It doesn’t matter who’s in charge, says Rod Liddle. Once elected, a localcouncil automatically becomes self-important and incompetentA charity called Help for Heroes, which raises money for wounded British soldiers, asked Portsmouth City Council for a £500 donation towards a proposed ‘fun day’. The council declined the request, saying that to have given money ‘could cause offence to ethnic minority groups living in the community who may also have experience of injury/violence due to the war’.
At a recent dinner party in the British embassy in Kabul, one of the guests referred to ‘the Afghan-Pakistan war’. The rest of the table fell silent. This is the truth that dare not speak its name. Even mentioning it in private in the Afghan capital’s green zone is enough to solicit murmurs of disapproval. Few want to accept that the war is widening; that it now involves Pakistan, a country with an unstable government and nuclear weapons.
The lady in the orange baseball cap is shouting to be heard. It is true that she hasn’t got much choice — the barking has become deafening. ‘You have to teach them to respect you!’ she screams. Owners tug sheepishly at their dogs’ leads and attempt to shush them without appearing to be unworthy of respect. ‘Otherwise they can make your life completely miserable.’ It occurs to me that this is a point that could be made about creatures other than 12-week-old puppies.
Britain’s firefighters are under-worked and inflexible, says Leo McKinstry. It’s time we created a unified emergency serviceA cooling breeze wafted through the plane trees under the inky-black Provence sky. In the distance, the band played as couples danced. The rural village’s annual summer celebration presented the gentlest of scenes. But suddenly there was a loud crash, followed by a commotion.
The Sats disaster is depressing, but I’m afraid that as someone who’s marked them for ten years, it’s not altogether surprising. In the early days of the National Curriculum tests — the Sats — I was a Key Stage 2 Science marker, sworn to Masonic-like secrecy about this mysterious testing process. In my innocence I had expected it to be a straightforward procedure, but I hadn’t allowed for the serial incompetence, the human error, the vagaries of postal deliveries, and most important: the political pressure.
Gianni Alemanno, Rome’s new right-wing mayor, tells John Laughland that it’s time for the Eternal City to adopt a ‘zero tolerance’ approachThere are few people, I imagine, who could make Boris Johnson jealous, but Gianni Alemanno is probably one of them. Two days before Boris’s election as Mayor of London, the conservative Alemanno conquered Rome after the Italian Left had held the city for a decade and a half.