Opinionomics | 1 May 2012

Must-read comment and analysis. Featuring Paul v Paul and Ha-Joon Chang.

1. Cutting red tape and taxes will not revive Britain (Guardian)

Without completely rebuilding its economic model, the future of the British economy is bleak, writes Ha-Joon Chang.

2. What makes health-care and education costs similar to each other — and unlike anything else Washington Post | Wonkblog)

Ezra Klein looks at the similarities between health care and higher education. Are costs for both spiralling out of control because of government intervention – or despite it?

3. Lloyds almost off addiction to taxpayer loans (BBC News)

Robert Peston writes about the good news for taxpayers in Lloyds' latest results.

4. Economy Face Off: Ron Paul vs Paul Krugman (Bloomberg)

Twenty minutes of Paul v Paul. It's like a clash of the titans, if one of the titans wasn't actually a titan but just had a lot of people on the internet who thought he was.

5. No alternative to austerity (Financial Times)

Gideon Rachman sticks his head in the sand.

An emergency department in Washington DC. How similar is it to a university? Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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It's Gary Lineker 1, the Sun 0

The football hero has found himself at the heart of a Twitter storm over the refugee children debate.

The Mole wonders what sort of topsy-turvy universe we now live in where Gary Lineker is suddenly being called a “political activist” by a Conservative MP? Our favourite big-eared football pundit has found himself in a war of words with the Sun newspaper after wading into the controversy over the age of the refugee children granted entry into Britain from Calais.

Pictures published earlier this week in the right-wing press prompted speculation over the migrants' “true age”, and a Tory MP even went as far as suggesting that these children should have their age verified by dental X-rays. All of which leaves your poor Mole with a deeply furrowed brow. But luckily the British Dental Association was on hand to condemn the idea as unethical, inaccurate and inappropriate. Phew. Thank God for dentists.

Back to old Big Ears, sorry, Saint Gary, who on Wednesday tweeted his outrage over the Murdoch-owned newspaper’s scaremongering coverage of the story. He smacked down the ex-English Defence League leader, Tommy Robinson, in a single tweet, calling him a “racist idiot”, and went on to defend his right to express his opinions freely on his feed.

The Sun hit back in traditional form, calling for Lineker to be ousted from his job as host of the BBC’s Match of the Day. The headline they chose? “Out on his ears”, of course, referring to the sporting hero’s most notable assets. In the article, the tabloid lays into Lineker, branding him a “leftie luvvie” and “jug-eared”. The article attacked him for describing those querying the age of the young migrants as “hideously racist” and suggested he had breached BBC guidelines on impartiality.

All of which has prompted calls for a boycott of the Sun and an outpouring of support for Lineker on Twitter. His fellow football hero Stan Collymore waded in, tweeting that he was on “Team Lineker”. Leading the charge against the Murdoch-owned title was the close ally of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and former Channel 4 News economics editor, Paul Mason, who tweeted:

Lineker, who is not accustomed to finding himself at the centre of such highly politicised arguments on social media, responded with typical good humour, saying he had received a bit of a “spanking”.

All of which leaves the Mole with renewed respect for Lineker and an uncharacteristic desire to watch this weekend’s Match of the Day to see if any trace of his new activist persona might surface.


I'm a mole, innit.