The Luck of the French

In politics, luck is crucial. In 1794 at the end of the Terror, when fear and paranioa were rampant, Napoleon was fortunate not to be guillotined. After the failure of the Egyptian expedition, he set off back to France in a single warship. Nelson was patrolling Mediterranean waters with a superior force. If Napoleon had run into him, history would have been very different. But the future Emperor's luck did not fail him, until he invaded Russia.

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Of Mice and Leadership

Something must be done. A reshuffle had been expected for weeks, if not months. The Prime Minister had endless time to prepare, Yet she could not get it right. Wrong names announced, Ministers defying the PM: what a mess. Admittedly, the Cabinet has been improved, but largely by accident. Poor James Brokenshire - all best wishes to him - had to retire on health grounds. This created a vacancy for the excellent Matt Hancock. Justine Greening had been hopeless at education, and deserved the sack. But she was offered another job, at Work and Pensions, which would merely have given her another chance to display incompetence and mediocrity. She turned it down. As she had to be replaced by a woman, on quota grounds, Esther McVey was brought back from the Whips' Office.

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Slavery in Libya

Within the next few days, various television companies will be broadcasting some horrifying footage. It appears that in Libya, within a few miles of the capital, Tripoli, some unusual Christmas presents are on offer.



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A cautious Eurosceptic Welcome for Mrs May's Agreement

The completion of the first stage of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union was bound to cause controversy.  The nature of such a process was that compromises will be made. The question for those of us who want to leave is whether we can accept them. Are they compatible with regaining control, the central argument of the Leave campaign.  I have been deliberately slow to come to a conclusion because there is inevitably noise and spin around the fifteen page document that has been issued as well as differences of interpretation from the participants.  Each of the three areas is important and to some extent interlinking, so it is worth looking at them in turn.

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Defeats and defects

A week ago, for about seventy-two hours, Theresa May seemed to be in charge. At last, she had produced  a route march, which appeared to be acceptable to the Europeans and to her own Party. At a purely tactical level, there had been progress, But that was last week, for three days.

When it came to Wednesday evening's vote, no-one was in charge. The Government was faced by a number of related difficulties. First, there are the MPs who hate Theresa May, mainly because she sacked them from the Government. Anna Soubry and Nicky Morgan are the obvious examples, especially Mrs Morgan. In his desire to promote more women to the Cabinet, David Cameron made her Secretary of State for Education. Parliamentary Secretary would have been quite high enough. The over-promotion went to her head. Her self-knowledge has never recovered.

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