The Last Word

Issue 100

That the media should have devoted so much time and attention to the Princess of Wales's Mothers Day photograph was disappointing although not surprising. The Princess had announced she would be out of circulation for three months to recuperate from abdominal surgery - surely a difficult time for the family, including Grandpa being treated with cancer.

Having issued a picture with the three children, no doubt she hoped this would be a reassuring image in her absence. Despite her acknowledged skill as an enthusiastic amateur photographer, her now admitted ‘editing’ of the photo exposed the image to scrupulous analysis and a plethora of conspiracy theories as well as a humiliating admission of inept photoshopping. Perhaps time to leave public photography to the professionals.

The other royals are getting on with their work, including Queen Camilla at the Women of the World reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate International Women’s Day. The sponsor, Mattel, produced Barbie dolls in the image of Mel B, Dame Helen Mirren and of Queen Camilla, who said the doll had taken 50 years off her life! Not sure it will be a big seller.

Some five months after October 7, when Hamas terrorists broke through the Gaza border to enact murder, rape, massacre and abduction, the United Nations has finally verified the terrorist group’s widespread sexual violence against women.

The UN investigators discovered ‘clear and convincing’ evidence of ‘rape sexualised torture, cruel, inhuman and degradation treatment’ against hostages.

This included videos filmed by Hamas themselves and multiple witness accounts of the atrocities. Despite this it took until late November for UN Women, the United Nations’ women’s rights agency to address the issue. A surreal form of denial was permitted to flourish along with Hamas’ continued denial.

All this is consistent with the UN’s demonstration of extreme contempt for Israeli human rights and of many, particularly on the left, who have been conspicuously silent on the subject of Hamas’s enthusiasm for rape and other brutality.

During the Chancellor’s speech he described multi-million pounds of spending here and massive public savings there – tax and growth. What was not set out or even mentioned was the number of people estimated to be living in the UK – the actual population, surely relevant in any calculation.

The official statistics suggest that there has been an increase from 61.3million on the eve of the financial crisis to something above 68million, a rise of 10% in 16 years.

In this period there has been a banking meltdown, departure from the EU and the economic catastrophe of Covid. Yet people are still surging into the UK. It seems the population is growing much faster than other large European economies.

The projections of the Office of Budget Responsibility are based on the actual premise that they do not know how many people there are in the country.

We may have to prepare for an increase of two million per decade. In the very long term this rate of immigration may prove to be a positive, to supplement the workforce – provided that there is not a rush to go to Rwanda.

The recent Sunday Times survey on the best places to live in the UK produced some surprises. North Berwick east of Edinburgh came out on top, the first time the accolade has gone to Scotland. All credit to the proud capital of our outstanding golfing region.

Not so clear that Leeds should be voted the best place to live in the North and North East.

We can celebrate that two North East areas were short-listed among the best places to live in the country, namely Whitley Bay and Heaton. Whitley Bay was described as ‘a desirable enclave for water-loving families’ and commended for its schools and transport links, with special mention of Park View as ‘one of the most likeable shopping streets in the land’.

As for Heaton the judges said it has ‘just the right amount of grit and glamour’ and was praised for its ‘mix of Bohemian café culture and mix of independent foodie jewels’.

A useful reminder of what we have on our own doorstep.

And finally my congratulations to Mike Grahamslaw on this being the 100th issue of Northern Insight. I have been with him from the start and before. It is to his immense credit that the magazine is an outstanding quality asset to the North East. Long may it flourish.


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