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England’s national saint

Shakespeare is all things to all people. The greatest writer we have, he was subtle to the extent of ambivalence. As a man he was sexually fluid, politically ambidextrous and not prepared to commit himself on anything, least of all religion. It’s sometimes said that the son of a provincial glove-maker could not have had

Boycott Britain

The British tourism industry appears to be gripped by a form of schizophrenia. On the one hand, we are told that holidaying in Britain has never been more fashionable, with hotels and resorts enjoying a boom this summer. ‘Suddenly our seaside towns are the places to be. Santorini is out. Scarborough is in,’ gushed the

My hero

Few Tory MPs set off for the summer recess in a confident mood. There is unease about the opinion polls, and the leader. There is also grumbling about IDS’s failure to sharpen up the shadow Cabinet, though it would have been hard for him to do that. The obvious candidates for the sack are Quentin

Sword of honour

If you are looking for some fun, and have a research grant to spend, try this. Visit an American university, bump into random students in the corridor and loudly call each one ‘asshole’. Then measure their reactions. This is what a team of psychologists did in a controlled experiment at the University of Michigan. The

‘Good things are happening in Iraq’

There are no cloud-capped towers, but it is a gorgeous palace – or, rather, ranch. King Hamad of Bahrain, a short, stocky but powerfully built man in his early 50s, strides out of his marble hall to shake my hand on his distinctly palatial doorstep. It is about 110 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade in

Black-eyed monster

If you exclude the hypothesis that most British official statistics have been manipulated for one political purpose or another, the latest crime figures appear strange and mysterious: while crimes of violence against the person have risen by 20 per cent in a single year, other forms of crime have fallen somewhat. Since most serious crimes

The fall guy

The lightening of Tony Blair’s mood on Sunday afternoon was palpable. For two days, ever since news of David Kelly’s suicide broke during his Far-East tour, the Prime Minister had looked haggard and broken. His voice went miserable and panicky. But the BBC announcement that Dr Kelly was the source for reporter Andrew Gilligan brought

A despicable and cowardly diversion

There was a strange sort of hiatus between Andrew Gilligan’s report on the Today programme that Alastair Campbell had ‘sexed up’ some of the evidence about Iraq’s threat to the West, and Mr Campbell’s rage at being so accused. It lasted for nearly four weeks. Immediately after Gilligan made his report, there was a brief