The commentators 06-02-15
...on UK politics
Gordon Brown may be becoming the Jimmy Carter of British politics. The first thing anyone ever says about Carter is that he was one of America’s worst presidents. They then go on to say that he is nevertheless America’s best former-president. Brown seems to be on a similar trajectory on this side of the Atlantic.
- Martin Kettle, The Guardian
It would be easy to conclude that Labour does not understand business, but the truth is more complex. The irony, lost in the dispute, is that the relationship between business and government is the only arena of policy in which Labour has anything serious to say. The early campaign skirmishes have revealed Labour’s NHS pitch to be a howl of sentimental agony and its tuition fees policy to be a college bar whine. On the economy Labour has both a viable critique of the present and an outline for the future.
- Philip Collins, The Times
Labour should use one of its great assets – the grand inquisitor Margaret Hodge – to head up a new Office of Tax Responsibility to oversee HMRC’s pursuit of tax. Her years in charge of the public accounts committee mean she knows where the tax is hiding – and where public spending is wasted.
- Polly Toynbee, The Guardian
Unseen powers have always lurked behind all manner of thrones, but it is deeply concerning, if the reports are true, that a minister no longer in post, Michael Gove, can undermine and devalue the work of his successor and yet remain aloof and unaccountable for the work of a department he no longer leads.
- Sue Freestone, Daily Telegraph
It must be wonderful to be David Cameron, gliding through a life of such privilege he has no concept of how grubby most things are. He probably imagines a JobCentre looks like St Mark’s Square in Venice, but on a day when it’s a bit cloudy.
- Mark Steel, The Independent
There has been celebration today of the recommendation that a judge should approve applications relating to journalists - but most reports have omitted the caveat in the second half of the sentence from their intros. Here it is in full (my underscore):
"Judicial authorisation must be obtained in cases where communications data is sought to determine the source of journalistic information."
Even under the commission's formula, journalists could still have their phone and email records examined by the police on the say-so of a senior officer for other purposes...And why shouldn't they?
No similar protection is proposed for lawyers, doctors, priests and their confidential dealings with clients, patients or parishioners. Perhaps their respective trade journals should kick up a fuss as Press Gazette did.
And how about the other half-million people whose personal data are scrutinised every year?
Protection for sources, not journalists
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