19 JANUARY 2008

Page 5

He’s incompetent. So sack him

The Spectator

I t must come as something of a relief to Peter Mandelson that when Labour sources now refer to ‘the Peter Problem’ they mean Peter Hain, the beleaguered Work and Pensions...

Page 9

I n the month of back to basics, I no longer

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hanker for parties or cut-price cashmere, just the long, deep bath of my dreams. We spent New Year with friends in Cameron country: lovely Oxfordshire farmhouses, big fires and...

Page 10

British politicians should learn from the American primaries: authenticity wins votes

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I n the British version of the 2008 US election, Gordon Brown is Hillary Clinton: the less talented half of a tempestuous political marriage who attempts to make up for...

Page 11

T he news that the circulation of the Sun sank below

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three million in December, its lowest since the early Seventies, is a landmark. The moment that the Sun’s circulation overtook that of the Mirror , in May 1978, revealed a big...

Page 12


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OF A NOTTING HILL NOBODY MONDAY Got back to complete chaos after my winter spa break with mummy. Any de-stress and/or slimming benefit from seaweed and salt wraps entirely lost...

Page 14

Europe returns to the Commons — and, this time, nobody is safe

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Both Brown and Cameron face separate backbench mutinies as the revived EU Constitution — now called the Lisbon Treaty — comes before the Commons, says Fraser Nelson . Which...

Page 16

In the unlikely event that anyone wants my organs, it should be up to me

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Rod Liddle says that the notion of ‘compulsory donations’ is oxymoronic and the pinnacle of the medical profession’s zeal to get its hands on our corpses T he question is,...

Page 18

It helps if the doctor actually looks at the X-ray

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James Hughes-Onslow reports on the wretchedness of breaking an ankle and then having to persuade the man in A&E that his agony was caused by more than a sprain I t’s six years...

Page 20

The economic consequences of Mr Brown

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For all his claims to have singlehandedly engineered British growth, Gordon Brown is the architect of policies that undermine his desire for a better society, writes Irwin...

Page 22

Too cosy with the KGB

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Sir: Denis MacShane (‘Welcome to the Vlad and Dave show’, 12 January) is right to imply that the attitude of the Conservative party to the Russian KGB state is reminiscent...

Sir: Denis MacShane’s insightful revelations of British Conservatives and Russian

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diplomats cosying up to each other in the Council of Europe stirred nostalgic memories of over half a century ago. At a Labour party parliamentary dinner for visiting Soviet...

The problem with choice

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Sir: I agree with Charles Moore that the British are simply not healthier and better treated by the NHS than patients in neighbouring countries (The Spectator’s Notes, 12...

The speed of time

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Sir: In response to Toby Young’s search for an explanation as to why time speeds up as we get older (Status anxiety, 5 January), I have my own (non-scientific) theory. When I...

Tudors: not very Welsh

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Sir: Your correspondent Mr Williams objects to my description of Henry VIII as the ‘English Stalin’ on the grounds that the Tudor dynasty was Welsh (Letters, 5 January). It...

Sad modernist notion

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Sir: It is rather sad to see Admiral Liardet trotting out those old ‘modernist’ notions that I thought had been put to rest some time ago (Letters, 12 January). I leave...

Desert Island diss

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Sir: Kate Chisholm comments that Kirsty Young has yet to breathe new life into Desert Island Discs (Radio, 12 January). Far from resuscitating the programme, I fear that Kirsty...

Page 24

I know exactly what I mean. I just can’t think of the word for it

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W riting for the Times last week I found myself bogged down in a patch of linguistic mud. I had begun a sentence thus: ‘Discussing a mutual acquaintance who keeps breaking...

Page 25

When words come to life and evoke sounds, smells and images

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C harles Lamb, writing to Joseph Hume at Christmas 1807 on the subject of ‘a certain turkey and a contingent plumb-pudding’, added, ‘I always spell plumb-pudding with a b,...

Page 26

The military millionaires who control Pakistan Inc

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Elliot Wilson says Pakistan’s economy is dominated by a ruthless business conglomerate that owns everything from factories and bakeries to farmland and golf courses: the army...

Page 27

The FSA is not fit for purpose

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Richard Northedge ‘I t is somewhat ironical,’ the chairman of the Financial Services Authority told the Treasury select committee investigating the Northern Rock crisis,...

Page 28

Best or worst?

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Geoffrey Wheatcroft B ARBARISM AND C IVILISATION : A H ISTORY OF E UROPE IN O UR T IME by Bernard Wasserstein OUP, £25, pp. 900, ISBN 9780198730743 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p)...

Page 29

Defender, though not of the faith

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Philip Hensher T HE S ECOND P LANE by Martin Amis Cape, £16.99, pp. 224, ISBN 9780224076104 ✆ £13.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T hese journalistic pieces and two...

Page 30

Gossip from Lamb House

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Jonathan Mirsky H ENRY J AMES ’ S W AISTCOAT : L ETTERS TO M RS F ORD , 1907-1915 foreword by Philip Horne, edited by Rosalind Bleach Stone Trough Books, 38 Fossgate, York...

Page 31

Jealous neighbourhood watch

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M. R. D. Foot T HE H UNT FOR N AZI S PIES by Simon Kitson, translated by Catherine Tihanyi University of Chicago Press, £14.99, pp. 218, ISBN 9780226438931 ✆ £11.19 (plus...

Too much in Arcadia

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Blair Worden E ARLS OF P ARADISE by Adam Nicolson Harper Press, £25, pp. 298, ISBN 9780007240524 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he century or so before the Civil...

Page 32

Vagabonds in Paris

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Anita Brookner D ANS LE C AFÉ DE LA J EUNNESSE PERDUE by Patrick Modiano Gallimard, E14.50, pp. 149, ISBN 9782070786060 P atrick Modiano is a nostalgic novelist who has...

Page 33

Why it’s important

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Lloyd Evans believes that Wilde’s comedy is the best play ever written M y favourite play is on its way to the West End and I fully expect to be disappointed. It’s not that...

Page 34

Casting a spell

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Andrew Lambirth The Age of Enchantment: Beardsley, Dulac and their Contemporaries 1890–1930 Dulwich Picture Gallery, until 17 February T aste is strictly divided over the...

Old hat

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Lloyd Evans La Cage aux Folles Menier Chocolate Factory The British Ambassador’s Belly Dancer Arcola Angry Young Man Trafalgar Studio L a Cage aux Folles is a musical based...

Page 36

Spooked but absorbed

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Deborah Ross No Country for Old Men 15, Nationwide N o Country for Old Men , adapted by Joel and Ethan Coen from Cormac McCarthy’s novel, is not for the squeamish or easily...

Page 38

Dove’s tale

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Michael Tanner The Adventures of Pinocchio Grand Theatre, Leeds I t’s odd how, even if you try to ignore Christmas, it still manages to determine the shape of your...

Page 39

Beyond words

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Peter Phillips B y the time you read this I shall have watched two days of the 3rd Test between India and Australia at the WACA in Perth, and given a paper on how important...

Page 40

Augustinian truths

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Kate Chisholm L ord Reith must be turning in his grave. Not with shock and horror, but in amazement that there are still moments on his beloved airwaves when you can imagine...

Comfort viewing

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Simon Hoggart F oyle’s War is back on Sundays, sporadically, with Kingdom filling in the gaps on ITV. The BBC has followed Cranford with Lark Rise to Candleford , a series...

Page 41

Endangered species

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Ursula Buchan A mong the serially misused words of our time — celebrity, passion, caring, genius — we must surely count ‘plantsman’. Thirty years ago, it was a term...

Page 42

Short stories

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Taki Gstaad T he row over Indonesian ‘hobbits’ has split this beautiful alpine village in half. Alas, it began when I wrote something about the Olden, one of Gstaad’s...

Page 43

Ex files

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Jeremy Clarke T he only comfortable place to sit in my local pub is at this one particular table that is closeted on three sides by highbacked pine pews. Last Saturday...

Page 44

Data fascism

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Melissa Kite S ecurity is a scary thing. I sometimes get the impression that my life, in so far as it is still my life, has been sealed in bubble wrap by major corporations and...

Page 45

Conquering hero

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Susanna Gross I was saddened to learn of the death earlier this month of Raymond Brock. I only met him a few times (through his wife Sally, another renowned player) but always...

Page 46

Shooting star

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Rory Knight Bruce visits Caerhays Castle in Cornwall T he increase in popularity of shooting, and the diversity of the people who do it, has not had a marked effect on the...

Page 54

In which Mrs Young reveals some very bad news that turns out to be very good

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I n the newspaper business there’s a name for a story that makes your jaw hit the floor and your eyes pop out of your skull: ‘a marmalade dropper’. For instance, the...

Mind your language

The Spectator

I caught my husband perusing a menswear catalogue. I don’t know where he got it. It can’t have been sent to him. It was the kind that leans towards nightshirts and Barathea...

Page 55

A new occasional column on technology and the web

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M ost writers of science fiction have foreseen human communication becoming more sophisticated and realistic. Brave New World has the feelies; 1984 has telescreens; every...

Dear Mary

The Spectator

Q. Now that eco-issues are so fashionable my husband has come out as a militant meanie on energy conservation. Meanwhile our three teenage daughters use absurd amounts of hot...

Q. I am helping to organise my brother’s 18th birthday

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party. Too late we find out that our grandmother has given him the ‘treat’ of booking an old-timer’s band which can only play waltzes, etc. None of us wants to hurt...

Q. I have a problem which has caused great annoyance

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and occasionally embarrassment to me for as long as I have known how to write. The problem is, I never seem to have the same handwriting twice. I don’t mean just a small...