Your essential weekend reader — my personal pick of the week’s must-reads

by Stephen Tall on January 20, 2013

Here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices culled from all those I’ve linked to this last week. You can follow me on Delicious here.

Is there good news in HMV’s collapse? – Robert Peston argues in favour of the creative destruction of corporate zombies: ‘if HMV’s demise signals a rising incidence of banks and other creditors being more ruthless in putting lame companies out of their misery, that might in a fundamental sense be quite a good thing.’

Face it, we only matter to Obama as part of the EU – Peter Oborne with some hard truths for Atlantic-alliance Europhobes: ‘it is worth spelling out the choice that the Obama administration believes we face: play a full part in Europe or face international isolation and irrelevance. More humiliating still, the US probably does not care all that much which choice we make.’

Feminism shouldn’t be about telling trans women they’re not female enough – Deborah Orr questions gender identity: ‘The idea that your body tells your mind what gender you are and is always, infallibly right is ridiculous. It’s the other way round. Your mind tells your body, because that, biologically, is what your mind is for.’

Whither the Grid? – Damien McBride suggest why the cogs of the Coalition may not be working smoothly: ‘We’re forever being told that David Cameron, George Osborne and their teams are devotees of Tony Blair’s style of government, but if they have genuinely ditched or downgraded the key mechanism by which his Downing Street managed the business of government, it is a shocking blindspot in their devotion, and one that needs correcting.’

Gun control: What can America learn from Britain? – Cathy Newman on the facts and figures behind the ‘more guns, more crime’ debate: ‘It’s equally true to say that Britain’s tighter gun laws didn’t lead to a significant drop in gun crime. And that the US gun murder rate is falling, even as gun ownership rises. But again, this doesn’t prove cause and effect.’

The Next Four Years – David Brooks hypothesises on what the Democrats will spend the next four years doing — everything possible to win back the House: ‘”Twice a month, Democrats should force Republicans to cast an awful vote: either offend mainstream supporters or risk a primary challenge from the right.”‘

The party faithful – David Remnick‘s profile of the newest phenomenon in Israeli politics, Naftali Bennet: ‘“The best analogy is that Bibi [Netanyahu] is the bus driver with two hands on the wheel,” Bennett said. “I want to put a third hand on the wheel.”’

Blairism now seems a spent force – the new battle is between Blue and Brown Labour – Rafael Behr on Labour’s kvetching dilemma: ‘Labour is neither acquiescing to austerity nor fighting hard against it.’

London’s rise from sewer to spectacle – John Kay looks at the Victorians’ legacy to us, notably the London underground and sewerage: ‘The salient fact is that London could never have become a great business and financial capital if its residents felt an urge to vomit every time they went outdoors.’

PM prepares to talk tough but say little – Robert Shrimsley with a brilliant imagining of Cameron’s speech on Europe: ‘I see a Britain fully committed to Europe; I am unambitiously for a Britain at both the heart and margins of the EU. I want a Europe in which we are all in this together but where some are in it a little less than others.’

David Cameron pushes his EU luck – Anatole Kaletsky on the emerging two-speed Europe: ‘This reshaping of Europe may take decades, rather than years, to negotiate. But in the end, there is almost certain to be something of historic importance for a British referendum to vote on.’

Les Misérables, review – Philip French loved it. There may even be something here for we Lib Dems: ‘above all, Les Misérables is about holding on to hope in the most desperate conditions, and it ends in the victory of love in a context of political defeat.’

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum, and also writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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