Simon Jenkins's Blog
March 12, 2014
The response to Crimea shows just how easily misjudgment can emerge from political machismo and belligerent posturing
At least the west is agreed on the Ukraine crisis. It agrees that something must be done to stop Russia's re-occupation of Crimea, and it agrees that nothing can be done to stop it. Paradox is the stuff of foreign policy. It produces summits, holds conferences, forms and reforms contact groups. Leaders make interminable phone calls and thinktanks rush joyfully to club-class lou...
March 10, 2014
The policy is too general – jobs need to be created away from the overheated south in the still-depressed Midlands and north
The old songs are the best, but it's how you sing them. Labour's proposal to "give jobs" to all unemployed young people recalls the command economies of the 1940s and 1960s. So too is the old Labour idea of paying for it by hitting the rich until the pips squeak.
This time there is a sting in the tail: if young people refuse the offer of work they will sacrifice benefit....
March 6, 2014
The forgotten saint of the anti-apartheid movement, her legacy to liberalism was to abandon the armchair
We can all be brave in a crowd. The truly brave are brave alone. Next month we celebrate the 20th anniversary in 1994 of the first free election in South Africa, one of the few times in history that a minority has voluntarily handed power to a majority in conditions of relative peace.
The two "saints" of the occasion, Nelson Mandela and the outgoing president, FW de Klerk, will have their tr...
March 5, 2014
Behind the self-righteous bluster on Russia, all our leaders can do to punish Putin is cancel summits, school places and shopping trips
I am starting to lose this one. How dare anyone excuse a great power hurling brute force against a small one, justifying it with some nonsense about extremists and a "responsibility to protect". There should be no place for such cynical bullying in a 21st-century world order. And for what? So a leader with a virility complex can play to his domestic gallery. T...
March 3, 2014
There is a danger that allowing television and radio into the courtroom will cloud judgment. Justice does not demand infinite openness
And the Oscar goes to… the South African judicial system. The judge for the murder trial of athlete Oscar Pistorius has decided to admit radio and television to his Pretoria court room today. It should get an 18 certificate.
On trial is no great national issue, no terrorist gang or grand fraudster. This is the examination of an intimate personal tragedy involvin...
February 27, 2014
From amnesties for the IRA to calls for the Woolwich murderers to be lynched, crime and punishment is now a politicised mess
There is one law for their terrorists and another for ours. "Theirs" kill a soldier in Woolwich and get slammed up for life. They get a verbal lynching from the red-tops, with Rot in Jail headlines and screams the rope would be too good for them, the filth and scum. "Our" terrorists get royal pardons and "letters of assurance", even if, as may be the case, they slaughter...
February 25, 2014
The lesson of Egypt for Ukraine is that defiant crowds may destroy an old regime – but they seldom build a new one
The experience was eerie. I was watching a documentary, The Square, on Netflix about the 2011 Tahrir Square occupation when the lead character, Ahmed, let out a cry of delight, "The revolution has been won." At that very moment my radio blurted out a voice live from a different square, Kiev's Maidan. "The revolution has been won," it repeated.
Squares are famously potent...
February 24, 2014
The Sochi Games are over and now the Russian president must deal with the uprising in Kiev – but as a statesman or a bully?
No plan survives contact with the enemy. The modern Olympics offer puffed-up authority the world over a platform for its political message. Vladimir Putin spent the requisite money, in excess of $50bn, to win and stage the Games. He supplied seven guards for every athlete. In return he had the world's sports media ready to launder his every word with synthetic hysteria, B...
February 20, 2014
In what amounts to an abuse of democracy, lobbyists are being used to put the case for an absurd project few really want
The government's project for a new high-speed railway from Birmingham to London Euston is entering a critical phase. This has nothing to do with trains but everything to do with tribes.
Last week there were unconfirmed reports that the government may abandon the link between the proposed HS2 terminus at Euston and Eurostar's HS1 down the road at St Pancras. The link solved a...
February 18, 2014
Our ministers remain gripped by the cult of maths. But China's classrooms don't hold the key to the future of the British economy
There are lies, damned lies and statistics, but worse still are maths statistics. They send people mad. Elizabeth Truss, the education minister, sets off next week to see why Chinese pupils are so good at maths: indeed, why even working-class Chinese pupils are better than middle-class British ones. She and her boss, Michael Gove, believe the future of the British e...