The next TV election debate will be messy. Just like Britain’s politics | Jonathan Freedland

Many wanted a Miliband-Cameron clash, but the upcoming seven-leader contest will better reflect Britain as it is

It was just like old times. Jeremy Paxman was back where he belongs, on the television toying with politicians for sport, making the prime minister and leader of the opposition look like cubs who’d recklessly wandered into the den of an aged lion – one who had not lost his appetite for raw meat.

The not-quite-a-debate was a throwback to politics the way it used to be: two men, two parties

We have begun to speak of not one election but at least five, each with its own shape and dynamic

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Battle for No 10: verdicts on the first of the leaders’ TV programmes

Our columnists give their opinions on how David Cameron and Ed Miliband fared in front of Jeremy Paxman and the TV cameras on Thursday night

The bar was set low on the floor for Ed Miliband, expectations at sub-zero. As David Cameron’s crew always knew, up was the only way the Labour leader could go – and he did. From now on, the more people see of Miliband over the next 42 days, the more they hear what he has to say, the better his chance of swinging undecideds his way.

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Immigration: let’s change the way we talk about it | Jonathan Freedland

Too often those on either side of the debate speak about it merely in transactional terms, arguing over what it does for and to us. Today we try to bring fresh light to the issue

Today the Guardian makes the unusual move of devoting much of its opinion site and its long read to a single subject: immigration.

That’s not because, for all the frequently heard complaints, immigration is a taboo subject, one that is not discussed enough. It’s discussed plenty. The problem is the way we talk about it.

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Netanyahu sank into the moral gutter – and there will be consequences | Jonathan Freedland

Israel’s prime minister won re-election with a combination of belligerence and bigotry. His opposition to a Palestinian state is a stance the world should not accept

The result was not the worst of it. Indeed, buried in the detailed numbers of this week’s Israeli election were odd crumbs of consolation. No, what made Binyamin Netanyahu’s emphatic win so dispiriting were the depths he plumbed to secure victory.

He made two moves in his desperate, and ultimately successful, effort to woo back those Israeli rightists who had drifted from Likud into the hands of more minor nationalist parties. Netanyahu reassured them that they could forget the lip service of the past few years, the diplomatic niceties he had served up since returning as prime minister in 2009: there would be no Palestinian state on his watch.

Imagine if a US president warned the white electorate that black voters were heading to the polls in 'large numbers”'

I know of at least one European leader who now says privately that Netanyahu’s credibility is sho

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Budget 2015: beneath George Osborne’s performance was a party on the defensive | Jonathan Freedland

Decode the motive behind almost every paragraph and you would have a complete set of Labour attack lines that refuse to go away

George Osborne is not a natural actor. For all the 5:2 makeover, the Caesar haircut and slimline profile, his voice is still reedy, prone to cracking mid-performance – and, more important, he can never quite hide his inner self. The stage directions may say benign and caring, but in repose his face turns unbidden into that default snarl.

Yet on Wednesday the chancellor did quite the acting job. He projected confidence and command: the man in charge, turning the economy around, lifting his country off its knees so that “Britain is walking tall again”.

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Budget analysis: ‘There were gimmicks and giveaways’ – video

Economics editor Larry Elliott and Executive editor Jonathan Freedland discuss George Osborne's final coalition budget. With the general election just weeks away, it was packed with offers to voters such as a further rise in the tax allowance, money off beer, whisky and petrol, and an eye-catching initiative to help first-time house buyers save for a deposit Continue reading...

If the bankers want the gain they should feel the pain | Jonathan Freedland

High rollers of high finance must stop hiding, as Rona Fairhead at HSBC did, behind an ‘accountability firewall’. It is time they paid for the damage they cause

Students at Harvard Business School probably know little of Millwall Football Club. Nevertheless the corporate titans of the future might do well to learn from the luckless London team, now sunk at the bottom of the English game’s second tier and set to be relegated to its third.

Which is not to say that the financial masters of the universe are not already expert in one aspect of Millwall lore. Paying themselves squillions and ignoring the protest and revulsion that come with it, they made Millwall’s chant – “No one likes us, we don’t care” – their own years ago. But the Millwall lesson I have in mind is more recent.

Related: HSBC chiefs face Margaret Hodge at her most merciless

They call this 'the 30,000 feet defence': at high altitude you can’t know about the antics of the little people below

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Climate activism is doomed if it remains a left-only issue | Jonathan Freedland

Faced with collective catatonia, environmentalists need to learn from successful political campaigns

In all those sci-fi horror stories foretelling the end of the world, the imagined reaction was never boredom. Panic and hysteria, yes. Sex with strangers, most certainly. We could picture all that at the moment doomsday loomed. But inertia, inattention and a shrugging desire to turn over to the other channel – well, HG Wells never foresaw that.

Yet that is the collective reaction of our species to the warnings that we are frying our planet. People barely discuss climate change. Research shows that most have never mentioned it outside their immediate family; one in three have never talked about it all. When asked to list the issues that matter most, voters put global warming at or near the bottom of the league – and that’s only if prompted. Most wouldn’t even think of it. Faced with a climate catastrophe, our response is catatonia.

If the threat is a preoccupation confined to only one half of the political spectrum, meaningful action will never come

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