The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes | 1 December 2007

It is undeniably enjoyable to see Gordon Brown squirming about the £600,000 his party will have to pay back to David Abrahams, the man of many aliases. If Peter Watt, the resigning general secretary of the Labour party, really, as he claims, saw something devious about the practice of taking money under other names only

Any other business

Time gentlemen please

Does anyone actually resign anymore? Nowadays a resignation is regarded not as a final act but as a temporary career break and that’s bad for business. Paul Gray – the former head of HM Revenue and Customs who ‘resigned’ two weeks ago after someone in his department posted the names, addresses and bank details of

People who put their trust in human power delude themselves

One thing history teaches is the transience and futility of power, and the ultimate impotence of those who exercise it. That is the lesson of the current King Tut exhibition. No group of sovereigns ever enjoyed the illusion of power more than the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, especially those of the 18th and 19th

The Liberal Democrats’ sound money man

I met Vincent Cable recently at a dinner party with a mixture of City and business bigwigs: a few FTSE-100 bosses, a smattering of hedge-fund tycoons, the odd private-equity baron. The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman was the only politician at the table and the debate inevitably focused on financial worries: the credit crunch, Northern Rock,

The end of the world is nigh

For a solvent mortgage lender to require emergency government support on a huge scale suggests that all is not well in our financial markets. This understatement matches the gorgeously hubristic claim from ‘Chuck’ Prince of Citigroup, America’s largest bank, in July, that ‘as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and

Free at last: the next web revolution

Edie G. Lush explains why we’re rarely asked to pay for online news and entertainment these days Amid the shockwaves caused by Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of Dow Jones, publisher of the Wall Street Journal, one significant policy shift attracted relatively little attention. When the ink finally dries on the deal, one of Murdoch’s first moves

Northern Rock’s blonde knight?

Is it time for a reassessment of Sir Richard Branson? Chosen by the Treasury as the ‘preferred bidder’ for Northern Rock, he’s back where he craves to be and so often manages to put himself: in the headlines. And like every time he grabs the nation’s attention, two quite different caricatures of him have been