Taki

How to win

Broadsides from the pirate captain of the Jet Set

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Trust Tony Blair to call an election the day after The Spectator goes to press: 5 May is a lousy day for conservatives the world over. Karl Marx was born 5 May 1818 in Trier, the Rhineland. The only good thing about the date took place in 1816, when ‘O Solitude’, John Keats’s first published poem, appeared in the Examiner. Mind you, bad day or not, I’m rooting for only two men, the sainted editor and Michael Gove. Both will be elected, and that’s my final word.

Michael Howard I will not feel sorry for. Although I know nothing about business, I used to use a sports metaphor when my father asked me why my brother always got it wrong in shipping. If you’re afraid to lose, you can’t win. I learned this in karate. If one is too cautious during an attack, you will be countered — and badly. One either waits to counterpunch, or one attacks all out. Anything in between is a sure loser.

This obviously applies to Michael Howard. As a lawyer he learnt early to play it safe. Playing it safe when behind is as dumb a move as gambling when way ahead. What was Howard thinking when in recent days he talked about increasing spending — and at a World Poverty event, to boot. He asked for £700 million extra foreign aid so some African dictator can send it to a Swiss bank pronto. Maybe someone slipped some LSD in his drink. Here are English middle-class and mid-income voters trying to make ends meet while working their arse off, and Howard wants to spend more money on foreign aid. Anyway, I thought most foreigners were living in England, and the only ones who stayed behind were the dictators.

No, Blair called the election on 5 May in order to embarrass our F