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There’s a revolution — in banking

In 1925 Winston Churchill, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, famously declared that he wished to see ‘finance less proud and industry more content’. In the light of the financial crisis, much the same refrain has been heard from policymakers and politicians over the past five years. How are we to avoid repeating the mistakes of

The one good thing we’re leaving in Afghanistan

 Kabul A strange new institution is rising from the dust in the mountains west of Kabul. The foreigners here call it the Sandhurst in the Sand. Those who work at the new British-led military school, which welcomed its first cadets last week, prefer the more cumbersome ‘ANA-OA’, short for Afghan National Army Officers Academy (though

David Cameron has lost the countryside

When hunt supporters visit the office of a Tory cabinet minister these days, they like to turn up armed and dangerous. And so it was when a delegation from the Countryside Alliance arrived for a private meeting with the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson a few weeks ago, wielding an alarming new poll of their membership.

Are you a Yuffie? 

I remember, during one of my last classes at UCL, the topic of conversation turned from the cultural implications of Algerian independence to the subject of life after university. Our lecturer, a grumpy ‘progressive Hoxhaist’, told us that things had never been worse, and out of the 20 or so students in the room, only

The fight for your life is now raging

Beneath your noses, a great change in this country is being planned. Secret polls have been taken, and a private member’s bill has been tabled. The euthanasia lobby is limbering up for the fight of its life: to change the law for once and for all. The Assisted Dying Bill, introduced by former Lord Chancellor

Notes on … Christmas shopping in Bruges

Most Belgians of my acquaintance tend to be rather disparaging about Bruges. It’s a theme park, they say, a Flemish Disneyland. Antwerp is livelier, Ghent is more authentic. A lot of its historic buildings are actually clever fakes. All of this is true, but that doesn’t stop it being one of Europe’s most beautiful cities

The joy of cemeteries

The idea of writing Finding the Plot: 100 Graves to Visit Before You Die first came to Ann Treneman when she was chatting with Tony Wright, formerly Labour MP for Cannock Chase. They started talking about Birmingham and she happened to remark: ‘Did you know the man who invented Cluedo came from Bromsgrove?’ His name,

How mansion taxes will make us all poorer

There are few things most of us enjoy more than watching the value of our houses rocket. Every homeowner will have felt the pulse of excitement that comes from a mental calculation of how much has been added to their net worth by the latest bulletin from Rightmove or the Halifax. Yet fast forward two

Should you invest in nuclear power companies? 

Power companies are the new banks as far as the public is concerned — but does that mean they’re not worth putting your money in? In any troubled marketplace there are always stocks to be picked, but current political turbulence makes that an unusually tough challenge in the UK energy sector. Much anger is currently

How to make money from the Scottish referendum

The best time to buy an asset is when no one else can stomach it. Great fortunes are made in uncertainty. The self-made rich aren’t the ones who hung around on the edge of an iffy situation thinking about the possible disasters. They’re the ones who calculated the odds and bought before anyone else was