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Mercedes E-class car review – ‘Makes driving feel like flying’

3 December, by Zoe Williams[ —]

Every move I made, it was already there. Every thought I thinked, it had already thunk it

If you were given to conspiracy theories, the Mercedes E-class would be your nemesis. Every move I made, every corner, every rev, it was already there. Every thought I thinked, it had already thunk it. Opening the boot in a shower, watching water drip round the perfectly designed rubber piping, so that nothing touched me or my luggage, I felt gripped by a sudden mourning. Such a lot of thought has gone into this – more than thought, empathy. If only that kind of intelligence could have gone somewhere useful, like the refugee crisis. But look, we are where we are. This boot is awesome and my plentiful luggage is as dry as toast.

I’ve never sat in a car thinking, “If only this was a nine-speed automatic”, but the truth is, this was subtle and elegant at every speed, shifting deftly, making driving feel like flying. You could feel its grip on the road, and it spread confidence, via your butt, throughout the car.

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Was the Richmond Park byelection the start of the Brexit fightback? | Ian Jack

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/liberaldemocratsplay episode download
3 December, by Ian Jack[ —]

In a constituency that was 72% remain, tactical voting created a bottom-up progressive alliance that may be hard to replicate elsewhere

The Richmond Park byelection held its last hustings on Tuesday, and afterwards the Labour candidate, Christian Wolmar, and some of the audience went across the street to the pub. A most interesting-looking figure followed us: a tall man dressed from head to foot in shades of brown – a brown felt hat which he didn’t remove, brown tweeds, brown shoes – as though he’d stepped out of a Patrick Hamilton novel or a prewar play: “Ma’am, there’s a police inspector waiting in the hall.” In his 70s, I guessed, with a soft and amiable face, and on his own. He looked like a man who knew how to do this kind of thing – that is, to go into a pub, buy a beer, ask the barman if he’s having one himself, and then settle into a conversation with an equally respectable stranger. In some ways, Richmond feels more like a county town than a London suburb, and this may be one of those ways.

Related: Lib Dem win in Richmond Park could change government's Brexit policy, says Farron - Politics live

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So many lowlights from the life of Zac Goldsmith - how to choose? | Marina Hyde

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/london-mayoral-election-2016play episode download
3 December, by Marina Hyde[ —]
The Richmond Park debacle follows a colourful pattern of errors and failures. He is like a gambler addicted to losing

I don’t think you can overestimate the negative effects of Kate Bush coming out for the Tories in a week this bad for the governing party. Endorsement-wise, she could be our Barbra Streisand. Perhaps I’m missing an essential lobe, but I simply couldn’t muster the sense of personal betrayal that for some attended Kate’s love song to Theresa May. In fact, I haven’t been so irrationally amused since my beloved Richie Benaud revealed that his favourite television programme was Hollyoaks. You’ve gotta laugh.

Related: Richmond Park byelection: Tory Brexit voters switched to us, say Lib Dems

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The years of calm are over. In Donald Trump we’ll have a child at the White House | Dave Eggers

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/barack-obamaplay episode download
2 December, by Dave Eggers[ —]
President Obama’s term passed without a whiff of scandal. But with Trump we face an era of lawsuits, feuds, threats, denials and insults

It seemed too soon, and the metaphor was too crude. In the third week of November, less than two weeks after the election, they were already erecting some new structure across the street from the White House. They had fenced off most of Pennsylvania Avenue. Visitors wanting to take pictures of the White House were impeded by a giant cage, in which the structure was going up. Dozens of construction signs decorated the fence and sent a clear message of exclusion and foreboding: Danger, Warning, Keep Out. On one of the signs, as if noting the sheer obviousness of it all, someone had written: “Is this art?”

Related: Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it | George Monbiot

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The Guardian view on Richmond Park: slowly does it | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/liberaldemocratsplay episode download
2 December, by Editorial[ —]
The byelection was an epic victory for the Lib Dems, but it does not mean a halt to Brexit

The Liberal Democrat victory in Richmond Park was a triumph for Sarah Olney, her campaign team, and the strategy of the leader, Tim Farron, who declared in his conference speech in September that the party could win as the voice of the 48%. It is also a compelling example of what can be achieved if pro-European Tories, Labour, Greens and Lib Dems work together. And while Ms Olney’s defeated rivals will take comfort from the nature of the byelection – in a prosperous, pro-European corner of south-west London that might have been tailored for a Lib Dem revival – there is no hiding from the fact that it was a personal humiliation for Zac Goldsmith. It was his second defeat of the year, close on the heels of his shameful campaign to become London mayor. It should, at the least, give the prime minister, whose working majority is now just 13, reason to reconsider her divisive rhetoric. And Labour, which won fewer votes than it has members in the seat, must bang heads together to get a clear, less contested approach to Brexit.

After the rout of the 2015 general election, many Lib Dems gloomily anticipated years of rebuilding. They may still be right. Yet even if Richmond Park, a seat they held from 1997 to 2010, could hardly be bettered as a battleground for them, it remains an extraordinary achievement to win it with a 20-point swing from the Tories. The party’s once-formidable byelection machinery had been well-oiled and successfully trialled at the Witney byelection in October. Party activists and past leaders turned out in impressive numbers to support a strong local candidate, who – new to politics – was untainted by association with the coalition years. In her victory speech in the early hours of this morning, Ms Olney sounded exactly the right note of unity and conciliation over Europe, ending on the rousing pledge that “we will not let intolerance, division and fear win” – an overture all the more attractive in the light of the bilious response to the result from the Brexiters.

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The Guardian view on European politics: Italy’s turn on the brink | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/world/francois-fillonplay episode download
2 December, by Editorial[ —]
France and Austria may be shifting to the right in presidential elections, but the referendum in Italy is the immediate challenge for Italy and the eurozone

The surprise would have been if François Hollande had decided to run for a second term in 2017. Even so, the socialist president of France’s announcement on Thursday that he will not run again in the spring is another milestone in Europe’s political crisis. This weekend, attention will shift to Italy, which holds its much-anticipated constitutional referendum on Sunday, as well as to Austria, where the presidential election re-run may result in Europe’s first far-right head of state since 1945. The sense that the old order is under serial threat across large parts of Europe is palpable.

Mr Hollande’s unpopularity and withdrawal both stem from his manifest inability to provide an effective route out of the aftermath of the financial crisis, as well as fears exacerbated by migration and terror attacks. France’s growth is still sluggish at best, while unemployment, is still stuck at about 10%. Yet he has no clear successor. Whoever emerges with the socialist nomination after planned primaries in January will struggle to make it into the second round of next year’s election, probably leaving François Fillon and Marine Le Pen to fight it out on the right. Mr Hollande has been a personally undistinguished president, but the crisis is not his alone. The French left as a whole is divided and weak, bereft of leaders, confidence and ideas for tackling France’s social divisions.

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‘Don’t play identity politics!’ The primal scream of the straight white male | Hadley Freeman

2 December, by Hadley Freeman[ —]
Donald Trump appealed unashamedly to white men – yet it’s members of that very group who now accuse others of being divisive

An intriguing theory has recently taken hold, fast calcifying into received wisdom. Hillary Clinton, so it goes, lost the US election because she “played identity politics”.

This idea has been enthusiastically endorsed by, among others, Bernie Sanders (“It is not enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me,’” he said, as if Clinton ever – even once – argued this), and Mark Lilla in the New York Times (who described as “a strategic mistake “Clinton’s tendency “to slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, LGBT and women voters at every stop”).

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Will disgust at football child abuse be followed by more denial? | Deborah Orr

2 December, by Deborah Orr[ —]
Football’s child abuse revelations will spark action, but for many the charade of not knowing will continue

More than a quarter of Britain’s police forces are now investigating the sexual abuse of children in 55 football clubs, after one man, Andy Woodward, punched a hole in the wall of silence.

Brave men have been sobbing on camera in the fortnight since, as they explain how their lives have been blighted by the sexual attacks they endured as children. And despite some voices insisting that this is all in the past, recent attacks have been reported – as has a three-year-old attempt to hush things up: Gary Johnson says Chelsea FC gave him £50,000 to stay quiet.

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What progressive parties can learn from the Richmond Park result | Letters

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/liberaldemocratsplay episode download
2 December, by Letters[ —]

Following its victory in the Richmond byelection (Report, theguardian.com), I write to suggest that the Liberal Democratic party should change its name to The European Party. We of the forgotten 48% are surely more numerous today, now that Brexit’s rudderless fiasco is becoming as obvious as the shameless lies earlier told by its advocates. Even the lead rat of the leavers has signalled his inclination to leave the sinking ship and become a migrant to America.

Today, we of the swelling 48% are cheering the Lib Dem victory in the byelection. This was a genuinely democratic, constitutional victory (Britain is a parliamentary democracy not the mob-rule “democracy” conjured up by David Cameron for the purposes of internal Tory politics). And it is widely agreed that the byelection was fought mainly on the issue of Brexit.

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