Your essential weekend reader — 12 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday evening, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices culled from the 50+ I’ve linked to from my Delcicious account this last week…

Groundhog year – Peter Kellner examines the polls to find how 12 months’ political turmoil has shifted popular opinion. The answer — not at all: ‘public reaction this year to Britain’s continuing economic troubles has been remarkably static. 2012 has been groundhog year.’

What next? Osborne needs a change of direction – Adam Posen, a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England, lambasts the Chancellor’s failed strategy: ‘For two-and-a-half years, the coalition government’s economic policies have focused on the wrong narrow goal, been self-defeating in pursuit of that goal, and in so doing have eaten away at British economic capabilities and confidence. It is past time for me, and far more importantly for the chancellor, to say so.’

Musical Chairs with Ribbentrop – Bee Wilson‘s brilliant account of the life of Nancy Astor, the first female MP to take her seat in the Commons, but apparently it ‘didn’t impress her much. “I can’t think of anything worse than being among six hundred men none of whom really wanted you there.”‘

Stop banging the vending machine – Tim Harford proposes abolishing BOTH impotent outrage against Starbucks AND corporation tax: ‘to think that a multinational corporation has insulted you is a category error. It’s like thinking a coin-operated machine has stolen money from you. We need to stop banging the vending machine in fury and figure out a better way.’

The party machines might not know it yet but political parties are dying – Peter Watt looks at the death of one type of career politician and the advent of the next type: ‘It may take another few years for the process to complete but it is inevitable that rocking the boat, striving to be seen as an authentic individual and occasionally being prepared to vote against the whip will become more common.’

Discussing the State of the British Media with Ian Hislop – Simon Childs has a wide-ranging, perceptive interview with Private Eye’s editor: ‘if broadsheets become magazines about gardening, cooking and what’s on the telly without news at the heart of it then they may find that they have nothing to sell.’

Why journalism and politics should remain independent – Kirsty Hughes detects the hand of Joseph Heller behind Lord Justice Leveson’s report: ‘Catch 22: the press council fails if anyone chooses voluntarily not to join; but if the body fails, compulsory backstop regulation steps in.’

Why the BBC’s boss had to go – Kevin Marsh, a former BBC editor, dissects the circumstances that led to George Entwistle’s departure and forecasts the future: ‘Once the dust has settled, there’ll be more compliance forms, more compulsory referrals, more systems to ensure anything contentious is signed off at the highest possible level. And more caution.’

It takes a decadent village - The Economist’s Lexington asks if low birth-rates correlate to ‘decadence’ (much more thoughtful than it sounds): ‘I think, as a matter of personal sensibility and conviction, that having children is an extremely important part of interacting with the universe at a level that extends beyond your own immediate circumstances.’

Anatomy of a Twitterstorm – Anya Palmer on the aftermath of tweeters’ nowtrage: ‘What happens when someone tweets a picture of a vile sexist card aimed at 13 year old girls that might have something to do with Hallmark? And what happens when it turns out it doesn’t?’

The Genius of Merkel – Katinka Barysch on why Germans love their chancellor: ‘Merkel is the epitome of German politics … Germans think the ability to create consensus is important for leadership… [and] would probably find most British leaders loud-mouthed, impulsive and unnecessarily combative in style.’

An apology to Virgin Care for inaccurate articles I have written and published – Dr Eoin Clarke is sorry, oh-so-sorry: ‘I, Dr Eoin Clarke, apologise wholly and unreservedly to Virgin Care, its employees, subsidiaries and service users, as well as my readers, for writing over 46 blog entries that contained false, inaccurate and defamatory statements.’

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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10 Comments

  • The anatomy of a twitterstorm article does before the story does. Hallmark found that the company who make the card IS a subsidiary, issued a formal apology, and said they would make sure the card is no longer manufactured. You can find a link to this more up to date version of the story in one of my links posts from two or three days ago, if you’re interested. Certainly painting the issue as having nothing to do with hallmark is something of a misleading headline.

  • I’d certainly be interested to read the link to the updated story, Jennie. My understanding was that — though, yes, Hallmark owns the company which produced the card — the offensive card itself dated back to years *before* Hallmark owned it. So Hallmark’s ultimate fault for allowing the card to be distributed — and presumably that error in their supply process is why they’ve rightly apologised — but Hallmark were in no way associated with creating the card in the first place. That’s surely an important distinction to make?

  • All that is true, none of it is clear from the storify you link to, which ends with hallmark’s denial of having anything to do with the company making the card, does not make clear that the company actually is a subsidiary, and does not make clear hallmark’s gracious and praiseworthy actions taken afterwards.

  • paul barker 16th Dec '12 - 2:34pm

    For me the most interesting article was Kellners on the complete failure of the polls to register any significant change over the last year. I think the explanation is simple, the voters are not seriously thinking about politics & (barring some enormous crisis) wont till the run-up to 2015.
    You could conclude that most polling outside the election period is totally pointless but Kellner is hardly going to say that.

  • @ Jennie – ah, I guess you only read the first page of Anya’s Hallmark article then – the next 3 pages do complete the story, including Hallmark’s actions.

  • Simon McGrath 16th Dec '12 - 6:24pm

    @Geoffrey – it certainly is. ‘Dr’ (actually a PhD in irish history) Clarke has said numerous untrue things about Virgin. This is on top of his previous abject apology for lies about Circle healthcare.

  • Geoffrey Payne 17th Dec '12 - 1:31pm

    Well I have never heard of him before, and I will ignore him from now on. Panorama did an attack on Virgin Care some time ago, but I didn’t think it amounted to much. We will find out what is really going on in due course.

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