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The stalemate election: can Germany move beyond Merkel?

Germany’s election campaign has taken many unexpected turns. In January, Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU), were leading by about 20 percentage points. By April, the Greens were ahead. By July, the CDU/CSU had bounced back, and then all of a sudden, the Social Democrats (SPD) came out of nowhere to a solid lead by last

The case against Aukus

Just weeks after the denouement of the West’s misadventure in Afghanistan, Boris Johnson is again committing Britain to a risky international venture. Aukus, the naval partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom, appears to tie Britain to an Indo-Pacific strategy that is militarily and geopolitically flawed. In December 1941, the catastrophic sinking

The myth of Japan’s warrior spirit

Should we fear a new martial spirit in Japan? Is there a samurai lurking inside those armies of grey-suited corporate men waiting to spring forth? Even though Japan’s constitution, drawn up by the Americans after the war, forbids military combat abroad, the fear of a Japanese militarist revival has never quite gone away, especially in

The Church Closers’ Charter must be torn up

Over the past few months, the Archbishops of York and Canterbury have repeatedly assured us that they love parishes and parish churches. ‘I am passionate that the parish is essential,’ the Archbishop of Canterbury told the Church Times recently. The Archbishop of York went so far as to describe the parish as ‘the beating heart

Now I’m a backbencher, I’m free to speak my mind

Politicians are supposed to have a survival instinct. Mine didn’t kick in last week, so I had no idea that my evidence session to a House of Lords committee on Wednesday would be my swan song. I was speaking about the work of the Ministry of Justice, where I had been lord chancellor for two

Why do some women find killers irresistible?

Women who fall in love with killers have always fascinated and repulsed me. What drives them? Do they think they can ‘save’ these men? Are they secret sadists, acting by proxy? Are they masochists, getting a cheap thrill from communicating with someone who has tortured a fellow woman to death? Bonnie and Clyde syndrome, also

End of the line: it’s time to rethink the queue

Flying to Kalamata this week, I did my own little bit to reduce the terrible queues at Heathrow Terminal 5. Heroically, I stacked up the grey luggage trays once they’d been emptied by passengers coming through security. As a result, there were more loaded trays for people to pick up, and a smaller tailback of

Notes on...

The joy of rude place names

Last week a gentle Norfolk waterway got into trouble with Facebook. The problem was its name — Cockshoot Dyke. Facebook’s relentless algorithms blocked posts that mentioned the dyke and issued notifications warning about ‘sexual content’ and ‘violence’. The name of this stretch of water isn’t, of course, actually rude at all. It relates to a