Breakfast brought us the metre of metrication | Brief letters

Breakfast brought us the metre of metrication | Brief letters

Politics

Baby boomers | Bisexual partnerships | Tracking devices | Co-op’s cornflake rhymes | Currant pastries

Baby boomers are wrongly accused yet again (Letters, 21 February). According to Ipsos Mori, the total of boomers who voted Labour, Lib Dem or Green in the 2015 general election is greater than the number who voted Tory. Remember that the boomer generation includes the radical students of 1968, the early feminist and gay liberation movements, the anti-apartheid campaign, the founding of Amnesty, Third World First, and many other such movements and organisations.
Pam Lunn
Kenilworth, Warwickshire

• Personally, I wouldn’t want to enter into a marriage or a civil partnership (Court rules against mixed-sex civil partnerships but pair vow to appeal, 21 February). However, as a bisexual, I find it ludicrous that I could do either with a woman but could only marry a man.
Ria Hopkinson
London

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Populists blame poor behaviour on migrants – but these fearmongers are less civil than most primary school kids

Populists blame poor behaviour on migrants – but these fearmongers are less civil than most primary school kids

Politics

An Amnesty report about toxic language in politics warns of its dehumanising effect. This hateful discourse starts at the top

“People just ain’t no good.” This is the refrain of the moment isn’t it? Everywhere you look, people are becoming more selfish, insular, nasty and uncaring. The coarsening of public discourse – often online – reveals anger, alienation and a dangerous kind of apathy that feeds on low-level anxiety and perpetual disappointment.

Political rhetoric has normalised expressions of hatefulness. Almost nothing is unsayable, prejudice is not a subtext. It is out and it is proud.

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Why it was right to release Jamal al-Harith in 2004 | David Blunkett

Why it was right to release Jamal al-Harith in 2004 | David Blunkett

Politics

The former Guantánamo detainee’s subsequent repellent acts do not mean he should have been held without due process

A great deal has been said and written over the last 24 hours regarding the return to Britain of Jamal al-Harith from Guantánamo Bay in March 2004. The so-called Islamic State has claimed he was responsible, on its behalf, for a suicide attack near the Iraqi city of Mosul. Since his release occurred while I was home secretary, I think it is important to set out the work we did to keep the public as safe as possible. Some of the reporting has been grossly inaccurate, and in some cases deeply offensive. It is certainly a novel experience for me to be accused of being “soft on terrorism”.

Related: Tony Blair attacks Daily Mail’s ‘hypocrisy’ over suicide bomber

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Now a degree is a commodity, no wonder more students are cheating | Poppy Noor

Now a degree is a commodity, no wonder more students are cheating | Poppy Noor

The Guardian

Of course plagiarism is wrong. But treating students as consumers sends them a very clear message: your money is just as important as your mind

It was reported this week that the Department for Education is considering new penalties for students who plagiarise essays. This comes after an investigation by the Times in 2016 found that 50,000 students had been caught cheating on their university degrees in the three years before.

Students were paying anywhere between £100 and £6,750 for an essay, and this widespread cheating has led to suggestions that criminal records could be dished out to offenders. But with a generation now forking out in excess of £50,000 for their degrees, is anybody surprised that a university education now feels like another asset that can simply be bought?

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Spaniards’ lack of sleep isn’t a cultural thing – they’re in the wrong time zone | Paul Kelley

Spaniards’ lack of sleep isn’t a cultural thing – they’re in the wrong time zone | Paul Kelley

The Guardian

A Franco-era decision to adhere to Central European Time is to blame for everything from poor productivity to a low birthrate. But that could change

Spain’s hit TV programme for children, MasterChef Junior, had 3 million young viewers glued to their television until after 1am on a weekday. That drew the criticism of Spanish MPs, who called for the state broadcaster RTVE, to schedule programmes for children to finish no later than 11pm between Sunday and Thursday.

Their parliamentary motion rightly argued that “television viewing habits play a part in our country’s lack of nocturnal rest”. As in many modern nations, many people habitually use television, computers or phones late at night: “Children who don’t get enough sleep exhibit problems such as irritability, sleepiness and a lack of concentration,” the MPs said.

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‘They don’t care about us’: the anger and apathy behind the Stoke byelection – video

‘They don’t care about us’: the anger and apathy behind the Stoke byelection – video

Politics

As the media get in a lather about the byelection contest between Labour and Ukip, John Harris visits Stoke-on-Trent, the supposed ‘Brexit capital of Britain’. He investigates why so many people there simply don’t vote, and whether the new breed of energetic Labour activists who have arrived in town en masse can somehow change their minds

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Should critics of Moonlight be hounded for having an opinion? | Catherine Shoard

Should critics of Moonlight be hounded for having an opinion? | Catherine Shoard

The Guardian

Camilla Long’s take on the Oscar-nominated film led to an onslaught – but the invective of her attackers has removed their right to the moral high ground

The widely acclaimed movie Moonlight is in the running for eight awards at this weekend’s Oscars. But not everyone is a fan. The Times critic Camilla Long thought Barry Jenkins’ drama about a black, gay drug dealer growing up in Miami was made for a “non-black, non-gay, non-working class, chin-stroking, self-regarding, turbo smug audience”. She confessed that as a white, middle-class, straight woman whose job didn’t involve trading crack, she found it hard to relate.

Twitter turned on Long. Her review of Moonlight wasn’t just wrong – it was racist. Not to mention snide, snooty and a teeny bit sociopathic. Righteousness rained down, a hailstorm of horror on a tide of piety.

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Politicians love the ‘left-behind’ cliche. It masks their own failure | Rafael Behr

Politicians love the ‘left-behind’ cliche. It masks their own failure | Rafael Behr

Politics

Party leaders have interpreted the Brexit vote to suit their own purposes, and that version has absolved them of all blame

On 9 June 1994 there was a byelection in the east London constituency of Barking. Labour had held the seat since its creation, in 1945, and that wasn’t about to change. The Tories needed a sacrificial candidate – the kind of ambitious rookie who can take a beating as an electoral initiation rite. That punishment was taken by a 37-year-old Theresa May. She came third, with 1,976 votes.

That contest is hardly ancient history, but it still belongs to a different epoch. For one thing, “safe” Labour seats were safe back then. It was unimaginable that within a generation the party would be defending Stoke-on-Trent Central and Copeland in Cumbria as if they were hyper-marginal: “on a knife-edge”, as Jeremy Corbyn put it to a meeting of his MPs earlier this week.

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The Guardian view on Brexit Britain: too many uncertainties

The Guardian view on Brexit Britain: too many uncertainties

Politics

When the time comes politicians and the public should be able to make a clear-eyed choice about leaving Europe and not relegate themselves to irrelevance at a turning point in modern British history

This newspaper’s three-day series on Brexit clearly shows that a life outside the European Union will neither be painless nor without cost for Britain. This country is giving up friction-free access to the world’s largest market and the free flow of its goods across European borders. It will sacrifice ready access to large-scale inflows of foreign direct investment and the knowhow that results from such deals. Gone will be free movement of skilled and unskilled foreign labour that currently picks fruit and populates universities. As City executives tell our reporters, London’s status as a linchpin of global finance might be blown up by Brexit. As the capital contributes the lion’s share of “economic” tax revenue, a potential threat to its future is no trifling matter. It is because of the uncertainties involved in Brexit and the unanswered questions Britain’s departure from the continent raises that there must be parliamentary debate and scrutiny. In this regard the speeches by peers are welcome, not just for their courtesy and fluency but also because they fulfil a constitutional role to review and – if necessary – to amend bills. Peers spoke despite being buffeted by a howling gale of indignation, which culminated with an anonymous “government source” threatening peers with destruction. As Lady Smith, Labour’s leader in the Lords, reminded Theresa May when she came to the upper house, “if we ask the House of Commons to look again at an issue, it is not a constitutional outrage but a constitutional responsibility”.

The bill to trigger article 50 and Britain’s long goodbye to Europe is just 67 words long. But how heavy those words feel. It starts a process that could tear families apart, may see vital industries depart from towns and perhaps leave Britain’s poorer parts poorer still. Westminster’s resident historian Lord Hennessey described Brexit as Britain’s fourth “great geopolitical shift” since 1945. Given the potential consequences, opposition peers are right to ask for safeguards for EU migrant rights and to ask for the bill to have ongoing scrutiny written into it. Ministerial assurances, given verbally in the Commons, would mean more if they were put down on paper. Having 27 conversations with European governments means supposedly secret negotiations will be anything but. Before MPs read the leaks, ministers should turn up and tell parliament how talks are going. These improvements are the minimum that one should expect to be made to such a historically important bill.

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