© Jonathan McHugh
Experimental feature

Listen to this article

00:00
00:00
Experimental feature

This article is from today’s FT Opinion email. Sign up to receive a daily digest of the big issues straight to your inbox.

To say that British voting habits have changed profoundly in recent years would be something of an understatement. Once class and economics were the familiar drivers of the national debate and politics. Now, as Helen Lewis argues in her opinion piece for FT Weekend, these have been replaced by values.

Helen views this as part of an expanding culture war, familiar to anyone who has been following US politics over the last quarter century or so. Americans are now veterans of raging arguments over divisive issues from abortion to gay rights, from guns to religion. Britain has taken a while to catch up, but now Helen sees a development in full swing that she says is coarsening and complicating politics.

Brexit has turbo-charged Britain’s culture wars and given them their own particular twist, writes Helen. The terms “Remainer” and “Leaver” are now shorthand for a whole range of views. Bridging the divide between the two seems beyond the reach of the two main political parties. But if they fail to do so they will struggle to secure workable majorities. Any hopes of a ceasefire seem far off. Outrage and controversy fuel social media and tempt traditional news industry down the same path, bringing necessary and lucrative clicks.

China tech: The Consumer Electronics Show included so many exhibitors from China that some delegates joked that CES, the industry’s annual showcase event, now stands for “China Electronics Show”. Duncan Clark writes about how the country’s tech sector has long moved beyond the role of mere components supplier to become a global force.

Skyped up: Carles Puigdemont, the former Catalan leader, wants to return to power. The only problem is that right now he is in exile in Brussels. The answer, he says, is government by Skype. Henry Mance imagines the conversation between the Catalan leader and his allies.

Bubblemania: Hindsight is glorious, especially when it comes to spotting bubbles. Tim Harford looks at the record of experts and others at anticipating outbreaks of bubble fever, which is, to say the least, mixed.

Best of the week

Rana Foroohar — Three trends to move markets in 2018

Martin Wolf — The world economy hums as politics sours

Gillian Tett — Watch the bond market, not equities

John Thornhill — Competent computers still cannot comprehend

Edward Luce — The temptation of Oprah Winfrey

David Pilling — The mixed legacy of Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Anne-Sylvaine Chasseny — Catherine Deneuve’s star turn rattles #MeToo ‘puritans’

Philip Stephens — Now Angela Merkel steps into Emmanuel Macron’s shadow

Gideon Rachman — Donald Trump and Brexit are no longer identical twins

Ross Murray — Brexit will allow the UK to value its countryside again

Tiffany Jenkins — Gallery crowds are killing the joys of visual culture

What you’ve been saying

Ancient languages have no monopoly on expression— From CA Hoffman, Baltimore, MD, US

“I have a PhD in classics, love the ancient languages and can amo, amas, amat with the best of them. But the ancient languages have no monopoly on thought or expression, and the careful attention paid to learning them and their literatures could profitably be lavished on the study of languages of more pressing need, not least English. Thirty years ago, Sir Humphrey Appleby lamented that he could not call upon his classical education in conversing with the prime minister of Great Britain. That situation cannot have improved, notwithstanding the self-consciously louche exceptions that pop up here or there. So let’s please stop trotting out Latin or Greek as alchemical tongues promising to turn our leaden brains into gold. Tempora mutantur et nos mutamur in illis.”

Comment by The Gifter on Gillian Tett’s column, Watch the bond market, not equities

“I disagree on how this plays out. Yields won’t rise, bonds won’t fall and equity markets will go grinding up forever, because the Fed and other global central banks are in the grip of the markets. The moral hazard of constantly bailing out market participants at the first sign of a correction has created a genie that can’t be put back into the lamp, Janet Yellen described the S&P as frothy 30% ago, and yet when asked in her final testimony she couldn’t see any red lights or even amber ones.”

Use restraint to counter North Korean strategy— from Edward Longinotti, Milton Keynes, Bucks, UK

“To paraphrase Charles de Gaulle, ultimately the US is not likely to risk trading Los Angeles for Seoul. With this risk nearly fully crystallised as North Korea continues its successful nuclear weapons development, the prospect of a preventive US military strike diminishes. Furthermore, the combination of overtures to South Korea alongside actions designed to provoke the US appears to be a deliberate attempt by North Korea to encourage the South to distance itself from its American security partner. This is not dissimilar to Soviet efforts to detach West Germany from American influence in the cold war. Thus, although a Korean peninsula unified on North Korean terms may constitute an ambitious goal for Kim Jong Un, the rhetoric and escalation of the Trump administration only promotes its likelihood. The US would be better served by exercising diplomatic restraint while enhancing conventional deterrence and building the coalitions to enable the regional deployment of anti-ballistic missile systems.”

Today’s opinion

FT View: Facebook’s news feed fix misses the real problem
Accountability, not meaning, is what social media lacks

FT View: New York’s easy answers on climate change
Fixing infrastructure would be better for the city, and the planet

London will be the judge of May’s reshuffle
The Conservatives’ relationship with the capital has long been an uneasy one

Person in the News: Rebekah Mercer, the mega-donor who bankrolled Trump’s campaign
Media investment in rightwing media and campaign contributions give the heiress clout with the president

China is shaping the future of global tech
Convenience has become a religion as Chinese consumers rush to embrace the new

Gualtiero Marchesi, Michelin-starred chef, 1930-2017
The award-winning Italian cook who built an empire on golden risotto

The long Skype to freedom for Catalonia
A weak connection hampers the separatist leader’s attempts to govern from exile

Free Lunch: Have your cake and eat it (in macroeconomic policy)
We do not need to trade off the short term against the long term

Opinion today: Merkel steps into Macron’s shadow
It is France, not Germany, that is embracing the future

Undercover Economist: The lesson for diagnosing a bubble
It is easy to laugh at past follies exaggerated for comic or sermonising effect

Don’t write off green investing in China
Beijing’s efforts to cut pollution could be a smart move to back

FT Alphaville: Bull market in bling

FT View

FT View: Facebook’s news feed fix misses the real problem
Accountability, not meaning, is what social media lacks

FT View: New York’s easy answers on climate change
Fixing infrastructure would be better for the city, and the planet

The Big Read

The Big Read: Bond markets: Is the bull run over?
A sell-off in government bonds has triggered fresh concern that a three-decade boom in the $50tn market could be coming to an end

Get alerts on Opinion when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018. All rights reserved.

Follow the topics in this article