When Benjamin Franklin remarked that all would live long, but none would be old, he could hardly have known how apt a description of today’s pensioners this would turn out to be. Fitter, healthier and more in tune with the times than any previous generation, they are determined not to allow their age to hold them back.
For the lucky few, including many baby-boomers, the first of whom are turning 60 this year, this means spending their golden years trekking in the Himalayas, dune-bashing in Dubai and generally showing us youngsters up as the lazy, unadventurous bunch we really are; for others it means something even more radical but usually less exotic — going back to work.
On Gordon Brown’s bookshelf stands a new title likely to stand out from the others: In Our Hands: a Plan to Replace the Welfare State. It is a detailed proposal to abolish all benefit payments, from pensions to child support, and instead make a cash payment to every adult in the country. Its author is Charles Murray, the controversial American academic who firmly believes that the Chancellor’s welfare policies are destroying the social fabric of Britain with calamitous results.
Michael Moorcock writes in praise of the Texan preference for bolshie individualism over social conformity, and hails the true ‘fundamentalism’ of the US ConstitutionLost Pines, Texas
This year in the US they’re holding an election and I’m planning to become an American citizen. Happily, as a dual national, I can now also remain a loyal subject of the Queen. It’s as if, after the Declaration of Independence, the British shook hands with the colonists and said, ‘Jolly good, chaps.
At Easter, Christians bear witness to the Resurrection. But, as The Spectator has discovered, some are more robust than others in their belief — and some prefer not talk about it at allEaster is the most important feast in the Christian calendar. ‘If Christ be not risen,’ wrote St Paul, ‘then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.’ The Spectator approached politicians, churchmen, media folk and entertainers — and members of its own staff — and asked them a simple question: ‘Do you believe that Jesus physically rose from the dead?’ Some did not answer the question: Tony Blair, Ruth Kelly, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Sir Menzies Campbell.
A sleeping sickness is sweeping the chancelleries of Europe. This Monday, in the space of a single day, Italy and France became the latest nations to succumb to the symptoms of this nasty disease — headaches, confusion, and finally a descent into paralysed slumber.
As this article goes to press, the Italian election results are still being disputed by all sides. But one thing is already clear.
Next month’s local elections will be a grave test of the Prime Minister’s authority. Peter Oborne goes on the stump with BNP campaigners who believe they are heading for great gains — and Labour politicians who fear they are rightPhil is wearing an England football shirt. He lives in a quiet crescent in central Dagenham. He’s shaven-headed and has two small children. He regrets voting for Margaret Thatcher: ‘She lost me my business, she did.