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Katy Balls

Rolling in it: the return of Tory sleaze

When Rishi Sunak stood on the steps of Downing Street to give his first speech as Prime Minister, he had a simple message: ‘This government will have integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level.’ He wanted his premiership to move on from the scandal, mayhem and psycho-drama of his two predecessors. As Michael Gove later

Does Britain need bison?

The Blean is just north of Canterbury. It’s ancient woodland – mentioned by a couple of Chaucer’s pilgrims – now managed by a conglomerate of well-meaning wildlife trusts and charities. Drive through a small industrial estate and past a garage and you’ll reach the visitors’ centre. Beyond that is bison country. Four wild European bison

Keir Starmer: ‘We haven’t won – yet’

When Keir Starmer won the Labour leadership in 2020, following the party’s worst election defeat since 1935, many people shook him by the hand, said ‘good luck’ and then added darkly ‘you’re not going to do it in five years’. Just three years later, he has done ‘it’, to the extent that Labour is 20

In praise of drunkenness

Europe, I’m told, is entering the age of the ‘sober-curious’. Curiosity is a wonderful thing; why, then, did hearing this make me want to drink whisky until I talk in tongues and pass out? I’ve had such a long and varied relationship with alcohol since we met when I was a shy provincial child. It’s

Tank warfare: why the West is worried about arming Ukraine

Ukraine’s top soldier, General Valery Zaluzhny, has said that if he is to launch a successful counter-offensive, the West will have to provide him with another 300 tanks. This is, of course, a negotiating position. President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government has been very effective in managing western allies: cajoling, demanding and guilting them into providing more

The C of E is right to prevaricate on gay marriage

On Tuesday morning it was theology hour in the House of Commons. The Labour MP Ben Bradshaw had requested an urgent question on the Church of England’s latest prevarication on homosexuality. Ahead of next month’s synod, the bishops have decided that gay marriage will not be up for discussion, even though a full debate was

My Transylvanian horror

My first taste of proper street violence came in a Transylvanian town square 30 years ago. Ethnic Romanian and Hungarian villagers were going at each other with pitchforks, knives and strips of wood they had ripped from park benches. In an attempt to separate the two sides, the Romanian army had driven half a dozen

Notes on...

Save our stamps!

Some of us still have stashes of traditional stamps which we were told would become redundant after 31 January. Royal Mail (whose CEO Simon Thompson is on £753,000 per annum) promised old ones could be exchanged for new, but the system has struggled to keep up with demand. Now a chaotic Royal Mail says there