Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sundays bloody Sundays

The English Sunday newspapers aren't what they were in the 1970s. Or perhaps it's me. Then they seemed full of really incisive journalism boldly exposing hypocrisy and corruption throughout public and business life. Today they seem primarily obsessed with gossip, speculation and personalities. Also the Saturday papers are much better and fuller than they were so it takes most of the weekend to plough through them. But imho it's a more worthwhile exercise than doing it with the Sundays....

.... most of which are dominated by Charles Kennedy's resignation. Not surprising but does it really justify quite so much hot air? The Independent on Sunday, for example, fills its first seven pages with the story relieving it only by an alarmist piece about GM Soya which starts "Women who eat GM foods while pregnant risk endangering their unborn babies". But it turns out to be a report of just one study (in Russia - a country with an interest in delaying GM). I'd be less skeptical if the results had been repeated elsewhere or if the alleged affect had been noticed in the US where mums presumable already eat the stuff. At the end of the full-page piece the IoS notes that the stuff isn't sold in the UK except in animal feed and quotes reassuring words from the manufacturer. The problem, as ever, is getting genuinely unbiased scientific results, scientists have to pay their mortgages. But those who want to believe that GM is evil will go on doing so and those who believe big business is wonderful will cry 'nanny state' or some such. A similar problem underlies the difficulty about how to classify cannabis. Its adherents will no doubt condemn the latest evidence of a link to mental illness as part of a wicked conspiracy to deny them pleasure rather than a genuine concern over public health.

Over in the newly Berliner-sized (a much nicer shape than dreary tabloid imho) Observer, the admirable Nick Cohen is unimpressed by the Tories' attempts to go green. He notes the large number of wealthy chaps in the environmental movement and comments that "Conservatives overwhelmingly believe in a smaller state and deregulation; in education vouchers and an end to a tax-funded NHS. You may think they're wrong, but you should not doubt their sincerity. All of which means the Conservative press has been gobsmackingly hypocritical these past three months. The editors and columnists who have laid into Tony Blair for his policies and style are biting their tongues now that a Conservative leader is stealing the policies and aping the style". He's also very sound on George Galloway and praises Channel 4 for their boldness in screening "the most uncompromisingly atheist series British television has dared to screen [which] begins tomorrow at 8pm".

European News

The sad truth is that, as ever, you'll have to search very diligently until you find anything much about the EU or the European Parliament. Even those papers which allege that these organisations rule our lives rarely report them. And the BBC Parliamentary channel hardly ever looks over the channel. No wonder some people form such odd views of the EU. But tucked away in the IoS business section there's a story about the East London Line extension which contains the information that "Transport for London will receive a GBP400m low-interest loan from the European Investment Bank because the work will benefit deprived areas of inner London". (The East London Line is close to my heart because New Cross was the closest to Greenwich that the UndergrounD got when I lived there)......

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