Would you have Rod Liddle in your house?

The Independent was once the most high-minded of papers

Would you have Rod Liddle, the ubiquitous columnist and former editor of Radio 4's Today, in your house? Would you leave him alone with your daughters? We may have to address such questions if, as predicted, Alexander Lebedev, owner of the London Evening Standard, buys the Independent and appoints Liddle as editor.

The Independent was once the most high-minded of papers, notorious for its lack of much in the way of laughs. With Liddle, it's laughter all the way. "The overwhelming majority of street crime, knife crime, gun crime, robbery and crimes of sexual violence in London is carried out by young men from the African-Caribbean community," he wrote on his Spectator blog last month.

"Islamophobia? Count me in," he stated on another occasion. Dawn Primarolo is "a shovel-faced termagant", Caroline Flint is "as fit as a butcher's dog", and he once asked if you would, er, do it with Harriet Harman ("after a few beers obviously, not while you were sober"). This is cutting-edge satire and you are no doubt splitting your sides. Oh, and when Liddle married the mother of his two children, he scarpered in the middle of the honeymoon for an assignation with a bird he'd met in the office. Which was very witty indeed.

But recently in the Sunday Times, he argued in a boring, liberal way that Anjem Choudary, whose Islam4UK faces a ban, is entitled to free speech. I hope that, as the responsibilities of office beckon, he isn't losing his sense of fun.

 

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Peter Wilby was editor of the Independent on Sunday from 1995 to 1996 and of the New Statesman from 1998 to 2005. He writes the weekly First Thoughts column for the NS.

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Donald Trump vs Barack Obama: How the inauguration speeches compared

We compared the two presidents on trade, foreign affairs and climate change – so you (really, really) don't have to.

After watching Donald Trump's inaugural address, what better way to get rid of the last few dregs of hope than by comparing what he said with Barack Obama's address from 2009? 

Both thanked the previous President, with Trump calling the Obamas "magnificent", and pledged to reform Washington, but the comparison ended there. 

Here is what each of them said: 

On American jobs

Obama:

The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift.  And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.  We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.  We'll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.  We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.  And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.

Trump:

For many decades we've enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry, subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military.

One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores with not even a thought about the millions and millions of American workers that were left behind.

Obama had a plan for growth. Trump just blames the rest of the world...

On global warming

Obama:

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Trump:

On the Middle East:

Obama:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. 

Trump:

We will re-enforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.

On “greatness”

Obama:

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned.

Trump:

America will start winning again, winning like never before.

 

On trade

Obama:

This is the journey we continue today.  We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth.  Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began.  Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year.  Our capacity remains undiminished.  

Trump:

We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our product, stealing our companies and destroying our jobs.

Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength. I will fight for you with every breath in my body, and I will never ever let you down.

Stephanie Boland is digital assistant at the New Statesman. She tweets at @stephanieboland