Paul Vallely

Paul Vallely is Associate Editor of The Independent where he writes on social, ethical, political and cultural issues. He writes leaders, features and has a weekly column in the Independent on Sunday. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.

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Get the picture: Despite the positive spin, Benefits Street creates more Others for us to dismiss as diabolical

As 'Benefits Street' shows, we are quick to demonise and slow to understand

In its attempt to chase ratings, the Channel 4 programme merely reinforces stereotypes about people who rely on the state

New wave: Pope Francis has liberated many Catholics from decades of internal exile

Pope Francis can heal the Catholic Church

'Time' magazine's Person of the Year appeals to believers and atheists alike with a message that could bring redemption to a troubled faith

Funny money: Lenny Henry is a co-founder of Comic Relief

Comic Relief scandal: There are red faces behind the red noses

The charity is under fire after a ‘Panorama’ exposé, but the laws governing investments are complex

Scientology: If religions don’t need a God, what do they need?

We have got to the point where individuals can pretty much define it as they want

Nelson Mandela obituary: Madiba - the father of South African democracy

"Rwanda is our nightmare, South Africa is our dream." So wrote the Nobel Prize-winning African novelist Wole Soyinka in 1994. It was just a month after two events which seemed to span the polarities of despair and hope so many saw in the continent of Africa in the post-independence era. In Rwanda a million people had died in a ghastly genocide. But South Africa had made an astonishingly peaceful transition from oppressive white rule to a black-majority government elected in the country's first free elections ever - and it had done so under the guidance of one extraordinary man.

Nelson Mandela death: A man of his time, and above his time

Nelson Mandela was a man, always, of his time. Yet he was, paradoxically, one who in some ways stood apart from – and even above – that time. It was in this that his greatness lay.

Footage shown to the court from a helmet camera of a Marine during a patrol in Afghanistan in which an insurgent was killed

Brutalised men do brutal things

It is understandable, if inexcusable, that men such as Marine 'A', who will be sentenced this week for murdering an Afghan, overstep the mark

JB Shorts 10, Joshua Brooks, Manchester: Theatre review

This twice-yearly festival of short plays for the theatre – by writers who make their living from television soaps and dramas – is now in its tenth incarnation and gets better and better. JB Shorts is named after the Joshua Brooks pub across the road from the old BBC headquarters in Manchester which produced much of seminal radio drama of the last century. There must be something in the air there.

Yellow Rattle and mixed wildflowers, flowering in meadow

Wanted: A vision for two-thirds of the UK and the chance for David Cameron to polish his tarnished green credentials

The PM has a chance to revitalise the countryside - but his recent record suggests he has other priorities

Fighter: Ex-social services head Sharon Shoesmith, who contested her dismissal

Our love of soap opera is a real killer

The collective urge to simplify events such as the Baby P case means these grim tragedies will continue to happen – and make headlines

Day In a Page

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor