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
 

i Editor's Letter: Science versus religion in the three-parent baby debate

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee