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
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created