Not a Feminist Victory

Theresa May looks set to be Britain’s second female prime minister, now that Andrea Leadsom has quit the Tory leadership race. It would be wrong to hail this as a victory for feminism. May’s record as home secretary suggests that her government would be especially punitive for women at the bottom of the socioeconomic spectrum, or with precarious migration status. More »

Folk Memories

In the end Portugal did to France at Euro 2016 what Greece had done to Portugal at Euro 2004: they scraped a 1-0 win against the home favourites in the final. France played like a team who believed the hard work had already been done in getting there. That’s what made them vulnerable to an upset, especially against a side like Portugal, who had a recent folk memory of getting stung in their own backyard. It means that no host nation has won the European championships since France in 1984, just as no host nation has won the World Cup since France in 1998. Home advantage isn’t what it used to be. More »

In the Air Cadets

In early 2003, as the Iraq war loomed, I was 14 and a member of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets. I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. Two nights a week, I would take the bus from the Southside of Edinburgh to a Territorial Army barracks where the cadets had a few rooms in the basement. Down the stone steps were a locker room, office, classroom, store cupboard and a drill hall we shared with the army. The rules and regulations were pinned on felt noticeboards on the walls, along with sign-up sheets for weekend exercises and pictures of the squadron out in the woods or standing next to aeroplanes. More »

Blair’s Infatuations

911 papers

The skies over New York on the morning of 11 September 2001 were famously clear: the skies over much of the eastern seaboard three mornings later were covered by cloud low enough to have obscured the top floors of the World Trade Center, had its two towers not been destroyed. There was a hope that overnight rain would put out the fires burning in the ruins and the wreckage at Ground Zero. But the fires burned for weeks, and anyone who knew their smoke will remember it for ever. More »

Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

In Texas, ‘ambulatory surgical centers’ – outpatient clinics for medical procedures that don’t require an overnight stay – aren’t allowed to have ceiling fans. State law requires them to have elaborate ventilation systems, the capacity to house and transmit medical gases, water coolers in all waiting areas and adequate off-street parking. There needs to be an intercom system that can function in the event of a power cut, and devices for handling ‘flammable germicide’. If the facility has more than one floor, it must have a lift, and the lift needs to be large enough to accommodate a gurney. The hallways have to be wide enough to accommodate at least one gurney, if not two, and laid out in such a way as to allow for one-way traffic of people and gurneys throughout the centre.

In July 2013, Texas passed a law known as House Bill 2, which required all abortion clinics to meet the standards of an ambulatory surgical center, and all doctors who carry out abortions to have ‘active admitting privileges’ at a hospital within 30 miles. More »

Yes, it was Blair’s fault

Iraq’s invasion and its aftermath illustrate Lord Salisbury’s maxim about the ‘optimist view of politics’, which ‘assumes that there must be some remedy for every political ill, and rather than not find it, it will make two hardships to cure one’. The Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 war in Iraq is a world away from the whitewash obligingly thrown over the venture by Lord Hutton’s 2004 report, commissioned by Tony Blair while still in office. Sir John Chilcot’s summary findings mount a cumulatively devastating critique of Blair’s conduct before, during and after the war. More »

Reckless War

Edward Said writing on the Iraq war in April 2003:

This is the most reckless war in modern times. It is all about imperial arrogance unschooled in worldliness, unfettered either by competence or experience, undeterred by history or human complexity, unrepentant in its violence and the cruelty of its technology. What winning, or for that matter losing, such a war will ultimately entail is unthinkable. But pity the Iraqi civilians who must still suffer a great deal more before they are finally ‘liberated’.

Since the 2003 invasion, more than 160,000 Iraqi civilians have died violent deaths.

Foreign in a Domestic Sense

Two days after the Brexit vote, a woman in Barnsley, with a tear in her eye, told Channel 4 News that her ‘parents and grandparents fought for England to be free and it was about time we came back to be free.’ The referendum allowed for the inflation of a rhetoric that the people of the United Kingdom have no right to employ. The insufferable Nigel Farage suggested that 23 June should be celebrated as the UK’s ‘independence day’. When was the last time the British were colonised? At which point in the history of colonialism were the British the enslaved rather than the slavers?

Unhomely post-referendum England has made me think of home, the place I haven’t lived since I was 18 years old. More »

Friending Sarah Vine

I’d love to be closer to Sarah Vine. Not just because she’s married to Michael Gove, though I’m as interested as everyone else in his very uncertain career prospects. The degree of support she’s given his twin campaigns to undermine the European Union and Boris Johnson has made me almost pruriently curious about her own power. And her weekly column for the Daily Mail, though revealing in its way, doesn’t illuminate enough. It’s padded out with domestic anecdotes, to be sure, but they come with too many platitudes and skincare tips for my taste. But a significant social opportunity has just opened up – because last week, Sarah (I feel I can now call her that) reached out on Facebook. More »

Best Goal Ever?

Most people have a favourite team or, failing that, a favourite player. I’ve never been sure about those but I have always had a favourite goal, at least since 1998. Dennis Bergkamp’s last-minute winner for Holland against Argentina in that year’s World Cup quarter-final contained everything you could want: a momentous occasion, heart-stopping drama and aesthetic perfection. Bergkamp took Frank de Boer’s fifty-yard pass out of the air, controlled it with one touch, left the Argentina no. 2 for dead with his second and nonchalantly flicked it home. Then he lay on his back while the world went mad. I can still remember the sense of wonder seeing it in real time. It never grows old.

Now that goal has a rival. More »

Advertisement Advertisement