New Statesman (1996)

Articles from Vol. 133, No. 4709, October 11

Acts of War: David Hare's Authentic Portrayal of the Iraq Debacle
Stuff Happens National Theatre, London SE1 "I feel like God wants me to run for president," says the George W Bush character in David Hare's Stuff Happens. Later he senses the hand of the Almighty guiding his administration's decisions on Iraq....
Advertisements: From Hollywood, for Our Eyes Only
Jennifer Aniston escapes the unwanted attentions of legion admirers using her Barclaycard, Kim Cattrall gets intimate with a cup of Tetley tea and Ray Liotta sips on a Heineken. These days, US film stars are as likely to pop up on our small screens...
America: The Television Debate Was Live, and for the First Time Bush Faced Criticism in a Forum That He Could Not Control. He Revealed the Spoilt, Petulant Side of His Personality
I must thank readers who have written to me to express indignation about the treatment of 55-year-old Sue Niederer, the mother of a US soldier killed in Iraq. After trying to heckle Laura Bush about the war at a campaign rally, she was immediately...
A Universal Colour: As the Victoria and Albert Museum Launches a Show Examining Black British Style, Ekow Eshun Wonders If Such a Thing Still Exists
Halfway round the array of hats, hairstyles and dresses on display in the V & A's exhibition "Black British Style", I realised the contradiction at the heart of the show. "Black" suggests a homogeneous identity defined by skin colour. "Style" is...
Charlie Whelan Says ... Don't Believe It: "Tony Blair to Stay on for Full Third Term"
I don't normally feel sorry for Sunday newspaper hacks, but this past fortnight I did. By the Friday night, they would have all written at least two or three thousand words on Labour's week by the seaside, having spent much of it themselves in an alcoholic...
Chuggers: When Capitalism Works for Good
On walking through Victoria Station in London the other day, I was approached by an excitable young woman with a zealous gleam in her eye. The clipboard should have been a giveaway. This was a "chugger", or charity mugger, one of the swathes of postgraduate...
Class Conscious: When I Said I Was Having My Leg off, They Stopped Talking about House Prices
It's been a very class-conscious week, as usual. On Monday, I bought a small bottle of light ale in a pub and the barman assumed I would drink it straight from the neck, just as if I was somebody in IT and it was a bottle of "Bud". How culturally blind...
Commentary: Critics Claim That Anyone Who Writes Rhyming Verse "Can Never Be a True Poet". but Surely, Writes Felix Dennis, There Is Still Place for a Form That Has Been Used by Many of Our Greatest Poets
I was a dunce at almost everything in school except English literature and cross-country running. Too small to bulldoze my way out of trouble on the rugby pitch and too idle to obtain approval through serious study, I learned that a smart mouth and...
Competition: Win Vouchers to Spend at Any TESCO Store
Competition No 3850 Set by Brendan J O'Byrne, 20 September In its seventh annual "Mindset List", Beloit College in Wisconsin reminds its professors that, as far as freshers are concerned, Desi Arnaz, Orson Welles, Cary Grant and Ayatollah Khomeini...
Diary: Hesketh and Soames Looked like Two Turtles Crawling Slowly Up the Beach to Lay Their Eggs
The post-match human debris in the foyer of a conference hotel is always a good guide to the state of the party, sometimes better than the platform goings-on. The early-morning body count tells its own story, and in this respect the Conservatives are...
Drink: Full of Like-Minded Boozers, My Local Wine Merchant Is the Club I Never Had
If alcohol were available only at Tesco, or sold exclusively from behind grilles in the back of Asda, there would be a lot less drinking done in the Watson household. In fact, it occurs to me that my habit of buying a fruity Pinot Blanc on the way...
Elvis Lives! the King Conjures Up His Former Self to Battle against Evil
Bubba Ho-tep (15) The greatest tragedy of Elvis's career was the squandering of his impressive screen-acting talents. Having proved his dramatic mettle in early offerings such as King Creole and Jailhouse Rock, Elvis came out of the army to find...
Even Our Judges Are More Open-Minded about Race Than Our Politicians
It has been a couple of weeks of public appearances. I have been speaking to audiences that ranged from the politically enthused to asylum-seekers now confirmed as residents, and finally to a hall in Torquay packed with Devon magistrates. Fringe...
Food: First, Get Your Argentinian Beef; Then Keep It the Best Side of Obscenely Bloody
My friend Martin, who is without doubt the most food-obsessed person I know, e-mailed me recently to say that he had managed to locate a source of the Argentinian cut of beef known as picanha, or "rump cap". I had never heard of this dubious-sounding...
From Spain, a Not So Healthy Role Model: Both Labour and the Tories Hold Up a Foundation Hospital near Madrid as the Blueprint for Britain to Copy. in Fact, Their Flagship Is in a Bit of a Mess
On a visit to Spain to recruit nurses in 2001, the then health secretary, Alan Milburn, came across what struck him as a brilliant initiative--foundation hospitals. Introduced to Spain in 1997 by the Conservatives (against loud protests from Spain's...
How Ofcom Has Let Down Viewers: The New Communications Regulator Offers a Clear Analysis of the Malaise of Public Service Broadcasting, but Only a Pointless Fig Leaf as a Remedy
Have you managed to catch British Isles, BBC1's new natural history blockbuster? If so, were you enthralled? Or not? The series is presented not by a natural historian, but by the TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh, whose manner, according to the Telegraph,...
Instrumental Change: Wigmore Hall in London Has Just Reopened after a [Pounds Sterling]3m Facelift. but Was It Necessary, or Even Desirable?
In my lifetime--and I'm not yet of pensionable age--extraordinarily large sums of money have been spent on refurbishing a boutique concert hall that has a mere 550 seats and occupies an upmarket address in London's West End. Some speak of it as a holy...
Iraq: Good Bomb, Good Bomb!
A patrol of American soldiers is under attack from mortars and rocket fire. They call for help from an aircraft circling high above. The pilot points a laser at a flat-bed truck from where the mortar fire is coming, and seconds later a Hellfire missile...
Is the British Government Helping to Train Colombian Military Units Suspected of Killing Trade Unionists and Campaigners against Privatisation?
Open letter to Bill Rammell, parliamentary under-secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs (responsible for human rights) Dear Bill, Choosing to be a politician is an odd career path: so much power, so much state prestige, so much...
Mission Impossible? We Can't Be Sure What the UN's Role Will Be in the Future. but, for the Organisation to Adapt to New and Unexpected Problems, It Must Be Able to Reform Itself
The United Nations, we learn from its charter, must "maintain international peace and security", "develop friendly relations among nations" and "achieve international cooperation in solving international problems ... and in encouraging respect for...
NHS Bureaucracy: Seven Sick Strategies
Stapled to my hospital payslip each month is a glossy, expensively printed, eight-page propaganda leaflet from trust headquarters. In true Stalinist fashion, it portrays a happy and contented workforce, proud of being awarded stars by the government....
Notebook: The 15-Minute Live Art Piece Combined with Feast Seemed a Rather Jolly Invention
Nothing is so unwelcome as artistically overdoing it. I would much rather witness someone forget their lines than run through the gamut of embarrassing on-stage exuberance, from too many swear words to too many encores. The disease is particularly...
O Brother, Where Art Thou? Augustus and Gwen John Are Head-to-Head at Tate Britain. Richard Cork Finds There Is Only One Winner
What would Augustus John have thought? For the very first time, Tate mounts a major retrospective of his work, but only in conjunction with his sister Gwen, who ends up stealing the show with her single-minded intensity. Worse still, her name is put...
Psychology: Time to Deflate the Bloated Egos
Is there such a thing as too much self-esteem? Psychologists would have us believe that you can never have enough of it. The problem with our society, they moan, is that there are too many sources for depression and self-loathing. We are surrounded...
Put the People Back in the Picture: Forget New Taxes. Getting Rid of Our Present Draconian Planning Laws Is the Best Way to Ensure That We All Have a Stake in Britain
Every 30 years or so, the left looks at the land. Wiping the condensation from the carriage window, the radical observer peers out at a landscape that he finds both strange and shocking. How can it be that, after a century or more of socialist campaigns...
The Business: Rocketing Prices in the Two Districts the Blairs Know Best-Islington and Sedgefield-Have Convinced Them That There Is Still Money to Be Made in Bricks and Mortar
The psychology of asset-buying is fascinating. And the decision by the Prime Minister and his wife to borrow heavily (we think) and splash out [pounds sterling]3.6m on an unexceptional house on the wrong side of the Edgware Road is particularly intriguing....
The Cabbie Asked Norman Lamont: "Are You Famous?" and He Said: "I Was, Once"
The Tory party conference was a courageous affair this year in Bournemouth, a triumph of hope over expectations. It began with perhaps the most misguided video in recent political history--"The First Kiss" or "The Kiss of the Vampires", as it was later...
The Fan: Wayne Rooney, Unlike Michael Owen, Does Not Suffer from Humility
Is Wayne Rooney a genius? Can any footballer be a genius? Whatever happened to Michael Owen? Was he a genius? There are just so many difficult questions around at the moment. Why do footballers never dye their hair black? Now that is a hard one. I...
The Gambler: As He Goes above His Party and the British Electorate, Alienates the Chancellor, and Tries to Fix the Succession, the Prime Minister Is Showing Reckless Courage by Going for Broke. but Will He Pull It Off?
With one bound, he would be free. Tony Blair's gambit, to pre-announce his resignation for five years' time, sets in motion the final phase of his presidency. Finally, after all the cohabitation with Gordon Brown, after all the trimming and self-doubt,...
The Prime Minister's Little Flutter: Statesmen Deny Illness for Fear of Alarming the Public and Keep on Going. but Far More Worrying Is a Less Than Healthy Leader Spaced out on Medication
Now that Tony has been a sensible chap and got his little health problem sorted out, he probably wants to draw a line underneath events and move on. And I'm sure we all wish him well in this aim. Yet, now 51 and approaching the age where such nuisances...
US Elections: Core Support in the Big Apple
These days the political map of America shows swing states--up for grabs, full of activity, endlessly polled, grinningly visited and revisited by the candidates--and swung states, those that are all but decided. In swing states, volunteers wear bibs,...
When Harvey Met Mickey: The Weinstein Brothers, Renowned for Their Cut-and-Thrust Style of Producing Films, Have Turned Miramax into One of Hollywood's Most Recognisable Brands. but Their Global Ambition May Eventually Prove to Be Their Downfall
Harvey Weinstein has reached a moment of choice. He and his brother Bob, co-chairmen of Miramax, have been renegotiating their contract with Walt Disney Company, which expires in September 2005. It is nearly a year away and they have already been in...
Why We Must Never Tolerate Torture
Torture and England do not mix well. Uniquely in medieval Europe, English common law forbade the extraction of confessions with torture. While poor women from Scotland to Sicily were put on the rack and forced to agree that they were the agents of...
Will Fiona Fluff It? A Flagship Programme Risks Getting the Wrong Make-Over
Panorama: Taken on Trust (BBC1) Once upon a really long time ago, there was something called the Panorama problem--although this was something of a misnomer, because it was really the Robin Day problem. There he would be, every week, striding through...
World View: Since Colonial Times, Western Policy in Africa Has Operated by Wooing the Local Big Man and Ensuring He Hits It off with One's Own Big Man. This Is Then Called Looking at the Big Picture
National leaders are more accessible in Africa, so I have interviewed several in my time. Uganda's Yoweri Museveni made me chuckle, Chad's Idriss Deby was plain sinister, Congo's Joseph Kabila seemed the perfect consort for a tour of Brussels nightclubs....