Better access to education. Tax cuts for anyone in the struggling middle. More affordable homes, and more money for the National Heath Service. There is nothing wrong with Theresa May seeking to stake out the centre ground of British politics and stop Brexit turning into a right-wing campaign to turn back the clock. But one might have imagined she’d use conservative means to achieve this, rather than raiding Ed Miliband’s last manifesto for ideas.
Sebastian Gorka is a big man. He has a powerful handshake, a deep voice, and a serious goatee. He’s also deputy assistant to President Donald Trump, and known as the most influential Brit in the White House. He was born in London, the son of Hungarian immigrants, and grew up in Ealing. Yet he seems to identify more with America and Hungary than with Britain. When I ask him if he feels British, he says, ‘As a good friend said to me, and I think this is a quote from someone else, possibly Hayek, “You were always American, you were just born in the wrong country.
Emmanuel Macron is going to be the next president of France. I know people are saying Marine Le Pen isn't out of the race and it's important to keep the suspense going as long as possible. But I see no scenario in which the French will vote her into the Elsyée.
Le Pen's attempt to distance herself from the toxic National Front founded by her father, declaring herself an independent, just like Macron, is entertaining.
Coming out of a celebratory dinner at a Montparnasse brasserie after topping the poll in the first round of the French presidential election on Sunday, Emmanuel Macron had a brief brush with the press. A reporter asked: ‘Is this your Fouquet moment? This referred to a notoriously showy celebration by Nicolas Sarkozy at Fouquet’s restaurant after his own victory in 2007. The 39-year-old centrist was visibly cross. He simply wanted to thank his secretaries, security officers, politicians and writers, he said.
This election was won two days before it was announced, on Easter Sunday. Theresa May put out an Easter message in which she suggested that British values had a Christian basis. It was her version of David Cameron’s message two years before, in which he said that Britain is a Christian country. She was rather more convincing. I don’t know whether Cameron is sincerely religious, but he didn’t seem it. He didn’t even seem to try very hard to seem it, as if fearing that his metropolitan support might weaken, and perhaps that George Osborne would make a snarky jibe about it at cabinet.
I met Dr Tom Catena in Sudan’s Nuba Mountains — the site of an African war and famine few have even heard about — in a hospital overflowing with children. I saw bombs had ripped away their arms, flying shrapnel had taken out a baby’s eye, anti-personnel mines had shredded legs to jagged bone and ribbons of gangrenous flesh, infants suffering kwashiorkor and the other horrors of malnutrition. Inspired by St Francis of Assisi, ‘Doctor Tom’ has worked almost every day, all day, since he arrived as the only surgeon for the Catholic hospital in Nuba nine years ago.
Last week some 20,000 children under the age of 14 packed their bags to return to boarding school for the summer term: a migration unique in anthropology. The habit was born of necessity for the rural gentry in the 18th century, and it became customary for the wealthy and aspirational in the 19th century. But what possible need for boarding is there in the 21st?
Some parents say they have no choice. ‘She literally made me do it,’ one mother told me of her eight-year-old, residing at a very smart prep in the Midlands.
I’m an unashamed Archers fan. But for the first time in 50 years I’m exasperated by the storyline. A fortnight ago Usha, who has no ball sense, is justifiably rejected as a potential player by Ambridge’s cricket captain. Even she admits she’s useless. Nevertheless, bleating ‘sexist’ and ‘age-ist’, she leads a Lysistrata-style boycott, not of the marital bed, but of the practice nets. The women down bats and walk. Really! It’s enough to make you ashamed to be a feminist.
Most mornings, if I’m not too hung-over, I go for a run around Ruislip Lido — a mile there, through Ruislip Woods, about two miles round the lido and a mile back again. It generally takes me about half an hour. On my way, I see woodpeckers, egrets, sparrowhawks, and the occasional Muntjac deer. It’s hard to believe you’re in London, at the arse end of the Metropolitan line, surrounded by bland suburbia — John Betjeman’s Metroland.