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Katy Balls

After Starmer: what’s next for Labour?

Sometimes a plan can be too successful. When Durham police announced on the day of the local election results that they would investigate Keir Starmer over ‘beergate’ – an event in April last year where Starmer was filmed drinking a beer with Labour staff, at a time when indoor socialising was banned – Tory MPs

Why Russian literature shouldn’t be cancelled

Vladimir Putin makes no secret of his love for Russian culture, and Russian literature in particular – a body of work whose achievements, Dostoyevsky once claimed, justifies the existence of the entire Russian people. But if that same oeuvre now inspires a man instigating unprovoked war, doesn’t that raise urgent questions about its contemporary validity?

The culture wars have crept into Oxbridge admissions

The characters in Sarah Vaughan’s thriller Anatomy of a Scandal include rich Oxford undergraduates from Eton whose main preoccupations are drinking and trashing rooms. They are what it is fashionable to call ‘privileged white males’; while the typical female Oxbridge student is ‘slim, tall, well dressed. Entitled… they knew they belonged there’. The truth, however,

What the new GCSE in global warming should teach

For years, environmentalists have campaigned for children to study global warming as a subject rather than simply as a part of geography. Their wish has now been granted in England with a new GCSE in natural history, starting from 2025. We know nothing yet about the syllabus but it’s quite the opportunity to ask what

The march of the ‘menosplainers’

I think we’ve reached peak menopause. You simply can’t switch on the radio, open a newspaper or watch telly without some fiftysomething media babe banging on about her hot flushes, sudden rages and the feeling of going mad. Davina McCall has just made a whole TV show about it (Sex, Mind and the Menopause), and

Fraud victim? Don’t bank on getting your money back

Lloyds Bank has been running a new advertising campaign which updates its long-standing black horse corporate branding. The horses no longer thunder along a beach, but interact with people who we assume are actual or potential customers. The soothing payoff slogan goes: ‘Lloyds Bank. By your side.’ The latest episode features a girl who slightly

Notes on...

Why Kent is being bulldozed by buffalo

Buffalo are now living in the fens of Kent. Why – have we slipped into the metaverse of Lewis Carroll? ‘He thought he saw a buffalo/ Upon the chimney-piece.’ But these are not African buffalo, those fierce beasts that recently charged but narrowly missed killing my wife at home in Kenya. No, these are the