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What Donald Trump’s fake news tweet on the NHS reveals

Nigel Farage still has more sway over the US president than Theresa May. 

Donald Trump last month delighted in handing out Fake News Awards to his journalistic bête noires. But with his tweet this morning on the NHS, the US president has again pedalled fake news of his own. The “Democrats are pushing for Universal HealthCare while thousands of people are marching in the UK because their U [Universal] system is going broke and not working,” he wrote.

From Trump's tweet, one would imagine that UK protesters were demanding the dismantlement of the NHS when they marched in London on Saturday. In reality, they were demanding the reverse: higher funding to maintain the British model of “socialised medicine” (the demonstration was organised by the People’s Assembly and Health Campaigns Together). 

Since 2010, the NHS has endured the longest period of austerity in its history. Having grown at an average annual rate of four per cent since 1950, health spending has since risen by just one per cent. An ageing population, combined with the rising cost of drugs and technology, and the growth of chronic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, all mean that the NHS depends on above-inflation increases. The £4.5bn cut to social care funding has only intensified the pressure on the service (with the NHS acting as a provider of last resort).

But the number of British voters who want the NHS privatised (10 per cent) is even lower than the number who have confidence in Trump (22 per cent). And they have data on their side. The UK spends significantly less than the US on healthcare (9.9 per cent of GDP against 16.6 per cent) and still achieves better outcomes. In 2017, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the NHS as the best, safest and most affordable system of the 11 countries it assessed. 

Trump's tweet was seemingly inspired by Nigel Farage, who appeared on Fox News shortly before (“Thank you to @foxandfriends for exposing the truth,” tweeted Trump. “Perhaps that’s why your ratings are soooo much better than your untruthful competition!”) Farage blamed high immigration for the health system's woes (overlooking the migrant workers on who the NHS depends): “Well the big problem we've got is a population crisis caused by government policy on immigration,” Farage said.

“We have a population of 65 million but it's increasing by half a million people a year. We just haven't got enough hospitals, we haven't got enough doctors, we haven't got enough facilities.”

Trump's tweet shows he is still paying greater heed to Farage (who he once as proposed as the British ambassador) than to Theresa May. Despite repeatedly embarrassing the Prime Minister with his interventions, the US president still rarely misses an opportunity to meddle. The Conservatives' hope that they could “tame” Trump has been exposed as the delusion that it is. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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I’ll miss the youthful thrill of Claire’s Accessories – but the tween Mecca refused to grow up

From an adolescent rite of passage to struggling to stay open: how the tackiest shop on the high street lost its shine.

The first day I was allowed to go into “town” (hailing from rural Essex, that’s the local shopping centre, not London) with a friend – unsupervised by a parent – was a real cornerstone of my childhood.

We were 13, and looking back, we had neither mobile phones nor contingency plans, and my mum must have been sat at home for the entire two hours scared shitless, waiting for when she could pick me up again (by the Odeon carpark, 3pm sharp).

Finally free from the constraints of traipsing around department stores bound by the shackles of an adult, my friend and I had the most grown-up afternoon we could imagine; Starbucks Frappuccinos (size: tall – we weren’t made of money), taking pictures on a pink digital camera in the H&M changing rooms, and finally, making a beeline for tween Mecca: Claire’s Accessories.

As a beauty journalist, I’m pretty sure Saturdays spent running amok among the diamante earrings, bow hairbands and fluffy notebooks had an influence on my career path.

I spent hours poring over every rack of clip-on earrings, getting high on the fumes of strawberry lipbalm and the alcohol used to clean freshly pierced toddlers’ ears.

Their slogan, “Where getting ready is half the fun”, still rings true for me ten years on, as I stand on the edge of dancefloors, bored and waiting until my peers are suitably drunk to call it a night, yet revelling in just how great my painstakingly applied false lashes look.

The slogan on a Claire's receipt. Photo: Flickr

On Monday, Claire’s Accessories US filed for bankruptcy, after they were lumbered with insurmountable debts since being taken over by Apollo Global Management in 2007. Many of the US-based stores are closing. While the future of Claire’s in the UK looks uncertain, it may be the next high street retailer – suffering from the surge of online shopping – to follow in Toys R Us’ footsteps.

As much as I hate to say it, this is unsurprising, considering Claire’s commitment to remain the tackiest retailer on the high street.

With the huge rise of interest in beauty from younger age groups – credit where credit’s due, YouTube – Claire’s has remained steadfast in its core belief in taffeta, rhinestone and glitter.

In my local Superdrug (parallel to the Claire’s Accessories, a few doors down from the McDonald’s where we would sit, sans purchase, maxed out after our Lipsmacker and bath bomb-filled jaunt), there are signs plastered all over the new Makeup Revolution concealer stand: “ENQUIRE WITH STAFF FOR STOCK”. A group of young girls nervously designate one among them to do the enquiring.

Such is the popularity of the three-week-old concealer, made infamous by YouTube videos entitled things like “I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS CONCEALER!” and “FULL COVERAGE AND £4!!!”, no stock is on display for fear of shoplifters.

The concealer is cheap, available on the high street, comparable to high-end brands and favoured by popular YouTube “beauty gurus”, giving young girls a portal into “adult life”, with Happy Meal money.

It’s unlikely 13-year-olds even own eye bags large enough to warrant a full coverage concealer, but they’re savvy enough to know that they can now get good quality makeup and accessories, without going any higher than Claire’s price points.

They have naturally outgrown a retailer that refuses to grow with them; it’s simply not sustainable on Claire’s part to sell babyish items to a market who no longer want babyish things.

Adulthood is catching up with this new breed of teenagers faster than ever, and they’ve decided it’s time to put away childish things.

Tweenagers of 2018 won’t miss Claire’s Accessories if it goes. The boarded-up purple signage would leave craters in shopping centre walls soon to be filled with the burgundy sheen of a new Pret.

But I will. Maybe not constantly – it’s not as if Primark has stopped selling jersey dresses, or Topshop their Joni jeans – it’ll be more of a slow burn. I’ll mourn the loss of Claire’s the next time a pang of nostalgia for blue-frosted shadow hits me, or when it’s Halloween eve and I realise I’m bereft of a pair of cat ears. But when the time comes, there’s always Amazon Prime.

Amelia Perrin is a freelance beauty and lifestyle journalist.