All posts tagged: Hinsliff

Realism got Starmer here. But so far he’s fighting this election with fantasy economics | Gaby Hinsliff

Realism got Starmer here. But so far he’s fighting this election with fantasy economics | Gaby Hinsliff

It wasn’t quite John Major’s vision of old maids cycling through the mist to church. But the sepia-tinted memories Keir Starmer recounted in his first big campaign speech of growing up in Oxted, the Surrey town he called “about as English as you can get”, weren’t a million miles away. He talked about growing up in a house where the phone was sometimes cut off because his parents couldn’t afford to pay the bill; about how he identifies now with young couples realising they can’t afford a longed-for second child because of rocketing mortgages. But he also talked nostalgically about the ramshackle football pitch he played on, and shared with grazing cows, and what he called the British air of “quiet uncomplaining resilience” in an era when there was sadly a lot to be resilient about. Shades of those “do you remember … ?” pages on Facebook, where the middle aged reminisce about pork scratchings and playing on a ZX Spectrum. And if you’re rolling your eyes at all this stuff – well, it’s not …

Disappearing migrants and street revolts. Sunak’s Rwanda round-up is just the mess we knew it would be | Gaby Hinsliff

Disappearing migrants and street revolts. Sunak’s Rwanda round-up is just the mess we knew it would be | Gaby Hinsliff

Handcuffed and surrounded, faces pixelated for the video as if they were dangerous criminals, one by one they were bundled into vans. Doors slammed. Keys clicked in locks. The crude political message from this disturbing eve of election video, showing men and women being rounded up for deportation to Rwanda, couldn’t have been clearer – despite Whitehall rules precluding partisan activities so close to polling day. But hey, what’s a row over election purdah, given the amount of souls sold to get this far? All that matters to this government now is getting someone on a plane to Kigali in front of the TV cameras, a tunnel vision that has so far spectacularly failed to woo back lost voters, while costing the country years of parliamentary and legal wrangling, roughly half a billion pounds, and now yet another rift with friends and allies. This week it emerged that while the Rwanda bill may have forced several hundred clandestine asylum seekers to leave the country, they haven’t actually gone to Rwanda: instead, they’ve fled across the …

‘Woke’ isn’t dead – it’s entered the mainstream. No wonder the right is furious | Gaby Hinsliff

‘Woke’ isn’t dead – it’s entered the mainstream. No wonder the right is furious | Gaby Hinsliff

Is woke dead? Is it over? Has it “peaked”, run its course before we’ve even properly agreed on what this endlessly controversial but somehow never quite defined social justice movement actually was? Though American rightwingers have been hopefully pronouncing its last rites for a while now, until very recently rumours of its death seemed exaggerated in Britain. Sure, some vegan restaurants have gone bust lately, but sadly so have plenty of other restaurants in the face of a cost of living crisis. And yes, oat milk sales are down. But is that because it has been toxified by political association, or because it has fallen out of favour with the wellness lobby, or just because it’s expensive? Even reports of a YouTube-fuelled anti-feminist backlash among some young men, or of young women lapping up the original (not very woke) Sex and the City series on Netflix didn’t feel like much of a tipping point. But then came the paediatrician Dr Hilary Cass’s landmark review on treating transgender children, which found that medical interventions have been …

Meghan’s gone from royal upsetter to tradwife in three short years. Given what’s out there, you’d do the same | Gaby Hinsliff

Meghan’s gone from royal upsetter to tradwife in three short years. Given what’s out there, you’d do the same | Gaby Hinsliff

Meghan Markle has bottled it. Or more precisely, she has been making jam. Branded jars of her strawberry preserves, adorned with one of those frilly caps you see at village fete produce stalls, were distributed this week to assorted celebrity friends to post on social media (though possibly not for actually eating, given the restrictions of a Hollywood diet). This housewifely offering marks the debut of American Riviera Orchard, which sounds like one of Jamie Oliver’s children but is in fact the name of the Duchess of Sussex’s new commercial venture, under which she plans to flog everything from tableware to yoga kit to her reinvented self. In a retro, sepia-tinted launch video, the woman we once hoped would put a rocket up the royal family is seen blissfully stirring a saucepan and arranging flowers. It’s only three years since she wrote an open letter to US congressional leaders lobbying for paid family leave for working parents, sparking wild speculation about a run for political office, but suddenly that feels like a very long time …

Britain’s universities are in freefall – and saving them will take more than funding | Gaby Hinsliff

Britain’s universities are in freefall – and saving them will take more than funding | Gaby Hinsliff

Imagine a beach before the tsunami. Out at sea, the wave is gathering force, yet on the sand people are still sunbathing, blissfully unaware. That’s how it feels, one professor tells me, to be working in higher education. Academics by their nature don’t look outwards much, he argues, so not all have registered the risk to their profession. “But something absolutely dreadful is coming.” As a scientist working in cancer research at a top British university, he’s not the kind of academic I expected to be worried about the recent nationwide flurry of threatened redundancies in higher education, the scrapping of what, so far, are mainly arts and language courses, or shrill political attacks on supposedly “woke” campus culture. But lately almost everyone in higher education seems jumpy. This week, it was the University of Essex’s turn to hit the headlines by declaring a £13.8m shortfall, blaming a 38% drop in applications from foreign postgrad students for its plans to freeze pay and promotions. But it merely joins the University and College Union’s growing list …

The Garrick row is not about women getting in – it’s about the dinosaurs desperate to keep us out | Gaby Hinsliff

The Garrick row is not about women getting in – it’s about the dinosaurs desperate to keep us out | Gaby Hinsliff

This week, the woman likely to become Britain’s first female chancellor was invited to give a lecture at the heart of the economic establishment. And in it, Rachel Reeves briefly paid credit to a woman who went before her. Not Margaret Thatcher – Reeves came more to bury than to praise her – but Mary Paley Marshall, the pioneering economist who in 1874 became one of the first two women allowed to sit her finals at Newnham College, Cambridge, in what was then called moral sciences. Though Marshall passed with flying colours and went on to lecture in economics at Cambridge, she was never awarded a degree, because those were only for men. So jealously was this privilege guarded that almost two decades later, proposals to award degrees to women sparked a riot. A hostile mob of male students threw eggs, let off fireworks, started a bonfire in the street and marched on the all-female Newnham College. Staggeringly, it was 1948 before Cambridge began formally awarding degrees to women and 1988 before its last all-male …

The threat to MPs is real. But Michael Gove’s empty extremism plans will do nothing to tackle it | Gaby Hinsliff

The threat to MPs is real. But Michael Gove’s empty extremism plans will do nothing to tackle it | Gaby Hinsliff

Before the 30-year-old MP Zarah Sultana walks into any public meeting, she pauses to record her location and the time. It’s a security precaution taken on police advice in case she is attacked, and one that too many British politicians living with death threats will recognise. Like the panic buttons by their beds or instructions to vary the route by which they take the kids to school, it’s part of the grim price paid for being in public life. But amid escalating tensions over the Israel-Gaza war, it’s Sultana, as a Muslim woman passionately advocating for a ceasefire, who has emerged as a particular lightning rod for abuse. Having recently been told she is now the most heavily targeted MP of all those monitored, earlier this week she matter-of-factly read out some of the more broadcastable messages she receives, for Sky TV’s cameras. “Send that bitch to Palestine, they’re low on targets,” was one. Later, Sultana sat beside her friend Diane Abbott as parliament discussed the Tory donor Frank Hester’s reported view that Abbott made …

Brianna Ghey’s parents met hate with love, and Sunak chased cheap laughs. That says it all about him and his party | Gaby Hinsliff

Brianna Ghey’s parents met hate with love, and Sunak chased cheap laughs. That says it all about him and his party | Gaby Hinsliff

Rishi Sunak had been warned that Brianna Ghey’s bereaved mother would be watching. If he hadn’t initially expected Esther Ghey to be in the public gallery, gazing down on the bear pit of prime minister’s questions like a visitor from another world entirely, then the penny should have dropped when Keir Starmer opened by welcoming her to parliament. That was the prime minister’s cue to flip through his ring binder and cross out a tacky prepared line – variants of which he has used several times before – about Starmer changing his mind on everything from tuition fees to planning law to “defining a woman, although, in fairness, that was only 99% of a U-turn” (a reference to Starmer saying 99.9% of women don’t have penises). Nobody need ever have known. Ironically, the attack might have landed better without it, given the day’s headlines would then have been dominated by Labour flip-flopping on green policies instead of a mortifying prime ministerial misjudgment. But Sunak didn’t do it. He didn’t see the ground opening up under …

For generations Britain has taken peace for granted. But a belligerent Putin could change all that | Gaby Hinsliff

For generations Britain has taken peace for granted. But a belligerent Putin could change all that | Gaby Hinsliff

How long could you survive without your mobile phone? Not just for idle scrolling to fill a boring commute, but for the life you carry precariously around on it without even thinking. For managing your bank account, navigating an unfamiliar neighbourhood, connecting to the outside world; for a torch in the dark, for checking in with friends, and potentially also in the worst-case scenario for frantically trading information about the safest place to run. If the old rule of thumb is that any society is only four missed meals from anarchy, then what would be the equivalent in hours of telecommunications blackout caused by a cyber-attack on mobile networks, a sudden catastrophic power outage, or even – given Taiwan is the world’s leading supplier of the tiny computer chips on which your smartphone possibly relies – a Chinese invasion of Taiwan? How thin, exactly, is the veneer of a civilised life? Such questions might sound ridiculously overdramatic. But they are one way of thinking about resilience in the kind of barely imaginable crisis that startled …

London mayor Sadiq Khan says what Labour dares not: the wafer-thin Brexit mandate cannot hold forever | Gaby Hinsliff

London mayor Sadiq Khan says what Labour dares not: the wafer-thin Brexit mandate cannot hold forever | Gaby Hinsliff

It’s just a flicker of light at the end of a long, dark Brexit tunnel. But in the dead of winter, frankly we’ll take what we can get. Which is why Sadiq Khan’s backing at the weekend of a new “youth mobility” agreement with the EU – a kind of pre-Brexit-style right for young people to work and study abroad, with reciprocal rights for young Europeans here – will have ignited a long-forgotten spark of hope for many. The longing to hear someone just admit that Brexit has hurt this country, and that the damage now urgently needs to be fixed, is so strong you can almost touch it in places. More than seven years in, remainers are sick and tired of being told to respect leave’s always wafer-thin mandate, especially now that 51% of Britons (and 61% of Londoners, according to YouGov) say they’d vote to rejoin the EU given a chance and 42% would like at least to re-enter the single market. What Khan said is therefore a classic example of something Labour …