Dominic Lawson

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There is a new great game afoot. It is called vaccine diplomacy. This, at any rate, is what various experts on international power politics tell us. And we are being told how worrying it is that Russia and China are using distribution and even donation of their coronavirus vaccines as a means of boosting their influence and reputation across the world.

As usual, images express the idea better than words ever could — most powerfully Morten Morland’s cartoon on the front of The Spectator, which shows their presidents, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, carving up the globe, not with knives but syringes.…  Seguir leyendo »

When it really matters, the political figure whose word counts most is the one the public never hears from: the government chief whip. It was in the spring of 2017 that this figure from the shadows warned Theresa May that, partly because of the number of those on the Conservative benches not reconciled to Brexit, the narrow parliamentary majority she had inherited from David Cameron was insufficient to deliver the radical break with the EU she set out in her Lancaster House speech.

So, to give herself that authority, Mrs May went to the country on a manifesto that pledged to extract the UK from membership of both the EU’s customs union and its single market.…  Seguir leyendo »

Can we clear something up at the outset? The Russian government is not coming over all outraged because it knows it is being falsely accused of complicity in the attempted murder in Salisbury of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. It has more knowledge of the nature of its own involvement than anyone.

No, its theatrical expressions of outrage stem from quite other feelings. The feeling that it should be allowed to get away with poisoning “traitors” in the UK, as it did with Alexander Litvinenko. The feeling that London, having been more greedy than any other financial centre for Russian mafia money, is not showing appropriate respect to the capo di tutti capi himself — Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.…  Seguir leyendo »

There are two reliable ways of telling if you have won an argument. The first is if your disputants switch from discussion of the facts to accusations about motives; the second, more obviously, is if they descend to mere abuse.

Alan Dangour, a nutritionist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, should therefore feel he has had an encouragingly uncomfortable week. He is the author of a peer-reviewed meta-study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that concluded, from 50 years of scientific evidence, that so-called “organic” food was no healthier than conventionally farmed products. By the end of last week Dangour felt as if he had been covered with the brown stuff the organic lobby holds most sacred.…  Seguir leyendo »

I’ll say one thing for the euthanasia lobby: they are masters of media manipulation. Somehow they managed to persuade the press and broadcasters that the law lords had demanded that parliament reverse its opposition to the legalisation of so-called “assisted suicide”. This collective misinterpretation of last Thursday’s judgment on the case of Debbie Purdy, a multiple sclerosis sufferer and campaigner for such a change in the law, must in part have derived from the sight of Purdy and her lawyers happily toasting the outcome with champagne.

Yet Purdy, her husband, Omar Puente, and her fellow campaigners from Dignity in Dying (formerly known as Exit) are celebrating prematurely.…  Seguir leyendo »

Zahra, an Iranian woman studying at an English university, is in a state of terror. Her husband, an activist in the cause of the defeated Iranian presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, was arrested a fortnight ago, and has not been seen since. Zahra, whose eyes are lined in green, the colour of the country’s reformist opposition, told the BBC: “Why should he be in jail? What was wrong with what we did in Tehran? It was the basic right of all Iranians to take part in the election.” She went on: “They don’t let my husband call me . . .…  Seguir leyendo »

If you attend a circus, you should expect to see a clown – and if you get into the ring with him, you shouldn’t be surprised if he throws custard pies at you. You look even more ridiculous than the clown, however, if you then adopt an expression of injured dignity and complain about the mess on your jacket.

Unfortunately, that is the position of Peter Gooderham, our ambassador to the United Nations, who (in the company of a number of other apparently affronted emissaries) walked out during the Iranian president’s address to last week’s UN summit on “anti-racism”. Even the ringmaster himself – the UN secretary-general – affected to be shocked by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s remarks that “following the second world war [the West] resorted to military aggression to make an entire nation homeless on the pretext of Jewish sufferings and sent migrants from Europe, the United States and other parts of the world in order to establish a totally racist state in occupied Palestine .…  Seguir leyendo »

I was startled by the monument that stands at the entrance to Yad Vashem, Jerusalem’s memorial to the Holocaust. One side of Nathan Rappaport’s diptych is what looks like a caricature of Jews. The hunched, twisted figures, with hooked noses and heavy-lidded eyes, seem devoid of physical energy. The other panel displays a group of heroic young men and women who are heavily muscled, standing tall, weapons at the ready.

It turns out that the first group is meant to depict Jews being marched to their deaths, while the second is the leaders of the Warsaw uprising; the whole monument is constructed of granite imported from Sweden by the Nazis for the construction of what was meant to be one of the Third Reich’s victory towers.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is traditional, when mounting a coup, to seize control of the airwaves. Last week the supporters of euthanasia did their best. Monday’s Panorama was entirely given over to a “report” on this topic by the Lothians MSP, Margo MacDonald; but since Ms MacDonald has already launched a campaign to legalise “assisted suicide” north of the border, the BBC’s attempt to promote her as an impartial reporter was disingenuous, at best.

Two days later, Sky broadcast Right to Die, a 90-minute documentary that told the story of Craig Ewert, a 59-year-old Yorkshire-based American, who had travelled to the Dignitas clinic in Zurich to be humanely put down.…  Seguir leyendo »