In 1989, the year Soviet communism collapsed, John O’Sullivan, Margaret Thatcher’s former speechwriter, gave the world O’Sullivan’s First Law of Politics. ‘All organisations that are not actually right wing,’ he pronounced, ‘will over time become left wing.’ No one who watched Amnesty International’s descent from austere principle to cultural relativism can deny he spoke with a little truth. Yet if you listened carefully, you also caught notes of self-satisfaction and self-regard.
The Brexit ‘inner cabinet’ met on Monday. It was meant to be an important meeting, one which made some real progress on deciding what kind of economic relationship with the EU the UK is seeking. Senior civil servants had been told that the crucial topic of the Irish border would be on the agenda. This is one of the hardest parts of the Brexit equation to solve, and the answer will reveal plenty about the kind of trade deal the UK is seeking and the trade-offs it is prepared to make.
Boris Titov is running to be president of Russia, but he’s eager to talk himself out of the job. ‘I am not a good politician,’ he says, over breakfast at the Lanesborough hotel in Knightsbridge. ‘To be a president means you need to be wise, a big politician like Thatcher, Deng Xiaoping, Lee Kuan Yew. Russia needs a tough politician in the presidential chair and I am not that man.’
Titov knows that on 18 March, Vladimir Putin, the toughest politician of our age, will be re-elected as Russia’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
These are tough times for what I call the #MeToo Men — those white, liberal, high-minded men who pride themselves on being good feminists. Disgusted with Trump and horrified by Harvey, they want to show solidarity and be good allies to the women of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements. So they wear their feminist hearts on their sleeves and their Time’s Up pins in their lapels — and they wear them with pride.
‘I murder people!’ says Elanger matter-of-factly in response to my question about what he does for a living. From the comfort of my home in the UK, I have managed to get in touch, through contacts of contacts on Facebook, with someone serving 19 years in prison for double murder in Venezuela. The country has some of the most notorious jails in the world. Inside one of them, Elanger has got hold of a Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo.
‘I gotta be me,’ Sammy Davis Jr. croons as the android Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood) steadies her horse, stands up on her stirrups, takes aim with her Winchester, and picks off her human masters one by one.
The trailer’s out at last and the futuristic TV series Westworld is set to return in the spring. It’s a prescient show, but not in the ways you might expect. It’s not about robot domination.
Harvey’s finest moment, he would tell you, was the chicken kiev. I’d just made the garlic butter and inserted it into the chicken breast when the phone rang. The call went on for a while, after which I returned. No chicken breast. ‘Must have put it in the fridge,’ I thought, and began to look. Only then did I glance across at the dog. His expression said: ‘You’re going to work it out in a moment, aren’t you?’
It’s the beagle’s defining characteristic: a yearning to become the widest animal known to man.