The best explanation for the Donald Trump phenomenon was given to me by a woman I met at one of his recent rallies. She’d spent the best part of three decades backing conventional Republican candidates. But, she said, ‘not again — not ever again’.
A good politician, she said, does enough unpopular things to make a difference to the nation — but not so many that they couldn’t be re-elected.
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[/audioplayer]Ronald Reagan wooed America with sunny optimism. From the offset, Donald Trump has offered something much darker. He began his presidential campaign on 16 June by declaring that the ‘American dream is dead.
England’s cricketers won a remarkable Test match inside three days in the bearpit of Johannesburg, a victory that put them 2-0 up in the four-match series, with only the final Test to play. It is a remarkable achievement by Alastair Cook’s team because, before a ball had been bowled, most judges expected South Africa, the No. 1 ranked team in the world, to claim another triumph by right.
In particular it was a wonderful tribute to the public schools which sharpened the skills of the star players.
The young nannies arriving for their morning lectures at Norland College in Bath make quite a sight. Although the road is empty, they bank up along the pavement waiting for the lights to change. They are in their winter uniform of brown hat and gloves, hair in a neat bun; some push old-fashioned Silver Cross prams with plastic babies in them. Eventually the green man appears and the nannies cross.
These girls look as if they are being trained for a bygone era — and that is certainly part of their appeal — but they are well prepared for modern life.
‘So what’s your alternative?’ demand Euro-enthusiasts. ‘D’you want Britain to be like Norway? Or like Switzerland? Making cuckoo clocks? Is that what you want? Is it? Eh?’
The alternative to remaining in a structurally unsafe building is, of course, walking out; but I accept that this won’t quite do as an answer. Although staying in the EU is a greater risk than leaving — the migration and euro crises are deepening, and Britain is being dragged into them — change-aversion is deep in our genome, and we vote accordingly.
It amazes me, simply amazes me, that journalists aren’t all over these stories. Doesn’t it amaze you too?’
I’m in a plush room in a swanky central London hotel, in conversation with Michael Lewis. He is all fired up, leaning forward as he perches on the hard edge of the cushion-strewn sofa. He oozes incredulity, palms upward, shoulders raised.
‘I’m not saying there aren’t good financial journalists,’ he concedes.
Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Croatia, Morocco: if I had picked anywhere else on the Mediterranean for a family holiday, at least anywhere that’s not convulsed by civil war, I don’t think anyone would have noticed. But when I told friends that we were taking our children to Israel on vacation, I got some odd looks. Was there a special reason, someone wanted to know. Were we in search of political insight, asked another.
It is a century and a half since The Spectator noted the exceptional qualities of South Australia, a colony of free settlers untainted — unlike the rest of the continent — by the convict stain. ‘Everywhere … the enclosures over miles of plain, the hedged gardens, the well-grown orchards and well-appointed homesteads, proclaim the possession of the land by an industrious and thrifty yeomanry,’ wrote a Mr Wilson in these pages in 1866.