Leading article: Speaking nonsense
Tuesday 16 November 1999
The aim of taking democracy back to the people is laudable. It conjures up warm images of a fearless politician on the stump, be he Sir Robert Peel speaking to the masses in Tamworth or John Major on his faintly absurd soapbox. But the gap between desire and reality is rather large.
If in doubt, visit Hyde Park Corner. You will be quickly disabused of the notion that soapbox oratory adds much to the sum of human discourse. Even the heckling is worse than may be found in most comedy clubs after pub closing-time. Instead, there is just the ranting and raving of obsessives of every hue, be they unpleasant racists, religious evangelists or political Utopians.
We all recognise that our political life needs improvement. But if Mr Straw really wants to further the connection between government and citizen, he should concentrate on ensuring his Freedom of Information Bill does not break the Trade Descriptions Act.
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Cyclist who knocked down three-year-old girl says his life has been 'destroyed'
- 2 A politically correct lefty goes to see Top Gear live – you'll probably believe what happened next
- 3 Young Preston fan has play-off hero Jermaine Beckford's shirt stolen from him at Wembley - which then appears for sale on Gumtree
- 4 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 5 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people