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NHS Britain 

The NHS at 70: time for the lethal syringe?

Next week marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the NHS. Perhaps instead of any burnishing of moral credentials, this might be an opportunity to start thinking the unthinkable. The NHS treats the state itself as the nation’s ultimate carer, giving it the authority to decide who should be helped to stay in this world and who should be helped prematurely out of it. It is therefore not a temple of compassion so much as a potential instrument of arbitrary and unaccountable power. How many more scandals will it…

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HRH Britain Israel 

HRH, the FCO and the big lie about Israel

One of the most startling aspects of the demonisation of Israel is the use of international law as a key weapon. Israel represents law and justice against those who deny them. Yet it is falsely painted as fundamentally illegitimate and guilty of repeated illegality and breaches of international norms. Defenders of Israel, including its own government, seldom push back publicly against this. False assertions by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office about Israel’s illegal settlements or the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” are met with silence. Not surprisingly, this failure to engage has…

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praying-at-western-wall-jerusalem Britain Israel 

Prince William comes to Israel under a Foreign Office cloud

Next week the second in line to the British throne, Prince William, will make the first ever official visit to the State of Israel by a member of the Royal Family. The royals are merely the servants of the British government. Until now, the notoriously anti-Israel Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has refused to permit an official visit to Israel by a member of the Royal Family out of concern for Arab anger. Whether it has now softened its stance or been overruled by Prime Minister Theresa May is unclear….

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Question Time Britain 

How the Question Time bear-pit changed me

As a regular panellist over the years on BBC TV’s Question Time, I’m sorry to see that David Dimbleby is stepping down from the show after a mere quarter-century in the chair. He says he wants to return to his first love, reporting. Maybe so. Or maybe he’s just had enough of the trivialisation of the show that he has anchored for so long. Nowadays there’s almost invariably at least one comedian among the five-strong panel — and that’s just the politicians. I have come to realise that the audience…

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HRH Britain Israel 

Prince William: an FCO hostage in a minefield

It was always a racing certainty that next week’s visit to the Middle East by Prince William, featuring the first official visit to Israel by a member of Britain’s Royal Family, would prove to be a diplomatic minefield. It now turns out, however, that rather than playing the role of minesweeper-in-chief Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office has left one of its own landmines defiantly in place – and is guiding Prince William straight for it. Prince William is to visit Jordan, Israel and the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority….

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Brexit Britain 

The titanic struggle to save the United Kingdom

No-one should be in the slightest doubt about the titanic struggle becoming more desperate by the day to defend British democracy and restore the UK as an independent self-governing nation. An all-out attempt is being being made to frustrate the wish of the British people, expressed by 52 to 48 per cent in the 2016 referendum, to leave the EU. Last night, after a day of drama and arm-twisting, Theresa May’s government narrowly escaped defeat over the EU Withdrawal Bill. A number of amendments to the bill, which had been…

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prostitution Britain 

Prostitution: men shouldn’t get all the blame

Prostitution: men shouldn’t get all the blame At the University of Cincinnati, the sex war has reached an absurd impasse. A male and female student who woke up together after a drunken encounter have each complained of sexual assault by the other. Some have speculated that the case might signal a weakening of the presumption that women are invariably victims of male sexual aggression. This premise lies behind the Commons women and equalities committee inquiry into sexual harassment to which I was invited to give evidence last week. The word…

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drugs Britain 

Going soft on drugs is a disastrous mistake

Going soft on drugs is a disastrous mistake Two young people died and 15 others were admitted to hospital after attending a music festival in Portsmouth at the weekend. Not all these incidents were drug-related but the festival subsequently issued a warning against a “dangerous high-strength or bad-batch substance on site”. Three people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in the supply of class-A drugs. Following this tragedy, there have been predictable calls for all festivals to provide drug-testing facilities. Niamh Eastwood, executive director of the drug liberalisation group…

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Livingstone Britain 

Livingstone departure: Labour’s cynical totem

Ken Livingstone has now resigned from the Labour party. So what? His departure will not lance the boil of Labour party antisemitism. First, Livingstone has still not resiled from his claim that Hitler supported Zionism, nor has he admitted to antisemitism; even today he has doubled down on his position. He used the standard excuse that he was resigning simply because he had become a “distraction” to Labour’s opposition to the government. He was “truly sorry” only for the “offence and upset in the Jewish community” which he had caused…

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inquiries Britain 

Verdict first, inquiries afterwards

What do Sir Martin Moore-Bick and Sir John Mitting have in common? Both are distinguished former judges. Both head public inquiries. Moore-Bick chairs the one dealing with the Grenfell tower fire; Mitting chairs the one looking at claims that undercover policemen who infiltrated various groups deceived women members into sexual relationships. The two have something else in common. Both are under heavy attack from victims and complainants who are demanding they be removed from their posts. Everyone “knows” there should be arrests after Grenfell. Everyone “knows” those undercover officers should…

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