Guy Wilkinson responds to Melanie Philips' recent article in The SpectatorWe have seen in recent days in Northern Ireland just how deep antagonisms go and how long their poisonous roots remain in the ground, ready to spring to life like nettles to sting. And to continue the metaphor, we have seen in Luton how some kinds of words can be the means by which such roots are strengthened and enabled to spread.
Yesterday’s Intelligence Squared / Spectator event was a discussion, rather than the usual debate. There was no motion, and panellists presented possible outcomes. Matthew Parris was mischievous, rejecting all analyses except that “Afghanistan is not Britain’s fight”. What was this “nearly third rate power doing there”? Fighting a war “we can’t afford” against a “cultural and religious identity we don’t understand is mad”.
‘Bathers at Asnières’ is a dreamily double-edged impressionist painting: an idyll as tricksy as the tiny dots, instead of brushstrokes, that Seurat used to paint. Young Parisian workers are stretched out like cats in the sun, or swimming in water so cool that you can almost feel it, and yet in the background the chimneys puff away, calling them back to work. At the National Gallery the other day, I overheard an official gallery guide addressing a heap of near-comatose teenagers: ‘This is a very large painting,’ she said, ‘and it was painted about 100 years ago.
This family’s very public angst is all about making cash, says Rod Liddle. And the parents were not showing ‘tough love’ when they kicked out their son, but washing their hands of a problemNot my vegetarian dinner, not my lime juice minus gin,
Quite can drown a faint conviction that we may be born in Sin.
— John Betjeman, ‘Huxley Hall’It’s the perpetual adolescent in me, I suppose, but I’ve always rather had a thing for public enemies — people whom the entire British public wish to see flayed alive, hanged or deported.
KabulEvery morning, on Kandahar Air Field, the British, US, Canadian and Dutch troops like to start the day with a cappuccino from Green Beans, the US army’s answer to Starbucks. But a few weeks ago the soldiers had a nasty shock: a sign on the Green Beans door saying there would be no frothy coffee for the lads because of a ‘supply problem’ in Pakistan.War is hell, isn’t it? But the sign wasn’t just bad news for coffee-loving squaddies, it also revealed the Achilles’ heel for the entire international mission in Afghanistan: Nato’s supply roots, which are being steadily throttled by the Taleban.
David Selbourne says that New Labour won elections but eradicated all that was good in the party’s traditions. The Cameroons should learn from this terrible lessonThe Thirties taught us that conditions of slump are a mixed blessing for the Left. But in today’s Weimar-like social and economic conditions, and with Toryism a shadow of its former self, it remains surprising that New Labour is in poor political shape.
Dean Godson says that this week’s murders have yielded impressive displays of cross-party unity. But they also draw attention to Northern Ireland’s vulnerability to terrorist attack, and the risks that were always inherent in the dismantling of the Province’s security structure‘After they die, they will be forgotten, just as the policemen and soldiers who died are forgotten after a while, except by those who loved them.