Peter Rhodes on a dictator's gambit, the BBC on top form and a lesson on tax cuts

Sweeping tax breaks are promised for today. The lesson of history is that anything politicians put into your right pocket is later removed from your left pocket. Don't order the Bentley just yet.

Putin – a con trick
Putin – a con trick

Putin's plan to hold referendums in parts of Ukraine occupied by his cruel, bloody-handed troops (the Ukrainians call them Orcs) is a clumsy con-trick. And yet . . .

The West will willingly pour weapons and cash into Volodymyr Zelensky's crusade to liberate Ukrainians who wish to live in a free, Westward-looking Ukraine. But if thousands of Russian-speaking Ukrainians living close to Russia genuinely want to become part of Russia, what then?

Why was the BBC's coverage of the Queen's funeral so good? Simple. It's because for once the BBC was mindful of its initials and spoke to the great mass of the British people, the sort of people it so often ignores. For 10 days it behaved in a quite un-BBC sort of way, abandoning its usual sneering, cynical approach to anything involving patriotism. This took not only planning but a whole change of philosophy. If only Auntie could cling to that mind-set, how much better loved she would be.

But it couldn't last for ever. Within 24 hours of the funeral the BBC was back to its self-appointed task of forecasting imminent financial catastrophe, climate collapse and gloom all round. Doomed, we're all doomed . . .

There are great similarities between the BBC and monarchy. Both are loved and hated to a degree. Both have been around for as long as we can remember. And both are supported by breaking normal financial rules, the monarchy with a special deal on inheritance tax, the Beeb with a special deal which makes non-possession of its licence not a civil debt but a criminal offence. Two nice little earners.

A reader takes me to task for suggesting there were too many horses involved in the Queen's funeral. Maybe that's because I had read the account of Queen Victoria's funeral when the gun-carriage horses panicked. Horses are magnificent creatures in the right place. I'm not sure a funeral procession, in close proximity to drums, gunpowder and bagpipes, is such a place. Study the average horse's head closely. Make allowance for the ears, the nose, the eyes and the mouth. Not much room for a brain, is there?

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