The Lib Dems’ troubles are a result not only of coalition and foolish promises, but of a resurgence of the old left-right divisionIn 1935, George Dangerfield published The Strange Death of Liberal England, one of those rare histories that survive long after the author’s death. The elegance and vigour of his description of Edwardian society account for much of his appeal — Dangerfield is as bracing an antidote to the banality of Downton Abbey as you could hope to find.
Mark Boxer once drew a caricature of his friend John Gross half-buried beneath piles of hardback books while glancing up from a copy of Tatler. It’s a caricature that contains a nugget of truth — it is rare, these days, for anyone so bookish to keep such a close eye on the toings-and-froings of high society and showbiz — but there is still something not quite right about the rather severe, tight-lipped expression on John’s face.
Thilo Sarrazin is breaking Germany’s taboos on welfare and immigration – and selling over a million books in the processIn Berlin in September, I noticed that Deutschland schafft sich ab (‘The Abolition of Germany’), a taboo-breaking blockbuster by Bundesbank governor Thilo Sarrazin, had just come through a new printing after having been sold out for a week. In the morning, as I walked off to work, there would always be a large table near the front of the Hugendubel bookstore on Tauntzienstrasse stacked two feet high with bright red copies.
I was cured of a lifelong stammer by a technique even Lionel Logue, George VI’s celebrated speech therapist, never tried. The cure lasted exactly three minutes, and has never been repeated.In the mid-1990s, when I was stationed in Hong Kong as the East Asia editor of the Times, the BBC commissioned me to write and broadcast three three-minute pieces to be called Secrets in China. A producer arrived with a cameraman.
Last week, Michael Gove marked an important moment in the coalition government’s school reforms. The number of academies — that is, state schools granted independent status — reached 407, twice the number created in almost a decade of Labour’s academy programme. Since September, schools have become academies at the rate of one a day. But then the later stages of a reform are often easier than the first.