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Nicholas Farrell

In defence of Silvio Berlusconi

Ah Italia! Such a great place to get your head round great art and great women but what a crappy little country. How else can you describe a place that condemns a 76-year-old man to seven years in jail and bans him for life from public office for a crime that both he and his

Notes on…interiors

There have already been one or two accuracy-related gripes about the BBC’s summer extravaganza The White Queen, but one anachronism was especially interesting: it was a touching scene of a medieval mother waking her medieval children from their medieval slumber. They were all wrapped together in a lovely bed in lovely sheets and the room

Why it’s wrong to be ashamed of Britain’s food banks

The very existence of food banks is taken as proof of something rotten in Britain. If Brits are queuing for charity food parcels, the state has failed. Labour MPs brim with righteous anger: they call the rise of these charitable centres a ‘scandal’. David Cameron, for his part, wishes people would stop talking about them.

While Britain stagnates, America is roaring back

Predicting the decline of the United States has been in vogue since the birth of American hegemony. Sputnik, Vietnam, stagflation, budget deficits, trade deficits and even the end of the Cold War all triggered predictions of the end of America. With the 2008 financial crisis, however, there seemed to be a sense that this time

In defence of having no opinion

‘Where do you stand on Syria?’ asked my stepson. Tricky one. Clearly, the Assad regime is loathsome and the West should exert more pressure to end the bloodbath, but on the other hand I’m not convinced we should be doing anything at all to help the divided rebels, not least because the faction that takes

NHS GPs should charge for appointments. Here’s why

The Chairman of the Royal College of GPs recently said that ‘general practice has radically altered over the last five years, with ballooning workloads and more and more patient consultations having to be crammed into an ever-expanding working day.’ The blame for this tends to be put on a growing and ageing population or an

Investment special: Which shops to bet on as recovery begins

After a long, cold and sometimes lonely winter for shopkeepers, at last there are glimmers of sunshine. Retail sales volume surged in May as shoppers shelled out £6.8 billion a week, the highest figure since records began. Although the rise was partly a recovery from a miserable March and April, depressed by the coldest spring

Investment: Why does so much always go wrong in August?

The weather might not be what it once was, and the football season might start so quickly it feels like it has hardly been away, but there is one thing everyone can surely agree on about August. Nothing of any importance happens. As we head into the dog days of summer, everyone can sling their