by a Committee of Privy Counsellors chaired by Sir John Chilcot
Not the Chilcot Report
by Peter Oborne
The Chilcot report coyly says that “the widespread perception”—meaning the correct belief—that Downing Street distorted the intelligence about Saddam’s weaponry has left a “damaging legacy,” undermining trust and confidence in politicians. It is not fanciful to see the Brexit vote, the disruption of the Labour Party, and the rise of Donald Trump among those consequences, all part of the revulsion across the Western world against elites and establishments that were so discredited by Iraq. How could it have happened?
In 1930, Winston Churchill published My Early Life, which remains his most likable and authentic book. At its end he comes forward to September 1908 when, without mentioning Clementine Hozier by name or his proposing to her at his ancestral home of Blenheim Palace, his last line tells us in …
Strawberry Hill and Horace Walpole: Essential Guide
by John Iddon
Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle
by Anna Chalcraft and Judith Viscardi
“It is a little play-thing-house,” Horace Walpole wrote to Henry Seymour Conway in June 1747, “and is the prettiest bauble you ever saw. It is set in enamelled meadows, with filigree hedges.” Six years later he was able to tell his friend Sir Horace Mann, the lifelong British resident in …
Even those with no interest in bike racing might try watching the Tour de France, the Giro d’Italia, and the Vuelta a España, which starts on August 19, on television: they are the best possible travelogues, with aerial shots of three countries ravishingly beautiful in different ways, landscape of mountains and valleys, meadows and vineyards, castles, cathedrals and churches, great cities and pretty little towns. It might make even the most zealous Brexiter or American Firster warm a little to the glories of Europe.
Photography, and Queen Victoria’s interest in it, emerged into public light with the Great Exhibition of 1851, partly Prince Albert’s brainchild. Many of the astonishing six million people who visited the exhibition in Hyde Park saw photographs for the first time, a number of which can be seen at a new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in the handsome accompanying book by Anne M. Lyden, both called “A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography.”
One of the best traditions of English public life is the official inquiry, sometimes parliamentary, sometimes judicial. What gives inquiries their value isn’t the conclusions they come to, which can be perverse or distorted by partisanship, but the evidence they hear and place on record. And so with the Leveson inquiry into the press. Whatever recommendations Lord Justice Leveson eventually makes, we have been spellbound by the testimony he has heard. To add a certain amusement value, the last few weeks have been notable for utterly contradictory testimony from different witnesses, several of them present or former leaders of the country.
Someone is being economical with the truth, or just lying.
Along with the other media he has mastered, from tabloids to satellite television, Rupert Murdoch has recently taken to Twitter. On February 15, he tweeted, “To hell with politicians! When are we going to find some to tell the truth in any country? Don’t hold your breath.” His words remind us yet again that Murdoch is a man of iron nerve, not say brass neck, though they might also suggest a degree of delusion. Throughout his career, every time he has come near calamity, that gambler’s strong nerve has always somehow managed to rescue him. But the concatenation of scandal and disaster that has now engulfed his News International group—which owns the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World as well as the London Times and other papers—is of a different order.