The centrist Democratic party bequeathed to President Barack Obama by Bill Clinton is not the one he will leave to his successor. By every measure, it is more left-wing, and more populist both in spirit and ideological composition. And this poses serious problems for the campaign of the candidate seen as America’s most likely next president: Hillary Clinton. That she knows it’s a problem is obvious from the way her campaign has begun.
A spectre is haunting Europe — and knocking on the door of Downing Street. It has installed a president in France and a mayor in New York. It is causing mayhem in Spain and Greece and insurgency in Scotland and it may yet halt Hillary Clinton’s march to the White House. This idea — left-wing populism — is a radical, coherent and modern response to the financial crisis and the hardship suffered since. It is being effectively harnessed by Ed Miliband, taking him within touching distance of victory.
The Church of England’s catechism begins ‘What is your name?’ The old Presbyterian catechism favoured in Scotland asked a better, sterner question: ‘What is the chief end of man?’ The difference is telling and, in this general election, illuminates something useful about the differences between politics north and south of the Tweed. Nicola Sturgeon is a populist, certainly, but she is offering something stronger on the side.
Go to a branch of Whole Foods, the American-owned grocery shop, and you will see huge posters advertising Whole Foods, of course, but — more precisely — advertising how virtuous Whole Foods is. A big sign in the window shows a mother with a little child on her shoulders (aaaah!) and declares: ‘values matter.’
The poster goes on to assert: ‘We are part of a growing consciousness that is bigger than food — one that champions what’s good.
When he was seven, Ed Miliband was taken to visit his grandmother in Tel Aviv. Pointing to a black-and-white photograph in her home, young Ed demanded to know who ‘that man in the picture’ was. He was told the man, David, was his grandfather and had died in Poland many years before he was born. Only years later did Miliband realise that his grandfather had been murdered by the Nazis for being Jewish.
Miliband’s parents only narrowly escaped a similar fate: fleeing Belgium as the German armies overran it in 1940, his 16-year-old father caught the last boat from Ostend to Britain.
Maggi Hambling is 70 later this year, and a career that took off when she was appointed the first artist in residence at the National Gallery, in 1980, shows no signs of slackening in momentum. Hambling is still as uncompromising as ever, and as difficult to categorise. An artist of sustained originality and inventiveness who fits no pigeonhole and is part of no group, she is a resolutely independent figure (she enjoys the description ‘maverick’) who considers it her duty to keep questioning assumptions (her own as much as other people’s) and looking afresh at the world.
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[/audioplayer]I’m a very off-message type of fat broad; one who gladly admits she reached the size she is now solely through lack of discipline and love of pleasure, and who rather despises people (except those with proven medical conditions) who pretend that it is generally otherwise.
The sky over the island of Møn, which is at the bottom right of Denmark, was cobalt and the whitewashed walls of the Elmelunde church dazzled in the bright sunshine and hurt our eyes. Our arrival had been preceded by an argument about visiting the church at all, some of the party being of the opinion that they had seen enough medieval churches already during the four-week trek across northern Europe.
Nevertheless, culture won the day and in we filed to glory in the frescoes of the Elmelunde Master, who some time during the 15th century devoted himself to the decoration of this church.