Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

Half a dozen things you may not have read over the weekend

Click to follow
The Independent Online

1. Ed Miliband opened Labour conference by promising higher unemployment if he were elected next year. He explained to Andrew Marr yesterday that he wanted to overrule the independent Low Pay Commission and put the minimum wage up to £8 an hour.

The Commission already sets the minimum wage as high as it dares so that it won't cost jobs. No doubt Labour will be publishing today the figures – which the Low Pay Commission has somehow overlooked – that show £8 an hour won't put people out of work. Along with the "official figures" to which Miliband referred that show a higher minimum wage would have "no cost to the public purse", because higher costs of public-sector wages would be offset by savings in tax credits and other state benefits.

The transcript of Miliband's Marr interview is here. The unofficial transcript by Michael Deacon, which is more accurate, is here.

2. It is curious but unsurprising that David Cameron, having saved the United Kingdom, should be so criticised for nearly not saving the Union or for doing it in the wrong way. If you want to know who won the referendum, find out who resigned afterwards: my column for yesterday's Independent on Sunday.

3. Also in the Independent on Sunday, I have a review of the second volume of Alan Johnson's memoir, which is called Please, Mister Postman. Spoiler: I think it's good. Johnson's impatience with John Betjeman's romanticisation of pre-industrial England prompted Tom Doran to recall this by Raymond Williams:

"For one thing I knew this: at home we were glad of the Industrial Revolution, and of its consequent social and political changes. True, we lived in a very beautiful farming valley, and the valleys beyond the limestone we could all see were ugly. But there was one gift that was overriding, one gift which at any price we would take, the gift of power that is everything to men who have worked with their hands. It was slow in coming to us, in all its effects, but steam power, the petrol engine, electricity, these and their host of products in commodities and services, we took as quickly as we could get them, and were glad. I have seen all these things being used, and I have seen the things they replaced. I will not listen with patience to any acid listing of them – you know the sneer you can get into plumbing, baby Austins, aspirin, contraceptives, canned food. But I say to these Pharisees: dirty water, an earth bucket, a four-mile walk each way to work, headaches, broken women, hunger and monotony of diet. The working people, in town and country alike, will not listen (and I support them) to any account of our society which supposes that these things are not progress: not just mechanical, external progress either, but a real service of life. Moreover, in the new conditions, there was more real freedom to dispose of our lives, more real personal grasp where it mattered more real say. Any account of our culture which explicitly or implicitly denies the value of an industrial society is really irrelevant; not in a million years would you make us give up such power." Raymond Williams, "Culture is Ordinary", 1958.

4. And in The New Review, the Sunday magazine, my Top 10 is One-Word Lines in Films. Coming soon: First Sentences of Non-Fiction Books. Suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, to me on Twitter, or email top10@independent.co.uk.

5. Tom Freeman has written a lovely note about the image of a page of Simon Heffer's book (below), in which Freeman took Heffer's advice on cutting waffle, which became Freeman's most popular tweet.

heffry.png

_______

6. Finally, thanks to Euan McColm for this:

"The letter q? Not in my name."

Comments