Incarceration of Gillian Gibbons in Sudan

British Muslims should protest teddy lunacy

Oh come off it, I thought yesterday afternoon, when I heard that the Sudanese authorities had actually gone ahead and charged her. Surely they are out of their minds.

When the news broke yesterday teatime that poor Gillian Gibbons was facing prosecution in Khartoum for inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs, I am afraid my normal good humour momentarily deserted me.

How dare they! I spluttered, and for a brief undignified moment, I had fantasies of a return to the age of Palmerston.

Here is an innocent British citizen, a good and patently well-meaning 54-year-old British teacher. She has decided to make a new life for herself by giving instruction to children in one of the poorest countries on Earth. She has got herself into a muddle over the name of a teddy bear – and now she is facing 40 lashes or six months in jail.

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Lost Revenue & Customs Data Discs

Alistair Darling has invented a kind of reverse National Lottery, in which the giant finger hovers over our streets. It could be you

Labour’s new lottery: You could be ripped off

In the annals of government cock-up, this is surely the single most astonishing and ludicrous episode of the past 25 years.

I cannot think of another minister who has looked as overwhelmed, as hapless, as altogether washed-up as Alistair Darling, when he announced that the intimate financial details of 25 million Britons had been lost – lost – by the ministry entrusted with their safekeeping.

Across the nation there will now be millions of families in states ranging from vague anxiety to panic. As they fight off the urge to ring their bank and verify the continued existence of their life savings, I want to console everyone with two bits of good news.

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Plastic Bag Ban

Bin those plastic bags

Now don’t you come all libertarian with me. Don’t you try to pretend there is something anti-Tory about banning plastic bags.

I think I qualify as the single most rabidly freedom-loving columnist on this paper. I have sounded the alarm against bans on smoking, snacking, smacking, hunting and making jokes about religion; and I have inveighed against just about every example of nanny-statery you can think of, from booster seats for 11-year-olds to the new labels on wine bottles warning you that the contents can make you drunk.

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Common-sense Policing

Health and safety did for de Menezes

It’s not good enough. It’s not good enough just to shrug our shoulders and say that Jean Charles de Menezes was an inevitable casualty of the so-called war on terror.

According to the polls I have seen, the majority of voters really seem to think we should all heave a sigh, move on, and accept that someone will always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I say that I am afraid that will not do, because if you think about what actually happened, and you look at the real reason why an innocent Brazilian electrician had seven shots pumped into his head by the police, it is clear that we are in danger of drawing precisely the wrong conclusion.

It wasn’t too little concern for health and safety that did for that young man. The awful paradox is that it was too much.

A few years ago there was a terrible incident at Highmoor Cross in Oxfordshire, when a gunman went on a rampage and shot three women. Although the alarm was raised almost immediately, and although the police were on the scene very shortly afterwards, it took them the better part of an hour before they entered the premises to tend to the bleeding, dying women – while the gunman had long since fled.

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Hillary Clinton for President


The world may still face all kinds of economic upheavals, as the panic from the American subprime mortgage sector spreads around the world, like a kind of financial BSE

To ask the reader to support Hillary means asking you to forget all those worrying allegations …and the Whitewater real estate imbroglio.

it is time America once again radiated a generous understanding of the rest of the world

it is time to think of supporting Hillary, not because we necessarily want her for herself but because we want Bill in the role of First Husband

I want Hillary Clinton to be president

You know, I never thought it would come to this. Over the past 24 hours I have been trying to imagine the kind of person I want to follow George W Bush into the White House.

I have been scanning the faces of the competitors for what some have called the most open presidential race for years, and I have screwed up my eyes and tried to work out who should be in charge of us all.

Who should have their finger on the nuclear button? Who should be Commander-in-Chief of the American military, the hugest and most lethal killing machine in history?

The world may still face all kinds of economic upheavals, as the panic from the American subprime mortgage sector spreads around the world, like a kind of financial BSE. Whose brain can we rely on to protect us?

I hum and I brood and then to my amazement a face seems to form in my mind’s eye. She’s got dyed blonde hair and pouty lips, and a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital; and as I snap out of my trance I slap my forehead in astonishment.

How can I possibly want Hillary? I mean, she represents, on the face of it, everything I came into politics to oppose: not just a general desire to raise taxes and nationalise things, but an all-round purse-lipped political correctness.

To express approval of Hillary Clinton is to invite fury from my friends in the American Republican party.

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