The sophisticated truck bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on 20 September, which took dozens of lives, was the latest incident in a campaign to destabilise the entire subcontinent. Most reports have blamed al-Qa’eda militants but the real blame for the crime belongs with the Talebanised sectors of the Pakistani armed forces and intelligence service (ISI), and the pusillanimity of the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari, widower of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto.
Readers of Anthony Trollope will remember how thoughtless and greedy young men in the Victorian professions can be lured into ruin by accepting ‘accommodation bills’ from their shifty acquaintances. They make themselves liable for the debts of others; and only too late do they discover that they are trapped in a web of financial mechanics that forces them to pay hugely inflated sums for obligations or services they have had nothing to do with.
The Treasury will be the engine room of David Cameron’s government. It will have to be, given the ghastly economic inheritance. But the economy will be only one of the incoming Chancellor’s headaches — his department will be in no fit state to do the leading.The Treasury — once the citadel of high-quality policy advice and the driving force behind the economic and financial reforms which revived Britain in the 1980s — now lies prostrate.
Fraser Nelson says that the Tory leader must not be tempted by a ‘safety first’ strategy at his conference in Birmingham. The global financial crisis has transformed the political context and left an opening for the Conservatives to promise true radicalism and to be proudly boldThe Labour party conference already had an apocalyptic aura without the preachers from the Plymouth Brethren gathering in Manchester to rub it in.
In theory, Europeans find American elections vulgar and plutocratic. In practice, they find them utterly gripping. This is partly because the US is wealthy and powerful, but mainly because American campaigns, being more participatory than European ones, are more interesting. All organisations grow according to the DNA encoded at the time of their conception. The US was founded in a revolt against a distant and autocratic regime.
The Conservatives last won a general election in 1992. That was also the year when the opinion polls met their Waterloo. The results of 50 nationwide surveys were published during that campaign. All but six showed Labour ahead, and they all suggested that the outcome of the election would be a hung Parliament, with Labour probably the largest party. They were all wrong. The largest Tory lead reported by any poll during the campaign was only a single percentage point.
There are two reliable tricks which can fill the room at any Tory speaking event: offer free beer, or put Michael Gove on the panel. His fusion of almost comic politeness and intellectual ruthlessness have given him quite a following, whether he’s defending neoconservatism or David Cameron. In three short years he has been propelled to the Tory front bench, tasked with devising a supply-side revolution in education which would be the flagship reform for the next Tory government.
Rod Liddle is outraged by the Foreign Secretary’s alleged comparison of himself to Michael Heseltine: like comparing a Big Beast to a stumpy little Muntjac deer. Where have all the political giants gone?Apparently, David Miliband’s speech to the Labour party conference was deliberately low-key because he did not wish to have a ‘Heseltine Moment’ — that is, he did not wish to be seen as being too obviously a threat to the Prime Minister, too openly desirous of his job.