New Statesman (1996)

Articles from Vol. 133, No. 4687, May 10

After the Bombs, a Broom Handle Is Nothing
And so it has come to this. Just over a year ago, President George W Bush, in his premature announcement of victory, stated that "there are no longer torture chambers or rape rooms or mass graves" in Iraq. Now we learn of torture in the very same Abu...
America: Kerry Has Run a Woeful Campaign So Far, Failing to Counter Even When Unfairly Attacked. after the Worst Three Months of His Presidency, Bush Is Still Level in the Polls
The moment I realised Bill Clinton would beat President George H W Bush in the 1992 presidential campaign came in Seattle, at some unearthly hour like 8am. Clinton was holding an outdoor rally that had attracted thousands. An anti-Clinton dirty tricks...
America's Barbecue Vote: They Work Longer Hours Than Dad Did, Regret Not Having Wives Who Stay at Home, and Hate Seeing Those Minorities Getting Uppity. Meet the Angry White Men Bush Can Rely On
By any rational measure the average white American male enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world. The United States is consistently near the top of the UN's Human Development Index measuring quality of life in 175 countries. Yet white...
Baloneyland: Peter Conrad Enjoys a Stingingly Up-to-Date Satire Marking Poland's Admission to the EU
In Poland, parcelled up between Russia, Prussia and Austria from 1772 to 1914, patriotism was a love that dared not speak its name. At least it could not do so in words; music, however, made a more elliptical protest against oppression. The liltingly...
Bangladesh: A Bit of Moderate Muslim Torture
One of my closest friends, Mohammad Abdur Rob, has been arrested in Bangladesh and charged with treason. He is one of many thousands who have been detained during a little-reported government crackdown. Rob, who fought for Bangladesh during its...
Bbc: Say It with Flattery
The BBC is haunted by two ghosts, but they are behaving in very different ways. Gavyn Davies reacted to the loss of the BBC chairmanship with stoicism and wry humour. When he resigned, he wrote an emollient letter to Tony Blair. He had no plans to...
Benefits: When a Sick Person Isn't Ill
With almost unfailing accuracy, the Benefits Agency seems to target my most deserving patients, first to torment them with a series of medical examinations, then to deprive them of the cold comforts of state charity. Yet it leaves the more obviously...
Blair and Co Helped to Create the Hysteria over Asylum-Seekers. Now They Insist the Only Way to Beat the BNP Is to Vote Labour. What a Cheek!
The far right in Britain, in its present guise as the British National Party, likes to promote the idea of "racial purity". Yet, if you ever meet party members, the words "racial purity" are not what come to mind. What comes to mind is the word "inbreeding"....
Class Conscious: Classic FM Coaxes Its Middle-Class Listeners to Take Life Gently
How to move on, in middle age, from a youthful obsession with pop music? It becomes a social question as much as a strictly musical one. I've been trying to get into classical music for about 20 years now, but in all that time I have only ever found...
Competition: Win Vouchers to Spend at Any TESCO Store
Competition No 3828 Set by Gavin Ross, 19 April You were asked for spoof advice on dealing with terrorists or terrorism. Report by Ms de Meaner Wonderful. [pounds sterling]5 book tokens for the one-liners. [pounds sterling]20 to the three...
Diary: My Ex-Mother-in-Law Came Round and Tried to Shoot Me and Then Threw Herself under a Train. in between the Gun and the Railway Line She Knitted Her Grandson a Vest
I recently decided that it would be best to take out my young grandchildren separately so as not to spend most of the time pulling them down from railings and suchlike. The little girls being away, I spent three mornings with three boys. The eldest,...
English Delight: Sad Life and Sparky Fiction from the Man Who Made the Mail
The Two Loves of Anthony Trollope (BBC1) Trollope family legend has it that the great novelist died laughing. This, The Two Loves of Anthony Trollope (7pm, 2 May) discreetly pointed out, was an exaggeration. He died a month after suffering a fatal...
Food: In 1972 Quiche, like Stripped Pine, Had Not Been De Rigueur That Long
Fashions in food flounce up and down like hems and frills on frocks. I was born just after the war, a time when your mother queued for your orange juice ration and there were proper local shops, Sainsbury's in yards of neoclassical marble where muslin-capped...
How to Bring Politicians to Heel: Mathew Little on a Voters' Group That Plans to Turn Elections Upside Down by Issuing Its Own Manifesto
The English nation, Rousseau observed, has delusions of freedom: free only at the moment it is electing MPs, but "as soon as the members are elected, the people [are] enslaved; it is nothing". But its collective inconsequence can rarely have been so...
Interview Charlie Falconer: "Tony Blair Will Lead the Party into the Next Election on the Basis That He Will Run the Full Term," Says the PM's Confidant-in-Chief
It can't be easy being Charlie Falconer. He is Scottish. He is unelected. And he is a close friend of Tony Blair's. Still, he wears his burdens lightly: "The way I have been judged in the past and will be judged in the future has not been on the basis...
In Vincent's Footsteps: Van Gogh Slept with Countless Prostitutes and Even Gave His Ear to One. but the Importance of Sex in His Life and Work Has Been Ignored in the Sweetly Mythologised Image of Him as a Sunflower-Painting Saint. Waldemar Januszczak Reveals the Artist's True Colours
I have this creepy feeling that I've been watching a cult being born. All I have really been doing is following in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh for a TV biography on Channel 4. But, at every step of the way, I found myself encountering so much...
Noble Rot: Richard Cork Revels in the Riotous Abundance of Cy Twombly
Springtime at the Serpentine is an ideal moment for a Cy Twombly show. Inside, the works on paper from the past half-century of Twombly's long career explode in a riot of organic richness, as if the septuagenarian artist were determined to outdo the...
Notebook: Have You Seen the Loos in the New Extension to Tate Britain? Magnificent
We had all been there before. Lines of journalists in the corridor, corresponding wellington boots and hard hats in the boardroom, everyone in shapeless yellow tabards, being solemnly led out to the building site. We could have been at Tate Modern,...
Reinforcements for Iraq: A Brigade of Fearless Hacks
Despite what the Prime Minister says, the chances of Britain sending further reinforcements to Iraq must be high. So who should go? I propose a new division, made up of those journalists and writers who were so keen that we go to war and who so faithfully...
Rosie Millard May Run a Posh Book Club in the Groucho, but I Bet Mine among the Ladies of Nightingale House (Average Age 87) Is More Fun
According to a report published by Libri last month, the public library service spends [pounds sterling]1 bn of taxpayers' money a year, but only 9 per cent of this sum goes on books. OK, some of it is spent usefully on tapes and CDs and devoted librarians...
Screenwriting: Match Tarantino in Two Days
It's that time of year again when our film-makers migrate south for two weeks of schmoozing and boozing at Cannes. But don't panic if you forgot to book your flight: stay at home instead and cobble together a book called How to Write Totally Awesome...
Sexual Assault: No Rape Here-We Are a University
My first year at a top British university was, as one would expect, hard work, drunken and good fun. Then, one night, just after my exams, I awoke to find a male student in my room at halls. He had undressed himself and was touching me while masturbating...
Sympathy for the Devil: Of Two Tales of Sex, Drugs and Rock'n'roll, It Is the Film Made 30 Years Ago That Thrills
Wonderland (18) Performance (18) The popularisation of pornography in the early 1970s created two unlikely cult heroes. One was Harry Reems, a passable comic actor who co-starred with Linda Lovelace in the genre-defining hit Deep Throat, and...
The Business: The Creators of Google Risk Ending Up like Anita Roddick, Their Ideals Increasingly Sidelined by Commercial Priorities and with Diminished Control over Their Company
Larry Page and Sergey Brin have at last announced plans to float their company Google on the stock market. It is going to become one of the most closely watched financial transactions of the year. The two men, just 31 and 30, both sons of university...
The Cap of Youth: Trevor Nunn's Wonderfully Fresh Production Presents the Prince as a Morose Teenager
Hamlet Old Vic, London SE1 In 30 years of seeing Hamlet on stage and screen, I have never been more absorbed or moved than by the production playing at the Old Vic. Trevor Nunn's decision to cast very young actors as Hamlet and Ophelia produces...
The End of the Probation Service: It Sounds like a Good Idea-Putting People Who Deal with Offenders, Both in Prison and out of It, under the Same Management. but Expect a Bureaucratic Shambles
In the 1994 smash hit Speed, Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock play a police officer and a teacher trapped on a school bus that has been rigged with a bomb by a madman. If they allow the bus's speed to slow to less than 50mph for one moment, the bomb...
The Fan: A Big Welcome to Delia. at Last, a Woman of Substance in the Premiership
It's the time of the year when we say it's this time of the year. So step forward, the season's triumphs and disasters, and if you can keep your head when all about you are trying to read the manager's motto on the dressing-room wall, you're a better...
The Insider: A Dark Horse for PM, Gisela Keeps Dubious Company, and Unisex Lavatories for the Hacks
Rehabilitation indeed! While the Brownites and the Strawists quarrel about who shall succeed Tony Blair, Stephen Byers is creeping up on the rails as the dark-horse candidate. The idea that he could become leader would have been unthinkable even a...
This Country's Alliance of Tribes Has Always Relied on Amiable English Compromise
Much to my surprise, I received a greetings card in the post some days ago. It wished me a happy St George's Day and was signed "John". No one came to mind. I thought it might be from Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality,...
To Know the Countryside, You Must Live in the City: Country Folk, Tradition Has It, Are in Tune with Nature. Wrong. They Have Long Shown Woeful Ignorance of Everything from Worms to Badgers and Foxes
In his book Badgers, the naturalist Michael Clark describes surveying the animal back in the 1960s. Calling at a farm cottage, he asked the occupier--an old country man--whether he knew of any badgers living nearby. "What's badgers?" came the reply....
Torture; Simply the Spoils of Victory? the French in Algeria, the British in Northern Ireland: Soldiers Have Long Resorted to Abusing and Humiliating Their Captive Enemy. So Why Are We So Shocked by the Photos from Iraq?
It's all there in the cheesy grin of the US army's Specialist Charles Graner and Private Lynddie England as they beam triumphantly for the camera over the Iraqi captives lying in a tangle on the floor in front of them--the sheer joy of torture. In...
Watching Brief: I Have No Experience of Being Weed on, but the Stream of Urine in the Mirror Pictures of Alleged Torture in Iraq Did Not Look Very Convincing to Me
Piers Morgan is like one of those magnificent, strutting turkeys that miraculously escape slaughter every Christmas despite the knives being out for them. Admirers of the Daily Mirror editor--and there are many, this writer included--are hoping that...
'We Should Have Made It Clear That We Too Were Modernisers': Roy Hattersley Admits That Blair's Critics Failed to Argue Their Own Case for "Modern Social Democracy" with Enough Vigour. If They Press Their Programme Now, It Is Not Too Late to Rescue the Government
Critics of the Blairite "project" made a great mistake by accepting--indeed, embracing--the name "old Labour". Our error had honourable origins. We were prepared to renounce neither our past nor our principles. Our tactical blunder, however, was also...
Who Should We Believe? the More People Are Victimised, the Less Account We Take of Their Witness to Torture and Abuse
Abdullah crouched down until his knees just about touched the ground, nearly but not quite, and his head rested against a concrete wall. It was in this excruciating position that he was made to stay, blindfolded, for hours on end. "If I touched the...
Wine: A Drop of Rich, Fruity Collioure Could Have Saved My Much-Mourned Horse
Tucked away below the eastern tip of the Pyrenees, its vineyards running up to the Mediterranean coast, in the last pocket of Catalan France before the real Catalonia, lies one of the smallest of the French appellations--just 800 acres of vineyards,...
World View; When It Comes to Africa, Our Thirst for Justice Is Best Not Satisfied: Let Corrupt Leaders Know That Giving Up Control Means a Life in Peaceful Exile, and They May Consider Doing So
So, the old bastard has accepted the inevitable. Spurned by voters, despaired of by his generals, nudged by diplomats, he has realised it is time to go. The first lady has stuffed her Versace into her Gucci bags, the presidential motorcade has crunched...