We are so used to assuming that the private life of a public figure must be revelatory — that hidden away is the real truth, which must either shatter or explain the carefully crafted official version. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan took his 78-year-old mother Betty on the stump to “prove” that his planned Medicare reforms will not hurt elderly Americans. But if having a mother were all it took to provide humanely for the care of the elderly, any politician could do it. In Britain, meanwhile, the most accurate pre-election guide to the future of the NHS turned out not to have been buried deep in David Cameron’s psyche but right out there in public all along — in the boring old election manifesto nobody actually read.

It’s a myth that personal stories tell us the ‘truth’ about public figures, says Gaby Hinsliff

Lords reform: a mere joke in the Tory manifesto

Jesse Norman MP, who has led the Conservative opposition to reform of the House of Lords, has said more than once that the Tory manifesto commitment was not a pledge that was meant to be taken seriously.

I wonder how we are meant to tell the difference between those manifesto pledges which are in earnest and those which are just whimsical jokes, placed there merely to give us all light relief. It’s an amazingly disreputable argument which makes me wonder what else the opponents of reform are prepared to say.

Philip Collins @PCollinsTimes

Read more: The no-fuss way to elect the House of Lords

Peter Oborne is wrong about Lord Ashcroft and Conservative Home | Daniel Finkelstein

Today’s Telegraph features an attack by Peter Oborne on Michael Ashcroft and Conservative Home. His theory, essentially, is that Lord Ashcroft took Con Home and transformed it into a critic of the leadership. The reason? Revenge and ideology.

Very interesting. All with the usual Oborne verve. Just a shame it is quite wrong.

First, I am confident that Michael Ashcroft does not interfere in the editorial policy of Conservative Home. Even indirectly. That is not his practice. I worked with him when he was Treasurer of the party and it wasn’t his practice then either.

Second, Ashcroft has always been a funder of modernising ideas and rigorous polling research. I doubt very much that Conservative Home’s position is his.

Third, Tim Montgomerie’s criticisms of David Cameron have a long history.  I disagree with Tim but I trust his independence.

Twitter: @Dannythefink

“Austerity could still be a vote-winner” – read Daniel’s latest column

Times Opinion today | McGuinness and the Queen, austerity pain, non-doms & Donald Trump’s hair

The Troubles

Rosemary Bennett, who lived in Belfast in the 1970s, is horrified at the prospect of former IRA commander Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the Queen today

But The Times believes that “without Mr McGuinness there would probably be no peace”

In it together

Austerity pain might equal vote-winning gain for the Conservatives because we tend not to regret tough decisions, says Daniel Finkelstein

Non-doms in Britain can bequeath their non-dom status to their children – “surely the most bizarre aspect of this tax avoidance scheme”, says Alice Thomson

The fuel duty U-turn “hardly inspires confidence in the Government’s ability to stand by the hard decisions needed to restore the public finances”, says The Times

If infrastructure investment equals economic salvation, why have things in southern Europe gone from bad to worse?” asks Stephen King

Also

The mystery of Donald Trump’s hair, and other puzzles of science

Broadcaster Dan Snow on preserving the White Cliffs of Dover

(Times Opinion, Wednesday June 27, 2012)

Columns - Monday June 18, 2012

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