DAVID Cameron’s promised referendum on Europe will be the first in my lifetime, which began the year after the 1975 vote to remain in the Common Market. So to me the Prime Minister’s new commitment for a vote feels like both a victory and a defeat. It is a historic decision: after more than four decades (the vote still won’t happen until after 2015), the British public will issue a verdict on its relationship with the EU. It is also a national embarrassment: our democratic deficit is so vast that our elected elites have not dared to put their decisions on Europe to the vote since the fall of Saigon. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Cameron
BANKS should be more like cats than washing machines. So suggests Nassim Taleb, ex-trader and controversial author of The Black Swan, who has a new book out in time for Christmas. What he means is that living things – cats, economists, bankers – display a property that even our best-designed machinery lacks: a quality that he names antifragility, fragility’s true opposite. Continue reading
DON’T paint Mick Jagger too black. The Rolling Stones have come in for criticism over high ticket prices for their fiftieth anniversary gigs at the O2, which go on sale this morning. But I have some sympathy for the devil. While the cost may have disappointed some of the veteran rock band’s passionate fans, it’s a gesture of economic honesty for which they should be respected, not reviled. It reflects the exceptional demand for their music, and the realities of a music industry in which most revenues must be earned from concert performances rather than recording sales. Continue reading
DAVID Cameron’s conference speech this week was supposed to be a defence of conservative values. But by defining the Tories as “the party of the want to be better-off,” he revealed the limit of his ambitions. Continue reading
IT’S fitting that the Olympic flame, which passed through the City yesterday, is lit in Olympia by focusing the sun’s rays in a mirror. The modern Games is a mirror of nations, in which the host nation and its guests reveal themselves to the world.
Take the torch relay. For the Nazis, who ran the first relay in 1936, it was a statement of imperial intent. The flame crossed Czechoslovakia like a dog marking its territory. For Britain’s latest Games, the same symbol is instead a beacon of both a peaceful ideal and more local anxieties, criss-crossing the length and breadth of our small island, in an effort to bring a spirit of national unity to a Games centred on London. Continue reading
NO ONE will ever produce a film called David Cameron: Vampire Hunter. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, got a Hollywood blockbuster this week that reinvents his life as a fight to the undeath. Lincoln’s cod-historical battle with soulless, slave-owning bloodsuckers adapts a mash-up biography/monster novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, whose back catalogue of left-field bestsellers includes the wildly successful Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which sold 794,000 copies in 2009 alone. Continue reading
SPARE a thought for the Mouse. Disney’s latest movie spectacular, John Carter, has lost the company $200m (£127m) after a disastrous opening. Meanwhile The Hunger Games opens at cinemas today on speculation that it will achieve a record-breaking run. Lionsgate, the studio responsible, has seen its stock rise some 75 per cent this year as the momentum has gathered. Continue reading
WE WILL know we have progressed to a higher level of civilisation when a politician praises a course of action that does not give him more power. Continue reading
DAVID Cameron spoke of ending a “responsibility deficit” yesterday. He wasn’t talking about the Eurozone, but he could have been. Its steadily-compounding financial disaster is an epic tale of failed responsibility, the consequence of spending without thought to the consequences. And yet lazy references to “PIIGS”, while they point rightly to the dysfunctional choices made by some economies on the Eurozone periphery, are misguided, tilting the table to send the blame all one way. In truth, the Eurozone – and the EU as a whole – is a project in which responsibility is excluded as a matter of philosophical principle. Continue reading
I WISH David Cameron would stop insulting my wife.
Of course, he doesn’t think he’s doing anything of the kind. His speech on immigration this week was scattered with careful phrases about wanting “the brightest and the best”, in between all the paragraphs detailing the slam of the national gate and the screwing tight of visa restrictions. He even deigned to drop the suggestion that employers should have to publish the number of immigrants they employ. But that is cold comfort: this was a statement about the need to cut immigrants’ numbers hard. Such words don’t make any newcomers feel welcome here. Continue reading