The Conservatives think that education is about selecting the lucky few, says Ed Balls. But there is no reason why excellence and opportunity shouldn’t be for allIt’s just over a year since David Willetts made his thoughtful but ultimately fatal pronouncement: ‘academic selection entrenches advantage, it does not spread it’. Those nine words — anathema to most Conservatives — led to a civil war inside the party, a messy U-turn and the reshuffling of Mr Willetts to a new job.
David Bosco accompanies the UN Security Council on its visit to Darfur and finds that even meeting the victims of the conflict can’t stiffen the Council’s resolveAbdalmahmood Abdalhaleem was holding court last Thursday in the VIP lounge at Khartoum International Airport. Sudan’s voluble United Nations ambassador was accompanying the UN Security Council as it prepared for the short flight to northern Darfur.
And when did you last see your children? Before you both left at the crack for the office? When they were already in bed? Or do you only see them — let’s be brutally realistic here, given our divorce rate — at alternate weekends? So we don’t need to ask any more who tucks them up at night, takes them to school, listens to their Homeric summaries of Harry Potter books, buys them Start-rites, takes them to the dentist, finds out they’re upset, do we? Because it’s not you two, the parents, who gave them life.
Bjørn Lomborg, the controversial Danish economist, tells James Delingpole that it is better to spend our limited funds on saving lives than on saving the planetGosh, I do hope Bjørn Lomborg doesn’t think I was trying to pick him up. I’ve only just learned from his Wikipedia entry that he’s ‘openly gay’ which, with hindsight, probably made my dogged insistence that we conduct our interview in his cramped hotel bedroom look like a cheap come-on.
A few years ago I had to take my pet rat, Heydrich, to the vet’s after my youngest son threw him head first at the bedroom wall. After that, Heydrich walked oddly and began acting in an unpredictable manner, certainly not in a fit state to, say, quell unrest in Czechoslovakia. The vet prescribed a course of antibiotics and some painkillers — total cost about 50 quid — and said even then Heydrich might not regain his former glory.
Gerald Warner celebrates the unexpected appearance of one last ‘swashbuckling novel’, and mourns the loss of a genre that taught boys honour, courage and chivalry‘Do you have the new novel by Alexandre Dumas?’ Who ever imagined going into the local branch of Waterstone’s and asking that question, in the 21st century? Yet the unexpected — the impossible — has happened and an authentically new historical novel by the legendary author of The Three Musketeers has recently been published for the first time in Britain.