Morning call: the pick of the papers

The ten must-read pieces from the morning papers.

1. Our parties must rid themselves of this stench of nepotism (Guardian)

This week's low turnouts show that the public is losing interest in politics. Westminster has to stop keeping it in the family, writes John Harris.

2. There’s nothing hip about avoiding your taxes (Times) (£)

Cool capitalists think they are sticking it to the Man. But doing your share is a timeless mark of good citizenship, argues Janice Turner. 

3. Police and crime commissioners are good politics, so why didn’t the Tories say so? (Telegraph)

Despite the fiasco of the low turnout, the public have at last got power over the police, says Charles Moore.

4. Patten should defy his Tory foes and stay as chairman (Independent)

Lord McAlpine, like some Tory MPs, is gunning for his old foe to be ousted from the BBC, writes Andrew Grice.

5. Green Tories were never sustainable (Financial Times) (£)

Economic gloom has encouraged the government to shelve environmental concerns, says Janan Ganesh.

6. We’ve never had it so bad. Rejoice, rejoice! (Times) (£)

If you can keep your head while all around are losing theirs and blaming it on you ... you must be British, my son, says Matthew Parris. 

7. Twilight is not feminist: it's female masochism (Guardian)

This saga is a teen version of Fifty Shades of Grey and illustrates the growth of the loving-slave fantasy in popular fiction, writes Tanya Gold. 

8. In the Tower of Babel that is Twitter, silence descends (Independent)

Tweeters used to shrug and say, "Well that's just the internet", but Lord McAlpine's solicitors may have just changed Twitter for ever, writes Grace Dent.

9. Saving Britain's universities: The brains go into battle (Telegraph)

Some of the country’s most brilliant and brightest minds set course this week to save our universities from the dead hand of interfering politicians and bureaucrats, says Melvyn Bragg.

10. X marks the clot: David Cameron couldn't organise a vote in a polling booth (Mirror)

David Cameron goes down in history as the Tory leader who replaced democracy with empty ballot boxes, writes Kevin Maguire.
 

Photo: André Spicer
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“It’s scary to do it again”: the five-year-old fined £150 for running a lemonade stand

Enforcement officers penalised a child selling home-made lemonade in the street. Her father tells the full story. 

It was a lively Saturday afternoon in east London’s Mile End. Groups of people streamed through residential streets on their way to a music festival in the local park; booming bass could be heard from the surrounding houses.

One five-year-old girl who lived in the area had an idea. She had been to her school’s summer fête recently and looked longingly at the stalls. She loved the idea of setting up her own stall, and today was a good day for it.

“She eventually came round to the idea of selling lemonade,” her father André Spicer tells me. So he and his daughter went to their local shop to buy some lemons. They mixed a few jugs of lemonade, the girl made a fetching A4 sign with some lemons drawn on it – 50p for a small cup, £1 for a large – and they carried a table from home to the end of their road. 

“People suddenly started coming up and buying stuff, pretty quickly, and they were very happy,” Spicer recalls. “People looked overjoyed at this cute little girl on the side of the road – community feel and all that sort of stuff.”

But the heart-warming scene was soon interrupted. After about half an hour of what Spicer describes as “brisk” trade – his daughter’s recipe secret was some mint and a little bit of cucumber, for a “bit of a British touch” – four enforcement officers came striding up to the stand.

Three were in uniform, and one was in plain clothes. One uniformed officer turned the camera on his vest on, and began reciting a legal script at the weeping five-year-old.

“You’re trading without a licence, pursuant to x, y, z act and blah dah dah dah, really going through a script,” Spicer tells me, saying they showed no compassion for his daughter. “This is my job, I’m doing it and that’s it, basically.”

The girl burst into tears the moment they arrived.

“Officials have some degree of intimidation. I’m a grown adult, so I wasn’t super intimidated, but I was a bit shocked,” says Spicer. “But my daughter was intimidated. She started crying straight away.”

As they continued to recite their legalese, her father picked her up to try to comfort her – but that didn’t stop the officers giving her stall a £150 fine and handing them a penalty notice. “TRADING WITHOUT LICENCE,” it screamed.


Picture: André Spicer

“She was crying and repeating, ‘I’ve done a bad thing’,” says Spicer. “As we walked home, I had to try and convince her that it wasn’t her, it wasn’t her fault. It wasn’t her who had done something bad.”

She cried all the way home, and it wasn’t until she watched her favourite film, Brave, that she calmed down. It was then that Spicer suggested next time they would “do it all correctly”, get a permit, and set up another stand.

“No, I don’t want to, it’s a bit scary to do it again,” she replied. Her father hopes that “she’ll be able to get over it”, and that her enterprising spirit will return.

The Council has since apologised and cancelled the fine, and called on its officials to “show common sense and to use their powers sensibly”.

But Spicer felt “there’s a bigger principle here”, and wrote a piece for the Telegraph arguing that children in modern Britain are too restricted.

He would “absolutely” encourage his daughter to set up another stall, and “I’d encourage other people to go and do it as well. It’s a great way to spend a bit of time with the kids in the holidays, and they might learn something.”

A fitting reminder of the great life lesson: when life gives you a fixed penalty notice, make lemonade.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.