Malcolm has an excellent arrangement with the lovely lady down the street. He is unfailingly polite to her when they meet; she provides him with her husband’s discarded copies of the Spectator.
This arrangement is doubly beneficial. Not only is it amazingly cost-effective (at least from Malcolm’s point-of-view), by the time he accesses the magazines they are a week or so out-of-date. This latter consideration puts all the frothier stuff into proper proportion. For an obvious example, Lloyd Evans’s rather frosty review of She Stoops to Conquer (at the Olivier, continuing) is definitely out-of-touch — to mix our eighteenth century authors and genres, it’s butterfly and wheel stuff.
The joy of the Speccie is that it is refreshingly out-of-kilter with any stifling Tory orthodoxy. The Diary for 11th February was by David Hare, and included this paragraph (should anyone wish to confirm, and enjoy the rest of the page, it is on-line):
Friends are arguing about whether this is the worst government since 1945. It certainly seems so. Blair’s administration did the single worst thing by invading Iraq, and Eden’s got the worst comeuppance, after invading Suez. But there’s been none in my lifetime that so resembles a team about to drop into the Conference. You look around the field and the players are all kicking the mud rather than the ball. Can anyone name a minister who’s had a good game? Even the free-spirited ones like Vince Cable and Kenneth Clarke lost all their vim the minute they got red boxes. Gove, Lansley and Duncan-Smith call to mind George Santayana’s definition of a fanatic: someone who redoubles his efforts after forgetting his aim. Hague merely seems bored, as though his brief — the world — weren’t as interesting to him as an elliptical machine. The disparity between Cameron’s moral lectures to the young and the ugliness of his own tongue dismays even his supporters. Osborne and Cameron represent class interest pure and simple. ‘Does it help us?’ is the only question they ever ask. Their dishonest strategy of blaming Labour for everything the bankers did wrong ran out of gas five miles back down the road. It will be interesting to see what new PR wangle they come up with next to disguise the failure of their own analysis.
Comprehensive, damning and laudable.