David Cameron may not think so but a hat is a powerful tool of expression

Boris Johnson has been wearing hats like they are going out of fashion, which they are. According to Nick Robinson’s new book, Live From Downing Street, when David Cameron went off for his hug-a-husky photo-opportunity to the Norwegian glaciers in 2006, he refused to wear a hat, even though it was -25C. The reason for this masochistic obstinacy? Well, it seems he was mindful of the PR mistake his predecessor William Hague made when he was photographed wearing one as he went down a log slide at Read more [...]

Colin Powell on why he doesn’t regret a thing

Reagan and Bush trusted him. Bill Clinton feared him. Opponents of the war in Iraq blamed him. But why didn’t Colin Powell seize power when he had the chance? Having read that General Colin Powell insists on punctuality, I arrive an hour before my appointment at his office – which is in a leafy part of Washington DC – planning to find a quiet corner to go through my notes as I wait. There is no one else around but, as I’m entering the building, a silver sports car roars up: a brand new, six-litre Read more [...]

Mitt Romney: And I owe it all to… Dad

Mitt Romney has a good luck ritual that involves writing 'Dad' on a piece of paper. What other secret, success-bringing gimmicks there are out there? Mitt Romney has revealed the secret of his new-found popularity, or rather his wife has. Before he starts to speak at a podium he always writes down a single word on the paper in front of him: “Dad”. Touching, isn’t it? So touching, it almost allows you to forget that he is a Mormon. And it is certainly an improvement on Sarah Palin’s autocue, Read more [...]

Can you beat David Cameron at our British citizenship test?

We all think we know our history, but how would you fare if you had to sit a 'citizenship test’ like Prime Minister David Cameron was set on the Letterman show? David Cameron’s appearance on 'The David Letterman Show’ has had the unintended consequence of making us feel sorry for him. After all, it hardly seemed fair to spring those abstruse British history questions on him like that, even if he does have a first from Oxford. It left us all thinking, would we have fared any better? Well, let Read more [...]

Note to Zadie Smith: the Left can be just as nasty as the Right

Zadie Smith’s point is a good one. Left and Right should make more of an effort to meet Though I can’t say for sure, I suspect that the unsmiling novelist Zadie Smith may be more Left-wing than Right. This suspicion is prompted by something she said the other day: “I would love to meet a nice, reasonable, intelligent Conservative who’s a lovely person, but where are they?” Has she not heard of Matthew Parris? That is what he is for. As a matter of urgency the man must be rushed, preferably Read more [...]

Government leaves a chap no time to think

Even to reflect on the working day of a political leader is to feel exhausted Nick Clegg has compared the experience of being in government to having a lobotomy. For those unfamiliar with this procedure, it involves Nurse Ratched cutting the connections to and from the prefrontal cortex of the brain, before a large Native American known as “Chief” smothers you with a pillow. But I don’t think Cleggy quite means it in the One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest sense. I think what he has in mind is Read more [...]

Those brief encounters between Rebekah Brooks and Jack Straw…

Why should the Leveson Inquiry be denied the two high-profile commuters' gossip 'about personalities'? In his evidence to the Leveson Inquiry the other day, Jack Straw revealed that he and Rebekah Brooks would often gossip “about personalities” when they bumped into each other on the morning train from Oxfordshire to London. Given that bumping into people on trains is rarely an occasion for mutual joy, I find myself wondering quite how these brief encounters actually played out. “Is Read more [...]