Tomorrow never knows

From the start of the American Civil War until just before it ended, there was no doubt amongst informed opinion in Britain as to how it would end. “I suppose,” the Foreign Secretary, Earl Russell, wrote to the British Ambassador in Washington, “that the break-up of the Union is now inevitable.” The Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone, agreed. It was all but impossible, he said, that the North could win.   Continue reading

Cock-up or murder?

Whatever the truth behind the disappearance of Jamal Khashoggi – if that is ever revealed – it seems certain that some people are saying less than they know, and others are saying more. Nothing new in that. The world is drawn to a real-life crime thriller, especially when clues are strewn so carelessly about. Everyone becomes a detective and everyone has a theory. Here is mine.   Continue reading

An end to liberalism

Recently, The Economist celebrated its 175th birthday. As it reminded its readers, “in September 1843 James Wilson, a hatmaker from Scotland, founded this newspaper. His purpose was simple: to champion free trade, free markets and limited government. They were the central principles of a new political philosophy to which Wilson adhered and to which The Economist has been committed ever since. That cause was liberalism.”   Continue reading

Theresa Might

There’s no point in writing a blog unless one’s prepared to get egg on one’s face. I have mostly steered clear of predictions, especially those that may be quickly disproved, but this week I’ll stick my neck out. This is not exactly a prediction – more a statement that most people will find absurd: Theresa May could still be Prime Minister in five years’ time, or more.   Continue reading

The Test of diminishing time

As any cricket lover of my vintage will tell you, test cricket is the one true faith. One-days and 20:20s are all very well (and they are very well), but they’re not the real thing. (As for the new format that is about to be unleashed upon the game, heaven help us. It is a horse designed by a committee. If tobacco sponsorship was still legal, it would be called the Camel Cup.)   Continue reading

Brexit. Again.

In a hundred years’ time, historians may know whether or not Brexit was a good idea. They will write analyses that portray a divided country, one half of it angrily in favour of leaving and the other half fervently in favour of remaining. In the unlikely event that these blogs survive till then, I hope that some historian will look at them and try to tell the story of those – possibly a majority – who didn’t have the first fucking clue what should happen.   Continue reading