It’s time to give John Major the credit we so cruelly denied him

Monday marks a notable date in political history – the anniversary of April 9 1992, the last time that the Conservative Party managed to achieve victory at a general election. Right up to the BBC exit polls, it was assumed that Neil Kinnock’s Labour would win. But John Major, always underestimated by a sneering metropolitan media class, triumphed against the odds.

He won more votes – 14 million – than any other British prime minister has ever done. In popular terms, the margin of victory was immense. No less than 42 per cent of the voters came out for Major, 34 per cent for Kinnock. But the bias of the British electoral system hit the Conservatives hard.

Had Labour enjoyed that 8 per cent lead in the popular vote, it would have secured a parliamentary majority of more than 100. Unlucky Major ended up with a majority of just 21, which was whittled away over the coming years until his government ended in ignominy and defeat.

His administration has enjoyed a terrible reputation and remains associated with sleaze, incompetence, drift and weakness. But as time has passed this verdict has started to look unfair. History may yet be much kinder to John Major than many would have thought.

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In defence of Big Brother: I want more snooping, not less

I want to live in a surveillance state. Big Brother, come cast your watchful eye over me and mine. I love you, bro.

Seriously, when I saw the outcry over Government plans to gain access to telephone, email and internet, my initial reaction was: “You mean they can’t do that already?”

I assumed, somewhat stupidly, that everything we said, typed or viewed was routinely monitored, and then filtered by some giant, super-secret computer tucked away in a heavily guarded subterranean basement of GCHQ: “Hodges has just said he wants to shoot another Liverpool player, sir.” “Oh, he’s always saying that, Jones. Ignore him.”

I don’t want less surveillance, I want more of the stuff. My idea of the perfect society is one where every street corner has a CCTV camera, everyone has a nice shiny ID card tucked in their wallet and no extremist can even think of logging onto a dodgy website without an SAS squad abseiling swiftly through their window.

For one thing, I have a relatively benign view of the state. There are some things it does much better than others, and I realise it’s high time it learnt to cut its coat to suit its cloth. But on balance I view the state as a force for good, rather than some giant, me

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Europe’s poignant wake-up call

For those who missed the story, a 77-year old retired pharmacist – Dimitris Christoulas – has shot himself to death in front of the Greek Parliament in Syntagma Square, protesting the degradation of his country.

It is a call to arms, a poignant moment in Europe’s unfolding drama, reminiscent of the Buddhist self-immolations of south-east Asia that so captured world attention.

His suicide note refers to the Quisling regime of George Tsolakoglou under Axis occupation in World War Two.

Needless to say, it is loose talk to compare the Greek technocrat premier Lucas Papademos in any way to Nazi puppets. He is an honourable man, broadly supported by the Greek people, appointed by the Greek president under legitimate – though dubious – constitutional procedure, doing the best as he sees it for his country.

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Proliferation

To REALLY understand what’s going on right now, you’d have to look at it from a distance, but the entire planet is in on this one, so there’s no “distance”. The only other way to look at it objectively is from the perspective of history, but we haven’t lived through it yet.

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Advocacy Journalism

The latest, according to Globes, Israel’s Business newspaper: Netanyahu denies calling “NY Times,” “Haaretz” Israel’s biggest enemies”Jerusalem Post” editor Steve Linde claims the prime minister told him “Haaretz” and “The New York Times” are the country’s biggest enemies. . .. . .The Jerusalem Post” editor Steve Linde told a conference in Tel Aviv of the Women’s International Zionist Organization (WIZO) on Wednesday, that Netanyahu made the remark to him about the newspapers at a private meeting “a couple of weeks ago” at the Prime Minister’s Office in Tel Aviv.

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Miliband steals Cameron’s slogan: ‘We are all in this together’

Labour is the only party that can deliver policies that look after the interests of the whole country, after the coalition announced tax cuts for the richest earners, he said.

Mr Miliband’s raid on the Prime Minister’s rhetoric reflects a growing belief within the opposition that Labour’s message that the Conservatives are “out of touch” is resonating with the public.

Mr Cameron has repeatedly used the slogan, “we’re all in this together”, in an effort to win support for the Coalition’s austerity measures.

However, the Labour leader said the Conservatives had forfeited the right to use the phrase after cutting the 50p top rate of income tax and “picking a fight over petrol” that provoked panic at the pumps.

Speaking while campaigning in Southampton, Mr Miliband said Labour would show “what that phrase really means in these tough times” by making different choices.

“I think it was this spirit the Government was getting at when they took office, saying we are all in it together,” he said.

“I think they were on to something but while their words were good, they have failed in deed.

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September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed facing death penalty

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators were referred by President Barack Obama’s administration to a military tribunal at the Guantánamo Bay naval base in Cuba.

In what has frequently been trailed as “the trial of the century”, they will soon stand accused of committing multiple counts of terrorism, hijacking and murder in violation of the law of war by devising the era-defining attacks on the American mainland.

“The charges allege that the five accused are responsible for the planning and execution of the attacks of September 11, 2001, in New York and Washington DC, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania, resulting in the killing of 2,976 people,” the Defence Department announced in a statement.

The full extent of their alleged crimes are detailed in an 88-page dossier listing every victim of the attacks by name. The charges were referred to a capital military commission, meaning that “if convicted, the five accused could be sentenced to death,” the department said.

Mohammed, a 46-year-old Kuwaiti long known by US officials as “KSM”, has been held at the base’s Camp Delta prison for the past six years. He is alleged to have confessed that he was he “was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z” after extensive interrogation.

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