Barack Obama’s increasing disregard for Britain’s views is no way to treat an ally whose troops have fought side by side with America since September 11, says Con CoughlinWashingtonIt says much about Britain’s rapidly disappearing ‘special relationship’ with America that when I happened to mention to some of our senior military officers that I was visiting Washington, they begged me to find out what the Obama administration was thinking about Afghanistan.
To understand how World Cup bids are won, let me take you to the third-floor suite of Dolder Grand hotel overlooking Lake Zurich. The date is May 2004 and the cast as high-powered as you would expect in any political summit. There was Thabo Mbeki, then president of South Africa, and Nelson Mandela, his predecessor. They had come to meet Jack Warner, the Trinidadian vice-president of FIFA — the organisation which controls world football.
Eighty years ago this week, the institution in which David Cameron and his closest lieutenants learned their trade was born. The press is fascinated by his membership of the Bullingdon Club, but Cameron owes a thousand times more to the apprenticeship he served in the Conservative Research Department. How dreary those words sound, and how modest the press release on 17 November 1929 announcing the foundation of the new body: ‘In view of the growing complexity of the political aspect of modern industrial, Imperial and social problems, Mr Stanley Baldwin has decided to set up a special department charged with the task of organising and conducting research into these matters.
Sir John Sawers is not the Downing Street stooge some of the old guard say he is, writes Tim Shipman. And the new head of MI6 may focus the spooks’ gaze on the real enemyThe man who brought us The Meaning of Tingo is at it again, closer to home. Adam Jacot de Boinod’s previous excursion among unlikely foreign words turned at times into a wild Boojum chase because the meanings claimed for some words softly and silently vanished away once confronted.
Rod Liddle says that Gordon Brown’s contrition about the British children tragically deported to Australia is a very Noughties phenomenon — the perfectly pointless non-apologyI never knew it was Gordon Brown who sent all those kids off to Australia, packed them off and waved goodbye from the quayside, and now feels terribly bad about the whole thing. This deportation scheme, which ran from about 1920 to 1967, was designed to give British children from underprivileged backgrounds a new life in the former colony, which considered itself to be short of white folks, any white folks; too often, though, the children were torn from the comfort and familiarity of their neighbourhoods and, once abroad, exploited for their puny labour, and treated with what can only be described as the roughest of love.
Justin Marozzi explains why new archaeological finds from Egypt’s Western Desert show that Herodotus deserves his reputation as the Father of HistoryI couldn’t help it. I whooped uncontrollably into my Jordans Country Crisp with strawberries when I heard the news last week, startling my wife and spilling milk and crispy clusters onto a bemused but grateful dog. An Italian team of archaeologists had made what looked like a hugely important discovery in Egypt’s Western Desert, apparently unearthing remains of the lost army of Cambyses which, according to Herodotus, was swallowed up by a ferocious sandstorm 2,500 years ago.