Eliot Wilson

Eliot Wilson was a clerk in the House of Commons 2005-16, including on the Defence Committee. He is a member of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

Labour needs to be clearer on defence

It used to be axiomatic of British politics that the Conservative party held a reputational advantage when it came to defence and security, and that Labour always had to make a greater effort to reassure the electorate. Opinion polls suggest that’s no longer true, but atavistic political instincts are resilient, and even now Sir Keir

The logic of national service

It would be hard to argue that the Conservatives have had a flawless start to the 2024 general election campaign. Rishi Sunak’s rain-drenched Downing Street announcement, the removal of a Sky News journalist from a media event, the symbolism of an inexplicable prime ministerial visit to Belfast’s Titanic Quarter – almost every move so far

Can Rishi Sunak get Britain to like him again?

When Rishi Sunak stood in the rain in Downing Street to announce a general election on 4 July, he made a speech which was unusually personal. Looking back on his steep rise to power – five years ago he was not even a cabinet minister – he spoke of the challenges the country has faced and

Zelensky’s time as president is up, but he’s right to stay put

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky’s five-year term is up, but he’s staying put. Unsurprisingly, some of Zelensky’s critics – and the Kremlin – have questioned his legitimacy. But Zelensky, who marked five years in office on 20 May, is right not to step down. The idea that, as a result, there has been some unprecedented outrage

Why can’t Starmer be honest about reforming the Lords?

Sometimes life comes at you fast. Barely 18 months ago, Sir Keir Starmer, beginning to scent general election victory in his future, pledged to abolish the House of Lords and replace it with an elected chamber as part of a project to ‘restore trust in politics’. By Tuesday this week, the Labour leader in the

Sunak’s dire warning will fall on deaf ears

Even on the most optimistic reading, Rishi Sunak is drinking in the last-chance saloon. Today the Prime Minister is delivering a speech which is supposed to kick-start the general election campaign. Sunak wants to demonstrate that the Conservative party has the vision and policies to guide the country through a dangerous and uncertain future. But

Could Andy Street be a future Tory leader?

Andy Street was a political outsider when he was chosen as the Conservative party’s candidate for mayor of the new West Midlands Combined Authority in 2016. He was 53 and had enjoyed a successful career in retail, latterly as managing director of John Lewis and Partners. This weekend, after seven years as mayor, he was

Labour had a lucky escape in the North East

The election for the first North East of England mayor should have been a gift to the Labour party. Its candidate Kim McGuinness has duly won the role, but her tally of 41 per cent is superficially modest. This region is one of the Labour movement’s heartlands, steeped in coal-mining, shipbuilding and steel-making. It gave

Why did it take Rishi Sunak so long to up defence spending?

Britain is putting its defence industry on a ‘war-footing’, the Prime Minister has said, as he vowed to boost spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030. It was only a matter of time that Rishi Sunak made such an announcement. After all, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine illustrated a simple truth: that the world

Why are the English embarrassed about St George’s Day?

How should the English celebrate St George’s Day? England is a country with plenty to boast about, but doing so is somehow not particularly English. The result is that 23 April is usually a day that passes most of us by. It’s a pity. The centuries-old flag of St George was for too long the

Is there any way back for the Met Police?

‘You are quite openly Jewish, this is a pro-Palestinian march, I’m not accusing you of anything but I’m worried about the reaction to your presence.’ These were the words of a police officer to Gideon Falter last week as he walked along Aldwych after attending synagogue. The chief executive of the Campaign Against Antisemitism was

It’s no surprise the SNP’s climate change law has failed

When Nicola Sturgeon unveiled the SNP’s climate change pledge in 2019, the First Minister boasted that Scotland had the ‘most stretching targets in the world’. The problem was that they were too stretching: five years on, the flagship goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by 2030 has been binned. The decision

Can Starmer be trusted with Trident?

Three weeks after the Prime Minister visited Barrow-in-Furness to pose with models of submarines, the Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has made his way to BAE Systems in Cumbria to emphasise his support for the United Kingdom’s nuclear deterrent. He penned an accompanying manifesto for the Daily Mail, in which he said his party’s commitment

Has Iran saved Israel’s relationship with the US?

Only a few days ago, President Biden was framing remarks about Israel in tones which were astoundingly critical for an American leader. For decades it has been axiomatic that there is barely a cigarette paper between Washington and Jerusalem, but Israel’s prosecution of the war in Gaza has threatened to push them apart. Biden condemned

Is Whitehall ready for war?

James Heappey, who will soon step down as Conservative MP for Wells after nearly a decade, may have won more column inches in the last fortnight than the rest of his career combined. In March, he resigned as minister for the armed forces, a post he had held since 2020, and now that he is

The recklessness of William Wragg

Everyone makes mistakes, but they are seldom as monumental as William Wragg’s. The Tory MP has admitted handing over the phone numbers of colleagues to a man he met on Grindr, a gay dating app. The vice-chairman of the 1922 Committee said he offered up the details after sending intimate pictures of himself. Wragg deserves

Nato’s unhappy birthday

Nato marks its 75th birthday today, but the alliance is in no mood for celebration.  At its foundation, and for much of its lifetime, Nato worked well. On 4 April 1949, representatives of a dozen countries signed the North Atlantic treaty in Washington DC ‘to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded

Donaldson’s fall is a challenge for the future of the DUP

The news that Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party, had been arrested and charged with rape and other historical sexual offences, was a rare moment of genuine shock in politics. Politicians on all sides have been scrabbling to respond, to understand what has happened and what it means for the DUP

Can Britain afford Trident?

The prime minister is in Cumbria today, visiting Barrow-in-Furness to announce a ‘national endeavour’ to support the defence and civil nuclear industry. This includes a partnership with companies including BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, EDF and Babcock to invest more than £760 million in skills, jobs and education over the next six years. The Barrow Transformation Fund