The thoughts of Chairman Xi – in digestible form

While giving a talk on China I was asked an unusual question: ‘What is the one word you would use to describe China?’ By China we mean of course the Chinese Communist party (CCP) and, more specifically, Xi Jinping. My reply was: ‘Solipsistic.’ Xi wants China to lead the world, but to take very limited responsibility for solving the world’s problems Steve Tsang and Olivia Cheung, from the School of Oriental and African Studies, have produced a study in solipsism, and a mighty fine one. Xi and the CCP are solipsistic in the vulgar rather than true philosophical sense. They are supremely self-centred in their belief that the external world

A speech which showed parliament at its best

It’s been an angry, tense few days around parliament. The Sue Gray report saw Boris Johnson accused of lying, and starting another fight about Keir Starmer and Jimmy Savile that led to more allegations of dishonesty and bad faith. Anyone glancing at news from the Commons might get confirmation that MPs are a worthless sack of rats who spend all their time scratching and biting at each other. Which is why it’s important to draw attention to the other side of the Commons, which tends to get less attention: the human, collegiate side that was on display when MPs said goodbye to Jack Dromey who was the member for Birmingham Erdington

Why great speeches are made for stage and screen

Curious thing, writer’s block. If you believe it exists. Terry Pratchett didn’t. ‘There’s no such thing,’ he said. ‘It was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.’ He had a point. Writers write, period. But there is a syndrome in my house known as Not Starting Anything New Through Fear Of It Being Not Very Good. Less catchy than ‘writer’s block’, but arguably a more accurate description of the condition. My Covid-induced version of the above involved endlessly ‘honing’ an already completed play about my mother to devastatingly little effect and musing on the oldest creative question of all: is there a formula for writing success, and if so