A few months ago, Alistair Darling was asked how long he thought his government could continue to borrow £600 million a day. Might creditors one day refuse? The Chancellor gave an oblique reply. ‘When you walk over ice, you never know it is too thin — until you fall through.’ He said no more, but his message came across. If the bottom falls out of the British economy, it will do so instantly and dramatically.
Our dismal education system means that too often poverty is a life sentence, says Michael Gove. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Schools can be freed from stifling state controlI owe Peter Bazalgette an apology. A very big apology. Peter is the man who brought Big Brother to our TV screens. His genius in spotting the potential of the original show has brought him riches and helped Channel 4 fund years of genuinely creative TV.
Parents who can’t afford to move into the right catchment area, let alone pay expensive fees, are often desperately worried about the local schools. Teachers are worried about schools too: brilliant teachers who have worked in some of the worst classrooms in the country know they can do better. Charities are longing to work where they’re needed most. That’s why in four months we at the New Schools Network have been contacted by hundreds of parents, teachers and charities who all want to set up new state schools.
There was a loony on my train the other day. He sat quietly for most of the journey, but when we pulled into a station he began barking like a dog; that’s how I knew he was a loony, the barking bit, not the sitting quietly bit. Every station, his head went back and he began to bark and yowl and you could see little flecks of foam, agitated saliva, at the corners of his mouth. Then, when the train left the station he went back to reading the Daily Mirror in silence, although he would snuffle from time to time.
Jacob Zuma is in Britain this week, paying lip service to the West. But, says Alec Russell, his vision for South Africa’s future is of ever closer ties with the emerging superpowerWhen Jacob Zuma addressed the banquet at Buckingham Palace on Wednesday night, he will have nodded at his host and saluted the Commonwealth. South Africa’s President is a stickler for traditional protocol. He also has warm memories of his flits through London when he was in exile under apartheid and the UK was a home from home for many in the ‘struggle’.
Last week a ferocious new talent made his debut for the England cricket team. Craig Kieswetter, a wicketkeeper/batsman, is only 22 years old and is thought likely to be a regular in the England team for years to come. Normally this would be a matter for national celebration. But with the arrival of Kieswetter there is also unease, though it has yet to be articulated. The problem is easy to state: Kieswetter is not British.
The government’s fiercely secularist agenda has turned very few Christians into Tory voters. Damian Thompson asks
why the Churches have kept faith in New LabourGordon Brown’s Cabinet is the least Christian in British history. Its members sneer at the Churches’ teachings about sexuality. They bully faith schools with relish, making them talk to primary schoolchildren about sexual intercourse. They are just about to force Catholic schools to advise teenage girls on where to procure an abortion.
Every year the cream of Scotland comes to Boisdale of Belgravia to celebrate Scottish talent and to toast the winner of the Johnnie Walker Blue Label Great Scot award. Boisdale is quietly opulent. The mighty banqueting tables and blood-red walls decorated with country views suggest baronial splendour in a modern key. It’s Balmoral with central heating. Our host, Andrew Neil, began on a note of unapologetic patriotism.
The proposed competence test for dog owners is designed to stop hoodies owning pit bulls, says Brendan O’Neill. But are the dogs, or their owners, really that dangerous?
Some people call them ‘dangerous dogs’. The tabloids prefer ‘devil dogs’. The police refer to them as ‘status dogs’. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals labels them ‘antisocial dogs’ (which is the most bizarre name of all.