In this week's New Statesman | iBroken: Is Apple dying?

Plus: Rafael Behr asks "What is Milibandism?", Alan Johnson on "What makes us human" and the NS's friends and contributors choose their books of the year.







“It’s daft to assume you can only be counted as a [BBC] supporter if you think the corporation should expand still further or that it should have the whole licence fee for ever.”








In this week’s Politics Essay (and in a special report for BBC Newsnight tonight), Rafael Behr, the NS’s political editor, explores Ed Miliband’s mission to bring back socialism and reshape the British economy using the three principles of responsible capitalism, predistribution and “one nation”.

Behr argues that Miliband is winning the battle of ideas and that: “It is worth taking seriously the possibility that Britain will one day be governed by a creed called Milibandism.” Though this is not yet a view shared by many in Westminster, he believes that it is “getting harder to write Miliband off”:

A coherent pattern is discernible in the Labour leader’s actions. There is a consistent analysis of what is wrong with Britain and a systematic outline of the remedy.

Pushing the pendulum

“The critics are wrong to say that Miliband’s project is erratic or hastily assembled. (If anything, the charge that it is too determinedly intellectual is more fitting.) Milibandism takes a deep perspective, charting long political cycles from the postwar period to the present day . . . Miliband sees David Cameron engaged in a futile effort to breathe life into the corpse of an expired doctrine. He ascribes to himself the role that Thatcher once played, appearing at first as an unlikely leader, doggedly pursuing ideas that threaten to disrupt a complacent orthodoxy. Just as the Iron Lady once anticipated the swing of the pendulum away from suffocating statism, Miliband believes it is swinging away from market fetishism. Or, rather, he thinks it has the potential to move in that direction. ‘Sometimes you have to push the pendulum,’ Miliband once told me.”

Reforming the party

“For Miliband, being trusted by the rank and file as an embodiment of traditional Labour values is about more than job security. One part of his agenda that gets little attention but that aides insist is central to the project is the transformation of the party from a rusty bureaucratic apparat to a network of grass-roots activists. That work is led by Arnie Graf, the 69-year-old American pioneer of ‘community organising’, about which Miliband is evangelical. The principle is to win political support street by street, focusing on hyper-local issues and engaging people who would otherwise never go near a constituency party meeting.”

What Milibandism lacks

“There are still gaps in Miliband’s programme. His account of how Labour would champion hard-pressed consumers against wicked corporate interests is not matched by a determination to reform the public sector. He is more comfortable talking about market failure than failures of the state. His vision of party reform risks being lost in back-room haggling with the trade union leaders who finance the whole Labour show. His personal ratings, while improving, are still below the levels that usually indicate momentum towards Downing Street.”

The tenacity of Miliband

“It has always been easy to list the ways in which politicians might fail but it is getting harder to write Miliband off. He has displayed a tenacity that disorientates his enemies. Conservative attacks are contradictory. He is weak yet dangerous; ridiculous yet sinister. The latest Tory line is that he is a con artist, offering flimsy populism in the face of complex problems. So they recognise at least that the left can be popular.”


With the death of Steve Jobs, Bryan Appleyard fears the tech giant’s crown is slipping. The company is failing to innovate, he warns, and its Silicon Valley rivals are closing in.

“The reason [for Apple’s lowered share price] is market scepticism about the post-Jobs regime. [CEO Tim] Cook is not Jobs and, since the iPad, there has been no spectacular product launch, only the usual stream of updates and improvements. His more conventional management practices are said to be counter-innovative. In addition, competitors are thriving, and most importantly Google and Facebook seem to have solved the puzzle of how to make money out of advertising on mobile devices. All of which is just another way of saying that Steve Jobs is dead.”

A corporate freak show?

“Consider this: Apple makes very few products – Cook once said its entire range could fit on a tabletop – and they are more expensive than the competition. So how has it become one of the biggest companies in the world? It has done so through the power of mystique, aspiration and industrial design; through, in short, the narcissistic, brutally competitive aesthetic obsessiveness of Steve Jobs. Apple continues to be formidably profitable – its stores, for example, have the highest sales per square foot of a retail outlet in the world. Yet Apple is not a viable business model: it is, like Jobs, an unrepeatable corporate freak show. Can it possibly be, post-Jobs, a freak show that runs and runs? The reviews are not yet in but doubt is priced into the shares.”

What can Apple do next?

“The next move in this game is, therefore, the cyborg – the part-human, part-machine, dreamed of by science-fiction writers. This is all about wearable computing or ‘technologically enhanced clothing’, as [editor of the Cult of Mac blog Leander] Kahney puts it. The widely rumoured iWatch may be the first step in this direction, though this would hardly be revolutionary, as there are many such devices already on the market. What follows may be, for example, clothing that tracks your vital signs – blood pressure, heart rate, and so on – giving you instant feedback so that you can adjust your behaviour. Apple Stores could thus become, in part, clothing outlets . . .This would be a move in the great Jobs tradition: the annexation of a new industry.”

Apple’s USP

“At the moment, Google is the favourite for gold, with Facebook as a possible silver if it can control its appalling public relations and crass handling of private information. Apple is on the ropes. I hope it won’t stay there for long for one simple reason. None of these companies is especially loveable; they are all power- and money-hungry operations that seem to think they have a right to remake the world in their own image . . . Yet Apple has a redeeming feature. It does, in spite of everything and thanks to Steve Jobs, make things beautiful.”


As 2013 draws to a close, the NS asks friends and contributors including Ed Balls, Jemima Khan, Lionel Shriver, David Baddiel, Stephen King, William Boyd, Robert Harris, Vince Cable, David Shrigley, Alan Rusbridger and Simon Heffer to share their favourite books of the year.

Ed Balls opts somewhat unexpectedly for reading on a culinary theme:

“My favourite (cook)book of 2013 is The Vietnamese Market Cookbook (Square Peg, £20) by Van Tran and Anh Vu, founders of the BanhMi11 street-food stalls in London. The recipes are not hard and the ingredients fairly easy to come by. But the balance of flavours is subtle and it is easy to get things out of kilter. I can recommend the pho ga noodle soup and the summer rolls, while the shaking beef with black pepper is sublime. For any amateur cook who likes new flavours and is willing to take risks, this book really is worth a try.”

His colleague Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, also makes a more personal choice: “The book I’ve most enjoyed reading this year is Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s Peepo! (Puffin, £6.99) – to my baby daughter.”

Robert Harris’s novel An Officer and a Spy earns a place on two of our contributors’ lists with both the Evening Standard editor, Sarah Sands, and Andrew Adonis naming it a favourite read of 2013.


Roger Mosey, who has recently exchanged the BBC bunker at Portland Place for the bracing air of Cambridge as the new Master of Selwyn College, ducks a series of brickbats from former colleagues who take exception to the suggestion that his erstwhile employer should slim down:

Some colleagues asked whether I’d miss the newsroom on a busy day and the answer is emphatically no. As a newcomer to Cambridge, I’m knocked out by the city and its people and by what the university achieves, and it’s impossible not to have a song in your heart as you cross the bridge from the Backs into King’s College on a fresh autumn morning. I can say what I think now, too, which is cheering after 30-odd years of friendly corralling by BBC minders.

That was the spirit in which I wrote a piece for the Times a couple of weeks ago suggesting that in tough times the corporation could still do its job while being slightly smaller. Deviation from past orthodoxy is as welcome to some former colleagues as a cat bringing in a mangled sparrow but there was plenty of support, too, including some from unexpected internal sources. The brickbats seemed to be about the principle of criticising the BBC rather than the argument itself. So let me be clear: I believe wholeheartedly in the BBC. But it’s daft to assume you can only be counted as a supporter if you think the corporation should expand still further or that it should have the whole licence fee for ever.


The former health secretary Alan Johnson is the latest contributor to our series asking “What makes us human?” in partnership with Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show. Johnson gives a moving account of his childhood and concludes that endurance and love are an intrinsic part of our humanity:

I was fortunate enough to spend the first 13 years of my life with two incredible women who happened to be my mother and my sister. My sister, Linda, has been part of my life ever since but we grew up, raised families and now live on opposite sides of the world. If you asked us to define humanity, we’d both say that it was personified in the tiny frame of our mother, Lily, who had deep compassion, enormous courage and a capacity for selfless love that is the essential element of what makes us human . . .

Lily believed in God, although she never went to church. Our moments of worship came when she found a shilling piece to feed the empty gas meter; or a piece of coal as we joined her on the trail of the coal man, picking up the chunks of black gold that dropped from his sacks as he delivered to the big houses in Holland Park. Faith and belief are very human traits, as are laughter and joy.


Kate Mossman listens to the “exhilarating” new Lady Gaga album, Artpop

Laurie Penny on the Bad Sex Awards and British smut-shaming censoriousness

Kevin Maguire’s Commons Confidential

Charles Bremner’s Letter from Paris on the hapless François Hollande

Felicity Cloake on truffle trouble and the mushroom mafia in the food column

Rachel Cooke watches Last Tango in Halifax and the final series of Borgen

To purchase a copy, visit or visit the App Store

Show Hide image

Why is it called Storm Doris? The psychological impact of naming a storm

“Homes being destroyed and lives being lost shouldn’t be named after any person.”

“Oh, piss off Doris,” cried the nation in unison this morning. No, it wasn't that everyone's local cantankerous old lady had thwacked our ankles with her stick. This is a different, more aggressive Doris. Less Werther’s, more extreme weathers. Less bridge club, more bridge collapse.

This is Storm Doris.

A storm that has brought snow, rain, and furious winds up to 94mph to parts of the UK. There are severe weather warnings of wind, snow and ice across the entire country.

But the real question here is: why is it called that? And what impact does the new Met Office policy of naming storms have on us?

Why do we name storms?

Storm Doris is the latest protagonist in the Met Office’s decision to name storms, a pilot scheme introduced in winter 2015/16 now in its second year.

The scheme was introduced to draw attention to severe weather conditions in Britain, and raise awareness of how to prepare for them.

How do we name storms?

The Name our Storms initiative invites the public to suggest names for storms. You can do this by tweeting the @metoffice using the #nameourstorms hashtag and your suggestion, through its Facebook page, or by emailing them.

These names are collated along with suggestions from Met Éireann and compiled into a list. These are whittled down into 21 names, according to which were most suggested – in alphabetical order and alternating between male and female names. This is done according to the US National Hurricane Naming convention, which excludes the letters Q, U, X, Y and Z because there are thought to be too few common names beginning with these letters.

They have to be human names, which is why suggestions in this list revealed by Wired – including Apocalypse, Gnasher, Megatron, In A Teacup (or Ena Tee Cup) – were rejected. The Met Office received 10,000 submissions for the 2016/17 season. According to a spokesperson, a lot of people submit their own names.

Only storms that could have a “medium” or “high” wind impact in the UK and Ireland are named. If there are more than 21 storms in a year, then the naming system starts from Alpha and goes through the Greek alphabet.

The names for this year are: Angus (19-20 Nov ’16), Barbara (23-24 Dec 2016), Conor (25-26 Dec 2016), Doris (now), Ewan, Fleur, Gabriel, Holly, Ivor, Jacqui, Kamil, Louise, Malcolm, Natalie, Oisín, Penelope, Robert, Susan, Thomas, Valerie and Wilbert.

Why does this violent storm have the name of an elderly lady?

Doris is an incongruous name for this storm, so why was it chosen? A Met Office spokesperson says they were just at that stage in their list of names, and there’s no link between the nature of the storm and its name.

But do people send cosy names for violent weather conditions on purpose? “There’s all sorts in there,” a spokesperson tells me. “People don’t try and use cosy names as such.”

What psychological impact does naming storms have on us?

We know that giving names to objects and animals immediately gives us a human connection with them. That’s why we name things we feel close to: a pet owner names their cat, a sailor names their boat, a bore names their car. We even name our virtual assistants –from Microsoft’s Clippy to Amazon’s Alexa.

This gives us a connection beyond practicality with the thing we’ve named.

Remember the response of Walter Palmer, the guy who killed Cecil the Lion? “If I had known this lion had a name and was important to the country or a study, obviously I wouldn’t have taken it,” he said. “Nobody in our hunting party knew before or after the name of this lion.”

So how does giving a storm a name change our attitude towards it?

Evidence suggests that we take it more seriously – or at least pay closer attention. A YouGov survey following the first seven named storms in the Met Office’s scheme shows that 55 per cent of the people polled took measures to prepare for wild weather after hearing that the oncoming storm had been named.

“There was an immediate acceptance of the storm names through all media,” said Gerald Fleming, Head of Forecasting at Met Éireann, the Irish metereological service. “The severe weather messages were more clearly communicated.”

But personalising a storm can backfire. A controversial US study in 2014 by PNAC (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) claimed that hurricanes with female names lead to higher death tolls – the more “feminine” the name, like Belle or Cindy, the higher the death toll. This is not because female names are attached to more severe storms; it is reportedly because people take fewer steps to prepare for storms with names they perceive to be unintimidating or weak.

“In judging the intensity of a storm, people appear to be applying their beliefs about how men and women behave,” Sharon Shavitt, a co-author of the study, told the FT at the time. “This makes a female-named hurricane . . . seem gentler and less violent.”

Names have social connotations, and affect our subconscious. Naming a storm can raise awareness of it, but it can also affect our behaviour towards it.

What’s it like sharing a name with a deadly storm?

We should also spare a thought for the impact sharing a name with a notorious weather event can have on a person. Katrina Nicholson, a nurse who lives in Glasgow, says it was “horrible” when the 2005 hurricane – one of the fifth deadliest ever in the US – was given her name.

“It was horrible having something so destructive associated with my name. Homes being destroyed and lives being lost shouldn’t be named after any person,” she tells me over email. “I actually remember at the time meeting an American tourist on a boat trip in Skye and when he heard my name he immediately linked it to the storm – although he quickly felt guilty and then said it was a lovely name! I think to this day there will be many Americans who hate my name because of it.”

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.