Only national insecurity will swing it for the Conservatives
Ten years ago this autumn I started to write a history of Conservative government in the 1990s. Guilty Men was designedly satirical and cynical — qualities which seem Tory to many. Some readers liked the jokes. Others, burdened by conviction, thought it too laconic by half — especially since I had been a Cabinet adviser (to John Redwood).
Towards the end of the classic 1957 American courtroom drama Twelve Angry Men, the toughest juror turns bitterly on his colleagues: ‘Brother, I’ve seen all kinds of dishonesty in my day, but this little display really takes the cake.’ Furious that the rest of the jury now seem to be inclined towards a ‘not guilty’ verdict in a murder case, despite a wealth of evidence against the defendant, he protests, ‘You all come in here with your hearts bleeding all over the floor about slum kids and injustice .
Madeleine’s disappearance sparked a grotesque media circusDid Kate McCann inadvertently kill her daughter Madeleine and then confect a four-month long parade of grief and concern for the benefit of the media, in order to avoid being done for the crime? This seems to be what the Portuguese police have come to either believe or hazard. The McCanns are back in England but they are now — exotically — ‘arguidos’, which means that the Portuguese cops suspect they may have a case to answer.
The Spectator political commentator Henry Fairlie, in his column of 23 September 1955, famously identified the Establishment as the mechanism through which power was exercised in this country. His analysis, though at once recognised as authentic, was written as the British Establishment was about to collapse. Today it enjoys some residual notoriety (manifest through former ruling-class institutions such as White’s Club) but no political significance.
The Spectator’s new partnership with the debating forumCivilised debate is the essence of The Spectator: it is what animated ‘the little Committee of Politicks’ that Joseph Addison encountered in the St James’s Coffee-house and described in the magazine in March 1711. Three centuries on, it is the desire for a cheerful rhetorical punch-up, in print or in person, that still excites us most at 22 Old Queen Street.
There was a single, unmistakable message emerging from the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker in Washington this week: the Iraq war may have started on President George W. Bush’s watch, but it will not end on it. Petraeus was as impressive as you would expect a four-star general with a Princeton PhD to be. But his timetable for the withdrawal of US troops was revealing — consisting merely of a series of question marks after March 2008.