Politics (UK)


Sorry, but Parliament is full of sex pests

2 March 2013

The news is dominated by tales of ‘sexual misconduct’ by men in positions of power, and nowhere is the smell of sleaze as strong as in Westminster. Our politicians work… Read more


Why aren’t more people unemployed?

2 March 2013

An unfamiliar noise floats over the town; an insistent, one-note metallic drone. Tracked to its source, it turns out to come from a sawmill in a hidden wooded valley a… Read more

Nick Robinson’s Battle for the Airwaves

2 March 2013

Deep within the BBC’s inquiry into the Newsnight and Jimmy Savile affair is a comment by Jeremy Paxman so inflammatory as to demand its own investigation (lasting months and costing… Read more

The Spectator’s Notes

1 December 2012

There is excitement that a foreigner could have been made Governor of the Bank of England. But the truth is that Canadians (and Australians and New Zealanders) are not really… Read more

They’re all in it together

5 May 2012
The New Few, Or a Very British Oligarchy Ferdinand Mount

Simon & Schuster, pp.320, 18.99

However often rehearsed, the facts remain eye-popping. Inequality has bolted out of control over the last three decades. Democracy has proved increasingly powerless to check the unaccountable runaway oligarchy that… Read more


Bookends: … and the inner tube

28 April 2012

In the early 1990s, when Boris Johnson was making his name as the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels correspondent, Sonia Purnell was his deputy, and last year she published a biography of… Read more

In Blair’s shadow

21 April 2012
Things Can Only Get Bitter Alwyn W. Turner

Aurum, pp.72, ebook, £2.99

An ebook arrives! The future of publishing on my hard-drive. All the big profits are in cyber-publishing these days, as I discovered last month when I downloaded an ebook for… Read more

A safe pair of hands

7 April 2012
The Spicer Diaries Michael Spicer

Biteback, pp.611, 30

Michael Spicer is too honourable to be a brilliant diarist. As he himself says, ‘I eschew tittle-tattle or small talk.’ These diaries cannot be read, as Chips Channon’s or Alan… Read more


Agreeing to differ

17 March 2012
Reagan and Thatcher: The Difficult Relationship Richard Aldous

Hutchinson, pp.336, 25

‘Frankie and Johnny were sweethearts; Lordie, how they could love.’ The ballad has many variant versions but the denouement is always the same; he was her man and he did… Read more

The frontiers of freedom

28 January 2012
You Can’t Read This Book Nick Cohen

Fourth Estate, pp.224, 12.99

The problem with Nick Cohen’s very readable You Can’t Read This Book is the way that you can, glaringly, read this book. This isn’t quite as glib an observation as… Read more


Funny old world

17 December 2011
Private Eye: The First 50 Years Adam MacQueen

Private Eye Productions, pp.312, 25

The most remarkable thing about this book is that it should have been published at all. No one could have imagined in 1961 that Private Eye — a blotchy reproduction… Read more

Opening salvos …

26 November 2011
Johnson’s Life of London Boris Johnson

Harper Press, pp.322, 20

When a man is tired of Johnson, he’s liable to vote for Livingstone. Boris has decided to head Londoners off at the pass by writing a book about them, or… Read more


The Conservatives: A History by Robin Harris

12 November 2011
The Conservatives: A History Robin Harris

Bantam, pp.632, 30

If David Cameron and his friends wish to know why they and their policies are so despised by some Conservatives of high intellect and principle, they should read Robin Harris.… Read more

The biography of a nobody

2 July 2011
Ed: The Milibands and the Making of a Labour Leader Mehdi Hasan and James Macintyre

Biteback, pp.336, 17.99

A biography of Ed Miliband has to try hard not to be the sort of thing one buys as a present for someone one avidly dislikes. This effort, the first… Read more

The problems of PR

11 June 2011
The Coalition and the Constitution Vernon Bogdanor

Hart Publishing, pp.162, £20

Two centuries ago, Edmund Burke famously mocked the intellectuals of revolutionary France for trying to devise a perfectly rational constitution for their country. The Abbé Sieyès, he wrote, had whole… Read more


Slippery Jack

16 April 2011
Bercow— Mr Speaker: Rowdy Living in the Tory Party Bobby Friedman

Gibson Square, pp.256, 17.99

A mad, muscular Sally Bercow cavorts on the Commons chair, diminutive husband on her knee, his features impish. With a few scratches of the nib, the Independent’s merciless Dan Brown,… Read more

Palace intrigue

29 January 2011
The Alastair Campbell Diaries, Vol 2: Power and the People Alastair Campbell

Hutchinson, pp.320, 25

Plunging into the second volume of Alastair Campbell’s diaries is like opening a Samuel Richardson novel. Plunging into the second volume of Alastair Campbell’s diaries is like opening a Samuel… Read more


Yesterday’s heroes

15 January 2011
Ages of Reform: Dawns and Downfalls of the British Left Kenneth O. Morgan

I.B. Tauris, pp.314, 27.50

The Labour peer and historian Kenneth Morgan is perhaps best known for his accounts of the Attlee government, Labour in Power, and the Lloyd George coalition, Consensus and Disunity, a… Read more

What’s the big idea?

8 January 2011
The Big Society: The Anatomy of the New Politics Jesse Norman

University of Buckingham Press, pp.243, 10

If you’re not quite sure what the Prime Minister means when he talks about the big society, you’re not alone. If you’re not quite sure what the Prime Minister means… Read more


Politics: From Red Ed to Steady Eddie

8 January 2011

Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are locked in a political duel, and only one of them can survive. Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband are locked in a political duel, and… Read more

Politics: Get ready for a year of upheavals

1 January 2011

This will be the year of the political identity crisis. This will be the year of the political identity crisis. As we enter 2011, all three major parties are having… Read more

The making of the coalition

4 December 2010
22 Days in May David Laws

Biteback, pp.335, 9.99

5 Days to Power Rob Wilson

Biteback, pp.293, 9.99

David Cameron was despondent on the evening of 10 May. Although the election result was pretty much as he had predicted privately, he feared that his ‘big, open and comprehensive… Read more

Built on columns

27 November 2010

The timing was obviously important: there’s a guaranteed post-election market for books about the campaign, usually made up of people who followed the real thing slightly too closely. The timing… Read more

The other Prince of Darkness

6 November 2010
The New Machiavelli: How to Wield Power in the Modern World Jonathan Powell

Bodley Head, pp.340, 20

This is a clever publishing idea, a light academic-historical cloak for another set of political memoirs. Jonathan Powell, chief of staff (the term should not be taken literally) at No.… Read more

Not good enough

23 October 2010
The Verdict: Did Labour Change Britain? Polly Toynbee and David Walker

Granta, pp.314, 18.99

Tony Blair gave his record in government ten out of ten, though an ungrateful electorate scored rather less well and his Cabinet colleagues performed even worse. Sadly, they were ill-equipped… Read more