Category Archives: Britain

We need some tough love to get people off welfare and into Pret – Telegraph

We need some tough love to get people off welfare and into Pret – Telegraph.

We need some tough love to get people off welfare and into Pret

Ministers should face down the Lords over benefit curbs – the workers are on their side.

9:14PM GMT 12 Jan 2012

Just outside the House of Commons lies a sandwich shop which exhibits the most intractable problem in politics. Pret A Manger is a brilliant British success story, with its formula of soups, sandwiches and sushi having been rolled out across the country and even taken to New York. But as customers of its London shops know, Pret has another characteristic: its ever-cheerful staff are almost exclusively immigrants. In a city with 770,000 on benefits, this is a sign that something in the economy is deeply broken.

One can hardly blame Pret. What happens in its sandwich shops is being repeated all over a country where the government pays several million natives not to work.


Read the full story here: The Telegraph


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Sir Christopher Meyer: God and the American Elections

Sir Christopher Meyer: God and the American Elections.

Former British Ambassador to the United States and Germany, former Chairman of the Press Complaints

God and the American Elections

Posted: 9/1/12 00:00 GMT

In 1849 a Scottish traveller to the United States, Alex Mackay, observed that “English names are plentiful around you, and many objects within view have an English look about them. Yet, when the Englishman steps ashore, it is on a foreign, though a friendly land.”

This was an insight of fundamental importance, which we Brits have to learn and learn again. I love America. But it is foreign, more foreign than a common language, shared history and the ‘special relationship’ would suggest.


When I first went to live in the US in 1988, I had my Alex Mackay moment.

[…] in the large picture, it is God who makes the big difference between the two sides of the Atlantic. British politics, like most European politics, is irredeemably secular, as Santorum has disapprovingly noted. God does not even get a walk-on part in our elections. In America he is centre-stage, wherever you place yourself in the political spectrum, to be invoked as much by Barack Obama as Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has apparently been told by God to stay in the Republican primary race.


Read the full article here: The Huffington Post

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Why have a House of Lords if there’s not a single lord left in it? – Telegraph

Why have a House of Lords if there’s not a single lord left in it? – Telegraph.

Why have a House of Lords if there’s not a single lord left in it?

The last thing we need is a second chamber filled with yet more professional politicos.

8:55PM GMT 06 Jan 2012

Dr Johnson said that “most schemes of political improvement are very laughable things”, and that was 250 years before Nick Clegg tried to reform the British constitution.

Last year, Mr Clegg failed to persuade the British people, in a referendum, that the Alternative Vote system was the answer to their political ills. This year, he hopes to persuade both Houses of Parliament to invent a new House of Lords. He thinks the present House is “an affront to the principles of openness which underpin a modern democracy”.

Actually, there is a close relationship between electoral reform and the reformed second chamber, because one of the key provisions of the Clegg White Paper is that the new House of Lords… but stop a moment! Will it actually be called the House of Lords?


Read the full article here: The Telegraph

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Whatever happened to neoconservatism? – Telegraph Blogs

Whatever happened to neoconservatism? – Telegraph Blogs.

Ed West

Ed West is a journalist and social commentator who specialises in politics, religion and low culture. He is @edwestonline on Twitter.

Whatever happened to neoconservatism?

By Last updated: January 2nd, 2012

In yesterday’s Observer Nick Cohen made an admirably un-crowd-pleasing call for intervention in Syria, citing my colleague Michael Weiss’s proposal for helping opposition forces in that country. He wrote:

Intervention to stop a regional war carries vast risks. But we should be honest about the consequences of acquiescing to Assad. A failed state and nest for terrorism will sit on the edge of the Mediterranean. Foreign mercenaries and Alawite paramilitaries will continue to massacre a largely defenceless population and the conflict may spread into Iraq, Israel, Turkey and Jordan. As the news that escapes the control of the Syrian censors reminds us every day, those who say we should do nothing also have blood on their hands.

I can just imagine the reaction of many readers choking over their [insert unmanly, organic foodstuff popular in N16 here]: “Neoconservatism!”

It’s rather funny that in the popular imagination, and in the adolescent protest movement, neoconservatives are characterised as these evil, warmongering, American imperialists, who sit around in smoky rooms with a map of the Middle East with little oil field figurines, and a hotline to Jerusalem.


The opposite is in fact true. As the very title suggests, neoconservatives are not conservatives as such but liberals who have fallen out with other liberals because they think non-Europeans should be held up to the same standards as everyone else; alongside Christopher Hitchens, the impeccably liberal Cohen was the finest British writer to advocate the removal of Saddam Hussein on the very decent grounds that he was an evil, sadistic mass-murderer who continued to cause misery for millions. Neocons take the Holocaust mantra “never again” seriously, whereas most on the Left mean “never again by whites”. They are the good guys, and just want the Arab world to be more like them; wealthy, free and slightly less weird about the opposite sex.


Read the full article here: The Telegraph

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In Queen Victoria’s glorious footsteps – Telegraph

In Queen Victoria’s glorious footsteps – Telegraph.

In Queen Victoria’s glorious footsteps

When the Queen celebrates her Diamond Jubilee in June she will face fewer diplomatic dilemmas than her great-great grandmother, the empress of India.

8:00PM GMT 01 Jan 2012

The most extraordinary event in Britain this year won’t be the Olympic Games. They come and go, even in London.

No, the really extraordinary day – in the true sense of extraordinary – will take place on February 6, when the Queen celebrates 60 years on the throne. In May, there will be a Diamond Jubilee Pageant in the grounds of Windsor Castle, and a flotilla of 1,000 boats will sail along the Thames on June 3, the day before a special Jubilee Bank Holiday.

It will be only the second Diamond Jubilee in a thousand years of monarchs. No one alive now is likely to see one again: the Queen shows no sign of slowing down; nor does her eldest son. The Duke of Cambridge is unlikely to succeed to the throne before middle age; he’s even less likely to survive 60 years on the throne beyond that.


Read the full story here: The Telegraph

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Britain has let down young people, says Archbishop – Telegraph

Britain has let down young people, says Archbishop – Telegraph.

Britain has let down young people, says Archbishop

Rioters who took part in the summer’s unrest were expressing “frustrations” felt by many young people, the Archbishop of Canterbury says today.

8:00AM GMT 01 Jan 2012

Dr Rowan Williams re-enters the political fray with a claim that Britain has “let down” youngsters by being “suspicious and hostile” towards them, and by failing to provide good role models.

His comments, in his New Year message, risk reopening his clash with David Cameron, who warned last month that while the Church is entitled to address political issues it should “keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country”.

The Prime Minister’s comments came after an article in which Dr Williams said people were “afraid” of the Government and that Mr Cameron’s Big Society was viewed as an “opportunistic” cover for cuts.

The Archbishop’s latest intervention comes as the Rt Rev Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester, warns in an article for The Sunday Telegraph that politicians and civil servants lack “religious literacy” and have lost touch with Britain’s traditional values.

In a separate message New Year’s message today the Pope will relaunch an attack on the “moral relativism” that he has blamed for Britain’s riots, saying neither peace or justice can be obtained if the objective norms of morality expressed in the Ten Commandments are rejected.


Read the full article here: The Telegraph

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Abortions to reduce multiple births on the rise – Telegraph

Abortions to reduce multiple births on the rise – Telegraph.

Abortions to reduce multiple births on the rise

More than 100 unborn babies were aborted last year by women expecting twins, triplets or even quintuplets but who wanted to give birth to fewer children, official figures disclosed to The Telegraph show.

9:50PM GMT 28 Dec 2011

Over the past few years, there has been a sharp rise in the number of women terminating one foetus or more but continuing with a pregnancy and bearing at least one other child.

Experts say that the increase in so-called “selective reductions” has largely been caused by a rise in multiple pregnancies following IVF treatment.

The disclosure is likely to provoke renewed debate over the practice in which IVF clinics implant several embryos in order to improve a couple’s chances of having a baby.


Read the full story here: The Telegraph

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The priest who thought Stalin was a saint – Telegraph

The priest who thought Stalin was a saint – Telegraph.

The priest who thought Stalin was a saint

Charles Moore reviews ‘The Red Dean‘ by John Butler (Scala).

10:30PM GMT 25 Dec 2011

As Canterbury Cathedral this week marks the anniversary of the death of its most famous “turbulent priest”, Thomas Becket, it is a good moment to study the life of its second-most famous one. Hewlett Johnson became the Dean of Canterbury in 1931, when he was already getting on for 60, and clung on to the post, despite numerous attempts to get him out, until 1964.

Over those 33 years, Johnson devoted the bulk of his astonishing energy to proving that Soviet Communism, especially as practised by Stalin, was heaven on earth: “While we’re waiting for God, Russia is doing it.” In his bestseller The Socialist Sixth of the World, which was published not long after Stalin’s most extensive programme of mass murder, he wrote: “Nothing strikes the visitor to the Soviet Union more forcibly than the complete absence of fear.”


Read the full story here: The Telegraph

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Does David Cameron’s ‘full-bladder technique’ work? | Politics | The Guardian

Does David Cameron’s ‘full-bladder technique’ work? | Politics | The Guardian.

Does David Cameron’s ‘full-bladder technique’ work?

The prime minister conducted his EU negotiations while intentionally ‘desperate for a pee’, to achieve maximum focus. What do the experts think?

Historians will long ponder whether David Cameron was correct to turn his back on Europe at last week’s summit. But, thanks to one revelation from the weekend, they will also no doubt ask whether he was in his right mind when doing so.

Cameron, it is said, used his tried-and-tested “full-bladder technique” to achieve maximum focus and clarity of thought throughout the gruelling nine-hour session in Brussels. During the formal dinner and subsequent horse-trading into the early hours, the prime minister remained intentionally “desperate for a pee”.

Cameron has reportedly used the technique before, notably during his “no notes” conference speeches during the early years of his party leadership. He heard about it when watching a Michael Cockerell documentary about the late Conservative politician Enoch Powell a decade beforehand. Powell – best known for his infamous “Rivers of Blood” speech in 1968 – remarked that he always performed an important speech on a full bladder: “You should do nothing to decrease the tension before making a big speech. If anything, you should seek to increase it.”

But it is clear that Cameron is not a keen reader of the journal Neurourology and Urodynamics, otherwise he would know that the medical research on this matter begs to differ. In a somewhat lampooned paper – it won an IgNobel award in September for “improbable research” – Australian and American researchers examined the “effect of acute increase in urge to void on cognitive function in healthy adults”. After making eight “healthy young adults” drink two litres of water over two hours, the researchers asked them to complete a series of tasks to test their cognitive performance. They concluded from the results that an “extreme urge to void [urinate] is associated with impaired cognition”.


Read the full story here: The Guardian


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The end of ‘pester power’ – Telegraph

The end of ‘pester power’ – Telegraph.

The end of ‘pester power’

David Cameron is preparing new curbs on “unscrupulous” companies and shops that expose children to sexualised advertisements and exploit “pester power” to sell goods.

9:59PM GMT 23 Dec 2011

Businesses have been warned that they face new rules to tackle what the Prime Minister has described as “the commercialisation and sexualisation” of childhood.

Companies will be banned from using children and teenagers as “brand ambassadors” to promote toys and clothes among their peers.

There could also be a ban on posters and other outdoor advertising that uses “sexualised images”. So-called “lads’ magazines” could be sold in bags or stored behind “modesty boards” in shops to conceal the explicit images that feature on their covers.

The Prime Minister will hold meetings early in the new year with retailers and advertisers to “put a spotlight” on their conduct.

If voluntary codes of conduct fail to do enough to protect children, ministers are threatening to legislate and impose new laws


Read the full story here: The Telegraph

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