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The people must decide their fate

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

Business as usual in London

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

Dying for a cigarette

New York Fifty-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

Lions betrayed by donkeys

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

It’s still the ‘nasty party’

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