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Katy Balls

Starmer must move fast without losing his head

When Keir Starmer’s Labour party gathered on Monday to celebrate their election victory, the difficulty was finding a big enough venue. There were so many MPs that aides had to abandon Labour’s usual meeting room on parliament’s committee corridor, and instead head for Church House, where Tony Blair met his party after the 1997 landslide.

The secret diary of Sue Gray

Once we entered Downing Street a No. 10 protocol adviser took Vic upstairs to show her the facilities in the private flat. ‘That sofa’s gotta go,’ said her ladyship. ‘So has Simon Case,’ I said. The protocol officer was shocked. ‘So new, and almost without a stain,’ he protested. More than can be said for the

Trade like a tradwife

I love to complain about my phone. It has ruined everything, from friendships to childhood to my memory. But if I stop the bitching and think clearly for a moment, I must admit that my phone is a far more liberating bit of kit than the washing machine or the contraceptive pill. Largely that’s because

Can Labour solve our prisons crisis?

There is no doubt that the new government (and in particular the prisons minister, James Timpson) is faced with a serious prison population crisis. Original thinking and a willingness to challenge the system will be the only way out. As HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, I know this all too well. Last month I inspected

What I saw at the Okhmatdyt bomb site

Kyiv For weeks, Kyiv had felt relatively safe compared with just about everywhere else in Ukraine. People had adjusted to wartime life as the city’s air defences managed to intercept most of Russia’s missiles and drones. There had been a sense that things were improving. This was shattered on Monday morning when a missile struck

Don’t bribe your dog with treats

‘Do NOT look Lulu in the eye. Keep your voice low and soft and ignore her barking. Do NOT make arm or hand gestures. You can give her a treat, letting her come to you or drop it for her. She has been doing well with strangers outside but her property is difficult for her.’

The C of E needs to talk about sex

My friend Andy is getting married. It’s about time – he and his girlfriend have a one-year-old daughter. He wants to get married in church, so I introduced him by email to the local vicar. I was copied in to their initial correspondence. The vicar told Andy that the Church of England prohibits sex outside

Notes on...

The cult of the water bottle

The water bottle is no longer just a water bottle. It is a status symbol. It is an extension of oneself. It is the source of good skin. It can hold 2.2 litres of water and keep it cool for 11 hours. It can be personalised, stylised and bastardised. It is Gen Z’s version of