Only 15 per cent of people in Britain are aware that the EU is drafting a constitution. That's up 5 per cent from the month before (our YouGov poll for The Spectator was taken after wide coverage in the media at the end of last week), but still says little for the success of the EU in 'engaging' with citizens in its most important considerations.In conducting this poll, we first gave respondents a brief explanation about what a constitution is.
In 1825 Russian Decembrist revolutionaries in St Petersburg tried to inspire the peasant masses with the slogan 'Constantine i constitutsia' (Constantine and a constitution) as they pressed for Tsar Nicholas I to abdicate in favour of his brother Constantine. Unfortunately, their pre-spin audience simply assumed that Constitutsia was Constantine's wife, and failed to see the advantage of a different Romanov and his lady over the one already reigning.
There is a certain irony in the fact that the art market least affected by the fallout of 11 September was probably Islamic art. After all, the big players in this small, specialist field are unlikely to have incomes dependent on the Western stockmarket – and they are as rich as Croesus anyway. Biggest of all is Sheikh Saud bin Mohamed al-Thani, cousin of the Emir of Qatar, who has spent hundreds of millions in just five years – hoovering up everything from Islamic metalwork to Mamluk glass, manuscripts, Isnik pottery, and Indian and Arab jewellery, much but not all destined for a projected national museum and library.
New YorkFifty-three years ago, Frank Loesser wrote a famous musical about the refusal of New Yorkers to kowtow to the demands of earnest reformers and implacable do-gooders. Since Guys and Dolls bowed, New York has survived J. Edgar Hoover, Joe McCarthy, Spiro Agnew, Rudy Giuliani and the ministrations of a host of other civic-minded zealots determined to force the city to clean up its act. But it could not survive Mike Bloomberg.
Don't be silly,' said my learned Tory friend Bruce, leaning across a plate of foie gras and peering at me over the top of his glasses. 'It doesn't matter whether they find any weapons of mass destruction; the war on Iraq was justified because it was fun. Our boys were getting bored; they needed a bit of a gallop.' It looked, from the newspaper photographs, as though Bruce might be right. Covered in tribal face-paint and with skulls daubed on their helmets, our boys and America's went whooping off in their tanks and planes.
A melancholy anniversary recently passed virtually unnoticed: it is now more than a decade since the Conservative party fell behind in the polls. Never has a major opposition party been so unpopular, with so many, for so long. If Conservatives are ever to govern again, they must do three things. They have honestly to appreciate why their party has come to this pass. They must eschew false comforts and snake-oil remedies, which will only prolong their agony.