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M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, decided to fly to

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Camp David for talks with President George Bush of the United States about the war against Iraq. Mr Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said: The Iraqi regime is responding to...

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The Spectator, 56 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LL Telephone: 020-7405 1706; Fax 020-7242 0603 THE CASE FOR ACTION T here are some for whom George W. Bush — or any other...

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I was brought up to pay little attention to vegetables, apart

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from beetroot, which was served every day, and carrots, of which we had two each on a Sunday, on the grounds that they enabled Spitfire pilots to see in the dark. And then last...

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If the Tories want to win the asylum debate, they must trust their own instincts

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PETER OBORNE I n the aftermath of September 11 we all instinctively felt that the world had utterly changed. In Britain at any rate that turned out not to be the case. After...

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Tony Blair's visit to Camp David comes at a time when we are riding high in America. Christopher Caldwell says that by backing Bush, the Prime Minister is likely to make...

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Mind your language

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THERE is a new kind of utterance that I cannot quite classify. The pattern is: 'How weird is that?' It has the form of a question but is enunciated like an exclamation, as if it...

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Rod Liddle on the naivety of those who think Tony Benn is just a charming old leftie NOW that Dr Blix has done his work, how will Saddam Hussein cope with the latest threat...

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American universities raise billions, says Rachel Johnson, by discreetly favouring the offspring of those who give Q. Are a student's chances of admission enhanced if a...

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Officials didn't visit the doomed eight-year-old, says Daniel Kruger. They went to a seminar on child protection A LITTLE noticed omission from last November's Queen's...

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Journalists are banned from entering the Stalinist world of Kim Jong-A so Julian Manyon went there as a businessman Beijing WE were halfway across the narrow pontoon bridge...

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Second opinion

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THE absence of a dynamic economy is a terrible thing. It means that, round here at least, evil is the root of all money. I am not referring only or even mainly to pimps and...

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Matthew Laza talks to the young homosexuals bying to find lovers who will infect them with HIV THE posting on the Internet message board is headlined, 'I want lots of Christmas...

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Ancient & modern

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WHAT is it in our interests to do about immigration? The ancient Athenians came up with an interesting answer. The reason for Athens' control of immigrants (metoikoi, 'those...

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When Paris was the laundry capital of the civilised world

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PAUL JOHNSON W riting about the colour of doves last week reminded me that, when I was 17 and an Oxford freshman in 1946, my passionate desire was to possess a three-piece...

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Great British disease

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From Katharine Ristich Sir: The statistics that Anthony Browne cites (1-low the government endangers British lives', 25 January) for HIV and tuberculosis among Britain's...

Savings in the House

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From Judge David Q. Miller Sir: Peter Oborne (Politics, 25 January) writes of housing allowances wrongly claimed by Michael Trend, MP. Over the years, Members of Parliament...

Let's bury the Lib Dems

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From Mr Kenny Mizzi Sir: Simon Heffer ("The dustbin party', 18 January) says that disaffected Tory voters should not look towards the Lib Dams. As a person who left the Tories...

Flood facts

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From Charles Hendry. MP Sir: Rod Liddle (Thought for the day, 18 January) clearly subscribes to the old dictum not to let the facts get in the way of a good story. I understand...

Bunyan in Oz

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From Mr P.M. Lawrence Sir: Peter Hitchens CA labour of loathing', 18 January) asserts that Philip Pullman is writing a sort of inversion of C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, tracking...

Taki nonsense

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From Mr Martin Foakes Sir: I did enjoy reading Taki's unusually perceptive notes on the root causes of British thuggery (High life. 11 January). I had no idea that social...

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Is it my imagination, or is the Sun getting smuttier?

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STEPHEN GLOVER A couple of weeks ago I promised that this column would keep a watchful eye on Rebekah Wade, the new editor of the Sun. As is so often the case, the first piece...

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The day I had to pour soup over a fire in Hugh Trevor-Roper's kitchen

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FRANK JOHNSON H ugh Trevor-Roper long refused to write his memoirs. Eventually, the firm of Weidenfeld persuaded him, if he was not going to write them, to speak them. The...

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Fasten your seat-belts the captain has told us that there is no cause for alarm

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES N ow that is worrying. Downing Street has put out a statement, telling us not to worry about the stock market. In this country, says the Prime Minister's...

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Our longest peace

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Harry Mount THE STRUGGLE FOR EUROPE: THE HISTORY OF THE CONTINENT SINCE 1945 by William Hitchcock Profile, £25, pp. 513, ISBN 1861972334 H as anybody ever struggled for...

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Every fair from fair sometime declines

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Andrew Gimson HARD WORK: LIFE IN LOW-PAY BRITAIN by Polly Toynbee Bloomsbury. £6.99, pp. 256. ISBN 0747564159 P olly Toynbee describes herself as 'profoundly anti-religious',...

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The charm of the commonplace

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Kevin Jackson A BOX OF MATCHES by Nicholson Baker Chatto, £10, pp. 178, ISBN 070116977X W here other contemporary American novelists, mandarin or popular, like to write...

The high price of civil security

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Sylvana Tomaselli ASPECTS OF HOBBES by Noel Malcolm Clarendon, £40, pp. 656. ISBN 0199247145 H obbes is one of the very greatest political philosophers of all times, Noel...

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Defying vertigo and the void

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Hermine Demoriane TO REACH THE CLOUDS by Philippe Petit Faber. £12.99, pp. 227, ISBN 0571217702 I t is lucky for us common mortals that Philippe Petit is a tightrope-walker...

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Recent crime novels

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Harriet Waugh o r the last few years Ruth Rendell has used her Chief Inspector Wexford detective novels to explore social issues that have been much in the papers. This has...

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Jesus in Nigeria

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Let him so keen for casting the first stone Direct a fast ball right between her eyes, So it might be from one quick burst of bone, Not from a mass of bruises, that she dies....

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Their man in London

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Hugh Trevor-Roper This foreword to the new edition of Michael Bloch 's Ribbentrop is the last essay written for publication by Lord Dacre before his death on 26 January. W hen...

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Standing eye to eye with death

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Tristan Garei-Jones, taurine correspondent of The Spectator, on the fascination of the corrida R ecently I had reason to open my copy of the collected works of the Mexican poet,...

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Provocative touch

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Andrew Lambirth G iorgio de Chirico (1888-1978) is one of those artists people like to pronounce over. The early work is generally praised, and the later disparaged, but to...

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Conventional problem

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Toby Young T he majority of my colleagues have been going gaga about Michael Grandage's production of The Tempest. According to Charles Spencer in the Telegraph, This is a...

Con-man caper

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Mark Steyn C atch Catch Me If You Can if you can. It's a lovely movie and all the more surprising considering the Hollywood muscle powering it: Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks,...

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What a bargain

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Marcus Berkmann I t was sad to hear of Maurice Gibb's death. Already the backtracking has begun. For decades the Bee Gees were written off by critics as a joke — meaningless...

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Rare inspiration

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Michael Tanner O ne of the goals of my opera-going life is to see an adequate production of The Magic Flute, one that doesn't find it necessary to make the aspirations of the...

Fighting talk

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James Delingpole I don't want to sound too optimistic in case the Eumenides get me but I think I might have had the idea which will rescue me from doom. Better still, it might...

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Remarkable maverick

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Michael Vestey I t has long been my view — and the disillusioned and cynical will not dissuade me — that to be a Member of Parliament is not only a noble calling but an...

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Winning worries

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Robin Oakley R ichard Phillips has long believed, along with Sir Mark Prescott, that 'a happy trainer is a had trainer'. Perhaps that is what makes him at times sound like a...

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Rival attractions

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Charles Moore I s there the perfect hunt, the epitome of the sport? The more I find out about it, the less I think there is. Is it hounds or run or ride or country or company...

Funerals and friends

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Taki IGstaad finally did not go to Gianni Agnelli's funeral. When I say finally, I mean I was on my way, but then I began to think. Gianni died early Friday morning, the...

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Living dangerously

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Jeremy Clarke S haron's been at home for a fortnight trying to write the final 5,000-word essay of her two-year social work diploma course. She's been at it day and night....

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The quality of mercy

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Petronella Wyatt I am sitting on a cream sofa in the evening sunset of Florida. Next to me is the man who killed Hermann Goering — or rather helped him to kill himself. Some...

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Soft Hammers

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Michael Henderson IT IS one of the game's oldest jokes but it still produces a laugh or two. In the football version of 'Deck of Cards', that hoary old chestnut from the...

Q. The story of Red Chris in last week's issue

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brings to mind another tricky issue about house parties, and that is the subject of bringing presents. As a host who occasionally entertains in the country. I do not expect...

Q. Re last week's inquiry from the newly com

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missioned officer suffering from 'containment' problems during formal dinner nights, your solution would, of course, work only in Scottish regiments where the capacious kilt,...

Q. After my mother's funeral, I wrote a letter of

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thanks to her cleaner (who helped to look after her in her final illness and of whom she was very fond). As my mother would have wished, I enclosed £200 in cash. I put the...