Sunday, November 16, 2008

This week

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Polly Toynbee. Not for the first time, she seems to be the only observer writing about the worst victims of the economic crisis. Forget bankers, businesses and financial institutions, "the lid is being lifted on the 'flexible' work culture beneath the surface glitz of the boom years", she wrote in The Guardian on Saturday. Agency and temping workers are losing their jobs in the thousands and can forget about redundancy pay. It's "the 'flexible' army that fuelled the boom: cheap, no strings, with no compensation".

Sophie Heawood in the Independent. Though her article contains a number of debatable points, it at least acknoweldges the scary exponential growth of a "definite underclass" in Britain - without, at last, relating it to the lavish £60.50 a week dole handout. Rare stuff, when so many opinionated columnists are convinced that there's a queue of 'scum' so terribly attracted to the country's sumptuous benefits.

Barack Obama. You still think Democrats and Republicans are the same, don't you? This week a) Barack Obama stood up to George W Bush over the routine killing of trade union leaders in Colombia (don't forget the British government sells weapons to Colombia); b) he's talking a reluctant Bush into authorising a bailout for the US car industry as they face bankruptcy (which would then trigger a terrifying domino effect in the whole country). Not only that. Advised by Al Gore, Obama wants to link financial assistance to be used on "making more fuel-efficient cars" such as "plug-in hybrids".


The Daily Mail (part 1). Unemployment is rising fast like never before in this decade. Businesses are going bust. The pound is sinking. So what's their main story today? An old lady who, as a former activist of Labour Action for Peace, moved to Prague in 1985 to allegedly spy on behalf of the old Czech secret service. Their editorial, of course, jumps at the opportunity. Check (quite literally) this classic: "Much of the Labour Party was then, and remains now, hostile to the traditions and institutions of this country. Today such people no longer have the Soviet Union as a sort of alternative fatherland. But they have not necessarily become British patriots. Some are infatuated with the European Union. Others instinctively undermine and oppose anything connected with the Establishment. Some devote their energies to political correctness."

The Daily Mail (part 2). Tabloids this week enjoyed a bit of a feast battering council estate dwellers and welfare recipients. If you're in any doubt where the tide is going, then look at this stunning piece of investigative journalism ("Revealed: The X-rated family Cheryl Cole left behind") in which Richard Price gives the words 'sneering' and 'patronising' new depths. Meet Cheryl's sister who "lives in frayed jeans and tracksuits accessorised by gaudy jewellery which owes more to Argos than Tiffany". Then her brother too, "an alcoholic glue-sniffer who has clocked up more than 50 court appearances and spent a third of his life behind bars." Ewww, a trip to the zoo would have been more fun, wouldn't it Mr Price?

The Conservatives. According to the latest opinion polls, their lead went from 19 points in September to 5 per cent at present. So nice to see that smug toff George Osborne dropping a clanger after the other. Apparently, "angry Tory activists" are saying he "should go".

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