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[/audioplayer]Boris Johnson is to stand as an MP in 2015 — but where? In the next few weeks, his secret parliamentary campaign team (and there is one) expects him to pick his constituency. The Tories need a decision by the beginning of September, as an announcement any closer to the party conference will overshadow David Cameron’s own plans to talk about the manifesto, rather than watch hopelessly as cameras and journalists trail after Boris, asking the same question over and over again.
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The View from 22 podcast
[/audioplayer]So Boris has made his great leap. The blond king over the water has revealed his plans to cross the river, return to Parliament and assume what he believes is his rightful destiny — to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
When the histories of the Scottish independence debate are written, 13 February 2014 will be seen as a crucial date in the story. It was then that George Osborne suggested that no Westminster government, of any party, could countenance a currency union with an independent Scotland. Such an arrangement might be good for Scotland but it would make little sense for the rump United Kingdom. And with that observation, boom went much of the nationalists’ economic credibility.
Why did David Cameron send Owen Paterson to Environment if he meant to sack him? Paterson knew and cared about his subject. He wore green wellies with panache, loathed Europe and wind turbines, and argued with everyone. He was a sop to the shires and a bulwark against Ukip. Yet like his colleague Michael Gove, he was found to be ‘toxic’. He has told the Sunday Telegraph that he blames his downfall on the ‘green blob’, on ‘highly paid, globe-trotting, anti-capitalist agitprop’.
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I have come a long way with feminism. When it first hit the fan in the early 1970s I was living in a thin-walled apartment next to a woman who held assertiveness-training workshops that included bloodcurdling shouts of ‘This steak is tough! I demand to see the manager!’ Now, 40 years later, assertiveness is all about careers.
There was a time when having almost two hundred of your citizens blown out of the sky was a big deal for a western democracy. But when Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine last month, killing 193 Dutch citizens and a couple of dozen other Europeans, the response was conspicuous public mourning, some mild objections, a soupçon more sanctions, but otherwise nothing. Everyone knew which government might have handed powerful surface-to-air missiles to eastern Ukraine’s rebels.
On 8 August 1914, four days after the declaration of war, Unity Valkyrie Mitford was born, the fifth child and fourth daughter of David and Sydney Freeman-Mitford, who admired the actress Unity Moore. Grandfather Redesdale suggested Valkyrie, after his friend Wagner’s Norse war-maidens. The fact that Unity Valkyrie had been conceived in the town of Swastika, Ontario, where her father was prospecting for gold, made it all the more portentous.
The heat was still sweltering as we headed off at dusk towards the hide to watch wildlife with our enthusiastic guide, Leonie. My wife and I were on our first ever safari — or rather ‘stayfari’. No, we weren’t in deepest Africa, but in deepest Gloucestershire. And we weren’t on the look out for lions and elephants, but beavers.
We were staying at Lower Mill Estate, near Cirencester. Consisting of 550 acres of beautiful lakes, fields and woodlands, it’s been described as the most important private nature reserve in Europe.