David Cameron now has the chance to be the Prime Minister he always wanted to be. Up to now, his premiership has, to his frustration, been dominated by the economic crisis that the country is facing. His cherished social reform agenda has not been the government’s animating mission but a rhetorical extra. But after last week’s riots, this has all changed. Broke Britain is now being forced to share its space at the top of the national agenda with Cameron’s specialist subject, Broken Britain.
There’s a social crisis coming, says Iain Duncan Smith, and we must act now to avert itMost politicians who hang pictures of battle scenes in their office do so from a sense of nostalgia. For Iain Duncan Smith, it is about militaristic feng shui. Since becoming Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, the former soldier has approached his job as he would a battle. The abstract pictures he inherited from his predecessor, Yvette Cooper, have been replaced with scenes of the Duke of Malborough’s victories.
The cyclist sipping wine on the terrace of a Thames-side pub may not look much like an English hero, but anybody who loves cricket knows that he ranks only slightly lower than the angels. Thirty years ago Bob Willis bowled England to the most astonishing victory in the history of Test cricket, taking eight for 43 on a mad Monday in Leeds that held the nation entranced. Three decades later, not even the superb performances of the current England players, who are facing India at the Oval this week as the No.
How the Church of England can – and will – endureThough with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore opprest,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distrest,
Yet Saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, ‘How long?’
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song.Samuel Stone’s hymn, replete with already archaic spelling, expresses the Victorian hand-wringing over the supposedly dangerous heresies of John William Colenso, Bishop of Natal from 1853 to 1883.
‘I saw this amazing film,’ people used to say at dinner parties, ‘you must see it.’ And it was nice to have their recommendations; pleasant to trot off to see The Matrix or Four Weddings and a Funeral and be the one to rave about it at the next party. These days, just the words ‘You must see…’ fill my heart with dread because they are invariably followed by not a film, but a whole TV series, available in a box-set: The West Wing, The Killing, The Wire.
At the age of 72, I begin to wonder, for the first time in my life, if there might be a future for a fascist party in Britain. The thought has been provoked by the riots, or rather the response of many to them.The riots themselves were horrible, an outburst of callous criminality, doubtless enjoyable for those who took part in it. Yet they were comparatively unimportant. To say this is not to pretend that they weren’t frightening, that people weren’t killed, or that other victims did not suffer injury or damage to their property.
‘Mps to vote on death penalty’, announced the front page of the Daily Mail earlier this month. This was a reference to a petition on a government website calling for the restoration of capital punishment, but the true significance of the story was buried in the small print. The e-petition in question was created by Paul Staines, the man behind the Guido Fawkes blog. Until recently, Staines’s influence was confined to uncovering political scandals, making him a must-read in the Westminster village but relatively unknown in the wider world.