24 FEBRUARY 2001

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A fter British aeroplanes supported American aircraft in destroying Iraqi aircommand

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centres, Mr Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, flew to Washington for previously arranged talks. Before he went he made a speech to the Labour party's ad hoc spring conference,...

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F or those who savour poetic justice, the sight of Mr Blair consorting obsequiously with the greatest force of conservatism in the world, Mr George W. Bush, will be among the...

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Being Derry Irvine means never having to say you're sorry

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BRUCE ANDERSON H arold Macmillan used to divide politicians into bishops and bookies. It is an amusing parlour game and has also been a useful analytical tool. But the...

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W e can no longer go on humming, haa-ing and don't-knowing

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about Europe. A letter comes through the post with an invitation to the UK–Danish Conference at Windsor in March. It's an EU thing, set up through the good offices of the...

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Peter Mandelson's anger is the anger of the divorce court, and it is about love

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MATTHEW PARRIS S ince Peter Mandelson's most recent troubles began, I have rather steered clear of commentary. Some time ago, I caused him great embarrassment, however...

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Poor old Tony. Americans tend to see him as a bit camp, says Mark Steyn, and he is going to find it hard to reconcile his Eurocentrism with the principled parochialism of...

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Peter Oborne reviews the three main contenders for the leadership of the 1922 Committee IT IS idle to deny that one subject looms ever larger among Tory MPs as the general...

Banned wagon

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A weekly survey of the things our rulers want to prohibit WITH its electioneering cries of 'education, education, education' and 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime'...

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Ancient & modern

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THE human genome project is all very astonishing, but a healthy dose of ancient Greek scepticism would not come amiss. Ancient Greek democracy, invented in 508 BC, had more...


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James Whitwell explains why he is disgusted by liberal feminism and is dreaming of an arranged marriage in Cambodia THE night I left Phnom Penh, after a year working on a book...

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It's so unfair, says Rachel Johnson. Only parents who are celebrities can choose where to send their children to school GOING through my bank statement the other day, one...

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Tim Luckhurst discovers that Dublin is schmoozing Scottish and Welsh politicians in an attempt to break up the union SCOTLAND is truly, madly, deeply in love with Ireland....

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Mind your language

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MR Alastair Campbell put his political foot in it when he referred to 'bog standard' comprehensive schools, but he brought new life to a marginalised slang phrase. The...

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Petronella Wyatt goes to the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and discovers what it is like to be an Arab princess in Knightsbridge THERE they were, row upon row of them, like...

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Tim Congdon says that vouchers for services could lead to a smaller state and drastically lower taxes NEW and challenging ideas are unpopular in British political parties at...

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Elegiac thoughts at the end of a perfect day in February

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PAUL JOHNSON D ry, sunny days in February are an uncovenanted gift from the Almighty, and there is no better place to enjoy them than the Vale of Taunton in west Somerset. It...

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Stunned into silence

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From Audrey Murphy Sir: With regard to Philip Hensher's article on the collapse of education (17 February): as a lecturer in an FE college, I was keenly aware of my students'...

From Mr John Morrison

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Sir: The French and German ambassadors (17 February) are right about our declining linguistic skills but are too diplomatic to point the finger at the real reason. Blame the...

From Mr Crawford Macdonald Sir: The French and German ambassadors

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betray their Eurocentrism when they advocate learning European languages that will, effectively, be local dialects by the end of this century. Far better that our children learn...

From Mr Roger Gower Sir: It is well-known internationally how

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illiterate our once great literary nation has become, unknowingly encouraged by politicians who have hardly read a book themselves. We lose our culture and we disinherit...

Sked's riposte

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From Mr Alan Sked Sir: Just three points in reply to Christopher Booker's bizarre if hilarious letter (17 February). 1. He claims that I was 'chucked out' as leader of UKIP....

Wrong score

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From Mr David Shaw and Professor Rachel Killick Sir: Leo McKinstry's article ('Brainless of Britain', 10 February) contains serious errors concerning the entry requirements at...

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Spelling for grown-ups

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From Mr Andrew Wilton Sir: David Pryce-Jones has presumably perused many issues of the New Yorker, as he implies in his review of David Remnick's edition of profiles from that...

Cormac's real friends

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From Mr Austen Ivereigh Sir: It is not daring for Damian Thompson, in the course of taking many low swipes at Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor ('Red hat, red face', 17 February),...

A big hit

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From Mr Sheridan Morley Sir: A footnote to Paul Johnson (And another thing, 17 February) on the Versailles grandeur of Nancy Mitford. In 1950 my father Robert invited her to...

Powerless Poland

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From Mr Nicholas Paget-Brown Sir: It is perfectly understandable that Radek Sikorski is looking for geopolitical stability for Poland (`The joy of federalism', 17 February). It...

From Mr John Stott Sir: So Mr Sikorski feels that

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British Euroscepticism is 'intellectually inconsistent and politically immature'. He makes two points: first, that we applied to join (a common market, not the EU), were...

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Is the Independent trying to protect New

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Labour, or is it just inept? STEPHEN GLOVER H ere are two almost unbelievable stories about the Independent, and a perhaps rather surprising conclusion. The first concerns...

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The Chairman's Curse hangs over Sir lain as BT runs short of cash

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES H ow mortifying it is for a chairman when the shares in his company rally on reports that he is heading for the old heaveho. This has happened to Sir fain...

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Twin pillars of the establishment

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Philip Hensher THE LETTERS OF THOMAS GAINSBOROUGH edited by John Hayles Yale, £30, pp. 208 THE LE TIERS OF SIR JOSHUA REYNOLDS edited by John Ingamells and John Edgcumbe Yale,...

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Does your end justify your genes?

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Steve King THE SEQUENCE by Kevin Davies Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 310 h ere's nothing new about the idea that living things contain hereditary information which they pass on to...

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Loitering with intent to discover

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Euan Cameron THE FLANEUR: A STROLL THROUGH THE PARADOXES OF PARIS by Edmund White Bloomsbwy, £9.99, pp. 211 BRASSAI — PARIS BY NIGHT foreword by Paul Morand Flammarion,...

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Old school ties

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John de Falbe THE ROTTERS' CLUB by Jonathan Coe Viking, £14,99, pp. 416 J onathan Coe's new novel presents itself as a portrait of the Seventies, as his earlier, superb What a...

Service to be continued

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John Colvin SECOND TO NONE: THE COLDSTREAM GUARDS, 1650-2000 edited by Julian Paget Leo Cooper, £25, pp. 368 J ackie Fisher, Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilmerstone,...

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A side dish for the gourmet

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Lloyd Evans THE STRENGTH OF POETRY by James Fenton OUP, 125, pp. 266 P oets are an infuriating bunch. In The Strength of Poetty James Fenton draws together an amusing...

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Shooting from the hip, sometimes wide of the mark

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Robert Oakeshott HOME AND EXILE by Cbinua Achebe OUP, .19.99, pp. 115 A ccording to one of those advance praise citations with which American publishers now plaster the...

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A tale of four cities

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Jane Ridley 1918: WAR AND PEACE by Gregor Dallas John Murray, £25, pp. 615 hole libraries have been filled with books about the first world war, but few books have examined...

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Alan Ross remembered

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D. J. Taylor A lan Ross, who died last week at the age of 78, was a great many things. As poet, travel writer, cricketing rhapsodist and autobiographer — to name only four of...

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Give credit where credit's due

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Margaret Leclere calls on screenwriters in America to stand up for their rights I n May, certain negotiated agreements between the Writers' Guild of America and the American...

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Murillo: Scenes of Childhood (Dulwich Picture Gallery, till 13 May)

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Not all sugar and spice Andrew Lambirth O wning four canvases, Dulwich Picture Gallery is relatively rich in Murillos, and is therefore an appropriate setting for this choice...

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Edward Burra 1905-76 (Olympia Fine Art Fair, 27 February till 4 March)

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Utterly weird Robin Simon I grew up with Edward Burra. Entirely by chance, he was one of the four books of the Penguin Modern Painters series that I happened to own. Looking...

Robin and Lucienne Day (Barbican Art Gallery, till 16 April)

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Industry of One, Designer Makers 1981 - 01 (Crafts Council, 44A Pentonville Road, London, till 25 March, then touring) Modest superstars Alan Powers W hat is the value of...

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Pain and glory with Wagner

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Robin Holloway A nsterdam's airport was in chaos caused by a sudden heavy snowfall, so the arrangements for continuing my journey were void. But sensible Schiphol provided an...

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Rose Rage (Watermill) Credible Witness (Royal Court) Six Characters Looking for an Author (Young Vic) Mapp & Lucia (Jermyn Street)

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Fast and furious Sheridan Morley I n Shakespeare, as in life, the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree. Thirty or so years ago, the high point of Peter Hall's management...

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Kramer remembered

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Mark Steyn S tanley Kramer died this week, a long way from the days when he was 'the most picketed producer in America', a badge he wore with pride — indeed, more pride than he...

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European propaganda . . .

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Michael Vestey T he European Movement which campaigns for a federal Europe must have been delighted with Radio Five Live on Monday morning. The daily three-hour Nicky Campbell...

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. . . and idiocies

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Simon Hoggart T hose who believe that the BBC is irredeemably pro-European should have seen Food Wars on BBC 1 this week. It could have been written by Christopher Booker, at...

Just one of those things

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Robin Oakley W e all have our bits of racing bad luck. I have watched 16-1 shots carrying my wager come to the last clear of the field and topple over, having not touched a...

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A Wilkes on wheels

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Alan Judd B efore the second world war many cars were boxes on wheels, descendants of horseless carriages. The advantage of the box was generous space and comfort. During the...

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Rich rewards

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Taki T h Rougemont e jet-set is in mourning and, like Electra, it becomes it. Marc Rich has called off his Las Vegas-theme party in St Moritz this weekend, which will force a...

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Resigning matters

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Jeremy Clarke O ur dog-and-ferret-club committee meets once a month at an old coaching inn in the middle of nowhere. At last month's meeting there were no other customers in...

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Growth industry

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Petronella Wyatt Wh ile I was in LA recently, I visited a porn set. For work, you in the back row, for work. But the first thing they did when I arrived was to try to send me...

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The making of the man

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Simon Barnes SVEN-GORAN ERIKSSON has become the man of the thousand cutaways. We know scarcely anything more than his face, studious, perhaps loftily amused, when every week...

Q. For various reasons I attend a lot of art-gallery

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openings. Although champagne is plenteous at places like the Rebecca Hossack gallery in Windmill Street, the throng is often so dense that the glasses to drink it from run out....

Q. A friend of mine recently had a youngish man

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to stay for the weekend. Quite unexpectedly the man died — of natural causes — while he was staying there. Without wishing to make light of this tragedy in any way, an...

Q. At a recent weekend party I was introduced to

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one of the other guests and had a short conversation with her before dinner. The next morning at breakfast she asked our hostess to introduce us, declaring that 'We haven't met...

Mary Killen

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