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[/audioplayer]Anyone seeking to understand the strength of the SNP should look to those parts of Scotland where the party is supposed to be weakest. At the last election, the nationalists took just under 10 per cent of the vote in the Scottish Borders.
A few days ago Imtiaz, a solar engineer; Aliya, a campaigner for secular education; Sohail, a gay Somali in his twenties; and Sara, a bright student, went to Queen Mary University of London in the East End and made an astonishingly brave stand.
Astonishing because they volunteered to step forward to the front line after the Islamist murders of satirists and Jews in Paris and Copenhagen. Before an audience and in front of cameras, they explained why they had left Islam.
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[/audioplayer]There is no such thing as the English countryside. There is my countryside, your countryside and everyone else’s. Most people fight just for theirs. When David Cameron told the BBC’s Countryfile he would defend the countryside ‘as I would my own family’, many of its defenders wondered which one he meant.
Americans crave traditions. The older they are the more we cherish them. Thanksgiving, which beats out Christmas, was invented by Abe Lincoln in 1863 but it is an outgrowth of the timeless harvest festival celebrated by the generations of mankind that formed the earliest agricultural communities. Much harder is inventing traditions from something new. In this we are unsurpassed.
One of my earliest memories is seeing my father in the early morning raking out the ashes of our coal fire. I was interested in the blue veins around his ankles and bare white heels as he strained forwards with his short shovel. After the ashes he carefully placed balls of newspaper, which he called ‘spills’, and built a tent of small kindling logs over them. I was careful not to speak as he was always in a furious temper while he was doing it.
In recent weeks Ed Balls has been offering a new reason to vote Labour: it was his party, he says, that saved Britain from joining the euro. Now, the shadow chancellor is free to say what he wants — and in a way, I’m pleased that he feels the need to convey such an impression. But the true story of how Britain was saved from the euro is somewhat different.
It all happened nearly a generation ago, between 1995 and 1997, when I was in my very early twenties.
Legend has it that Mark Antony considered Turkey’s Turquoise Coast so beautiful that, in about 32 bc, he gave it to Cleopatra as a wedding present. The country’s southernmost shore stretches for nearly a thousand miles and combined incredible scenery, clear azure waters and a warm Mediterranean climate. Its strategic location means it has been occupied by various empires over the course of its history, including the Lycians and Ottomans.