Alastair Campbell emerged from that kind of shining silver limo more accustomed to transporting the likes of Jordan and Paris Hilton than former directors of communications. He got their entourage too: a vicious ‘pap’ scrum so tight that The Chilcot Inqury’s latest star witness required the assistance of four burly coppers to get to the doors of the QEII Conference Centre, temporarily affecting the exaggerated swagger of a TV detective as he did so.
After more than 200 years, a uniquely British taste is on the way out. Shabby chic has been vacuumed, whitewashed and dry-cleaned out of existence. Frayed shirt collars, egg yolk on the tie, soup stain on the crotch, roses rambling out of control over the crumbling terrace flagstones, walls cluttered with pictures, tables covered with teetering piles of books. The quintessentially British air of decayed gentility has been destroyed by a combination of minimalism, modernism and nihilism.
‘It’s a brand new year’, Mr Cameron told his Oxford audience last Saturday as he launched his election campaign. ‘It’s a brand new year’, Mr Cameron told his Oxford audience last Saturday as he launched his election campaign. Why, so it is. He also has a ‘new politics’ on offer — new, new, new — but without a coherent philosophy, Tory or any other, to underpin it; no Disraeli, or Balfour, or Thatcher he.
The Tories have opened the new year in a blaze of speeches and promises. But what does it all add up to? Nothing, says James Forsyth — and that’s deliberate. There will never be such a thing as CameronismOnce more, search parties are being sent out to look for David Cameron’s big idea. They will return empty-handed. For the truth is that there is no big idea. However much social responsibility, the post-bureaucratic age or progressive conservatism might be talked up as the ‘big idea’, they are not it.
Cameron’s ‘big idea’ is for a ‘Post-Bureaucratic Age’ enabled by the internet. Will it work? Peter Hoskin and Neil O’Brien aren’t sureThe future: it’s all about computers. Anyone could tell you that. But not everyone gets quite as evangelical about it as David Cameron. Put the Conservative leader in a room full of tech-heads, web freaks and assorted blue-sky thinkers, and he soon starts to preach his gospel.
One of the joys of living in Britain is watching the country fall apart when some snow falls. Trucks laden with your copies of The Spectator are, alas, no exception to this and we gather that many of our readers could face delays before receiving their magazines. So we have decided to put the whole magazine online this week (7 January - 14 January) making it free to everyone, not just our subscribers.
Gordon Brown’s chief fixer is ensconced in Unite, the increasingly militant union. Iain Martin asks if the comrades can be persuaded to hold back a wave of strikesWhere is Charlie Whelan these days? What’s the old rascal up to? The trade union fixer, spin-doctoring confidant and close friend of the Prime Minister was on my mind after I returned from a trip to my native Scotland for Christmas. I had booked a rail ticket to take me northwards in time for the big day — £112 first class with Virgin.
There was a car full of angry white boys cruising the high street of Wootton Bassett this week, Luke and Sam and their two friends, on the lookout for camera crews from Sky, ITV and the BBC. They wanted to make it clear, for the early evening news programmes, that if the march of Muslims through the town went ahead, they would block the road with cars, bring down a whole bunch of trouble and perhaps smash some skulls.
There is a chilling sequence in Tsar, Pavel Lungin’s dark and brilliant new film about Ivan the Terrible. Ivan, played by the mercurial rock musician Pyotr Mamonov, steps out of his private chapel wild-eyed after a long session of wheedling and bargaining with his God. The Tsar walks, lost in thought, through a series of rooms. As he shuffles along grovelling boyars ceremonially dress him. One group gently places a cloth-of-gold gown over his shoulders.
It’s been a depressing few months, hasn’t it? The papers are full of stories about British decline. In such trying times it’s a comfort to turn to an activity in which Britain still rules. I speak, of course, of darts. Most of the world’s greatest games were made and built in Britain but in football and cricket and rugby and so much else the rest of the world long since over-took the original masters.
There is a certain type of bovine political intelligence which hates David Cameron. It cannot forgive the Tory leader his popularity, his beautiful wife, his upper-middle-class ease — and above all his astonishing success in rebuilding the Conservative party. The core criticism works like this: David Cameron is an empty and opportunistic former PR executive, interested only in power for its own sake, utterly devoid of ideas let alone principles, morally indistinguishable from Tony Blair, and in the pocket of Rupert Murdoch.