There is conspiring in the corridors once again in Westminster. Who could replace Gordon, they ask. Labour’s problem is that the young pretenders are too young and the idea of caretaker leader seems slightly ridiculous, it would look absurd for the government to change Prime Minister twice in the same Parliament. So, Brown will solider on while the battle of succession rages just beneath the surface.
Spare a moment for a story in which Gordon Brown is the good guy. Not as exciting as tales of the money trail from David Abrahams to the Labour party’s coffers; nor as bloodcurdling as tales of crimes committed by untold numbers of illegal immigrants; nor as nervous-making as the possibility of identity theft from tens of millions of lost HM Revenue and Customs files; nor as economically immediate as tales of a busted bank.
The Anglo-Saxon powers have been triumphant in every major global conflict for the past 300 years. This is the kind of statement that is so sweeping that you desperately want it to be wrong. But it is right. Either Britain or America — or both — emerged victorious from the war of the Spanish succession, the war of the Austrian succession, the Seven Years’ war, the French revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, the first world war, the second world war and the Cold War.
In a fortnight the Queen will set a remarkable record. On 21 December, she will overtake Queen Victoria (81 years and 243 days) to become the oldest British monarch in history. Do not expect any fanfares, not from royal quarters at any rate. The Queen will be at Sandringham and there will be no official recognition of this milestone. As far as she is concerned, last month’s Diamond Wedding anniversary was quite enough celebration for one year.
So the mop-headed ingenue teacher Gillian Gibbons has been released from her torment in Sudan without being horsewhipped or banged up for too long. The Scousers — Ms Gibbons is from Liverpool, naturellement — had insufficient time to organise a candlelit vigil for her or a minute’s silence at Anfield, but they did manage to festoon lots of railings with yellow ribbons and bouquets from the local garage.
It’s summer and the purple flowers on the jacaranda trees have begun to bloom, but they’re little comfort to Zimbabweans in the middle of a dire economic crisis. You can tell it’s bad here because even the death of Ian Smith last month did not arouse much hostile comment. The domestic consensus is that Mugabe has managed both to follow in Smith’s tyrannical footsteps and to wreck the formal economy at the same time.