Five days after 9/11, early on a Sunday evening, a small group of senior CIA officers drove from their headquarters in Langley, Virginia, to the British embassy at 3100 Massachusetts Avenue NW in Washington DC, in order to brief MI6 on the agency’s planned response to the attacks.
Tag Archives: UK
Deregulation, the government and many newspapers assure us, saves money and time and reduces frustration. That’s the theory. But, as I see every day, it doesn’t quite work like this.
My youngest daughter’s school has been trying to protect its children from the toxic cloud in which they work and play. The teachers know how much damage traffic pollution does to their lungs, hearts and brains. They know that it reduces their cognitive development, their ability to concentrate and their capacity for exercise. They know it’s a minor miracle that no one has yet been crushed by the cars jostling to get as close as possible to the school gates. But thanks to the government’s refusal to legislate, there is little they can do. Far from freeing us from effort, the absence of regulation wastes everybody’s time.
At my suggestion, the school invited the charity Living Streets to come in and enthuse the children about walking or cycling to school. I attended the first assembly, at which one of their organisers spoke. She was lively, funny and captivating. With the help of a giant puppet, and the promise of badges if they joined in, the children went wild for her and for the cause. The school, led by its committed headteacher, has done everything it can to support the scheme.
What does it mean to love your country? Is it the sort of love that means you never have to say you’re sorry? The late, great critic AA Gill once observed that just as the Inuit people are rumoured to have dozens of words for snow, none of which actually mean “snow”, the British have “many, many” uses of the word “sorry”, but are somehow unable to apologise when it actually matters. It matters now. It matters because we have made a terrible mistake, and as the flaming omnishambles of the Brexit negotiations roars on, the one option that almost nobody seems to want to discuss is the one that would cause the most embarrassment in the short term and the least pain in the long run: cancelling the whole thing and moving on.
Having lived in Belfast at the height of the Troubles, I see how Brexit could push us toward war in Ireland again
Everything wrong with Theresa May’s ridiculous assertion that we should feel proud of the Balfour Declaration
So now it’s time for us all to follow Theresa May’s bone-headed suggestion that we feel “proud” of the iniquitous Balfour Declaration on its hundredth anniversary this week. The Israelis will be celebrating – and why not, for it set Britain’s seal on the future Israeli state in Palestine. Perhaps Israel would not have been created without it. But the fearful suffering and tragedy of the Palestinian refugees which was to follow in the coming years suggest that the Balfour letter – through its very wording – was certain to create a terrible wrongdoing which to this day curses the place we used to call the Holy Land.
Even more disgraceful than May’s foolish words – for many Britons may well feel shame or prefer silence when they contemplate this episode of history – were Mark Regev’s remarks this week that citizens of the United Kingdom, to which he is currently accredited as ambassador – are “extremists” if they oppose the Balfour Declaration.
The standard complaint against the cohort now entering its thirties is that we spend our time hiding from the student loans company in our parents’ basements and making five-pound artisanal lattes for our cats. The predictable reply is that it’s easy to say that when you enjoyed a free university place, a stable job and a livable welfare system to fall back on, and the house you bought for a tenner and change in 1972 is now worth two million or more
FOR once, the Daily Mail and the Guardian, British newspapers of the right and left, agree. In the former, Alex Brummer says “IMF’s new line of thinking of tax should please Corbyn & co” while the latter says that the IMF “analysis supports tax strategy of Labour in UK”. Both are responding to the IMF’s fiscal monitor which does indeed say that there would appear to be scope for increasing the progressivity of income taxation without significantly hurting growth for countries wishing to enhance income redistribution.
With her tough talk on Brexit and cozying-up to Donald Trump, British Prime Minister Theresa May does not go out of her way to elicit sympathy from progressives. But following her disastrous speech to the Tory party conference in October, you couldn’t help but feel bad for her. A litany of mishaps left the few who could stick with it until the end watching through parted fingers.
May I speak freely? Of course I may. In the course of the next eighty lines, as long as I don’t libel anyone with enough money to sue this magazine, I can pretty much say whatever I like. That’s news, however, to a certain spluttering centre-right chorus, which has accepted as doctrine the idea that our political conversation is drowning in censorship – from the left, from activists, and particularly from students.The higher education minister, Jo “Brother-of-the-more-famous” Johnson, in the absence of any actual policies, is apparently looking to ban “no-platforming and safe spaces” from British campuses. The nonsensical consensus amongst the centre-right that today’s students are a bunch of censorious cry-babies plays well with the base, so Johnson Minor has jumped on the rickety bandwagon barreling down the road to the palace of convenient fictions, where a delicate banquet of delusion will be served to those whose cash and status protect them from ever having to hear their opinions questioned by a bunch of rowdy kids.
Brexit, Krexit and Crexit: Britain leaves the EU, Kurdistan declares independence from Iraq, Catalonia secedes from Spain – three massive political changes either underway or put on the political agenda by recent referendums. Three very different countries, but in all cases a conviction among a significant number of voters that they would be better off on their own outside any measure of control by a supranational authority like the EU or a nation state like Iraq or Spain.
Referendums have a lot to answer for: no wonder divided governments, demagogues and dictators have such a fondness for them. They have the appearance of popular democracy and give the impression that important decisions are finally being made by reducing complex questions into an over-simple “yes” or “no”. They make public opinion easy to manipulate because what voters are being asked to assent to is most often wishful thinking and what they are opposing is a rag-bag of unrelated grievances. There are a great many unhappy and dissatisfied people in the three countries which have voted in referendums in the last fifteen months, but no reason to suppose that their vote will make them happier or better off.