Power-sharing has not loosened Mugabe’s iron grip, says Ben Freeth, a farmer whose home and livelihood were destroyed by Zanu-PF militantsOn Sunday 30 August last year, as we drove back from church to our home in Chegutu, northern Zimbabwe, my wife and I spotted a large swirl of white smoke in the distance. We soon realised, to our horror, that the thick fumes were coming from our property.
Sarah Churchwell says the American craze for Amish romance novels — ‘bonnet-rippers’ — is just one part of a strange new fashion for conservatism and abstinenceIt has been 25 years since Peter Weir’s hit film Witness, in which Harrison Ford plays a policeman who falls in love with an Amish woman while investigating a murder. In America the Amish existence has a romantic appeal, it’s a return to a simpler way of life, and Witness exemplified this in its most famous scene, when the detective and the Amish woman dance to Sam Cooke’s 1960 classic oldie ‘Wonderful World,’ a song that begins, appropriately enough, ‘Don’t know much about history’.
Did you know that February in our schools has been designated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (sic) History Month? I’d get with it, if I were you, and send your 11-year-old child to school in a gimp mask, with some lube. Good parents make sure their kid is ahead of the curve. You can bet that there will be exercises on exploring multifaceted sexual preferences and maybe practical tests too. So tell your daughter to bin the Mary Seacole face mask she spent ages knocking up for Black History Month and get her dressed up as a boy, with a strap-on.
‘We are building an advanced socialist society,’ Czechoslovak communists claimed a couple of years before the regime’s collapse in December 1989. What did that mean? I asked Pavel Bratinka the other day. A former leading dissident, a devout Catholic and a physicist by training, from 1993 to 1996 he was deputy foreign minister of his restored country. ‘It meant,’ he replied, ‘an advanced form of misery.
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was strictly optional. Most of the heroes of 1989 were middle-aged. The leaders of the velvet revolutions, the Vaclav Havels and Lech Walesas, had been through prison, tough times and many a defeat before this incredible victory. Sure, there were often students in the front line — blithe, unattached, unafraid; but what was most moving to me, as I talked to people in the crowds in Leipzig, Gdansk or Prague, were the older men and women who had endured so much and never believed they would see this day.
When in 1983 I described Labour’s manifesto as ‘the longest suicide note in history’, I was drawing attention to the party’s apparently irreversible meltdown as an electoral force.When in 1983 I described Labour’s manifesto as ‘the longest suicide note in history’, I was drawing attention to the party’s apparently irreversible meltdown as an electoral force. As leader, Michael Foot was wedded to policies such as unilateral nuclear disarmament and leaving the European Economic Community.
Judging only by its electoral performance, the Communist Party of Great Britain was a near-total failure in the 20th century. It only secured a tiny number of MPs at Westminster, while the party membership peaked at just over 60,000 at the height of Soviet popularity during the second world war. But this public lack of success was misleading. The communists exercised considerable secret influence in universities, publishing houses, journalism and even the civil service for decades after 1945.
In the pages of the Kremlin’s secret diary, Pavel Stroilov discovers what Labour’s Soviet sympathisers said when they thought no one was listeningIt is almost 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall — and still the truth keeps trickling out of Moscow. The Soviets, like the Nazis, were meticulous note-keepers and there is decades worth of material still to be uncovered. At first, only those who went through the filing cabinets could compile the untold stories of the USSR.