1) The most important political issue of the moment? Ed Milliband’s kitchens. He’s right, but there is a part of me that wonders what a man with 2 kitchens really understands about the lives of the people for whom the ‘functional kitchenette’ is a decent kitchen. Also worth pointing out that Sarah Vine, who’s article in the Mail kicked this off, is married to Michael Gove and here is an article (from the Torygraph) about his expenses claims. Over 3 years, his claims came to more than his annual pay. Mmmm…
2) I’m a bit late with this but it’s fascinating. What is blue and how do we see colour?
At present the financial uber-class expect to have the best of both worlds – all the rewards of being in charge without paying the price of responsibility. It’s an individual version of the injustice laid bare during the great crash: that while gains are privatised, losses are socialised. The bankers get the big bonuses when things go right, the taxpayers bail them out when things go wrong.
This is why people don’t vote, they feel that no-one in power is ever called to account but that ordinary people always are. Get your benefit claim wrong, be sanctioned or worse sent to prison, but avoid tax and nothing happens.
4) The rise of Wetherspoons. My first thought when reading this was ‘ it’s Boston, of course it is’ but where do people go when they can’t afford heating and the libraries, community centre and other public spaces are gone?
The chain is now the nation’s fifth-most-popular place to have breakfast. Its accessibility in terms of price makes the march of ’Spoons’ seem inevitable, particularly in a world in which public space is ever-shrinking: it lines its pubs with books while libraries are closing, and competes with supermarket beer prices while offering more company than a living room or kitchen.
5) The ideas that define Benjamin Netanyahu. Doesn’t make his thinking right but makes it understandable.
6) I didn’t leave Labour, they left me. That’s been true for a while now. Labour didn’t start talking about a cost of living crisis or about ‘generation rent’ until it was a problem for their middle class children. It’s been a problem for working class kids for a while longer than that and we won’t inherit property from our parents and access to social housing has dried up and the Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary doesn’t want to represent people who claim benefits, who are unemployed. Five years ago, I’d been unemployed for 9 months. Yes, I do go on about it quite a bit, because it was an awful time and the horror of it (and it was fucking awful) has stayed with me. Even with state support, without my mother’s financial and emotional support, it would have been a lot worse. 5 years later, I’ve not financially recovered, I don’t as much, I can’t save, my rent has increased £100 a month. Being unemployed now is much, much harder. Being in work now is much harder, 1.03 million people who have work are claiming benefits to make ends meet. She might have chosen her words poorly but that she can even say that horrifies me.
7) I’m puzzled by this. Israel must pay a price, but that price is not sanctions, or cuts to military aid, or subjecting Israel to prosecution under the International Criminal Court, or supporting a Palestinian-backed United Nations resolution that would demand the establishment of a Palestinian state within a year, with no corresponding promises to Israel. Gaza and the West Bank are currently subject to sanctions, and cuts to aid even though they’re trying to rebuild Gaza after the Israelis bombed the shit out of it. In February Israeli settlers backed by soldiers walked into Abed’s Shop in Hebron destroyed it. Why, seems because they can and no-one is going to stop them. (Pictures from Rafat Shomali via Jenny Baker)
Look, I’m not arguing that Arabs are good and Israelis are bad. I think there are decades of hatred and conflict on both sides. However, what you HAVE to start doing is calling out both sides for bad behaviour, you can’t apply sanctions on the Palestinians for rockets and let Israel do what it wants with no reference to international law or censure. There are great honking sanctions on Iran ’cause they might be trying to develop nuclear weapons but Israel as had nuclear weapons for years with nothing done. Unless and until the US starts actually holding Israel accountable (and Israel’s argument often boils down to it being civilised and Western) for it’s behaviour behaving accordingly, then Israel is going to continue to do what it likes. Meanwhile, Palestinians will continue to support Hamas because being moderate doesn’t work, Israel just takes more.