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If you happen to be in London on Wednesday...



As part of The Freedom Association’s Freedom in the City series, Alexander Boot will be discussing his latest book, How The Future Worked: Russia Through the Eyes of a Young Non-Person.

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A few dishevelled snippets of Venice

Every couple of years my wife and I have to come up for air, which is to go to Venice.

We arrived three day ago, too tired to explore the place for real. An obligatory stroll to Rialto Bridge and Piazza San Marco was all we could manage, which brings me to:

Snippet 1. I espied a famous left-wing talk-show host, obviously revelling in the anonymity denied him in London.

The chap suffered a bad stroke some time ago but is back at work now, having presumably recovered. Well, that presumption would be wrong.

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Too many Old Etonians or too many young Estonians?

Education Secretary Michael Gove, himself a public-school boy, has a problem with the number of Old Etonians in Dave’s cabinet.

Personally, as I suggested the other day, I don’t care about the educational background of our cabinet members, their sex, race or religion. I do have a problem with their competence, or rather lack thereof.

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Let Putin eat gas

Any punishment for any crime should ideally serve two purposes: properly punitive (serving justice) and deterrent (preventing the criminal from doing it again).

These days many, including some of our top judges, disagree. They think that the prime purpose of punishment is rehabilitation: improving the criminal’s character.

That’s why they routinely pass derisory sentences, claiming spuriously that “prison has never done anyone any good.”

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It’s official: George Osborne has gone mad

The Chancellor’s severe medical condition was diagnosed at Saturday’s meeting of the Conservative party’s 1922 Committee.

The symptoms included losing touch with reality, manic delusions and illogical, incoherent ranting.

Mr Osborne displayed no such symptoms when the meeting was called to order. However, as senior Tories one by one expressed their concerns about dragging many of their potential supporters into the 40p tax bracket, George was becoming increasingly agitated.

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Shock, horror: the GM industry uses advocates

Smoking kills, as cigarette packs helpfully inform smokers. For once, it’s not just scaremongering: the link between smoking and cancer, first established by Nazi scientists, has since been amply proved.

Yet no one, apart from professional pressure groups, seems to be worked up about the numerous lobbyists defending the tobacco industry in every country that has one.

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The Tories are bent on self-harm

Many complain that most of our politicians have never had a job outside politics, which is why they don’t understand the real world.

Yet the same charge was never filed against the great statesmen of the past, many of whom boasted similarly limited CVs: Burke, Canning, Pitt, Gladstone and Disraeli spring to mind. 

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The internet has no downside – but we do

Twenty-five years ago Sir Tim Berners-Lee (as he then wasn’t) invented the worldwide web, and surely its anniversary is custom-made for contemplation.

To be fair, this isn’t in short supply, as every columnist in His creation weighs the pros and cons. Yet most of the comments are one- or at best two-dimensional. The dimension they tend to lack is depth.

To say that the net has its pros and cons is to say nothing. Everything has its pros and cons, and certainly every technological invention in history.

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Dave’s speech to the Knesset raises eyebrows

My friend Dave has kindly provided the real transcript of his speech to the Israeli parliament, stressing that it’s strictly for private use only.

I can understand his reluctance to let the text seep into the mainstream media, for the shoddy research on the part of Dave’s speech writers created a rather embarrassing situation.

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Why socialists hate private pensions (except their own)

Actually they hate private anything, including property. That’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that Labour are promising yet another raid on private pensions – this sort of thing is encoded into their DNA.

After all, if we strip socialism of its mendacious slogans (and all its slogans are mendacious), its essence is a commitment to transferring as much power as possible from the individual to the state.


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