Alan Milburn was nine years old when he arrived home to find the front door of his council house had been painted bright yellow. His mother, who looked after him on her own, was perplexed. In the morning it had been red, but men with brushes had come and gone. This was to have a radicalising effect on the young Tynesider. Some 40 years later, reclining in the chair of his rooftop office opposite the House of Commons, his outrage still seems fresh.
I had almost given up. The time of our appointment had changed six times in 24 hours. The presidential palace was — as it still is — in full crisis, and my interview seemed to be receding out of reach. When he finally showed up, the man at the centre of the political storm seemed perfectly calm. Victor Yuschenko was wearing a well-cut suit and a bright red tie, but it was his face that captivated my attention.
Rian Malan is appalled that Zimbabwe has been put in charge of Sustainable Development by the UN — and says it is symptomatic of the way in which Mugabe is indulged by foolish go-gooders from New York to South AfricaJohannesburgOn the day that Bob Mugabe’s genocidal regime acceded to the chair of the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development, I found myself in the lovely Cape village of Franschhoek, once a Boer farming town but now more French and precious than Provence.
Ah, now, this is what we pay our licence fee for. A maniac screaming at a maniac. I hope you caught the latest edition of the BBC’s Panorama, during which the presenter, John Sweeney, went berserk at a spokesman for the Church of Scientology — bellowing in his face at full volume in the manner of an inmate at Rampton being told that his pornography allowance has been stopped. If you didn’t see the show itself, then check out the incident on YouTube on the internet — it’s been posted there by the Scientologists as if to say look, everybody, this is what we have to put up with, abuse and harrassment.