Latest from Coffee House

Latest from Coffee House

All the latest analysis of the day's news and stories

Julie Burchill

The parasitic poisonousness of Omid Scobie

I don’t remember exactly when I first read about the ancient courtier role of Groom of the Stool, but it’s a fascinating business. Here’s Wikipedia to explain:  ‘The Groom of the Stool was the most intimate of an English monarch’s courtiers, responsible for assisting in excretion. The physical intimacy of the role naturally led to

Gavin Mortimer

Hell is the 2024 Paris Olympics

The motto for the 2024 Paris Olympics is ‘Games Wide Open’, which as far as irony goes is worthy of a gold medal.   These Games are shaping up to be anything but open, as the city’s famous bouquinistes have already discovered. More than 600 have been ordered to shut down their little green kiosks on

Why won’t the Scottish government ban XL bullies?

From 1 February 2024, it will become illegal to own an American bully XL in England and Wales if the dog isn’t registered with the UK government. Existing owners will be able to keep their XL bullies so long as they apply for an exemption — at a fee of £92.40 — this comes with

The problem with climate protesting clergy

Received wisdom suggests that you would not expect a vicar to disrupt Divine Worship. Now, anybody who’s worked with the clergy up close will know that in this case, as in so many areas, received wisdom is wrong. Still, there was shock in news outlets and on social media this week when a gaggle of

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John Ferry

Why is the SNP trying to take control of Scotland’s legal system?

There have been extraordinary goings on at Holyrood this week – and I don’t mean more iPad-on-holiday revelations or sleazy claims two SNP politicians broke lockdown rules while having an affair. I’m referring to evidence put to the Scottish parliament’s equalities, human rights and civil justice committee on the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, which aims to


Hancock takes a swipe at Sturgeon at Covid Inquiry

All great tragedies must have a villain. And who serves that role better at the Covid Inquiry than Matt Hancock? After weeks of damning testimony from his critics, the Casanova of the Commons finally began his long-awaited evidence session yesterday morning. Most of his defence has previously been set out in his much-mocked Pandemic Diaries – a


Has the King snubbed Sunak over the Elgin Marbles?

Diplomatic ties are of great importance to King Charles. So it was no surprise that his sartorial choice at the COP28 summit has prompted a flurry of speculation about where his loyalties really lie. Speaking this morning at the great eco-shindig in Dubai, His Majesty donned a Greek-motif tie and breast pocket handkerchief. It is

Freddy Gray

Ron DeSantis just isn’t presidential material

Sans Trump, the Republican presidential debates of 2023 have mostly been piddling contests in a shallow pool. We’ve seen nasty insults — most aimed at or directed by Vivek Ramaswamy — and that’s fun to watch. But you can catch those bits on social media and the rest hasn’t been worth tuning in for. Maybe

Hamas has made a mockery of the ceasefire deal

Early this morning, Hamas fired the first shot that signalled the end of its ceasefire deal with Israel, roughly an hour before the truce was due to expire. Before the ceasefire broke there had been a night of intense negotiations over the next stage of the hostage releases. Hamas, as it has done since negotiations

Gavin Mortimer

The EU is in denial about stopping the boats

The Global Alliance to Counter Migrant Smuggling is the latest EU initiative to address the continent’s migrant crisis. Unveiled in Brussels on Tuesday, the aim of the alliance is, in the words of the EU, ‘to close the loopholes in national legislation and international systems and prevent this criminal trade in human lives.’  Europe should brace itself

Does a political solution to the Israel-Gaza conflict exist?

Is there a political solution to the Gaza conflict? Earlier this morning, the seven-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas broke down, with the IDF reporting that it had intercepted rocket fire from the Gaza strip. Israel then resumed hostilities, with air strikes in northern and southern Gaza against Hamas. Almost from the moment of its

Stephen Daisley

Alistair Darling only saved the country

Alistair Darling was one of the most consequential politicians of the past half-century but he had the misfortune to be a quiet, self-effacing man and so the scale of his contributions has never been recognised. He was not by nature a Westminster man, not someone who lived for briefings and gossip and the soap opera

Henry Kissinger saved us from a much worse world

‘If I give you a copy of my book,’ I said to Henry Kissinger two months ago, ‘which chapter will you read first?’ ‘I will look myself up in the index,’ he replied in that voice that sounded like a cement mixer on the blink, ‘and start there.’ He automatically assumed that a book I

Patrick O'Flynn

Newsnight doomed itself

Whither Newsnight? Or do I mean wither, Newsnight – shortly to be reduced to a 30-minute debate show shorn of more than half its staff. As a teenage news and politics junkie, I grew up on this programme, watching it from its 1979 inception and through its 1980s heyday when that broadcasting giant Sir John

The remarkable life of Henry Kissinger

The next few weeks will be filled with remembrances, fulsome appreciations, and harsh criticism of Henry Alfred Kissinger, who died on Wednesday at 100. His prominence is well deserved. The only modern secretaries of state who rank with him are George C. Marshall and Dean Acheson, who constructed the architecture of Cold War containment in


Spectator Parliamentarian of the Year 2023, in pictures

Looking back, 2023 didn’t have all of the fireworks that the previous 12 months brought. As December fast approaches, both Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer remain in post – a change from 2022 and the year of four Chancellors, three premiers and two monarchs as well. But at this year’s Spectator Parliamentarian Awards, the gossip

Ross Clark

Get used to Labour being the party of low taxes

It takes some to get used to Labour posing as the party of low taxes, but it is something that we are going to have to deal with as the election approaches. Today Jeremy Hunt appeared before the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, and we had a taste of what is to come. In

Lloyd Evans

Did Starmer let slip Labour’s secret plan to win back the Red Wall?

Winter looms, and at PMQs the Scottish nationalists were swift to exploit the darkness and the chill.  ‘Dread,’ intoned Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s freakishly macabre leader in Westminster. ‘Their hearts fill with dread,’ he said. Flynn was describing the inner lives of parents in Aberdeen as they contemplate the first snows of November. Their ‘dread’


Matheson should resign over £11k iPad bill, Scots say

More trouble for Humza Yousaf’s beleaguered Health Secretary Michael Matheson. A new poll for STV News shows 61 per cent of Scots think he should resign over the £11,000 bill in data charges racked up on his parliamentary iPad during a family holiday to Morocco.  The bill was covered by the taxpayer out of a combination of

Stephen Daisley

Is Scotland waking up to the dire state of its NHS?

If the NHS is the closest thing we have to a religion, as Nigel Lawson reckoned, then Paul Gray is not just a blasphemer but an apostate. Professor Gray has called the NHS in Scotland ‘unsustainable’ and urged a public conversation about reform, including the use of the private sector. His intervention is significant because

Why Argentina is turning its back on Brics

‘Today, the rebuilding of Argentina begins’, Javier Milei declared in his first speech as the new president-elect. The anarcho-capitalist is wasting no time in his mission.  Milei has already pulled the plug on what was set to be current president Fernandez’s career-defining achievement: Argentina’s historic admittance to Brics (a loose alliance of economies led by

James Heale

Starmer goes for Sunak’s sore spot at PMQs

It can be difficult sometimes to declare a victor at Prime Minister’s Questions. Exchanges are often hard-fought, even-handed affairs in which neither opponent really lands a blow. But today was not such a day, with Keir Starmer recording the parliamentary equivalent of a three-nil thumping at the despatch box. Rather than dwell on last week’s

Kate Andrews

When will Rishi Sunak see sense on the Triple Lock?

When Jeremy Hunt announced his ‘Autumn Statement for Growth’ last week, there was a slight problem: the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) had actually revised down its growth forecasts. Apart from this year and the last year for the forecast, GDP gains are expected to be smaller than were predicted back in March. Yes, the

Ross Clark

Curbing work visas won’t solve Britain’s migration issues

Why can’t we seem to distinguish between good and bad migration? Brexit allowed the government to do what the Leave campaign had repeatedly said it wanted: to create a points-based system which would turn away Romanian Big Issue sellers and welcome Indian surgeons. But now we have that system we don’t seem to like that either. True,