory: the US was instrumental in bringing semaine sanglante: but the city bounced back, that of memory and mortality. Here there
down the Empire and it was not happy with and within a few years the opera house was are tenacious terrors that linger long after
the result. opened, completing Haussmann’s legacy. you close the book.
Ben Wilson Zoë Apostolides Rafia Zakaria


Art Theatre Classical & Opera

Emma Crichton-Miller Michael Coveney Alexandra Coghlan

Holy Sh!t The Ring Cycle

Kiln Theatre, 5th September to 6th October Royal Opera House, 24th September
The Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, north to 2nd November
London, has been closed for two years for Feuding gods, raging giants, scheming
an overhaul and re-build. Now re-named dwarves and, at the centre of it all, a magic
the Kiln, the venue’s distinctive scaffolded ring: Wagner’s Ring Cycle is the ultimate
courtyard auditorium has been removed operatic work, packing love and death,
to provide a more flexible open stage are- loss, jealousy and revenge into four operas
na. Artistic director Indhu Rubasingham and 16 hours. Keith Warner’s production,
launches the new season with Holy Sh!t by first seen complete in 2007, reimagines
Alexis Zegerman, a dark comedy in which the Gods as Edwardian grandees inhabit-
family, faith and friendship are stretched to ing a Blade Runner-esque world. But it’s all
I object: Ian Hislop’s search for dissent breaking point as parents move heaven and about the voices. Don’t miss young Nor-
British Museum, 6th September to 20th earth to get their daughter into the local wegian soprano Lise Davidsen sing Freia
January 2019 Church of England school. in Das Rheingold. Die Walküre introduces
History is written by the victors, but objects Nina Stemma’s Brunnhilde and Stuart
can tell another story. Private Eye’s Ian The Lover/The Collection Skelton’s Siegmund, with Stefan Vinke’s
Hislop (above) has picked around 100 objects Harold Pinter Theatre, 13th September to Siegfried and Johannes Martin Kranzle’s
from the museum’s stores to highlight an 20th October Alberich bringing the cycle to its climax.
alternative legacy of subversion. A cuneiform Two short television comedies from the
tablet from 539BC gleefully details the 1960s herald a six-month season of all 20 of Kavakos/Ma/Ax Trio
failures of Nabonidus, last king of the neo- Harold Pinter’s one-act plays at the theatre Barbican Hall, 9th September
Babylonian empire. A terracotta oil lamp which bears his name. Both The Lover and Violinist Leonidas Kavakos, cellist Yo-Yo
shows Cleopatra riding a phallus. An Edward The Collection have stage pedigree as stud- Ma and pianist Emmanuel Ax (below)
VIII penny from 1913 is defaced with the ies of sex and supremacy in the suburbs, are coming together for what should be
message, “Votes For Women.” And Banksy’s and director Jamie Lloyd’s season of Pinter an extraordinary chamber recital—pool-
prank fragment of wall art smuggled into the at the Pinter will incorporate A Slight Ache, ing their resources to perform a complete
museum in 2005, taunts the institution itself. A Kind of Alaska and the restaurant satire cycle of Brahms’s Piano Trios. Together
Celebration. The actors include Tamsin these works offer a vivid musical biog-
Ribera: Art of Violence Greig, Jane Horrocks, Rupert Graves, Ce- raphy of the composer’s life, taking the
Dulwich Picture Gallery, 26th September to lia Imrie, Ron Cook, Maggie Steed, Martin listener from the youthful and expansive
27th January 2019 Freeman and Paapa Essiedu. passion of the first trio, to the taut, almost
Xavier Bray, the curator of the revela- aphoristic third.

tory 2009 National Gallery exhibition
The Sacred Made Real: Spanish Painting Dvorak New World Symphony
and Sculpture 1600–1700, here introduces Symphony Hall, Birmingham, 12th and
that supreme exponent of sensual, violent 13th September
Counter Reformation Spanish painting, The CBSO’s practice of repeating concerts
Jusepe de Ribera (1591-1652). Eight large with slight variations in the programme,
canvases, together with drawings and means that audiences have two chances
prints, show how Ribera’s shocking images this month to hear Dvorak’s glorious, folk- NATIONAL TRUST IMAGES / ARNHEL DE SERRA, INTERFOTO / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO
of bodies in pain reflect an extended artis- infused New World Symphony, conducted
tic, religious and cultural engagement with by exciting Israeli up-and-comer Omer Meir
the depiction of bodily suffering. Wellber. Each night the symphony is paired
Queen Margaret with a different solo concerto: Gidon Kre-
Strata, Rock, Dust, Stars Royal Exchange, Manchester, mer plays Bartok’s First Violin Concerto,
York Art Gallery, 28th September to 25th 14th September to 6th October while Jan Lisiecki performs Rachmaninov’s
November Shakespeare’s Margaret of Anjou is a much-loved Second Piano Concerto.
In 1815 William Smith published the first formidable, but marginal, character in
geological map of Britain, transforming our the Henry VI trilogy and Richard III, yet
picture of Earth. With its identification of the altogether she has more lines than King Lear.
different strata that underlie the landscape, it Playwright Jeanie O’Hare places this queen
inspired not just geology but the exploitation of curses—described as the “she-wolf of
of the land’s treasures. For this ambitious France” and “a hateful, bitter hag”—centre-
exhibition, artists including Isaac Julien, stage, with her lines, and her rage, intact.
Agnes Meyer Brandis, Liz Orton and Ryoichi Jade Anouka (above) plays an avenging
Kurokawa ponder our relationship to the political whirlwind dissatisfied with her role
Earth and to the Universe. as a figure of powerless feminine suffering.

Film Television Podcasts

Wendy Ide Lucinda Smyth Charlotte Runcie

The Rider Vanity Fair Cocaine and Rhinestones: The History

Released on 14th September ITV, 2nd September, 9pm of Country Music
Unseated from the certainties of his life, As summer draws to a close, ITV kicks-off Tyler Mahan Coe
rodeo rider Brady struggles to come to its autumn schedule with a romping ad- I love diving headfirst into a podcast on a
terms with a brain injury that stops him aptation of Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, star- subject about which I know almost nothing,
from riding. This profoundly affecting ring Olivia Cooke as Becky Sharpe. Social so there’s a whole new world to discover. I’m
study of masculinity in crisis from director climber Sharpe can be a hard character currently addicted to Cocaine and Rhine-
Chloé Zhao casts former rodeo star Brady to pull off, let alone seem likeable, but stones, a comprehensive study of Country
Jandreau (below) and his real family in a Cooke’s interpretation lends her an im- & Western music as a prism through which
story loosely based on his real-life crisis mensely watchable flair. With plenty of you can experience the full richness of
following a serious head trauma. The per- acidic put-downs, Fleabag-esque looks to American culture, politics and darn good
formances are rough hewn and unpolished, camera and a stellar supporting cast, this storytelling. Tyler Mahan Coe’s passion for
but wholly persuasive, and Zhao’s use of the is a brilliantly camp take on the often drea- country, its styles and its characters, is in-
glowing magic-hour light of South Dakota ry period drama genre.  fectious, while his knowledge of the mythol-
gives the picture a timeless, mythic beauty. ogies behind the music is all-encompassing.
Angela Carter: Of Wolves & Women
BBC iPlayer, until 3rd September How to Fail
Speaking of acidic put-downs, the BBC’s Elizabeth Day
documentary on Angela Carter (below) is In this reflective eight-part interview series,
teeming with them. In one piece of foot- novelist and journalist Elizabeth Day inter-
age from 1992, she snaps at an interviewer: views esteemed literary and public fig-
“OK, I write overblown, purple, self-indul- ures, inviting them to recall three instances
gent prose. So fucking what?” Narrated by in which they feel they have failed. Guests
Sally Phillips, this hour-long documentary include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Sebastian
paints an extraordinary portrait of an un- Faulks, Olivia Laing and Gina Miller, and
derrated, unconventional writer, and fea- the failures recounted range from broken-
tures commentary from Salman Rushdie down relationships to disappointing cricket
and Jeanette Winterson. Illustrations and matches. The tone, however, is positive, with
Matangi/Maya/MIA prose extracts are also scattered through- an overriding theme that failures are the
Released on 21st September out, demonstrating the strangeness and times in our lives when we better ourselves
The challenge facing documentarian Steve complexity of her work. and sow the seeds of future success.
Loveridge is how to reconcile the compet-
ing identities which make up one of the Women and Power
most distinctive recording artists of her National Trust
generation. Pop star and political provoca- Kirsty Wark, below, marks 100 years since
teur MIA is a Grammy- and Oscar-nomi- women won the right to vote with a his-
nated musician both celebrated as a vision- tory of the British suffrage movement in an
ary and reviled as a terrorist sympathiser. impeccably structured five-part series for
The scrappy intimacy of the footage reveals the National Trust. House stewards, cura-
that there is more to the Sri Lankan-born, tors, volunteers and academics tell the story
London-raised singer than her detrac- through the NT properties connected with
tors—and her fans—could imagine. the struggle and the archives they hold,
allowing them to illuminate the past. The
Puzzle cosy production of the series makes it feel
Released on 7th September a bit like an audio tour of a stately home—a
Kelly Macdonald is quietly complex as a pleasantly transportive experience.
woman who is as buttoned up as her floral
knitted cardigan. The route to fulfilment Maniac
for Agnes, a God-fearing housewife whose Netflix, 21st September
horizons don’t extend far beyond the This high-budget 10-piece series stars Emma
kitchen and the church, is the world of Stone and Jonah Hill as patients taking part
competitive jigsaw puzzles. Like its main in a three-day medical trial. Their doctor
character, this is an unassuming charmer (Justin Theroux) claims he has created a
of a film. And Macdonald’s lovely, low- pill which solves any possible problems with
key turn chimes satisfyingly with a more the brain. What could possibly go wrong?
flamboyant performance from Irrfan Khan Though Netflix are marketing this as a
as the puzzle partner who sees her potential comedy, it’s more in the vein of Black Mirror
and her beauty. than The Good Place—and all the better for it.
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Prospectlife Illustration by Kate Hazell

Home front

by Hephzibah Anderson

nsconced in my daughter’s menagerie
of stuffed animals and dolls is a small
wooden robot. His blocky limbs are
elasticated, giving him taunting flexibility.
He can do the splits and even swivel his head
an owlish 360 degrees. He’s made in China,
naturally, and I’m fairly certain that his blue
and yellow livery is entirely toxic. But that’s
not why he keeps me awake at night.
He is a robot, the friendly face of a future
that is hurtling towards us with ever greater
velocity, and is simultaneously almost impos-
sible to imagine if, like me, you grew up in a I’ve absorbed from pop culture’s crystal ball It makes the job of equipping your child
world of Speak & Spells, Walkmans and Tele- about how tomorrow’s world might look now to thrive in the world that they will inherit
text. He represents the automation that is seem as antiquated as, well, the old BBC confounding. On nights when I don’t have
already devouring sectors from banking to television programme. more immediate anxieties to keep sleep at
law and hints at that unfathomable menace bay, I wonder what careers will be available
technologists call the singularity. He also rep-
resents the fear that every parent has about
“In some ways, my that the robots won’t have taken over. My
own? Robots can “write” passable scientific
what the future may hold for their child— daughter is already a reports, it’ll only be a matter of time before
and what, if anything, they can do to prepare child of the future. She they’re expanding their repertoire. Doctors,
them for it. teachers, therapists—robots are already tak-
Becoming a parent does weird things was conceived by ing their places.
to time. A night can last forever, a month artificial insemination My daughter, I should explain, is all of
pass by in the shake of a rattle. You imag- two-and-a-half, so this is very premature fret-
ine that once the shock of having to tend with the help of an app” fulness, but I’m not alone. Parenting experts
to a newborn’s urgent, ceaseless needs has now speak of “robot-proofing” children,
passed, the hands of the clock might revert At the same time, the future is vitally though beyond an insistence on the impor-
to their former reliable pace. They don’t. important to me in a way that it never tance of Stem subjects—science, technol-
There’s a successful US parenting pod- quite was before I had a child. This must ogy, engineering and maths—nobody really
cast whose four-word title expresses plenty: always have been the case, what’s different seems to know what that entails. Creativ-
The Longest Shortest Time. But it’s your rela- is the speed at which the future is evolving. ity, intuition and resilience are all emerging
tionship with what’s to come that changes A while ago, I interviewed a ragtag bunch as buzzwords, to which you might add flex-
most profoundly. who called themselves “futurologists.” What- ibility, though not the doing-the-splits kind.
Nothing dates faster than the future. ever their background, they all agreed on She needs to learn to code, my sister says of
Even that blameless robot belongs to a future one point: it used to be possible to gaze 10, 15 her niece—she would, she’s a former artist
that’s already part of the past. Today’s robots years into the future with some degree of cer- turned programmer who saw the light before
are mostly faceless, formless. Any inklings tainty. That’s now shrunk to just five. most of us.

Meanwhile, my mum is all for buying a

parcel of land and teaching her how to grow
her own food, because there’s also climate
change and its associated food shortages to
consider, never mind apocalyptic plagues.
(Dystopian fiction is all over the place at the
moment—it’s a genre for the childless.)
In some ways, my daughter is already a
child of the future. She was conceived by arti-
ficial insemination with the help of an app,
and when I became pregnant, I used another
to track her growth on a fruit-and-veg scale—
she’d be the size of a tomato one week, an
orange the next. I’m also a single mother by
choice, so I suppose I’m chipping away at
the nuclear family, too, but this seems like
nothing compared with the rest of the social
changes that my daughter’s generation will
take for granted. She has friends whose fam-
ilies have a whole rainbow of configurations.
And that’s to say nothing of gender, which
seems to have been radically rethought while
I went about my analogue business.
A few mornings ago, my daughter began
questioning me in great detail about how
escalators work.
“Don’t you have a book all about things
like that? Let’s look together when we get
home,” I suggest.
She considers this for a moment and then during a polar night that stretched out over ous prod at too early a stage. It needs some-
announces: “Mama doesn’t know.” a month: build a low square pyre of sticks, where to go, too: a flame cannot survive for
My heart swells. Scepticism: it has to be like a Jenga tower towards the end of a long in a stack of three sticks. Build a home
up there with coding as an imperative skill game, then fill the centre with easy-burn- for the fire it will ultimately become. Work
in whatever sci-fi world it is that those robots ing tinder (curling sheets of silver birch with its natural tendencies: build up, not
are plotting. bark, or pages torn from a book). Light the out. And remember it needs space for air to
tinder, lay another layer on top, voilà. get in. It needs to breathe.
It’s a proven method, one that has served
me well on a hundred cold evenings, but for
whatever reason—bad luck, wet fuel, gale- “When the rain is
force winds—it sometimes fails. It is not hammering down and
foolproof, I suppose, and I am often a fool.
Such failures are humbling and occur at the wind is whipping
the most inconvenient moments (shivering your face, there is
in a one-roomed cabin in the dark, breath
clouding the air; far from anywhere, when another lesson: give up”
all there is to eat is raw meat), and in com-
The wild frontier
pany I want to impress. But life is hum- Things don’t always go to plan. Some-

Sparks of life bling, and every failure carries within it a

lesson, if we are willing to take it on—often
times there’s nothing for it but to abandon
the attempt, sweep the smoking embers
things that we once knew, but of which we aside and start afresh. Accept that. Do it
by Cal Flyn
need reminding. right the next time. Don’t take shortcuts.
In this way, the travails of lighting a fire Concentrate. These are harsh life lessons in
in the wild is an excellent allegory for pur- all sorts of contexts, which are often hard
suing ambitions of many kinds. Start small, to take on board. But perhaps you stand a

hey say that “there’s no smoke with- for instance: that’s key. And begin with the better chance of getting to grips with them
out fire,” but anyone who has spent easy stuff—tissue or newspaper or feather- in a pressing practical context—when you
a furious evening poring over a damp thin shavings of wood—and work steadily are out in the wilds, and giving in to distrac-
and discouraging firepit in the lashing rain up the levels. Tissue to twig, twig to stick, tion or pride will condemn you to shivering
knows this to be untrue. One can produce stick to branch. Only then, once the fire is through the night.
plenty of thick, dark smoke, over a long good and hot and hungry for more do you And just occasionally, when the rain is
period of time, and yet still fail to produce move onto the bigger challenges. Green hammering down and the wind is whipping
flames for more than a few thrilling seconds wood. Heavy logs. None of these will be a your face and dragging the air from your
at a time. problem once the fire’s taken hold. lungs, there is another lesson too: the wis-
Starting a fire is the simplest and yet Firestarting reminds us of the value of dom of letting go, and giving up. Warm up
most exasperating of tasks. There are patience. At the start, the flame is delicate. in a sleeping bag for two if you can, and try
many methods, each based on similar prin- It needs encouragement, time. All your again in the morning when you’re in a more
ciples, but I use one I learnt in the Arctic good work might be undone by an overzeal- philosophical frame of mind.

was to make the basketball team. At least basketball is an indoor

sport, and the gyms are mostly air-conditioned. Every year as I
got older I advanced up the class ladder of football—from YMCA
games on a Saturday afternoon, which were basically just another
form of childcare, to private club leagues, where the uniforms and
bus travel cost 500 bucks a season.
Eventually I quit. Teenagers quit a lot of things, and September
In play is the time to do it—the start of the school year is also when people
give up. Everybody quits playing sport in the end, unless you go pro,

Stopping as the but then you still have to quit in your thirties, when other people
are getting into the meat of their careers. But even if you don’t turn

season starts pro, you probably have to quit several times before it really takes.
It’s like trying to quit smoking. The kid who plays low-level club
soccer for a few years before he realises he isn’t good enough might
by Benjamin Markovits end up joining some intramural team at university. Even after you
graduate, there’s the five-a-side scene for people with jobs. And
every year, after the summer ends, people ask themselves: “Am I
really going to sign up for this again?” The better you used to be,

very summer when I was a kid we went to Europe to escape the the harder it is to continue.
heat in Texas. At the end of August we flew back from Lon-
don, were met coming out of the air-conditioned airport by a
wall of wet heat, fell asleep on the ride home and woke up deeply “Everybody quits playing sport in
confused to the pulse of crickets and sprinklers and the smell and the end, and September is the time
sounds of our old house. My dad would carry us in from the car
before getting the suitcases. Then we tried to fall asleep again, in
to do it”
familiar beds, twisting and kicking off the sweaty sheets. Heat is
like the way a place expresses intimacy—the world feels very close. What’s the point of getting worse at something, my dad once
A few days later I was back at school. asked me. He used to be a scratch golfer but had more or less given
One of the consolations was the fact that the school year coin- up by the time we were born. He used to play everything. For a cer-
cided with the beginning of the American Football season. On Sun- tain kind of kid, that’s what childhood is—an extended ball game,
day, after Hebrew class, I could spend most of the afternoon on the where the kind of ball just varies according to season.
couch, eating crisps and watching the NFL. And, with the first day Last summer, at the height of the English heat wave, I asked
of fifth grade or seventh grade or tenth grade behind me, I could stay him if he wanted to join me on the tennis court. I’ve started knock-
up late and watch the Monday night game—with Al Michaels and ing a ball around with a writer named Mike Mewshaw, who’s writ-
Howard Cosell, whose nasal tones I used to imitate with my friends ten some great books on tennis and would kick my ass if it weren’t
as a commentary to our own backyard games. “It is spring, moonless for the fact that I’m 30-odd years younger than he is. He’s my dad’s
night, in the Louisiana Superdome”—mixing in a little Under Milk age, and my dad came along. My dad hasn’t played in two decades,
Wood as we shot hoops or threw a ball around. but he put on a pair of my shorts and laced up his dress shoes, and
The school year also brought along try-out season. I remember wandered squinting into the bright English sunshine with a racket
once, a week after coming home, still not acclimatised, having to in his hand. His first 10 shots he feathered into the net, but then he
run twice around campus in the four o’clock sun, which followed started to get the feel of it again, and I could see the old instinct
you like the spotlight in a prison break, and almost throwing up and kicking in. Which tells you, okay, all right, hit me another ball, I can
passing out. My eyes went dark, I could hear blood in my ears. This get better at this. It doesn’t completely go away.

Premeditations by Hannah Berry

The way we were

Extracts from memoirs and diaries

by Ian Irvine

Arriving at university

Classical musing Lord Byron arrived at Trinity

Your mob, my populus College, Cambridge. He wrote

to his half-sister Augusta:
“As might be supposed I like a College Life
by Charlotte Higgins extremely, especially as I have escaped the Tram-
mels or rather Fetters of my domestic Tyrant, Mrs
Byron [his mother], who continued to plague
me during my visit in July and September. I am

n the mid-1st century BC, Rome’s repub- now most pleasantly situated in Superexcellent
lican constitution, which had served Rooms, flanked on one side by my Tutor, and
the city well for hundreds of years, was on the other by an old Fellow, both of whom are
coming under strain. The people’s assem- rather checks on my vivacity. I am allowed 500 a
bly voted military leaders such as Pompey year, a Servant and a Horse, so feel as independ-
exceptional powers, overturning traditional ent as a German Prince who coins his own Cash,
checks and balances, often because of real or or a Cherokee Chief who coins no cash at all, but
imagined threats from foreign powers. This enjoys what is more precious, Liberty.”
febrile, violent period eventually resolved
into strong-man rule under Augustus. For
history enthusiasts, it is one of the most fas-
cinating going—providing thrilling material
later observed:
Max Beerbohm arrived at
Merton College, Oxford. He

for Rubicon, a novelistic history of the period “I was a modest, good-humoured boy. It is Oxford
by Tom Holland, and a trio of historical nov- that has made me insufferable.”
els by Robert Harris.
It was recorded in real-time detail by the
statesman and philosopher Cicero in count-
less letters and speeches. Reading them
1950  Sylvia Plath arrived at Smith
College, Massachusetts. She
wrote to her mother:
you can feel that the dark arts of politi- “WH Auden is to come to Smith next year and
cal manoeuvring and skulduggery haven’t know about Clodius comes straight from Cic- may teach English or possibly Creative Writ-
changed all that much—except that in Rome, ero, his sworn enemy. But was there an alter- ing. So I hope to petition to get into one of his
the stakes were considerably higher. Forget native view? Clodius’s actual policies, such as classes. (Imagine saying, ‘Oh yes, I studied writ-
being the victim of a Twitter mob: in this distribution of free grain in Rome, suggest he ing under Auden!’). Honestly, Mum, I could just
political atmosphere you could be the mur- may have been a principled, radical reformer, cry with happiness. I love this place so, and there
dered victim of a real mob. Cicero ended operating with the people’s interests firmly is so much to do creatively… The world is split-
up dead, his severed head displayed in the in view. A Rome for the many, perhaps, and ting open at my feet like a ripe, juicy watermelon.
Roman forum. A political enemy, the aris- not the few. Clodius as a much-maligned If only I can work, work, work to justify all of my
tocratic Fulvia, reputedly took out her hair- Momentum-style activist. opportunities.”
pins and stabbed his tongue, in revenge for Clodius is a character in Harris’s nov-
his barbed wit and weaponised oratory.
The divisive question of populism was
absolutely central to the rows that pulsated
els, which have been adapted for the stage.
Shortly after resigning as Foreign Secretary,
Boris Johnson went to the show, the first part
1960  Jeremy Lewis arrived at Trinity
College, Dublin:
“I felt hungover, underslept and ruinously indi-
through the late republic. The adjective of which features Cicero’s famous speeches gested: the long night [on the ferry], the Guin-
“popularis”—meaning “of the people”— against another populist aristocrat, Cati- ness and the pork pie were taking their toll; it was
could either be a term of abuse or a badge of line, whom the orator accused of conspiring still raining; and for all its seedy elegance, Dub-
honour, depending on your perspective. to overthrow the Roman state. Some have lin seemed to exude a sour smell of stale stout
The aristocratic Clodius Pulcher is a case argued that Cicero exaggerated the danger and old socks. I wandered into Trinity, and the
in point: according to Cicero, he was a mob- for his own political purposes—a view that graceful Georgian squares looked sombre and
pleasing, power-hungry brute, who terror- Johnson shares. “There are those who say elegant in the chilly morning light, with here and
ised the streets with his militia. He had also, the Catiline Conspiracy was an early exam- there a broken window, and the odd unshaven
allegedly, committed a gross act of sacrilege: ple of that basic utensil of politics—scaring figure groping its way in a dressing gown, towel
turning up to a female-only religious ritual the public witless,” Johnson wrote. “Other- over the arm and spongebag in hand, towards
disguised as a woman, in order to steal a night wise known as Project Fear.” the College Baths, where enormous enamel tubs
in bed with Pompeia, who also happened to To which the arch-Remainer Harris awaited it, like private swimming-pools, with a
be Caesar’s wife. Clodius was acquitted in the responded on Twitter, “Surprised he didn’t claw at each corner and vast brass taps belch-
ensuing trial, after members of the jury were recognise that the patrician cynically whip- ing steam and boiling water. I bought a postcard
offered “women or upper-class boys as they ping up the mob to gratify his own ambition of Front Square—the sky a cobalt blue, the grass
preferred,” in the words of Holland. is actually him.” In our times as in theirs, a fluorescent lime—and sent home a gloomy
These are great stories, and might remind when you’ve got them on your side they’re message to the effect that Dublin seemed quite
us of all kinds of modern tales of political “the people,” but the moment a rival is bet- dreadful and that they should expect me home
sleaze. The trouble is, nearly everything we ter at winning their hearts, they’re the mob. within the next day or two.”

What effect does this hyper-connectivity have on us?

There used to be an idea that anyone who said that the
news was depressing didn’t know what depression was.
I no longer think this is true. When I look back at tur-
Bad habits bulent times in my own life I now see the over consump-
tion of news—the trial of Fred and Rosemary West, 9/11,
And finally... the nuclear floods in Japan—played a role in my struggle.
Perhaps this is because to stay sane I have to maintain
by Cathy Rentzenbrink a faith in humanity, which is difficult to do when watch-
ing news channels compete with each other in the after-
math of a global disaster. It’s also to do with the way news
plays with our perspective on the world. Our logical mind
knows that we are being shown the extraordinary, but at

hen I was growing up I spent a lot of time with a more primal level it is hard not to start seeing risk eve-
my maternal grandparents. He was a bus driver rywhere, which means it is hard not to succumb to the
and she was a typist. They thought it part belief that the world is a dangerous and cruel place.
of their civic duty to be informed so every night they
watched the evening news. It always ended with a light-
hearted “and finally,” before they turned off the televi- “My husband has deleted
sion and went to bed. That last bit is hard to do in the his news apps. Brexit has
modern world. In an era of multiple news channels and
social media how do we ever find an off switch? And how not improved, but his ability
do we re-create our own “and finally” that makes us feel a to be a pleasant breakfast
little better about the world before we go to sleep?
A friend of mine is cross that he doesn’t fall asleep as
companion has”
soon as his head hits the pillow. He spends his evening
watching news programmes on the bounce and scrolling All this is amplified by social media. I never again want
through Twitter and emails on his phone. When he turns to find out something horrible has happened because I’m
in for the night, he puts the phone on his bedside table. seeing individual people tweet things like, “Shit, no” or
He can’t turn it off because he uses it as an alarm clock. little heartbreak emojis and pictures of teardrops next to
After a few minutes of trying to fall asleep he gets bored national flags. And there is something especially difficult
and picks the phone up again for another round of check- to process about the way social media layers a photo of a
ing. Why is he surprised that this is not a recipe for a good dead child on a beach in between a picture of someone’s
night’s sleep? cocktail and a plea from an author that you buy his book
because it’s his birthday.
The continual consumption of news certainly has the
power to render depressed those, like me, who are suscep-
tible to depression and it might not do anyone else any
favours either. My Dutch husband used to read the latest
on Brexit on his phone as he stirred the porridge. Since
he deleted all his news apps, the Brexit situation has not
improved but his ability to be a pleasant breakfast com-
panion has. It is such an easy trap to fall into, that we are
so aghast by the behaviour of our rulers, that we don’t pay
attention to the actual real people and things in our lives.
My grandparents thought informing themselves on
the issues of the day was crucial to being a good citizen
but I just don’t trust the makers of news in the way that
they did. Am I fulfilling my civic duty or am I expos-
ing myself to yet more manipulation where everything
is clickbait and I am the stupid fish who will be so dis-
tressed by being able to livestream humanity at its worst
that I will then have to drink or eat or buy stuff in an
attempt to make myself feel better.
Not consuming news is good for my mental health,
but probably living in a nunnery would be too. I don’t
want to live apart from the world so my current strategy
is to try to recreate a pre-internet way of interacting with
events. No news before breakfast and none after 7pm
gives enough of a gap for me. Then I turn everything off
and talk to a human or read a book. I’m saner as a result
of it and I don’t think the world suffers from my nightly
inattention. In the future, we will all need to find our own
off switch.
Think Tank Awards 2018
All the results from our biggest and broadest annual contest yet

he global landscape is riven by fracturing alliances Beyond Zero Emissions from Australia, for its work on cement
and waning friendships. The post-war international production. That industry causes 8 per cent of global greenhouse
architecture is under threat, and the spirit of mul- emissions, more than all the world’s cars put together.
tilateralism is in decline. We have the White House In the Global Affairs category, the Observer Research Founda-
picking trade wars with a rising, insular China, as an tion impressed judges. So did the Brazil-based Igarapé Institute,
enfeebled EU looks on. Brexit is a particularly poignant example which was runner-up for its campaign to reduce murder rates
of the old order unravelling. in the seven most homicidal countries in the world—all in Latin
In such mercurial, and sometimes frightening times, fraught America. But the winner was the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center
international relations can soon descend from the high politics of for Global Policy, which has created “a useful conduit for a large
diplomacy, which a few think tanks specialise in, to the day-to- body of Chinese academics to interface with their global counter-
day grind and graft of domestic public policy, which occupies the parts,” and speak frankly—an invaluable service.
great bulk of them. From the geopolitical drama of Brexit one day,
to worrying about new technologies that might speed up customs EU Awards
checks on dairy products at the Irish border, the next. In the Financial and Economic category, Bruegel did strong
All of this ensures that think tanks everywhere have much work work on the need to strengthen EU leadership structures, and
to do. And this year, for the first time, in appraising their work, emerged as runner-up. But this year’s winner was Transparency
Prospect took entries from right around the world. This made for International for its work on whistleblowing—a subject of great
the largest ever awards ceremony, with the results adjudicated by a significance for the financial services sector, for financial stabil-
stellar panel of judges including diplomats, journalists and schol- ity and also government. In Social Policy, Transparency Inter-
ars. In recognition of what the best think tanks do for the public national again impressed with its work on corruption, and the
realm, we’ve also introduced new tie-break criteria—so that, in the panel was also taken with the European Centre for International
case of two tanks being closely matched on points, a strong record Political Economy, who emerged as runner-up. Its “Digital Trade
on transparency in funding or in training the next generation of Restrictiveness Index” was judged “an outstanding innovative
researchers can be taken into account. contribution.” But the winner was Katalys, for “topical,” “com-
prehensive” and “practical” efforts to grapple with integration,
International Awards inequality and pensions.
Prospect’s awards have long covered Europe and America, but this The energy category was extremely competitive, with a tie
year, for the first time, we have taken entries and honoured insti- between two outstanding tanks: the Centre for European Pol-
tutions from across the whole planet. In the Economic Category, icy Studies and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute. Nansen had, one
the UN University World Institute for Development Economics judge noted, “a strong impact on Norwegian policy” and “a depth
was commended for its work on often strikingly successful Asian of expertise, backed up by interdisciplinary intellectual rigour.”
industrial strategies. Libertad y Progreso from Argentina was the As for CEPS, it was rated as having a “strong impact” on policy,
runner-up, for its “clear and accessible work” on the folly of pro- with ideas of “very wide significance.” But there could be only one
tectionism. But the winner this year was the African Center for winner, and Fridtjof Nansen’s record in fostering scholars, along
Economic Transformation, for its exceptional work on knitting with its transparency on funding, just gave it the edge.
agricultural and industrial strategy together. In the international area, the Casimir Pulaski Foundation’s
In Social Policy, the Carnegie Middle East Center was hailed wargaming and analysis impressed, as did Carnegie Europe who
for data and recommendations based on the experiences of Syr- emerged as runner-up, not least for “dissecting” “Turkey’s march
ian refugees. Observer Research Foundation, from India, did to autocracy.” But the winner was the Centre for European Pol-
“excellent” work on healthcare, housing, food and water provi- icy Studies, which one judge said, “has been at or near the top of
sion, and emerged as runner-up. But the winner was the Afghani- its field for many years,” and known “for its incisive, innovative
stan Research and Evaluation Unit, which matched “top-class and independent research and writing.”
research” with “plausible policy prescriptions.”
The same Afghan outfit also scored well in our International North America Awards
Energy & Environment category, for its work on opium poppy In the Economic and Financial field, The Economic Innovation
cultivation. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water, an Group was commended and emerged as runner-up, for analy-
Indian think tank, was the runner-up. It looked at electricity and sis of US business and society. But the winner was the Peterson
healthcare in rural Chhattisgarh where, chillingly, 90 per cent Institute, who did excellent work on the eurozone. “Some of these
of state clinics experienced power cuts. But the winner was the ideas,” wrote one judge, “will almost certainly make an appear-

Clockwise from upper

left: the crowd gathers
before the awards;
Prospect’s Editor Tom
Clark presents the
International Social
Policy Award to the
Afghanistan Research
and Evaluation Unit;
the Centre for
European Reform
with the Think Tank

of the Year Award

(and winner’s tank
top); David Landsman
addresses the crowd

ance if the political will can be found.” In Social Policy, the RAND In the Social Policy area, the Fabians have done “very influen-
Corporation was rated as runner-up because of its cool-headed tial work,” on the justice system, while Bright Blue has also had a
work in the fraught field of gun policy. But the winner was the good year. The IfG was runner-up but the winner was the Joseph
Macdonald-Laurier Institute, a Canadian think tank, whose Rowntree Foundation, with its unstinting focus on poverty, and
analysis of crime was “tight,” “focused” and gave rise to “ambi- its particular efforts to recast the way it is discussed.
tious yet do-able proposals.” In the Energy and the Environment category, Chatham House
For Energy and the Environment, the Stimson Center was impressed on food security and was runner-up. But the winner
picked out as runner-up for highlighting the strain put on the was Policy Exchange which, this year, one judge said, “paid par-
world’s fisheries. But the winner was the Global Carbon Project ticular attention to the economic drivers behind effective envi-
for its excellent work on emissions and climate change. ronmental policies, especially energy policies, and demonstrated
In the International category, New America was saluted for impressive convening power” as well as grabbing media attention.
work that drew on documents spirited out of Syria to make sense In the international section, the Centre for European Reform
of Islamic State, work one judge called “one of the most ambi- was impressive. Rusi, the runner-up, was strong on Russia and its
tious entries in the entire competition.” The RAND Corporation land forces, but the winner was the UK in a Changing Europe,
was runner-up for its compelling and timely output on “Truth which one judge called “very impressive and substantial,” adding
Decay.” But the winner this year was the Carnegie Endowment pointedly that their output was “far more authoritative and sub-
for International Peace, which did outstanding work on Rus- stantial than government policy.”
sia—“as impressive as anything in the competition,” our judges
said. One to Watch
The Vuelio “One to Watch” award, for an innovative tank on the
UK Awards up, went to an organisation from South America that is confront-
In Economic and Financial, the Royal United Services Insti- ing the deepest societal problems in the most challenging of urban
tute (Rusi) has, one judge said, “carved themselves out a strong environments, and doing so with imagination and technical verve.
niche” for work on financial crime and sanctions. The Centre for That organisation was the Igarapé Institute of Brazil.
European Reform was also picked out for its work on the eco-
nomic trouble brewing in Britain’s relations with the continent. Think Tank of the Year
The runner-up was the Institute for Fiscal Studies, for what And the winner this year stood out as uniquely timely in this hour
one judge called its “clear and cogent analysis.” But the win- for its determination to keep the Brexit debate grounded in analy-
ner was the Institute for Government (IfG), which, one judge sis and fact rather than emotion and bluster. That think tank was
noted have newly “established themselves as a serious source of the Centre for European Reform.
analysis for budgetary matters and Brexit,” with connections The Awards were supported by Tata. Thanks also to Vuelio, Funding
in the heart of Whitehall that help them get real “traction in Circle, the Financial Inclusion Commission, Octopus Energy and
government.” Associated British Ports
Prospect will once again be putting on a series of discussions and debates at the party conferences to give delegates and
parliamentarians the opportunity to debate some of the key issues affecting the UK.
To attend our events or to find out more about our thought leadership programmes, please contact Saskia Abdoh. For sales
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How can we preserve our trading relationship

with the EU post-Brexit?
Date: Monday 24th September, 3pm
Tom Clark in conversation with Vince Cable MP Chair: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect
Date: Monday 17th September, 7.45pm Speakers: Anneliese Dodds MP, Shadow Treasury
Minister; Tim Reardon, Head of EU Exit,
Port of Dover; Adam Marshall, Director-General,
British Chambers of Commerce

How could a smarter approach to infrastructure

The Parliamentary Staffer Welcome Reception and mobility improve regional growth?
Date: Sunday 23rd September, 6-10pm Date: Monday 24th September, 7.30pm (invite only)
Chair: Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor, Prospect
Speakers: Yvette Cooper MP, Chair, Home Affairs
Committee (invited); Chris Hulatt, Octopus Digital dilemmas: making the internet work
for everyone
Date: Tuesday 25th September, 12.45pm (invite only)
Beyond the bank: how can we advance access to
talent and capital for Britain’s SMEs?
Date: Sunday 23rd September, 7.30pm (Invite only) The Financial Inclusion Reception
Speakers: Peter Dowd MP, Shadow Chief Secretary Date: Tuesday 25th September, 5.45pm
to the Treasury; Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Chair: Steve Bloomfield, Deputy Editor, Prospect
Economic Secretary to the Treasury; Speakers: Peter Dowd MP, Shadow Chief Secretary
Stephen Timms MP, Exiting the EU Committee; to the Treasury; Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman,
David de Koning, Director of Group Communication, Financial Inclusion Commission; Jessica Lennard,
Funding Circle Head of UK Regulatory and Public Affairs, Visa Europe

Banking on Change: how can we better address the

banking needs of the financially excluded?
Date: Monday 24th September, 12.45 (Invite only)
Chair: Andy Davis, Associate Finance Editor, Prospect
Speakers: Yvonne Fovargue MP, Shadow Minister
for Housing, Communities and Local Government;
Seema Malhotra, Member, Committee on Exiting the Addressing the construction skills gap now
European Union; Rushanara Ali MP, Member, and post-Brexit?
Treasury Select Committee; Anne Pieckielon, Date: Sunday 30th September, 3.45pm
Director of Product and Strategy, CASS; Chris Pond, Chair: Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor, Prospect
Vice Chair, Financial Inclusion Commission Speakers: Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State
for Education (invited); Brian Berry, Chief Executive,
Federation of Master Builders; Senior representative,
How can we support our higher education British Property Federation
sector post-Brexit?
Date: Monday 24th September, 12.45
Chair: Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor, Prospect Rise of tech giants and data capitalism:
Speakers: Paul Blomfield MP, Shadow Minister for the new you on Blockchains?
Exiting the European Union; Helen Brand, CEO, ACCA Date: Sunday 30th September, 3.45pm
Chair: Jon Bernstein, Associate Editor, Prospect
Speakers: Jeremy Wright MP, Secretary of State for
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (invited);
Delivering an inclusive economy— Grant Shapps MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary
consumer markets for the many not the few Group on Blockchain; Birgitte Andersen, CEO,
Date: Monday 24th September, 3.45pm (Invite only) Big Innovation Centre

Beyond the bank: how can we advance access The Financial Inclusion Reception
to talent and capital for Britain’s SMEs? Date: Monday 1st October, 7pm
Date: Monday 1st October, 7.30pm (invite only) Chair: Steve Bloomfield, Deputy Editor, Prospect
Speakers: Lee Rowley MP, Member, Public Accounts Speakers: Guy Opperman MP, Minister for Pensions and
Committee; David de Koning, Director of Group Financial Inclusion; Sherard Cowper-Coles, Chairman,
Communication, Funding Circle Financial Inclusion Commission; Jessica Lennard,
Head of UK Regulatory and Public Affairs, Visa Europe
Health tech and patient empowerment:
how can data save lives? Abuse, rage and fake news:
Date: Monday 1st October, 12.45pm how Twitter is ruining politics
Chair: Steve Bloomfield, Deputy Editor, Prospect Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 10am
Speakers: Helen Whately MP, Chair, All-Party Prospect’s Steve Bloomfield in conversation with Rafael Behr
Parliamentary Health Group; Chris Green MP, Chair,
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Medical Research; Prospect Health
Mohammad al-Ubaydli, CEO, Patients Know Best Innovation Programme
The Civil War without muskets:
In light of their history, can the
How can we support our higher education Conservatives reunite after Brexit?
sector post-Brexit? Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 10am
Date: Monday 1st October, 12.45pm Chair: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect
Chair: Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor, Prospect Speakers: Richard Graham MP, Member, Committee
Speakers: Damian Hinds MP, Secretary of State on Exiting the European Union
for Education (invited); Helen Brand, CEO, ACCA;
Shakira Martin, President, NUS; Pooja Kumari,
Research Manager, Policy Connect Equality in the workplace: can the
Conservatives lead the agenda?
Banking on Change: how would inclusive Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 12.45pm
banking services work in practice? Chair: Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor, Prospect
Date: Monday 1st October, 12.45pm (invite only) Speakers: Maria Miller MP, Chair, Women and Equalities
Chair: Andy Davis, Associate Finance Editor, Prospect Committee (invited); Justine Greening MP (invited); Frances
Speakers: Kevin Hollinrake MP, Member, Housing, O’Grady, General Secretary, TUC
Communities and Local Government Committee;
Anne Pieckielon, Director of Product and Strategy, CASS;
Chris Pond, Vice Chair, Financial Inclusion Commission How can investment in national infrastructure
help to rebalance the UK economy?
Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 12.45pm
Beyond tariffs: where are our opportunities Chair: Steve Bloomfield, Deputy Editor, Prospect
to boost trade post-Brexit? Speakers: Jack Brereton MP, Member, Transport Select
Date: Monday 1st October, 4pm Committee; Steve Double MP, Transport Select Committee; Prospect Future of
Chair: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect Sadie Morgan, National Infrastructure Commission Transport Programme
Speakers: Suella Braverman MP, Parliamentary Under
Secretary of State for DExEU (invited); John Howell MP,
Trade Envoy to Nigeria; David Leighton, Group Head Going global: how can we support growth
of Corporate Affairs, Associated British Ports; and innovation through place-making?
Alan Winters, Director, UK Trade Policy Observatory Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 3.45pm
Chair: Tom Clark, Editor, Prospect
The new economy: how will automation Speakers: Lord Oliver Henley, Parliamentary Under Secretary
of State, BEIS;Mark Pawsey MP, Member, Business,
and AI change the future of work? Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee; Adam Marshall,
Date: Monday 1st October, 5.45pm Director General, British Chambers of Commerce;
Chair: Steve Bloomfield, Deputy Editor, Prospect Vicky Pryce, Economist, CEBR
Speakers: Alok Sharma MP, Minister of State for Employment;
Neil Carmichael, Chair, Commission on Sustainable Learning Prospect New Economy
for Life, Work and a Changing Economy Tom Clark in conversation with Nicky Morgan MP
Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 5.45pm
Risks, governance and crisis: how can the
UK address emerging national security threats?
Date: Monday 1st October, 5.45pm
Global Britain: what does it mean?
Chair: Jay Elwes, Executive Editor, Prospect Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 5.45pm
Speakers: Vicky Ford MP, Member, Science and Technology Chair: Steve Bloomfield, Deputy Editor, Prospect
Committee; David Jamieson, Police and Crime Prospect Data
Speakers: Richard Graham MP, Member, Committee on
Commissioner for the West Midlands Police (invited) Programme Exiting the European Union; Andrew Adonis

The Parliamentary Staffer Welcome Reception Delivering sustainable learning for life, work and
Date: Monday 1st October, 6pm a changing economy—and the cost of failing to act
Chair: Stephanie Boland, Digital Editor, Prospect Date: Tuesday 2nd October, 5pm
Speakers: Brandon Lewis, Chairman of the Chair: Jay Elwes, Executive Editor, Prospect
Conservative Party; Lisa Townsend, Octopus
Speakers: Anne Milton MP, Minister for Apprenticeships
and Skills; Neil Carmichael, Chair, Commission on
How could a smarter approach to infrastructure Sustainable Learning for Life, Work and
and mobility improve regional growth? a Changing Economy

Date: Monday 1st October, 7.30pm (Invite only)

Building a new North

ike natural environments, indus- For anyone interested in the renewal of the immense global nuclear clean-up and decommis-
tries shape places. Our industries North, the Powerhouse concept is surely beyond sioning market.
create cultures, build identities and doubt. At its heart, the Northern Powerhouse is Sellafield’s vision fits closely with the aims
give birth to communities. Britain’s a partnership between the institutions of govern- of the Northern Powerhouse, such as improv-
regions were shaped by their indus- ment and the leaders, councils and businesses of ing connectivity and transport to enable future
tries, nowhere more so than in the North of the North. Irrespective of whichever party gov- growth, work on skills, science and innovation
England. erns in the foreseeable future, public investment leading to export opportunities.We are a major
As England’s great industrial cities boomed in will remain hard to find. industrial player with fantastic skills and a buoy-
the nineteenth century, politics sought to manage By necessity, the Northern Powerhouse ant supply chain. It’s important that we broaden
the dividends and ameliorate the often invidious is not simply a channel through which to fun- understanding of our mission and contribution
consequences of the unprecedented economic nel public money, it is a vision of the North that to the regional and national economy.
and social change: always behind, never ahead. prioritises innovation, collaboration and part- The Northern Powerhouse initiatives have
The following century demonstrated that nership between all those who care about the got to be solved on the ground, and working
the culture and identity of the North was not future of the region and the economy that sus- in partnership with the community, like we are
only shaped by how and when industry grew, but tains it. It is an invitation to modern industrialists doing at Sellafield, can improve education, develop
when it shrank. and business leaders who care about place-based entrepreneurship and attract new investment.
The 21st century brought publicly funded growth to shape the region and its future, and it’s Silicon Valley – today’s byword for modernity,
regeneration: Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, a deliberate provocation: why should the vision progress and economic opportunity – was not
Leeds and Sheffield began to boom again as pri- required to shape the economic growth of the created by an act of Congress. The internet – the
vate investment followed public.The success of future be left solely to the public sector and fuel upon which Silicon Valley runs – is the brain
the region dispelled the myth of a dual ‘private’ political processes? child of British computer scientist Tim Berners-
and ‘public’ sector economy, demonstrating that The UK nuclear industry is a product of Lee.The Houses of Parliament could never have
the success of both was, and is, mutual. collaboration between government, academia, legislated for its creation.The same could be said
The renaissance of the North was brought industry, workers and local communities: it’s an for the printing press, the spinning jenny and the
to a hard stop by the global crash of 2008 which illustration of how this approach works for the steam engine: inventions that brought about eco-
brought with it an unprecedented challenge for long term and why the Nuclear Decommission- nomic, social and political revolutions. Inventions
the region. For an area long-used to dealing with ing Authority’s (NDA) Sellafield site has much that no legislature could have ever foreseen.
the consequences of a shrinking private sector, to offer. The NDA’s subsidiary Sellafield Ltd The future success of the North requires an
there was little preparedness for how to respond has now taken a prominent role in the North- approach to partnership between the public and
to the challenges of a retreating public sector. ern Powerhouse. Sellafield, after all, is the original private sector not yet seen in Britain. It deserves
The consequences of Brexit will test it further. Northern Powerhouse. widespread political support and it requires busi-
The Northern Powerhouse – a pre-Brexit The site was created to produce the mate- nesses in the region to abandon timidity and to
innovation – is an attempt to recalibrate the rials to help us win the Cold War, and a few step forward to help shape the future.With the
economy as a whole by ‘rebalancing’ growth away years later, was home to the world’s first com- right vision, business will find enthusiastic part-
from the south east towards the North. mercial nuclear power plant. Its core mission ners in local government, the trade unions, aca-
It’s still early days for the Powerhouse. Pub- now is nuclear clean-up, decommissioning and demia and politicians of every hue: ‘industrial
lic money is hard to come by – there simply isn’t demolishing many buildings on the West Cum- activism’ in action.
much of it around – and the process of Brexit has brian site – a huge task. Some of the most diffi- The Northern Powerhouse will endure.The
paralysed the legislature: but to use either issue cult engineering and environmental remediation new North will not be built over night, but with
as an excuse for failure fails to understand the challenges exist at Sellafield. As a result the site the creation of long term partnerships between
lessons of history and fails to understand what has become a world leader in solving these chal- the public and private sector, it will be built.
the Northern Powerhouse is fundamentally lenges.The expertise, innovations and technol- Jamie Reed, Head of Corporate Affairs,
about. ogies developed can be put to good use in the Sellafield Ltd

Policy report: Reviving the north

How can it be that the north and south of England are so unequal? In property prices, life expectancy and economic
activity, London and the south outstrip the north on every measure. Successive governments have promised to close
that gap but have so far failed. What can we do—and what is realistic?

A mayor writes But with the combination of more pow- of northern cities close enough to work
ers to local leaders, targeted investment together and put aside regional rivalries.
Ben Houchen and a modern industrial strategy, we really If the north can raise its game, it will be
can start to close that north-south divide. good for UK plc—but to achieve new jobs,
The Northern Powerhouse is at risk of Ben Houchen, Conservative Mayor of the Tees growth and investment, we need some big
being defined by its detractors. For the Valley changes.
publicity-hungry politician, there are col- Take transport. Northern commuters
umn inches in playing up the north-south and families have faced weeks of rail chaos.
divide. They forget that it’s up to us, as In search of the rich life Over one million working hours were lost,
northern leaders, to turn our fortunes and train operators warned that the disrup-
around. Home to more than 15m people, Caroline Flint tion could last until November. But until the
1m businesses, seven international air- north’s railways improve—frequency, capac-
ports and some of the world’s top univer- The north is known for industry, but we ity and journey times—increased productiv-
sities, we should not passively accept the are equally proud of its cultural heritage: ity will be out of reach.
story of decline in the north. the Brontës, Lowry and the Beatles. Our The MPs of the Northern Powerhouse
When it comes to investment, the gov- sporting heritage is equally rich. A world- All-Party Parliamentary Group will be lob-
ernment’s Northern Powerhouse Invest- wide fan-base follows the north’s Premier bying government for further rail devolution.
ment Fund has already made hundreds of League football teams; Rugby league was Transport for the North was established for
millions of pounds available to businesses born in Huddersfield; and the Great North this role. Now it needs real powers.
from Merseyside to Middlesbrough. In the Run remains the world’s most friendly And in the longer-term, we need North-
region I represent as mayor, we are making half-marathon. ern Powerhouse Rail connecting our urban
millions available to support businesses. But the UK economy is over-dependent centres to a high-speed rail network, begin-
Infrastructure is central. The rail on London—the north has lagged behind ning with a fast Hull-Manchester-Liverpool
scheduling issues that have dominated the for too long. Four years ago, the Northern line, which could be up and running before
media this summer are hugely important Powerhouse brought together a collection HS2.
to many people—myself included—but
the real question is whether the govern-
ment commits to Northern Powerhouse “In the longer term,
Rail. This project is a great opportunity to
make the most of technologies, like hydro-
we need Northern
gen-powered trains and 5G data networks. Powerhouse Rail
Devolution is the most exciting part of
the Northern Powerhouse. It is now clear
connecting our urban
that the old model of running everything centres to a high-speed
from Whitehall is broken. Devolution has rail network”
worked in London, and it’s working in
Teesside too.
For me, the Northern Powerhouse has
always been about letting people make the
best decisions for their own regions. Over
decades, under governments of all polit-
ical colours, our economy has become
unbalanced. In the north especially, we’ve
seen the excessive creation of public sector
jobs. This isn’t the answer.
Politicians are often asked whether the
Northern Powerhouse is a success, and
depending on their party, they answer yes
or no without much thought.

Trying to turn around a hundred years

of relative decline is not going to be easy.
The kind of structural changes required to
rebalance the nation’s economy and tackle
inequality between the north and south
will take time—no serious economist or
business person would tell you otherwise.

Grasping economic opportunities also

requires skills. Our recent, “Educating the View from the Ministry: the transport question
North” report revealed that disadvantaged
northern pupils are one whole GCSE grade Chris Grayling
behind their London counterparts. We are
calling for the government to invest £300m We’ve seen many recent technological rev- country—including the north—will gain
to ensure every child is school-ready. olutions in our lifetimes—now it’s time for access to new customers around the world.
Work-based education—modern appren- the next transport revolution. We’re mak- The coming decades are going to be
ticeships—are central to our ambitions. A ing the biggest investment in the railways transformative for our motor industry.
well-equipped workforce is crucial to attract- since the Victorian era: a third runway at The “Road to Zero” sets out a way for the
ing companies from across the globe to Heathrow, and the “Road To Zero” strat- UK to become a world leader in zero emis-
choose the north to develop their business. egy which will make the UK the best place sion transport. The government is invest-
Our new age requires information and to drive an electric vehicle. ing £1.5bn in ultra-low emission vehicles
data, smart production and integrated We have made a commitment to North- by 2021.
robotics to raise productivity. The mod- ern Powerhouse Rail and are spending There are already more than 150,000
ern manufacturing worker will not just more than £13bn through to 2020 to trans- ultra-low emission vehicles on our roads
repeat one task many times, they will be a form transport across the north. We are and 14,000 public charge points. Notting-
decision-maker getting the most from the investing in the Great North Rail Project ham, Bristol, Milton Keynes and London,
technology. and the TransPennine Express franchise, which have received a share of £40m to
The north’s love of sport, culture and to double the capacity of the network with boost the number of plug-in cars.
music is matched by its ancient heritage state of the art trains, longer carriages with It is estimated that, by 2035, the mar-
from Hadrian’s Wall to Cuthbert’s Holy more seats for passengers and more ser- ket for autonomous vehicles could be worth
Island; from Ivar the Boneless’s conquest of vices by 2020. £28bn. To achieve these ambitions, we
York to Wordsworth’s Lake District. Towns We are also investing £55.7bn in HS2, are working alongside industry and other
and villages are rightly proud of their great which will become the backbone of our groups to meet the UK’s transport needs.
histories and community identities. national rail network—helping us to boost But we need more engineers—the
A rich life awaits anyone who wants to jobs and growth, and improve vital links industry faces a shortfall of 20,000 engi-
be part of the north’s future success. The between some of Britain’s biggest cities. neering graduates a year. The Year of
region’s best days may still lie ahead. The A new third runway at Heathrow will Engineering is a government campaign.
MPs and civic leaders of the Northern provide benefits of up to £74bn to passen- We have joined forces with more than 1,400
Powerhouse are determined to make the gers and the wider economy, as well as cre- industry partners to transform perceptions
most of it. ating tens of thousands of jobs. Heathrow of engineering among young people.
Caroline Flint is Labour MP for Don Valley and is already the UK’s biggest airport for both A revolution is on its way—and UK
Co-Chair of the Northern Powerhouse All-Party passengers and freight and the north-west transport is heading into the future.
Parliamentary Group runway will almost double the airport’s Chris Grayling is Secretary of State for
capacity for goods. Businesses across the Transport

Spinning wheels of them by laying new railway lines. France, will cost £55.7bn. But what will it do? Shave
for example, has got stupendously fast trains 20 or so minutes off train times from the
Jay Elwes and has had them for decades. But it hasn’t Midlands into London? People who like the
stopped huge swathes of la France profonde idea say it will encourage investment in the
Big projects invite big political talk. The from becoming backwaters. Italy, the United north. People who don’t like it say it’ll sim-
“Northern Powerhouse” is no exception. An States—in fact think of any country and ply create a new class of super-commuter—
idea invented by George Osborne, it was a you’ll find it infested with regional imbal- it’ll make London more accessible.
project born of the fifty thousand feet per- ances. Why should Britain be able to find a Truth is, nobody knows. Much of Brit-
spective of No 11 Downing Street. You can solution that has eluded all other nations? ain’s transport infrastructure is looking
almost imagine the former Chancellor point- And yet government is spending a huge tired. Better trains are a good thing, but
ing at his map of the UK: “we’ve got lots of pile of money on new infrastructure, the won’t necessarily get people out of London.
economic activity here,” points to central bulk of it, as is made clear above, on trans- And besides, people are already leaving Lon-
London, “but we need to move some of it up port. It’s no doubt a crucial question, as our don—336,000 went in 2017. Their top desti-
here,” points to Barrow-in-Furness. special supplement shows. Commuters cer- nation was Birmingham. They didn’t need
But does it really work like that? That’s a tainly like new trains. HS2 or the Northern Powerhouse to get
question that goes ignored by the politicians But they also hate it when trains go awry, them there. The real question is, now they’re
who promote the idea of “rebalancing” Brit- as happened with the failed introduction of there, what do they need? The answer to that
ain. All countries have regional imbalances new timetables across the north. That bun- needs no big political branding exercise—
and it’s not immediately clear whether any gled effort doesn’t bode well for larger pro- just competence.
other country has succeeded in getting rid jects like HS2, which as Chris Grayling says, Jay Elwes is Executive Editor of Prospect

The future
of transport
Vive la Révolution!

Meet the controller

The future of transport

It’s time for Britain

to plug in For more on the future of British transport, including an extended interview
with John Armitt, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, visit:
In association with

10/08/2018 14:58

transport.indd 1
for a free
market solution
to solve the
housing crisis.

Find out more at:

A Northern Soul
Special screening at the 5th Annual Joseph Rowntree Foundation & Prospect Poverty Lecture

Join Prospect and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation

on 13th September for the 5th Annual Poverty Lecture
at the screening of Sean McAllister’s award-winning “Class and chance collide in
film, A Northern Soul. Sean McAllister’s brilliant Sheffield Doc/Fest
Tickets are free but limited. Please register opening film, as young performers are guided
your attendance at through their home’s transformational year
prospectmagazine.co.uk/events/a-northern-soul as UK city of culture”
Following the screening there will be a Q&A with Charlie Phillips, The Guardian
contributions from Sean McAllister and Campbell Robb,
Chief Executive, JRF, JRHT with introductions from
Tom Clark, Editor of Prospect.
The event will begin promptly at 6.30pm, A Northern Soul
Director Sean McAllister, Producer Elhum Shakerifar &
please arrive early. There will be a drinks reception Sean McAllister, Cinematography Sean McAllister,
following the screening and Q&A. Editing Johnny Burke, Music Terence Dunn.


The Prospect Book Club meets every third Monday of the month (excluding
bank holidays) at 6.30pm at 2 Queen Anne’s Gate, London, SW1H 9AA.
To book tickets please visit prospectmagazine.co.uk/events

Monday 17th September Monday 15th October Monday 19th November

Edith Hall Oliver Bullough Alan Rusbridger
Aristotle’s Way: How Ancient Moneyland: Why Thieves And Breaking News: The Remaking
Wisdom Can Change Your Crooks Now Rule The World of Journalism and Why It
Life And How To Take It Back Matters Now
Aristotle is possibly the From ruined towns on the We are living through the
greatest philosopher of all edge of Siberia, to Bond-vil- greatest communication revo-
time—certainly he is the lain lairs in Knightsbridge lution since Gutenberg in
most influential. The big question he and Manhattan, something has gone wrong which falsehood regularly seems to over-
asked was how we are to lead a with the workings of the world. Join author whelm truth. In Breaking News, Alan Rus-
meaningful and happy life. In her new and Prospect contributor Oliver Bullough bridger offers an urgent examination of the
book, Edith Hall, a professor at King’s on a journey into Moneyland—the secret past, present and future of the press, and
College, London, outlines 10 practical country of the lawless, stateless super rich. the forces menacing its freedom. He re-
lessons in life we can learn from Aristotle, Meet the kleptocrats (and their awful chil- flects on his 20 years as editor of the Guard-
ranging from how to choose a partner to dren), and find out how heroic activists ian, and his experience of breaking some of
dealing with death. around the world are fighting back. the most significant stories of our time.

at Wimbledon Bookfest 2018

Prospect will be media partners to Wimbledon BookFest for the
From 4th to 14th October Wimbledon BookFest invites you to third year running, and will be taking part in the following events:
Wimbledon Common for a wide range of events encompassing Sunday 7th October, 14:45
fiction, non-fiction, film, comedy, sport and music, plus an eclectic Jon Bew chaired by Tom Clark
mix of personalities who are relevant, exciting and thought-
Tuesday 9th October, 18:45
provoking. Highlights include literary heavyweights Sebastian Faulks
Jamie and Richard Susskind chaired by Sameer Rahim
and Pat Barker, comedians Alan Davies and Adam Kay,
and historians Max Hastings and Andrew Roberts. Wednesday 10th October, 20:15
Peter Hain chaired by Steve Bloomfield
For tickets and more information see: www.wimbledonbookfest.org

Jay Elwes speaks to George Magnus

Tuesday 30th October, 6.30-8pm, Prospect offices
Join Jay Elwes, executive editor of Prospect, and George Magnus, associate at
HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy Oxford University’s China Centre and a senior economic adviser to UBS Investment
and music festival, is landing in the heart of London Bank, to discuss China’s evolving economic relationships, the sustainability of Xi
for the very first time this September. Jinping’s regime, and what a conflict-happy Trump might mean for China’s future
should an all-out trade war break out.
From 22nd to 23rd September, the world’s leading thinkers will
flock to the spectacular grounds of Kenwood House on Hampstead Is the United Nations the new League of Nations?
Heath in London, sharing the stage with over 30 bands and comedy Tuesday 4th December, 6.30-8pm, Prospect offices
acts in what promises to be an intellectual and artistic extravaganza. There can be no doubt that over the last 50 years the United Nations has helped
to improve global living standards and spurred on international development to
For more information and to book tickets please visit: new heights. However, with the return of unilateralism and the well-chronicled
rise of the strongmen such as Trump, Putin, Xi, and Erdoğan—it is worth
considering whether the UN is still fit for purpose.
Our confirmed speakers include Jay Elwes, executive editor of Prospect;
John Sawers, former chief of the Secret Intelligence Service; Clare Short, former
secretary of state for international development; and Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair of
the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.

For more information and to book tickets for any of the above
Prospect events please visit: prospectmagazine.co.uk/events
Editor’s Club members go FREE to all Prospect events

Has education lost its way?

Today education is supposed to be about ‘empowering’
the student, but little empowerment stems from memoriz-
ing facts or mugging up process skills. Genuine empow-
erment comes from understanding others and articulating
common goals. This is supposed to be covered by teaching
the humanities, but high-pressure testing tends to turn the
humanities into yet another memorization chore.

The PER Group websites:


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Coleridge, James Joyce
and Ivy Compton-Burnett
have in common?

A. They all received grants from

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please contact Richard Rowe:
Helping authors since 1790.

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The generalist by Didymus Enigmas & puzzles

Never odd or even?
Barry R Clarke

At Palindrome Palace in Scandanavia, the visitors must

always enter the court of King Otto walking forwards,
and leave it walking backwards. Also, since Otto takes
pleasure in feeling superior, their first and last words
must always be the cry “Dammit, I’m mad!” For anyone
who is neglectful, the penalty is eternal banishment,
however, the transgressor is traditionally offered the
opportunity of redemption if a digital palindromic
puzzle can be solved.

Unfortunately, Barc Crab has just violated the king’s

protocol: his exit was made walking sideways instead
of in reverse. So now a court official has presented him
with the task of deciphering a palindromic number,
that is, one that reads identically forwards and

The puzzle has seven digits, to be selected from 1–9

inclusive, which satisfy the following conditions.

(1) The 4th and 6th digits differ by 2.

(2) Either the 3rd or 7th digit is even but not both.
(3) There is only one square digit.
(4) Only two positions have a prime digit.
(5) The 5th and 6th digits differ by 3.
(6) No digit appears more than twice.

What is the seven-digit number?

Last month’s solution
ACROSS 34 Johanna ..., British tennis player 8 Composer of the opera Antony
who reached the semi-finals of and Cleopatra: 31 Across sang the The ratio is 1 : 4 : 7. Let the red, white, and blue glasses be R, W,
10 In Islam, a tax of 2.5%, payable and B, respectively. The final contents for R in units becomes
on property and used for the Wimbledon Women’s Singles role of Cleopatra in the original
Championship last year (5) 1966 performances (6,6) (7/24)R + (11/24)W + (1/4)B. For W we have (1/6)R + (5/6)W +
religious and charitable purposes
(5) 35 In Scotland, prickly (5) (1)B. Finally, for B we get (13/24)R + (17/24)W + (7/4)B). Taking
9 Market town in Herefordshire
associated with Leofric and Lady the B value in each case we have the answer for the ratio.
11 Veils worn by some Muslim 36 Childish, undeveloped (9)
Godiva (10) The full solution can be found at:
women in public (8) 40 English physician and writer barryispuzzled.com/EnigmaAug18.pdf
12 City and port in Fujian province whose seven-volume work on 13 Met Office observatory in
in southeast China, lying human sexuality was banned in the Southern Uplands near
opposite Taiwan (6) Great Britain (8,5) Langholm (11)
19 The 68th US Secretary of State
14 Residential and holiday town
in the northeast of the Wirral
41 City in Madhya Pradesh which is
part of the Chambral river valley from 2013 to 2017 (5) How to enter
peninsula (8) (7) 23 Paintings of rural settings, The generalist prize
15 Shakespeare’s term for a finger 43 Sheep’s or goat’s cheese popular particularly associated with
Watteau (5,8)
The winner receives a copy of Living With
hole in a flute (7) in Greece (4)
the Gods by Neil MacGregor, the former
16 Ancient city in Sumer, noted 44 Proclaim, articulate (7) 24 Youngest editor of a national
newspaper when appointed as
Director of the National Gallery and
for its long frontier conflict with 45 Growing in pairs -- like this
Lagash (4) editor of the News of the World in British Museum. Living With the Gods
compiler, it seems! (8)
2000 (7,4) focuses on the shared narratives that have
17 A small South American anteater 46 A tableau of Christ’s nativity (6)
(7) 26 Chief of a fictitious secret society shaped societies from the stone age to the
47 German publisher and founder of free thinkers (12) modern world—and how believing and
18 Its counties include Darlington, of a series of travel guides (8)
Dorchester and York (5,8) 28 Urban …, 1997 album by The rituals strengthen the sense of belonging.
48 French city on the Camargue Verve (5)
20 French cardinal and statesman delta where Van Gogh spent his Enigmas & puzzles prize
whose aim was to destroy the last and most productive years 30 Solids with twenty plane faces The winner receives a copy of The Colour
power of the Huguenots during (5) (10) of Time: A New History of the World 1850-
the reign of Louis XIII (9) 32 Informal conferences for 1960 by Dan Jones and Marina Amaral.
21 Persian Gulf sheikhdom, capital discussion of theological matters
DOWN (10)
The book offers a unique perspective
Doha (5)
1 Provinces such as Coclé, Colón on the past as Amaral has used black-
22 Adelina ..., Spanish-born Italian 33 First professional cricketer to be
and Darién (10) knighted and who scored 61,237 and-white photographs as a basis for
operatic coloratura soprano,
(1843 - 1919) (5) 2 In Scotland, an old woman (8) runs in his career (4,5) creating full colour renditions, bringing
25 Electronic keyboard instrument 3 Outer casing of a flower which 37 In ballroom dancing, a step the images to life. Jones has written the
which features prominently protects the developing bud (5) incorporating a heel pivot (8) narrative that puts each image in context.
in Turangalîla-Symphonie by 4 Breed of large sheep from 38 Cliff on the right-hand bank Rules
Messiaen (5,8) Northumberland, reared for their of the Rhine near Sankt Send your solution to answer@prospect-magazine.co.uk
27 Administrative centre of West wool (7) Goarshausen, the legendary or Crossword/Enigmas, Prospect, 2 Queen Anne’s Gate,
Berkshire, with Aldermaston and 5 French département in the home of a siren (7)
Greenham Common close by (7) Midi-Pyrénées region, capital
SW1H 9AA. Include your email and postal address.
39 Ancient city on the Tigris,
Montauban (4-2-7) opposite the modern city of
Entries must be received by 7th September. Winners
29 Imitation or representation in art
(7) 6 South American cattle ranches Mosul (7) announced in our October issue.
31 US soprano much associated (9) 42 Farewell to the French about to Last month’s winners
with 8 Down’s music (8,5) 7 A variety of large sweet cherry (7) depart (5) The generalist: Tony Pearson, Croydon
Enigmas & puzzles: Werner Wiethege, London
Last month’s generalist solutions can be found on the opposing page Download a PDF of this page at www.prospectmagazine.co.uk

First news/historical event you can recall?
England winning the World Cup in 1966. But the flour bomb-
ing of the 1970 Miss World contest left a more lasting


The book you are most embarrassed you never yet read?
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Inequal-
ity is rampant, but I need to understand more about how
global capital drives it.

One bit of advice you’d give to your younger self?

When you first go out on your own into the world, you don’t
have to experience everything all at once. Although, on reflec-
tion, I’m secretly proud of what was a valiant attempt!

What is your favourite saying or quotation?

“I subscribe to the divine right of discontent to see improve-
ments and to have a better way of life.” Jack Jones (referencing
his union movement forebear, Jim Larkin), the former General
Secretary of the Transport & General Workers’ Union.

Where do you want to be buried/have your ashes scattered?

I like the idea of having my ashes scattered over the sea but
I’m a wimp about cremation so it looks like a plot in the local
cemetery for me. I seem to remember a JP Donleavy story in
which the hero, fearful of accidentally being buried alive,
takes the precaution of having a telephone installed in his
final resting place—just in case he wakes up. I might take a
fully charged iPhone.

If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you
spend it on and why?
That’s easy—I’d spend it on union organisers to put the likes of
Uber and Sports Direct under even more pressure. Either that
or the best street party ever; we could all do with cheering up.

The talent you wish you had?

Playing electric guitar. Any woman of my age who’s read Viv
Frances O’Grady Albertine’s memoir Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music,
Boys, Boys, Boys will share that dream.
General Secretary, TUC
What have you changed your mind about?
First-past-the-post voting—as politics has become more plu-
ral, it has represented voters less well. I still have reservations
about proportional representation, but I’m more sympathetic
than I was. However, one thing is for sure, winning back public
trust in parliament will take more than an institutional fix.

What is the biggest problem of all?

Currently, the creepy occupants of the White House and the
Kremlin. But the root of almost all of our problems is

The last piece of music/play/novel/film that brought you to tears?

Film of the Suite for Ma Dukes Orchestra performing “Fall in
Love.” It’s a tender orchestral tribute to hip-hop legend J Dilla
and there is something about that musical fusion that is all the
more touching.
Why are we wrong about
nearly everything?

What percentage of the population do you think

GUESS: 44% are overweight or obese? REALITY: 62%

What percentage of young adults aged 25-34 still

GUESS: 43% live with their parents? REALITY: 14%

What percentage of the population

GUESS: 25% do you think are immigrants? REALITY: 13%

‘MANDATORY The Perils of Perception

READING.’ is a ground-breaking
- Steven Pinker exploration of our
ignorance, informed by
major studies across over
‘SIMPLY 40 countries.
- Ma“hew d’Ancona OUT NOW
Data above taken from IPSOS UK survey
Open Morning 22nd September 10.00-12.30 www.mtsn.org.uk

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