Heads up: Top comment and controversy

Talking points: Legal aid, the standing office, and what makes America ‘weird’?

 

Don’t knock the Lib Dems

In the world of UK politics, Philip Collins, writing in the Times (£), goes against the grain and lavishes praise on Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems. Why? They prevented the Tory right from taking hold of the steering wheel. What this truculent bunch would have done with more power, says Collins, sends a shudder down the spine: namely slash green taxes, cut welfare harder, give more tax-breaks to the wealthy, make progress to abolishing human rights legislation and take a tougher stance on immigration.

It’s not all defence we should thank the Lib Dems for, either. Progress on raising the income tax threshold, and childcare, pays tribute to the influence of this much-maligned party in the Coalition.

Innocent? That’ll just be your life-savings, then

Nigel Evans has had to pay £130,000 in legal fees, despite being found innocent on all charges of rape and sexual assault. Ironically, the Deputy Speaker admits he may have voted for cuts to legal aid.

Writing in Lib Dem Voice, Anthony Hook, a former criminal barrister, points out that it was Labour who first brought in “ punitive means-testing” for legal aid – which the Coalition has kept (Evans did not qualify for legal aid as he earns more than £37,500 a year). Labour initially cut legal aid, then realised that public money was instead flowing to Defence Costs Order payments – handed to innocent defendants. So, says Hook, they cut those too.

“That is how we have arrived at an Orwellian situation where Nigel Evans, and thousands of defendants every year, are caused huge financial harm even if they are not guilty. They should get their costs back. It is only fair.”

Get up, stand up: it’s the office of the future

Constantly sitting down is bad for your health. And where do most people sit down the most? In the office, where you might be sitting right now. The BBC runs a feature today on the pioneers of a sit-stand movement: they show off (expensive) desks that can adjust between sitting and standing.

The Victorians, says one ergonomics expert, knew better. Clerks in the 19th century could stand at their desk and “moved around a lot more”.


What makes America weird?

An imgur user has stepped into the tricky territory of trans-Atlantic relationships. Here, OiskyPoisky offers the 20 ‘ Weirdest Things about America that Americans Don’t Realize Are Weird’, including “everything being designed around cars” and “ the sheer amount of commercials on the television, and their lack of quality”. Your move, Yanks.

React Now

Read Next
 

iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers

Ed Rex
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week