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Hope? Yes. Change? No

What a long and nasty campaign that was. It is hard to imagine that a political race of such magnitude could be so intellectually and emotionally bunged-up. But it’s over, and we can now ask ourselves what the point was of President Obama clubbing his way to another four years of access to the White

Obama’s new majority

‘I’ve come back to Iowa one more time to ask for your vote,’ said President Obama at an emotional ‘last ever’ campaign meeting. ‘Because this is where our movement for change began, right here. Right here.’ And his eyes briefly moistened. The nostalgia was doubtless sincere, and the address correct, but it was misleading to

What the butler did

What has happened to butlers? They used to be the epitome of discretion and loyalty: but last week the Pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, began an 18-month prison sentence for passing documents from his employer’s desk on to a journalist. The trial of Paoletto, or ‘Little Paul’, as the Pope fondly called him, follows the

Won’t get fooled again

Few have been more influential in the process of Tory modernisation than Nick Boles. He founded Policy Exchange, the think tank that came up with most of its ideas, and has been a tireless, tieless advocate for the cause. But when we meet in the Palace of Westminster, he is in reflective mood. The first

Prayers in stone

No institution is more vividly expressive of the English genius for creative muddle than the Anglican Church. A Protestant church whose liturgy declares it to be Catholic; a national church with a worldwide congregation; a repository of holy sacraments, which is regulated by a secular parliament; an apostolic communion whose authority descends from St Peter,

Beyond a joke

This week the National Theatre opened another new play — its seventh — by Alan Bennett. For those who know only his earlier work, Bennett remains the Queen Mother of British literature, a national treasure adored by all for his cosy charm and twinkly-eyed naughtiness. But anyone who holds this view has clearly not seen,

America’s carbon clash

What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? In US energy issues today, the irresistible force is broad public support for more energy consumption; the immovable object, on the other hand, is elite opposition to that energy consumption, specifically hydrocarbons. Four-fifths of American energy comes from fossil fuels, and so that accounts for

New paths to power

The energy debate is stuck in a rut: all politicians seem to be able to talk about is a narrow set of existing technologies — coal, gas and nuclear power stations, supplemented by wind farms and rooftop solar. Each of these technologies has its own lobby, and they fight each other for subsidies. Should we,


Somerset Notebook

When we looked out of the window last Sunday morning to see thick snow blotting out the Mendip hills above our Somerset village, I’m afraid I immediately thought: ‘The Gore Effect.’ The previous evening, I had been reading how poor Al Gore had belatedly jumped on the latest warmist bandwagon by ascribing Storm Sandy to