If you thought the EU couldn’t get any less democratic, meet the Frankfurt GroupThe Old Opera House in Frankfurt — once Germany’s most beautiful postwar ruin and now its most stunning recreation — has become a symbol of European rebirth. And it was here, last month, that Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy met the EU’s bureaucratic elite in what would, in another era, be described as a putsch. They had grown tired of eurozone summits, with leaders flying here and there but getting nowhere.
Berlusconi is the only person who could have sorted out Italy’s problemsWhere the monstrous regiment of judges, journalists and the other toxic derivatives of Italian communism failed, the Germans and the French, armed this time only with the euro, have triumphed. Silvio Berlusconi, or ‘Silvio il Magnifico’ as I am still not ashamed to call him, the 75-year-old media tycoon who has dominated politics in Italy since 1994, has lost his majority and has promised to resign as Prime Minister, and not to stand again.
Liz Jones, the roving fashion editor of the Daily Mail, is a hate figure on Twitter and beyond. Recently, in one of her periodic confessional pieces, she wrote that she had stolen her boyfriend’s used condom and tried to impregnate herself with it. It was owed to her, she wrote, because she had bought him so many ready meals from Marks & Spencer but, as with many of Jones’s romantic misadventures, it failed — there will be no Baby Jones.
Can Florence’s youthful mayor save Italy from herself?If ever a country’s politics needed a shot in the arm, it is Italy’s. As the economy wobbles on the brink of catastrophe, we Italians are desperate for a new face from outside the discredited political caste: an Italian Obama, if you like. But who could possibly step into the breach? Some eyes are turning towards Florence’s handsome young mayor Matteo Renzi, who at 36 makes David Cameron and even George Osborne look like grizzled veterans.
Extraordinary how potent cheap drama is. The latest season of Downton Abbey, which ended on Sunday, pulled off a rare double in its interpretation of the first world war — making you laugh one second at the wooden acting and the clunky script; the next second, making you cry at the suffering and tragedy. But Downton tears are comforting, almost pleasurable: the tears you cry for Brief Encounter or Love Story.
The late unlamented premier of Queensland Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen had an easy way with journalists, most of whom he perceived to be rabid pinkos. ‘Don’t you worry about that, my friend,’ he would say, when confronted with a hostile question. ‘You just leave it to me.’In fact, he bequeathed Queenslanders quite a lot to worry about and nearly ended up in jail on charges of bribery and corruption. But his greatest legacy was a brilliant piece of gerrymandering which is still with us today, having been widely adopted by other states in Australia.