16 MARCH 2002

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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister. made a strange speech,

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in which he announced the 'third phase' of New Labour. 'It is about driving forward reforms,' he said. 'Alongside this, our core mission: to improve our public services.' He...

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I f you want to vote Tory on Thursday, that's fine,' said Neil Kinnock in a memorable speech on the eve of the 1987 general election. But I warn you: don't get old, don't get...

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I n Parliament. I'm no Patrick Vieira. I've never had a

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yellow card, far less a red one, from any Speaker. I'm even against breastfeeding in the Mother of Parliaments, I'm so old-fashioned. So when the red mist descended on me you...

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Mr Blair's pious rhetoric is not going to placate the traditionalists in the Labour party

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ANDREW GIMSON I n every conservative breast beats an instinctive sympathy for lost causes. It is this that directs one's attention to, and almost makes one shed a tear for, the...

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Forget defence spending and concentrate on moisturising cream, shampoo and petroleum jelly

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MATTHEW PARRIS D iscomfort this winter with itchy legs has led me in an indirect but deeply rational way to the conclusion that there is, after all, something to be learnt from...

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Rosemary Righter says that anti-Americans

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in Britain and Europe have no understanding of the war in which we are all engaged ON the night of 11 September, I had a long-standing date to dine with someone I hadn't seen...

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Anne McElvoy finds that Charles Clarke has problems with Kant, but he admits that Labour hasn't delivered joined-up government CHARLES CLARKE is in a huddle. The Labour party...

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Only a vety few Tories denounced Mugabe from the beginning, says Fergal Keane I SUSPECT that the game ranger knew what we were up to from the very beginning. Not that he ever...

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Mind your language

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A DISCOVERY! I had been wondering (16 February) about the origins of the phrase 'to hell in a handcart', and had found that the earliest known example dated from 1629, in the...

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Legalising drugs will help the well-to-do, says Katie Grant, but drive the poor deeper into despair BRUCE ANDERSON called in last week's Spectator for the legalisation of...

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Shackleton has come a long way since 1914, says Robert Gore - Langton. Today he is a management tool in America HOW's this for a newspaper classified? 'Men wanted for...

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As Parliament prepares for a new vote on hunting, Kevin Maguire reveals how the PM has schmoozed both sides in the debate SHORTLY before the general election, as the funeral...

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Ancient & modern

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SOME disquiet has recently been expressed about the Today programme's 'Thought for the Day'. In a slot ideal for a persuasive Christian homily — expounding a biblical text and...

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Banned wagon

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A weeky survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit THE quest for total public safety on the railways has reached the point at which it raises the question: had the rules...


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Tim Luckhurst says Scottish cities are getting smaller and meaner — and all because they abolished poll tax SCOTLAND is shrinking. Projections published by the...

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'When I won the first Shiva Naipaul Memorial Prize, it was gratifying for me on every level. I had already begun to publish, but this was a big step in my career It helped me to...

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The trickery of tariff juggles, corruption at home and aggression to cover it up

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES T ariffs provoked the young Member of Parliament to cross the floor of the House. 'Send me', he wrote to an ally in New York, 'some facts about corruption,...

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The press will always seem destructive to a man whose intimate pillow-talk has been revealed

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STEPHEN GLOVER P rince Charles thinks that the press is too cynical. So he said in a speech on Monday marking the 300th anniversary of the first national daily newspaper, the...

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Elizabeth Kenny takes a look at the forthcoming exhibitions at Kings Road Gallery Preview

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Kings Road Gallery has a varied and exciting line up of exhibitions this spring, beginning with Russian painter, Konstantin Bessmertny. For his debut exhibition in London,...

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A visit to the golden Borrowdale of Wordsworth and Coleridge

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PAUL JOHNSON I have just acquired an enormous landscape by John Glover (1767-1849). It is in watercolour and body colour, but is so majestic, and the colouring so deep and...

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Sharkish tactics

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From Mr Edward Spalton Sir: George Monbiot's perceptive article (Public disgrace, 9 March) shows what a rotten deal the Private Finance Initiative gives to taxpayers and users...

From Mr Robert van Stekelenbutg

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Sir: The real reason why the PFI scheme continues to be heralded by the government is that it is a very good way to increase the confusion about where the public sector ends and...

Christians in Israel

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From Mr Bret Stephens Sir: What an astonishing piece of writing you have published in the form of a letter (23 February) from Israel Shamir, Israel's very own Noam Chomsky. In...

Unfair to the Saudis

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From Sir James Craig Sir: I have the disadvantage, in Mark Steyn's eyes, of being a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, a country (I would guess) in which he has never set foot....

From Mr Paul Kellogg Sir: Suggesting that destabilisation is our

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friend, as Mark Steyn does, in regard to Saudi Arabia, is a foolish if not irresponsible position. Has not the Middle East already been the source of great anguish? Why go...

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From Mr Clive Warner Sir: I spent a year of

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hell in Saudi Arabia running one of its radio stations. It was like living in an open prison. I found the people were cruel, intolerant, joyless and bigoted. I have to take...

Free-trade fiddles

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From Mr Geoffrey Wilson Sir: I share your support of US action against terrorism and your opposition to US protectionism on steel imports (Leading article, 9 March). But I...

From Mr Kim du Toit Sir: Your leading article says

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'[America) unilaterally withdrew from the Kyoto agreement on climate change'. Considering that the US Senate had voted against Kyoto's ratification (during former President...

Muslims abroad

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From Mr S.M. Faroug Ali Sir: Mr Randhir Singh Bains (Letters, 16 February) is perpetuating a misconception that has been rejected by Islamic scholars when he says that 'There...

Thugs deal the drugs

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From Mr G. Hall Sir: Bruce Anderson's essay on the drug war (Another voice, 9 March) was right on target. For years I have been baffled by America's acceptance of a system which...

Plaque trap

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From Mr Mark Jowitt Sir: Philip Hensher's revelation Most inheritance', 2 March) that the English Heritage London Blue Plaque committee have rejected a request to commemorate...

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Helping the poor

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From Lucy Abelson Sir: The puzzle is that Mary Wakefield ('Serving suggestions', 2 March) volunteered to feed the poor at all. Luckily she did not, as I did, help the...

My spade and I

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From The Rt. Hon. The Lord Garel-Jones Sir: Two points of accuracy on Charles Moore's amusing note about our encounter in Washington (Diary, 2 March). The spade was, in fact,...

Karma will out

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From Dr Mareechi Duvvuri Sir: Instead of an unbiased journalistic reporting of events, Julian Manyon (The 2,500 Years' War', 9 March) treats us to emotionladen liberal innuendo....

Nutty flight

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From Dr James Stacey Taylor Sir: I was surprised to read in Rod Liddle's article ('As mad as it gets', 9 March) that all the major Western airlines had a `no peanuts' policy,...

From Mr Tony Green Sir: For Rod Liddle's information, the

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'dust' from peanuts gets into the air systems of airliners. It is then circulated throughout the aircraft. As a peanut-allergy sufferer, I should have figured out why I almost...

Secrets of lies

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From Sir Tim Rice Sir: Matthew Parris (Another voice, 2 March) points out that you can tell an honest politician because 'he gets into a tangled web when he practises to...

Clive of France

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From Sophie Masson Sir: From the bottom of my French country girl's heart (still beating in time to the rhythm of a little village called Empeaux, in the Haute-Garonne), I say...

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Not quite clever enough?

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Philip Hensher ALDOUS HUXLEY by Nicholas Murray Time Warner Books, £20, pp. 416, ISBN 0316854921 E very English intellectual of the 1920s read Proust, of course, but only one,...

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Enigma . .

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puzzle. . . solution Michael Carlson THE MISSING PIECE by Antoine Bello, translated by Helen Stevenson Serpent's Tail, £8.99, pp. 241, ISBN 1852426489 ne major tradition in...

A selection of recent paperbacks

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Non-fiction: The Queen's Conjuror by Benjamin Woolley, Flamingo, £7.99 A View of Delft by Anthony Bailey. Pimlico, £10 The Life of John Milton by A. N. Wilson, Pimlico, £12.50...

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A voice crying in the wilderness

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Jonathan Sumption REFLECTIONS ON EXILE by Edward W. Said Granta, £20, pp. 617, ISBN 1862074445 E dward Said is an unusual and attractive figure in the world of letters. By...

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Scoring behind the scenes

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Fiona Maddocks THE POCKET ESSENTIAL FILM MUSIC by Paul Tonks Pocket Essentials, £3.99, pp. 93, ISBN 1903047633 F ilms begin and end with music. Before the talkies, music was...

Brutal home county

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Jonathan Keates ALL THE DEVILS ARE HERE by David Seabrook Granta, £10, pp. 173, ISBN 862074836 T hat immense, ungainly territorial lump which forms Britain's elbow, knee or...

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More like a beauty contest

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Nicholas Fearn AGAINST EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY by Matt Cavanagh OUP, £25, pp. 217, ISBN 0199243433 M ost British philosophers would rather be boring and right than interesting...

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Crazed cabbalistic claptrap. . .

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Benji Wilson DEAD ON TIME: HOW AND WHY BARRY GEORGE EXECUTED JILL DANDO by John McVicar John Blake Publishing, £14.99, pp. 311, ISBN 1857823648 B any George murdered Jill Dando...

. . and a catalogue of catastrophe

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Fatema Ahmed ASSORTED FIRE EVENTS by David Means Fourth Estate, £10, pp. 165, ISBN 0007135068 E xactly halfway through this unusual collection of short stories is an arresting...

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The eccentricities of Monsignor Gilbey

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Hugh Massingberd ALFRED GILBEY: A MEMOIR BY SOME FRIENDS edited by David Watkin Michael Russell, £15, pp. 144, ISBN 0859552705 W hen I first met Monsignor Gilbey at the...

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The man who put Australia on the map

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Stephen Gardiner UTZON by Richard Weston Edition Blondal, £99.95, pp. 432, ISBN 8788978982, www.edition-blondaLdk I n 1973. an extraordinary work appeared on the modern...

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Warming to the work

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John McEwen ANTHONY FRY essays by John Berger, Andrew Lambirth, Frances Partridge, Bryan Robertson and Tom Stoppard Longfellow/Umbrage Editions, www.umbragebooks.corn, £50, pp....

Boom and bust

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Graham Stewart THE RAILWAY KING: A BIOGRAPHY OF GEORGE HUDSON by Robert Beaumont Hodder, £14.99, pp. 274, ISBN 0747232350 I n 1849, George Hudson controlled nearly a third of...

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Crazy for the birds

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Steve King THE SNOW GEESE by William Fiennes Picador, £14.99, pp. 250, ISBN 0330375784 W illiam Fiennes wants to go home. Banged up in hospital after an operation, he wishes...

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The siege of acres

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Raymond Carr WHO OWNS BRITAIN by Kevin Cahill Canongate, £25, pp. 450. ISBN 0862419123 I n the subtitle of his book Kelvin Cahill sets out his purpose. It is to expose 'The...

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Gore in the library

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Jane Gardam THE GRENADILLO BOX by Janet Gleeson Bantam, £12.99, pp. 429, ISBN 0593048032 T his is a long and somewhat breathless first novel in the Gothic manner, a...

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Stratford's chaotic shambles

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Sheridan Morley says it's time for the RSC to bring in a new director S tand not upon the order of your going, but go now': at a changeover moment in the British theatre, when...

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Earth and Fire: Italian Terracotta Sculpture from Donatello to Canova (Victoria and Albert Museum, till 7 July) Fluttering vitality Martin Gayford T erracotta — cooked earth...

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Opera Ariodante (Coliseum) Kantan; Damask Drum (Cambridge)

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Handel triumph Michael Tanner E NO's revival of Handel's Ariodante is, whatever else, a feast of fine singing, with one sad exception. So fine, in fact, that it brought home...

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Country house to go Alan Powers I t comes in a takeaway pizza box, presented by architects and developers at the Hempel Hotel in Bayswater. It's not a pizza (I don't think the...

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Enduring Images (Royal Opera House) Logical mix Giannandrea Poesio A mixed bill with only modern and postmodern works is bound to cause some controversy, as Enduring Images,...

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The Mystery of Charles Dickens (Albery) Tartufe (Lyttleton) Hard times Toby Young C harles Dickens used to get so overexcited while giving public readings of his own work...

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The Royal Tenenbaums (15, selected cinemas) Bad connections Mark Stevn T he Royal Tenenbaums sounds like a Habsburgian ballet troupe, but is, in fact, the family of a man...

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It's never too late Michael Vestey 0 Id age for most people is no laughing matter. If they've survived an ageist cull at work and retired at 65 many cannot think of anything...

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Missing the point Simon Hoggart H ere are three programmes which almost work, but don't quite. The Trench (BBC 2) was one of those ideas which must have looked great on paper....

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The turf

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Loyalty rewarded Robin Oakley P ie rre Balmain, the French couturier, once said that the art of wearing a mink coat was to look as though you were wearing cloth and the art of...

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Food for thought

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Wise words Simon Courtauld T he name of Sir Kenelm Digby was bound to crop up in this column sooner or later. He was, after all — by which I mean after a career as a naval...

High life

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Facts and figures Taki 0Milan h boy, this should be great fun. I'm in Milan, for matters sartorial, and a friend has sent me an article about The Spectator, written by that...

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Low life

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Expert advice Jeremy Clarke M y sister's run off with the gas man, Left her husband and everything. I was introduced last week. Ron's father used to whip him with a stick,...

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Singular life

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Real women Petronella Wyatt I read that Glenys Kinnock is back in the front line of politics — that is, gender politics. For her victim she has chosen the unlikely figure of...

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IT's Mother's Day and I've told my partner and my

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son to take me out for a nice surprise dinner. Or else. Truly, I deserve a treat. I'm a very good mother. I'm not one of those mothers who, say, steams the 'Bonne Maman' label...

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Sepptic tank

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Simon Barnes BEING president means never having to say, 'It's a fair cop, guy, you've got me bang to rights.' That's true if you are a real president of an actual country...

Q. When arriving to spend the weekend with friends I

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always find the first few moments a little tense and embarrassing. Have you any suggestions on how to break the ice more quickly? P. W., London SW1 A. Tenseness on arrival is...

Q. My wife is going away for two weeks. Neighbours

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are already starting to invite me and the children to lunch, dinner and tea, refusing to take no for an answer and insisting that it will be 'no trouble'. I am not worried about...

Q. Would you kindly advise me as to the gentlemanly

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way to deal with ill-mannered chickens? I met one such virago while sitting on a bench in a delectable spot in Derbyshire, when she jumped up and tried to grab a sandwich from...