2. The Tartan Taleban. Peter Oborne took Sir Walter Scott’s Chronicles of the Canongate with him to Iraq, and it struck him how the allied battle against Islamic insurgents “is, in essential respects, identical to the battle between the British redcoats of the Scottish Highlanders of the 18th century…. Scott would surely have made a hero of Mullah Omar, founder of the Taleban.”
3. James Forsyth on the next government battle: localism. He looks into the agenda of Greg Clark, one of the most interesting of the new ministers, and his plans for an army of ‘bureaucracy busters’. While their name conjures up songs by Ray Parker Jr, they are more like the A-Team. If you have a problem (ie, you want to sort something out locally and you’re encountering red rape) and no one else can help, then you can call the BBs. It is a plan, James says, “intended to give people rights against government at every level.”
4. Jonathan Powell’s confession. That’s how Allan Mallison regards his latest book The New Machiavelli. It is, he says, “a light academic-historical cloak for another set of political memoirs” but nonetheless tells us, through the way it is written, that “New Labour resembles the civil administration of a foreign power brought in to govern a newly-conquered state. Its members know little of life beyond the capital. But, worse, they ‘hardly have any experience of government or, indeed, running anything.” Not, or course, that anyone could tell.
5. Handling Brits abroad. Rod Liddle comes to the defenece of the Maldives barman who ‘married’ a visiting couple, but denounced them in his mother tounge as infidel (see the ceremony here). Rod says he laughed more than any time “since those Muslim medical students tried to blow up Glasgow Airport and succeeded only in setting themselves alight and getting beaten up by passers-by.” He was married in the Maldives himself once, “the ceremony lasted 45 minutes - only slightly less than the marriage itself” and wonders what the locals - from Tallinn to Bratislava - make of “male Westerners on the razz” and of the “Spanish municipalities on the Costa del Crime spoiled forever by two generations of English thugs.”
6. Drug prices. In the light of the debate about whether booze is more harmful Barometer, our statistics column, gives the street prices of various drugs. In ascending order: Speed (0.1g), £1.31. Skunk cannabis, £2.33 for a spliff (ie, 1/80th of an ounze, and no jokes about mean Scottish measures please). Lager: £2.59 a pint. Bitter: £2.96 a pint. Cocaine, £4.27 a line. Heroin £5.57 for a 0.1g hit and LSD £5.64 a tab. And as for what’s the most harmful? I leave that to Bernie, one of our cartoonists:-