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The moment of Ruth

Unusually for a modern Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson seems to enjoy meeting voters. When I joined her on the campaign trail, she had been posing with a giant eagle in Kirkcaldy. Then she jumped on to a Harley Davidson in Stirling. Such props, she says, are a ‘springboard’ to talk about Scottish Conservatism — which,

The disunited kingdom

Never before — at least, not in living memory — has there been such a disconnect between north and south Britain. We vote together, but cast our ballots in very different contests. Scotland and England, semi-detached in the past, are more estranged than ever. The mildewed contest between David Cameron and Ed Miliband touches few

Scotland’s nasty party

You get bad losers in politics and bad winners, too, but it’s surely a rare business to get a bad winner who didn’t actually win. Yet this, since they lost last September’s referendum, has been the role of the SNP. Dismay, reassessment, introspection, contrition, resignation; all of these have been wholly absent. Instead, they have

‘Mili-what? Who’s he?’

‘Are all of these questions about politics love — because I’m really not political?’ Oh dear. I’ve just lost another respondent two minutes into a three-minute survey and the chances of achieving my hourly target, and therefore continuing my employment in pre-election polling, are receding fast. Perhaps she didn’t hear my scripted preamble: ‘Could you

Children of Gomorrah

In the early hours of 25 July 1943, nearly 800 RAF Halifaxes and Lancasters launched a 50-minute bombing raid on the Third Reich’s second largest city, Hamburg. The pilots used the neo-Gothic spire of St Nikolai’s church in the city’s historic heart as a landmark and killed 1,500 people. Three nights later, just after midnight,

Victim status

I was riveted to read about Ione Wells, an Oxford student, aged 20, who was savagely attacked on a London street. She then wrote about the experience for her university paper and has now hit the national news, prompting other students to write about their experiences too. Ione has kick-started her career as a journalist,


Washington Notebook | 7 May 2015

This week has been all about the election, the US presidential election that is. It is 18 months away but already the race is sending out sparks and popping like a newly lit fire. On the one hand, there’s Hillary. She takes a trip by van across ‘the real America’ — a near-faultless launch of

Notes on...


Unusually, I didn’t leave the British Isles until I was 35, when I went to the Maldives for a fortnight. (You bet it was a culture shock, considering that the most exotic place I’d been until then was the Bognor Regis branch of Butlins.) But I’ve globetrotted like a footloose fiend since then, and on