Euro-left woes Suddenly, the left is looking tattered all over Europe: a mere coalition partner in Germany, far behind the Catholic right in Poland, out of power in Sweden, about to lose its three-time election winner in Britain, behind in the polls in France—at the time of writing—and with reports of chaos in the Royal camp from Eric Besson, her former economic adviser. Apart from Spain (where even Zapatero is in trouble over Basque terrorism), the one recent bright spot has been Italy, where Romano Prodi beat Silvio Berlusconi last year.
Not so fast. Prodi’s coalition—which spans Christian democrats, revolutionary communists, pro-American liberals, anti-American radicals, economic reformers and corporatists—has already had near-death experiences over US bases, Italy’s role in Afghanistan and economic liberalisation. While running a country with the lowest growth rate in Europe, the two main parties of the left—the Democrats of the Left (DS) and the Margherita party—are trying to merge into a new Democratic party. But they are finding it hard going. The two main negotiators—Piero Fassino, the DS leader, and Francesco Rutelli, leader of the Margherita—both face internal opposition to a deal.
As Stephen Eales reports, Pluto’s demotion from the solar system means that “My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets” (not to mention “Many Volcanos Erupt Mulberry Jam Sandwiches Under Normal Pressure”) no longer works as a planetary mnemonic. So as an aid to schoolchildren’s cosmological education, Prospect is inviting readers to come up with alternatives—submit entries here. A special space-themed prize for the winner.
Think tank news
Matthew Taylor has been head of the RSA for just a few months—following years at the heart of New Labour—but he is cutting a swathe through the old guard at the venerable organisation. Over at Policy Exchange, Anthony Browne from the Times replaces Nicholas Boles. Will he make it less Cameron-friendly? David Mepham of IPPR goes to Save the Children. And what of those in the No 10 bunker? Ben Wegg-Prosser is off to Russia, and Paul Corrigan becomes director of strategy at NHS London.
From his rather prim and impeccably liberal public pronouncements, it would be hard to guess that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is a devotee of the dark Russian soul. But as Lesley Chamberlain will reveal in an interview with Williams on Prospect’s website this month, the archbishop is not only an…