eiDaily Digest – Ukraine, UK Politics & Airline Crash – 11th March

11 Mar 14 | Daily Digest


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Tuesday 11th March 2014 (UK edition)
Comment Headlines
Top three stories dominating today’s op-ed columns…


The FT’s Gideon Rachman says that a few weeks ago, even Europeans were paying little attention to events in Ukraine. Now the whole world is watching. This is because the Russian incursion into Ukraine is widely seen as a direct challenge to the US-led world order. If President Vladimir Putin gets away with it then other governments, such as China and Iran, may decide defying America is getting less risky. In The International New York Times Nickolay Kononov, editor in chief of Hopes & Fears, says that several weeks before pro-Russian forces intervened in Crimea, President Vladimir V. Putin won another important victory. On Jan. 24, the social network VKontakte, with its 60 million daily users, came under the control of businessmen allied with the Kremlin. The Kremlin can now rest easy; any restive opposition activity on the Internet can easily be brought under
control. Vali R. Nasr, the dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, thinks that for too long, America has played down its difficulties with Russia. But Russia now poses a clear and present strategic challenge to the United States that is at least on par with any from Iran or China. American foreign policy needs to accept the challenge and pivot to Russia.


In The Daily Express Chris Roycroft-Davis thinks that attacks on Ukip prove it is a real force in politics. Would you be more likely to vote for someone you would be comfortable having a pint with or a two-faced political huckster like Nick Clegg? The Daily Telegraph’s Benedict Brogan notes that increasingly, Michael Gove appears to be generating hostility rather than admiration – among both his parliamentary colleagues and his fellow ministers. It is almost as if patience with him is running out in sections of the party, or at the very least, as one admirer put it to me last week, that he is “off his game at the moment”. The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee says a panic measure in the Commons today faces a cross-party rebellion. When MPs debate clause 119, hastily tacked on to the care bill, Labour will be joined by a bunch of Lib Dems and maybe some Tories seeking to strike
it out. The clause lets trust special administrators (TSAs) close down any hospital or A&E at 40 days’ notice – with no meaningful consultation to stop objections until it’s all over. Every MP should consider carefully how they vote today as this may come back and bite them hard in their own backyard. In The Times Rachel Sylvester says the rise of Ukip reveals a deeper truth that cannot be laughed off or ignored. Britain is still two nations.


In The Daily Telegraph Professor Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute, thinks the (as yet) unexplained disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines flight indicates that while the statistics of successful aircraft terror attacks may be low, the horror and the anxiety caused by such events is pervasive. And our vulnerability in air travel cannot be wished away. In The Daily Mail Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International, says a host of scenarios could have resulted in the loss of an airliner without any distress call being made, including, however unlikely, the complete structural failure of the aircraft’s fuselage. There is also a remote possibility that the aircraft was struck by a stray missile as part of a military exercise gone wrong. After all, the US was responsible for downing an Iran Air flight in the Persian Gulf in 1988. However,
no one should imagine that, in our security-conscious era, terrorism is an unlikely explanation.

Book of the day

Angela Ferreira

Media Consultant

‘Small Island’ by Andrea Levy

“Evocative, descriptive and funny”

Leader Lines
The most interesting leaders of the day…


The Daily Telegraph says long-term unemployment remains a serious problem in this country. Labour, therefore, wishes to address this issue in its time-honoured way – by getting taxpayers to underwrite a job guarantee scheme for people who are unemployed for more than two years, with the Government picking up the tab for the minimum wage and national insurance costs. Labour did try similar schemes when it was last in office — only for long-term unemployment to increase. But what is really problematic is the proposed financing of this programme.


The Times says that when Cressida Dick joined the Metropolitan Police Force in 1983, women were not considered the right sort of chaps to be dog-handlers. The police also operated behind a shield, hidden from public view and public accountability. Both of these things had to change and only one of them has. She is right to applaud senior women running counter-terrorism but wrong to say scrutiny of police goes too far.


The Guardian thinks the question of how to make change happen to a National Health Service that is beloved to the last bedpan has been preoccupying health secretaries for at least 50 years. As each one has to find out for themselves, change in healthcare is extraordinarily complex, not least because no one quite knows what it ought to look like. Now it is Jeremy Hunt’s turn. The regime that will prevail if the care bill goes through the Commons unchanged is one more botched effort to deal with the unintended consequences of a crisis that originates in failure.

What the Bloggertariat
is saying today


On stepping outside

View website

A Don’s Life

Teaching and tears

View website


Listen: They do exist

View website

Comment Cornucopia
Some of the wide-ranging topics covered today…


In The Daily Express Vanessa Feltz thinks it’s time someone tried to drown the cats’ chorus of carping harpies hurling all manner of criticism at Wills and Kate. Their “crime”, as I’m sure you know by now, is to have the temerity to go off for a week’s holiday in the Maldives leaving bonny Prince George with his maternal grandparents in Middletonia. Good gracious, such has been the hue and cry you’d have thought they’d put a key round George’s neck and left him home alone with an individual fruit pie.


The FT’s Janan Ganesh notes that critics say London is an unequal city as though Paris, Moscow and New York are not. They lament the price of property as though Hong Kong and Tokyo are famous for their affordable town houses. London suffers all the pathologies of a city of its size and importance. There was a time when London really was depopulating year on year, when infrastructure decayed, when whole parts of town were left to fester without even a plan for revival. These were the decades before the 1980s, a period romanticised by those down on the London of Abramovich. It is now a city of ever more people, of endless construction, of falling crime and improving schools – a magnet to Europe’s young.


The Daily Mail’s Max Hastings thinks slavery was an unspeakably evil commerce. But many societies across the world — the ‘Land of the Free’ foremost among them — were in it up to their necks, as were a host of African tribal chieftains and Arab traders. Britain is today at the top of the Caribbean nations’ hit-list chiefly because our government and judges are thought to be the softest touch on earth, as indeed they are. If this ridiculous claim is allowed to get anywhere, we might as well allow the French to sue us for damage inflicted in the Hundred Years War and the descendants of transported criminals to lay claims for the unhappy generations they have been required to pig it in Australia. The Irish could bring a class action for a thousand years of British injustices.

Tweet Comment of the Day


On behalf of poodles everywhere, I should point out that not all of that superior breed are topiaried popinjays like the winner of #Crufts

Tomorrow’s comment forecast
Come rain or shine there will be comment tomorrow. What might prompt it?

Ukraine… forex dealers…postal vote


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