07/06/2014
7 Jun 2014

The fall of France

7 Jun 2014

The fall of France

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Features
Patrick Marnham
France’s political system is crumbling. What’s coming next looks scary

[audioplayer src="http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_5_June_2014_v4.mp3" title="Freddy Gray discusses the end of the French republic" startat=1844] Listen [/audioplayer]Last week President François Hollande, following his party’s humiliation in the European parliamentary elections (his Socialists won roughly half as many seats as the National Front), decided to cheer himself up. He left Paris and travelled to Clairefontaine to mingle with France’s World Cup football squad.

France’s political system is crumbling. What’s coming next looks scary
Alistair Horne
‘Papa told us everything’: Winston Churchill and the remarkable Mary Soames

By any standards Mary Soames was one of the most remarkable women of her era: close confidante (possibly the closest) to Winston Churchill throughout the second world war, dedicated political wife, one of the most outstanding British ambassadresses sent to Paris, successful (against all reckoning) chairman of the National Theatre, and — later in life — a prize-winning author. She was also one of only three non-royal Ladies of the Garter in recent British history, and a Spectator contributor to boot.

‘Papa told us everything’: Winston Churchill and the remarkable Mary Soames
John Osullivan
If you think you understand what Putin’s doing in Ukraine, you’re not paying enough attention

Vladimir Putin has won in Ukraine. Russia is on the verge of getting de facto control of eastern Ukraine, destabilising the remainder, and establishing its president’s cherished Eurasian Union. The West is nowhere — weak, disunited, and out-strategised by a master of geopolitics. Hang on, that’s all wrong. Crimea was the high-water mark of Putin’s neo-imperialist vision. He lost control of all Ukraine when Yanukovych fell and most of it voted firmly to stay outside his control in the recent presidential election.

If you think you understand what Putin’s doing in Ukraine, you’re not paying enough attention
Carol Sarler
Why Weight Watchers doesn’t deserve taxpayers’ money

Porky, flabby, lardy? Obese — and morbidly so? Yup. That’s us. We knew already that two out of three of us weigh more than is healthy, and last week the scales of shame revealed further cause for dismay: Britain has more obese girls under 20 than anywhere else in the West. Something, as the hand-wringers say, must be done. And so the scene was set for the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) to bring out some advice.

Why Weight Watchers doesn’t deserve taxpayers’ money
Tom Stacey
Witness to a stoning

Attending public executions, whether beheadings or stonings, is not my predilection, yet one does come across them in the course of life in Arabia and Pakistan. Beheading and stoning are the accepted penalties for a range of presumed offences in much of the Muslim world, and the all-male crowd — especially the old men — push and shove outside Riyadh’s main mosque after Friday morning prayer for a better view of offenders losing their heads by the ceremonial sword.

Witness to a stoning
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