Despite the consistent poll lead and projections of a majority of about 40 seats, the Tories are still nervous. They are nervous because they are uncertain, because their route to victory involves taking seats that the Tories haven’t won in living memory, so no one has a proper sense of how well (or otherwise) it’s going.
The debacle of the last general election campaign has left the Tory party with a collective fear of terra incognita.
When Boris Johnson edited this magazine, it proposed an amnesty for illegal immigrants — a controversial notion, but an idea he has stuck to. As London Mayor he suggested an ‘earned amnesty’: if bureaucracy had failed over many years to catch up with the 400,000 undocumented migrants in the capital, he reasoned, why not regularise their status so that they could start paying taxes and contributing to the country in other ways? When this magazine reprised the issue last week, the usual objections were recycled: why reward criminality? But the actual cases are more complicated.
How should fiscal conservatism be defined? George Osborne inherited a fiscal deficit that was clearly unsustainable. During the panic over the possibility of a global depression and concerned for his electoral prospects, Gordon Brown had massively inflated government spending. Only Alistair Darling prevented more excess. As Chancellor Osborne said, there was no choice but to retrench: his expression was ‘there is no Plan B’.
Every generation and teen subculture likes to put the boot into baby boomers like me. I’ve been physically attacked by skinheads, verbally assaulted by right-wing intellectuals and mocked by millennials. But I never thought I would be subjected to the derision and verbal lashings of Generation Z. The ‘zoomers’ — that is, people born after about 1995 — have come up with a cutting and dismissive retort for older people: ‘OK boomer.
Leaving the auditorium of the Royal Opera House last week after The Sleeping Beauty, I passed a woman taking selfie after selfie in the mirror of the hall. She had snuck out during the curtain call to have the red banquettes to herself. When she should have been applauding Yasmine Naghdi and Francesca Hayward — goddesses, Olympians, immortals — this complete nincompoop was basking in her own glory.
This week, a malign foreign actor invaded the British media, spreading disinformation and seeking to meddle in the general election. A malevolent force exploiting our democracy to advance its own interests. That’s right, Hillary Clinton has been in London. She has another book to promote, The Book of Gutsy Women, and she’s again talking about male authoritarian-ism, why Britain needs to be ‘forward-looking’ (i.
Tory MPs used to think they could rely on telltale signs while out on the campaign trail — a detached house or a neatly kept lawn — to help them find their target voters. These days, things are more complicated. The Tories’ electoral strategy now rests on persuading voters who have never voted Conservative in their lives to go blue. To help candidates and activists in their efforts, the party has sent them a handbook setting out who they need to win over.
Gladstone’s Library began as that most English of things: a great man’s visionary idea. William Gladstone, at the age of 85, decided that he had amassed too many books, and wanted to share them with the less fortunate. As his daughter Mary put it: ‘He wished to bring together books who had no readers with readers who had no books.’ He duly spent £40,000 of his own money on founding and building the library that bore his name, carrying 32,000 of his own volumes three-quarters of a mile between his home, Hawarden Castle in Flintshire, Wales, and the temporary structure that housed them, aided only by his valet and the long-suffering Mary.