Full Transcript | George Osborne | Speech on the economy | Manchester | 16 September 2011

"Britain cannot blame the rest of the world for these debts, for we were one of the biggest contribu

Let me congratulate the Telegraph for organising this Festival of Business.

The people in this room come from all parts of our country - from Aberdeen to Devon, from here in the North West to the South East.

You run businesses that offer totally different services and goods - from components engineering to video production, to retailing to accounting. But you have one thing in common. You epitomise the spirit of enterprise. You - together - are the engine room of the British economy. Most of the businesses represented here today are not the largest in our country, nor are they the smallest. You are somewhere in between. The medium of small and medium businesses. You have market caps of millions not thousands or hundreds of millions. You are not sole traders or one-man bands. You employ dozens or hundreds of people but not thousands. And often - because you are neither the biggest nor the smallest - you get overlooked by governments and policy-makers.

I know your type of company very well. I grew up with one. Over 40 years ago my father set up his own business, manufacturing and selling home furnishings. Over the years it's grown to employ a couple of hundred people. Growing up, the rhythms of the business's life and the rhythms of my family life were one and the same. I remember the ups and downs. The new orders won. The new collections launched. The excitement when the first sales were made in America.

And I know the kind of pressure that you are under. To compete, to stay ahead and to make a profit. But from that pressure great things can emerge - new ideas, new products, new jobs. That is why your businesses are the real engine of growth. You are working flat out for our economy. And let me tell you - this Government is working flat out to help your businesses not only survive but thrive.

You know as well as I do that these are very challenging economic times. In recent months we have seen the succession of bad economic news across the world. The oil price has soared. And our biggest export markets, in Europe and America, have all but stopped growing.

There is a lack of belief in the ability of political systems in the Eurozone and North America to respond. All these factors are weighing down on global confidence and having an impact at home in the UK. But these are just some of the symptoms.

They all have the same root cause - excessive levels of debt across the world. What started as a debt crisis in the banking sector in 2008 has now turned into a wider crisis of sovereign, banking and private sector debt. And Britain cannot blame the rest of the world for these debts - for we were one of the biggest contributors to them.

We need a much better international response. The agenda for coordinated global action should be clear - deal with the debts, sort out the banks, become more productive and free up trade. Immediately after this event I will be flying to Poland for a meeting of European finance ministers. At this meeting, crucial discussions about the crisis in the Eurozone are due to take place.

Britain is, of course, not in the euro - and I fought hard with others to keep us out. Let us take no relish at all from their problems - let's have no schadenfreude. A successful euro is massively in our interest. So at today's meeting I will be looking for my Eurozone colleagues to send a clear signal that they truly recognise the gravity of the situation and are dealing with it.

Time is short. The Eurozone must now:

* Implement as quickly as possible their 21st July agreement;

* Resolve the uncertainty with respect to Greece;

* Specify how they intend to fulfil the commitment made at last week's G7 meeting to "take all necessary actions to ensure the resilience of banking systems and financial markets".

Crucially, my European colleagues need to accept the remorseless logic of monetary union that leads from a single currency to greater fiscal integration.

Here at home we are not immune to what is going on at our doorstep. America and the Eurozone are our two biggest export markets. But I am confident that we can weather this storm. We had an Emergency Budget last summer on our own terms, not this summer on the market's terms. That decisive action put us ahead of the curve. It has delivered record low interest rates. Protected our credit rating. Given us stability when many countries had none. Our plan was designed for both good times and tough times. Flexible enough to let the automatic stabilisers work. Strong enough to command the confidence of world markets. If we abandoned it now there would be a collapse in that confidence and a surge in interest rates.

Look at our neighbours. In Greece markets interest rates are almost 23 per cent. In Italy 5½ per cent. Our market interest rates this week were the lowest they have ever been in our history. Below 2½ per cent. Every business in this country depends on a strong Government and a credible economic policy - and this coalition will always deliver just that.

But that stability on its own is not enough. We also need growth. You - the wealth creators and innovators of Britain - can deliver that. But only when we in Government create an environment in which your business endeavour is supported not stifled.

At this year's Budget in March I published our Plan for Growth. It was based on four economic ambitions for Britain. First, we want Britain to have the most competitive business tax system of any of our major competitors. So I have already cut corporation tax -from 28 per cent to 26 per cent. It will come down again next year, and again in 2013 and again in 2014 to reach just 23 per cent. That's the lowest ever rate in the UK and the lowest in the G7. I have also cut the small companies rate to 20 per cent.

I am making the taxation of international profits a lot more competitive. Cutting tax on profits arising from patents developed in this country. That should help keep multinationals and knowledge industries in this country. When the day comes when you want to sell your business, we have doubled and then doubled again the level of entrepreneurs' relief. We have also delivered on our promise to scrap the most damaging part of Labour's planned jobs tax.

Cutting business taxes is not politically popular. It doesn't win me any votes. But it is essential to the competitive future of our country and a sign of our commitment to your companies. Our second economic ambition is that Britain should be the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business. Over the last decade the UK fell behind in the Global Competitiveness Index, going from 4th in 1998 to 12th in 2010.

But here's some good news at last - last week we re-entered the top ten. Britain is becoming once again a competitive place to do business. Why? Because we're tackling the suffocating burden of red tape. In the first half of this year, we scrapped over £3 billion worth of unnecessary regulation.

We've imposed a moratorium on new regulations on small businesses.

And we are battling with Europe - the origin of so much new red tape - to make them stop and realise that if they carry on then they will price our entire continent out of the world economy.

We are also making it easier for start-ups to attract finance and investment capital, including with an increase in income tax relief from 20 per cent to 30 per cent, which has already come into effect. Another area where action is needed is planning. Planning delays also cost the economy around £3 billion a year. Over half of small firms who applied for planning permission in the last two years found the process too complex.

Almost every serious independent study of the British economy has said the planning system is holding back growth. So we are changing it. Replacing over 1,000 pages of planning guidance with around 50. Putting in a presumption in favour of sustainable development. Helping you to grow and create jobs. Helping young families get their own home. These changes have been opposed by some - including the newspaper hosting this conference.

That's fine. That's their democratic right. But let's have a reasonable debate based on facts not myths. We are not destroying England's beautiful countryside. The Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks are all protected. We are not taking decisions away from local communities - we are giving them the power to create their own local plan. What we are doing is making sure our economy can grow and our people can be housed.

Don't underestimate our determination to win this argument. That is part of our Plan for Growth and let us hear the loud and clear support of the business community for it. Our third ambition is for Britain to become a more balanced economy, by encouraging more exports, investment and private sector employment. We are doing this by introducing new Enterprise zones - including one right here at Manchester Airport.

By investing in our science base - like the fantastic technology park near here in Daresbury. We are putting money into transport. Let's take Manchester. Here alone we are investing in the A556, increasing capacity on the M60 and the M62. And we are also funding an extension to Manchester Metrolink and creating a link between Manchester's two main railway stations, enhancing the Manchester Rail Hub. And, of course, our High Speed Rail proposals will almost halve the journey time between London and Manchester.

We are investing in the country's infrastructure - and we are doing so without delay. As Nick Clegg announced on Wednesday, we will identify up to 40 top priority growth enhancing infrastructure projects across the transport, broadband and energy sectors. We will then focus on unblocking any barriers to delivery. A more balanced economy also means more exports.

That's why we've got Stephen Green, one of Britain's global business leaders, to become our Trade Minister. He is the man who will help companies of your size enter new markets, with new export products like trade finance services and specialised trade advice designed to support you. If you want help on how to start exporting abroad, speak to UK Trade and Investment - there is a stall here today.

Our fourth ambition is to have a more educated and better skilled workforce. In today's global economy you can only compete on skills, innovation and know-how.

That is why this Government has embarked on radical reforms to education, including:

* 700 Academies opened since April;

* 24 Free Schools opened in the past month;

* The largest ever investment in apprenticeships - 100,000 more than last year;

* And we have taken the difficult but essential decision to reform student finance to ensure our universities continue to be well funded.

Many would have ducked these challenges. We did not. So there it is. More competitive taxes. Better business support. More balanced growth. And a better skilled workforce. That is our plan for growth.

And I will be announcing further measures alongside the Autumn Forecast at the end of November, including a package of support for mid-sized companies. Because when you look at the British economy, there is an obvious gap in the way Government supports business. It's a gap that exists between our successful SME sector and our world-class large corporations.

In that gap there are many mid-sized companies that are often at the heart of local communities. Between them they employ millions of people, and turn over billions of pounds. But they don't always get the same focus as the smallest or the largest. As a result, they find it hard to grow and meet their full potential. This has been a well-known problem for Britain.

The issue might be growing your exports - we know mid-sized businesses often find this harder than large firms. It might be finding the right source of finance. Or it might be finding the right staff or skills. So I think the time has come to fill that gap - starting today.

We should all learn the lessons from the successful Mittelstand model which has operated in Germany for many decades - the medium sized companies that are such a source of strength for that country.

In the UK, mid-sized businesses like yours are often at the centre of our supply chains. Your prospects depend on the decisions of larger firms at the top of the chain. And the success of those larger firms in turn depends on having reliable and efficient suppliers. So today I can tell you that some of Britain's biggest businesses have agreed to share their global success with their supply chain. It is a simple idea. Today's successful firms helping you grow into the big companies of tomorrow. It's in your interest, it's in their interest, and it's in the interest of the UK economy.

I can tell you today that Tesco, Centrica, Virgin, GSK, Network Rail, GE, Carillion and BAE Systems have already signed up to work with us - and we hope that other big British firms will join this endeavour.

We would like to set a shared aspiration to secure support, advice and practical help from each of these companies. The Government and the CBI will work with these firms to develop that offer of support.

We hope it will include:

* Opening up new export opportunities, helping British businesses access new markets around the world where the big name is already established;

* Sharing expertise, with opportunities to work shadow top executives, access training courses, and build apprenticeship opportunities;

* Creating new intellectual property by sharing R&D facilities and collaborating on new technology;

* Building more sustainable models of financing and payment arrangements that help access to working capital;

* And many other exciting opportunities, which we will set out in full later this autumn.

I hope many of you in this room will benefit from this initiative. Government helping business to help business. That is our agenda. It's an agenda for jobs. For business. For growth.

Making Britain more competitive is not easy. Many obstacles stand in our path. For every wasted pound of government spending, there will be a pressure group that pops up on the radio to defend it. For every totally unnecessary piece of regulation, a trade union that will fight to keep it. We need your support to overcome the forces of stagnation that hold our country back. Help us. Work with us.

You are the forces of enterprise and together we will get this economy moving and put Britain on the path to prosperity. Thank you.

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This week's magazine | Syria's world war

A first look at this week's issue.

Syria's world war
2 - 8 September


Cover story: Syria’s world war.
John Jenkins
on how the West allowed Russia and Iran to take control.

John Simpson: Putin’s bold gambit in Syria has fooled us all into thinking that Russia is a superpower again.

Politics: George Eaton on why Theresa May will not hold an early general election.

What I got wrong: From the IRA to Christianity – Julie Burchill, Lionel Shriver and Tom Holland on how they changed their minds.

The Diary: Olivia Cole on secret beaches in Puglia, TripAdvisor whingers and Norfolk’s smartening seaside.

Peter Wilby on the misfortune of Ed Balls and why Apple’s tax bill is long overdue.

Louis Amis on the action-movie heroes inside Donald Trump’s head.

Lines of Dissent: Tanya Gold on poverty porn television.

Rowan Williams: Why Judas was no traitor.

Labour’s Captain Mainwaring: David Marquand on the myth of Clement Attlee.


Cover story: Syria – a tragedy without end.

John Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Syria, explains how the country has become a theatre for great-power rivalry, with Russia and Iran turning cynical opportunism into high policy:

It is getting harder to make sense of Syria’s agony. In fact, unless a distressing photograph of a suffering child – most recently Omran Daqneesh in Aleppo – goes viral and reminds us all for a moment of the human cost, it is probably harder to get anyone to pay any attention at all. The situation is increasingly complicated, politically and morally. There is a shifting array of militias both supporting the regime and on the opposition sides, all with their own internal tensions. None of the external actors seems to be fighting with quite the same purpose as the others. No one is articulating a vision of what a post-conflict Syria should look like: perhaps because there isn’t one, except for the harsh, reductionist version offered by Islamists. The one thing that’s sure is that this conflict isn’t about the Sykes-Picot Agreement, whose hundredth anniversary fell in May, triggering a flood of sanctimonious commentary. The borders we see in the modern Middle East were the product not of a 1916 Anglo-French stitch-up, but of the Paris Peace Conference, the Treaties of Sèvres and Lausanne, the League of Nations mandates, subsequent interstate agreements in the 1920s and sometimes – as in the case of Saudi Arabia and much of the Persian Gulf, or Yemen – even later. Nor is it about Israel, whose own dilemmas seem ever less exceptional as we look at other communal conflicts across the region.

Russia in particular has made cynical opportunism into high policy. As a party to the conflict, it has managed in the past year to kill roughly 2,500 civilians, including over 200 children and 28 medical staff (more than Islamic State). But it is also apparently Washington’s preferred partner for peace. Russia has historically had predatory designs on Iran but the latter now lets it use one of its airbases, a dubiously constitutional act that Russia gleefully proclaims to the world, to the apparent disquiet of some in Iran. It is aligned with Bashar al-Assad but also with some Kurds. It co-ordinates tactically with Israel but fights alongside Hezbollah. Russia was previously hostile to Turkey, which opposes Assad but is now trying to halt the advance along the Syrian-Turkish border of the same Kurds whom his air force is bombing. Turkey is making eyes at Iran. And the Chinese have just offered extra training to Assad’s army.

The problem is not that borders are disappearing but that some states are fragmenting within these borders. This produces horrors such as Islamic State and other, publicly more cautious and sometimes divided, but still savage Salafi-jihadi groupings such as Jabhat al-Nusra (JaN) or Ahrar al-Sham (AaS). It also provides other states with an excuse to colonise the hollowed-out husks of their neighbours in ways that might prove far more enduring than the international settlements of the 1920s.

If you happen to be in the Israeli-occupied Golan (as I was recently) and drive up beyond Katzrin to the de facto border with Syria, you can see through field glasses the movement of armed groups associated with JaN or IS. The most significant of these, Liwa Shuhada’ al-Yarmouk, occupies an enclave in southern Syria, to the south-west of the Golani town of Quneitra, whose main buildings were dynamited flat in the 1973 war. They are surrounded by elements of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other armed opposition groups, including JaN.

This is remarkable. This border was for four decades the quietest of all Israel’s frontiers with its enemies. When you ask senior Israelis – civilian and military – what this means for them, they shrug and say things like, “At least they are behaving themselves,” by which they mean, of course, that they are not attacking Israel. But if you probe, you discover a wider unease. This is only partly assuaged by the efforts Israel has made over the past three years to keep tabs on the situation by, for instance, offering medical treatment at Israeli hospitals to well over 1,000 wounded Syrians (by some accounts double that number), mostly opposition combatants. The treatment is delivered partly by Druze doctors whose historically irredentist community straddles the border.

If you go next to Jordan and talk to senior Jordanians, you will detect a similar unease. Some of it comes from the same concern about the threat from Salafi-jihadi groups – the murderous Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was Jordanian, after all – or the continued presence on Jordan’s northern border of increasing numbers of refugees whom the country simply cannot absorb. Some comes from greater Russian activity on the same border, most notably the recent air strikes on the FSA outpost at Tanf, halfway to al-Bukamal,
one of the major crossing points on Syria’s border with Iraq and, together with its counterpart in Iraq, al-Qaim, the nearest hub of Sunni jihadi insurgency. But in both countries there is a feeling that the conflict in Syria may ultimately produce a realignment of forces within Syria and Lebanon that will constitute a far more formidable threat to Israel than anything we see today.

This does not mean the continued killing in Syria does not matter. It does and it is shameful. The UN’s special envoy Staffan de Mistura said in April that the total number of deaths had reached approximately 400,000, mostly killed by regime action. Half of Syria’s entire population has fled or is internally displaced. For want of an alternative policy, the US administration has been casting around for ways of bringing influence to bear through Russia, which, alongside Iran, is the main external actor in the conflict. This influence remains focused on combating IS, JaN and other jointly designated armed Sunni Islamist organisations, an appalling group of people, but not the only ones by any means. We have had frequent reports of another proposed deal between the US and Russia under which the two countries together would designate areas where there is a confirmed JaN presence for joint or independent targeting – as well as continuing air operations (few of which have been Russian) against Islamic State. You might think that developments around Aleppo in recent weeks would make this less likely: but in Syria, conventional reasoning has ceased to apply.


World Citizen: John Simpson.

The BBC’s world affairs editor, John Simpson, argues that if there were a Nobel prize for clever footwork, it would be awarded to Vladimir Putin – thanks largely to the inaction of a real Nobel laureate –Barack Obama:

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has been busy during recent years. Here is a partial list of what he has achieved. He has: 1) recaptured Crimea, the single bit of territory the Russian people most regretted losing after the Soviet Union collapsed; 2) reduced Ukraine, from which he grabbed it, to a nervous wreck; 3) put the fear of God into Nato by giving the impression that he might invade one or more of the Baltic states; 4) handed Turkey the opportunity to demonstrate its independence from the United States and Europe by cosying up to him; 5) ditto Israel; 6) saved President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the ophthalmologist-turned-barrel-bomber, from a Colonel Gaddafi-style lynching, and in the process rescued the incomparable ruins of Palmyra; 7) struck up such a good relationship with Iran that he’s been given the use of a military base there; and now, 8) Mr Putin is presenting himself as the one man who can bring peace, not just to Syria but to Israel and the Palestinians as well. Oh yes, and he may or may not have some dodgy deal going with the man who could, if things go wrong for Hillary Clinton and the rest of us, be the next US president.

. . . his gamble has worked superbly: he has conned us into thinking that Russia is a superpower again. And yet, like many of the best public relations campaigns, it’s complete rubbish. The IMF estimates that Russia will be only the world’s 14th biggest economy this year, after Australia, which has just a sixth of Russia’s population. The US spends nine times as much on its armed forces as Russia does; the Russian figure is only $10bn a year more than Britain’s. Leaders such as Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu don’t really believe Russia can bring peace to their region; they just enjoy poking poor old Barack Obama in the eye.

If world affairs were a card game, Putin would have a hand that at its very best contained, let’s say, three eights. The leaders sitting across the table mostly have straights and flushes or better; yet they’re the ones eyeing the piles of chips in front of them and wondering if they should fold. It would be wrong to praise much of what Vladimir Putin has done; but if he gave lessons in poker, I’d sign up for his course any day.


Politics: George Eaton on the next general election.

Talking to the NS’s political editor, George Eaton, a senior Conservative source insists that Theresa May will not backslide and call an early election. Eaton notes that there are clear political advantages to the Prime Minister’s handling of the election question – not least the chance to avoid the thorny question of free movement of labour post-Brexit for just a little longer:

Unlike her predecessors, May faces the obstacle of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act (under which the next election will be held on 7 May 2020). Yet it is not insurmountable. The legislation can be suspended with the backing of two-thirds of MPs, or through a vote of no confidence in the government. Alternatively, the act could simply be repealed or amended. Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who have demanded an early election, would struggle to resist May if she called their bluff.

Yet she has no intention of doing so. “The Prime Minister could not have been clearer,” a senior source told me. “There won’t be an early election.” May announced as much at the launch of her Conservative leadership campaign on 30 June (“There should be no general election until 2020”).

Voters, however, are accustomed to hearing a politician say one thing and do another. May’s allies insist that she will defy this trend. The Prime Minister “means what she says and says what she means”, a frontbencher told me.

[Gordon] Brown similarly cast himself as an unspun, straight-talking prime minister. Yet his game-playing over the election date tarnished his reputation. By keeping her word, May can succeed where he failed. Although she could cite the desire to win her own mandate, an early election would risk appearing ruthlessly partisan.

Having awarded the Tories a majority only 16 months ago, polls show that the public has little desire to vote again. Many newly elected Conservatives, fearing a Brexit-inspired boost for Ukip, or even a Liberal Democrat revival, are similarly reluctant to face them.

It is instead the epic task of EU withdrawal that will absorb May’s energies. Her much-mocked declaration that “Brexit means Brexit” was a necessary first step. It reassured Leave voters and Tory MPs that there would be no backsliding. Those who have demanded a second referendum on the final Brexit deal, such as the Labour leadership contender Owen Smith, have been unambiguously dismissed. “May’s on the right track,” the Tory MP Bill Cash, the EU’s most redoubtable parliamentary foe, told me.

The UK will almost certainly leave the EU. But the manner in which it will do so is uncertain. The Prime Minister is committed to imposing “controls on free movement”: the pre-eminent demand of many Brexit voters. This negates the possibility of a Norwegian-style arrangement, under which the UK would retain full membership of the single market while accepting the free movement of people. May’s mission is to determine the residual degree of “access”.

The political imperative of limiting free movement competes with the imperative of protecting the City of London. At cabinet level, Brexiteers emphasise the former, while the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, stresses the latter. An early election would force May to resolve this ambiguity. By avoiding a precipitous rush to the polls, she has bought herself valuable time.

In the Conservative leadership contest, May was the dependable tortoise who overtook the flashier hares. Offered the chance to multiply her majority by perhaps as much as ten, she has so far demonstrated considerable patience.

After ruling out an early election, Gordon Brown was forced to deny that the polls had influenced his decision. Theresa May can acknowledge the Conservatives’ consistent lead in the polls while maintaining that she has a job to do. The ease with which she has navigated the election question suggests that her gamble may pay off.


The NS Debate: What I got wrong.

Psychology demonstrates that it can be difficult for us to admit our errors, but in this week’s issue of the New Statesman, five writers share dramatic reversals of opinion on subjects ranging from the IRA to Christianity. Julie Burchill shudders to recall her old admiration for Joseph Stalin:

When we’re keen on a man, we females are advised from an early age to take an interest in his hobbies. (It doesn’t work the other way around, thank goodness, or we would find the entire male population screaming on about shoes and shopping.) These days, young ladies find it politic to pretend that they’re keen on looking at telecommunicated photographs of disembodied body parts in order to achieve the all-important goal of Getting a Boy to Like You. I know we’re meant to disapprove, but personally I’m just a little bit jealous, as I was as kinky as a mink at the age of 12 and would have absolutely revelled and thrived in the sexual hothouse that is the modern adolescent experience.

My calf country was a more innocent place, though ironically I ended up pledging my allegiance to one of the most prolific and unapologetic mass murderers who ever lived, in order to impress the man I was keen on. Sexting seems positively wholesome in comparison.

As a pre-teen daddy’s girl, eager to elicit some emotion from my loving but reserved father, I tried taking an interest in football and trades unions, I really did. But I knew from the get-go that the way to my adored dad’s heart was via Joseph Stalin. Stalin! Man of Steel. Till the end of my days, I’ll never be sure why my gentle giant of a father, who literally wouldn’t have hurt a fly, spent so much of his leisure time acting as the chief cheerleader of a man who was responsible for the deaths of about 20 million people.

[. . .]

I would like to say that there was a big, blinding moment of revelation, repentance and redemption but I am a chillingly pragmatic person, I fear, and in the end Stalin simply outlived his usefulness. My dad died and, by the time he did, I was confident enough of his love no longer to need to suck up to him. And the Zionism that I had been interested in since I was a teenager came to be the main political presence in my life.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t backslide. Last month, I woke up in bed with a small, silver bust of Lenin on the pillow next to me, purchased on a drunken romp the day before. I hated myself for a bit, but it could have been worse. Gagged and blindfolded with Zionist wristbands, he looks lovely on the mantelpiece. And at least he’s not Stalin – though, to be honest, the shop where I bought him didn’t have a Stalin bust. If it had, could I have resisted? I hope I’ll never find out.

Meanwhile, Suzanne Moore regrets ever having given men the benefit of the doubt and says stick it to the man:

. . . modern feminism spends most of its life not just bending over backwards, but in the doggy position, saying how much it likes men. “I’m a feminist but . . . I love men.” Obviously I’m being a bit binary here, and when I write “men”, I mean women, blokes, anyone fluid enough basically to be in charge.

I once adhered to this. I didn’t want to put anyone off. I used to call feminism “sexual politics”, because that sounded way more sexy. Hey, I’m no man-hater – on the contrary. Look at me. Men? Can’t get enough of them, the poor, damaged critters. It’s not their fault. They’re as screwed up by the patriarchy as ordinary women, probably even more so.

All the special boys. What about the ones who were abused at public school and now run everything but can’t express their emotions properly? All the man victims, trapped by masculinity. Who could hate them? Their oppression is structural. You can’t hate them individually, can you?

You know what? I can. Please don’t confuse that with bitterness. I am in touch with my emotions enough to know the difference between personal hurt and class hatred. As a class, I hate men. I’ve changed my mind. I am no longer reasonable.

I want to see this class broken. There can’t be even basic equality for women without taking away the power of men – and by that I don’t mean feeling sorry for them because they have no friends or suggesting that they have small genitals. I mean the removal of their power.

When I used to give men the benefit of the doubt, that doubt was suffused with my desire for sex, babies, the whole shebang. It wasn’t difficult to get any of this, although the way in which women are encouraged to do so is stultifying.

Marriage, monogamy – a prison where you build your own walls. Familiarity breeds contempt, but this is the aftermath of romance. If you want to fetishise proximity, domesticity, and storage solutions from Ikea, why not go all the way and be a lesbian? If you want to service someone, have a baby. And if you want to rescue someone, get a dog.

Sure, there can be equitable relationships between men and women, in which one turns into the other’s carer. This is the optimal compromise, the prospectus that no one really gets until it’s too late.

Having tried to live with various mishaps, I realise that this is not for me and it never will be. But then, nor will the kind of reasonable feminism in which we make allowances for men. Because they are men. I have had it all my life: pro-choice marches in which men insist that they walk at the front. A left-wing party that cannot deal with a female leader. The continuing pushing back of women’s rights.

If you are interested in the liberation of women, you’ll find that the biggest barrier to this is men: men as a class. I used to think, “I don’t hate all men.” I had therapy and everything. Now, I think that any intelligent woman hates men. There are very few problems in the world that don’t have, at the root of them, male violence and woman-hating.


The Diary: Olivia Cole.

The poet and travel writer Olivia Cole enjoys secret beaches in Puglia and seemingly limitless stretches of sand in north Norfolk – though she fears she may be contributing to a gentrification problem with the latter:

Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Questions of Travel”, first published in 1956, just gets more and more prescient. “There are too many waterfalls here; the crowded streams/hurry too rapidly down to the sea,/and the pressure of so many clouds on the mountaintops/makes them spill over the sides in soft slow-motion . . .” she writes, perfectly ventriloquising an exhausted and whining traveller, spoiled by seeing too many wonderful things.

“There are too many waterfalls here” is the kind of po-faced line I expect to find on TripAdvisor. Since I discovered a comment on the site that described a Cuban garden where guests ate breakfast as unhygienic, on account of the disgusting birds, I have a morbid fascination with the things people will find to complain about. My husband and I spent our holiday exploring Puglia and Basilicata in southern Italy. I had heard enticing rumours of beaches with the feel of St Tropez or Capri in the Fifties and Sixties, before sleepy fishing villages became the most sought-after holiday places in Europe, with outposts of Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana, the Mediterranean churned up with superyachts and lunch fraught with the risk of running into Philip Green. (“There are too many boats here,” as Bishop might have observed, “too many tycoons . . .”)

Monopoli on beaches
The first days of our trip were spent sunning ourselves near the beautiful tiny port of Monopoli (“Not just a board game!” the tourist T-shirts insist). On the beach we were asked if we wanted a small or a big tree for our umbrella. Pampelonne Beach in the early Sixties? Quite possibly. According to one complainer on TripAdvisor, this same beach is a real disappointment, and so rocky that he/she had to walk to a whole different beach to get in the water.

While there were, it’s true, some rocks that made the Adriatic look simultaneously blue and green, like a watercolourist’s attempt at sea, young children could clamber in without difficulty, or you could move a distance of perhaps ten yards to walk in through sand. I sometimes wonder how Eden might have been reviewed.

The beach club is called Tamerici – don’t tell too many other English people.

The Grandfather
Basilicata was our final stop, right in the sandy instep of Italy. We stayed in Bernalda, which clings to a hilltop, and whose most famous former resident is one Agostino Coppola, who emigrated to New York at the turn of the 20th century. The story of his grandson is cinematic history, and Francis Ford Coppola is single-handedly responsible for directing visitors to his grandfather’s home town. Palazzo Margherita is the luxury hotel he opened there in 2012.

On first impressions, I’d say it’s something of a beautiful curiosity: as luxurious as any hotel you could find in Amalfi or Rome, and yet here it is in this tiny town where daily life hasn’t changed much in decades. Whiners doubtless might argue that there isn’t enough to see, but I could have spent many hours cycling around the town, watching not much more happening than front steps being swept, plants being watered and neighbours chatting.

Every morning I cycled past an old man sitting outside his house peeling a huge plate of figs and each time I hoped and failed to find a way to politely ask if he would let me take his photograph.

Mixed massage
While it’s true that the unspoiled places I loved along the coast of the Adriatic and the Ionian seemed (MacBook Airs and Kindles aside) to belong to holidays of a more innocent age, the beach scenes of this summer perhaps seem particularly precious. Even before the horrors of the 14 July mass killing in Nice, there had been reports of terrorists planning to disguise themselves as vendors to attack holidaymakers. The idea is grim, but so, too, is the effect on the hot and bothered vendors with their jewellery and sunglasses that no one wants to buy. In Puglia, a man dressed in white with a small rucksack walking determinedly down the sand through the crowds made everyone stop breathing for a moment. All he was trying to do was to sell massages.

The British Hamptons
This week I’ve had the last beach days of my summer in Norfolk. In all seasons, we spend our weekends at our falling-down farmhouse, bewitched by big skies and the views, destressing by deadheading roses. We are oblivious to the absence of hot water or heating until we have guests. In these bracing conditions, I have long since joked that Norfolk, with its long white beaches and swelling summer population, is exactly like the Hamptons, but now I’m worried it might be true.

On a sunny day, Wells on the north Norfolk coast looks like a Shirley Hughes drawing of how a British beach should be. It was recently named by the Sunday Times as the UK’s best beach but should fans be alarmed by the arrival of an outpost of the high-street holiday chain “Joules Beside the Seaside” that has popped up next to the beach café? In Burnham Market (long since known as Notting-Hill-on-Sea) the bakery has been replaced by a high-end boutique, patronised by people who don’t eat buns. And above Gurneys Fish Shop there is now “Jaipur Plaice”, a summer pop-up ­selling clothes and interiors and kaftans made in Rajasthan.

The butcher has the air of a man living through a siege and there are dark rumours that fishermen in Wells have been told to wear trousers in the pub. Over the weekend, as I enthusiastically instagrammed my new favourite local, the Hero, a formerly dusty old pub reborn this summer with lobster and chips and macchiatos on the menu, and packed my wet swimming stuff away in my ethically sourced waterproof bikini bag (picked up in Jaipur Plaice), I started to worry I might be part of the problem.


Lines of Dissent: Tanya Gold on poverty porn television.

Tanya Gold finds a new poverty porn TV game show – Britain’s Hardest Workers – amoral, sadistic and far from entertaining:

The game was this: 20 people, including single parents, migrants and a widow, competed to win £15,511.60, or a year’s salary on the minimum wage. (The equivalent would be the parents of a dying child competing to see a doctor. Or those with HIV competing for antiretroviral drugs. Or Syrian migrants competing for a place on a leaking dinghy.) To do this, the contestants had to prove that they were “the most adaptable and resilient worker of all”. There was a scoreboard, a solemn ceremony in which the pay packet was delivered, eliminations and even theme tunes. These tunes were happy when the worker succeeded and sad when the worker failed on someone else’s terms.

There was a voice-over that asked: “Which of the workers could cut it in the textile industry, and who came apart at the seams?” Or it said: “With a host of celebrity customers from Rihanna to Fearne Cotton, quality control is paramount.” How true. Workers’ rights may burn but Rihanna must not have a hole in her novelty tent.

The workers picked broccoli, sorted rubbish and sewed cushions featuring cats wearing tiaras. The moral of their quest to low-pay Mordor was this: low-paid work is hard. Who knew?

Occasionally, the contestants offered a manifesto: they wanted to prove that ents, migrants or women returning to work after illness and childcare were worthy of respect. That this is obvious – and does not need to be proved by a game show – was ignored. No stereotypes about poverty were challenged by the editorial voice. All horror was met with a neoliberal shrug and the exhortation to work harder; the programme might have been devised by the Department for Work and Pensions, or something worse.

Perhaps someone at Twenty Twenty [the production company] realised, too late, that the show was moral and – worse – not entertaining, because an attempt at social commentary was shoehorned in among footage of people trying to recognise a banana shallot among 1,500 types of foodstuff. Frances O’Grady of the Trades Union Congress was interviewed, as was a slug with a human face from the Institute of Economic Affairs. “Why should the middle class care?” asked the presenter, who was two parts make-up to one part functional moron. “Because they’re next,” said O’Grady, mildly.

It was too late. Despite fretting about the “workers” – it was not called a “competition”; it was duplicitously named “an experiment” – the producers clearly had no interest in zero-hours contracts, automation, globalisation and the death of the trade union movement. They were exposed by their form. They really did want to find “the most adaptable and resilient worker of all”. The main event, then, was human desperation. Unfortunately for the producers, there was almost no drama, because the contestants liked each other. “Violeta and Pam are going head to head,” said the voice-over, as two women faced each other across a conveyor belt. One of them was clearly vulnerable.

It didn’t work. Pam praised Violeta and called her an inspiration. The producers were left with nothing to do but trail footage of people soiling themselves in a lasagna factory, with a nozzle, and tell viewers that someone once put a whole iguana and part of a horse in a bin.

The show told us two things we already knew but it did not connect them. How can indifference comment on indifference with any credibility? The first was that capital does not care about human happiness and must be made to, with laws. The hardest worker, though she did not win, was a woman who grew up in a communist dictatorship. She exuded servility and gratitude; she believed that “emotion can only break your work”. She reminded me, of all people, of Ripley in Alien. When she failed at a task, she wept along to her theme tune. She may be the perfect worker, but I doubt she is happy – if that matters, and it doesn’t.

The second thing that the show told us is that poverty is now considered, even by the “left-wing” and “responsible” BBC, a source of entertainment: first “documentary”, and now explicitly game show.

I cannot say if this is mass denial (because, as O’Grady said, the storm comes for us all), or Schadenfreude, or a well-executed conspiracy by agents of American billionaires who are devoted to dehumanising all potential workers, the better to exploit them. Or is this simply the final victory of television over civilisation, in which a Teletubby will squash liberal democracy by mistake?

I hope that the world is not as cruel as it is painted here, with or without cat cushions. I think it is.


Kevin Maguire’s Commons Confidential.

The NS’s chief snout in Westminster, Kevin Maguire, hears of Jeremy Corbyn’s plans to cut his deputy down to size by appointing a new Labour Party chairman:

High on Jeremy Corbyn’s to-do list should he be re-elected this month is a cunning plan to slim down to size Tommy Watson, Labour’s burly Trot-Finder General. Phone banks canvassing support for Comrade Corbyn point to victory over his challenger Owen Smith, I’m told, so the vanguard is preparing to consolidate the leader’s grip on the party machinery.

If Corbyn is an unstoppable force, Watson is an immovable object as Labour’s directly elected deputy. So the idea is to reduce his role by stripping Brother Tommy of the title Labour chairman. That part of Watson’s job was originally invented by Tony Blair in 2001 for Charles Clarke when John Prescott was deputy, and remains in the gift of the leader. And by handing it to a woman, Jezza solves his female problem while undermining Watson. The name in the frame is Angela Rayner, currently double-jobbing at shadow Education and Equalities. Nobody walks over the tough former careworker, a mam at 16 and Unison official. Rayner was nicknamed “Shoebacca” after complaining to a Brighton shop on Commons notepaper when she missed out on a Star Wars-themed, £195 pair of heels.



Anoosh Chakelian on the Welsh surge of Ukip: Has Labour lost its base in the Valleys?

Ed Smith on why the Premier League, not Team GB, may offer a better guide to running a successful economy.

Valeria Costa-Kostritsky on Aheda Zanetti, creator of the burkini.

Tim Wigmore argues that baby boomers have benefited at the expense of the young.

Scott Oliver meets Thórhildur Sunna Aevarsdóttir, rising star of Iceland’s Pirate Party.

Alice O’Keeffe gets a glimpse of the New York high life in Jay McInerney’s Bright, Precious Days.

Anthony Clavane on Jonathan Wilson’s history of Argentinian football, Angels With Dirty Faces.

Adam Kirsch grapples with Tom Wolfe’s theories about the evolution of language as revealed in The Kingdom of Speech.

Caroline Crampton meets Sheku Kanneh-Mason, the BBC Young Musician of the year.

Radio: Antonia Quirke eavesdrops on Melvyn Bragg and discovers that it’s nowhere near so grim up north.

Film: Ryan Gilbey reviews Woody Allen’s Café Society a good film hidden in a bad one.

Television: Rachel Cooke watches Queen Victoria get the bodice-ripping treatment.

Mark Lawson is captivated by Tim Minchin’s Groundhog Day.

For more press information, please contact Anya Matthews: anya.matthews@newstatesman.co.uk / 020 7936 4029 / 07815 634 396.