John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for April, 2017

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Imagine there’s no Sgt Pepper. It’s all too easy in the era of Trump and May | John Harris

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

This great Beatles album is as thrilling a listen as ever on its 50th anniversary: but it’s a melancholy time for the one-world counterculture the record soundtracked

“At the time Sgt Pepper was released,” the American writer Langdon Winner once recalled, “I happened to be driving across the country on Interstate 80. In each city where I stopped for gas or food – Laramie, Ogallala, Moline, South Bend – the melodies wafted in from some far-off transistor radio or portable hi-fi… For a brief while, the irreparably fragmented consciousness of the west was unified, at least in the minds of the young.”

Related: Sgt Pepper: listen to an unreleased outtake of the Beatles’ classic

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The Brexit election – Politics Weekly podcast

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Heather Stewart is joined by Rowena Mason, John Harris and James McGrory to discuss party strategies as they head out on the campaign trail. Plus: has Brexit killed Ukip?

Subscribe and review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud, Acast &Stitcher and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

Parliament heads into recess and the civil service into election ‘purdah’ following Theresa May’s snap election call. Now all the main national parties prepare to head into the campaign with leaders untested at a general election.

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The Stonehenge tunnel: ‘A monstrous act of desecration is brewing’

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Planners claim that a dual carriageway under the prehistoric monument will ease congestion. But campaigners warn that it will have a disastrous impact on one of the world’s most fascinating landmarks

Solstice Park is “a strategically located development opportunity”. That’s what its promotional blurb says, anyway – but put more prosaically, it is a clump of offices, distribution centres and retail and hospitality businesses on the A303, just under 10 miles from Salisbury. It symbolises two things: government attempts to help the economy of south-west England, and the tourist industry centred on Stonehenge, a few minutes’ drive away. As if to somehow complement the monument’s antiquarian wonders, there is a faux-ancient statue outside the Holiday Inn, of a 22ft figure giving thanks to the sun. Inside, double rooms go for just short of £100.

It’s 8am on a misty Wednesday morning and a group of people here are very anxious about the latest proposal for this historic patch of England: a 1.8 mile tunnel containing a new dual carriageway, its entrance and exit sitting inside the Stonehenge world heritage site, and which may also involve a new flyover. After years of proposals for a tunnel being knocked back and forth – a similar plan was ruled out in 2007 – the latest scheme was announced by then chancellor George Osborne in 2014. Soon after, David Cameron and Nick Clegg staged separate photo opportunities on the same day at Stonehenge, in an attempt to sell the economic benefits of a tunnel and widened road to locals. Give or take consultation processes and concerns about the costs, work is due to start in 2020.

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South West voters: Tell us what issues will decide this election

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

The Guardian’s Anywhere but Westminster video series is back on the road to find out which issues people in the UK most care about – and they want your help along the way

For the last six years, The Guardian’s Anywhere But Westminster video series has chronicled huge political changes in the UK, from where the action has really happened: not the centres of power, but in our communities. From the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, through Labour’s watershed defeat in 2015 and on to Brexit, we’ve shone light on the people and places that have driven the news, and got a better sense of what’s been happening than most pollsters and pundits.

With another General Election now looming, we’re going back on the road. But as ever, we want our itinerary to be shaped by people across the country. So, please tell us: at such a huge juncture for the UK , where should we go, what should we cover, and who should we speak to?

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We carry on giving, but isn’t charity an offence to basic dignity? | John Harris

Friday, April 21st, 2017

Schools and hospitals are, more and more, surviving on donations – a sign of how Darwinian our nation has become

Someone needs cancer treatment only available in Germany. Someone else is leading a 187-mile bike ride across India to pay for research into brain tumours. Top right is a team of swimmers with learning disabilities who want to attend an international competition in Sheffield; bottom left is a girl who desperately needs a bone marrow transplant. And all around are numbers that dance in front of your eyes: “£64,994 raised by 2,773 supporters … £1,044 raised by 47 supporters … £900 raised by 23 supporters.”

The online donation platform JustGiving seemingly soothes the world’s ills with a sleek, altruistic efficiency the pre-digital world could get nowhere near. Since its foundation in 2001, it claims to have raised $4.2bn (£3.3bn) for “good causes” in 164 countries.

Related: Call for fundraising pages to be regulated amid fraud concerns

Related: JustGiving is right to operate as a profit-making organisation | Anne-Marie Huby

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