Francis Beckett

Surely the founder of Wikileaks is a prototype American hero; just the sort of person Americans like to think they are.

He’s the enemy of big government, wants government held to account for what it does, wants to hand knowledge and power back to the people; he’s a rugged individualist and a remarkable entrepreneur, and brave.  He seems to embody what are supposed to be American virtues.  Yet all those rugged individualists in the USA want to put him in the electric chair.

Today I'm sending copies of my Baby Boomers book to two old friends, both of whom I heard on Radio 4 this morning saying things about today's student demonstrations which I'd never have heard from them when we were all young.

Former New Statesman editor Peter Wilby defended tuition fees, and Ivor Gaber, Professor of Journalism at City University, who once occupied Warwick University and discovered the appalling truth about what corporate influence can do to a university, now feels obliged to defend it.

It turns out that Richard Stokoe, the £90,000 a year head of communications for London Fire Brigade, thinks the Fire Birgades Union's proposed Bonfire Night strike was a good idea.

All the musicals that make their promoters millions ARE inconsequential rubbish, because the West End is so risk-averse. Why do something good when Cats will still pack them in?

But at the tiny Jermyn Street Theatre near Piccadilly Circus there's a musical, whose tunes are just as catchy, whose dialogue is as much fun, whose girls are as pretty but twice as interesting, whose plot zips along as fast as any blockbuster, and whose dialogue is wittier; and yet which manages to be intelligent, and to say something interesting. And which has a twist at the end which suddenly turns it into something far bleaker and blacker and makes you think, yet still has you leaving the theatre with a song in your heart.

I'm talking about All I Want for Christmas by Katy Darby and Luke Bateman, and I urge you to get along to see it. You haven't got long. Unlike the rubbish, it won't be there forever.

The student occupation at University College London - to which I delivered my daughter's sleeping bag last night - didn't look like fun.  That's because, unlike the occupation I was part of in 1968, it wasn't fun.  It was serious, and undertaken from a sense of duty.

Torture is getting a makeover.  Goegre Bush claimed (without evidence) that it had prevented terrorist attacks on Britain, and suddenly respectable commentators are hustling us back to the Middle Ages as fas as they can. 

Watching the student march against fees of up to £9,000 ought to have made a politically active member of the baby boomer generation ashamed of our legacy.  “Grandad stood up for peace and love – will you stand up for education?” said one of the placards, but it was unnecessarily kind. Grandad didn't stand up for anything - that was Grandad's problem.

Just after 5.30 on November 4, the FBU’s London Region decided it would call off the November 5 strike on the terms available. 

Last night I watched the third striking firefighter of the day being hit and hurt by a strikebreaker driving fast straight at him.  I was inches away as a fire engine mowed down a picket, and it was a very frightening moment.

It was at Southwark Fire station, where a dozen or so fire engines were due to b

One of the tabloids has sent a reporter round to Matt Wrack's former wife, and another to his student son's flat.  The latter carried a phoograph of Matt's son, asked around the neighbours, and rooted through the dustbins.

What sort of creep does a job like that?  I'd starve first.