26 APRIL 1997

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M r John Major, the Prime Minister, made a last pre-election throw of the dice on Europe. He cancelled a planned televi- sion broadcast and instead made a personal plea to be...

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The election will be decided by the undecided BRUCE ANDERSON 0 ne poll shows a 5 per cent Labour lead; another one, a 21 per cent lead. This might seem to confirm the...

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JEREMY ISAACS M y wife's brother cut the advertise- ment out and sent it through the post: 'If Jeremy is serious, he could try this.' And there it was, the answer to my problem:...

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From this week's poll-induced wobble, back to Mr Blair's determination to beat Mr Brown, Anne McElvoy traces a long march on No. 10 YOUNG campaign workers in Labour's election...

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The Goldsmith campaign is so invisible that one Putney voter mistook Petronella Wyatt for Jemima IT was bitterly cold in Putney. The wind shook the mist-veiled spring flowers....

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Mr Blair's conversion to so many Tory measures which his party opposed has not converted P. D. James to Mr Blair WHEN I decided last year to move from the crossbenches in the...

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Mind your language

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Thanks to you, we are getting some- where. The question was: what was the spoonerism called before Warden Spooner (1844-1930)? One answer, sent by Mr Wilfrid Miron, is...

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Rory Knight Bruce discovers the pro-hunting Lady Mallalieu forecasting the opposite to what Labour would really do THERE have been 'defining moments' of this general election...

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Peter Hitchens says a little-noticed link between abortion and Ireland in American politics bodes ill for Ulster under Tony Blair THE MOST important moment of Tony Blair's...

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Sarah Whitebloom finds out how the grander civil servants pass the time during the election YOU WERE an insider, at the centre of events. People of international stature were...

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Attlee and Driberg, the good and bad sides of the Old Labour coin PAUL JOHNSON P erhaps unwittingly, Tom and Clem, the fashionable play about Attlee and Driberg is an elegy...

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War's a chancy business, so the Tories leave their winning general out of battle CHRISTOPHER FILDES K enneth Clarke has been left out of battle. He has had his own skirmishes,...

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Sir: In the last 20 years can there have been

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a single group who have been more publicly humiliated and discredited than the intel- lectual Left? That Robert Taylor was able to find anyone willing to be quoted as such is...

Sir: In her haste to poke fun at the 'antics'

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of the BEF (Letters, 12 April), Alice von Schlieffen has peddled one moth-eaten myth, that the BEF from 1914 to 1918 was led by a cabal of cavalrymen'. Of the army commanders in...

The best-laid plans . . .

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Sir: Churchill may well have predicted the failure of the German offensive (Letters, 19 April), but was this anything other than an inspired belligerent guess? In view of his...

LETTERS Intellectual disgrace

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Sir: I congratulate Robert Taylor on reveal- ing the intellectual bankruptcy of the so- called intellectuals of the Left (`Chattering against Mr Blair', 19 April). No wonder New...

Sir: I was amused to open my Spectator and find

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that — in a spirited attempt to identify non-Conservative opponents of New Labour — Robert Taylor casts me in that role. Sorry to be a wet blanket, but Mr Tay- lor's...

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Otto's story

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Sir: Hugh Trevor-Roper should be congrat- ulated on his excellent article about Otto John ('Why Otto John defected thrice', 12 April). While I was Daily Telegraph corre-...

Diplomatic response

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Sir: Petronella Wyatt invites me to com- ment (Another voice, 29 March) on a frag- ment of a letter written in 1763 by a Vene- tian woman complaining about Venetian men. Ms...

Keep it in the family

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Sir: It would be easy and satisfying to reply in kind to Paul Johnson's personal attack (And another thing, 19 April), but I will not do so. I have always been rather fond of Mr...

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I rather think Mr Will Hutton, the editor, is to blame for this Self-inflicted wound on the Observer S TEPHEN GLOVER A ny rising young novelist with children and an ex-wife...

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If we're going to have constant referenda, it's best if they're run by the government, not the media PEREGRINE WORSTHORNE W hen general elections were the only occasions for...

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Some revised versions David Caute VIRTUAL HISTORY: ALTERNATIVES AND COUNTERFACTUALS edited by Niall Ferguson Picador, f20, pp. 548 T his is another novelty item in the post-...

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Not knowing when to stop

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Alberto Manguel THE DISCOVERY OF HEAVEN by Harry Mulisch, translated by Paul Vincent Viking, £17, pp. 728 A mong the many branches of fantastic literature, theology is surely...

Deception has some redeeming qualities

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Barry Unsworth KNIGHTS OF THE CROSS by Piers Paul Read Weidenfeld, £16.99, pp. 311 M r Read has set himself a difficult task in this novel. His protagonist-narrator, Michael...

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Through a nightmare to Lilliput

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Andrew Barrow A WAVERING GRACE: A VIETNAMESE FAMILY IN WAR AND PEACE by Gavin Young Viking, £17.99, pp. 238 T he horrors of Vietnam dominated the media during my formative...

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All children but his own

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Juliet Townsend SIGNALLING FROM MARS: THE LETTERS OF ARTHUR RANSOME edited by Hugh Brogan Cape, £17.99, pp. 377 T hey are part of childhood for so many of us. Captain John,...

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Life at the Blunt end

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Anita Brookner THE UNTOUCHABLE by John Banville Picador, £15.99, pp. 405 h e first thing to be noticed about this enthralling novel is that it is properly writ- ten: John...

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Et in Orcadia ego

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David Profumo FOR THE ISLANDS I SING by George Mackay Brown John Murray, 176, pp. 192 W en he died last year at the age of 74, the Orcadian writer George Mackay Brown left...

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The romance of the place

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Mary Keen THE LOST GARDENS OF HELIGAN by Tim Smit Channel FourlGollancz, £20, pp. 269 E nglish gardens', wrote Goethe, 'are not made to a plan, but to a feeling in the head'....

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Your young men shall see visions

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Raymond Carr LIVING HISTORY by Chaim Herzog Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 448 C haim Herzog has seen the Zionist dreams of his youth fulfilled: the establish- ment of a Jewish state in...

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Poise 'n' pen

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Neil Hamilton ONE MAN'S WORD by Ian Greer Deutsch, £15.99, pp. 239 P oliticians like me open contemporary political biographies as though they were written in Arabic. We start...

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Love abideth foremost Robin Holloway says he took a long, devious route before reaching a fair view of Brahms B rahms's reputation is so secure as not to need the factitious...

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The Return of Ulysses (Opera North) Otello (Covent Garden) Monteverdi marvel Michael Tanner O pera North has scored a triumph of almost unimaginable proportions with their...

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Material Culture (Hayward Gallery, till 18 May) Poppet Green is alive and well Martin Gayford A the start of Evelyn Waugh's Put Out More Flags, Basil Seal awakens in the stu-...

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Vertigo (PG, selected cinemas) Hitchcock possessed Mark Steyn T he return of Hitchcock is always wel- come, but the return of Vertigo (1958) is especially so. Gorgeously...

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The Herbal Bed (Duchess) The Goodbye Girl (Albery) Cracked (Hampstead) Ramble round Shakespeare Sheridan Morley A the Duchess, Peter Whelan's The Herbal Bed is a gripping...

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How did it happen? Simon Hoggart A s anyone who works for the BBC will tell you, the Corporation is now overrun with accountants, consultants, project directors, resource...

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First in, first out Michael Vestey M ost of us know the old joke where the regiment finds new, more sensitive ways of breaking the news of a parent's death to the ranks....

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Not motoring

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To join or not to join? Gavin Stamp H alf way along the south side of Pall Mall is a great palace of Portland stone which, more than any other building, epito- mises the vices...

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High life

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Do your bit! Taki C oming back to good old London always makes me feel good, and I'm look- ing forward — despite the foregone conclu- sion — to the election night party at...

The turf

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Dispelling a myth Robin Oakley R acehorses, sadly, cannot talk to us and tell us whether they feel like running out of their skins or whether it is truly a bad coat day. Those...

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Low life

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Under stress Jeffrey Bernard S ick and tired of feeling sick and tired, I took a small overdose of sleeping pills and painkillers last weekend in the hope of rediscovering...

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Country life

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Blast from the past Leanda de Lisle `You know that certain children from the middle Biggles period used to blow their noses in these expensive pieces of linen? I suspect they...


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Spot the lady Andrew Robson Jimmy Cayne, head of Bear Stearns in New York, is fanatical about bridge. He com- petes at the very top level in America and will hate himself for...

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Gift from the Greeks Auberon Waugh T he average price on the sample case of £5.51 the bottle shows a slight increase on Smedley's offer of last June, but this is almost...

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WHEN I visited Warsaw for an opera festi- val ten

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years ago there was plenty of opera, but precious little of anything else. The streets were empty, almost bereft of private cars, food shop windows were devoid of anything...

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J •30{,li NMI M.0101 WWI

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URA 1 ISLE OF 1B SISCAL11411S(01.SNISIII COMPETITION Ruthless rhymes Jaspistos IN COMPETITION NO. 1979 you were invited to write verses in the style of Harry Graham of...


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IN-THE-STRAND SIMPSON'S IN-THE-STRAND CHESS Katabasis Raymond Keene THE ELITE tournament at Dos Hermanas in Spain has resulted in a fine performance by two young players,...

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A first prize of £30 and a bottle of Graham's Late Bottled Vintage 1991 Port for the first correct solution opened on 12 May, with two runners-up prizes of £20 (or, for UK...

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Keepers weepers Simon Barnes JAMES the Worst; Calamity James; Cow- boy Keeper; Look Back in Clanger. Who'd be a goalkeeper? David James, goalie for Liverpool, had a poor match...


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Dear Mary.. . Q. Recently at a party I was asked to dance by a very unattractive MP. I did not enjoy the physical intimacy of the experience nor being the cynosure of all eyes...