It is becoming increasingly clear what the Conservative party expects of its Prime Minister. If he is going to agree to 17 eurozone countries pushing ahead with the Franco-German plan for fiscal union, he needs to secure a new deal for Britain in exchange.Just what this new deal should look like is a matter of intense debate in Conservative circles. If France and Germany turn the eurozone into a ‘fiscal union’, what does that mean for Britain’s standing in the European Union? At the weekend, Iain Duncan Smith suggested that the nature of the EU would change so much that a referendum would be necessary.
During the last parliament William Hague likened the issue of Europe to an unexploded bomb at the heart of the Conservative party — best leave it alone, or it might well detonate. But it still dominates British foreign policy. However far David Cameron has travelled in search of a different world — paying tribute to Nelson Mandela in South Africa or inspecting melting glaciers in Norway — he would always return to find this huge relic from a previous war sat in the middle of the Tory living room.
Why does Waitrose think I can’t be trusted with Chablis?I was refused alcohol in Waitrose the other day. Not because of my age, nor because I don’t look my age. Nor, I hasten to add, because I was drunk. I was buying supper in Waitrose — two chickens, two bottles of chablis, some green beans — and when the woman on the till reached the wine she shook her head, folded her arms, and told me she could not serve me.
From a distance, the devastating attacks on Shia Muslims in three Afghan cities this week looked like the type of sectarian religious attacks which we got used to in Iraq. The faultline between Sunni and Shia is one of the greatest and most violent in the world, and now and again it divides countries. But in Afghanistan, nothing is ever this simple. For all its woes, it hasn’t seen a sectarian religious attack for ten years.
Ken Livingstone’s attacks on Boris Johnson seem to conceal admirationHow does Ken Livingstone think he is going to beat Boris Johnson in the election for Mayor of London to be held next May? When I put this question to Ken, he launched into an almost admiring denunciation of his opponent: ‘He’s Britain’s Berlusconi. He just gets away with things nobody else could. And like Berlusconi he doesn’t really do the day job either.
The tragedy of Prince Albert was not that he died at the age of forty-two 150 years ago this month, but that his quick-tempered and lusty Hanoverian wife loved him too well. Queen Victoria’s orgiastic response to widowhood — her determination through four decades of sorrowful singledom never again to be amused — kicked over the traces of the real Albert and replaced him with that earnest-looking paragon who stares cheerlessly at pigeons and commuters alike from some 20 or so heavyweight sculptures and monuments scattered across the British Isles.
What would it take to convince you that Nils-Axel Mörner’s arguments on sea levels are not scientifically credible?
If people are committed to an unscientific position, no evidence or argument will shake them out of it. Whether they subscribe to AIDS denial, excessive fear of radiation, vaccine scaremongering, homeopathy or creationism, they tend to demand impossible standards of proof from their opponents but to accept any old rubbish that supports their beliefs.
The odd thing about the great debate on global warming is that there never really was a debate. As soon as the global warming scare exploded on the world in 1988, to its promoters there could be no argument about it. The scientists who that year set up the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were already convinced beyond doubt that ‘human-induced climate change’ was a reality. Al Gore was soon already pronouncing ‘the science is settled’.