The Week

Leading article

The Tories cannot afford a war with the civil service

Thirteen years ago, when John Reid became Home Secretary, he declared the ministry he presided over ‘not fit for purpose’. He was talking about border control but he might well have been referring to the department in general. When Theresa May became PM, things at the Home Office went from bad to worse. Her paranoid

Portrait of the week


Nick Robinson: Am I a superspreader?

‘Aren’t you meant to be in quarantine?’ the man in the cloakroom queue asks. I sense that his enquiry is motivated more by concern about his wellbeing than mine. ‘Don’t worry! I’ve not got the coronavirus,’ I try to reassure him cheerily. That’ll teach me to talk about my health on the Today programme. I

Ancient and modern

The response to coronavirus has been almost Aristotelian

Last week Ross Clark expatiated on the hysteria and panic generated by Covid-19 that threatens to send the world into lockdown. These are aspects of the emotion of ‘fear’, and the Greeks certainly had words for that. The root of Greek deos ‘fear’ meant ‘two’, and was cognate with the Latin dub- (cf. ‘dubious’), i.e.


Barometer: Is climate change making the weather more windy?

Heathrow’s nine runways When was a third runway for Heathrow first proposed? Heathrow was always planned to have multiple runways. On 10 April 1946, before the airport was even open, the Minister for Civil Aviation, Lord Winster, announced that the then London Airport was to have nine runways. Six would be in a Star of


Letters: We need career detectives, not fast-tracked officers

We need career detectives Sir: Your lead article (Trial and error, 29 February) rightly condemns Tom Watson for pressurising police into investigating the spurious allegations of Carl Beech. What should urgently be abandoned is the fast-tracking of police officers into senior positions, and the promotion of uniformed inspectors into detective ranks without them having the