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Time to lift the House of Commons off its knees

What if we win office, but nothing changes? What if, instead of running a new government, triumphant Tory ministers discover that the machinery of government runs them? Making sure that does not happen requires a strategy. Opposition may be a time for tactics, but how we fare in office will hinge on having a robust,

Greek sex, infallible logic and fearless honesty

It is not difficult to see why the greatest Greek scholar of his generation, Sir Kenneth Dover, who died last Sunday, was a man who attracted controversy. His edition of Aristophanes’ comedy Clouds (1968) was the first to go into the same detailed explanation of its sexual jokes as of its textual cruces. Readers were

Let’s not mess with the sparrowhawks

It’s unlikely that birds of prey have anything to do with the decline in garden songbirds, says Rod Liddle, and anyway, what right have we got to play God with wildlife? But oh! The crewel sparrer’hawk E spies im in is snuggery, E sharpens up is bleedin’ claws An rips im aht by thuggery anon,

Why does the BBC air Islamist propaganda?

Down at that self-proclaimed centre of ‘tolerance and harmony’, the East London Mosque, they’ve been holding some pretty tolerant and harmonious meetings lately. On 9 July last year, for instance, there was the half-day conference on ‘social ills’. One of the ‘social ills’ — with an entire session to itself — was ‘music’, described by

‘I went into the war as a student and came out as an artist’

Ronald Searle, who turned 90 this month, talks to Harry Mount about being captured by the Japanese, chronicling the 1950s and inventing both St Trinian’s and Molesworth High in the mountains of Provence, in a low-ceilinged studio at the top of his teetering tower house, Ronald Searle is showing me the simple child’s pen he

Don’t panic — a hung parliament might be good

Although I have been a reader of The Spectator almost since I have been in short trousers I have rarely been as irritated by an article as I was by last week’s cover story, ‘Britain must be saved from the financial abyss’. Its author, Allister Heath, is by no means a lone voice: he speaks

Can Nick Clegg sing the blues?

Nick Clegg’s office already has a Downing Street feel to it. Since becoming leader of the Liberal Democrats, he has had it redecorated so that portraits of old party leaders hang on the staircase up to his room, as portraits of former prime minsters do in No. 10. It starts plausibly enough, with portraits of

And in the event of a hung parliament…

David Cameron may have to rely on Nick Clegg to form a majority. But Julian Glover says that a deal should be simple – if they focus on areas where they already agree In late 2007 two fresh-faced, privately educated party leaders gave speeches setting out their philosophies. ‘We’ve always been motivated by a strong

The unelected bodies that just won’t die

Unruly, bizarre and hungry for your money, Britain’s quangos must be stopped, says Matthew Sinclair They are our longest-running political horror story. And, under Labour, they have been ever more unruly, increasingly dangerous and always ready to suck the blood of taxpayer’s wealth. For several decades politicians have been discussing cutting the number of Quasi-Autonomous

How to defuse the pensions timebomb

Frank Field argues that a radical reform of Britain’s pensions policy could enrich both pensioners and the exchequer Ten years of austerity must deliver the country a radicalism that ten years of abundance has failed to achieve. The Prime Minister’s economic war council must decree that the necessary budgetary strategy also forges a radical agenda.

The Blanket Repeal Bill

How can a new government undo Labour’s mistakes? It should simply repeal everything, says Matthew Parris And finally, we shall in our first Queen’s Speech be introducing a measure whose like has never been seen among the manifesto commitments of an incoming government. It will be known as the Blanket Repeal of Legislation (Failure of

The Spectator Manifesto

David Cameron, should he become Prime Minister, has an urgent and momentous task – to transform Britain from top to toe. The Spectator gives him some pointers The key to great success is to follow great failure. David Cameron has this if little else in his favour if, as expected, he is Prime Minister in

Today’s welfare state is making poverty permanent

‘Drug addiction, alcoholism, criminal records, language difficulties, a lack of skills, depression…’ Anyone working alongside Britain’s long-term unemployed can recite a grim litany of social ills. ‘Drug addiction, alcoholism, criminal records, language difficulties, a lack of skills, depression…’ Anyone working alongside Britain’s long-term unemployed can recite a grim litany of social ills. But when I

Make work pay – for all

Stephen Brien explains how Britain’s welfare system must change Welfare dependency is one of the most pernicious problems facing modern Britain and its deprived communities. When William Beveridge was planning the welfare state, he spoke about the giant evil of idleness: not just a waste of economic potential, but of human potential too. The tragedy

Tear up Britain’s ‘Renewables Obligation’

Unaffordable and unsustainable, Rupert Darwall explains why Labour’s worst stealth tax must be abolished The bubble has burst; there are no proceeds of growth to share and Britain’s budget deficit is, in the words of one central banker, truly frightening. Can Mr Cameron give voters a break, one which will leave them tangibly better off

Time for the dynamic state

A visitor returning to Britain after 30 years could easily be fooled — by the sight of privatised buses and by the replacement of heavy nationalised industries by hi-tech business parks — into thinking that Britain has been transformed from a sub-socialist society into a dynamic free enterprise economy. In some ways that may be

A manifesto for the 2010 Tory intake

If the Conservatives win the next election, a majority of the Tory benches will be made up of members of the 2010 intake. We will be, in terms of numbers, the most significant intake for 60 years and will have huge influence on the party in years to come. So, what do I and my

Community spirit

If you really want to know how obtuse, how jaded, how downright bizarre Britain’s planning system is, you need only consult the findings of Lord Walker, the Supreme Court Judge who last week answered the question: should you show deference to local golfers? An odd question for sure, but one upon which rested the £55

How to spot Sir Humphrey’s schemes

Apart from a loyal army and a strong police force, the primary requirements for political power are (a) legal authority, (b) taxation revenues, (c) organisational size and (d) permanent tenure of office. Politicians certainly do not have (c) and (d), and although they may have (a) and (b) in theory, those two have long been

When ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ means anything but

‘My appeal to the Home Secretary is most earnest. I believe that if ever there was a debt due to justice… that debt is one the Home Secretary should now pay.’ That was an impassioned plea by Sir Frank Soskice MP for the reopening of the Timothy Evans case. The home secretary’s reply was that

‘It’s the PM for you.’

Chris Mullin MP offers prospective junior ministers a survival guide to the ‘foothills’ of government Election Day plus four. Your party has just won a great victory. Having handed out the big jobs the new Prime Minister is taking a well-deserved weekend off. It is now Monday and you are anxiously awaiting The Call. For

How to start saving Britain in ten minutes

The work begins Subject: No time to lose Date: Friday, 7 May 2010 14:28 From: David Cameron To: Sir Gus O’Donnell, Cabinet Secretary Dear Gus, The Queen has just invited me to form a government. I’m sending this on by BlackBerry in the car, because there is a degree of urgency. Our country has been

Day one: getting us back in business

Dear Treasury Permanent Secretary, Good news: the nightmare is over. We both know that Gordon Brown is one of the greatest economic vandals ever to have resided in Downing Street. And to make Britain competitive again will require hard work. We can start immediately, and without the need for legislation. I’d like the following to