The drawback to waging a global counter-terrorism campaign is that, just when you think you have one bunch of Islamist militants on the run, another one pops up to take its place. For all the breakthroughs chalked up by those prosecuting the war against al-Qa’eda, the movement has re-emerged in new guises in Somalia and Yemen. The murderous riots in Libya last week, ostensibly triggered by a homemade American video, were being quickly traced back to what may be the latest and safest home for al-Qa’eda: northern Mali.
Jeremy Browne looks more like a young subaltern preparing to go to India in 1860 than a typical Lib Dem. He stands ramrod straight, his reddish hair has an officer-class cut. He is always impeccably dressed. Whitehall gossip has it that when he was first appointed to the Foreign Office, the officials couldn’t believe that he was the Lib Dem. He is also, unlike many in his party, comfortable with being in power.
In the days before conference, a party leader is usually up to his ears in drafts of his speech, worrying how best to please the crowd. But last Monday, Nick Clegg wasn’t slaving away at his speech. He was at Chequers with the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, discussing, according to one participant, a new set of coalition commitments on the economy, education, welfare, childcare and social mobility.
Divorce is something I have yet to experience personally but Dave’s reshuffle has set me up nicely for any future threat to my own nuptial bliss. Out of the blue comes the call. It’s Dave’s office. ‘We need to talk — can you come over?’ And better I come round the back way to 10 Downing St, apparently, because there’s workmen all over the place at the front. And thus the bell tolls: on reshuffle day, winners are invited through the front door to smile for the cameras.
In Benghazi the ‘spontaneous protestors’ arrived with rocket-propelled grenades and killed the US ambassador. In Kabul the crowds chanted ‘Death to America’. American flags were torched from London to Sydney. But in Washington the Obama administration showed that they weren’t taking any of this personally. It wasn’t about them, but about an excerpt from an amateur film on Youtube called Innocence of Muslims.
The harvest is in, the smell of dried leaves is in the air, Parliament’s back in session, and pretty soon the 17-year-olds will start ringing: the university admissions deadline is approaching and someone will need to write their personal statements for them.
Everyone who wants to go to university is required to fill in a Ucas form. It’s an administrative task until you get to the dreaded personal statement section, and then you have to call for back-up.
The Establishment Club reopens in Soho this week, and it is easy to see why. Peter Cook started the original club in 1961, when there was an unpopular Conservative government, led by a cabal of Old Etonians, presiding over a recession; and the Establishment Club’s Soho premises were at the centre of the satire boom that mocked the Tories and led to their losing the 1964 election. Aside from the satire on the stage, Private Eye briefly had its offices in the club; upstairs there was the studio where Lewis Morley took the photograph of Christine Keeler naked astride a chair which illustrates every article about the Profumo affair.
Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, published 50 years ago this month, effectively marked the birth of the modern environmental movement. ‘Silent Spring came as a cry in the wilderness, a deeply felt, thoroughly researched, and brilliantly written argument that changed the course of history,’ wrote Al Gore in his introduction to the 1994 edition.
Mr Gore reprised this theme on his website earlier this year, proudly comparing Carson’s call to arms over pesticides to his own campaigning on the issue of climate change.