6 MAY 2006

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System? What system?

The Spectator

T he foreign prisoners scandal has revealed nothing less than a crisis of governance: the fundamental incapacity of what ministers feebly call ‘the system’ to respond to a...

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The Spectator

T hird-world airports are more satisfactory than ours in every department. They are more efficiently run. There is no need to walk several miles to your departure gate. They...

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The idea that Brown’s succession will save Labour is pure fiction

The Spectator

W hen the last Conservative government sacrificed its reputation for competence, it was at least for a worthy cause. On Black Wednesday, British monetary policy was rescued from...

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A s I write, no one knows what the result of

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the local elections will be, but it seems safe to predict that the turnout will not be high. Politically minded people tend to worry about low turnout because they find it hard...

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THURSDAY The government is in ‘meltdown’ and we are marking the occasion with lots of glacier jokes (Steve not amused) and by gazing at our collective navel. Much argument...

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Blessed are the spin doctors

The Spectator

Austen Ivereigh , who is leading the battle against the movie of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code in this country, reveals how its principal target — the controversial Catholic...

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Opus Dei is scary because it’s so normal

The Spectator

Mary Wakefield visits one of the group’s halls of residence and meets not albino assassins but a more pious version of Trinny and Susannah A fter three hours with Opus Dei...

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Immigration, Iraq and oil: a bitter brew for Bush

The Spectator

Republicans are bitterly divided about immigrants, and the public is blaming the President for high petrol prices. Irwin Stelzer reports on ugly times in Washington D on’t...

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Mind your language

The Spectator

On BBC television’s Newsnight they have got one of their reporters to live for a year ‘ethically’. By this they do not mean that he must remain faithful to his wife,...

The future of Europe will be decided by tomatoes

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David Rennie says that the euro has been a public relations disaster because consumers associate it with the rising price of ordinary goods Ioannina, Greece L ike a penitent...

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The real disgrace is a fit of bogus morality about Prescott

The Spectator

Rod Liddle say that — whatever his political failures — the Deputy Prime Minister is the victim of a deplorably hypocritical press assault I spent Bank Holiday Monday trying...

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Expel foreign crooks?

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No, we’re far too nice Tom Stacey , a prison visitor for 30 years, says that jails devote scandalous resources to ‘diversity’. No wonder the Home Office has so little...

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Prepare for coalition

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From William MacDougall Sir: I hope Fraser Nelson is mistaken in his talk of a ‘Lib Dem Test’ for Tory policies (‘Cameron’s secret plan’, 29 April). Of course the...

PC Beeb

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From Colin Broughton Sir: Rod Liddle is right in suggesting that the fiction of the BBC’s impartiality should be addressed by more openness (‘BBC staff’s views should be...

Fascists are socialists

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From Frederick Forsyth Sir: Lord Tebbit (Letters, 29 April) is quite right to rebuke idle journalism which relentlessly repeats untruths instead of analysing the meaning of the...

Lions and donkeys

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From Sir Simon Day Sir: I was most interested by the article by Lord Ashcroft to mark the 150th anniversary of the Victoria Cross (‘Conspicuous bravery celebrated’, 22...

Freudian quip

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From William Oddie Sir: Roger Scruton (‘An unhappy birthday to Sigmund the Fraud’, 29 April) could have quoted G.K. Chesterton, who prophetically warned against most of the...

Little Americans

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From Steve Spurrell Sir: Allow me to clear up Jason Boatright’s misunderstanding about the ‘strange criticisms’ Europeans so often make of Americans (Letters, 22 April)....

Still alive

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From Timothy Williams Sir: Frederic Raphael writes: ‘Papon was tried and condemned for war crimes only as an old man, in the late 1990s, and died in prison’ (Books, 29...

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My fantasy Cabinet would be a ministry of all the failures

The Spectator

M ost of us know what it is to finish a task undertaken for the first time, having made every mistake in the book, and regret we are unlikely ever to have to do this job again....

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Galbraith versus Friedman: the great debate is not over yet

The Spectator

I would love to have been a fly on the wall — or a butler — at the US embassy in New Delhi in March 1963 when Milton Friedman, champion of laissez-faire, came to lunch with...

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High standards of grub are the norm in West Somerset

The Spectator

W andering through the Vale of Taunton recently, I reflected that few places on earth could be more fair in April-time. The trees were still mostly bare but the blossom was out...

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Looking back in judgment

The Spectator

Ferdinand Mount J OHN O SBORNE : A P ATRIOT FOR U S by John Heilpern Chatto, £25, pp. 528, ISBN 0701167807 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 T he heart starts to sink...

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We are told too that Faith, Osborne’s sister who died

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in infancy, was christened at St Martin’s in the Fields by ‘the Reverend Dick Sheppard, the England star cricketer’. In fact, David Sheppard, the great batsman, later...

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Wives and wallpaper

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Cressida Connolly A M UCH M ARRIED M AN by Nicholas Coleridge Orion, £12.99, pp. 464, ISBN 075285254X ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A nyone baffled by the...


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Sitting at the window shelling peas into a battered colander between my knees (sweet, pod-swollen peas of early May) till suddenly I find I’ve slipped away sixty years and...

Captain of a dreadful crew

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David Pryce-Jones B LACK S HIRT : S IR O SWALD M OSLEY AND B RITISH F ASCISM by Stephen Dorril Viking, £30, pp. 717, ISBN 0670869996 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655...

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No reason to pull down the statue

The Spectator

Noble Frankland B LOOD , S WEAT AND ARROGANCE by Gordon Corrigan Weidenfeld, £20, pp. 495, ISBN 029784623X V £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 C HURCHILL ’ S S ECRET W...

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A philosopher rescued from politicians

The Spectator

Martin Vander Weyer A DAM S MITH AND THE P URSUIT OF P ERFECT L IBERTY by James Buchan Profile, £14.99, pp. 198, ISBN 1861979053 ✆ £11.99 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I...

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Giants in petty strife

The Spectator

John Laughland R OUSSEAU ’ S D OG by David Edmonds and John Eidinow Faber, £15.99, pp. 405 ISBN 0571224059 ✆ £12.79 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 ‘I n London, if a...

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Ghosts from the past

The Spectator

Digby Durrant A S TAIN ON THE S ILENCE by Andrew Taylor Penguin/ Michael Joseph, £12.99, pp. 343, ISBN 0718147499 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 A ndrew Taylor...

Fighting a war in all but name

The Spectator

Alistair Irwin D USTY W ARRIORS by Richard Holmes HarperCollins, £20, pp. 385, ISBN 139780007212842 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 H IGHWAY TO H ELL by John Geddes...

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Serious but not solemn

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T owards the end of the Seventies I was asked to write a short, critical study of Muriel Spark’s novels. I accepted, with some trepidation and misgivings. At least I hope...

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Reassuring period pieces

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Andrew Lambirth on exhibitions focusing on the life and times of Shakespeare and Bellini H ere in London are two historical exhibitions which treat more of human identity,...

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American demands

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Peter Phillips T he war on terror means little to a lot of people, but to the itinerant musician at an airport it means ever-increasing hassle, rough treatment and delay. In...

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Moving on

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Alan Powers T wenty years ago, Britain was gripped by an architectural battle of styles. The Lloyd’s building in the City opened, representing the hopes for a resurgence of...

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Hitched and hooked

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Olivia Glazebrook Confetti 15, selected cinemas I don’t know quite what came over me during the screening of Confetti . I was well prepared: I had curled my lip and rolled...

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Missing erotica

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Giannandrea Poesio Companhia de Danga; Deborah Colker The Barbican D ance and eroticism have long gone hand in hand. For centuries, moving bodies have been regarded as...

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Cool cat

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Charles Spencer M y sister and I never had pets as children, or rather we had them but they didn’t tend to last very long. Indeed, no sooner had some dumb animal entered the...

Murder in the cathedral

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Michael Tanner King Canterbury Cathedral T here can’t be many more tantalising prospects for an operatic composer than writing an opera about the murder of Thomas Becket in...

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Fiddling with Milton

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Lloyd Evans Paradise Lost Watford Palace Trainspotting Hackney Empire, and touring Psychosis 4:48 Arcola G ood and evil slug it out in Paradise Lost . Good triumphs, just...

American beauty

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Michael Vestey A lthough I don’t buy it often, I’ve always liked the New Yorker magazine, not only for its good writing but also for the humour. The cartoons are...

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First impressions

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Simon Hoggart I greatly enjoyed The Impressionists (BBC1, Sunday) in spite of clunky lines such as ‘This is Paris, in 1862,’ and ‘Cézanne! Do you know everybody?’...

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Pipe dream

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Robin Oakley ‘T he unexpected ones are always the sweetest,’ said J.P. McManus after his Hasty Prince had followed half a dozen duck eggs by running out the 14–1 winner...

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Warrior writer

The Spectator

Taki New York I ’m in the middle of rereading Storm of Steel , Ernst Jünger’s account of his first world war experience, which was published in 1920 and immediately made...

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In at the deep end

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Jeremy Clarke O n Saturday morning I woke early. I was in a strange bed, in an unfamiliar bedroom, fully clothed, with my shoes on. Curled up beside me was a woman I didn’t...

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Testing times

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING B lossom by blossom, the season changes. So should the headlines. Fat chance. Weird times: roll up, roll up for a Lord’s cricket Test even before the mudlarks...

Q. While staying at a house party in Norfolk I

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lost a much loved and very expensive Georgina von Etzdorf scarf. And I’m afraid that when I couldn’t find it I suspected one of the other guests — who’d admired it and...

Q. What is the polite but expressive way to respond

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when people at parties surge up to me, faces aglow, leading me to believe they feel some joy in seeing me, and then proceed to make it clear as soon as they open their mouths...

Q. I belong to a modest lawn tennis club with

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grass courts and a few hard courts. Now that the season has come round again people are starting to say to me, ‘We must play tennis’ and I am aware that one of the reasons I...