The British military has been horribly overstretched by the wars of the Labour years, says Max Hastings. But the Tories’ only option will be to cut further still. Hideous decisions lie aheadBritain’s armed forces sometimes suppose that they get a better break from Conservative governments than Labour ones, but their recent experience suggests otherwise. After 11 years of Margaret Thatcher, it proved necessary to cannibalise the entire armoured resources of the Rhine Army to deploy a weak division for the First Gulf War.
Rod Liddle says that Northern Ireland’s First Minister and his wife held religious beliefs that made ordinary life — and marriage — impossibleHelp me out here — we need a wholesale supplier, and quickly. If we are to save the soul of Iris Robinson, we need huge vats of the blood of Christ, in which she might humbly immerse herself. I have tried eBay and — ironically, you might think — the Vatican, but there seems to be a run on the blood of Christ right now — we are all after a sprinkling, here or there, to assuage our multifarious sins.
It is 3 a.m. in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, and the Horse Shoe nightclub is a tableau to inflame the Jihadi heart with rage. To thumping music, Yemeni prostitutes cavort with fat, thuggish-looking local men. The tables are dotted with bottles of single malt costing $500 each (almost a year’s wages for the average Yemeni).The hotel which houses the Horse Shoe, the Mövenpick, is assumed to be one of al-Qa’eda’s main targets, after the British and US embassies just across the road.
Cameron’s inclinations are to help the rich and the ‘romantic’ poor and do little for those who’ve bettered themselves, says Ross Clark. But can he rely on the middle-class vote?There may be no big idea but there is an important concept lurking on the back page of the Conservatives’ draft manifesto on health. And if party strategists want to get through the election campaign without offending a large sector of its core vote, they had better make sure it stays there.
Dennis Sewell says that the political cage fight between the Tories and the educational establishment will be the most thrilling contest of Cameron’s first hundred daysThe Russell Group, representing Britain’s top 20 universities, warned this week that Gordon Brown’s cuts would bring to its knees within six months a higher education system that has taken 800 years to create. The destruction of our schools system has been a slower, more drawn-out process.
Before the advent of Political Correctness — the system of censorship which has settled over the English-speaking world like a dense cloud of phosgene gas — clever people were unashamed of being eccentric. This applied particularly to dons. I am reminded of this by browsing through a gigantic book, Magdalen College, Oxford: A History, edited by L.W.B. Brockliss. How lucky I was to go to that magical place when the people who ran it were still totally self-confident, and not afraid, as Belloc put it, ‘to shout the absolute across the hall’.