Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons is The Spectator's Data Editor

Does Labour have the stomach to tackle welfare reform?

Regardless of who wins the election, taxes are going up. Spending plans from both Labour and the Tories suggest the tax burden – already at a post-war high – is going to do nothing but rise. During last night’s Sky News debate, Rishi Sunak laid the blame at the two ‘once in a century’ events

Why has Douglas Ross resigned as Scottish Tory leader?

11 min listen

Just when you thought this election campaign couldn’t get any more tumultuous, Douglas Ross has announced he will resign as Scottish Conservative leader. He had lost the support of his colleagues – particularly those in Holyrood – following his decision to effectively take over a Westminster colleague’s constituency when that MP was seriously ill in

The unbeatable glory of a doner kebab

Ionce shared a bed with a doner kebab. I’d hungrily joined a 3 a.m. queue for much needed post-pub sustenance, only to pass out as soon as I sat down on my bed to eat it. It was a vinegary and leathery bedfellow to wake up to, but I’ve felt ever since that spending a

Why are important Covid documents not being released?

The most important stories from the Covid Inquiry are found in the written evidence and submitted statements. However, the Cabinet Office is refusing to release vital evidence that the Inquiry isn’t interested in, in case it ‘excessively focused’ the public’s attention on lockdown-decision making. If neither side change their position, the British people will be

Michael Simmons

Brits won’t stop getting pay rises

Are interest rates still heading ‘downwards’ as the Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said last week? Homeowners across the country will be hoping so as average two-year mortgages are again approaching 6 per cent. But the latest figures on the UK job market may dampen hopes of a cut coming soon. Britons have continued

Who won the local elections? Results in maps and charts

Counting is nearly complete across England and Wales and the picture in the local elections is clear: Tory losses and a red wave. Thursday saw 103 English councils go to the polls with ten mayoral races and dozens of police and crime commissioner positions up for grabs too. The by-election in Blackpool saw a huge

Humza Yousaf’s legacy in eight graphs

Humza Yousaf has announced his resignation as First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party. His time was short, but he’s overseen a dramatic change in the party he’ll now cease to lead: a discipline once revered by opponents has given way to a party in open dissent. As he prepares to leave the

Lockdown’s impact on children is only beginning

Children who started school in the early days of the pandemic will have worse exam results well into the next decade. That’s according to a study released this morning by the London School of Economics, the University of Exeter and the University of Strathclyde. Researchers predict that 60 per cent of pupils will achieve worse than a

Sunak declares a crackdown on Britain’s ‘sick note culture’

10 min listen

Rishi Sunak has returned to one of his pet bugbears: getting the unemployed back into work. His speech to the Centre for Social Justice this morning was peppered with his favourite facts about the post-pandemic welfare crisis embroiling Britain. Lucy Dunn speaks to James Heale and Michael Simmons.  Produced by Oscar Edmondson. 

Worklessness hits eight-year high

Britain already has the worst post-pandemic workforce recovery in Europe. New figures out today show the problem is getting even worse. The number of those ‘economically inactive’ (not in work or looking for it) rose by a remarkable 150,000 in the last three months to 9.4 million – equivalent to the adult population of Portsmouth

Should the ‘Waspi women’ be compensated?

13 min listen

The Parliamentary Ombudsman’s report on raising women’s state pension age in line with men’s has been published. It details that women born in the 1950s hit by the state pension age change are owed compensation and has advised that the government should ‘do the right thing’. Will the ‘Waspi women’ end up disappointed?  Michael Simmons

Has the jobs market cooled enough to cut interest rates?

Is the Bank of England about to cut interest rates? Today’s labour market statistics might just give them the room to do so. The latest data, released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this morning, shows that the number of payrolled employees is up, the unemployment rate is up, vacancies are down and pay

Britain’s worklessness disaster

Whilst Jeremy Hunt’s cut to National Insurance may grab the headlines, the real story of today’s Budget was hidden in the official forecasts accompanying it. These forecasts point to a disaster for Britain’s labour force. The UK already had one of the worst post-lockdown workforce recoveries in the world, with a record 2.8 million people

Too many people in Britain aren’t working

Britain’s worklessness crisis is getting worse. This morning the ONS released figures showing that 1.3 million are on unemployment. But that figure masks a welfare crisis that politicians are doing little to address. Unemployment only covers those actually looking for a job – the real problem is how few are. The true benefits figure goes unpublished

Full extent of sick-note Britain revealed

We already know that Britain has a massive sick-note problem but we did not, until today, know just how large. Every three months, the ONS surveys 35,000 people and uses the results to guess how many (for example) are not working due to long-term sickness. That figure had been 2.6 million. But it has today

Sturgeon paints herself as perfect at Covid Inquiry

10 min listen

Nicola Sturgeon became emotional during her evidence at the Covid inquiry today – a highly anticipated part of the inquiry given the issue of deleted Whatsapp messages. How did the former first minister come across today? And what else can the evidence tell us about how the Scottish government operated? Katy Balls speaks to Isabel Hardman

McMafia: inside the SNP’s secret state

40 min listen

On the podcast: gangsterism or government?  The Covid Inquiry has moved to Scotland and, in his cover story for the magazine, our editor Fraser Nelson looks at the many revelations uncovered by Jamie Dawson KC. Fraser describes how civil servants were enlisted into what he calls an ‘SNP secret state’ and how SNP corruption is

Sobriety isn’t worth it

Absolutely nobody feels better at the end of Dry January. Mornings are still a struggle, you’re as tired as ever, and if anything the neurotic voice in your head is even louder. Yes, you may have gone to the gym every Sunday, but how has your life improved? It hasn’t. My own Dry January was