Lord Mandelson’s memoirs left the real questions unanswered, says Trevor Kavanagh. If even he won’t tell the truth about the Blair-Brown years, who will?Peter Mandelson had a rich seam before him as he sat down to write The Third Man. He was present at the birth of New Labour, helped plot its path to power and then sat on the burning deck when it sank. From start to finish, Mandy was in the thick of it.
The publicity frenzy over Paul the octopus, who accurately predicted the results of the World Cup by opening boxes labelled with team colours, has concealed something much more interesting than his apparent psychic powers. Here is an animal with a third of his nervous system outside his brain and no central spinal column who is nevertheless able to open man-made jars and boxes. This ‘lower form of life’, as we might once have called an invertebrate, can use tools, navigate mazes, recognise the humans that feed him, and make use of landmarks in planning a route.
By the age of 21 Geoffrey Wellum knew his life had peaked. It was downhill from here on in. He was a squadron leader and had won a DFC. Moreover, he had lived through the Battle of Britain. Today, he is one of the few of ‘The Few’ left to tell the tale of how they won the battle 70 years ago this summer.Waiting for Wellum in his local hotel bar, perched on the cliffs of Mullion Cove, I watch the rifle-green Channel grinding on to the rocks below.
Alex Murray was detained for two hours by Special Branch at Gatwick for using the word ‘bomb’ at security — and finds that in this age of terrorism airport staff just can’t take a jokeI live in France, but because I have family in England and Belgium, I travel frequently. And so, on the occasions when I have to fly rather than take the train, I do everything to get through the hell of British airport security with the minimum of fuss.
What on earth is the government going to do about all these deranged northerners running amok shooting people? The more callous among you might well argue that it doesn’t really matter, as these madmen are only shooting other northerners, and so it is therefore none of our business. Perhaps. But there is no guarantee that the next deranged northerner will not get on a train, if he can afford it, and start shooting at us, instead.
Part of me feels that those who have helped to bring the country down — venal politicians, false educators, degraders of the media, thieving privatisers of the public domain — need to be fought to a standstill, here on this battlefield, by those with the energy, strength and clarity of mind to do so. For no one wants to believe that the country of his birth, language, upbringing and way of thinking cannot be redeemed.
In Britain we are now glumly entering the age of austerity and everyone expects unemployment to go on rising. This has been the case in the past: even when the economy starts to grow, there is a painfully long lag before unemployment starts to fall. But not in Switzerland is different. There, unemployment is already falling. Since January, it has fallen from an already low 4.5 per cent to 3.8 per cent, half the UK rate.