This is not the time to be silly

Whom the Gods wish to destroy, they first make silly. There are moments when one wonders, or even despairs. Is Britain still a serious country? Consider: Brexit is in a state of confusion. So is the British economy. The figures for growth and employment allow intelligent men to draw diametrically opposed conclusions. In Northern Ireland, some reliably level-headed characters are growing anxious. They are hearing the menace of distant thunder: of ancestral voices prophesying war. Inter-communal tensions may be sleeping. They are not dead, and it could be an increasingly uneasy sleep.

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No Space in Downing Street

What a mess, and the timing made it worse. The House of Commons can be a febrile, volatile place. In moments of tension, rumours spread and tempers fray - even before lunch. Later, the mood can turn really ugly. It would have been better if the Fallon-inspired reshuffle had been delayed until nearer the weekend, when MPs were about to depart for the calming influence of their constituencies, and their families - not that all Tory wives will be feeling calm at the moment.

 

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Britain and Europe: Confusion worse Confounded

According to your tastes, the embarrassments over Mrs May's table-talk may arouse amusement, or despair. But this should not distract us from more important matters. We Brits ought to apologise to the EU, for our relations with Europe do not redound to our credit. Any foreigner who wished to defend the proposition that the British are not an intellectual race could easily do so by reference to the evasions and muddle which we have brought to bear on European questions.

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She's Got To Go

Today, commentators on Tory politics face a dilemma. The chronicling of chronic incompetence is a necessary duty. But how can one prevent this from declining into repetitious tedium? Thinking about that took me back to the Sixties and Seventies: the era of vinyl records. Those of us who were underwhelmed by Bruckner's symphonies had a recurrent problem. 'Bababa, bababa, bababa:' was the record stuck, or was it merely the composer?

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An Honourable Johnson

When it comes to a contrast between two brothers in public life, the nearest parallel is in Hamlet: Old Hamlet, the murder victim, and Claudius, his assassin - Hyperion to a satyr. Yet that does not entirely work. Satyr is perfect for Boris Johnson; Hyperion may be overstating his brother Jo's graces. Equally, Old Hamlet may not have deserved all his son's hero-worship, while Claudius might be worthy of tragic status. To win a throne and a Queen, he committed a dreadful and treacherous crime. Yet there was a certain heroic grandeur, albeit evil, to his objectives and his offences. In Boris's case, there is mere squalid littleness.

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