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The Guardian view on a second wave of Covid-19: getting freedom wrong | Editorial

https://www.theguardian.com/world/franceplay episode download
29 October, by Editorial[ —]

As France and Germany impose tough measures and infections continue to rise, the UK appears gripped by paralysis

The decision not to implement a two- or three-week “circuit breaker” lockdown in October, using the school half-term to minimise the inevitable disruption, can now be added to a list of paths not taken by the UK government in its coronavirus response. As the French and German leaders have gone before their people in recent days to explain new measures to try to inhibit a rising second wave of infections, the British public have instead been subjected to a barrage of conflicting opinion and interpretation from national and local politicians, scientists, business leaders and the former supreme court justice Jonathan Sumption, who is among supporters of a new campaign set up to oppose what it describes as curbs on “essential freedoms”.

With Wales and Northern Ireland (as well as the Irish Republic) already under stricter regimes than England, and a system of five tiers operating in Scotland in contrast with England’s three, the UK seems headed in the opposite direction to our European neighbours. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, used a televised address on Wednesday to summon a “collective effort” to apply a brake to the disease’s spread during a four-week period of tough restrictions. After a video conference with Germany’s 16 state leaders, Angela Merkel announced similar measures. Challenged by rightwing critics in parliament, her apt retort was that “freedom is not every man for himself, it is responsibility – for oneself, one’s family, the workplace. It shows us we are part of a whole.”

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The Guardian view on Labour and antisemitism: a question of leadership | Editorial

29 October, by Editorial[ —]

After the party’s ‘day of shame’ the suspension of Jeremy Corbyn risks turning the opposition inward at a crucial time for British politics

Labour has been braced for months for the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report on antisemitism during Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. The release of the report on Thursday was generally expected to mark what Keir Starmer duly called it, a “day of shame” for the party, in which Labour took its punishment, confessed its sins and apologised to Britain’s Jewish population. Few expected events to take the dramatic course they then did, with Mr Corbyn’s unwillingness to apologise and his subsequent suspension from the party he recently led threatening to eclipse the larger issue.

The report’s findings are nevertheless clear and stark. Labour, it says, was responsible for unlawful and antisemitic acts of harassment and discrimination. There were multiple failures in the party’s system for handling antisemitism complaints, including inconsistent approaches, poor training and lack of transparency. There was also, more broadly, a Labour culture that “at best, did not do enough to prevent antisemitism and, at worst, could be seen to accept it”. The report concludes that antisemitism within Labour could have been tackled more effectively if the party leadership had chosen to do so.

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The real Brexit battle was democracy v realpolitik | Letters

29 October, by Letters[ —]

Godfrey Stadlen, Iradj Bagherzade, Prof Anne Deighton, Dr Peter Neville and Graham Watson respond to an article by Vernon Bogdanor

Vernon Bogdanor (Brexit was no aberration. The European Union needs to learn from it, 25 October) argues that the EU risks arousing resistance if it seems to challenge national identity. As examples of this risk, he cites EU policies for debt sharing, budgetary restrictions and migrant quotas. So where does he stand on basic democratic principles, such as the independence of the judiciary and a free and diverse media? Should the EU start enforcing its rules on these matters, or would that endanger its cohesion by seeming to challenge national identity?

Any discussion of the limits of the EU’s role surely has to address the single most urgent threat to the EU’s cohesion – the rise of rightwing populism and its capture of some governments. So far, the EU has shrunk from responding. Is that a prudent respect for its members’ sovereignty, or a lamentable failure of nerve? In saying nothing about that crucial dilemma, isn’t Prof Bogdanor ignoring the elephant in the room?
Godfrey Stadlen

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Majority of Christians wouldn’t back Trump | Letters

29 October, by Letters[ —]

Rev David Haslam takes issue with the suggestion that ‘white Christian America’ is a unified block vote for the Republicans, while Phil Murray praises the strength and clarity of a Guardian editorial on the US election

While agreeing wholeheartedly with your editorial (It’s time to dump Donald Trump. America’s only hope is Joe Biden, 27 October), your suggestion that “white Christian America” is a unified block vote for the Republicans gave a seriously misleading impression. In my 50 years of observing US churches, I would guess a majority of Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Congregationalists and black churches – and even many Catholics and Baptists – would never support Trump.

The least you could say in terms of accuracy is to use inverted commas around “Christian”, or write “evangelical Christian”, or even more accurately “self-styled Christian”, as much of what they say and do has very little to do with the teachings of Jesus.
Rev David Haslam
Evesham, Worcestershire

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Migrant tragedy and political hypocrisy | Letter

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/immigrationplay episode download
29 October, by Letters[ —]

Gascia Ouzounian on politicians’ reaction to the drowning of four migrants in the Channel this week

Your report (Four dead including two children after migrant boat sinks in Channel, 27 October) puts into stark relief what happens when a government refuses to provide safe and legal routes for asylum seekers. The idea that politicians like Boris Johnson and Priti Patel offer “thoughts and prayers” to grieving families while simultaneously limiting routes for asylum is hypocritical and sickening; they have built their political careers by exploiting people’s xenophobia and fear of others. You too would leave a desperate situation in a heartbeat if you had to, by any means at your disposal. No one is illegal. Our laws make them so. Please remember this the next time you vote.
Gascia Ouzounian

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The fallacy of opting for private healthcare | Letter

29 October, by Letters[ —]

Going private does not free up NHS waiting lists, says David Hinchliffe

It was no surprise to learn that increasing numbers of people are turning to private healthcare because of NHS waiting lists (Fears of ‘two-tier’ system as NHS waiting lists prompt more people to go private, 27 October), but I was genuinely shocked that the retired NHS worker that you quoted felt she was somehow helping others by paying for her hip surgery.

While fully sympathising over the difficult situation she faced with osteoarthritis, I feel she was wide of the mark in suggesting that her going private “might free up a space for somebody who couldn’t do that”. The vast majority of orthopaedic surgeons operating privately also work in the NHS, where, if they worked full-time, the waiting lists in their specialty would be markedly reduced.
David Hinchliffe
Former chair, Commons health committee

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Marcus Rashford powered by positive thinking | Brief letters

https://www.theguardian.com/football/marcus-rashfordplay episode download
29 October, by Letters[ —]

Victoria Derbyshire | Success on and off the pitch | Cars on pavements | Marina Hyde

I sympathise with Victoria Derbyshire (Victoria Derbyshire apologises over Covid Christmas comments, 27 October) as I share the rule-of-six dilemma. My daughter and son-in-law have three teenage children and two “grannies” (mother-in-law and myself). We are both widows in our late 80s, living alone. We expect to spend Christmas together. She is geographically closer to the family than I am; I have only seen my grandchildren once since Christmas 2019. Which one of us should back away from the Christmas table?
Margaret Westwood
Guildford, Surrey

• Surely Victoria Derbyshire’s plan to break the rule of six by one person was in a “very specific and limited way” as justified by the government.
Janet Jones
Ossett, West Yorkshire

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The greatest tragedy of England's second wave is that it wasn't inevitable | Charlotte Summers

play episode
29 October, by Charlotte Summers[ —]

Over the summer, the government ignored advice about controlling Covid. A new study shows we’re paying the price

The number of Covid infections is doubling every nine days in England, and in some areas, such as the south-east, London and the south-west, the R number is now above two. These are the alarming findings from the report of the React-1 study by researchers at Imperial College London, released today.

The study, which obtained nose and throat swabs from a random sample of the population in England that were analysed using a “gold standard” PCR test, shows the prevalence of coronavirus infection in England has increased across all age groups. The greatest increase has been among people aged 55-64 years, while the highest overall prevalence (the number of infected people at the time the study was carried out) was among 18 to 24-year-olds.

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An end to Labour's antisemitism controversy seems as far away as ever | Keith Kahn Harris

https://www.theguardian.com/world/raceplay episode download
29 October, by Keith Kahn-Harris[ —]

The EHRC’s measured tone contrasted with Starmer’s dramatic suspension of Corbyn. Neither will bring resolution

Keir Starmer’s unexpected decision to suspend Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour party was in stark contrast to the cool and measured tone of the long-awaited Equality and Human Rights Commission report into antisemitism in Labour, which carefully avoided the attribution of personal responsibility. One of the defining features of the Labour antisemitism controversy has been the intense passions it generates. Amid this maelstrom, the EHRC intervened with the technical language of law and institutional process. Starmer has responded with a disciplinary action that will, at least in the short run, inflame this bitter dispute.

Nevertheless, that coolness of tone does not take away from the force of the report. The fact that a party that regards anti-racism as central to its self-definition – particularly during the Corbyn years – has been investigated for racism is shocking in and of itself. It is devastating that the Labour party was found to have breached the Equality Act – both through harassment committed by its “agents” and “indirect discrimination”, in the form of political interference in complaints procedures, unclear and chaotic institutional responses and inadequate training.

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