This week, the world is gripped by the risk of conflict between the US and China. The People’s Liberation Army has fired live missiles into the Taiwan Strait in retaliation for US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei and those who fear that China vs America is the next world war see Taiwan as a flashpoint. Some analysts imagine a repeat of the Cold War: two countries, two rival political systems, vying for world economic supremacy.
When Tom Tugendhat announced he was backing Liz Truss for prime minister, his former supporters were dismayed. He was the candidate for the ‘One Nation’ caucus of moderate MPs, who defined themselves against the Tory right. ‘Anyone but Truss’ was their mantra – and they lined up behind Rishi Sunak. Yet here was their former poster boy supporting their nemesis. What could Truss and Tugendhat possibly have in common? The answer can be summed up in a word: China.
Don’t believe Vladimir Putin’s hype. The Russian economy is not OK. With western sanctions jeopardising up to 40 per cent of the country’s GDP, Putin’s assurances of an economic pivot to the East are a sham. And his weaponising of gas supplies to Europe is the financial equivalent of
strapping on a suicide vest.
That, roughly, is the message of a major new study published last week by the Yale School of Management about the impact of sanctions on Russia.
‘I’ve cancelled my exercise class for this! I hope he’s worth it,’ said Selina in the hotel lobby. Rishi Sunak was coming to West Suffolk to meet members of our Conservative Association. Would he be worth a listen?
Clearly our members thought so. More than 90 of us rocked up at one day’s notice to meet Rishi (or Sushi, as one of our older members kept calling him). Rishi wanted to pitch for our votes. His strategy is to introduce himself to as many members as possible.
‘The word “Terror” is so generally and universally used in connection with everyday trivial matters that it is apt to fail to convey, when intended to do so, its real meaning.’ Thus begins the third chapter of The Man-Eating Leopard of Rudraprayag (1947), part of the Man-Eater series by the great Anglo-Indian hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett.
I was reminded of Corbett and his wonderful books when reading last week that human-assaulting tigers are once again on the prowl in Nepal, with 104 attacks and 62 people killed in the past three years.
We have been on a family holiday to Tangier, Morocco, and of course my mobile phone came too. Not that I was intending to use it much – minimum impulse roaming; I would mostly wait until we had wifi for the purposes of Instagram and the rest of it. And I don’t tend to use the telephone bit at all.
We had been at the villa two days when the barrage began – text after text, email after email, all from O2. I can’t pretend I am someone who can tell one service provider from another, but I know I am ‘with’ O2, and suddenly they were all over me.
You’ve just become prime minister. The public finances are in a mess, the Bank of England has stoked inflation, cutting taxes may make it worse, energy prices are through the roof, people are hurting so you can’t cut social spending, the Health Service is lengthening its waiting lists despite record budgets. What can you do? Given that you will be hearing a lot from people who do governing all day, here are ten things to remember on behalf of the rest of us – the governed:
Assume all public bodies have the same goal – and it isn’t what it says on the tin.
Every few months I take out a box of essential oils and carefully lay them out on my kitchen table, organising them in order from sweet-smelling to musty. On the left will be scents like juniper berry, lime, frankincense and bergamot; in the middle, woodish fragrances such as sandalwood and cedarwood; on the right, the darker stuff of patchouli and pine needle – and occasionally, when I’m feeling brave in my endeavour to make the perfect beard oil, lavender.