Leading article

What Labour lacks

Has Keir Starmer promised anything so far, during this general election, that will make anyone’s life significantly better? The clearest pledge is to impose VAT on independent schools and it’s hard to see how this benefits anyone. Many of the smaller schools will have to close and others will be forced to cut bursaries. The

A summer election is suicide for the Tories

As soon as Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons that ‘there is going to be a general election in the second half of this year’, nervous Tory MPs spotted a problem: that could mean 4 July, which the Prime Minister has now announced will be the election date. Calling an early election is an

Britain should embrace the AI revolution

Rishi Sunak’s big speech this week was easily lampooned. Having accused Keir Starmer of ‘doomsterism’, the Prime Minister warned that Britain’s most dangerous years lay ahead, and talked of the threat from ‘colluding authoritarian states’. Less attention was paid to the part of his speech about artificial intelligence, which was in fact genuinely optimistic. As

Tories for Starmer

Nick Boles was once at the heart of a mission to renew Conservatism. He was one of a small number of modernisers, central to the Cameron project, who ended up serving as Tory ministers. He quit over Brexit and this week made his public debut in a new job as an adviser to Rachel Reeves.

Why Sunak should stay

In the end, the Tories did just as badly as predicted in the local elections. They lost about half of the council seats they were defending as well as ten out of the 11 mayoralties up for election and did not even come close in London. It’s a disaster, but one consistent with the opinion

The cost of European peace

After six months of delay, the US Senate has finally passed a $60 billion foreign-aid package which will send urgently needed ammunition and military equipment to Ukrainian soldiers. It may well be the last such cheque to be signed in Washington. Donald Trump is favourite to be the next president of the United States and

A smoking ban is pointless and illiberal

Why is Britain poised to ban cigarette smoking, when the habit is already dying out anyway? Smoking is seen by the young as disgusting and outdated. A generation ago, 50 per cent of school pupils said they had smoked at some point. By the time David Cameron came to power, this was down to 25

Common sense prevails in the gender debate

The publication this week of the Cass Review into gender-identity services for young people marks a welcome return to reason in an area of medicine which for the past few years has been driven by identity politics. No one is denying that there are those who deserve psychological – and in some cases physical –

How Britain smashed the slave trade

It was bound to happen sooner or later: a guest on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow presented an artefact which derived from the slave trade – an ivory bangle. One of the programme’s experts, Ronnie Archer-Morgan, himself a descendant of slaves, said that it was a striking historical artefact but not one that he was willing

Covid and the politics of panic

During Easter weekend four years ago, the country felt on the verge of catastrophe. The prime minister was in hospital having just come out of intensive care, the Covid-19 death toll was at more than 1,000 deaths a day, and hospitals were trying to cope with a flood of patients. It had been estimated that

What does Rachel Reeves stand for?

As the world discovered when she was caught lifting other people’s work for her book on women in economics, Rachel Reeves is not the most original of thinkers. But she has political talents. She has cultivated her image as an uninspiring technocrat in order to present herself as someone who will not spring surprises or

Why we don’t need another vote on euthanasia

Ethical issues such as abortion and euthanasia are rightly considered matters of personal conscience for MPs at Westminster, so Keir Starmer’s promise of a vote on assisted dying does not automatically mean that Britain will follow Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada in legalising euthanasia, no matter how large a majority Labour might win. When the

What do voters have to thank the Tories for?

Last November Jeremy Hunt announced what he proclaimed was ‘the biggest tax cut on work since the 1980s’. He cut employee National Insurance from 12 per cent to 10 per cent, yet to his great disappointment, the polls didn’t budge. This week he decided to double down, lowering NI again, to 8 per cent. ‘The

Parliament and the press

Attempts by the Emirati government to buy The Spectator and the Telegraph through RedBird IMI, one of its state investment vehicles, pose a conundrum. There is no existing law against such a deal because until this point safeguards have not been needed. No autocracy has ever before attempted to buy a leading national newspaper in

Net-zero targets have hamstrung British prosperity

Britain’s ‘net-zero economy’ is booming, creating more better-paid jobs than any other sector, but it is all being put at risk by the government’s reversal on policies on electric vehicles and heat pumps. That, at any rate, is what the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) wants us

Citizens’ assemblies are a dreadful idea

Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour party is a government-in-waiting desperately searching for ideas. It says much about the leader of the opposition that arguably the biggest proposal he’s put forward comes not from him but from his chief of staff, Sue Gray. She, it seems, is enthused about the idea of citizens’ assemblies, and wants more

The Tories are too weak to capitalise on Labour’s failings

The polls suggest that Labour is in line for a general election victory later this year which could match or even exceed Tony Blair’s landslide of 1997. Yet the party exudes none of the confidence and maintains none of the self-discipline which it did 27 years ago. On the contrary, were the Conservatives not in

The need for the monarchy has never been greater

The natural reaction to this week’s news that King Charles III is suffering from cancer has been one of concern and compassion. As the Prime Minister said, consolation can be drawn from the fact that the illness has been caught early and that Charles is continuing with his duties – albeit stepping aside from public-facing

Who’s afraid of population growth?

In ten years’ time, there’s a good chance that the main concern in the western world will be the threat of population collapse. Fertility rates are falling everywhere and no government has found a way of reversing the trend. Plenty have tried. South Korea has so far spent $200 billion on tax breaks and lowering

Why won’t Europe defend its own interests?

The US and Britain have joined forces to strike Houthi rebels who have been attacking commercial shipping in the Red Sea. But where is the rest of Europe when it comes to defending its own interests? The Netherlands has provided some logistic support – along with Australia, Bahrain and Canada – but European countries have