There was red-on-red action for Ed Miliband yesterday as Blairite Lord Mandelson came out all-guns-blazing against the opposition leader’s official party policies, leaving the startled Miliband gang reeling in complete disarray.
So David Miliband has resigned from politics to run the International Rescue Committee charity in New York. He has described the job as his “dream job” and many have begun to eulogize a political career that was relatively brief at only 12 years, ending at the relatively meagre age of 47. This is itself reflects the increasingly youthful nature of politics with Cameron and Clegg both in their mid-40s and looking set to end their frontline political careers in their early 50s at the latest - a time when politicians used to begin their careers.
The world has been watching Britain as it has struggled between the ideas of a completely free press – such as in the US – and one where the press is regulated to the point where a recent phone hacking scandal and other press misbehaviour does not repeat itself ever again.
So if you’ve found guilty of dangerous driving and someone has died because of this, you’d be thankful that you got away with dangerous driving rather than death by dangerous driving, meaning you only got 8 weeks in prison rather than the substantially longer time of the latter charge. This is what happened to Labour peer, Lord Ahmed, someone who certainly exists in the public eye and someone who should be grateful that he remained a Labour peer and grateful he was handed the more serious charge for his dubious activities.
Kate-bashing has so far been pretty rare. Why would you after all? Beautiful, self-effacing, polite and courteous and she is yet to go off on any Diana–esque meanderings...so to speak. The closest she’s come to criticism is the scoffing of the country’s many laddish men throughout the country going, “William picked the wrong one, ‘ave you seen Pippa’s arse? Phwoar”...Such commentary makes Nicolas Witchell seem royal comparatively inane...oh wait.
But all of a sudden a scathing attack has been directed towards the lovely Duchess. Who is the culprit? Nope, it’s not Jeremy Clarkson. It is, indeed, one of the nation’s favourite authors. Again it isn’t Jeremy Clarkson, but a genuine author of admired intelligence. Yes, it’s Hilary Mantel.
The Man Booker Prize winner in 2009 and 2012 has compared her to Anne Boleyn (who she knows quite a lot about having written novels based on the history of Boleyn) during a lecture entitled Undressing Anne Boleyn (yes, she’s an expert). She said that the princess has made the progression from being a “shop-window mannequin” to a woman whose only “purpose” is to “give birth”.
"It's rather that I saw Kate becoming a jointed doll on which certain rags are hung” she said. “In those days she was a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own, entirely defined by what she wore. These days she is a mother-to-be, and draped in another set of threadbare attributions ... her only point and purpose being to give birth."
Quite what she expects from a woman who has the world’s eyes on her at all times in the PR exercise that is the Royal Family, I’m not so sure. Perhaps, behind closed doors (really closed, quadruple-locked doors being required to escape the paparazzi), she may be an absolute hoot, but does she really have much choice about being the mannequin or smiling princess she is in public life? It’s hardly as though the queen has ever showed much of her non-head-of-state face, nor William or Harry (having a go at architects aside). Prince Harry (the Duke of Edinburgh is just a bit old-school really) is the only exception to the PR necessities of the core members of the royal family, and he is usually lambasted for his tomfoolery. Sure he’s probably more loved by the public because of it, but can we really expect the whole royal family to do the same? Nope, thought not.
Mantel may have meant her criticisms as historical commentary rather than personal attack, but the reality is that the Duchess of Cambridge has so far led the life expected of her – which wasn’t the same as predecessors such as Anne Boleyn, Marie Aonteinette and Princess Diana. Can she really be blamed for doing so? It’s hardly as though the three aforementioned princesses fared too greatly.
Lord Mountbatten: A Forgotten Statue
Following a campaign by the Westminster Journal and the celebrated photographer Allan Warren (including the interview below and missives to Number 10, the Deputy Prime Minister & the Royal Parks Commission) to have a plaque added to Lord Mountbatten's statue in Whitehall, Westminster, agreement was reached for a new plaque which will be in place by the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Dominic Wightman Interviews the celebrated photographer Allan Warren
Dominic Wightman: How did you meet Earl Mountbatten of Burma?
I first met Lord Mountbatten, when he sat for my first book entitled NOBS & Nosh. I was in my early twenties and lived in the same street, Kinnerton Street near Hyde Park Corner. We did the photo shoot at his mews house with him in an armchair, resting his hand on a bust of Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India. For the launch of the book I held a party at my house for several hundred guests and members of the press. Lord Louis was guest of honour. Even Gloria Swanson flew in from New York just to meet him.
Britain's leading Muslim bodies say they are fighting extremism. In one of our most respected mosques, Sara Hassan came face to face with hardline female preachers of separatism. Here, she reports on the shocking results of her investigation:
In a large balcony above the beautiful main hall at Regent's Park Mosque in London - widely considered the most important mosque in Britain - I am filming undercover as the woman preacher gives her talk.
What should be done to a Muslim who converts to another faith? "We kill him," she says, "kill him, kill, kill…You have to kill him, you understand?
The recent announcement by the British government to introduce a system of presumed consent in place of the current system of organ donation has caused uproar among certain minority groups against a background of widespread commendation by the British Public.
With Britain, like much of the developed world, suffering from a shortage of organs for transplant, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has advocated a change in policy in which doctors will be given licence to assume a deceased person's consent for the removal of his/her organs for the purpose of organ donation unless such a person has "opted out" before death. A similar change in policy recently occurred in Spain, where changing to a system of presumed consent has seen an increase in the availability of organs for transplantation there.
US President Barack Obama currently seems to be portraying a modern version of Kleist's village judge. He is increasingly vocal in his criticism of Europeans for supposedly having exacerbated the ongoing economic crisis with their caution. His audience, however, seems to sense that the plight Obama is lamenting originated in his own country.
It stems from a doctrine that has dominated economic thought for the last two decades and consists of two elements: turbo-capitalism, whose only tenet is that any regulation of financial markets inhibits growth, and its more accommodating but no less dangerous brother, turbo-Keynesianism.
This mus definately be a sledge hammer for Obama who likes to portray himself as the saviour without faith.
In Britain the far left is tiny. Like the British far right and the extreme Islamist movement, it has no chance of establishing itself in the critical mass that is Middle England and Britain’s sagacious first-past-the-post governmental system thus ensures it remains where it belongs - in the political wilderness / on the political fruit farm.
Occasionally you hear public huffs and puffs from far lefties. Since these days they are short of comrades and find it uphill rustling up a decent crowd by themselves, they usually congregate in some kind of unholy alliance (the Black Red Alliance, Islamist-Leftist compact is a well known one) in which they rant and bluster and, as we’ve seen recently, are still prone to violence.