Five of the Best

The top five comment pieces from today's papers and the web

The Independent's Johann Hari discusses the phrases that should be banished from the English language. They include "infant mortality", "Christian/Muslim children" and "climate change":

"Climate change". This phrase was invented by the Republican pollster Frank Luntz, when he discovered that focus groups found the phrase "global warming" too scary. Climate change sounds nice and gentle, and evokes our latent awareness that the climate has changed naturally throughout history. Even "global warming" is problematic, since it makes us picture putting our feet up in the sun. The more accurate phrase would be "the unravelling of the ecosystem", "climate chaos", or "catastrophic man-made global warming." They're a mouthful, but they are honest.

Jonathan Freedland writes in the Guardian about what the BBC must do to protect itself from a potential Murdoch-Cameron alliance:

(T)he BBC can rein in its ceaseless expansion. It had every right to move online, but it surely cannot justify buying up the Lonely Planet travel guides. Again, its unique privilege is that it does not have to operate according to market logic. Which means it does not have to behave like a rapacious media giant.

The Wall Street Journal's Thomas Frank argues that the Democrats have failed to make the case for health care as a public good:

(O)ur ancestors understood something that escapes those who brag so loudly about their prudence at today's town-hall meetings: That health care is not an individual commodity to be bought and enjoyed like other products. That the health of each of us depends on the health of the rest of us, as epidemics from the Middle Ages to this year's flu have demonstrated.

The human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson writes in the Independent that, among other things, the disgraceful release of the Lockerbie bomber has damaged the international campaign against the death penalty:

The decision will seriously damage the worldwide campaign to abolish the death penalty for international crimes. This relies upon the validity of assurances (such as that given by Robin Cook to Madeleine Albright) that genocidaires and torturers and terrorists will never be released. Now, such assurances cannot credibly be given by democratic governments, because Mr MacAskill's action illustrates the risk that within a few years, politicians will contrive to breach them.

At Liberal Conspiracy, Sunny Hundal defends the Climate Camp from those who argue it lacks political purpose:

The aim of Climate Rush, Plane Stupid and Climate Camp isn't to create mass-movements or write policy about the environment because the nature of their action means they'll always be a small hardcore bunch. It's the job of bigger organisations like Greenpeace to build mass movements and push forward on policy. It's the job of think tanks to produce the policy papers.

 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Lord Sainsbury pulls funding from Progress and other political causes

The longstanding Labour donor will no longer fund party political causes. 

Centrist Labour MPs face a funding gap for their ideas after the longstanding Labour donor Lord Sainsbury announced he will stop financing party political causes.

Sainsbury, who served as a New Labour minister and also donated to the Liberal Democrats, is instead concentrating on charitable causes. 

Lord Sainsbury funded the centrist organisation Progress, dubbed the “original Blairite pressure group”, which was founded in mid Nineties and provided the intellectual underpinnings of New Labour.

The former supermarket boss is understood to still fund Policy Network, an international thinktank headed by New Labour veteran Peter Mandelson.

He has also funded the Remain campaign group Britain Stronger in Europe. The latter reinvented itself as Open Britain after the Leave vote, and has campaigned for a softer Brexit. Its supporters include former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Labour's Chuka Umunna, and it now relies on grassroots funding.

Sainsbury said he wished to “hand the baton on to a new generation of donors” who supported progressive politics. 

Progress director Richard Angell said: “Progress is extremely grateful to Lord Sainsbury for the funding he has provided for over two decades. We always knew it would not last forever.”

The organisation has raised a third of its funding target from other donors, but is now appealing for financial support from Labour supporters. Its aims include “stopping a hard-left take over” of the Labour party and “renewing the ideas of the centre-left”. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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