Rupert Murdoch’s hold on British politics has finally been broken. The politicians who competed to court him are now scrapping to see who can distance themselves fastest. As the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, says when we meet in his Commons office on Tuesday afternoon, ‘The spell has been broken this week and clearly it will never be the same again.’ Miliband and his staff have just heard that the government will support their motion calling for Murdoch to withdraw his bid for BSkyB.
Ed Miliband was beaming when I saw him talking to Rupert Murdoch at the media magnate’s summer party at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, just three weeks ago.Ed Miliband was beaming when I saw him talking to Rupert Murdoch at the media magnate’s summer party at the Orangery, Kensington Palace, just three weeks ago. The Labour leader has since admitted that he did not raise the matter of phone hacking that evening.
For the past half a century, the Tunisian film director Nadia El Fani would have had no problem showing her new documentary, Neither God Nor Master, which explores her atheism and disdain for radical Islam. But before the Jasmine Revolution, Tunisia was the most socially liberal country in the Muslim world. Its Islamist extremists were where they belonged: in prison. A few weeks ago, however, during the film’s premiere, hundreds of bearded zealots smashed through the glass doors of the capital’s CinemAfricArt cinema, attacked the audience, and threatened ‘a massacre’ if the screening continued.
What do you do if you want to upset your parents these days? Properly rebel, I mean. You certainly don’t get a tattoo. Tattoos won’t bother anybody — they’ve become a fashion accessory, adopted as widely as bangles and bracelets. Shrewd money is investing in the sector, because it’s going through a growth spurt: tattoo parlours are up 5.6 per cent since 2008.But this isn’t merely a fad: it reflects a deep underlying secular obsession with living for ever and, especially, staying permanently young.
I’d like the art therapists to be next, if at all possible.I’d like the art therapists to be next, if at all possible. I mean, next in line for the national outpouring of bile and contumely. My closest friend is an art therapist and his smugness is beginning to get my goat, especially coming from someone who wanders around loony bins at my expense with a bag of crayons and a head full of post-Freudian idiocies.
Long before the phone-hacking scandal attained volcanic proportions, I scarcely knew a journalist in London unastonished to hear that last Christmas, the prime minister dined at the Oxfordshire home of Rebekah Brooks. Even were she Mother Teresa, which some evidence suggests she is not, it was plainly a lapse of judgment for David Cameron to be seen to accept Brooks’s hospitality, as he regularly did.
Why can’t we have traffic laws for pedestrians?Imagine you’re driving down Piccadilly one day. Suddenly, without the slightest warning, you brake to a halt, causing the car behind to smash into you. Or you change lanes without indicating, right into the path of someone who’s overtaking. Or you change direction completely, executing a perfect one-eighty into the oncoming traffic. What sort of punishment would you expect? Forget points on your licence, you’d be scratching the days on your cell wall.
County cricket ought to be important because it provides the players for Test cricket. You won’t find your budding Strausses, Cooks and Swanns playing on village greens or even in the estimable Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues. If they are really good they will be in a county side.The problem, however, is that when they are spotted by England they go off to become international players, and rarely seem to be anything other than special guest stars on the rare occasions they play for their counties.