By chance, my father and I were together when we heard the news. We had both just flown to Washington DC - he from Paris, I from Istanbul - to care for my grandmother, who¹d had a heart attack. Before the words "major earthquake in Haiti" came over the car radio, we were already under the impression that we were living through a serious family emergency. But after those words filtered through, the family emergency became far, far more serious.
Labour’s Green Paper on families makes it clear that the party is opposed to promoting marriage. Ferdinand Mount says it’s crucial that the Tories don’t waver, but stick to their promise of a financial incentiveWhat, if anything, should David Cameron promise in order to shore up family life in general and marriage in particular? Would some sort of tax incentive help to improve social outcomes and make people happier? Or is this a retro dead end, at once patronising and impractical and prohibitively expensive? Doesn’t Cameron’s self-confessed slip-up when explaining his commitment show how devilishly tricky and unrewarding the whole business is? He can at least claim to be the first party leader to have dared put the question on the agenda.
Ed Balls has had enough. He’s finally decided to haul in Britain’s absentee fathers and teach them a thing or two about parenthood. ‘All the evidence,’ says the Families minister, ‘is if fathers are properly engaged and involved, then they stay, they’re supportive to their children, they do all the things which lead to better child outcomes.’ Balls has fallen victim to two whopping fallacies here.
This following is definitely in bad taste, isn’t it? I don’t always have a working moral compass when it comes to black humour, but I think this is just the wrong side of the line. Although I’m not sure.A disc jockey from Revolution Radio, in Manchester, played the song ‘Jump’, by Van Halen, as police attempted to coax a suicidal woman down from a nearby motorway bridge. The DJ, Steve Penk, had been inundated by complaints from motorists held up on the road while the police went about their delicate counselling work.
There has been one thing missing from the debate between Google and the People’s Republic of China. The decommunisation of the world was not supposed to happen this way. Countries which dismantled their systems of oppression and fear were supposed to prosper economically; while any who declined to do so would remain in economic permafrost. Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear that the former communist country which has prospered most in the past 20 years has been the one which crushed its revolution beneath the wheels of tanks.
Patrick Allitt says that the infuriating but reassuring can-do spirit that once defined the United States is finally dying out. But what will we all do when it’s gone?The first time I went to America, in 1977, I couldn’t believe how cheerful, peppy and purposeful everyone was. The late seventies were bad years by American standards, the Jimmy Carter era of stagflation and malaise, but to someone coming out of Jim Callaghan’s Britain the place seemed almost insanely upbeat.
On Tuesday morning I looked down at the elderly woman lying in the corner of a hotel car park and suspected that my efforts would be futile. She was in a serious condition and obvious pain: intestinal paralysis caused by a broken pelvis and shoulder, the result of being trapped under tons of rubble. Her treatment should have been simple: not surgery necessarily, just careful nursing. But in Port-au-Prince, the hospitals are barely functioning.
Last week, the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that it was lifting its ban on Whitehall contact with the Muslim Council of Britain, the self-proclaimed umbrella group of British Muslims.Quite apart from the tactical mistake of such a move — far from being an ally in the fight against extremism, the MCB is part of the problem — the group’s return to the Whitehall fold is a story of breathtaking cynicism and mind-boggling incompetence.
Only a year ago the American right was in a state of cataleptic shock as the Democrats won the House of Representatives, the Senate and the presidency. Conservatism looked as though it was headed for the skids, while the left celebrated its startling comeback. No longer. A populist right-wing revolt against big-government liberalism has sent Obama’s poll ratings plummeting and left the Democrats fearing a battering in the midterm 2010 elections.