This week's big questions: Does Ukip have a point on migration, and is Egypt heading the way of Iran?

This week's questions are answered by Anne Applebaum, journalist and Pulitzer-Prize winning author

Related Topics

Should the UN recognise Palestine’s statehood?

No – though I realise it’s too late to say so, as the vote went overwhelmingly in the opposite direction. But Palestine isn’t a sovereign state – it doesn’t control its own borders – and to pretend otherwise is mendacious. It’s always better to call things by their real names, especially in the smoke-and-mirrors world of diplomacy.


Is Ukip correct to demand restrictions on immigration to the UK from Eastern European countries?

No. Who would sell you clothes, pour your coffee, paint your walls? Immigration is one of the primary sources of economic growth and prosperity in Britain. Besides, Eastern Europeans come and go – huge numbers of them return home every year, where they might set up businesses which might buy and sell from Britain.


Would the United States appoint a Canadian as the head of its central bank?

Never. But then, we don’t have a commonwealth and we never had an empire. We don’t think of Canadians as almost-but-not-quite-really citizens. This might be to your advantage: it’s always good to have an outsider’s perspective.


Could Egypt’s revolution be a repeat of the Iranian revolution of 1979 with President Morsi as a theocratic tyrant in waiting?

Unlikely. Egypt doesn’t have oil, and thus the Egyptian state, whoever controls it, can never be that powerful. He isn’t going to have the resources to keep people quiet, and he doesn’t, so far, seem to have an economic programme that will make them wealthier either, so a totalitarian theocracy is going to be tough to impose.


Does Europe need to ensure the survival of the euro?

Yes, if not for the euro’s sake then for Europe’s sake. Europe needs to prove to itself that it can cope with a real crisis. It would have been better all round if the euro had never been created, but if it falls apart, all kinds of other things may unravel as well. Most Europeans know this – in particular, most Germans know this – and the British have consistently underestimated the German determination to save the currency and save themselves.


How worried should we be about the absence of the rule of law in Russia?

Very worried. Think how much Russian money now sloshes around London, and think what people who aren’t bound by legal or moral scruples are going to try to do with it. You might think Russia is a faraway country of which you know little, but Russians now own half of Mayfair, so they are a lot closer than you think.


Should Britain hold a referendum to resolve once and for all whether to stay in the EU?

Yes, if only to put the argument to rest for good. Everyone is tired of hearing about it. Europe will be sad to see you go, but not as sad as you think.


Would the former Iron Curtain countries of Eastern Europe cope if the EU imploded over the eurozone crisis?

Some would and some wouldn’t. “Eastern Europe”, as we once knew it, no longer exists. Poland is now as different from Albania as Britain is from Greece.

In any case, that’s the wrong question: what I’d like to know is whether the nations of what we used to call Western Europe would cope. The countries that most need EU support and solidarity are Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, and the country that has benefited most from the eurozone is Germany.


Should British universities lower admission standards for applicants from disadvantaged homes?

American universities do that, in practice, and it hasn’t led to intellectual Armageddon. But many beneficiaries of that kind of affirmative action fail because they are poorly prepared, so the policy hasn’t had the desired effect.

It would make a lot more sense to pick bright students from poor families early, and to give them bursaries or extra tuition so that they can compete at the same level as others. Best of all would be to fix the school system so that everyone can get a good education regardless of their income.


Anne Applebaum is an American journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. Her latest book is ‘Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-56’

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sustainability Manager

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Scheme Manager (BREEAM)...

Graduate Sustainability Professional

Flexible, depending on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: T...

Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

£850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

Project Coordinator/Order Entry, SC Clear

£100 - £110 per day: Orgtel: Project Coordinator/Order Entry Hampshire

Day In a Page

Read Next
Former N-Dubz singer Tulisa Contostavlos gives a statement outside Southwark Crown Court after her trial  

It would be wrong to compare brave Tulisa’s ordeal with phone hacking. It’s much worse than that

Matthew Norman
The Big Society Network was assessed as  

What became of Cameron's Big Society Network?

Oliver Wright
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn