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The Covid bonanza for private consultancies | Letters

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1er octobre, par Letters[ —]

Readers discuss the impact of outsourcing and management consultancy on the UK’s public services

Lord Agnew has some gall to blame the government’s outsourcing decisions on civil servants (Whitehall ‘infantilised’ by reliance on consultants, minister claims, 29 September).

The £10bn spent on the failing, privately-run test-and-trace system is a particularly egregious example. Simon Stevens has acknowledged that this scheme has nothing to do with the NHS, despite the logo (Asking over-65s to shield is ‘age-based apartheid’, boss of NHS England says, 28 September) and it is telling that Dido Harding is calling in a former Sainsbury’s chief executive to sort it out. Any pleasure gained from the notion that the ability of dogs to detect Covid-19 might mean the replacement of Dido by Fido is dissipated by the rumour that she could be in line to succeed Stevens as chief executive of NHS England.

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Privilege is alive and well in the Chilterns | Letter episode download
1er octobre, par Letters[ —]

In response to a report that found social mobility in Chiltern towns among the worst in England, Dr Katy Simmons blames Buckinghamshire’s 11-plus system

Buckinghamshire council must be the only people “flabbergasted” by the Social Mobility Commission’s report on entrenched disadvantage (Social mobility in Chiltern towns amongst worst in England, 30 September).

It is 10 years since their cabinet member for schools pledged to “close the gap” between the haves and the have-nots, which even then was among the worst in the country. We are still waiting.

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Nagorno-Karabakh belongs to Azerbaijan | Letter

1er octobre, par Letters[ —]

Azerbaijan’s ambassador to the UK, Tahir Taghizade, responds to the recent outbreak of hostilities in the region

Regarding your article (At least 16 dead in Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes over disputed region, 27 September), Nagorno-Karabakh is not a “disputed” region. It is an internationally recognised territory of Azerbaijan occupied and ethnically cleansed by Armenia together with seven adjacent regions of Azerbaijan in flagrant violation of international law. Four UN security council resolutions, adopted in 1993 (822, 853, 874, 884) and demanding immediate withdrawal of the Armenian occupying forces from all occupied regions of Azerbaijan, remain unfulfilled.

To consolidate its occupation policy, Armenia established an illegal regime, the so-called “Nagorno-Karabakh Republic” (NKR), on the occupied lands of Azerbaijan. This puppet regime has not been recognised by the international community including Armenia itself. Thus, there is no such thing as “Nagorno-Karabakh military staff”.

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Wanted: a glossary for us old fogies | Brief letters

1er octobre, par Letters[ —]

Lochs, not lakes | Artemesia Gentileschi | Crispin Odey | Mordern technical terms | Michael Rosen

As a long-time admirer of the osprey, I appreciated your detailed and highly informative caption to the beautiful picture of an osprey catching a trout (Fish supper, 29 September). It was unfortunate, however, that you referred to the location as a “lake” near Aviemore, rather than a loch, when every schoolchild knows there is only one lake in Scotland (Lake of Menteith, near Aberfoyle), well to the south of the Cairngorms.
Phil Murray
Linlithgow, West Lothian

• Jonathan Jones (Review, 29 September) hails the painter Artemesia Gentileschi as “a forgotten genius”. Forgotten by whom? He must mean by male curators, scholars, artists, art historians, and journalists, as their female and feminist equivalents have been championing Gentileschi’s work since the 1970s.
Michele Roberts

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With Johnson's power ebbing, Labour is right to turn the spotlight on Sunak | Gaby Hinsliff

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1er octobre, par Gaby Hinsliff[ —]

The chancellor is a leader-in-waiting – but Starmer knows that a winter of Covid job losses will truly test his credibility

Rishi Sunak is not just any politician.

The chancellor is a one-man brand, a designer label on to which aspirational values are projected via slick social media posts that bear more resemblance to David Beckham launching a new aftershave than a politician touting an economic stimulus plan. When Conservative MPs ask why it’s Sunak’s name and not their party’s on all the promotional blurb, the blunt response is that people like “brand Rishi” better.

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British plans to 'offshore' asylum seekers have a long and grubby history | Robert Verkaik episode download
1er octobre, par Robert Verkaik[ —]

Emulating the controversial Australian policy would treat refugees as criminals with no right to a fair hearing in the UK

The home secretary, Priti Patel, has reportedly been exploring a range of outlandish plans for sending refugees who arrive on British shores to very faraway places.

The week began with a Whitehall leak that revealed officials had been asked to consider setting up an immigration centre on Ascension Island, over 4,000 miles away in the South Atlantic. When that idea was kiboshed, further leaks identified other territories being considered for extraterritorial processing, including Moldova, Morocco and Papua New Guinea.

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Without clarity and leadership, there's plenty to fear for the UK economy | Larry Elliott

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1er octobre, par Larry Elliott[ —]

With Covid cases and unemployment both rising, and a no-deal Brexit possible, a coherent strategy is urgently needed

It was the sort of speech Boris Johnson used to make. Britain is on course for the most spectacular quarter of growth in its history. Consumers are spending freely on houses and cars. Good news about the economy is being crowded out by the doomsters and gloomsters in the media. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

This, though, was not the prime minister, because since the start of the coronavirus crisis Johnson has turned from Tigger into Eeyore. Instead it was left to the chief economist at the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, to make the sort of rallying cry that was once the PM’s trademark, hitting out at those determined to wallow in pessimism. The Threadneedle Street official called it the economics of Chicken Licken, after the fictional fowl who, having been hit on the head by an acorn, felt the sky was about to fall in.

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It goes way beyond the BBC: the right's target is liberalism itself | Charlotte Higgins

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1er octobre, par Charlotte Higgins[ —]

The corporation’s underpinnings – equality, verifiable facts, the rule of law – are under threat as never before

It would be tempting, at this moment of fevered speculation about the next chairman, to cry, “Hands off the BBC!” It is true that Charles Moore – the rightwing commentator and former Telegraph editor rumoured to be Downing Street’s favoured candidate – would be an egregious choice. Leaving aside that recruitment for the post is supposedly an open and fair process, rather than organised through an anonymous newspaper briefing emanating from the general direction of Dominic Cummings, no known previous candidate has so openly voiced hostility to the licence fee – the very underpinning, financially and ideologically, of the corporation.

Nevertheless, “Hands off the BBC!” is an empty injunction, since no government has ever taken their hands off the BBC, nor is there any prospect of their so doing. The level of the licence fee and the broadcaster’s charter are set by the government. Officially, the chair’s appointment is both a process based on open, fair competition, and the result of a final choice made by ministers. The BBC is, then, embroiled with the government in fundamental ways, and always has been.

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The Tories' ban on anti-capitalist resources in schools is an attempt to stifle dissent | Owen Jones

1er octobre, par Owen Jones[ —]

By waging a culture war on tolerance and free speech, the UK government is taking lessons from Orbán’s Hungary

To see our plausible future, we don’t need a time machine: we can take a two-and-a-half-hour flight to central Europe. Unlike Britain’s Conservatives, Hungary’s ruling Fidesz began its political journey as a “centrist” party and a signed-up member of the Liberal International. In power, it radicalised.

Related: With its lurch to the right, Britain is no longer special in Europe | Stefan Bielik

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Rishi Sunak’s plans for winter amount to creative destruction of Britain’s workforce | Carys Roberts

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1er octobre, par Carys Roberts[ —]

Don’t let comparisons with Germany fool you. The policy encourages employers to keep a few staff and abandon the rest

Though the early days of the pandemic were terrible, they offered a fleeting glimmer of hope. Social scientists have debated for years whether it could be possible to transform the economies of the UK or US, where market forces have been unleashed on society, to more closely resemble the coordinated economies seen in Germany, France and Sweden, where workers are given a seat at the table and typically enjoy greater social protections. During the spring, with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) included in talks to design a previously unimaginable wage replacement scheme, the possibility of change looked tantalisingly close.

Indeed, in the hours preceding the plan from the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, for the winter economy last week, many talked of a new “German-style” scheme to replace the furlough programme. The leaders of the TUC and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) stood alongside Sunak as he prepared to make his speech, a show of unity that would have been surprising less than a year ago. The Kurzarbeit, the German policy of topping up pay for workers on reduced hours, which meant Germany was the only G7 country where employment did not fall following the financial crisis, was widely cited.

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