The knives are out for Prince William and Kate

Omid Scobie’s Endgame is now available from a bookshop near you, and no doubt republicans and admirers of Harry and Meghan alike will be flocking to buy it on the day of release, gleeful to soak up the revelations about the Royal Family. For the rest of us, the appeal is less clear. The book’s tawdry and scandalous provocations have been extensively trailed in the press over the past few days and, as I wrote yesterday, its most attention-grabbing suggestions are hardly newsworthy or particularly surprising, which means that, like Spare, this book is likely to meet with vast initial sales and will then dwindle into obscurity before very long.

Ross Clark

Cooking oil won’t help the aviation industry reach net zero

Two decades ago, motorists in South Wales realised that they could power their diesel cars with used cooking oil, thereby cutting their fuel bills substantially. They were fined for trying to avoid road fuel duty, but perhaps they should have been bunged £1 million by the government for demonstrating a greener future.  £1 million is the sum the government handed Virgin to enable today’s pioneering transatlantic flight using 100 per cent sustainable airline fuel (SAF). SAF is a blend of 88 per cent hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA), manufactured from waste cooking oil, and 12 per cent synthetic aromatic kerosene, made from plant sugars from waste vegetable material. Running

Gareth Roberts

I’m a Celebrity has revealed the boring truth about Nigel Farage

When Nigel Farage entered the jungle on I’m A Celebrity… there was much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. ‘I feel a little bit uncomfortable,’ TV critic Scott Bryan confessed on BBC Breakfast, ‘if his political opinions – not only on migration, but also around climate change and supporting the election of Donald Trump – are not going to be adequately challenged. I’m worried about the free ride that might give him.’ John Crace in the Guardian had even more green ants in his pants: ‘You have to wonder what ITV thinks it is doing giving him a platform. To normalise the abhorrent.’ Can these people hear themselves? They’re

Is the war of the Windsors about to blow up again?

The name ‘Omid Scobie’ must be one of the least popular ever uttered in Buckingham and St James Palaces. Not only was the royal reporter’s bestselling 2020 book Finding Freedom a firmly partisan account of Harry and Meghan’s quasi-abdication – and, it later transpired in court, assisted by someone close to the Duchess, so that her ‘true position…could be communicated to the authors to prevent any further misrepresentation’ – but now the man known, without affection, as ‘Meghan’s mouthpiece’ has returned with another certain-to-be-controversial book. Entitled Endgame – probably not a reference to the Samuel Beckett play – Scobie has stated that the book is not designed to be a

Brendan O’Neill

What Palestine supporters could learn from the anti-Semitism march

Imagine having to be reminded not to be racist. Imagine if officialdom itself felt it necessary to whisper in your ear: ‘Lay off the racial hatred, yeah?’ That’s the mortifying fate that befell ‘pro-Palestine’ marchers on their latest big demo in London yesterday: the Metropolitan Police handed them leaflets pleading with them not to ‘incite hatred’ or express support for Hamas. The shame of it. If there was a march so morally iffy its attendees had to be reminded not to cheer a medieval terror group that recently carried out the worst act of anti-Jewish violence since the Holocaust, I simply wouldn’t go. There’s a delicious irony amid the grimness:

KCL’s sinister diversity and inclusion policies

Last week the King’s College London LGBTQ staff network, called Proudly King’s, demonstrated its intellectual level and its view of women by tweeting a picture of a woman holding a banner saying ‘TERF FART (Feminist Appropriating Radical Transphobes)’.  If you thought that endorsing this kind of behaviour would make you less likely to be promoted to professor, you might be surprised to see the King’s academic promotion criteria.  To apply for promotion to Reader or Professor, academics at King’s must write five pages on research, teaching and administration and one further page devoted to ‘Inclusion and Support’. Academics are told to use this section to describe how we ‘create an inclusive environment’

Gareth Roberts

The mad cult of Doctor Who

When Doctor Who returned to wild acclaim in 2005, after 16 years off-air and about a generation of being regarded as an embarrassment, I remember turning to a fellow long-time apostle and saying of its legions of new young fans: ‘Well, maybe this time around they won’t be quite as mad as we were.’ They turned out to be much madder – and have only become more so in the years leading up to the show’s 60th anniversary this week. With any object of cult devotion that aims for popular appeal, the question arises: are the nutty fans worth it? Can a person take the hit to their status when they

Julie Burchill

Ed Sheeran’s time is up

Who’s the worst pop star of modern times? Some might say that Adele sounds like a moose with PMT – and Sam Smith certainly has his knockers. But I’d be tempted to plump for Ed Sheeran. The 32-year-old is the most successful pop star of our time, with a voice best described as pasteurised ‘urban’ delivered with an insistent, hollow enthusiasm. Sheeran makes background music which has been inexplicably pushed to the foreground, elevator music elevated to a ludicrous degree. He has sold more than 150 million records; two of his albums are in the list of best-selling albums of all time. In 2019, he was named Artist of the Decade,

Who is Sandi Toksvig to lecture ‘radical feminists’ like me?

Another day, another virtue signaller standing by their ‘trans siblings’ and taking a pop at feminists. Sandi Toksvig, she of the unfunny Radio 4 shows more recently known for her involvement in the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) – has denounced feminists who are ‘anti trans’. ‘I am so distressed by people who call themselves “radical feminist” that are anti-trans. I could weep. I don’t get it. It’s beyond me,’ she told a journalist this week. Toksvig went on to insist that she has been an activist all of her life. But is that really the case? While Toksvig has recently made a name for herself by going to war with

Ross Clark

What good would forcing cyclists to have number plates do?

There was little competition for the oddest and most obscure bill to be announced in the King’s Speech: the proposal to licence London’s pedicabs. On the list of the most pressing issues facing the nation, it doesn’t tend to feature very highly. There must be many people in Britain who have never seen a pedicab, let alone ridden in one or come into conflict with these vehicles, which tend to ply a tiny zone of tourist London around Piccadilly Circus. But could the move to regulate pedicabs evolve into something a little more substantial? During a debate on the pedicab bill in the Lords this week, Lord Hogan-Howe, formerly chief

The families of Israel’s hostages are living in hell

Yair Mozes, whose mother and father are among the 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas, is trying to describe what it feels like. ‘It is hell,’ he says. ’You don’t go to sleep properly, then the minute you wake up, you’re bolt upright. I’m just about managing at present… then every now and then I fall apart and sleep for ten hours straight, as my body can’t handle it anymore.’ I suspect even those words don’t really do it justice. But they sound familiar. My own relatives suffered that same ghost-like half-life when I was kidnapped for six weeks by Somali pirates while working for the Telegraph back in 2008. Sleepless

Was the Black Death racist?

Even the Black Death of the mid-fourteenth century, we are now being told, practised racial discrimination as it raged through Europe wiping out maybe half of the existing population. The new idea is that black people were more likely to die from the plague than white ones. The ‘evidence’ presented by an American researcher and an employee of the Museum of London consists of skull measurements where there are said to be signs of black ancestry; it is not derived from DNA, which would be much more comprehensive. Many of the bones of Black Death victims come from the Crossrail tunnels, so as you approach Liverpool street on the Elizabeth

Why won’t the Tories ban pupils from transitioning?

Finally, after months of argument and expectation, media briefings and leaked drafts, it seems the government just might be ready to release its transgender guidance to schools. Possibly. In a few weeks. Word is that this latest iteration asserts the importance of sex over gender. It makes it clear to schools that sports teams, toilets and changing rooms should be demarcated according to biology. Only female children are to play on girls’ sports teams or sleep in girls’ dormitories on school residential trips. This is sensible and in keeping with decisions recently taken by major sporting bodies. But those hoping for a complete ban on children social transitioning – changing

Tanya Gold

‘The potential for jeopardy’: Pullman Dining on the Great Western Railway, reviewed

I am lazy and nosy, and so I spend a lot of time on the GWR service from Penzance to London Paddington. Each journey is a play with a unique atmosphere. Some are seething, particularly in summer when an eight-carriage train cannot fit everyone who wants to swim in the ocean but dine in west London that same night. Some are non-committal; some restful. I rage at usual things: luggage in the disabled space, which is almost always occupied by the non-disabled, though they may be fat; videos played without headphones; young people swearing at older people because they grapple with a rage they cannot understand. You can measure the

Roger Alton

How Vegas became a sporting hotspot

Anyone know the Hindi for schadenfreude? Who could have seen that coming: certainly not your correspondent, who had invested some time ago in India to win the Cricket World Cup. Not to be, sadly, and the red-hot favourites were given an absolute pasting in their own backyard by a team of unfancied Aussies who had lost both their opening games of the tournament. It certainly disproves the Samson theory of sporting excellence: in days of yore a sportsman’s luxurious mullet (look at rugby’s Mickey Skinner, or football’s Frank Worthington and Stan Bowles) often meant a similar lush on-field display. But Travis Head – no longer sporting his bushy 1970s porn

Why so many teenagers support Palestine

I’m a sixth-former in one of Britain’s largest comprehensives and know no one who supports Israel over Palestine. Some readers might find that shocking. Consider, though, how my generation gets its news. TikTok is today by far the no. 1 source of news for teenagers; YouTube is next, Instagram third. Studies show the average teen spends two hours every day glued to their screens. Few my age buy or read a newspaper, or would ever think of doing so. Even the idea of sitting down to watch television news seems alien to us. We view the world through smartphones; we understand current affairs through video snippets. In theory, the videos TikTok

Virology poses a far greater threat to the world than AI

Sam Altman, the recently fired (and rehired) chief executive of Open AI, was asked earlier this year by his fellow tech billionaire Patrick Collison what he thought of the risks of synthetic biology. ‘I would like to not have another synthetic pathogen cause a global pandemic. I think we can all agree that wasn’t a great experience,’ he replied. ‘Wasn’t that bad compared to what it could have been, but I’m surprised there has not been more global coordination and I think we should have more of that.’ He is right. There is almost no debate about regulating high-risk virology, whereas the world is in a moral panic about artificial

Rod Liddle

The Covid Inquiry has unmasked the flaws in trusting ‘the science’

There is something therapeutic and healing in watching Professor Chris Whitty give evidence to the independent public inquiry into the Covid pandemic – the sense of calm emanating from the man, his occasionally Panglossian self-satisfaction, his refusal to become anything more than barely ruffled even when his interlocuters gently venture forth the suggestion: ‘Overreaction?’ The impression one gets, or perhaps is supposed to get, is of a very clever, terribly rational man in a world full of thicko scumbags. This lack of debate was exacerbated in the country at large by that curse of our age, political polarisation I watch a little daytime TV at the moment as part of

Portrait of the week: tax cuts, hostage releases and highly rated horses

Home Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, said, ‘We can now move on to the next phase of our economic plan and turn our attention to cutting taxes,’ having seen a reduction in inflation. Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, followed suit in the Autumn Statement, cutting personal taxes. The government was to make changes to long-term benefits. The minimum wage, known officially as the National Living Wage, currently £10.42 an hour for those over the age of 23, will rise to £11.44 an hour for those over 21 from next April. The government also drew attention to £8.3 billion allocated to mending potholes, money purportedly saved from the curtailment

It’d be a shame if my death was as overlooked as Mother Teresa’s

My instantly infamous interview with Jeremy Corbyn, in which he refused 15 times to say if Hamas is a terrorist organisation, prompted many to ponder what on earth possessed him to do it in the first place? After all, the modern-day Wolfie Smith must have known I’d ask him the same question I’d asked many guests during the crisis, and his spluttering determination to avoid stating such a basic fact – well, unless you work at the BBC – made it obvious what he thinks and was always going to earn him the opprobrium his terror appeasement deserved. Rishi Sunak hammered him in PMQs, and Keir Starmer declared Corbyn will

2629: Urban Renewal – solution

Unclued lights are anagrams of US state capitals: 13A Boise; 18A Dover; 23A Raleigh; 24A Denver; 28A Madison; 38A Salem; 3D Austin; 22D Des Moines; 27D Lansing. 12A/2D is an anagram of Oklahoma City and 40A/29D of Baton Rouge. First prize Heather McLaren, Seaford, East Sussex Runners-up Iain Chadwick, Edinburgh; Raymond Wright, Wem, Shropshire

2632: Troublesome situation

Unclued lights (including one hyphened) are of a kind. The theme word must be highlighted in the grid. Across 1    Require clothing true eccentric altered (8) 8    Axes reportedly in bags (4) 11    Anything mischievous gets uncovered (5) 13    Sadly hugging Romeo, starts to offer love and pines (7) 14    Roman scholar in V&A takes over (5) 15    Gangster’s girl from America caught shellfish (7) 17    I demand to pay revered Norse lady (4) 18    Foreign pal’s husband in US 41 (5) 19    Marble bust by current earthwork (7) 23    Albert has hatred for medieval estate (7) 24    Parasite in bouquet given to mother (6) 25    A sailor grasps coppers