It was back to basics at Intelligence Squared last Tuesday as we debated the morality of prostitution. Newspaper executive Jeremy O’Grady proposed the motion by taking us on a graphic tour of Amsterdam’s red-light district which he’d visited ‘in an anthropological capacity’. The spectacle of hungry-eyed men sloping from door to door with their moist tongues lolling from their mouths had convinced him that buying sex was demeaning to all concerned.
In the end, it really was a fairytale. A story of hope conquering belief. The journey few believed would be completed. One man — aided by the most advanced viral campaign in history, and carried along on a mantra breathtaking in both its simplicity and its boldness: ‘Never gonna give you up never gonna let you down never gonna run around, desert you’. With that one lyric — indeed I am hard pushed to think of a single other — Rick Astley ran off with the much coveted MTV award for Best Ever Act, sending his reputation as ‘naff Eighties pop crooner’ into the stratosphere.
There is something plainly suspect about Gordon Brown challenging David Cameron to a duel over tax cuts. The Prime Minister has never believed in the inherent worth of tax cuts, and has spent much of the last decade gradually persuading the Conservatives not to believe in them either: it has been an article of Cameroon faith that ‘upfront tax-cut proposals’ were a low priority. Yet now the old battle manual has been torn up, and the PM is fighting an unprincipled guerrilla war of stunning opportunism.
A week into the Obama honeymoon it is debatable who has the bigger headache, the Democrats, who have been celebrating every day like it’s election day, or the Republicans, who have to work out how to rebuild their party. How and how quickly the GOP rebuilds at both the state and federal level will have a profound impact on British politics as the Tories have, to an underappreciated extent, taken to leaning on the Republicans for policy ideas in recent years.
Venetia Thompson, who has never taken the drug, was shocked to discover a stash in her house. What to do? Her friends’ response was a collective shrug as if it were nothing unusualIt is said that in London, you are never further than ten feet from the nearest rat. It seems that, these days, the same might just as easily be said of cocaine. Recently, while gathering up my washing, I discovered an unfamiliar sock.
Susan Hill recalls how much she relied on her health visitor and bemoans the decline of this once-universal service: the victim of bureaucratic ‘targeting’ and government ignoranceYou can be sure of one thing about government. If it ain’t broke, they will fix it and don’t worry about the breaking bit, they will do that for themselves. Rewind 15 years to the health visitor system which was so ‘not broke’ it was a model for best practice throughout the world.
Pakistan is a failing state, and barring a mammoth bail-out few can now afford, it will become the world’s first bankrupt nuclear power. Bowed down by our own financial crisis and an economy teetering on the edge of recession, should we care? In sovereign terms the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which last year celebrated its 60th birthday, is into its adolescent years, now something of a cross between a prodigal son and the family’s black sheep.