Your essential weekend reader — 10 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Sunday, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Europe’s long shadow – Anthony Beevor isn’t optimistic about the continent’s future as cuts bite: ‘This is what risks creating the bitterness and national resentments which encourages people to listen to demagogues and turn their backs on democracy.’

A bail-out by any other name – Charlemagne looks at the latest bail-out re-scheduling of Greece’s debt: ‘the euro zone is crossing the Rubicon: it knows it will have to take losses in order to keep Greece in the club.’

The Future Jobs Fund: what a waste – Jonathan Portes despairs of unevidenced government policy: ‘the programme has already been cancelled, so instead of spending money on something we now know works – for young people on the dole, for employers, and for society as a whole – we’re spending it on other things. And we don’t know (yet) if they work or not. That’s a real waste.’

Making sense of the Mary Whitehouse experience – James Howell assesses her legacy: ‘Whitehouse may be 11 years dead, but it seems she did leave a mark – it’s just that nobody is quite sure what it is.’

Political debate turns to panto – Sadie Smith rails against professional provocateurs’ pretence that intractable issues have easy answers: ‘Disagree with what the government’s doing. Disagree with what Israel’s doing in Gaza. But if you think the answer lies in simplified polemicist rantings then you are emphatically not part of the solution.’

Why would the Tories form a pact with a party that’s largely B-rate, erratic and berserk? – Craig Barrett makes the point: ‘UKIP is a vanity organisation with merely one recognisable face – when have you seen anyone else represent UKIP on Question Time?’

The Slate Book Review Top 10 of 2012 – Slate staffers pick their this year faves, including Hilary Mantel’s Bring up the Bodies.

Leveson: what the public really want – Peter Kellner analyses public opinion: ‘We don’t like the idea of politicians curbing the freedom of speech; but neither do we want editors and publishers remaining in charge of regulation.’

The Leveson inquiry is irrelevant to 21st-century journalism – Emily Bell points out the elephant in the room which Sir Brian referred to but ignored: ‘Domestic regulation of the press is already at odds with some of the freer aspects of the internet (as with contempt law), and the real remedy is a change in culture at every level.’

What can Governors do? – Chris Dillow questions the influence an individual can have over the economy: ‘The role of Governor is not so much to shape the economy decisively as to give the impression that he is in control.’

Why murders are down – The Economist tries and fails to work why New York just experienced its first murder-free day in living memory: ‘Basically, we don’t entirely know why America’s urban murder rate has fallen.’

The Tories flirting with Ukip are feeling the siren lure of unelectable purity – Rafael Behr points out the real difference between the Coalition parties: ‘most Lib Dems are enjoying being in government while a solid rump of Tory MPs are not.’

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • Tony Dawson 2nd Dec '12 - 12:24pm

    “when have you seen anyone else represent UKIP on Question Time?’”

    This is a silly criticism. The BBC wouldn’t dream of having any other UKIPper on other than Farage, just as they insist on maintaining a highly-artificial representation of Britain’s Liberal Democrats.

  • Bill le Breton 2nd Dec '12 - 7:20pm

    If UKIP wasn’t the big story, I wonder whether Stephen might have pointed to an alternative story from the New Statesman: ? It’s our old friend the output gap again, the size of the structural deficit and what Osborne might find in 2014 if the OBR accepted a measure for the output gap from Capital Economics (6%) rather than feebly taking the average of all the forecasts (3.3%). Even Oxford Economics is up to 5.5%.

    On Wednesday we shall have signed up to unnecessary further cuts if our aim was truly to remove the structural deficit.

  • David Allen 2nd Dec '12 - 7:23pm

    “when have you seen anyone else represent UKIP on Question Time?’”

    They had deputy leader Paul Nuttall on recently!

  • Tony Dawson 2nd Dec '12 - 7:34pm

    @David Allen

    “They had deputy leader Paul Nuttall on recently!”

    Missed that one. Nuttall by name, nut all (figuratively) by nature. 🙁

  • Nick (not Clegg) 4th Dec '12 - 9:11am

    It seems to me that UKIP are about where the Liberals were (in public perception – not in policy) when I “came in “. Do others of my generation recall when we used to bewail the fact that whenever the BBC invited a Liberal to be interviewed or to take part in a panel discussion it was always Jo Grimond ( subsequently Jeremy Thorpe)? And yet we had a leaflet entitled “This Is Liberal Policy” with nothing on the front sheet other than the title and a photograph of the Leader’s face?

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