10 OCTOBER 1998, Page 7


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(irking men of all countries unite,' urged Marx and Engels, and socialists ever since have reached their horny hands across narrow nationalist divides. Borders, said the Reds, are a capitalist construct; class divides, but country or creed should not. Today, Tony Blair may have ditched all the other cherished socialist dreams, but this one still strikes a chord in the New Labour Project. The Prime Minister believes that world government, or at least a substantial trans- fer of sovereignty to international bodies, is now possible. Mr Blair also suspects that he personally, and therefore by implication Britain, is well placed to benefit from this development. With the moral demise of Bill Clinton, the economic collapse of Japan and the political emasculation of Boris Yeltsin, the slight figure of Britain's Premier seems to bestride the globe. This week, even China's leadership has appar- ently embraced the Third Way.

Global problems, argues Labour, require international solutions. The challenges fac- ing the world economy are too large for any one country to tackle, so an international package is necessary, says Gordon Brown. The problems in Kosovo must be dealt with by the 'international community', claims Robin Cook. The first century of the new millennium, says their leader, will be domi- nated by centre-left governments every- where. Together, so the story goes, they will Work through revitalised multinational Institutions — the IMF, the UN, the World Bank and so on — to tackle the common problems facing all humanity. So all-embracing are our Prime Minis- ter's new international aspirations that the European Union can no longer contain them. He needs a still larger stage on which to practise his expatriate government. So when the Chancellor, Mr Brown, chose to announce a significant reduction in forecast British economic growth, we should not be surprised that he did so from Washington, while his Premier was in China. What more evidence do we need, say the spin doctors, that Britain is now really punching above its weight?

Sadly, this is just as much of a socialist snare and delusion today as it was when the Communist Manifesto was first published.

The international institutions that are sup- posed to shoulder this burden are incompe- tent and corrupt. They depend for money on the United States, while proclaiming their independence by appointing second- rate functionaries from third-rate countries to key positions. Domestic bureaucracies are bad enough; supranational ones, whether based in Brussels or New York, are a disaster.

Nor can Tony Blair afford to ignore mun- dane domestic politics. His international status is derived from political success at home. Those whose place on the world stage he is currently taking have been undermined abroad by failure and scandal on the domestic front. Although Mr Brown would like us to believe that the British economy is in the grip of larger forces beyond his control, our economic success or failure will be determined by domestic decisions. If our economy is flexible enough, if the right decisions are taken on interest rates, if the tax and benefit system encourages enterprise, then we can ride out even a global slowdown. Alternatively, it would be perfectly possible for the world economy to surge ahead, and Britain to be left behind.

Our leaders should return home and get on with governing Britain, rather than arro- gantly explaining to other world leaders how to run their countries. After only 18 months in power, we do not yet know whether Labour can run our own country, let alone tour the world giving lessons in statesmanship.

When shown headless photographs of different-sized women as part of a survey of women's preferred figures, the majority of females opted for the willowy figure of Miss Kate Moss rather than that of Miss Sophie Dahl, the large supermodel. This has prompted doctors and fashion gurus to issue another stark warning against young girls driving themselves to anorexia in a 'desperate bid to obtain a waif's body'.

We object to these attacks on the thin, for they are cowardly assaults on a minority group. Most people in this country are heavier than their recommended body- weight. In America, the number of men and women who are officially obese amounts to almost two-thirds of the population.

Obesity can cause strokes, heart attacks and other fatal illnesses. Being thin may in rare cases be the result of anorexia and bulimia, but most thin people are healthier than their fat counterparts and are likely to live longer. Being thin is, of course, diffi- cult, but so are most good things. It is time that these `thinnist' fashion pundits started advising girls to diet, as opposed to copying Miss Dahl, who looks as if she has been gorging on fast food sautéed in dangerous saturated fats. Diana Vreeland once said you can never been too rich or too thin. She still hasn't been proved wrong on either account.