# Datasets:guardian_authorship

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"Have we all gone mad? Even madder, that is, than our leader, who is now widely considered to be at best "rambling" (Correlli Barnett), at worst, a "plausible psychopath" (Prospect, The New Statesman)? Even madder than Blair's enemy, the no less totally doolally Clare Short? Yet more raving bonkers than Blair's potential successor, the "psychologically flawed" Gordon Brown (diagnosis, courtesy Dr A Campbell)? Still more barking than the "disturbed and dangerous" (Mail on Sunday) Campbell himself, who presides, according to one mental health professional, over a Downing Street "on the verge of a classic trauma syndrome"? We have. Difficult as it is to keep up with developments in the fastmoving world of amateur psychiatry, there seems to be a general agreement that one of the very maddest things anyone could possibly do, during this period of intense disillusion with Blair, is conclude that it might be an idea to replace him with someone else. Rebuking dissidents for their silliness last weekend, the Observer's Andrew Rawnsley said it "makes you wonder who most needs a session in the psychiatrist's chair". Supposing he is right and to go off Blair is to be insane, it is quite worrying, isn't it? Voter on couch: Doctor, doctor - I don't think I'd vote for Blair again. Am I going mad?" Doctor: "Yes." If the prime minister were not himself a signatory to the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Changing Minds campaign, with its ambition to combat "inaccurate representation, in the media and elsewhere, based on stigmatising attitudes and stereotypes ('nutter', 'psycho', 'schizo')...", we might anticipate real problems in finding adequate beds and medication for the thousands of people who will not forgive Blair for making monkeys of them. Even contented Blairites who concede that such disaffection need not, by itself, indicate progressive mental debility, are apt to dismiss any talk of replacing Blair as sheer folly. "Why try to change the most successful leader in the Labour party's history?", as David Blunkett put it recently. So often and so confidently does this claim trip off his supporters' tongues that one tends to forget that Harold Wilson won four elections to Blair's two. And that if Blair has won bigger majorities, the latter was achieved after the smallest turnout since 1918. Moreover, if the "most successful" claim can, according to certain parameters, be justified, what does it actually mean? That Blair will therefore always be identified as successful, no matter how low his former supporters hold him in esteem? That he can never be held responsible for any subsequent mistakes, however grievous, or for the capital he has failed to make from all this unprecedented success? That he can do no wrong? If I understand Blunkett's defence of Blair, past political success is now taken to confer life-long immunity from failure or competition. Because he ditched Clause 4 and secured a minimum wage, Blair has earned the right to more reverential treatment than, say, Churchill enjoyed after winning the war, or Margaret Thatcher received from her colleagues, having also made her party seemingly unassailable. One recalls that even the achievements of Caesar were not enough to mollify Brutus and co; rather as Suetonius put it, "his other actions and words so turn the scale, that it is thought that he abused his power and was justly slain." Given that Blair's critics are only discussing replacing him one day, rather than stabbing him to death in the capitol, it is hard to understand the pre-emptively Mark Antony-ish tone of his allies, with their accusations of lunacy: "O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason... " Would Blair be so heroic a loss? Would we, after he had gone, find ourselves pining for his dashing band of cronies, or wishing his successor could also go round bestriding the narrow world like a Colossus, or yearning for a figure who cared for us so much that his voice often cracked with emotion? Perhaps we would. The more one attempts to understand why, no matter how much Blair might disappoint, the prospect of his departure from the political scene should be so unbearable, the more this fear of losing him seems an unwholesome but not altogether surprising response to his own cult of personality. Urged, repeatedly, to believe in Blair's self-belief and dedication, we have dutifully put our faith in him. Although doubters cannot, in the absence of much political theory beyond "what works", be called heretics, they can be made to feel like traitors, Judases and ingrates. What would we be without him? Maybe, just as children are meant to heed Hilaire Belloc's admonition - "And always keep a-hold of Nurse, for fear of finding something worse" - we are simply anxious about being led by someone who is not Blair, the saviour of his party. My own solution, when either sentimentality or fear of the unknown strikes in this way, is to remember how smartly Blair has evicted individuals, from Peter Mandelson to Derry Irvine, the penultimate lord chancellor, in whom he himself has been disappointed. Without a doubt, whoever finally succeeds Blair will be more boring. He, or she, could hardly cut so handsome a figure, be so proficient at acting or believe, so sincerely, in a semi-spiritual mission to reforge the nation's destiny (exact details TBC). Is it completely mad, however, to think they might be as good, or even better, at housekeeping?<BR><BR><B>Jeffrey's preposterous taste </B><BR><BR>Although, for the most part, Jeffrey Archer's second batch of prison diaries simply confirm what was obvious from the first instalment - that his sentence did nothing but aggravate his existing self-importance - there is, however, one detail which may be of interest to any art historians who have been tempted, over the years, to believe his lagship's oft-repeated claims to be a connoisseur. <BR><BR>Having heard, from a fellow prisoner, a drug-dealer, that paintings by his Colombian countryman, Fernando Botero might become available to the right person at a knock-down price, Archer is keen as ever to make a deal. <BR><BR>Any work by Botero will do, although Archer becomes very excited when he finally receives a photograph of a painting called The Card Players, featuring a particularly massive naked bum, and proceeds to bid $400,000 for it from his cell, without further inspection. He notes, with satisfaction, that "prices may be shaky after the September 11 atrocities, which happened just over a week ago". <BR><BR>Alas, even with Osama's help, prices are not low enough for Archer and his bid fails. Although he is unlikely, without the help of the drug runner, to be able to afford any other work by Botero (an artist neatly described by Brian Sewell as "the preposterous Colombian-Mexican-Parisian whose inflated balloon figures some giants of the art market take seriously as art") the story will no doubt inspire other dealers to whom it may suggest that the way to awaken Archer's covetousness is not so much the appearance of any work of art, nor its provenance, but stealthy allusions to the dodges and low cunning necessary to get his hands on it." 0 (catherinebennett) 0 (Politics) "The Daily Mail despairs of Cherie Blair. True, even when the woman passed for semi-rational, it never had much time for her, but in the past week, dismayed by her appetite for the manifestly bogus, the paper has focused repeatedly on what an editorial called her "lack of judgment". Lynda Lee-Potter diagnosed her as "gullible, bordering on the cranky when it comes to alternative medicine, homeopathy, gurus and the power of crystals and rocks". And in a special investigation of this gullible borderline crank "the Weird World of Cherie" went into disdainful detail about her allegedly "increasing" dependence on a Dorking-based medium called Sylvia. "The fact that the prime minister's wife faxes questions to the spirit world is at best bizarre, but at worst deeply worrying," wrote Paul Harris. "What's she going to ask them? Should we go to war with Iraq? It is rather an unusual way to organise your future." It most certainly is. But no more so, perhaps, than the Daily Mail's own enthusiasm for another purveyor of occult intelligence, one Michael Drosnin, author of a pre-millennium bestseller called The Bible Code. Throughout the week, alongside bulletins from the weird world of Cherie, the Mail has been treating its readers to lengthy extracts from Drosnin's sequel, Bible Code 2: The Countdown, in which the author rounds up a few scary predictions he forgot to mention earlier. For him, as for so many other professional purveyors of doom, September 11 came as thrilling confirmation that the Apocalypse is - hadn't they told us so all along? - a conflagration just waiting to happen. "All the evidence seems to suggest that the globe will be in a state of perpetual conflict until the year 2006... " His threats concluded yesterday with the clinching revelation that the bible code is the work of visiting aliens, who "arrived here on Earth in a spacecraft". It is thanks to them, the Daily Mail presumably believes, that Drosnin is now able to share the warnings of al-Qaida's activities which he discovered in the aftermath of 9/11. "First, the Bible Code predicted the attacks on the Twin Towers", it trumpeted on Monday's front page, alongside a handy aide memoire: a mugshot of Bin Laden. "Now, it warns of nuclear war. Dare we ignore this message?" Ooh, I don't know. As Harris puts it, it does seem "rather an unusual way to organise your future". Like Cherie, whose relationship with her medium is described as "decidedly long-term", the Daily Mail's reliance on Drosnin and his team of gifted aliens goes back a while, to 1997, when it serialised his first, highly successful attempt to use the bible codes to cash in on premillennial tension. His technique, borrowed from a devout Israeli mathematician, is to search for names "hidden" in the Bible, using a computer to try out equidistant letter sequences. It may be, the Torah being so very long, that it contains a lot of interesting stuff about Lynda Lee-Potter or Alan Partridge, but being a serious person, Drosnin stuck to searching for politicians. When he searched for Yitzhak Rabin, for instance, the name duly surfaced, with the letters spaced 4,772 characters apart. Once the letters have been arranged on a grid, in whatever direction - upwards, diagonally, backwards - turns out to be most rewarding, bible code experts then search the surrounding text for phrases or words that might offer added prophetic meaning. Clinton, for instance, could be made to appear near "hidden secret, lover of maidservant". Drosnin was exultant. "That's as close as the Old Testament gets to 'young female intern'. Rabin, on the other hand, could be made to intersect with the Hebrew words "a murderer who murders". Thus it is Drosnin's boast to have predicted Rabin's murder. His prediction of Netanyahu's assassination is less often advertised. Trying to locate the exact date of Armageddon, back in 1997, proved equally tricky. "There is no way to know whether the code is predicting a war in 2000 or 2006," he decided. "The year 2000 is encoded twice, but 2006 is mathematically the best match." Can't be too careful, eh? Defending this codswallop back in 1997, Drosnin said: "When my critics find a message about the assassination of a prime minister encrypted in Moby Dick, I'll believe them. An enterprising Australian computer scientist called Brendan McKay promptly used the bible codes technique on Moby Dick to find the names of a variety of assassinated prime ministers, including Indira Gandhi, Rene Moawad, Abraham Lincoln and Yitzhak Rabin. Sadly, a search of Moby Dick also predicted Michael Drosnin's own death, by a nail through the heart: "Mr Drosnin will be killed either in Cairo or Athens. Probably both places will play a part, but our skills in reading the secret codes are not yet advanced enough to say more." In 1999, McKay also co-authored a comprehensive repudiation of the bible codes in the journal Statistical Science. "A brief summary of the result of our very extensive investigation", he writes, "is that all the alleged scientific evidence for the codes is bunk." A view resoundingly endorsed in a "Mathematicians' Statement on the Bible Codes", available on the net, in which scores of academics, including John Allen Paulos, agree that "the almost unanimous opinion of those in the scientific world who have studied the question is that the theory is without foundation." The pages of the Daily Mail, however, inhabit a quite different, Cherie-style universe, whose laws allow for Drosnin's many critics to be blithely ignored or baselessly discredited. "Many people scoffed," says the paper, "until they saw the astonishing array of modern events spelled out in the ancient Hebrew letters." With Drosnin also rewriting the past - "the case for the code has just kept getting stronger" - many of the Mail's more gullible readers may now be considering cashing in their endowment policies. For unless Drosnin can locate the aliens' code from its resting place under the Dead Sea, it seems that our lives will probably end horribly in 2006. Photographs of Bin Laden, gas masks and burning towers offer a few, surpassingly tasteless hints of what we can expect. Maybe a nuclear holocaust, Drosnin speculates, or "a plague that could kill one-third of the world's population". Hard to say. Whatever it is, only he knows where the aliens left the key "to unlock the code and see our entire future", but the King of Jordan won't let him investigate! "Time is running out - fast... " Is it? Crikey. If consulting the dead were not such a deplorably gullible and cranky thing to do, one might almost be tempted to get a second opinion from Cherie's spirit guide in Dorking. Does Sylvia accept inquiries from the general public, as well as the prime minister's wife? If so, I have two questions. Should we go to war with Iraq? And can we believe anything we read in the Daily Mail?" 1 (georgemonbiot) 0 (Politics) "Saturday is the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. The nuclear powers are commemorating it in their own special way: by seeking to ensure that the experiment is repeated.As Robin Cook showed in his column last week, the British government appears to have decided to replace our Trident nuclear weapons, without consulting parliament or informing the public. It could be worse than he thinks. He pointed out that the atomic weapons establishment at Aldermaston has been re-equipped to build a new generation of bombs. But when this news was first leaked in 2002 a spokesman for the plant insisted the equipment was being installed not to replace Trident but to build either mini-nukes or warheads that could be used on cruise missiles.If this is true it means the government is replacing Trident and developing a new category of boil-in-the-bag weapons. As if to ensure we got the point, Geoff Hoon, then the defence secretary, announced before the leak that Britain would be prepared to use small nukes in a pre-emptive strike against a non-nuclear state. This put us in the hallowed company of North Korea.The Times, helpful as ever, explains why Trident should be replaced. "A decision to leave the club of nuclear powers," it says, "would diminish Britain's international standing and influence." This is true, and it accounts for why almost everyone wants the bomb. Two weeks ago, on concluding their new nuclear treaty, George Bush and the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh announced that "international institutions must fully reflect changes in the global scenario that have taken place since 1945. The president reiterated his view that international institutions are going to have to adapt to reflect India's central and growing role." This translates as follows: "Now that India has the bomb it should join the UN security council."It is because nuclear weapons confer power and status on the states that possess them that the non-proliferation treaty, of which the UK was a founding signatory, determines two things: that the non-nuclear powers should not acquire nuclear weapons, and that the nuclear powers should "pursue negotiations in good faith on ... general and complete disarmament". Blair has unilaterally decided to rip it up.But in helping to wreck the treaty we are only keeping up with our friends across the water. In May the US government launched a systematic assault on the agreement. The summit in New York was supposed to strengthen it, but the US, led by John Bolton - the undersecretary for arms control (someone had a good laugh over that one) - refused even to allow the other nations to draw up an agenda for discussion. The talks collapsed, and the treaty may now be all but dead. Needless to say, Bolton has been promoted: to the post of US ambassador to the UN. Yesterday Bush pushed his nomination through by means of a "recess appointment": an undemocratic power that allows him to override Congress when its members are on holiday.Bush wanted to destroy the treaty because it couldn't be reconciled with his new plans. Last month the Senate approved an initial$4m for research into a "robust nuclear earth penetrator" (RNEP). This is a bomb with a yield about 10 times that of the Hiroshima device, designed to blow up underground bunkers that might contain weapons of mass destruction. (You've spotted the contradiction.) Congress rejected funding for it in November, but Bush twisted enough arms this year to get it restarted. You see what a wonderful world he inhabits when you discover that the RNEP idea was conceived in 1991 as a means of dealing with Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons. Saddam is pacing his cell, but the Bushites, like the Japanese soldiers lost in Malaysia, march on. To pursue his war against the phantom of the phantom of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, Bush has destroyed the treaty that prevents the use of real ones.It gets worse. Last year Congress allocated funding for something called the "reliable replacement warhead". The government's story is that the existing warheads might be deteriorating. When they show signs of ageing they can be dismantled and rebuilt to a "safer and more reliable" design. It's a pretty feeble excuse for building a new generation of nukes, but it worked. The development of the new bombs probably means the US will also breach the comprehensive test ban treaty - so we can kiss goodbye to another means of preventing proliferation.But the biggest disaster was Bush's meeting with Manmohan Singh a fortnight ago. India is one of three states that possess nuclear weapons and refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). The treaty says India should be denied access to civil nuclear materials. But on July 18 Bush announced that "as a responsible state with advanced nuclear technology, India should acquire the same benefits and advantages as other such states". He would "work to achieve full civil nuclear energy cooperation with India" and "seek agreement from Congress to adjust US laws and policies". Four months before the meeting the US lifted its south Asian arms embargo, selling Pakistan a fleet of F-16 aircraft, capable of a carrying a wide range of missiles, and India an anti-missile system. As a business plan, it's hard to fault.Here then is how it works. If you acquire the bomb and threaten to use it you will qualify for American exceptionalism by proxy. Could there be a greater incentive for proliferation?The implications have not been lost on other states. "India is looking after its own national interests," a spokesman for the Iranian government complained on Wednesday. "We cannot criticise them for this. But what the Americans are doing is a double standard. On the one hand they are depriving an NPT member from having peaceful technology, but at the same time they are cooperating with India, which is not a member of the NPT." North Korea (and this is the only good news around at the moment) is currently in its second week of talks with the US. While the Bush administration is doing the right thing by engaging with Pyongyang, the lesson is pretty clear. You could sketch it out as a Venn diagram. If you have oil and aren't developing a bomb (Iraq) you get invaded. If you have oil and are developing a bomb (Iran) you get threatened with invasion, but it probably won't happen. If you don't have oil, but have the bomb, the US representative will fly to your country and open negotiations.The world of George Bush's imagination comes into being by government decree. As a result of his tail-chasing paranoia, assisted by Tony Blair's cowardice and Manmohan Singh's opportunism, the global restraint on the development of nuclear weapons has, in effect, been destroyed in a few months. The world could now be more vulnerable to the consequences of proliferation than it has been for 35 years. Thanks to Bush and Blair, we might not go out with a whimper after all."
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