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Jackie Ashley

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About Jackie Ashley

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  1. Davos in Switzerland is where the great ones of the world gather to sniff each other's aftershave. There you find more ego-stroking, back-scratching and mutual grooming than in the average colony of jungle apes. So when politicians, editors and tycoons excitedly echo one another in hailing the new democracy of the internet, and promise that it is upending the old order, a little scepticism is required. If they really thought they were about to be overthrown by bloggers, would they sound quite so cheerful about it? Sitting next to Rupert Murdoch, whose global power depends on old-fashioned new
  2. The cash-for-peerages story is turning toxic. Downing Street and the Metropolitan Police seem to be mud-wrestling about fair play and who's leaking what. We hear a blow-by-blow account of each and every stage of the investigation. The press is excited enough to have elevated "Yates of the Yard", the man leading the inquiry, into a national hero. Labour's national executive has been brimming with anger. And serious questions are being asked about the role of the attorney general. Behind all this is a political backstory that is murkier still. There's no doubt now that the Blair camp thinks Joh
  3. John Reid was at it in yesterday's papers, warning against the "appeasement" of terrorism. He attacked John Reid was at it in yesterday's papers, warning against the "appeasement" of terrorism. He attacked Cameron for waiting to see which way the wind is blowing until he risks getting "blown away by the gale". And Gordon Brown has been harping on the importance of security, being pro-business and staying close to Washington. Meanwhile Cameron and his shadow chancellor, George Osborne, are doggedly determined to resist the calls of rightwingers for tax cuts and for new promises to claw back pu
  4. Here is a scandal. It is all around us, silent and undiscussed, in every city and every village. It is a scandal in the shadows: the plight of older, poorer women who have been cut out of decent pensions, after lives of caring and hard work. It is a scandal hidden by boring-sounding language, by sufferers who are too proud to campaign, and by powerlessness. It is the scandal of the woman living alone, picking out the cut-price fruit in the hour before the supermarket closes. It is the scandal of women in old age and pain waiting in the heat for crowded buses. It is women left and women forgo
  5. What a lot we pile on to adolescents. Just as they are going through hormonal revolution, trying to understand the weird logic of adult life and struggling with endless exams, we load on to their shoulders many of our wider social anxieties. This week's argument about A-levels isn't just about tests. It is about what kind of country we think we are, and what kind of government Labour really aspires to be. If you were trying to invent an ideal person to rethink the exam system, you'd come up with Mike Tomlinson, or someone like him. The reverse of trendy, this lanky, bespectacled chemistry gr
  6. Four more years: four more years of that smirking arrogance; four more years of the world being run through the prisms of American oil interests and Christian fundamentalism; four more years of inaction on climate change. If things are bad internationally, they will be worse than that for millions of Americans, as Bush continues his feed-the-rich policies on tax cuts and drives forward against welfare. He promises a conservative shift in the supreme court which will be grim news for science, particularly stem cell research, grim news for women's rights over their own bodies, grim news for ho
  7. The truth is that New Labour was not a new party, but an uneasy coalition, which has delivered very different things to different social groups. There is the rather rootless Tony Blair party, with some very loyal MPs (Peter Mandelson obviously being one), which has appealed to large numbers of middle-class, socially conservative voters. And there's the larger, but slightly less influential middle-ground Labour faction, supporting the chancellor's agenda, and focused on helping people at the bottom of the pile, largely through stealth taxes and public service investment. Over the past seven y
  8. Damp squib or smoking gun? The conclusions from Lord Butler's report seem, at first sight, to provide the expected establishment support for the government. Lord Butler proves himself no patsy Hutton. He's shrewder than the judge, a real player. He makes several trenchant criticisms. But he decides, in the end, that no one's actually to blame. Everyone's acted honourably and in good faith, so we should all just work hard to make sure it doesn't happen again. So there it is. The intelligence about weapons of mass destruction was wildly wrong. Warnings about the unreliability of the evidence w
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