The Week

Leading article

Redefining aid

In this week’s Queen’s Speech, the government promised as usual to cut red tape for businesses. But David Cameron is remarkable in his enthusiasm for simultaneously wrapping his own government in red tape. He has proposed a law to prevent the Chancellor raising rates of income tax, and in one of the last acts of

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 28 May 2015

Home A Bill to enable a referendum on whether voters wanted Britain to ‘remain’ in the European Union figured in the Queen’s Speech. Another Bill prohibited any rise in income tax rates, VAT or national insurance before 2020. Tenants of housing associations would be given the right to buy their homes. Provision for Scottish devolution


Diary – 28 May 2015

Martin Williams, former head of the government’s air quality science unit, has declared that the reason we have a problem with air pollution now is that ‘policy has been focused on climate change, and reducing CO2 emissions, to the exclusion of much else, for most of the past two decades. Diesel was seen as a

Ancient and modern

The northern powerhouses of ancient Turkey

Government claims that it will ‘free’ northern cities to turn themselves into ‘powerhouses’. Since most of them are held by Labour, this is obviously nonsense. The tedious tribal backbiting and recriminations will continue as usual. There is a better way. When Alexander the Great died in Babylon in 323 bc, the Greek generals he had left in charge


Barometer | 28 May 2015

Steam privatisation Cunard celebrated its 175th birthday by sailing three liners down the Mersey. The formation of the Cunard Line was an early triumph of privatisation. — The Post Office had been operating a monthly service to New York with sailing brigs since 1756. In 1836 a parliamentary committee decided that a steamship service should

From the archives

A new coalition

From ‘The National Government’, The Spectator, 29 May 1915: We do not suppose that the war, or the need for patriotic effort, has suddenly turned all the men on the new Cabinet list from very human human beings into angels. We do believe, however, that the war has changed them from politicians into fighting men… To put


Letters | 28 May 2015

Why we don’t need mayors Sir: There are a number of arguments against Steve Hilton’s call for more than 10,000 mayors (‘We need 10,000 mayors’, 23 May). One is that such an idea ruptures the whole tradition of British municipal administration, under which a system of elected councils is maintained to which executive officers are