All posts tagged: guardian

The Guardian view on John Swinney’s Scotland: a new start but also more of the same | Editorial

The Guardian view on John Swinney’s Scotland: a new start but also more of the same | Editorial

[ad_1] Scotland’s new first minister is an experienced and unflashy politician who can read the public mood. Almost everything that John Swinney has said and done since replacing Humza Yousaf this week shows he grasps the palpable wish – south of the border as well as north – for more effective government that is led by more sensible politicians who do not spend their time playing to the gallery. The question, after 17 years governing Scotland, is whether any SNP leader can now deliver this. Mr Swinney’s election speech on Tuesday and his debut at first minister’s questions at Holyrood on Thursday were each designed to show that he gets it. On Tuesday, after accepting that cross-party parliamentary cooperation would be necessary under the minority government he now leads, he perambulated through the chamber to shake hands with other party leaders. It was a small gesture, of a kind that newly elected leaders sometimes make before things get more serious, but it was a good start nonetheless. At first minister’s questions, Mr Swinney had a …

The Guardian view on Britain’s dirty waterways: a failure of industry and regulation | Editorial

The Guardian view on Britain’s dirty waterways: a failure of industry and regulation | Editorial

[ad_1] A steady stream of stories about the shockingly poor state of Britain’s waterways has turned into a flood. In March, news that competitors in the Boat Race had been warned to stay out of the Thames due to sewage pollution travelled round the world. That the water industry is dysfunctional, and for years has enriched shareholders and executives at the expense of customers, is broadly recognised by the public. Anglers, surfers and swimmers have joined with environmentalists and the former pop star Feargal Sharkey to demand improvements. Polling last year suggested more than half of voters would take the government’s handling of sewage into account when deciding how to vote. The latest warnings about the situation from Dame Glenys Stacey, the environment watchdog, are thus not surprising. But her data and analysis still have the power to shock. Under the worst-case assessment from the Office for Environmental Protection, just 21% of England’s rivers and other bodies of water will be in a good ecological state by the target date of 2027 – in contravention …

The Guardian view on the climate emergency: we cannot afford to despair | Editorial

The Guardian view on the climate emergency: we cannot afford to despair | Editorial

[ad_1] First, the good news. We understand the problem: almost two-thirds of people worldwide believe the climate crisis is an emergency. We know what needs to be done, and should be confident that we will be able to achieve it, thanks to the rapid advance of renewable technologies. Collectively, we can also muster the money to do it. The scale and speed of global heating make it hard to hang on to these facts. But it is also why we must focus on them rather than throwing up our hands. New research by the Guardian has found that hundreds of the world’s top climate scientists believe global temperatures will rise by at least 2.5C above pre-industrial levels by the century’s end, far above the internationally agreed limit. Only 6% of those surveyed, all from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, thought that the 1.5C target could be met. We are already seeing soaring temperatures. The European Union’s climate monitoring service says that every month since last June has broken temperature records. And we are already living with – and dying from …

The Guardian view on MPs crossing the floor: a triumph of political theatre over substance | Editorial

The Guardian view on MPs crossing the floor: a triumph of political theatre over substance | Editorial

[ad_1] Surveying recent election losses, some Conservatives have concluded that the problem is a deficit of radical Conservatism – a prospectus defined by commitment to always cutting taxes, public spending and immigration. Natalie Elphicke would once have been considered a likely proponent of that approach, but on Wednesday the MP for Dover expressed her frustration with Rishi Sunak’s leadership by moving in a very different direction – to cross the Commons floor and join Labour. Ms Elphicke’s politics, rooted on the hard right of her former party, gave no indication of propensity for conversion to Keir Starmer’s creed. Setting policy differences aside, some Labour MPs are queasy about the concerted effort their new colleague put into supporting Charlie Elphicke, her predecessor in the Dover seat and now ex-husband, when he faced allegations of sexual assault – offences for which he was jailed. Ms Elphicke was among a group of MPs whose lobbying of a judge in the case was deemed a breach of the code of conduct by the parliamentary regulator. Had her defection not come with a …

The Guardian view on hope and despair in Gaza: attacking Rafah will compound this disaster | Editorial

The Guardian view on hope and despair in Gaza: attacking Rafah will compound this disaster | Editorial

[ad_1] Men, women and children danced in the streets of Rafah on Monday after Hamas said it had approved a ceasefire deal. There was little to celebrate. Hours later, Israel ordered 100,000 in the city to flee and protesters took to the streets in Israel warning that the government was endangering the lives of surviving hostages taken on 7 October. Shortly afterwards, Israeli forces took control of the Palestinian side of the crossing with Egypt – the key entry point for aid – and shut off supplies. Hopes of a deal have been raised and dashed repeatedly. There are differing accounts of what precisely Hamas agreed to, including the timing of hostage releases and – most painfully – whether their figure includes the dead as well as the living. Continued fighting does not negate negotiations to end a conflict. But the end of the war is likely to mean the end of Benjamin Netanyahu’s prime ministership and polling suggests that while most Israelis prioritise a deal to release hostages over military action in Rafah, that …

The Guardian view on Labour’s big idea: organising the state effectively matters for jobs and growth | Editorial

The Guardian view on Labour’s big idea: organising the state effectively matters for jobs and growth | Editorial

[ad_1] The Labour party has in mind new institutions that will capitalise future-facing industries, create good jobs and see Britain catch up with its peers. That is one message from Rachel Reeves’s speech. Her Labour colleague John Eatwell suggests she is inspired by Alexander Gerschenkron, whose seminal work concludes that the way the state was organised influences its ability to adopt income-enhancing technologies. Many of Labour’s proposals, such as Great British Energy, are welcome. But this column has been sceptical about whether they would meet the scale of the challenges Britain faces without substantial funding or effective mechanisms for socially directing investment. The Bank of England’s role remains particularly unsettling in shrinking the fiscal space available to ministers. Both the opposition and the government hide behind the Bank’s independence. However, MPs on the Treasury select committee raised concerns about whether it was playing a productive economic role this year. They warned that the rapid sale of bonds the Bank purchased through quantitative easing (QE) potentially had “worrying implications for public spending”. The parliamentarians have good …

The Guardian view on the local elections: an anti-Tory landslide points to the end of an era | Editorial

The Guardian view on the local elections: an anti-Tory landslide points to the end of an era | Editorial

[ad_1] Local elections are not known for producing “Portillo moments”. But the defeat of the Conservative West Midlands mayor, Andy Street, announced late on Saturday, undoubtedly encapsulated a sense of tectonic plates inexorably shifting in Labour’s favour. A locally popular and avowedly non-ideological figure, Mr Street had done his best to distance himself from the Tory brand. But there was to be no escape from the determinedly anti‑Conservative mood abroad in the nation. As contest after contest last week illustrated, the country simply wants the Tories out. Where does Rishi Sunak go from here? Although any leadership challenge appears to have been shelved, the usual suspects have been quick to demand the usual fixes. The former home secretary Suella Braverman has led calls for a rightward lurch, including a pledge to withdraw from the European court of human rights. But chasing those voters now defecting to Reform UK will only help Labour and the Liberal Democrats peel off moderate Conservative supporters in even larger numbers, come the general election. The defeated Mr Street’s plea for a more “inclusive, tolerant” brand of conservatism might once have provided a better route …

The Guardian view on disability benefit reform: the latest proposals are dangerously out of touch | Editorial

The Guardian view on disability benefit reform: the latest proposals are dangerously out of touch | Editorial

[ad_1] The best thing that can be said about the latest proposals from ministers to reform disability benefits is that they are unlikely ever to come to fruition. A consultation closes in late July, so the work and pensions secretary, Mel Stride, can be expected to announce changes in the autumn. Given the imminence of a general election, however, any new policies on benefits should be viewed as fodder for a manifesto rather than a programme for the current government. They will be driven by desperation to limit what are expected to be heavy losses. This is completely the wrong way to approach the technically and politically difficult issue of benefit reform. Millions of disabled people rely on their personal independence payment (Pip) – or disability living allowance, as some equivalent payments are still known. Like carer’s allowance, this is not means-tested, and is meant to help people cope with the additional cost of being ill or disabled. This can include paying for assistive devices, higher transport costs including commuting to work, heating bills or medical items not provided by the NHS. The …

The Guardian view on transnational repression: dissidents need safety in their new homes | Editorial

The Guardian view on transnational repression: dissidents need safety in their new homes | Editorial

[ad_1] Forty-five years ago, the Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was killed in London with a poison-tipped umbrella as he made his way home from work. The horrifying case transfixed the British public. So transnational repression is not new, including on British shores. But unless its target is unusually high-profile, or it uses startling tactics such as those employed by Markov’s killers – or in the attempt to assassinate Sergei Skripal – much of it passes with minimal attention. For political opponents, journalists, civil society activists and others, fleeing their homeland may offer only limited protection, even if they win recognition as refugees. The veteran journalist Can Dündar survived an assassination attempt in Turkey and escaped to Berlin in 2016, but has faced threats even there: “I have to be careful about the coffee I drink, where I live,” he told the Guardian this week. Last month, Pouria Zeraati, of the television channel Iran International, was stabbed outside his London home. Colleagues had previously been warned of credible threats to their lives. The suspicion is that …

The Guardian view on YA literature: an adventure for teenagers, a comfort blanket for adults | Editorial

The Guardian view on YA literature: an adventure for teenagers, a comfort blanket for adults | Editorial

[ad_1] Childhood has meant many different things over the centuries. The transitional years of adolescence, in particular, have come a long way since they just meant smaller, cheaper, more biddable adults capable of factory work and helping out on family farms. It is only in the last 80 years or so that the teenager has come into existence, as a demographic with whole industries devoted to serving its interests – and mopping up its pocket money. One of those industries was publishing, which responded in the 1960s by developing a market that had been identified by librarians more than two decades earlier: young adult (YA) literature. This highly profitable sub-sector, aimed at filling the gap between childish and grown-up reading, has been around long enough now to offer valuable insights into shifts in social attitudes. So research released last week, which suggested that 74% of YA readers were over 18 years old – and that 28% were over 28 – is worthy of attention. The report puts the continuing appeal of YA down to reading …