At first glance, it looked like very good news when David Cameron appointed Justine Greening as Secretary of State for International Development in his September 2012 reshuffle. Greening is an experienced accountant, an alumna of Price Waterhouse Cooper, GlaxoSmithKline and Centrica, with zero tolerance for waste.
She already proved herself an advocate of fiscal retrenchment in her first government post, as Economic Secretary to the Treasury, setting out the government’s case with clarity and zest.
One of the more bizarre mysteries of contemporary British politics is the ironclad, almost fanatical intensity of the government’s commitment to foreign aid spending and the activities of DFID, the Department for International Development.
It is bizarre because the Prime Minister talks about foreign aid as if it’s all about famine relief and saving children’s lives. But he and his Cabinet are intelligent, worldly people and they know that the real world of aid rarely resembles the one celebrated in DFID pamphlets and Oxfam ads.
Wind turbines only last for ‘half as long as previously thought’, according to a new study. But even in their short lifespans, those turbines can do a lot of damage. Wind farms are devastating populations of rare birds and bats across the world, driving some to the point of extinction. Most environmentalists just don’t want to know. Because they’re so desperate to believe in renewable energy, they’re in a state of denial.
‘Three things of my own are about to burst on the world,’ Dean Acheson wrote to his friend Lady Pamela Berry, the London hostess and wife of Michael Berry, later Lord Hartwell, owner of the Daily Telegraph. They were ‘a leader in the December issue of Foreign Affairs… a speech at West Point… and a piece about my childhood in the Connecticut valley.’ It was characteristic of Acheson’s self-regard that he should have thought the first and last of these would ‘burst’ anywhere, but he was more right about the second than he can have known.
Looking back, it’s baffling that someone like me — a lover of pleasure and loather of pain, a woman who pops Nurofen like breath mints and cannot sit on the sofa without six cushions wedged in at strategic angles for maximum telly-watching comfort — would have deluded myself into believing I was going to give birth gracefully in a state of natural bliss. Regular readers of this magazine may recall I’d decided on a home birth.