Paul Vallely

Paul Vallely is Associate Editor of The Independent where he writes on social, ethical, political and cultural issues. He writes leaders, features and has a weekly column in the Independent on Sunday. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.

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BLAM!

Edinburgh 2013: Blam! is set to be the Fringe's unexpected hit of the summer

At the end of Blam! the audience catapulted themselves to their feet as one and applauded wildly in a riotous standing ovation. Every festival has one totally unexpected hit and at Edinburgh 2013 it is Blam!.

Pope Francis puts people first and dogma second. Is this really the new face of Catholicism?

'Gay' was not a word which would even pass the lips of his predecessor, Benedict XVI

Hadley Fraser as Garry Kasparov in The Machine (Picture: Helen Maybanks)

Theatre Review: The Machine, Manchester Festival

When the interval arrived during The Machine I realised I had been so engrossed by the play that I had forgotten to take a single note during the first half. A play about a chess match between a man and a computer, as its author Matt Charman, had conceded beforehand, sounded almost terrifyingly dull. But this was no ordinary man. It was Garry Kasparov, the youngest world chess champion ever, who reigned unchallenged for two decades. Nor was it an ordinary machine. It was Deep Blue, then the most sophisticated chess computer the world had ever seen, which could analyse more than 500 million positions every second.

Theatre Review: The Masque of Anarchy, Manchester Festival

One of the little touches of genius about this year’s Manchester International Festival has been the imaginative choice of venues with which the artistic director Alex Poots has given extra resonance to the works being staged. Perhaps the best example of this was Maxine Peake’s bravura performance of The Masque of Anarchy, the long poem which Percy Byshe Shelley wrote in indignation against the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

John Tavener at Bridgewater Hall as part of Manchester International Festival

Classical review: John Tavener, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester International Festival

Very occasionally a performance is so special that the audience feels reluctant to shatter the moment which hangs in the air between them and the musicians with something as profane as applause. So it was at the concert of music by Sir John Tavener at the Manchester International Festival which contained no fewer than three world premieres by the great man as he approaches his 70th birthday.

The Old Woman, Manchester International Festival

Theatre review: The Old Woman, Manchester International Festival

It would help if you read Daniil Kharms’ short story before you go to see The Old Woman which opened this year’s biennial Manchester International Festival. It would help. But not a lot.

Hidden horrors: Media coverage of the Oxford trial has focused unfairly on race and religion

The Oxford child sex abuse case shows how the media talks in stereotypes but misses the big picture

Muslim community activists are not given enough credit for challenging distorted notions of masculinity

(Top row) Akhtar Dogar, Anjum Dogar, Kamar Jamil; (Bottom row) Assad Hussain, Bassam Karrar, Mohammed Karrar and Zeeshan Ahmed

The Oxford child sex abuse verdict highlights a cultural problem, but not a specifically Muslim one

Parallels between the Oxford case and last year’s case in Rochdale raise some difficult questions. But the issues are much more complex than they seem

May 1977: Thatcher waves a mascot after speaking at the Conservative Women’s conference

How Margaret Thatcher built the myth of The Iron Lady

Saviour of the nation from post-war decadence, or heartless milk-snatcher who destroyed heavy industry and decimated whole communities? Paul Vallely sifts the reputation from the reality

Rare case: The Philpotts were not typical of anything

On a one-way street to social inequality

Lashing out at the freakshow of Mick Philpott won't solve the problems of our overstretched welfare system

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?