Marine Le Pen is the new, friendly face of French extremism – and suddenly, she’s leading in the pollsThere are just 13 months to go until the French presidential election and Le Phénomène Marine Le Pen, as it is called here, is getting spooky. Not so long ago, the 42-year-old daughter of Jean-Marie, now leader of the French National Front herself, was regarded as something of a joke — albeit quite an intelligent one.
It was meant to be a routine budget. Now Osborne looks like the government’s last chance‘The Cameron project is worth saving’, a government insider said to me recently. It was a striking declaration. After ten months in government, the people on the inside are not talking about a bumpy start or a rough patch. Rather, their language suggests an existential struggle: they worry that, unless something changes, they will fail.
Becoming a dad past retirement age isn’t miraculous, it’s just selfishHe isn’t the first and he won’t be the last. But lack of originality was clearly the least of Donald Trelford’s concerns as he commandeered acres of Sunday newsprint to boast of the arrival of his baby son, Ben. Mr Trelford is, if you please, a strapping 73 years of age and joins a motley club including Des O’Connor (a father at 72), Luciano Pavarotti (67), Clint Eastwood (67), Rupert Murdoch (72), Rod Stewart (66 — his eighth) with no shortage, I fear, to follow.
Will Cameron play the Bush to Obama’s Blair?Eight years ago an American president led a passive British prime minister into a war both countries would regret. David Cameron is eager for history to repeat itself, with the national roles reversed. While Barack Obama dithers, Cameron demands tough action against Libya — with a western-imposed no-fly zone seemingly uppermost on his mind. ‘Do we want a situation where a failed pariah state festers on Europe’s southern border,’ he asks, ‘potentially threatening our security, pushing people across the Mediterranean and creating a more dangerous and uncertain world for Britain and for all our allies, as well as for the people of Libya?’Yet a failed state is exactly what Libya would become if Britain and America intervene.
Is this the end for the British National Party? I know that sentence reads like one of those headlines in the Daily Mail to which the answer is always no, like ‘Do tramps give you cancer?’ But things are nonetheless looking a little grim for that doughty and loveable band of white supremacists who, the whining left kept telling us, were poised to sweep all before them, like Guderian’s elite XIX Corp at the Battle of Wyzna.
A strange calm followed Friday’s earthquakeIt is eerily quiet this evening. I hear no traffic, no wind, not even the birds. It’s hard to believe that Tokyo has been in a state of emergency for four days, following earthquake, tsunami and radioactive leaks. I was at home alone on Friday at 2.45 p.m., in a quiet residential area of Tokyo. When the house started shaking I ran out onto the street. I could see only two other people.
It’s tribal and religious divisions that really shape the Middle East – and that account for the Saudi intervention in BahrainI once got lost in Asir, the mountainous region on Saudi Arabia’s southwestern border with Yemen. This was the home of many of the terrorists on September 11, from the million-strong al-Ghamdi tribe. But the strangest thing, to me as a westerner, was that I seemed to be the only person who cared which country I was in.
I recently had to write the final section of a book. It wasn’t very long — 500 words or so, about half the length of this article — and an imminent train journey seemed the ideal opportunity. No laptop accompanying me, but that didn’t matter: as an exercise in nostalgia I would write the words in longhand. The words, however, refused to appear. The paper stayed defiantly blank. It dawned on me that I can no longer write except on computer.