Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1.This is ghettoisation by government decree (The Independent)

Social exclusion will only get worse if workers are denied public housing in nice parts of our towns, writes Joan Smith.

2. Spare a thought for the pupils who are destined only for failure (The Telegraph)

Politicians of all sides must share the blame for a system that leaves one in five without a job, writes Mary Riddell.

3. Assange will end up in Sweden – and quite right too (The Financial Times)

For all his highfalutin rhetoric, Julian Assange is no poster child for extradition reform – and Ecuador is no haven for free speech, writes Dominic Raab.

4. Fixing Britain's work ethic is not the answer to this economic mess (The Guardian)

It suits the Tory austerity narrative to blame 'idle' Britons for the recession rather than flaws in the modern labour market, writes Gaby Hinsliff.

5. George Galloway is anything but gorgeous (The Independent)

George Galloway is no stranger to opprobrium, but his remarks in support of Julian Assange represent a new low even for him, writes The Independent.

6. Julian Assange threatens to make the EU look good (The Telegraph)

The case against Europe’s extradition system is being hurt by the WikiLeaks founder's dissembling, writes Philip Johnston.

7. The housing crisis: a nightmare caused by our sanctified suburban dreams (The Guardian)

Freeing up 1% of the green belt could provide 300,000 homes. Time to lose our myopic nostalgia and send in the bulldozers, writes Ian Birrell

8. The critics carped but audiences loved Scott's action-packed movies (The Independent)

Even his detractors agree he was very slick. His technical mastery was never in doubt, writes Geoffrey Macnab

9. The able-bodied must face their anxiety about disability (The Guardian)

Humans are innately wary of difference, but events like the Paralympics can help the able-bodied to look past disability, writes Philippa Perry.

10. MPs must update our laws on life and death (The Independent)

Judges seem to recognise that the law as it stands is out of step with public opinion, writes The Independent.

 

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Why Nigel Farage is hoovering up all the women I know

Beware young fogeys.

I can’t remember where I was when I first worked out that I was older than Nigel Farage. You’d think after that bombshell went off, you’d still be able to locate the crater. Anyway, there it is: the cut-price little Oswald Mosley is about a year younger than me.

I mention this not because I want to dwell on the nasty piece of shit, but because I’ve been having to face, at one remove, so to speak, the problem of young fogeyism. It seems to be all around. And not only that, it’s hoovering up women I know.

The first time it happened was with B——. She was going to come round last weekend, but then emailed to cancel the day before, because she was going to watch rugby – apparently there’s some kind of tournament on, but it never seems to end – with her boyfriend. How ghastly, I said, or words to that effect; I’d rather die.

She then made the Category One mistake of saying, “Rugby, cricket, all the same to me,” with a cheeky little “x” at the end of it.

I replied thus: Rugby is a violent and brutal game (the coy term is “contact sport”, which means you get to – indeed, are encouraged to – injure the opposing team as often as you can, in the absence of any other tactic) loved by fascists, or, at best, those with suspicious ideas about the order of society with which I doubt you, B——, would wish to be aligned. Also, only people of immense bulk and limited intelligence can play it. Cricket is a game of deep and subtle strategy, capable of extraordinary variation, which is appreciated across the class spectrum, and is also so democratically designed that even the less athletic – such as I – can play it. [I delete here, for your comfort, a rant of 800 or so words in which I develop my theory that cricket is a bulwark against racism, and rugby, er, isn’t.] Both are dismayingly over-represented at the national level by ex-public-school boys; cricket as a matter of historical accident (the selling-off of school playing fields under Thatcher and Major), rugby as a matter of policy. Have a lovely day watching it.

Two things to note. 1) This woman is not, by either birth or ancestry, from a part of the world where rugby is played. 2) You wouldn’t have thought she was one of nature’s rugby fans, as she considers that Jeremy Corbyn is a good person to be leading the Labour Party. (True, thousands of Tories think the same thing, but for completely different reasons.)

That’s Exhibit A. Exhibit B is my old friend C——, whom I haven’t seen for about five years or so but suddenly pops up from the past to say hello, how about a drink? I always liked C—— very much, largely because she’s very funny and, let’s be frank about this, something of a sexpot. She seems keen to bring someone over with her who, reading between the lines like a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, I deduce to be her latest partner. The thing is, she says, she’s not sure he can come, because he might be going beagling.

Beagling?

Well, she does come round (alone, thank goodness) and she’s looking even better than I remember, and is even funnier, too, and she shows me some of the pictures she has put up on her profile page on some dating site, and they’re not the kind of photographs this magazine will ever publish, let’s leave it at that. (One of them even moves.) And, as it turns out – and it doesn’t really surprise me that much – the young beagler she is seeing is a good thirty years-plus younger than she, and his photograph shows him to be all ears and curls, like a transporter mix-up between Prince Charles and the young David Gower. Like B——’s young man, he is not called Gervaise or Peregrine but may as well be.

What on Earth is going on here? Can we blame Farage? I can understand the pull of the void, but this is getting ridiculous. Do they not quite understand what they’re doing? Actually, C—— does, because she’s had her eyes open all her life, and B——, her youth and political idealism notwithstanding, didn’t exactly come down in the last shower, either.

So what is it with these young wannabe toffs – one of whom isn’t even rich? “You’d like him,” C—— says, but I’m not so sure. People who go beagling sure as hell don’t like me, and I see no reason not to return the favour.

Well, I can’t thrash this out here. C—— leaves, but not before giving me the kind of kiss that makes me wish Binkie Beagley, or whatever his name is, would just wink out of existence.

Nicholas Lezard is a literary critic for the Guardian and also writes for the Independent. He writes the Down and Out in London column for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times