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Catastrophe in Basra

The Spectator

T o understand the full scale of the catastrophe that might be about to enfold British forces in southern Iraq, it is important to be clear about what happened on Monday. When...

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PORTRAIT OF THE WEEK T he government decided to put off

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overhauling council tax by revaluing houses until after the next election. The National Health Service, despite unprecedented increases in government spending on it, went into...

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I was asked, in January, if I would have dinner with

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the winner of a raffle in aid of the Conservative party. I gladly agreed. Months later Percy and I turned up a polite 20 minutes late at the Drones Club, only to find a...

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Dad, what is the point of being in the Labour party?

The Spectator

N ext week will be a celebration of success as impressive in its way as an old Red Army May Day parade. About 10,000 people will descend on the seaside town of Brighton to be...

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E ven in successful parliamentary democracies there comes a time when

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no political party is confronting the questions which matter most, and so the voter feels cheated. The worst time for this in Britain was the 1930s. Conservative appeasement...

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‘Israel’s actions affect our security’

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John Denham tells Peter Oborne that the domestic fight against terrorism requires the consent of the Muslim community T he weeks since the death of Robin Cook have seen an...

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Forced to be fat

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Olenka Frenkdel on the real danger to women in Mauritania Mauritania S trange place. And the strangest of missions. While the UN warns of famine, I am driving through the...

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‘Schooling people to be strangers’

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Rod Liddle talks to Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, who calls for an end to segregated education A bout halfway through our interview, Trevor...

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Whites need not apply

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Leo McKinstry says that racial difference has been elevated into a system of governance T he ideology of multiculturalism is theoretically meant to build a more tolerant,...

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Magnificently sexist

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Boris Johnson attends a Filipino beauty pageant in Chelsea, and finds much to admire W hen our housekeeper appeared on stage in her hot pink strapless number, I failed at first...

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But no. They were authentic homegrown Filipino Pringles, called ‘Jack

The Spectator

and Jill Spuds’, and flavoured with sour cream and chives. Mrs Cheong passed them down the line to my children, who scoffed them in embarrassing quantities. ‘The Filipinos can...

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Fear and loathing on the Left

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David Goodhart defends his thesis that too much ethnic diversity destroys social cohesion W hen I launched Prospect , the current affairs monthly, exactly 10 years ago, I...

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Return of the warrior gays

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Petronella Wyatt reports on American homosexuals, who are determined to reject effeminacy and revive an ancient machismo T here is a famous exchange between the trouser-suited...

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Losing out in China

The Spectator

Even the Dutch are beating the British in the race to trade with China. George Osborne blames the government T hrough all the changes of the past decades, Tiananmen Square still...

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How Cherie’s breeding allows her to put the Queen at her ease

The Spectator

A new book, Tony and Cherie: A Special Relationship , by Paul Scott, perhaps unwittingly offers useful tips for anyone intending to have Mrs Blair to stay. At Balmoral ‘Cherie...

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Mildly, moistly Thatcherite is what this European Commission would like to be

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I f you want to discombobulate a Eurocrat, try calling him a Thatcherite. Gert-Jan Koopman, the European Commission’s otherwise articulate director of industrial policy and...

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Our vanishing hospitals

The Spectator

From Gill Ib Sir: In 1909 my great-grandfather C.H.E. Croydon built and gave the Croydon Cottage Hospital to the people of Felixstowe. It consisted of ten beds and the...

From William Kelley

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Sir: Ross Clark regrettably neglects to mention an important benefit afforded by local hospitals, viz. they limit the spread of infection. We are now in an unfortunate situation...

Firing on ambulances

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From Emma Williams Sir: Rod Liddle (‘Why do we tolerate intolerance?’, 17 September) writes that he has ‘heard no reports of Christian or Jewish combatants firing on Red...

Still royal, still ducal

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From Peter Westgarth Sir: Contrary to press speculation (The Spectator’s Notes, 17 September) the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award has no plans to change its name or remove reference...

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Beholden to Mayor Ken

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From Lindsay Jenkins Sir: David Williams (Letters, 17 September) pointed out that David Cameron’s mayor-appointed police chiefs would allow Ken Livingstone to appoint the...

From Douglas Carswell MP

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Sir: What’s wrong with an elected mayor appointing police chiefs? Crime has fallen in New York over the past decade precisely because former mayor Rudy Giuliani directly...

Restoration dramas

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From Michael Daley Sir: Sarah Walden gives no indication of why or on what grounds an unnamed trustee of the National Gallery reproached her for recently publishing letters...

Boat mystery deepens

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From Colonel the Hon. Alastair Campbell Sir: I am fortunate that my wife forwards her copy of The Spectator to me in Baghdad to provide some hours of pleasure amid the dismal...

Blair’s sporting life

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From Ashley Duthie Sir: I trust that Peter Oborne is aware that Fettes is a rugby school (Politics, 17 September). It is not only Mr Blair’s cricket background that has been...

When author turns critic

The Spectator

From Barbara Hooper Sir: I can match Graham Lord’s experience at the hands of Trevor Grove (Letters, 17 September). When my book about Laurie Lee appeared (not authorised, but...

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Not a city of dreaming spires but bare ruined choirs

The Spectator

L ast weekend in Oxford I realised with a pang that another summer had gone. ‘It is typical of Oxford,’ wrote Evelyn Waugh, ‘to start the new year in autumn. Everywhere, on...

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Is torture always wrong?

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Alasdair Palmer says that our absolute ban on all forms of torture is inconsistent with our acceptance of shoot-to-kill T he officers who pumped seven bullets into Jean Charles...

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High art in the Low Countries

The Spectator

Bruce Anderson on the sensual wonders of Bruges I n Bruges, five minutes from the Centro Storico, you will find the Smedenstraat. Largely unknown to tourists, it contains four...

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Cheap thrills

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Jonathan Ray M y heart didn’t sink so much as plummet. Our family was gathering from Belfast, Brighton and Newcastle, with four nippers under four between us, and my cousin...

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Walk on the west side

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Harry Mount W hen the soul singer Luther Vandross died in July at the age of 54, he lay in state for several days at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel (1076 Madison Avenue)....

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The mountain watches

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Mark Palmer H alf the point of skiing, I always used to think, was to reinforce the notion that life is not meant to be comfortable. Enjoying yourself comes at a price. As...

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The Spectator

I used to be paired with my father rather than brother on what was one of the longest lifts in the world. Once the visibility was so bad that you couldn’t see the top of the...

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Perfect pitch

The Spectator

Michael McMahon T ake half a pound of flour, a pinch of salt, some water and a large bar of chocolate. Mix the salt into the flour, and add enough water to make a stiff dough....

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Isle of Knights

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Neil Clark M alta is a wonderful place. With its crystal-clear waters, its wealth of museums, churches and other sites of historic interest, an average daytime temperature of...

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Pinning down the king

The Spectator

Robert Stewart T HE T YRANNICIDE B RIEF : T HE S TORY OF THE M AN WHO SENT C HARLES I TO THE SCAFFOLD by Geoffrey Robertson Chatto, £20, pp. 429, ISBN 0701176024 ✆ £16 (plus...

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A bad judge, except of art

The Spectator

Anne Chisholm P EGGY G UGGENHEIM : M ISTRESS OF M ODERNISM by Mary V. Dearborn Virago, £20, pp. 338, ISBN 1860499732 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A ccording to this new...

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Servants who were masters

The Spectator

Jane Ridley T HE R ULING C ASTE : I MPERIAL L IVES IN THE V ICTORIAN R AJ by David Gilmour John Murray, £25, pp. 383, ISBN 07619555345 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I t...

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A cross-cultural crisis

The Spectator

Charlotte Hobson L ENINSKY P ROSPEKT by Katherine Bucknell Fourth Estate, £12, pp. 322, ISBN 0007178670 V £9.60 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I f you were a Martian, whiling...

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Anyone for dunnocks?

The Spectator

Nicholas Harman B IRDS B RITANNICA by Mark Cocker with Richard Mabey Chatto, £35, pp. 518, ISBN 0701169079 A B AD B IRDWATCHER ’ S COMPANION by Simon Barnes Short Books, £9.99,...

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A reputation still in the balance

The Spectator

Fiona Maddocks S ELECTED L ETTERS OF M ICHAEL TIPPETT edited and transcribed by Thomas Schuttenhelm Faber, £25, pp. 443, ISBN 0571226000 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 P...

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The wear and tear of it all

The Spectator

Vicki Woods M Y M OTHER ’ S W EDDING D RESS by Justine Picardie Picador, £12.99, pp. 331, ISBN 0330413066 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 H er mother’s wedding dress...

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Tips for technique and tactics

The Spectator

Sandy Balfour B RIDGE : C OMMON M ISTAKES AND H OW TO A VOID T HEM by Andrew Robson Times Books, £9.99, pp. 205, ISBN 0007204108 ✆ £7.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n 1994...

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Losing the plot

The Spectator

Cressida Connolly T HERE W ERE N O W INDOWS by Norah Hoult Persephone, £10, pp. 342, ISBN 1903155495 P oor Violet Hunt. She is remembered, if at all, as a footnote in the lives...

The case of the lurking paradigm

The Spectator

Ian McIntyre T HE U TILITY OF F ORCE : T HE A RT OF W AR IN THE M ODERN W ORLD by Rupert Smith Allen Lane, £20, pp. 428, ISBN 0713998369 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T...

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Once upon a time there was . . .

The Spectator

Raymond Carr A L ITTLE H ISTORY OF THE WORLD by E. H. Gombrich Yale, £14.99, pp. 284, ISBN 0300108834 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 E . H. Gombrich was born in Vienna...

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If music be the food of peace.. .

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Stephen Pettitt on the importance of the World Peace Orchestra’s recent visit to China M y guide was sitting opposite me as we took tea in the tourist centre outside the...

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Shades of Gray

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Andrew Lambirth Eileen Gray Design Museum, Shad Thames, London SE1, until 8 January 2006 A lthough marginalised or ignored for much of her long life, the designer and...

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Far from barbarians

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Russell Chamberlin Forgotten empire: the world of Ancient Persia British Museum, until 8 January 2006 S ome years ago, just before the Shah went into exile, I was touring the...

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Small is beautiful

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Alasdair Palmer The Cambridge Illuminations Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, until 11 December T he Cambridge Illuminations , the Fitzwilliam Museum’s exhibition of mediaeval...

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Where’s the chemistry?

The Spectator

Mark Steyn Pride and Prejudice U, selected cinemas ‘W hat appears most to date movies for new generations is their casts,’ wrote Peter Bogdanovich a few years back. ‘No matter...

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Enough to make one weep

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Michael Tanner The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant Coliseum W hen I first heard that Gerald Barry was writing an opera of Fassbinder’s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant , I had...

Sistine sitcom

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans On the Ceiling Garrick The Philanthropist Donmar Amy Evans’s Strike Courtyard A rush of air. A mighty whooshing. That was the noise that filled my ears during the...

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A victory and a sell-out

The Spectator

Michael Vestey N ews of England’s Ashes victory spread rapidly though Cortona’s ancient streets last Monday evening, as those with satellite TV rang the mobile phones of...

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Character is destiny

The Spectator

James Delingpole I ’ll be honest. I’ve watched less than bugger-all TV this week. The three bridge evenings (one of them, get this, tutored by the legendary Susanna Gross)...

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Stirred but not shaken

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Alan Judd ‘W hat is an Aston Martin?’ asked the beautiful septuagenarian baroness who received us on the terrace of her Tuscan castle. ‘Is it a cigarette?’ It was reassuring to...

Sterling Moss

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Taki St Tropez T he last — and only — time the wonderful Kate Moss was at my house in the Big Bagel was about 12 or 13 years ago, when my buddy Michael White dropped in with...

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Doctor in the house

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Jeremy Clarke S ix for Sunday lunch. Me, my boy, my mother, my mother’s boyfriend Dr Lovepants, my sister, and this poised, wellgroomed, long-haired chap, billed as the new man...

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Ruins of the Raj

The Spectator

Aidan Hartley Kolkata G enerations of my family were in British India. My mother was born in Lahore and even after 55 years in Kenya she still says dreamily, ‘Ah, but Africa...

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The Spectator

I went to a tasting of Napa Valley wines the other day. Many of them were excellent. They were also very expensive. This type of con versation could be heard at various tables....

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The Spectator

Men of Kent FRANK KEATING ‘ udo Al’ Hayes has died in Dallas, aged J 76. My hearing the sad news coincided with a tumble of forgotten yesterdays as I watched last week, as...


The Spectator

Dear Mary Q. Staying with English friends in the south of France (about whom I have written to you before) my hosts took me to a rather raucous fancy dress party. Being...

Q. I have been bequeathed a shoeboxful of brass and

The Spectator

white metal regimental badges. Many of the units represented have already merged or been abolished, some recently under threat from the frightful Hoon. Attractive and...