2010年4月30日 星期五

The Tory Challenge/ messier governance

Britain's wild election puts two-party system to a test
Britain faces a strong possibility of a "hung Parliament," raising the question of whether the days of the Labour-Tory lock on Parliament are numbered, and Britain is in for period of messier governance.

2010年4月19日星期一 The Tory Challenge Op-Ed Columnist The Tory Challenge

Published: April 18, 2010

American conservatives don’t think terribly highly of the British Tories — if, that is, they think of them at all. With the exception of the sainted Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s Conservatives have acquired a reputation among their more populist American cousins for being aristocratic squishes: part Bertie Wooster and part Arlen Specter.

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David Cameron, the Tory leader campaigning to become Britain’s next prime minister, fits this stereotype all too neatly. He’s an Eton man, an alumnus of Oxford’s posh and rowdy Bullingdon Club, and a direct descendant of King William IV. His early career as Tory leader was devoted to “modernizing” the Conservative Party after a decade of defeat. This meant riding a bicycle, appearing regularly without a tie, and talking as much as possible about the environment and other liberal-sounding issues.

Yet the American right — and Americans in general — should be paying close attention to how Cameron’s Tories fare in Britain’s election on May 6, and how well they govern if they win. That’s because for all his leftward feints and politically correct gestures, Cameron is campaigning on a vision of government that owes a great deal to the American conservative tradition.

The Tories’ election manifesto, released early last week, promises “a sweeping redistribution of power” — from London to local institutions, and “from the state to citizens.” In one of the most centralized countries in the Western world, Cameron is championing a dramatic transfer of responsibility — for schools, hospitals, police forces — to local governments and communities. In a nation with a vast and creaking welfare state, he’s urging people to put more faith in voluntarism, charity and the beleaguered two-parent family. (This last plank has attracted the ire of none other than J. K. Rowling, who recently attacked the Tories for stigmatizing single motherhood.) His emphasis, again and again, has been on a smaller, leaner, less intrusive government — and in its place, a “big society” that can bear the burden currently shouldered by social workers and bureaucracies.

Nobody would mistake the Cameron Tories for Tea Partiers. By the statist standards of British politics, though, their manifesto’s emphasis on localism and limited government is quite daring. The Tories may sit to the left of American conservatives on a host of issues, but Cameron is offering a more detailed and specific vision of what conservative reform might mean than almost any English-speaking politician since the Reagan-Thatcher era.

Essentially, the Tories are gambling that the fiscal crisis facing every Western government will create an opportunity for decentralization on an unprecedented scale. If that gamble succeeds, Cameron’s government will offer an example to right-of-center parties everywhere — and Britain will offer a model, in an era of tight budgets and diminished expectations, for how nations can succeed (to borrow a Cameron catchphrase) at “doing more with less.”

But first Cameron’s party has to actually win the election, which is hardly a sure thing. The Tories are asking for a mandate to transform the British state at a time when the British public is mainly concerned about how to kick-start economic growth. This may explain why the Tories have been clinging to a narrow lead over the incumbent, Gordon Brown, despite the Labor Party’s epic mismanagement of the economy. Many disillusioned Britons seem tempted to cast a vote for the Liberal Democrats, the perpetual bridesmaids of British politics. The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, was the clear winner in last week’s television debate, and his party’s poll numbers are soaring while Conservative support is flatlining.

Even if they manage to pull out a win, the Tories will have to actually execute the transformation that they’ve promised. Here the American experience is not encouraging. From Richard Nixon to Ronald Reagan to George W. Bush, almost every modern Republican president has pledged to decentralize government and empower local communities. But their successes have tended to be partial, and their failures glaring. Cameron’s decentralizing vision is much better thought out than Nixon’s “new federalism” or Bush’s promise of an “ownership society.” But it’s easy to imagine it meeting the same unhappy fate.

Finally, even if Cameronism could work, there may simply not be time to implement the kind of ambitious, long-term transformation he has in mind. Britain’s debt burden is worse even than that of the United States, and the fiscal crunch is looming. The window for big ideas may be closing, on both sides of the Atlantic and for right and left alike. In this election season, Cameron has tried to advance an idealistic politics of conservative reform. But he may find himself governing amid the grim politics of a permanent fiscal crisis.

2010年4月29日 星期四


2010年04月30日 06:21 AM


Britain's second so-called “great debate” last Thursday between the men who seek to lead the country was heralded as historic. In fact, it was a disingenuous display of the ability of practised politicians to pretend that they know the solution for the UK's major economic and political problems and that the country has reason to be hopeful about the future if it chooses wisely in May. In seeking to show themselves presidential, neither Gordon Brown, nor his principal adversary, the Conservative leader David Cameron, showed wit or wisdom. Both struggled to prove that they were reliable, the all-important quality. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, the new boy on the block, proved himself an attractive, articulate debater. Not one of the three showed a command of foreign or domestic policy and, although all promised change, their proposals for domestic and foreign affairs reform were banal and mostly rhetorical.

上周四,几位寻求成为英国领导人的竞选者进行了第二场所谓的“大辩论”,这场辩论被称为是历史性的。实际上,它是老练政客虚伪的表演秀——他们假装知道如 何解决英国主要的经济问题和政治问题,并佯称如果英国在5月份做出明智选择的话,就有理由对未来充满希望。在试图展示自己的总统素质方面,戈登•布朗 (Gordon Brown)和其主要竞争对手保守党领袖大卫•卡梅伦(David Cameron)都没有表现出风趣或智慧,都难以证明自己是值得信赖的——这是至关重要的一项素质。作为一位参选的新人,自由民主党领袖尼克•克莱格 (Nick Clegg)证明了自己是一位富有魅力,能言善辩的辩手。这三人都没有表现出自己精通外交政策和国内政策,尽管他们都承诺变革,但他们对国内事务和外交事 务改革的提议缺乏新意,而且大多数华而不实。

Yet this was not how commentators following the 90 minutes of drivel chose to see the matter. To hear them interpret the words of the three party leaders, their body language and the like, one could imagine that something important had taken place. Regrettably, these commentators wished to increase their own self- importance by pretending that they had witnessed a historic event.

For those acquainted with the situation across the Atlantic, it is clear that the UK does not today boast a political leadership that can compete effectively with Washington or negotiate with an administration that is no longer as Anglophilic as in the past. One does not need to be a fan of President Barack Obama to realise that his charisma is of a different order from what is on offer in the UK. For years after the second world war, Britain's political leadership compared favourably with America's. It no longer does. The UK would do well to consider what this portends.

While Mr Obama is expected to move from his substantial healthcare reform victory to other feats, nothing the three British politicians spoke of suggested a comparable ambition. The financial proposals that Mr Obama is considering exceed anything that British politicians are proposing for themselves or for Europe. Neither in the European Union nor in the Commonwealth, the latter once deemed important for British identity, are significant changes proposed that would give the UK a new role in the world. The UK does not enjoy the influence in America, north or south, Europe, Asia or Africa that it was able to claim just a few years ago, and it is reasonable for the British public to ask why.

What does this mean for the future? Is there not growing evidence that the Americans are less preoccupied with British opinion than they were? How does the Obama administration view Britain's relations with Germany, France and Italy, and does it believe these to be important for the US? While the UK backs US efforts in the Middle East, it is a minor player in the region, no longer with the influence it once enjoyed. The world is changing and nothing the three contenders said suggested how Britain will accommodate these changes.

Concerns about a “hung parliament” are legitimate, but there is a greater danger that Mr Brown or Mr Cameron will come in with a very small majority and try to govern. They are likely to do so ineffectively. Mr Brown is exhausted, intellectually too feeble to command support from people who have seen too much of him. The Tories, superficially, appear in better shape, but there is little evidence that, so long denied power, they will prove competent. Also, the Lib Dems may act as a “wild card”, knowing less than they pretend, but throwing their weight around.

No candidate in the debate suggested that the country is experiencing its most serious crisis in decades. It is certainly not comparable to 1940, when invasion from Nazi Germany threatened, or on a par with the Great Depression in 1931. But the UK had a unity in those times of adversity that it now lacks. In the third debate, greater realism is called for. The candidates must be held to the fire, explaining what they will do to overcome the serious economic problems. The time for “blah, blah, blah” is over. The public needs a more honest appraisal of the situation. Can any of the three contenders provide this?

The writer is emeritus professor of history at Brown University and author of The Presidents, recently revised and published by Penguin


对那些了解大西洋两岸局势的人而言,英国今天显然不拥有一个能与美国政府有效竞争、或能与一个不如过去那般亲英的政府讨价还价的政治领导层。即使你 不是巴拉克•奥巴马(Barack Obama)的粉丝,你也能意识到,奥巴马的魅力与英国领导人的魅力不是一个数量级的。在二战以后的许多年里,英国的政治领导层与美国相比毫不逊色。现在 不再是这样了。英国不妨考虑一下这预示着什么。

在取得医疗改革的重大胜利后,预计奥巴马还将取得其它功绩,而上述三位英国政客都未能提出可与之媲美的抱负。奥巴马正在考虑的金融提议比上述英国政 客为本国或欧洲提出的任何建议都要好。无论是在欧盟(EU)内还是在英联邦(Commonwealth)内,他们都没有提出能让英国在全球发挥新作用的重 大改革建议。英联邦曾被认为是塑造英国认同感的重要保证。就在几年前,英国还能宣称对美洲、欧洲、亚洲或非洲拥有影响力,现在这种影响力已不复存在。英国 公众有理由质问原因何在。

对未来而言,这意味着什么?难道没有越来越多的证据表明,美国人不再像过去那样重视英国的意见吗?奥巴马政府如何看待英国与德国、法国及意大利的关 系?它相信这些关系对美国重要吗?尽管英国支持美国在中东地区的努力,但它自己在该地区只扮演了次要角色,影响力大不如前。世界正在改变,但上述三位竞选 人均未提及英国如何才能适应这些改变。

人们有理由对“均势议会”感到担忧,但更大的风险却是,布朗或卡梅伦以微弱多数赢得大选、并试图治理这个国家。他们很可能无法有效地治理英国。布朗 已筋疲力竭、江郎才尽,难以博得已对其产生视觉疲劳的公众的支持。英国保守党表面上状态更好一些,但没有证据显示,这个长期在野的政党将证明自己的能力。 此外,自由民主党可能扮演一张“百搭牌”的角色,假装自己懂得不少,只为唬住别人。

没有一位参加上述辩论的竞选人表示,英国正在经历几十年来最严重的危机。这场危机当然比不上1940年纳粹德国可能的入侵,也不及1931年的大萧 条(Great Depression)。但英国目前缺乏在上述逆境时期曾拥有过的团结。竞选人们需要在第三场辩论中变得更加现实。他们必须承受压力,阐明打算如何解决严 重的经济问题。废话连篇的时代已经结束。公众需要看到他们对形势做出更诚实的评估。三位竞选人里有谁能够给出这种评估吗?

本文作者是美国布朗大学(Brown University)历史学名誉退休教授,著有《总统们》(The Presidents)一书,该书最近由企鹅出版社(Penguin)修订出版


UK foreign office apologizes for Pope condom memo

2010年4月26日星期一 UK foreign office apologizes for Pope condom memo

Opening an abortion clinic and launching a pope-branded line of condoms: just a few of the suggestions for the Pope's itinerary listed in a leaked UK foreign ministry memo.

The British Foreign Office has a confession to make. A leaked memo from the ministry contained a list of scandalous suggestions for Pope Benedict XVI's first visit to the UK.

The British Sunday Telegraph newspaper published excerpts of the memo, which included the results of a "brainstorming" session of civil servants planning for the September visit.

Among the activities proposed for the head of the Catholic Church: formally opening an abortion ward at a local hospital, blessing a gay marriage, launching his own branded line of condoms, and "sacking dodgy bishops."

The suggestions alluded to the Catholic Church's prohibitions on abortion, contraceptives, and homosexuality. The last refers to the ongoing scandal involving sexual abuse committed by priests.

The memo also suggested the pontiff perform a duet with Queen Elizabeth and do somersaults with children to promote exercise.

'Ill-judged, naive, and disrespectful'

"This is clearly a foolish document that does not in any way reflect UK government or FCO policy or views," a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in response to the memo's publication.

"Many of the ideas in the document are clearly ill-judged, naive and disrespectful."

Pope Benedict XVI disembarks from an airplaneBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Pope Benedict XVI will make his first visit to Britain in September

Britain's ambassador to the Vatican has met senior officials there to express the government's regret, and the person who drew up the memo, said to be a junior civil servant in his 20s, has been reassigned.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband was reportedly "appalled" upon finding out about the memo.

"The Foreign Office very much regrets this incident and is deeply sorry for the offense which it has caused," the unnamed spokesman said.

Pope Benedict's trip to the UK, scheduled for September 16 - 19, will be the first papal visit there since 1982.

Editor: Kyle James

2010年4月28日 星期三

"bigoted woman"/ Britain's Wild Election

"bigoted woman"

In a U.K. election that has turned into a free-for-all, an unpersuaded voter and an unexpectedly open microphone threatened to change the plot.

In the former industrial town of Rochdale, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was confronted Wednesday by a woman named Gillian Duffy about foreign workers coming into England, among other beefs. Moments later, thinking he was safely out of earshot, Mr. Brown was caught on microphone blasting his aides for exposing him to 'a bigoted woman.' The audio feed went out across the airwaves, the 'mortified' prime minister abjectly apologized, describing himself as 'a penitent sinner,' and the media went wild.

In a close election, it was the last thing the slumping leader of the Labour party needed. Normally, a blunder like that would enhance the chances of a resounding majority for Britain's other great party -- the Conservatives, led by telegenic 43-year-old David Cameron. After all, Labour and the Tories have traded places in a duopoly that has lasted nearly a century.

But this is no normal election. Mr. Cameron, considered a shoo-in two months ago and once commanding a lead north of 20 points, hasn't been able to close the deal, hobbled among other things by a failure to fully connect with the British public and an economic platform that hasn't clicked.

His Tories remain in the lead, but the limelight belongs to a third party, the Liberal Democrats. Their fresh-faced leader, Nick Clegg, also 43, upended the race in a televised debate April 15, persuading thousands of Britons that the two main parties can't fix the U.K.'s ailing economy and array of social ills.

On Thursday night, the party leaders will hold a third and final debate on the campaign's primary issue, Britain's struggling economy, setting the stage for a furious sprint to Election Day on May 6.

That debate is taking on even greater significance because for the first time in decades Britain faces a strong possibility of a 'hung Parliament,' in which no party wins a majority. So, while the immediate focus is on Mr. Brown's gaffe and its impact, a much bigger question is whether the days of the Labour-Tory lock on Parliament are numbered, and Britain is in for period of messier governance.

London voter Chris Squires, a sound engineer, says that like many Britons, he always thought a vote for a third party was wasted. 'When I realized the Lib Dems could change the two-party system, I thought it was worth voting for them,' he says.

In polls, the Tories hold a small lead over the Liberal Democrats and Labour. Some more recent polls suggest a hardening of the Tory lead in this fluid contest, and most analysts still put their money on the Conservatives carrying the day.

The outcome is hard to gauge because of Britain's electoral system. People don't vote directly for prime minister. That job normally goes to the leader of the party with the most Parliamentary seats. The Tories could conceivably win the most votes yet have fewer seats in Parliament because of the way district boundaries are drawn.

The Liberal Democrats almost certainly can't win enough seats to make Mr. Clegg prime minister, but he would be in a powerful position in a hung Parliament. If Labour has the most seats, Mr. Clegg could demand, for instance, that Mr. Brown step aside as party leader in exchange for support. Or the Liberal Democrats, who seek to revamp the electoral system, could demand revisions that would change British politics for years.

Mr. Clegg has shoehorned himself into the race in part because the two big parties left the impression the time is ripe for a good old-fashioned housecleaning.

While the country battled a long recession, politicians bogged down last year in a scandal over their abuse of Parliamentary expense accounts, a month-long drama that left voters viewing the establishment as corrupt and in need change. Though Liberal Democrat members had to explain their own dodgy claims, the party benefited by being seen as outside the political aristocracy.

Labour already faced a malaise far from the optimism brought by its 1997 victory under Tony Blair. His 'New Labour' succeeded in part by looking beyond the party's declining working-class base to middle-class voters, overcoming its reputation for high taxes and high spending. He handed the reins to Mr. Brown in 2007.

Today -- after recession, intra-party strife and unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- the party's legacy is under attack. A decade of government largess also haunts the party, with public spending as a percentage of gross domestic product up to 48% this year from under 40% in 1997.

The effects are felt even in Labour strongholds like Knowlsey, north of Liverpool in northwest England, where Labour carried two-thirds of the vote in the last election five years ago. Billions of pounds in public spending over a decade brought benefits like a GBP 250 million hospital and seven new schools that cost GBP 370 million.

Many Labour politicians have despaired of Mr. Brown's ability to connect with the public, and what they call his bad-tempered nature. These downsides came into sharp focus on Wednesday at a campaign stop designed to show he could mingle confidently with voters. Instead, after Ms. Duffy confronted him on live TV, Mr. Brown was heard telling aides, 'That was a disaster -- they should never have put me with that woman,' and referring to her as 'a bigoted woman.'

After 13 years out of power, the musty Tories, called by some the 'nasty party' for a hard-nosed approach to public services and economics, seemed ready to take the reins this year.

The Tories' Mr. Cameron was raised in a classic Conservative Party milieu: the son of a stockbroker and an aristocratic mother, educated at Eton and Oxford. But he won the Tory leadership in 2005 after pitching himself as a modernizer who would 'switch on a whole new generation' and broaden the party's reach. Mr. Cameron spent years moving the party toward the center and embracing ideas like racial diversity and environmental protection. He reached out to gays and visited a Norwegian glacier to talk about climate change.

Mr. Cameron quickly overtook Labour in popularity. He gained momentum as the economic boom shepherded by Labour headed for bust, and looked set to finish off Mr. Brown.

Yet as the recession deepened, it was often Mr. Cameron, not Mr. Brown, who suffered. The economy took the focus off Mr. Cameron's narrative of a modern Conservative Party, and Mr. Cameron reverted to an old Tory message: To master its deficit, he says, Britain needs tough cuts in public spending and an 'age of austerity.' Mr. Brown replies that such cuts would drive the U.K. back into recession. And criticism of cuts resonates in a country where over half of employment is tied directly or indirectly to public spending.

Mr. Cameron's 'basic strategy was to allow an unpopular government to lose the election, and just to seem young and to give the 'change' message. But the recession came, the whole world changed, and they didn't move fast with it,' says Amanda Platell, who was press secretary to William Hague, the Tory leader who lost the 2001 election.

Mr. Cameron also suffered from the somewhat convoluted way he arrived at his economic message. Early on as party leader, he said he would match Labour's public-spending commitments for the first year. When the financial crisis hit, he criticized bailout policies that ultimately succeeded in averting a bank collapse. More recently, he irritated the right by appearing to soften his talk of spending cuts.

First, 'they didn't understand the scale of the economic shock, and without understanding they criticized the government and went with this austerity message, which they [then] backed off on,' says David Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee who's now at Dartmouth College in the U.S. 'The Conservatives have had a credibility problem on the economy,' says Mr. Blanchflower, who says he has no party affiliation.

Representatives for Mr. Cameron said that he was ahead of the curve on many aspects of the financial crisis, including the need to fight deficits, and that his policies have been backed by leading business people.

The major parties' weaknesses left the door ajar to the Liberal Democrats.

A previous incarnation, the Liberal Party, once was one of the U.K.'s two major parties, before it was usurped by Labour in a 1922 election. The Liberals allied with the Social Democratic Party in 1983 and merged with them in 1988, creating a party that briefly pushed Labour into third place in opinion polls. After a fallow period, the party began to pick up steam again in 1997 as it portrayed itself as a center-left alternative for those disillusioned with Labour.

Mr. Clegg, while positioning himself as the new face of politics, has spent most of his career as a politician. Like Mr. Cameron, he has an aristocratic heritage. He is the son of a banker and was educated at elite schools. But going into the campaign, Mr. Clegg was so little known that in one poll, some confused him with Nick Griffinof the far-right British National Party.

Everything changed 2 1/2 weeks ago after the U.K.'s first-ever televised campaign debate. Before going into the studio April 15, a nervous Mr. Clegg shook hands with his team.

Mr. Clegg returned to his hotel room afterward and he told his staff the debate could really 'galvanize things.' Even so, they were shocked as early editions of British newspapers were nearly uniform in the verdict that Mr. Clegg had gate-crashed the race. Suddenly it was a free-for-all, not a two-way race but one with a rising third party.
Mr. Cameron had to shift course, as Mr. Clegg had deftly swiped his role as Britain's change agent. The Conservatives replaced a television ad attacking Labour with one swiftly filmed in Mr. Cameron's backyard, in which the Conservative leader sought to regain control of his change mantra by promising to 'blow away the old way of doing things.'

The Tories, pushing the idea that voters could inadvertently reinstall Labour if they didn't support the front-running Conservatives, warned: 'Vote Clegg, get Brown.' Labour offered a variation on that warning: 'Flirt with Clegg, marry Cameron.'

Polls show support for the Liberal Democrats may be soft. Many voters are still waiting to make up their minds about Mr. Clegg. The last week of the campaign is shaping up as a vigorous push and pull.

Tuning in to April 15 debate, lifelong Tory Vicky Oakley, a 37-year-old auditor, hoped to see a youthful politician who had turned his party around with a message of change. She did, she says, but it was Mr. Clegg, to whom she had previously barely given a thought. Afterward, she texted a friend, saying, 'Clegg is getting my vote.'

After the second debate last Thursday, Ms. Oakley says Mr. Cameron made up ground. A fellow Tory texted afterward hoping to lure her back: 'Now wait for the final debate and Cameron's clincher.'


在 昔日的工業小鎮羅奇代爾(Rochdale)﹐英國現任首相布朗(Gordon Brown)週三不得不面對一個名叫達菲(Gillian Duffy)的女人的種種抱怨﹐其中包括進入英國的外籍工人問題。過了一會兒﹐就在布朗以為自己已經安全脫離了旁人的視聽範圍﹐人們卻在麥克風中意外聽到 布朗對助手大發雷霆﹐指責他們讓自己暴露在“一個頑固的女人”面前。他的話通過廣播和電視傳揚開來﹐“羞愧的”首相可憐地道了歉﹐自稱是“一個懺悔的罪 人”﹐媒體為此簡直瘋狂了。

在一場勢均力敵的選舉中﹐這是工黨聲望日益下滑的領袖布朗最不需要的。一般來講﹐像這樣的失誤會增大英國另外 一個主要黨派保守黨獲得議會多數席位的機會。保守黨的領袖是很上鏡的、現年43歲的卡梅隆(David Cameron)。畢竟﹐在近一個世紀的兩黨執政期間﹐工黨和保守黨輪流執政。


他 所領導的保守黨仍處於領先地位﹐不過公眾關注的焦點卻在第三個黨派自由民主黨身上。該黨擁有年輕面孔的領袖克萊格(Nick Clegg)同樣也是43歲﹐他在4月15日的電視辯論中扭轉了競選的形勢﹐說服數千名英國人相信兩大主要黨派無法解決英國疲弱的經濟和一系列社會問題。


由 於這是英國數十年來首次極有可能面臨“懸浮議會”(hung Parliament)的局面﹐也就是沒有一個黨派贏得議會多數席位﹐這場辯論的意義甚至更加重大。因此﹐儘管目前的焦點是在布朗的失態及其影響上﹐一個 更大的問題卻是工黨和保守黨在議會中輪流坐莊的日子是否已經屈指可數了﹐英國是否將進入更混亂的治理時期。

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倫敦選民、音響工程師斯奎爾斯(Chris Squires)說﹐和很多英國人一樣﹐他一直認為把選票投給第三個黨派是種浪費。他說﹐當我意識到自由民主黨可能改變兩黨制度時﹐我想投他們的票是值得的。



幾 乎可以肯定自由民主黨無法贏得足夠的席位來將克萊格推上首相之位﹐不過他會在“懸浮議會”中擔任重要職務。比如﹐如果工黨持有的議會席位最多﹐克萊格可能 會要求布朗不再擔任工黨領袖﹐以換取支持。抑或﹐尋求改革選舉制度的自由民主黨可能要求進行足以改變英國政治形勢多年的改革。



與 1997年在布萊爾(Tony Blair)領導下贏得大選而帶來的樂觀情緒截然不同﹐工黨如今已經陷入了麻煩的境地。布萊爾領導的“新工黨”能夠獲勝﹐部分原因是由於超越了該黨數量不 斷下滑的工人階級選民而向中產階級選民尋求支持﹐克服了該黨派高稅賦、高開支主張帶來的不利影響。布萊爾於2007年將執政權傳給了現任首相布朗。


這 種影響甚至在工黨重鎮﹐如位於英格蘭西北利物浦北部的諾斯利(Knowlsey)也感覺得到。在五年前的那次選舉中﹐工黨在諾斯利獲得了三分之二的選票。 過去10年中數十億英鎊的公共開支帶來了福利﹐比如一家耗資2.5億英鎊的醫院﹐及七個總共花費3.7億英鎊的新學校。

工黨的許多政治人 物對布朗與公眾接觸的能力以及他們稱為布朗天生的壞脾氣感到絕望。這些缺點在週三得到鮮明的集中體現。週三在旨為展現布朗能自信地與選民打成一片的一個競 選活動點﹐在電視直播中人們看到在達菲女士向他當面質疑後﹐觀眾聽到布朗對助手說﹐“這是個災難﹐他們不應該將我與那個女人安排在一起”﹐並稱她是個“頑 固的女人”。

在喪失執政權13年後﹐因對公共服務及經濟採取頑固立場而被某些人稱為“骯臟黨派”(nasty party)的落伍的保守黨﹐今年似乎準備接管政權了。

保 守黨的領袖卡梅隆( Cameron)是在典型的保守黨環境中成長的。他的父親是個股票經紀人﹐母親出身於貴族﹐他在伊頓公學(Eton)及牛津大學(Oxford)接受教 育。但在他自我定位為一個現代化者﹐並標榜自己將開啟全新一代﹐並擴大該黨的影響力後﹐他於2005年獲選為保守黨領袖。多年來﹐卡梅隆推動保守黨向中心 靠攏﹐並積極接受種族差異及環保等理念。他主動接近同性戀者﹐還參觀過挪威的一座冰川以討論氣候變遷。


但 隨著經濟衰退加深﹐遭受打擊的通常總是卡梅隆而非布朗。經濟衰退使關注的焦點從卡梅隆志在塑造一個現化化保守黨的豪言中轉移﹐卡梅隆重拾傳統保守黨人的論 調。他說﹐英國要控制赤字﹐則要大幅削減公共開支﹐並厲行節儉。布朗對此回應到﹐大幅削減公共開支會使英國重陷於衰退。在這個超過一半雇員直接或間接與公 共開支相關的國家﹐削減公共開支主張引起廣泛的批評。

2001年在大選中失利的前保守黨領袖黑格(William Hague)的新聞秘書普拉特爾(Amanda Platell)說﹐卡梅隆的基本策略是讓一個不受歡迎的政府在選舉中失敗﹐並只是要看起來年輕﹐還發出“改變”信號。但經濟衰退到來後﹐整個世界發生了 變化﹐他們無法快速推行這一策略。

對卡梅隆不利方面還在於他那令人有些費解的經濟主張。初任保守黨領袖之時﹐他說上台執政後的第一年會遵 守工黨做出公共開支承諾。但當金融危機爆發後﹐他對政府的救助策略進行指責﹐而該策略最終成功地避免了銀行崩潰。近來﹐他因削減公共開支立場似乎有所軟化 而激怒了右翼人士。

曾是英國央行(Bank of England)貨幣政策委員、現任職於美國達特茅斯學院(Dartmouth College)的布蘭奇弗勞爾(David Blanchflower)說﹐首先﹐他們沒有理解經濟震盪的嚴重程度﹐在不理解的情況下他們批評政府﹐並堅稱要緊縮財政﹐然後又讓步了。他說﹐保守黨在 經濟議題上出現了一個公信力問題。布蘭奇弗勞爾表示自己沒有黨派關聯。



自 由民主黨的前身之一自由黨(Liberal Party)曾是英國兩個大黨之一﹐後來在1922年的一場選舉中被工黨超越。1983年﹐自由黨同社會民主黨(Social Democratic Party)結盟﹐1988年與其合併﹐合併後的政黨一度在民意調查中把工黨擠到了第三的位置。經過一段休眠期之後﹐從1997年開始﹐它把自己描述為對 工黨不滿的人們支持中偏左政黨的新選擇﹐於是重新在政壇上得勢。

克萊格雖然把自己定位成政壇新面孔﹐但他的大部分職業生涯都是從政。和卡 梅隆一樣﹐克萊格也有貴族頭銜。他出生於銀行家家庭﹐在貴族學校受過教育。但在選戰之前﹐克萊格名不見經傳﹐在一次民意調查中﹐甚至有一些人把他混淆成了 極右政黨英國國家黨(British National Party)的格里芬(Nick Griffin)。






4 月15日辯論進行時﹐37歲的審計師、一直是保守黨人的奧克利(Vicky Oakley)打開了電視。她希望看到一位年輕的政治家露面﹐以一種變革的信息實現自己政黨的翻身。奧克利說﹐她確實看到了這樣一位政治家﹐不過那是克萊 格﹐一個以前她基本沒有考慮過的人。過後她給友人發短信說﹐克萊格將獲得我的選票。


Alistair MacDonald

2010年4月17日 星期六

Dean Street Townhouse in London

The Europe Issue | Check In, Check Out

Hotel Review: Dean Street Townhouse in London

Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Dean Street Townhouse is in central London.

Published: April 18, 2010


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Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Andrew Testa for The New York Times

Great effort has been made to give the Dean Street Townhouse a proper English feel. The 39-room Georgian town house, which opened in November, is owned by the Soho House Group, which runs several exclusive private clubs, but the staff here doesn’t put on airs. In London, where neighborhoods are as plentiful and dispersed as petals on a peony, it’s often best to decide whether to try to act more like a tourist (sightseeing, theatergoing) or a local (restaurant-eating, marketgoing). This is one spot where you can get away with being both.


This may be the closest thing to the middle of London. Soho, high-voltage and compact, reminds one of Times Square, except that here you find sleepy side streets and village-esque corners. The hotel sits discreetly between Oxford Street and Shaftesbury Avenue, both cluttered with nightclub, theater and shopping traffic. From this vantage, it’s easy to imagine a walkable London, with the opera house at Covent Garden, the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square, and the book and music stores of Tottenham Court Road just around the bend.


We stayed in Room 6, playfully called the Broom Cupboard. For about $135, at $1.50 to the pound, you get a miniature room — a bathroom on the lower floor, connected to an upstairs bedroom by a spiral staircase. This room (and others labeled “tiny”) features blue-and-yellow floral boardinghouse wallpaper and large windows with plantation shutters that overlook pedestrian Meard Street. (Bigger rooms, which we peeked in to while the maid wasn’t looking, feature fancy in-bedroom bathtubs.) There are built-in larders with tea, coffee and ginger biscuits, all in silver tins, and a proper teapot, as well as a Bose iPod docking station and a flat-screen television, which we didn’t turn on. The broom cupboard isn’t so tiny, however — there is plenty of room for suitcases in the entryway, and my 6-foot-4 fiancé bumped his head under the staircase only twice.


Awkwardly shaped but bigger than you might expect, the bathroom has radiant floor heat, a frying-pan-size shower head and a shower bigger than an English phone booth. It’s stocked with Cowshed products, including scents and lotions that recall vegetal apothecary tinctures, like the quinoa moisturizer.


Available until 11:30 a.m. for breakfast, and 2 a.m. for other food most days. Yogurt and berries (£5) were surprisingly inspired, and arrived in 12 minutes. Hot smoked salmon salad with celeriac, apple and walnut is £7.75, and sherry trifle, which must be tried, is £5. Good luck getting the tray up the stairs of the Broom Cupboard.


The lobby has a dim, 19th-century drawing room feel, except for the N’Espresso machine. We spent hours hosting friends there, drinking green tea and eating oranges from a bowl. The restaurant downstairs, which shares the hotel’s name, has recently acquired a raucous international following, and that may be because it serves English food — fish and chips over mashed marrowfat peas, for instance — to near-sterling perfection.


If you want to feel like a member of a private city club without going through the social hurdles, this is a good place to hang your bowler hat. Rooms start at £90, about $136.

Dean Street Townhouse, 69-71 Dean Street, W1D; (44-207) 434-1775; deanstreettownhouse.com.

bowler hat

If you want to feel like a member of a private city club without going through the social hurdles, this is a good place to hang your bowler hat. Rooms start at £90, about $136.

bowler hat
Meaning #1: a hat that is round and black and hard with a narrow brim; worn by some British businessmen
Synonyms: bowler, derby, plug hat

The bowler hat, also known as a coke hat, derby (US) or billycock,[1] is a hard felt hat with a rounded crown originally created in 1849 for Edward Coke, the younger brother of the 2nd Earl of Leicester.[2]

U.K. leaders face off in first TV debate

U.K. leaders face off in first TV debate
The leaders of Britain's three main political parties debated on the economy and immigration policy Thursday in the first televised election debate in British history, as they sought to win over wary voters in the tightest election race in almost twenty years.

2010年4月15日 星期四

frost fair

River Thames frost fairs were held on the Tideway of the River Thames at London between the 15th and 19th centuries when the river froze over. During that time the British winter was more severe than now, and the river was wider and slower.

During the Great Frost of 1683–84, the worst frost recorded in England,[1][2][3] the Thames was completely frozen for two months, the ice 11 inches (28 cm) thick at London. Solid ice was reported extending for miles off the coasts of the southern North Sea (England, France and the Low Countries), causing severe problems for shipping and preventing the use of many harbours.[4] Near Manchester, the ground was frozen to 27 inches; in Somerset, to more than 4 feet.

Historical background

One of the earliest accounts of the Thames freezing comes from AD 250, when it was frozen solid for nine weeks. As long ago as 923 the river was open to wheeled traffic for trade and the transport of goods for thirteen weeks; in 1410, it lasted for fourteen weeks.

The period from the mid-14th century to the 19th century in Europe is called the Little Ice Age because of the severity of the climate, especially the winters. In England, when the ice was thick enough and lasted long enough, Londoners would take to the river for travel, trade and entertainment, the latter eventually taking the form of public festivals and fairs.

However, the colder climate was not the only factor that allowed the river to freeze over in the city: the Thames was broader and shallower in the Middle Ages – it was yet to be embanked, meaning that it flowed more slowly.[5] Moreover, old London Bridge, which carried a row of shops and houses on each side of its roadway, was supported on many closely-spaced piers; these were protected by large timber casings which, over the years, were extended – causing a narrowing of the arches below the bridge, thus concentrating the water into swift-flowing torrents. In winter, large pieces of ice would lodge against these timber casings, gradually blocking the arches and acting like a dam for the river at ebb tide.[6][7]

The first frost fairs

The Frost Fair of 1683

Although the Thames had frozen over several times in the 16th century, the first recorded frost fair was in 1608. King Henry VIII traveled from central London to Greenwich by sleigh along the river during the winter of 1536. Queen Elizabeth I took to the ice frequently during the winter of 1564, to "shoot at marks", and small boys played football on the ice.[8]

A celebrated frost fair occurred in the winter of 1683–84 and was thus described by John Evelyn:

Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from several other stairs too and fro, as in the streets; sleds, sliding with skeetes, a bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays and interludes, cooks, tipling and other lewd places, so that it seemed to be a bacchanalian triumph, or carnival on the water.[9]

For sixpence, the printer Croom sold souvenir cards written with the customer's name, the date, and the fact that the card was printed on the Thames, and was making five pounds a day (ten times a labourer's weekly wage). King Charles II bought one. But the cold weather was not only a cause for merriment, as Evelyn explained:

The fowls, fish and birds, and all our exotic plants and greens universally perishing. Many parks of deer were destroyed, and all sorts of fuel so dear that there were great contributions to keep the poor alive...London, by reason for the excessive coldness of the air hindering the ascent of the smoke, was so filled with the fuliginous steam of the sea-coal ...that one could hardly breath.[10]

An eye-witness account of a severe frost of the 1680s:[11]

On the 20th of December, 1688 [misprint for 1683], a very violent frost began, which lasted to the 6th of February, in so great extremity, that the pools were frozen 18 inches thick at least, and the Thames was so frozen that a great street from the Temple to Southwark was built with shops, and all manner of things sold. Hackney coaches plied there as in the streets. There were also bull-baiting, and a great many shows and tricks to be seen. This day the frost broke up. In the morning I saw a coach and six horses driven from Whitehall almost to the bridge (London Bridge) yet by three o'clock that day, February the 6th, next to Southwark the ice was gone, so as boats did row to and fro, and the next day all the frost was gone. On Candlemas Day I went to Croydon market, and led my horse over the ice to the Horseferry from Westminster to Lambeth; as I came back I led him from Lambeth upon the middle of the Thames to Whitefriars' stairs, and so led him up by them. And this day an ox was roasted whole, over against Whitehall. King Charles and the Queen ate part of it.

Thames frost fairs were often brief, scarcely commenced before the weather lifted and the people had to retreat from the melting ice. Rapid thaws sometimes caused loss of life and property. In January 1789, melting ice dragged at a ship anchored to a riverside public house, pulling the building down and crushing five people to death.

The Frost Fair of 1814, by Luke Clenell.

Walking from Fulham to Putney

Soon after Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London, took residence at Fulham Palace in 1788, he recorded that the year was remarkable "for a very severe frost the latter end of the year, by which the Thames was so completely frozen over, that Mrs. Porteus and myself walked over it from Fulham to Putney".[12] The annual register recorded that, in January 1789, the river was "completely frozen over and people walk to and fro across it with fairground booths erected on it, as well as puppet shows and roundabouts".

The last frost fair

The frost fair of 1814 began on February 1, and lasted four days. An elephant was led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge. A printer named Davis published a book, Frostiana; or a History of the River Thames in a Frozen State. This was to be the last frost fair. The climate was growing milder; also, old London Bridge was demolished in 1831[13][14][15] and replaced with a new bridge with wider arches, allowing a freer flow of the tide;[16] additionally, the river was embanked in stages during the 19th century, which also made the river less likely to freeze.

Modern revival

The frost fair was revived with a one day festival on December 22, 2003 (from 12.30 to 10 pm),[17] and has since grown, with the 2008 festival (official site) lasting over a week, with events spanning two weekends. Officially the Bankside Winter Festival, it is modeled after Christmas markets, and features a market (the “Bankside Winter Market”) and numerous events.


External images
View down tunnel, showing full frieze[18]
First panel ("Behold the Thames...")[19]

In the pedestrian tunnel under the south bank of Southwark Bridge, there is a engraving by noted Southwark sculptor Richard Kindersley, made of 5 slabs of grey slate, showing a stylized engraving of the frost fair.

The frieze contains an inscription that reads (two lines per slab):

Behold the Liquid Thames frozen o’re,
That lately Ships of mighty Burthen bore
The Watermen for want of Rowing Boats
Make use of Booths to get their Pence & Groats
Here you may see beef roasted on the spit
And for your money you may taste a bit
There you may print your name, tho cannot write
Cause num'd with cold: tis done with great delight
And lay it by that ages yet to come
May see what things upon the ice were done

The inscription is based on handbills, such as this one,[20] printed on the Thames during the frost fairs.

Years when the Thames froze

From 1400 into the 19th century, there were 24 winters in which the Thames was recorded to have frozen over at London; if "more or less frozen over" years (in parentheses) are included, the number is 26: 1408, 1435, 1506, 1514, 1537, 1565, 1595, 1608, 1621, 1635, 1649, 1655, 1663, 1666, 1677, 1684, 1695, 1709, 1716, 1740, (1768), 1776, (1785), 1788, 1795, and 1814.[21]

太陽活動變少 英國罕見嚴冬可能再度出現
【4/15 17:35】

〔中央社〕科學家表示,若河道一凍結就會持續長達數個月,英國的河川將可能再度成為「冰凍博覽會」(frost fair)會場。

倫敦「每日郵報」(Daily Mail)報導,儘管部分學說聲稱全球暖化正導致大西洋冰河溶化和溫度上升,但專家警告,英國可能再次面臨17世紀末以來罕見的寒冬。

1500、1600年代「小冰河時期」(Little Ice Age)的冬天相當寒冷,倫敦泰晤士河(Thames)往往一凍結就是3個月。




這項發布於英國物理學會(Institute ofPhysics)期刊「環境研究快報」(EnvironmentalResearch Letters)的理論,將能協助解釋為何英國才剛瑟瑟發抖地度過31年來最寒冷的冬天。



瑞丁大學(Reading University)學者說:「這次冬天是英國160年來排名第14冷的超級嚴冬,但是全球平均溫度卻是同期第15高。我們發現這種異常在太陽活動不頻繁時較常出現。」

這項報告的主要作者洛克伍德(Mike Lockwood)教授表示,這種趨勢不代表冬天一定會變得更冷,但可能性將較之前提高。(譯者:中央社戴雅真)

2010年4月11日 星期日

Britain's drinking problem is turning into a political one

Britain's drinking problem is turning into a political one
As the U.K. struggles with a rise in alcohol consumption that many contend is fueling public disorder and violence, alcohol abuse has become an issue in the run-up to the nation's general election.

2010年4月6日 星期二

British election on May 6

Elections | 06.04.2010

British election on May 6 could lead to a hung parliament

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that the UK will hold a general election on May 6, signalling the official start of a general election campaign which may lead to a hung parliament.

Tuesday started with the formalities. Prime Minister Gordon Brown went to Buckingham Palace to seek the approval of Queen Elizabeth II for his election plans. He could then announce that "the queen has kindly agreed to the dissolution of parliament, and a general election will take place on May 6th."

But after the formalities it was straight into campaigning mode. As Britain recovers from the worst economic storm in decades, it's economic issues that will dominate the run-up to polling day. And Brown hopes to position his Labour government as a steady hand on the tiller in waters which are still choppy.

Britain needs stability, says Labour

Brown speaking in BrusselsBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Brown wants the electorate to see him as a good man in a crisis

"Britain is on the road to recovery," he said, "and nothing we do should put that recovery at risk. There will be many big challenges and many big decisions to make over the next few months, upon which our future success depends."

The opposition Conservatives may lead in the opinion polls, but they're ahead by only a few points. The close race could mean that Britain could see a hung Parliament and the rare sight of British parties attempting to form a coalition government.

Britain needs change, say the Conservatives

David and Samantha Cameron at a Conservative party conferenceBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: David and Samantha Cameron are trying to represent a new, more relaxed Conservatism

Conservative leader David Cameron hopes to avoid that scenario by gaining voters' trust and launching what may become a personal campaign against the weaknesses of the Prime Minister.

"It's the most important general election for a generation," he said after the date was announced, "and it comes down to this: you don't have to put up with another five years of Gordon Brown."

Labour are prepared to hit back on a personal level too. They hope to portray David Cameron as a privately educated, upper-class, establishment figure who doesn't understand ordinary people. Over the next few weeks, Gordon Brown will be repeating that he comes from an ordinary middle-class family from an ordinary town.

Either way, Britain needs us, say the Liberal Democrats

Clegg speaks to party workersBildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Nick Clegg is telling his supporters that they could just make it this time

But with a hung Parliament a real possibility, a lot of attention is being focused on Britain's third party, the Liberal Democrats. They may hold the balance of power if either Labour or the Conservatives has to try to form a coalition government.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg is therefore hoping his party can pick up more votes than might normally be expected.

"It's not a two horse race between the two old parties," he said. "People have got a real choice this time, and that's why this election is wide open: all bets are off."

The Labour party has been in power for 13 years - so the main opposition parties are focussing on "change" in their campaigns. But Labour's strategy is to persuade Britain that now, in the midst of an economic recovery, what is needed most is stability and it's exactly the wrong time for change.

Author: Olly Barratt, London (mll)
Editor: Rob Turner


adj. - 吊的, 挂的


  • hung jury 未能作出裁定的陪審團
  • hung parliament 未能作出裁定的議會

日本語 (Japanese)
adj. - いらいらする, 疲れた, 巨根の


  • hung jury 不一致陪審
  • hung parliament 不一致議会