Society

Gavin Mortimer

France doesn’t have much to celebrate this Bastille Day

England play Spain tonight in Berlin in the final of the European Championships. Emmanuel Macron is a football fan so he may tune in. Then again, it might all be a little too painful for him. If football was in keeping with history it would be France in the final. It’s their day, after all, July 14, and no doubt Macron had kept the evening free in the hope of flying east to cheer on his boys. But there’ll be no jolly to Germany. Worse, England may be crowned champions of Europe. Oh Mon Dieu, non. Anyone but perfidious Albion. A week after the elections, the country is without a recognisable government

Spain isn’t afraid of England at all

England play Spain this evening in the final of the 2024 UEFA European Football Championship. On Wednesday evening England’s last-minute goal eliminated the Netherlands and simultaneously disappointed many Spaniards who were hoping that the game would go to extra time: extending the match would have left the team they play tonight that little bit more tired. People here don’t think that England will be able to survive 90 minutes’ open play against this Spanish team Over the last few days there’s been much talk in Spain of how different each team’s route to the final has been. Spain arrive in Berlin trailing clouds of glory. They’ve put on some exhilarating

Has Israel managed to kill the mastermind of October 7?

When an opportunity came today for Israel to take out the leading Hamas member and head of the Al-Qassam Brigades, Mohammed Deif, it could not afford to pass it up. It’s unclear yet whether Deif was in fact killed in the strike, which took place near the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip. Deif is arguably the most elusive Hamas leader. He joined Hamas as a teenager shortly after the organisation was established in 1987, and was arrested by Israel and held for 16 months in 1989. He has since become one of the most powerful and influential figures in the terror organisation and played a pivotal role

Why is anti-Semitism such a problem at elite universities?

Whether it’s Harvard, Pennsylvania, Oxford or Cambridge, if there are large endowments and manicured lawns then, it seems, anti-Semitism is virulent. As the academic year comes to an end, we need to discuss the bigotry that has been unleashed at elite universities across Britain and America. The latest example to hit the headlines occurred at Columbia University this week. Three deans have been ‘removed’ for sending text messages containing anti-Semitic tropes in an incident that reveals much about the way elite anti-Semitism plays out in universities today. Anti-Semitism has been a growing issue at Columbia for some months. In December, Columbia’s president was invited but, citing scheduling conflicts, declined to appear

England’s football success is an easy win for Keir Starmer

Keir Starmer, a lifelong Arsenal fan, will be in Berlin to watch England take on Spain this Sunday in the Euro 2024 final. The Prime Minister says he wants to ‘mark the occasion’ if England win, prompting speculation that an extra bank holiday may be in the offing. Plans are reportedly underway for a celebration in London on Tuesday, with the squad travelling by open-top bus from Guildhall in the City to a reception at Buckingham Palace. The players could also be invited to Downing Street. Starmer, a lucky general indeed, was even moved to joke that England have not missed a penalty under a Labour government This is manna from heaven for

The Democrats should remove Joe Biden from office

In a sense, Democrats ought to be relieved. After his calamitous presidential debate, Joe Biden delivered one of his most embarrassing gaffes on Thursday, when he introduced Volodymyr Zelensky as ‘President Putin’, and called Kamala Harris ‘Vice President Trump’. These howlers – which could have been mistaken for hard-right disinformation – are incontrovertible evidence the Democrats need to remove Biden from the ticket. The President’s inner circle, which has stubbornly defended Biden’s health and argued that the debate was an anomaly, have no arguments left. Democrat donors and members of the party establishment are publicly and privately calling for Biden to give up the nomination.  Biden’s age and mental acuity

Ross Clark

The trouble with Ed Miliband’s North Sea oil plan

Just Stop Oil continued its campaign by spreading orange paint over road junctions in Westminster this week, but why bother when the organisation seems now to be in power? Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband is said to be weighing up blocking new licenses for oil drilling in the North Sea. Labour has previously said that it wouldn’t allow exploration of entirely new fields but wouldn’t stand in the way of the continued exploitation of existing fields. Yet even this limited exploration now looks in doubt. How is the government going to generate that income if oil and gas companies are not going to be allowed to drill? The Department for

Freddy Gray

Joe Biden won’t quit over his ‘President Putin’ gaffe

As Biden gaffes go, I wouldn’t say that introducing the Ukrainian leader as ‘President Putin’ is particularly bad. Silly, awkward, absurd, yes – but for once Biden acknowledged his error and corrected himself: ‘President Putin? We’re gonna beat President Putin. President Zelensky. I’m so focused on beating Putin…. We’ve gotta worry about it. Anyway…’  The made-up-on-the-spot excuse showed a certain agility of mind. If anything, Biden’s ‘I wouldn’t have picked Vice President Trump’ remark later in the day was the more troubling slip: he just blustered on without realising that he’d muddled Kamala Harris with his chief domestic enemy. Still, Biden has been doing that sort of thing for some

Gavin Mortimer

How the National Rally were discredited by the French media

The day after the French left had pulled off a sensational victory in the parliamentary elections one of their newly-elected MPs sent a tweet. Faced with the seemingly unstoppable rise of the National Rally, Macron reverted to ‘moral arguments’ Aurélien Rousseau had triumphed in a constituency south of Paris, and he wanted to express his ‘gratitude’ to the media for their ‘indispensable’ work. He name-checked a good proportion of the Fourth Estate, including all the regional press, local radio stations and the national newspapers Le Monde, La Croix, Libération and L’Humanité. Rousseau wasn’t the only member of the left-wing New Popular Front coalition who had good reason to thank the media for their work. Throughout

Julie Burchill

Labour’s sinister record on trans rights

There’s a funny saying the Cockneys have to describe something ghastly coming in the wake of something lovely: ‘After the Lord Mayor’s show…’  One online dictionary describes it thus: ‘Said of a disappointing or mundane event occurring straight after an exciting, magnificent or triumphal event… from the proverb “After the Lord Mayor’s show comes the dust-cart”… Bringing up the rear of the Lord Mayor’s Show is a team to clean the manure of the pageant’s horses.’ How better to describe Anneliese Dodds succeeding Kemi Badenoch and becoming Minister of State for Women and Equalities? On one hand a bold, beautiful woman – so fearsome to cry-bullies that they wished she

Joe Biden is in denial

Donald Trump had good reason to gloat over Joe Biden’s press conference flub referring to ‘Vice President Trump’. It was preceded earlier in the day by Biden calling Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky ‘President Putin.’ Biden, in other words, was at it again. But Biden adeptly seized the opportunity to offer a little lesson in foreign affairs in his presser at the Nato summit in Washington, zooming from Ukraine to China to Israel. Along the way, he got to flash his bona fides, including the declaration that he has spent a grand total of 90 hours speaking with Chinese leader Xi Jinping. Biden was a man on a mission. His campaign

Jonathan Miller

Macron is looking increasingly desperate

President Emmanuel Macron finally broke his silence and rediscovered the magical breath of his ‘baraka’ as he took to the airwaves last night. He gave an inspiring speech offering a new political settlement to reunite the French, calling on his nation to be steadfast and confident in its greatness. Correction: Macron did nothing of the kind. Instead, far away at the Nato summit in Washington, he sent a desperate letter to local newspapers promising that something will turn up. Eventually. What Macron is hoping for now remains enigmatic and implausible This letter to the electorate is the most tone-deaf declaration so far from a president who has led France into a

What will Labour do about women-only spaces?

As the dust settles on last week’s general election, voters are beginning to learn more about their new government’s plans for change. From growing the economy to curbing illegal immigration, Labour’s goals, as confirmed in recent speeches by Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer, are becoming clear. Yet one policy issue remains conspicuously uncertain: the issue of women-only spaces. In an interview with the Times in the final week of campaigning, Starmer stated that biological males with Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs) should not be allowed in women-only spaces. This contradicted comments previously made by the since-appointed education secretary Bridget Phillipson in an interview with LBC in which she refused to answer

Gareth Southgate’s critics must eat humble pie

England are through to the final of Euro 24 after substitute Ollie Watkins scored in the dying seconds of normal time. Nothing beats the euphoria of a last-gasp winner. Watkins had only been on the pitch for a few minutes before he rifled a stunning low shot into the far corner of the goal. There were 90+1 minutes on the clock when the ball went into the net. Everyone – players, fans, the coaching staff – went wild.  It falls to those of us who have criticised England manager Gareth Southgate for his negativity and caution when it comes to the must-win games in the big tournaments to eat a

Lloyd Evans

Next time, I’m swimming to Calais

Friends in Calais invited me to their baby’s birthday party. He’s a year old. They suggested an overnight stay and I planned to reach France by about mid-afternoon and have a stroll, visit the sights, buy a bit of tat for the nipper and a litre of plonk for the proud parents. Clouds of sweet diesel vapour enveloped me. My pulse quickened. In the 1970s, it all smelt like this The morning express sped me south and I was entertained on board by the Bing-Bong Pixie who referred to the train as ‘this 10.02 service from London Victoria to Dover Priory’. She recited the name of every stop on the line

Politicians have to be gamblers

Politicians pretty well have to be gamblers. You give up a promising career in, say, dentistry, teaching or accountancy for a world in which all but a fortunate few are almost bound to end in tears. No matter how diligent and attentive a constituency MP you may be, if the national mood swings against your party, you will be voted out of a job. Your party may be taken over by a dominant clique of head-bangers with views alien to your own. Even if you make it through to ministerial office, some departmental disaster created by others may have you hounded by the media until you are forced to resign.

Bridge | 13 July 2024

Norway triumphed at the 56th European Team Championships held in Herning, Denmark at the end of June, hoovering up the gold medals in both the Open and the Women’s categories. But if you weren’t going to come in the medals, you still had everything to play for: the top eight teams out of 30 qualified for a place in the Bermuda Bowl (World Championships) next year. And more good news: England qualified in all four disciplines – Open, Womens, Seniors and Mixed. No doubt Marianne Harding, for Norway, was delighted with the following result, where she showed us how to keep control against a bad trump break: West’s double is

Martin Vander Weyer

How safe do you feel boarding a Boeing?

‘They knocked down our old house in three hours,’ says a friend who has embarked on what he says is a conventional rebuild, nothing Grand Designs about it, on the south coast. ‘But it’s taking forever to get planning permission for the new one. They want reports on everything, from bats to highway impacts: you’d think we’re trying to build a whole huge housing estate.’ And if you do happen to be in the business of building whole huge housing estates, you’ll be eager to know whether Rachel Reeves’s reforms and ‘mandatory targets’ – aimed at delivering 1.5 million new homes in this parliament – will put rockets under the