Christmas quiz 2007

In 2007, who was an "exploding tomato", what did Congleton ban and to whom did Boris Johnson apologi

Politics

1 When asked in July, which of these cabinet ministers denied smoking cannabis in their youth?

a) Jack Straw

b) Harriet Harman

c) Jacqui Smith

d) Alistair Darling

2 Prime Minister Gordon Brown became an honorary Hindu during a ceremony marking the festival of Diwali this year, adopting the first name Govardhan. What does it mean in Sanskrit?

a) Warrior charioteer

b) Beautiful lotus flower

c) Hill in paradise

d) Attractive, charming servant

3 Which city did the Tory MP Boris Johnson annoy by claiming that it was "too full of drugs, obesity, underachievement and Labour MPs"?

a) Liverpool

b) Birmingham

c) Bristol

d) Portsmouth

4 Which of the following was one of the great or considerable "achievements" with which David Cameron did not credit Tony Blair on his leaving office?

a) Peace in Northern Ireland

b) Overthrowing Saddam Hussein

c) His work in the developing world

d) Serving as prime minister for ten years

5 How many houses does the Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Chris Huhne own?

a) Two b) Three c) Five d) Seven

In the news

1 The panic-induced run on Northern Rock was the first seen in Britain since the collapse of which wholesale bank in 1866 with £11m in debts?

a) Fox Brother, Fowler & Co

b) Cunliffe, Brooks & Co

c) Backhouse's Bank

d) Overend, Gurney & Co

2 Under what more popular name did "catarrhal fever" hit the news headlines?

a) Avian flu

b) Bluetongue disease

c) Foot-and-mouth disease

d) Classical swine fever

3 What seemingly harmless activity did the hospital in the town of Congleton ban as a health and safety hazard in September?

a) Doing crosswords and sudoku

b) Watching TV

c) Knitting

d) Playing cards

4 The police identified 169 separate what in London?

a) Crime-free streets

b) Corrupt members of the force

c) Illegal gun-dealers

d) Gangs

5 Moira Cameron became the first woman to take up which job?

a) Postmaster General

b) Yeoman of the Guard

c) Voice of the speaking clock

d) Venetian gondolier

Online and technology

1 Full-scale production of the XO-1 began in November. What is it?

a) Boeing's newest airliner

b) The "$100 laptop"

c) Jaguar's next concept car

d) Nintendo's latest games console

2 Having discounted the device by $200, what did Apple offer in order to placate purchasers of the full-price iPhone ten weeks after its US launch in April?

a) An announcement saying, "Ha! Got you suckers!"

b) A full apology

c) $100 voucher

d) Free iTouch

3 Which Japanese corporation launched the world's largest commercial LCD TV, a 900lb, 108in monster?

a) Toshiba b) Sanyo

c) Sharp d) Sony

4 Microsoft revealed that which feature in its new operating system, Vista, can be hijacked so a PC tells itself to delete files?

a) Speech recognition

b) Back-up and restore

c) Shadow copy

d) Disk management

5 Which Facebook founder was taken to court, having been accused of stealing both the idea and business angle of the social networking website from a rival?

a) Thomas Anderson

b) Michael Birch

c) Noah Glass

d) Mark Zuckerberg

Books

1 It was revealed that the bricklayer David Sharp, who had been given up for adoption during the Second World War, was the long-lost brother of which novelist?

a) Ian McEwan

b) Philip Pullman

c) Julian Barnes

d) Graham Swift

2 Which poet's hip flask fetched £7,200 at auction, about ten times its expected price?

a) Robert Burns

b) Sylvia Plath

c) Dylan Thomas

d) Lord Byron

3 What was the name of the J R R Tolkien book completed by his son Christopher and published in 2007?

a) The Children of Húrin

b) The Stones of Osgiliath

c) The Kings of Valinor

d) The House of Turgon

4 Who belatedly won the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction Award for his description of oral sex in his final novel?

a) Norman Mailer

b) Kurt Vonnegut

c) Ira Levin

d) Sidney Sheldon

5 What were Doris Lessing's very first words on being informed that she had won the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature?

a) "Oh Christ"

b) "Can I get the groceries out of the taxi first?"

c) "Bloody hell"

d) "It's about time"

International affairs

1 Yahya Jammeh claims he can cure Aids and HIV with a natural herb infusion. Nobody would listen to him if he were not the president of which African country?

a) Senegal

b) Cameroon

c) Benin

d) Gambia

2 The then president of the World Bank, Paul Wolfowitz, was cited for which sartorial faux pas on a visit to Turkey?

a) Wearing short sleeves with a tie

b) His socks had holes in them

c) His flies were undone

d) Unidentifiable stains on his tie

3 Fifteen sailors from which Royal Navy ship were taken captive by Iranian forces?

a) HMS Exeter

b) HMS Devon

c) HMS Kent

d) HMS Cornwall

4 What became the 23rd official language of the European Union in January?

a) Basque/Euskara

b) Breton

c) Irish

d) Esperanto

5 Promising a "citizens' revolution", Rafael Correa was sworn in as the president of which country?

a) Peru

b) El Salvador

c) Ecuador

d) Uruguay

Television

1 A September edition of whose Sunday TV show, Aló Presidente, lasted a record eight hours?

a) Nestor Kirchner

b) Fidel Castro

c) Daniel Ortega

d) Hugo Chávez

2 On Ugly Betty, who performed maid-of-honour duties at the wedding of Wilhelmina Slater and Bradford Meade?

a) Lindsay Lohan

b) Victoria Beckham

c) Paris Hilton

d) Mischa Barton

3 The Catholic organisation Opus Dei complained about its portrayal in which BBC TV drama series?

a) Spooks

b) Waking the Dead

c) Doctor Who

d) The State Within

4 Describing himself as resembling "an exploding tomato", which Panorama journalist lost his temper and shouted at a representative of the Scientologists in a widely disseminated video clip?

a) Paul Kenyon

b) Raphael Rowe

c) John Sweeney

d) Peter Taylor

5 Which Cumbrian town became the first place in the UK to lose its analogue television signals and start the digital switch-over in October?

a) Whitehaven

b) Ulverston

c) Thursby

d) Kendal

Arts

1 Which Woody Allen movie shares its title with the Turner Prize-winning film by Mark Wallinger in which he wanders around a deserted Berlin gallery wearing a bear costume?

a) Love and Death

b) Interiors

c) Sweet and Lowdown

d) Sleeper

2 Which acclaimed film director made a tricky transition to opera with her ENO production of Carmen?

a) Beeban Kidron

b) Sally Potter

c) Carine Adler

d) Antonia Bird

3 Which Hollywood film was condemned by the Iranian government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham as a sign of "hostile behaviour, which is the result of cultural and psychological warfare" being waged by the US?

a) Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

b) Transformers

c) Norbit

d) 300

4 The people of Israel voted overwhelmingly for a song about which subject to be their Eurovision Song Contest entry?

a) Nuclear annihilation

b) Palestinian invasion

c) West Bank barrier

d) Suicide bombings

5 Martin Scorsese finally won a Best Director Oscar for helming The Departed. How many times had he previously gone home empty-handed from the Academy Awards?

a) Four b) Five c) Six d) Seven

Fashion and style

1 How much would a Louis Vuitton Tribute Patchwork Bag, released in March, set you back?

a) £19,129

b) £21,675

c) £23,484

d) £25,232

2 What two-word name was given to the 2007 fashion trend, adopted by Versace and Alexander McQueen, that involves wearing tight high-waisted trousers and skintight minidresses?

a) Tight couture

b) Fit wear

c) Body con

d) Squeeze dress

3 Known as the British Chanel, which brand shut up shop completely with the end of its closing sale on 20 April?

a) Jean Muir

b) Mary Quant

c) Celia Birtwell

d) Barbara Hulanicki

4 Perhaps surprisingly, Victoria Beckham was confirmed as the new face of which American designer's spring/summer 2008 ad campaign?

a) Calvin Klein

b) Tommy Hilfiger

c) Tom Ford

d) Marc Jacobs

Climate change

1 On which US TV show did the 2007 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Al Gore mock himself, saying: "Quiet! A whale is in trouble! I have to go!"?

a) 30 Rock

b) The Late Show With David Letterman

c) Curb Your Enthusiasm

d) Scrubs

2 From March until June, Mayor Ken Livingstone offered £100 cashback to Londoners if they did what?

a) Not fly for one year

b) Instal insulation in their homes

c) Give up their car for public transport

d) Replace all their inefficient light bulbs with energy-saving ones

3 Scientists working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claimed in February that human activity was likely to increase global temperatures by what best-estimate range over the next century?

a) 0.5-2.2°C

b) 1.8-4°C

c) 2.5-4.7°C

d) 3-5.2°C

4 Though aides briefed the media that he was preparing to exchange his car for a Toyota Prius, Gordon Brown instead chose a 4.2-litre model of which car that happens to fall into the government's worst emissions band?

a) Jaguar XJ V8

b) Rolls-Royce Phantom

c) BMW 7 Series

d) Aston Martin DBS V12

5 In March, meteorologists said that which major city had had its first winter without snow since records began in 1876?

a) Beijing

b) Seoul

c) Pyongyang

d) Tokyo

Media

1 Described by one holidaymaker as "every swimmer's worst nightmare", the video footage of the great white shark splashed across the Sun's front page on 28 July was filmed not in Cornwall, but where?

a) Australia

b) Florida

c) Mexico

d) South Africa

2 Conrad Black was found guilty in July on four out of 13 charges laid against him. On which of the following charges was he declared guilty?

a) Mail fraud

b) Racketeering

c) Money laundering

d) Wire fraud

3 Which writer branded the BBC a "racist institution" during a radio interview?

a) Paul Abbott

b) Jimmy McGovern

c) Alan Bleasdale

d) Stephen Poliakoff

4 Rupert Murdoch took over control of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal from which family?

a) The Millers

b) The Grahams

c) The Woodwards

d) The Bancrofts

5 Which former Wimbledon footballer-turned-private-investigator was jailed along with the News of the World's royal editor Clive Goodman for his part in the royal household phone-tapping scandal?

a) Jonathan Atkinson

b) Damien Griffin

c) Glenn Mulcaire

d) Paul McAllister

Sport

1 Which England player was disallowed a "phantom try" in the rugby union World Cup, though he claimed he was "100 per cent sure" that he had grounded the ball without going into touch?

a) Jason Robinson

b) Paul Sackey

c) Mark Cueto

d) Mathew Tait

2 At which world championships - held 29 March to 1 April - did Great Britain top the medals table with seven gold medals?

a) Swimming

b) Rowing

c) Amateur boxing

d) Track cycling

3 Why did Björn Borg pull out of an exhibition match with Pat Cash at the Liverpool International Tennis Tournament in June?

a) He dropped a jar of pickled herring on his right foot

b) Bitten by a dog

c) Stage fright

d) He missed his plane

4 What verdict was returned by the coroner Patrick Murphy in November with regard to the death of the Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer during this year's Cricket World Cup?

a) Natural causes

b) Unlawful killing

c) Open verdict

d) Death by misadventure

5 Which female tennis player won the Australian Open despite being ranked 81st in the world?

a) Serena Williams

b) Jelena Jankovic

c) Lindsay Davenport

d) Daniela Hantuchova

Compiled by Olav Bjortomt With illustrations by Dan Murrell

The Answers

Check the answers here

This article first appeared in the 17 December 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year special 2007

Jeremy Corbyn. Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

Lexit: the EU is a neoliberal project, so let's do something different when we leave it

Brexit affords the British left a historic opportunity for a decisive break with EU market liberalism.

The Brexit vote to leave the European Union has many parents, but "Lexit" – the argument for exiting the EU from the left – remains an orphan. A third of Labour voters backed Leave, but they did so without any significant leadership from the Labour Party. Left-of-centre votes proved decisive in determining the outcome of a referendum that was otherwise framed, shaped, and presented almost exclusively by the right. A proper left discussion of the issues has been, if not entirely absent, then decidedly marginal – part of a more general malaise when it comes to developing left alternatives that has begun to be corrected only recently, under Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.

Ceding Brexit to the right was very nearly the most serious strategic mistake by the British left since the ‘70s. Under successive leaders Labour became so incorporated into the ideology of Europeanism as to preclude any clear-eyed critical analysis of the actually existing EU as a regulatory and trade regime pursuing deep economic integration. The same political journey that carried Labour into its technocratic embrace of the EU also resulted in the abandonment of any form of distinctive economics separate from the orthodoxies of market liberalism.

It’s been astounding to witness so many left-wingers, in meltdown over Brexit, resort to parroting liberal economics. Thus we hear that factor mobility isn’t about labour arbitrage, that public services aren’t under pressure, that we must prioritise foreign direct investment and trade. It’s little wonder Labour became so detached from its base. Such claims do not match the lived experience of ordinary people in regions of the country devastated by deindustrialisation and disinvestment.

Nor should concerns about wage stagnation and bargaining power be met with finger-wagging accusations of racism, as if the manner in which capitalism pits workers against each other hasn’t long been understood. Instead, we should be offering real solutions – including a willingness to rethink capital mobility and trade. This places us in direct conflict with the constitutionalised neoliberalism of the EU.

Only the political savvy of the leadership has enabled Labour to recover from its disastrous positioning post-referendum. Incredibly, what seemed an unbeatable electoral bloc around Theresa May has been deftly prized apart in the course of an extraordinary General Election campaign. To consolidate the political project they have initiated, Corbyn and McDonnell must now follow through with a truly radical economic programme. The place to look for inspiration is precisely the range of instruments and policy options discouraged or outright forbidden by the EU.

A neoliberal project

The fact that right-wing arguments for Leave predominated during the referendum says far more about today’s left than it does about the European Union. There has been a great deal of myth-making concerning the latter –much of it funded, directly or indirectly, by the EU itself.

From its inception, the EU has been a top-down project driven by political and administrative elites, "a protected sphere", in the judgment of the late Peter Mair, "in which policy-making can evade the constraints imposed by representative democracy". To complain about the EU’s "democratic deficit" is to have misunderstood its purpose. The main thrust of European economic policy has been to extend and deepen the market through liberalisation, privatisation, and flexiblisation, subordinating employment and social protection to goals of low inflation, debt reduction, and increased competitiveness.

Prospects for Keynesian reflationary policies, or even for pan-European economic planning – never great – soon gave way to more Hayekian conceptions. Hayek’s original insight, in The Economic Conditions of Interstate Federalism, was that free movement of capital, goods, and labour – a "single market" – among a federation of nations would severely and necessarily restrict the economic policy space available to individual members. Pro-European socialists, whose aim had been to acquire new supranational options for the regulation of capital, found themselves surrendering the tools they already possessed at home. The national road to socialism, or even to social democracy, was closed.

The direction of travel has been singular and unrelenting. To take one example, workers’ rights – a supposed EU strength – are steadily being eroded, as can be seen in landmark judgments by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Viking and Laval cases, among others. In both instances, workers attempting to strike in protest at plans to replace workers from one EU country with lower-wage workers from another, were told their right to strike could not infringe upon the "four freedoms" – free movement of capital, labour, goods, and services – established by the treaties.

More broadly, on trade, financial regulation, state aid, government purchasing, public service delivery, and more, any attempt to create a different kind of economy from inside the EU has largely been forestalled by competition policy or single market regulation.

A new political economy

Given that the UK will soon be escaping the EU, what opportunities might this afford? Three policy directions immediately stand out: public ownership, industrial strategy, and procurement. In each case, EU regulation previously stood in the way of promising left strategies. In each case, the political and economic returns from bold departures from neoliberal orthodoxy after Brexit could be substantial.

While not banned outright by EU law, public ownership is severely discouraged and disadvantaged by it. ECJ interpretation of Article 106 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) has steadily eroded public ownership options. "The ECJ", argues law professor Danny Nicol, "appears to have constructed a one-way street in favour of private-sector provision: nationalised services are prima facie suspect and must be analysed for their necessity". Sure enough, the EU has been a significant driver of privatisation, functioning like a ratchet. It’s much easier for a member state to pursue the liberalisation of sectors than to secure their (re)nationalisation. Article 59 (TFEU) specifically allows the European Council and Parliament to liberalise services. Since the ‘80s, there have been single market programmes in energy, transport, postal services, telecommunications, education, and health.

Britain has long been an extreme outlier on privatisation, responsible for 40 per cent of the total assets privatised across the OECD between 1980 and 1996. Today, however, increasing inequality, poverty, environmental degradation and the general sense of an impoverished public sphere are leading to growing calls for renewed public ownership (albeit in new, more democratic forms). Soon to be free of EU constraints, it’s time to explore an expanded and fundamentally reimagined UK public sector.

Next, Britain’s industrial production has been virtually flat since the late 1990s, with a yawning trade deficit in industrial goods. Any serious industrial strategy to address the structural weaknesses of UK manufacturing will rely on "state aid" – the nurturing of a next generation of companies through grants, interest and tax relief, guarantees, government holdings, and the provision of goods and services on a preferential basis.

Article 107 TFEU allows for state aid only if it is compatible with the internal market and does not distort competition, laying out the specific circumstances in which it could be lawful. Whether or not state aid meets these criteria is at the sole discretion of the Commission – and courts in member states are obligated to enforce the commission’s decisions. The Commission has adopted an approach that considers, among other things, the existence of market failure, the effectiveness of other options, and the impact on the market and competition, thereby allowing state aid only in exceptional circumstances.

For many parts of the UK, the challenges of industrial decline remain starkly present – entire communities are thrown on the scrap heap, with all the associated capital and carbon costs and wasted lives. It’s high time the left returned to the possibilities inherent in a proactive industrial strategy. A true community-sustaining industrial strategy would consist of the deliberate direction of capital to sectors, localities, and regions, so as to balance out market trends and prevent communities from falling into decay, while also ensuring the investment in research and development necessary to maintain a highly productive economy. Policy, in this vision, would function to re-deploy infrastructure, production facilities, and workers left unemployed because of a shutdown or increased automation.

In some cases, this might mean assistance to workers or localities to buy up facilities and keep them running under worker or community ownership. In other cases it might involve re-training workers for new skills and re-fitting facilities. A regional approach might help launch new enterprises that would eventually be spun off as worker or local community-owned firms, supporting the development of strong and vibrant network economies, perhaps on the basis of a Green New Deal. All of this will be possible post-Brexit, under a Corbyn government.

Lastly, there is procurement. Under EU law, explicitly linking public procurement to local entities or social needs is difficult. The ECJ has ruled that, even if there is no specific legislation, procurement activity must "comply with the fundamental rules of the Treaty, in particular the principle of non-discrimination on grounds of nationality". This means that all procurement contracts must be open to all bidders across the EU, and public authorities must advertise contracts widely in other EU countries. In 2004, the European Parliament and Council issued two directives establishing the criteria governing such contracts: "lowest price only" and "most economically advantageous tender".

Unleashed from EU constraints, there are major opportunities for targeting large-scale public procurement to rebuild and transform communities, cities, and regions. The vision behind the celebrated Preston Model of community wealth building – inspired by the work of our own organisation, The Democracy Collaborative, in Cleveland, Ohio – leverages public procurement and the stabilising power of place-based anchor institutions (governments, hospitals, universities) to support rooted, participatory, democratic local economies built around multipliers. In this way, public funds can be made to do "double duty"; anchoring jobs and building community wealth, reversing long-term economic decline. This suggests the viability of a very different economic approach and potential for a winning political coalition, building support for a new socialist economics from the ground up.

With the prospect of a Corbyn government now tantalisingly close, it’s imperative that Labour reconciles its policy objectives in the Brexit negotiations with its plans for a radical economic transformation and redistribution of power and wealth. Only by pursuing strategies capable of re-establishing broad control over the national economy can Labour hope to manage the coming period of pain and dislocation following Brexit. Based on new institutions and approaches and the centrality of ownership and control, democracy, and participation, we should be busy assembling the tools and strategies that will allow departure from the EU to open up new political-economic horizons in Britain and bring about the profound transformation the country so desperately wants and needs.

Joe Guinan is executive director of the Next System Project at The Democracy Collaborative. Thomas M. Hanna is research director at The Democracy Collaborative.

This is an extract from a longer essay which appears in the inaugural edition of the IPPR Progressive Review.

 

 

This article first appeared in the 17 December 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Christmas and New Year special 2007