You’ve got to realise they would have done it. They would have gone right ahead and swept another priceless heirloom from the mantelpiece of history. They were revving up their bulldozers, ready to roar into the ancient and irreplaceable ecosystem. Another great tree would have been felled in the forest of knowledge, and the owl of Minerva would have fled in terror from her roost. Had it not been for a few romantic reactionaries, then the technicians who run our reductionist system of education — with the complaisance of the Labour government — would by now be halfway to the demolition of the ancient history A-Level.
Whatever happened to social mobility? One of the most disturbing themes to emerge from the grammar schools debate and the current rash of Blair retrospectives is the discovery that even under a supposedly progressive Prime Minister, our society is holding too many people back rather than propelling them forward.And the reasons behind this reveal many deep-seated differences between the thinking of Cameron’s Conservatives and that of Brown’s Labour party.
Dan McNeill, Nato’s commander in Kabul, tells Heidi Kingstone that even a ‘hard-bitten dude’ faces a struggle to make the liberated country function as an orderly societyDan McNeill used to give his briefings from a rocking-chair. Today, as he opens the door to his Kabul office, there is no rocking-chair in sight. As the Commander of the coalition International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, he is arguably, next to President Karzai, the most powerful man in the country.
Iain Johnstone celebrates the centenary of the ‘Duke’ and recalls a memorable holiday off the Mexican coast with the toupee-less Hollywood legendHad he lived, John Wayne would have been 100 on Saturday. I knew him. In the spring of 1976 he invited me to go on holiday with him on the Wild Goose, his converted minesweeper. The plan was to cruise up the Pacific coast of Mexico.He told me to go to the Acapulco Hilton and he would call me when the ship was ready to sail.
Rod Liddle says that the Corporation has no right to adopt a position on an issue such as David Maclean’s private member’s bill, and should stick to reporting the factsA BBC foreign correspondent was once sacked by the Corporation for claiming expenses fraudulently. What alerted the BBC accountants to a possible transgression was this chap’s claim for the cost of a lawnmower and the services of a gardener, given the fact that he lived in a fourth-floor apartment.