New Statesman (1996)

Articles from Vol. 138, No. 4956, July 6

A Fresh Approach?
Labour strategists have attempted to turn the tables on the opposition parties with the launch of the government's "Building Britain's Future" plan for the economy, public services and the constitution. [ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] What the Liberal...
A Mini-Break with the Almighty: Jon Ronson Rather Breezed through His Sojourn among the Spiritually Eager
Revelations: How to Find God Channel 4 There wasn't anything particularly amazing about the script, or the direction, of Jon Ronson's film about the evangelical Christian Alpha course (28 June, 7pm), but for his access alone he must receive ten...
Another Scandal Gets Dodged
In rural Colombia, your dead body can earn somebody a significant cash bonus--paid for indirectly by the US taxpayer. For years, Colombia has been a recipient of large amounts of US military aid and is one of Washington's last close allies in South...
A Public Nuisance
Two policemen approach a group of picnickers in the shade of the National Gallery on a summer's day in London. "Aww. This is the cutest thing I've ever seen," says one officer. "I'm sorry, though, you can't drink here." A picnicker clutching a can...
A Sense of an Ending: Washington Must Cut the Umbilical Cords That Ties It to Tel Aviv. If It Doesn't, the Conflict in the Middle East Will Hasten American Decline
Could the Middle East prove to be the United States' Dien Bien Phu? The latter, you may remember, was where the flower of France's colonial troops was vanquished by the Viet Minh in 1954. That military defeat in Vietnam came to symbolise the end of...
Blame It on the Good Times: Michael Jackson's Genius Lay in Transmuting Black Pop Music into a Global Form. His Tragedy Was That He Forgot What Made Him Great
In late summer 1979, my friend Davitt Sigerson--then a writer on black music, later the chairman of Island Records in America -handed me an advance copy of Off the Wall and said it was going to make Michael Jackson a superstar. The cover wasn't...
Commons Confidential
* Early in the week Jacqui Smith gave me her first print interview since she resigned. In close on two hours we covered a lot of ground, but I like to end up with quick-fire questions. "What's the most romantic thing you've ever done?" I asked. Quick...
Crying out for Justice: As the Latest Inquiry into Israel's War on Gaza Hears the Harrowing Testimonies of Palestinian Survivors, Edward Platt Exposes the Obstacles in the Way of Truth and a Fair Trial
On 28 June, the UN mission investigating alleged war crimes committed during Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip in January began public hearings in the coastal territory. The testimony of witnesses who had seen relatives killed and property destroyed...
Divine Intoxication: Is It OK to Have a Cocktail While Reading the Quran, Asks Roger Scruton
Often, at the end of a summer's day, I turn to the Quran, not to hide, like the Islamic scholar Sayyid Qutb, in its shadow, but to ponder its dazzling certainties and to wonder what on earth could have produced them--to which the good Muslim will reply,...
Down and out in London: Never Mind the Wasp Sting and the Poverty, I Am Up, in, and off the Market
In news that will have pretty much the same devastating effect on the female readership of this magazine as Paul McCartney's marriage to Linda Eastman had on millions of Beatles fans, I have to say that the search for the next (in effect) Mrs Lezard...
He's Just Not That into You, Miss Eyre: How Would the Great Romances of Literature Have Fared in the Self-Help Era?
An excellent documentary about self-improvement manuals (The Grandfather of Self Help, 2 July, 11.30 am, Radio 4) told the story of the journalist Samuel Smiles, whose book Self Help was published on the same day as The Origin of Species in 1859, and...
Hip-Hop, You Don't Stop: Landmark Records
Rapper's Delight Sugarhill Gang (1979, Sugarhill Records) The record that took hip-hop overground. A breakdown version of Chic's "Good Times", adorned with glorious freestyling rhymes. The Message Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (1982,...
"If You Got Elected to Westminster, What Would Your Husband Do for Sex during the Week?" with Caroline Flint Feeling like Window Dressing, and Few Women Left in Cabinet, Labour Stands Accused of Discrimination. Alyssa McDonald Investigates
It is easy to spot media sexism towards women in government. There are the comments about Jacqui Smith's cleavage and Caroline Flint's "flouncing", the damning scrutiny of what women MPs wear--from bitchy remarks that whatever Harriet Harman spends...
I Need a Cashpoint Coach ... on How the Media and EastEnders Went Local and Loco over Jacko
It has already been suggested in certain quarters that Michael Jackson's death belongs in the category of "you-will-remember-where-you-were-when-you-found-out" events. I, like a lot of people, found out in the way I find out everything of importance:...
In Touch with the Elements: Primal Patterns of a Seemingly Chaotic World Come to the Surface in Sculpture
Peter Randall-Page Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield In his essay "Carving and Modelling", the now rather unfashionable, psychoanalytically inclined art critic Adrian Stokes wrote: "Carving creates a face for the stone, as agriculture for the...
John Updike: Six of the Best
1959 The Poorhouse Fair Updike's first novel, undertaken as an experiment, concerns the petty squabbles at a home for the elderly on the day of the annual summer fair. There is widespread resentment of the new prefect, the humanist Conner; the leader...
Mama Said Knock You Out: In 1979, Margaret Thatcher Became Prime Minister-And a Rap Record Was a Hit for the First Time. Mark Fisher Reflects on How for Three Decades Hip-Hop Has Provided the Perfect Soundtrack to the Brutality of the Neoliberal World-View
Both rap and neoliberalism are 30 years old: 1979, the year that Margaret Thatcher was elected, was also the year when the Sugarhill Gang had the first bona fide hip-hop hit with "Rapper's Delight". At the time, few anticipated either the impact that...
Nothing Is as It Seems: The New Magritte Museum Gives William Cook a Fresh Perspective on Brussels, the Capital of Surrealism
The Place Royale is full of men in bowler hats. A huge boulder floats above them, defying gravity and good taste. From a distance it looks unfathomable, but when you come closer you realise the boulder is a hot-air balloon and the bowler hats are plastic....
Oil Is Still a Dark Stain on Iraq
It was Alan Greenspan who first let slip. In 2007, to the great glee of the antiwar movement, the elder statesman of American finance recognised that the real motive for the Iraq War had little to do with weapons of mass destruction. "I am saddened...
Peter Blake on Lewis Carroll's Alice
"My friend Graham Ovenden and I were commissioned to illustrate Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass some time around 1969. I took on Looking-Glass. The cost of making the books eventually became prohibitive, so my watercolours...
Pin the Blame on Them: An Exhibition of Medals Designed to Dishonour Their Recipients Shows That Our Current Climate of Indignation Is Part of a Rich Tradition of Scorn and Shame
You don't imagine curators as the type to rub their hands together in gleeful satisfaction, or pat themselves on the back for their shrewd judgement--we leave that to the bankers. Their timing at the British Museum, however, is spectacular. An exhibition...
Put a Little Spice in Your Box: Viagra Can Now Be Bought over the Counter at Boots. but Hold On-Look East and You Will Find Far Better, Natural Remedies for "Exhausted Passion". Ziauddin Sarddar Offers a User's Guide
Good news for the sexually challenged--Viagra is now available without prescription at Boots. All you need do is walk in to your friendly pharmacist, be tested for glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and walk out with the magic blue pills....
Seeking Salvation: Through the Sins of Arrogance and Greed, the Banks Nearly Destroyed the World Economic System, Argues Stephen Green, Chairman of HSBC and an Ordained Priest. What the Market Needs Now Is More Morals
It is said of King Solomon that he had a servant whisper to him repeatedly--when things went well and when things went badly- "this, too, will pass". Crises do pass, even the most intense ones. But after the current global economic crisis, there will...
The Books Interview Niall Ferguson
The Ascent of Money is an essay in financial history. Do you think the current crisis is due in part to the lack of a historical sense? It's a central theme of the book that ignorance of financial history can be a cause of financial crisis. I think...
The Celebrity Ladder Theory
It was while we were sitting in a Starbucks in Norwich that the loneliness of David Cameron's position dawned upon him. It was our second visit to Norfolk within the month for a by-election campaign that had not even officially begun and, despite it...
The Cutting Edge: The Endless Reports of Cabinet Infighting Ignore the Close "Inner Circle" of Mandelson, Balls and Brown-And How Busy All Three Are, Sharpening Their Swords for the Final Battle
The script for the next general election is written and the words are being tested in Norwich North, scene of the latest by-election campaign. When David Cameron travelled up to visit the constituency this past week, a member of his staff showed him...
The Empire Strikes Back: On the Eve of an Eagerly Awaited Ashes Series, Peter Wilby Reveals How the Forces of Globalisation Are Killing off the Old Game of Cricket and Predicts That the Future Belongs to India
Whoever designed this summer's cricket programme must have had a sly sense of humour. Immediately after the newest, brashest form of the game, the World Twenty20, comes the oldest, most traditional contest of all: an Ashes series between England and...
The Lure of Politics No 4082
Set by Dipak Ghosh We asked you to complete the following sentence (and add a few more for good measure): "I came into politics because ..." Well done. The five politicians are, in the order below: William Hague, John Prescott, Sir Peter Viggers,...
The Making of a Cold-Blooded Killer: Dazzling Visuals Can't Disguise a Lack of Character in This 1930s Crime Flick
Public Enemies (15) dir: Michael Mann A worry for the maker of any period film is that audiences may struggle to relate to the tribulations of a past era. In Michael Mann's Public Enemies, set in 1930s Chicago, that concern is actually inverted:...
The Noble Savage
What is it about a man in a loincloth? It's not just the abs, or the fallen-from-grace appeal of an aristocratic orphan brought up by apes. It's not even the maiden Jane, who morphs from a sexually retiring, hairy mass in 1918 to a leopard-print-bikini-donning...
The North Is like Narnia: You Know When You're There
I left the north, I travelled south (ardent Smiths fans can fill in the rest), at a time when Thatcherite Conservatism was something of a swearword in most of England's northern territories. So as David Cameron's ascent has switched a Tory victory...
Traffic out of Control
Forget igloos and bobsleds. Not-so-squeaky-clean Canada has a new label to answer to: the United Nations World Drug Report 2009 shows how the country is now a major global trafficking hub for synthetic drugs such as Ecstasy and methamphetamine. ...
We Hate to Say It, but There Is a Third Way
Nine months ago, Gordon Brown won plaudits for intervening boldly to prevent the financial crisis spiralling out of control with a plan to recapitalise the banks. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman declared in the New York Times, under...
What Lies Beneath: If Sarkozy Banned the Burqa, He Himself Would Be Oppressing the Women Who Wear It. Making Something Invisible Does Not Make It Go Away
After reading the latest sunbed scare story in the papers, I did something out of character: I went out and bought a copy of Grazia, its glossy cover resplendent with the pneumatic--and suntanned--Victoria Beckham. I believe a society gets the magazines...