The Week

Leading article

The Tories are too weak to capitalise on Labour’s failings

The polls suggest that Labour is in line for a general election victory later this year which could match or even exceed Tony Blair’s landslide of 1997. Yet the party exudes none of the confidence and maintains none of the self-discipline which it did 27 years ago. On the contrary, were the Conservatives not in

Portrait of the week


When John Lennon took on Barry Humphries

Barry Humphries would have been 90 on 17 February. To commemorate his life, Radio 4 is broadcasting Barry Humphries: Gloriously Uncut that evening. For the programme, I recalled the joy of talking to Barry about the column he wrote for the Oldie. What a delight, too, it was to hear from the great diplomat Sir

Ancient and modern

Have actors always been self-indulgent?

Golden Globes, Baftas, Emmies – here we go again with the annual rituals of self-worship to which actors are so addicted. The ancient Greeks are to blame: they staged plays in competition, with awards for best plays, producers and actors. Their worldwide luvvies’ Guild, formed in the 3rd century bc, was called ‘Artists of Dionysus’ –


How many countries are led by an octogenarian?

Gerontocracies How many countries are led by an octogenarian? – Out of 187 states assessed in March last year, 10 had heads of government aged over 80. The oldest – who is still in power, is the president of Cameroon, Paul Biya, who celebrated his 91st birthday this week. – The median age of a


Letters: no wonder Gen Z-ers don’t want to fight

The many not the few Sir: Your leading article (‘The people problem’, 3 February) fails to get to the heart of this issue. Yes, more needs to be done to reform welfare to encourage people back to work. But nowhere do you mention the need for employers to be more open-minded in their recruitment. There