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Katy Balls

What a super-majority means for Labour

When the last Tory government fell, the famous question after election night was: ‘Were you up for Portillo?’ Were you awake in the small hours when the man many expected to be the next leader lost his seat? This year, there’s no shortage of big beasts likely to be turfed out by the electorate. Jeremy

Can Starmer control 450 unruly MPs?

It doesn’t matter how loyal a candidate is. Once elected, all MPs (to a greater or lesser extent) conclude they have won their seat because of their unique qualities and personal vision. When they look in the mirror, many will see a future prime minister. Almost every backbench MP believes they are one reshuffle away

Joe Biden is running out of time in the Middle East

Jerusalem The idea of a Saudi-Israel rapprochement would have been unthinkable not so long ago, and yet, shortly before the 7 October attacks, it was on the cards. The Emirates and Bahrain had recognised Israel’s sovereignty. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) was positioning Saudi Arabia to do the same. Now Joe Biden – who

The ‘luxury beliefs’ that harm vulnerable children

Now that everyone insists that the oppressed must be lifted up – or platformed, if you’re that way inclined: why does no one in the West give a second thought to the most obviously powerless group: kids in care – children who’ve been abandoned by or taken from their parents? An astonishing amount of kids

Child gangsters: the new Swedish model

Stockholm There were 149 bomb attacks in Sweden last year. Though warring gangs are for the most part responsible, ordinary people are increasingly caught in the crossfire. The violence is brutal and ruthless, something I’ve witnessed up close as a police officer in Stockholm and have also analysed as a criminologist. Last year, 28 innocent

Even pilgrims are staying away from Jerusalem

Israel has a new train line: 25 minutes from Ben Gurion airport to Jerusalem. The Christian pilgrims would love it but they’re not here. Instead, there are soldiers and visiting American Jews. My taxi driver says American Jews come with thousands of dollars of cigarettes and drive around looking for soldiers to give them to.

Stop worrying if your child is a picky eater

One parent in our class WhatsApp chat raised a pressing concern: her daughter was coming home every day with a full water bottle. Were other parents faced with the same unsettling discovery? There followed a lengthy discussion of how much water was left in each child’s bottle. Some children, when confronted, testified that they had

A.A. Milne and the torturous task of writing

For those of us lucky enough to have been regular contributors to Punch magazine, April is a slightly crueller month than most, since it was on 8 April 32 years ago that the last edition collapsed, exhausted, on to the newspaper stands. By then it was way past its best, but in its day it

Notes on...

Why I’ll never own a pair of jeans

North Korea has a problem with Alan Titchmarsh’s crotch. Last week a 2010 episode of Garden Secrets was aired on state television, but the network blurred Titchmarsh from the waist down. The offence was his gardening trousers – a pair of jeans. For the Workers’ Party of Korea, jeans represent an ‘invasion of capitalistic lifestyles’.