I was recently upbraided in this magazine by your High Life columnist, a person I’ve liked and admired for many years, regarding a piece I’d written for Tatler on the ski resort of Gstaad. Taki can sometimes get painfully close to the bone, but he let me off lightly. His point was that I hadn’t understood what made the place tick because only the new-money arrivistes had spoken, as opposed to the chic old lot who had run for the hills.
Emily Maitlis reports from Libya on a land newly entranced by our brands — even M&S — where the West tolerates Gaddafi for fear of the insurgent alternativeStrange things happen to countries hermetically sealed by their dictators. Under Hoxha, Albanians fell in love with Norman Wisdom. Under Lukashenko, the Belarusians have seen mandatory beauty contests nationwide, and as I arrive at the customs desk of Tripoli airport I realise that under Gaddafi, mirrored aviator sunglasses and big hair have become the de rigueur fashion statement among immigration officials.
Britain has lost its identity and its sense of nation, says David Selbourne. The citizen is treated as a mere ‘consumer’, liberty reduced to the ‘freedom to choose’, politicians held in contempt and hostile forces such as Islamism appeased. The stakes could scarcely be higher.The ills of Western democracies are afflicting the most liberal societies known to history. Among other things, Britain suffers from growing inequality, housing shortage, a falling quality of health provision, rising rates of many types of crime, a failing pedagogy, agricultural impoverishment and a huge scale of ‘consumer debt’.
Gays are law-abiding, better-educated than the norm, economically productive and tend to be less of a drain on the state, says Rod Liddle. They don’t stand a chance in this countryShould we afford Iranian homosexuals political asylum in this country, or send them back to be hanged in their home country? I suppose there is a certain, dwindling, lobby in Great Britain which would argue we could hang them here and then bill Iran for the cost.
On the floor of Alan Milburn’s office is a scroll signed by the Queen offering her ‘well-beloved councillor’ £2,000 to be Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. It is a souvenir of his battles in the Blair–Brown days. He was appointed to this position to co-ordinate the last general election campaign, and was briefly seen as the favoured candidate to succeed Tony Blair. This lasted a few weeks: he resigned on election night and has kept an almost suspiciously low profile ever since.
Adam Holloway says that Britain’s strategy in Afghanistan is misconceived. Nato’s military presence should be reduced and the battle for hearts and minds fought more imaginativelyThey do not like the F-word in Whitehall, but failure stares us in the face in southern Afghanistan. For three years we have deluded ourselves that we can defeat the insurgency in the Pashtun tribal belt through our much talked-about plan for a ‘comprehensive approach’ — security, governance and development.