Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. I want to challenge power that is unaccountable (Guardian)

The unresponsive state can be as damaging as the untamed market, says Ed Miliband. We want people to be able to control their own lives.

2. It is a disgrace that there are so few women Conservative ministers. But that they are all white is even more so (Independent)

Diversity of late has been about gender parity, not about race or class, writes Yasmin Alibhai Brown. 

3. It’s too late to tell Scots to believe in Britain (Times)

Cameron’s plea for a strong and united nation rings hollow after so much loss of sovereignty, says Melanie Phillips. 

4. Abe’s nationalism takes a worrying turn (Financial Times)

The attempt to stifle Japan’s national broadcaster is deplorable, says an FT editorial. 

5. To do business with India and China, Britain needs to lose its imperial swagger (Guardian)

The sins of empire are still etched in the minds of many of the UK's global partners, writes Chris Huhne. Our soft power is the best antidote.

6. Banning smoking in cars is bizarre, intrusive – and right (Daily Telegraph)

Unusually for a libertarian free spirit, this time I’m with the bossyboots brigade, says Boris Johnson. 

7. The number of women sentenced to death across the Middle East has very little to do with justice (Independent)

Young women who have been killed in their thousands across the Middle Eastern region should be listed, at least in the afterworld, on some roll of martyrdom, writes Robert Fisk. 

8. Why aren't middle-aged women the face of angry protest? (Guardian)

Women over 50 face deep injustices, yet tend to stay silent in public, writes Melissa Benn. Let's hijack the news cycle with an act of wit and daring.

9. Some big ideas Labour might like to consider (Daily Telegraph)

The party has a few more sacred cows to slay – and apologies to make – before it can become a credible alternative voice, says a Telegraph editorial. 

10. The Fed’s waning magic in Yellen’s era (Financial Times)

With a forecast year of take-off in danger of faltering, the central bank has run out of ammunition, says Edward Luce.

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.