When, back in 2005, Michael Howard said, ‘it’s not racist to talk about immigration’, his words sounded less like a statement of the obvious than a plea for the political and media classes to cut him some slack. They didn’t, of course. The then Conservative leader was roundly chided for playing the race card, accused of giving aid and comfort to the BNP, and warned that his focus on immigration would lead to an increase in racial assaults.
‘It has to do with the condition of being human,’ Daniel Barenboim smiles, looking remarkably relaxed for someone who’s just battled through rush-hour traffic from Stansted. The conductor, along with his West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, is in London on the latest stop of a European tour, but instead of resting before the next day’s epic Proms programme of Haydn, Schoenberg and Brahms, the 65-year-old maestro is now in a hotel near the Royal Albert Hall, deep in animated discussion about one of his favourite topics: the power of music and, yes, the human condition.
The final phase of preparing the country for Prime Minister Cameron is under way. Having decontaminated the brand and marched ahead of Labour in the polls, the Tories are now introducing the country to Statesman Cameron. Politics abhors a vacuum. So with Gordon Brown hunkered down planning his autumn ‘relaunch’ and David Miliband practising looking like an innocent flower while being the serpent underneath, Cameron had the opportunity to act the statesman during the Georgia crisis.
The Prime Minister’s survival is pinned on a September ‘relaunch’ to ease the voters’ economic woes. But, says Martin Vander Weyer, each door through which Brown tries to escape his predicament slams in his face. His room for manoeuvre is negligibleAll this talk of Gordon Brown’s ‘economic recovery plan’ calls to mind the unhappy day, many years ago on a junior bankers’ training course, when I took part in a competitive team game which involved managing a computer model of the British economy.
Rod Liddle says that the stunningly tasteless announcement of Jade Goody’s cervical cancer on Indian Big Brother marks a new low. But that won’t stop TV bosses saying it is a public serviceHere’s a notable first for television — a contestant on a Big Brother programme was told, in front of a television audience, that she had cancer. The woman in question was Jade Goody, whom you may vaguely remember as the coarse, thick, Bermondsey chav who sprung to national prominence for having been allegedly racist on a previous series of the programme.