Is Kensington and Chelsea, that jewel in the crown of Conservative parliamentary seats, becoming the Bermuda Triangle of Tory politics? Thanks to the little-noticed workings of the Boundary Commission, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, the former foreign secretary, could soon find himself in a battle royal to remain in the Commons.The local precedents are not good for Sir Malcolm. When Kensington was amalgamated with Chelsea in the run-up to the 1997 election, Dudley Fishburn stood down in favour of the Chelsea MP, Sir Nicholas Scott.
Yulia Tymoshenko’s plans to reform her countryTo her legions of adoring groupies she is the Orange Princess, the goddess of the Ukrainian revolution and the world’s most beautiful politician. Even her critics admit that with her blonde hair braided in the traditional Ukrainian peasant way like a crown around her head and her flamboyant designer outfits, Yulia Tymoshenko cuts a surreal figure, a cross between Princess Leia of Star Wars and Princess Diana.
Has the David Cameron dog sled recently swung by the little Himalayan city of Thimphu, do you suppose? His latest policy — to make us all, in a rather nebulous way, happier — seems to have been taken word for word from the philosophy of King Jigme Singye Wangchuk, the supreme ruler of Bhutan.Bhutan is the only country in the world which has an annually measurable index of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which takes precedence over such arid and abstruse criteria as GDP.
Now if you were an average overworked overtaxed Spectator-reading parent of a university student, I think I know how you would feel about this lecturers’ strike. I think you’d be fit to be tied. You would be chomping the carpet and firing off letters to the editor about the Spartist whingers who were prejudicing your daughter’s future.You would be ringing up Radio Five phone-ins after midnight, and raving about how these degrees were life-defining moments, and how unthinkable it was that papers should go unmarked.
Taking issue with the Americans’ FrancophobiaWashington DCOn the night of the Arsenal-Barcelona match, I was on the train between Manchester and London when something happened that would be inexplicable to my American compatriots. Two English couples, aged about 60, sat across the aisle. They were what Americans would call middle-class, and they were tidily dressed: sweaters and ties for the men, sweaters and necklaces for the women.