Features

Putin’s purge of his top generals

In the past month, Vladimir Putin has had five top generals arrested on corruption charges. More are likely to follow in what looks like a gathering purge by the Federal Security Service (FSB). ‘There is a fierce clean-up under way,’ a source close to the Kremlin told the Moscow Times last week. ‘There is still

Could Ozempic bankrupt the NHS?

The NHS spends around £6.5 billion every year treating obesity. People who are overweight cost the health service twice as much as those who maintain a healthy weight. Half of all cancer cases are linked to obesity and being severely overweight significantly increases the risk of other conditions, such as diabetes, strokes and heart attacks.

The TikTok stars taking on the Tories

‘Sorry to be breaking into your usual politics-free feed,’ chirrups Rishi Sunak in his first-ever TikTok video. He is awkward, understandably. TikTok is enemy territory for the Tories. What most users learn about the Conservatives is usually damning, from left and right. ‘I think the Tory party deserves to die,’ says Jess Gill, who with

Katy Balls

Are any of the party leaders ready to be PM?

Since Rishi Sunak called the election last week, Tory MPs have been in a state of discombobulation. ‘It’s an absolutely crazy decision,’ pronounces a minister, after seven days of chewing it over. ‘It is the dumbest thing that has ever happened.’ To most Conservatives, every aspect of the campaign has seemed eccentric, even self-defeating –

The shadow fleet helping Russia to evade sanctions

Economic sanctions were meant to be the West’s secret weapon against Russia, a way of crippling Vladimir Putin’s war machine and bringing his invasion of Ukraine to a halt without Nato firing a shot. Instead, Russia’s economy and military remain in rude health. After recent heavy attacks north of Kharkiv, Putin’s troops have seized more

Why is the government making it harder to get an au pair?

You will have heard, I am sure, of the Conservatives’ recent largesse towards working parents, as their ‘free’ childcare policy has been much publicised. Fifteen hours a week for your kid, from nine months old to the grand age of four. You may not, however, have seen the new rules governing au pairs, which came into

Anti-Semitism has returned to French politics

New Caledonia is an archipelago in the South Pacific not far from Australia. James Cook discovered it in 1774, but, after concluding that too many languages were spoken there, he declined to annex it to the British Empire. France, not as cautious, made it a distant colony under Napoleon III. Today, riots are convulsing the

South Africa’s migrant crisis

Johannesburg It’s called the ‘Reverse Jive’, retracing your steps to where your journey began, and you’ll hear it talked about all over Johannesburg, especially now, with an election next Wednesday and immigration such a hot-button issue. South Africa has a huge informal sector where the poor can at least scratch a living In Pretoria, the

In Kharkiv, culture is a form of defence

Kharkiv It was a strange feeling to walk alone through eerie corridors in the basement of the Kharkiv Opera Theatre and suddenly hear a burst of music and applause. As Kharkiv faced the Russian advance, a Kyiv-based drama group had come to the city to hold an Art Fortress concert to raise the spirits of

Ross Clark

What happened to the electric car revolution?

China is often characterised as a copycat when it comes to industry and technology but in one way it has proved to be a pioneer. It was China which saw the first boom in electric cars – and it was China that was the first to suffer when demand for them collapsed. The vast graveyards

Katy Balls

The deluge: Rishi Sunak’s election gamble

‘Only a Conservative government, led by me, will not put our hard-earned economic stability at risk,’ said Rishi Sunak as he announced a general election on the steps of Downing Street in the pouring rain. Upon these words, the Labour anthem ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ boomed out from the street. The din made the

The power of restorative justice

In a week when the Chief Inspector of Prisons published an Urgent Notification detailing the horrors of HMP Wandsworth, I found myself revisiting memories of being jailed there for the crime of fraud. Clanging doors, rattling chains, men screaming at night in anguish or despair or because their cellmate was assaulting them. No help coming.

Gangs of Tehran: how Iran takes out its enemies abroad

‘It was Friday afternoon, around 2.45. I came out of the house and was going towards the car on the driver’s side,’ Pouria Zeraati says casually. Zeraati – a presenter at the London-based TV station, Iran International – is recounting what was probably an Iranian state-sponsored attack. ‘I was approached by a man who pretended

The Church of England’s volunteering crisis

John Betjeman knew that a church cannot run on prayers alone. ‘Let’s praise the man who goes to light the church stove on an icy night,’ he wrote in his poem ‘Septuagesima’, going on to celebrate the ‘hard-worked’ wardens, cleaners, treasurers, the organist and, most of all, ‘the few who are seen in their accustomed

Max Jeffery

Ahmad Massoud: ‘I’m 100% sure I can topple the Taliban’

It’s fighting season in Afghanistan again. When the Americans were in charge, after the poppy fields had been harvested in late spring, and the madrassas in Pakistan that supplied the Taliban with fanatical soldiers had finished for the term, the Islamists kicked off the fighting. Between 2001 and 2021, around 200,000 people died, including 453

Freddy Gray

Veep show: who will Trump pick for his running mate?

We are in the fifth week of Donald Trump’s ‘hush money’ trial and the real scandal is that it’s all so intensely boring. Sex, porn-star witnesses, shady lawyers, a president in the dock – the headlines are a tabloid dream. The crux of the case, however, is a bunch of tedious charges to do with

No tips please, we’re British

I hate tipping, not because I am intrinsically mean but because of the anxiety it induces. You pitch up at some glam hotel, after a gruelling flight, then the guy next to the concierge takes your bags to your room, and, as you go, you fumble in your pockets, searching for the mysterious notes and

Why do people make excuses for surly staff?

‘You grab that table, I’ll get the drinks.’ I did as bid. A couple of minutes later, Paul was back, beers in hand, and we started chatting. Soon the member of staff who’d served him appeared. She was stony-faced and holding a card machine. ‘You didn’t pay,’ she said. Paul looked confused for a second,