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M r lain Duncan Smith noted that 'a small group of

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my parliamentary colleagues have decided consciously to undermine my leadership . ; he concluded: 'My message is simple and stark, unite or die.' His statement came the day...

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B esides secret agents themselves, who face assassination should their identities become known, no man can have been more grateful for the existence of the Official Secrets Act...

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in all seriousness, that he believed all the lost jobs in the steel industry could be replaced by 'the leisure sector'. My question was very simple. Where does the wealth come...

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Portillo approaches the Tory party as a joyrider approaches someone else's car

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ANDREW GIMSON T he manner in which lain Duncan Smith turned and faced his tormentors on Tuesday was reminiscent of the bravery shown by Prang, a bull terrier kept by his father...

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George W. has learned it, Gordon Brown is learning: governments can always get through money

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CHRISTOPHER FILDES T New York he age of prosperity, so Al Gore promised, was only just starting: 'You ain't seen nothin' yet?' In a sense, he was right: we hadn't. Two years...

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Simon Heifer on the real motives behind the decision to halt the trial of Burrell the butler ONE of those bad courtroom dramas on television might have used the scene as a...

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Spectator theatre critic Toby Young believes London is losing its place as a centre of dramatic excellence WHEN I first told my friends I'd agreed to become a theatre critic...

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Kate Chisholm is furious about Red Ken's congestion charges — and predicts that they will just make matters worse WELCOME to the Middle Ages. London is about to re-enter the...

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HURRAH! Mark Steyn said the elections would be bad for Bush; in fact, as he is happy to report, they were a triumph New Hampshire WITH hindsight, the decisive moment came...

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How on earth can the royal family survive more calamitous revelations?

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STEPHEN GLOV ER T he Burrell affair illustrates how much the press has changed over the past 20 or 30 years, and how powerful it has become. Not very long ago the majority of...

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Mind your language

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`THAT's telling 'em,' said my husband, rubbing his hands. He is something of a connoisseur of angular language and enjoyed an inscription in an old book I showed him. It was in...

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Martin O'Hagan's death has been officially mourned by London. The truth, says Barrie Penrose, is that he was an IRA murderer MARTIN O'HAGAN slithered to the ground after...

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Nick Herbert says that Tog modernisers are happy to accept tax hikes and put up with outdated public services THE other week I was invited on to Radio Five Live's Nicky...

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Banned wagon

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ONE of my wife's ancestors was consumed by cannibals in the South Seas in the mid-18th century. I don't think the government of Tonga, or wherever the meal took place, would be...

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Tim Luckhurst hopes that England can avoid Scotland's problem — too many thick graduates and not enough plumbers THERE is an enduring mystery about the resignation of the...

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Neil Clark says that the real problem with New Labour is that no one in the administration has ever smoked a Woodbine OF course it's a matter of individual freedom; of a...

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Andrew Sutton on the miseries, corruption and human-rights abuses in Kosovo, the UN's first-ever protectorate Pristina I REACHED what remained of the fireravaged train just as...

Second opinion

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AS everyone knows, or ought to know, abortion is a woman's right. But some men go further, and say that it is a duty. Moreover, they are prepared to put their boot where their...

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Robert Bruce on how Brakspear's is destroying its ancient and much-loved brewery for short-term financial gain HENLEY-ON-THAMES in Oxfordshire is one of the great classic...

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Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor? Thoughts on lost careers, opportunities missed

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PAUL JOHNSON Ha ve you ever reflected that you might have led an entirely different life? Done something else? Dangerous thoughts. Sometimes I wish 1 had been an architect....

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Who are those dumbed-down authoritarians?

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Easy. They are our moral guardians ROD LIDDLE I f there's one thing about the Angus Deayton affair which was less edifying than the coke and the whores and the multiple — if...

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Mary Wakefield talks to Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who intends to defend Scott of the Antarctic against his cynical enemies I FIND it difficult to remember, in retrospect, why I...

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Ancient & modern

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JULIAN HORN-SMITH, second-incommand to Sir Chris Gent at the mighty Vodaphone, has been extolling the virtues of being vice-admiral rather than admiral, on the grounds that a...

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Nicolas Gibb says it's time MPs stopped putting party tribal loyalties before honesty THE British people are rightly cynical about politicians. We have all heard people say,...

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Once fathers taught their sons the mysteries of life; now fathers have to look to their sons for help

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MATTHEW PARRIS T his is a reflection on boys and fathers. It may be different for girls. See what you think. Is ours the first generation, or the first for a long time, when...

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Shallow Patten

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From Mr Herb Greer Sir: I was bemused (again) to read Chris Patten's views ('Commissioner Petain fights back', 2 November) on a) the Middle East and b) the chimerous thing...

From Professor A. Banoyee

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Sir: Boris Johnson in his interview with Commissioner Patten perpetuates the common British misconception that American universities 'don't rely on state funding'. In fact, the...

Nannies can deceive

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From Mr Stanley Brodie, QC Sir: Norman Scott (Letters, 2 November) may have been an excellent nanny to Jeremy Scott's baby 35 years ago, but that does not necessarily mean that...

His holiness

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From His Honour Malcolm Potter Sir: In the course of his page-long book review of A Moral Reckoning (Books, 2 November), which he uses as a pretext for yet another attack on the...

EU pipe dreams

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From Mr C. Francis Warren Sir: David Marsh (`The currency with a hole in it', 26 October) summarises the essence of his long article: 'Put simply, Britain would trade German...

Keep a stiff upper lip

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From Mr John Laurenson Sir: I am bewildered by a series of articles in The Spectator regarding the uncertain future of the Conservative party. Look at France and take heart....

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Aussie twaddle

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From Mrs E. Rawlence Sir: As a fellow Australian I can only deplore the extent to which Michael Duffy ('Grief is good in Australia', 26 October), and many in the Australian...

From Mr Derrick Wisking Sir: I commend and support the

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bulk of Michael Duffy's comments. However, he gives his political game away when he comments about our Prime Minister, John Howard, that he is 'an inarticulate man'. My...

Life's like that

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From Mrs Barbara Black Sir: I am heartily sick of articles such as that by Michael Hanlon (`Baby gloom'. 19 October) warning women of the dangers of postponing childbearing. In...

Bloody amazing

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From Mr Tony Kench Sir: Jasper Griffin (13A stands for bloody awful', 26 October) seems to be aggrieved that BA's website sold him a ticket for the wrong date. He misleads us,...

Ecce Wallinger

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From Mrs Christopher Morgan Sir: In response to Mark Glazebrook's article (Arts, 19 October), although a giant pigeon might be a suitable memorial to Ken Livingstone's...

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Confessions of a dust jacket junkie

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David Lovibond on the highs and lows of being addicted to collecting books LIKE all junkies, my most important relationship is with my dealer. He must be cajoled and wheedled...

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Ruling the waves

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James Leith THE first time I fell in love was on board The Windsor Castle, somewhere between Cape Town and Las Palmas. I was 13, she was 12 and we never spoke. I just gazed and...

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Sinking spirits

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Thomas Cussons TO say that there is a crisis in the Cognac world is to understate the case, The word scarcely hints at the sorry spectacle that is unfolding. This is more than...

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Lights fantastic

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Mark Palmer THERE was a problem. Not, in the grand scheme of things, a problem of any huge significance but a problem nonetheless, and action was required. 'I can't get the...

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Perfect time

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Jonathan Ray AS befitted someone who spent half his life looking at it, my father had a beautiful watch. Although I don't recall the make, I do remember how sleek and elegant...

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Into the woods

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Leon Mangasarian GERMANY's last Kaiser, Wilhelm II, shot so much game before his 1918 abdication that it's hard to imagine how he had time to run, let alone ruin, the nation....

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Coffin fits

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Kate Berridge ALONG with pest control and locksmiths, undertakers specialise in crisis management, being called upon in circumstances where distress and vulnerability blur the...

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Heart of gold

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Chablis NO one would have thought it likely that the relatively conservative woman I was at 55 would do an about-face two years later and become an escort. At 57? Do I hear...

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Asking the awkward questions about history and us

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Jake Auerbach STORIES OF ART by James Elkins Routledge, £11.99. pp. 144, ISBN 0415939437 A rt can raise our spirits, stimulate our intelligence and increase our knowledge; it...

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The surreal road to God

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Diana Hendry THE HAT TATTOO by Russell Hoban Bloomsbury, £15.99, pp. 238, ISBN 0747560226 I f Jung were alive, he and Hoban would have become great buddies. Of all contemporary...

His biting is immortal

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Harry Mount CHANCE WITNESS by Matthew Parris Viking, £18.99, pp. 503. ISBN 0670894400 I f Harold Pinter's plays are about the weasel under the cocktail cabinet, Matthew...

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The man who hated being typecast and was

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Jonathan Cecil ARTHUR LOWE by Graham Lord Orion, £16.99, pp, 258, ISBN 075284184X W henever, searching through the television channels for something worth watching, I come...

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Always the scene of great events

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Douglas Johnson SEVEN AGES OF PARIS: PORTRAIT OF A CITY by Alistair Horne Macmillan, .i25, pp. 520. ISBN 0333725778 T he Italian author, Alberto Arbasino, has recently...

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The longing to be liked

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Matthew Parris THE POLITICAL ANIMAL by Jeremy Paxman Michael Joseph, £20, pp. 349, ISBN 0718144228 T his cracking book is missing something and the want is telling. Jeremy...

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The great little Welsh conjuror

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Charles Kennedy LLOYD GEORGE: WAR LEADER by John Grigg Allen Lane, £25, pp. 669. ISBN 071399343X I t is a discomforting thought that, had the present fashion for...

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Verdict as open as ever

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Richard Shone PORTRAIT OF A KILLER: JACK THE RIPPER — CASE CLOSED by Patricia Cornwell LittleBrown, £17.99, pp. 387, ISBN 0316861596 R eaders of the thrillers of the American...

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Stand and consider

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Martin Gayford believes we should be wary of people who believe they can define 'art' F or some of us, the words of Kim Howells, junior culture minister responsible for tourism...

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Creative outsiders

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Andrew Lambirth T he East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing was founded in 1937 by two remarkable artists, Cedric Morris and Lett Haines, and was described by them in a...

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Reel time

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Elisabeth Anderson I t might seem rather perverse to put on an exhibition which has to be seen in the dark in a town renowned for its beautiful and constantly changing light....

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Respecting MacMillan

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Giannandrea Poesio ayerling is, arguably, one of the most spectacular three-act ballets Kenneth MacMillan created, as well as one of the most captivating examples of...

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More haste . . .

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Peter Phillips I t has been two years now since Macmillan published their giant new edition of Grove's Dictionaey of Music and Musicians (the seventh in the series). Normally...

Time to reflect

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Michael Tanner T he Goodman Theatre has brought Philip Glass's new opera Galileo Galilei to the Barbican Theatre, in an irreproachable production. How often I wished during the...

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Dissing Shakespeare

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Toby Young R omeo & Juliet: The Musical is so staggeringly bad it has a real chance of becoming a camp classic, the Springtime For Hitler of the London Christmas season....

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Literary lessons

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Mark Steyn 0 range County features some of Hollywood's hottest young talents. Or they were when the film was made: its British release has been postponed so often, they may be...

Truly masterful

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Harry Eyres H ighlight, and wonder, of the radio week for me was the Soviet pianist Maria Yudina, vintage artist on Radio Three's CD Masters. I'd never heard of Yudina until a...

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Farewell, Ricky

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Simon Hoggart I n The Office (BBC 2) last week David Brent was fired sitting at his desk while, we learned when he stood up, wearing a yellow ostrich costume. This week, in the...

No one's perfect

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Robin Oakley E verybody complains that politicians don't admit their mistakes. But don't let me hear any jockeys complaining as the post mortems continue on this year's...

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Family values

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Taki N ice to be back in London, if only for a week. Not so nice to have to read about such low lifers as Angus Deayton and John Leslie, not to mention the feuding Spencer...

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Dead cool

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Jeremy Clarke T hree times a week I lie on the floor and pretend to be dead. Shavasana, or corpse pose, is the concluding pose of the Astanga yoga sequence I'm learning down at...

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In the steps of Anatole

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Petronella Wyatt I t is strange how many odd apples there are in a Burrell full of butlers. My father made all his butlers sign confidentiality agreements when I was a child....

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Deborah Ross GOD, [hate the end of October, beginning of November. So glad it's over. You know, all those fireworks going bang, bang, fizz, bang, BANG!, fizz, fizz, whoosh,...

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Simon Hoggart FOR ages I've been wanting to make an all-sparkling wine offer, and here it is for Christmas. It's been put together by Amanda Skinner of John Armit Wines, the...

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Matchless in his elegance

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Michael Henderson ENGLAND's cricketers began another series against Australia this week, knowing that they have not beaten their oldest opponents since 1987. Not many people...

Q. During August there was a time when members of

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Brooks's were allowed into White's, A Test match was on and I wanted to see what the score was but the gun, or operator, to switch on the set was resting in the hands of a...

Q. My 'partner' and I have a joint income of

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something over £500,000 a year. While not self-conscious about this, we sometimes worry about whether or not we are 'rich' and accordingly should feel rather guilty. Have you...

Q. A fellow journalist friend often has difficulties thinking up

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ideas for his column and has taken to making up quotes from me when he feels in need of a story. It would be absurd to write to the editor about such a petty gripe, and when I...

Q. What is the fashionable way to announce the death

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of an acquaintance? I dislike the expression 'passed away'. 'He's popped his clogs' seems facetious. 'He's gone to Heaven' seems a bit sickly. Can you suggest an alternative?...