Kirst when it comes to TV talent

A nomination, a load of new content and the perils of indulging in nepotism

Such a long time has elapsed since I wrote my last blog that I scarcely know where to begin. So let's start with some blatant self-congratulations.

A few days back we were told newstatesman.com is up for an award at the British Society of Magazine Editors annual bash in November.

We're up against the websites of the Radio Times, GQ, Now and various others. All very gratifying and a recognition of how much our very small team has achieved in the space of little more than a year.

Meanwhile we're not resting on our laurels - there's been something of a commissioning frenzy here at Terminal House, home of the NS.

In the past week alone we've published articles from SDP founder turned Lib Dem peer Bill Rodgers. He warned his party not to become a pressure group. We've had debate going on about the Turkish genocide of Armenians. It began with the Armenian ambassador saying there was one. Someone from the Turkish embassy then replied saying there wasn't. Either way it provoked a lot of responses from our readers.

Brian Coleman, meanwhile, has been at it again. This time he's been upsetting the Turkish Cypriot population of North London after writing a blog in wholehearted support of the Greek perspective on the divided island.

It's been quite a week for the Nobel Laureates what with Doris Lessing's remarks about the Twin Towers and James Watson comments on race and genetics.

We asked Open University and UCL academic and genetics expert Steven Rose to dismantle Watson's assertions.

Heard of Arigona Zogaj? She's a 15-year-old Albanian Kosovan who went into hiding when her father and siblings were deported from Austria. Her case had the most extraordinary effect with media across the political spectrum condemning her treatment. At the heart of the campaign was Austrian Green Party chairman Alexander Van der Bellen.

Alexander kindly wrote us an article about Arigona and what her experience demonstrates about the way we approach immigration policy in Europe.

We’ve also had articles about the Swiss elections, class, the Chagos Islands and more.

Next week we're joining up with the Fabians for their Not the general election night - we've done a ring around asking a range of people what they think Gordon Brown should put in his manifesto so have a look out for that.

Anyway I was watching a bit of a TV the other night. It was a programme to find out the worst place to live in Britain.

It was live and presenters Phil and Kirsty fluffed their lines throughout and then - just when you thought it couldn't get any worse - we were whisked off to Middlesbrough to meet Kirsty's sister.

It turned out the north eastern town was the worst place to live. However, it was unclear how much things would improve once Kirst II finished patronising the locals and headed back to Fulham.

I wrote in an earlier blog about how, with so many actors out of work at any given time, it was amazing they managed to find the desert of talent that makes up the Eastenders cast. Talk about deja vu!

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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What Jeremy Corbyn gets right about the single market

Technically, you can be outside the EU but inside the single market. Philosophically, you're still in the EU. 

I’ve been trying to work out what bothers me about the response to Jeremy Corbyn’s interview on the Andrew Marr programme.

What bothers me about Corbyn’s interview is obvious: the use of the phrase “wholesale importation” to describe people coming from Eastern Europe to the United Kingdom makes them sound like boxes of sugar rather than people. Adding to that, by suggesting that this “importation” had “destroy[ed] conditions”, rather than laying the blame on Britain’s under-enforced and under-regulated labour market, his words were more appropriate to a politician who believes that immigrants are objects to be scapegoated, not people to be served. (Though perhaps that is appropriate for the leader of the Labour Party if recent history is any guide.)

But I’m bothered, too, by the reaction to another part of his interview, in which the Labour leader said that Britain must leave the single market as it leaves the European Union. The response to this, which is technically correct, has been to attack Corbyn as Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Norway and Iceland are members of the single market but not the European Union.

In my view, leaving the single market will make Britain poorer in the short and long term, will immediately render much of Labour’s 2017 manifesto moot and will, in the long run, be a far bigger victory for right-wing politics than any mere election. Corbyn’s view, that the benefits of freeing a British government from the rules of the single market will outweigh the costs, doesn’t seem very likely to me. So why do I feel so uneasy about the claim that you can be a member of the single market and not the European Union?

I think it’s because the difficult truth is that these countries are, de facto, in the European Union in any meaningful sense. By any estimation, the three pillars of Britain’s “Out” vote were, firstly, control over Britain’s borders, aka the end of the free movement of people, secondly, more money for the public realm aka £350m a week for the NHS, and thirdly control over Britain’s own laws. It’s hard to see how, if the United Kingdom continues to be subject to the free movement of people, continues to pay large sums towards the European Union, and continues to have its laws set elsewhere, we have “honoured the referendum result”.

None of which changes my view that leaving the single market would be a catastrophe for the United Kingdom. But retaining Britain’s single market membership starts with making the argument for single market membership, not hiding behind rhetorical tricks about whether or not single market membership was on the ballot last June, when it quite clearly was. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.