What the Elgin Marbles row is really about 

‘The Elgin Marbles should leave this northern whisky-drinking guilt-culture, and be displayed where they belong: in a country of bright sunshine and the landscape of Achilles.’ This view – articulated by Boris Johnson in 1986 when he was studying classics at Oxford – is not shared by Rishi Sunak. On Monday, the Prime Minister caused

Rod Liddle

How Labour could lose

Occasionally I wake up in the morning with the rain pelting on the windows and the sky the colour of a gravestone and I think to myself that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea if we had a Labour government. Partly this is simply a sense of resignation and inevitability, because we are going

Lionel Shriver

The government could tackle immigration – if it really wanted to

I’m fascinated by the subject of immigration because I’m a sucker for moral complexity. For decades, too, I’ve been an immigrant myself, though I’ve played by the rules (at some cost), and I’ve never been a burden on the state (to the contrary). Besides, I am by nature territorial. Even having perfectly agreeable house-sitters in

Matthew Parris

Lord Sumption is wrong: laws can change facts

It’s with triple reluctance that one disputes anything said or written by Jonathan Sumption. First, Lord Sumption is among the commentators I most admire, with an intellect against which it must be foolhardyto pit one’s own. Secondly, as a former Supreme Court justice, his legal expertise will be immense, whereas I only read law as

The Tories are cutting it fine with their Autumn Statement

Just a year ago, Jeremy Hunt played Scrooge at the despatch box. In an attempt to regain market credibility following Liz Truss’s mini-Budget, Rishi Sunak’s new government announced £30 billion of spending cuts (largely pencilled in for after the election) and £25 billion of tax rises. It was a far cry from the summer leadership contest,

Rod Liddle

The Covid Inquiry has unmasked the flaws in trusting ‘the science’

There is something therapeutic and healing in watching Professor Chris Whitty give evidence to the independent public inquiry into the Covid pandemic – the sense of calm emanating from the man, his occasionally Panglossian self-satisfaction, his refusal to become anything more than barely ruffled even when his interlocuters gently venture forth the suggestion: ‘Overreaction?’ The

Mary Wakefield

The real reason the civil service needs reform 

Just as Francis Maude was revealing his exciting plans for grand reform of the civil service, I received a message from a friend who once worked in Whitehall. In the subject field: ‘What fresh hell is this?’ Underneath, a screenshot of an email she’d just been sent by a civil servant. There was the name

The Rishification of the Tory party

When David Cameron arrived at the Foreign Office on Monday, he told staff he might be a bit rusty when it comes to modern politics. He joked that the only WhatsApp group he is in ‘is to do with my children’s school play’. Cameron may have been out of frontline politics for a while, but

Lionel Shriver

Progressives appeal to base emotions

In public events, I’ve sometimes given an unexpectedly appreciative nod to the hard left. It’s laudable, I allow, to stick up for the disadvantaged. Young people naturally hope to revamp the creaky, hypocritical institutions they inherit, just as my generation did in the 1960s. Fairness – a more complex concept than it first appears –

Matthew Parris

You can’t trust the will of the people

Abraham Lincoln’s ringing declaration echoes down the years. His 1863 Gettysburg Address, delivered 160 years ago this Sunday, gave us ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’: a clear and simple formulation, it has come to be seen as the very definition of democracy. But Lincoln was wrong: wrong then and wrong

Rishi and Suella’s fates hinge on the Rwanda ruling

The first King’s Speech for more than 70 years was a festival of the expected: the royal reading of a No. 10 press release. Some dividing lines were drawn between the Tories and Labour and some loose ends tied up – but there was no real change in political direction. ‘It’s a continuance of the

Mary Wakefield

Are smartphones making us care less about humanity?

Generation Z were the first to grow up attached to smartphones. They spent their adolescence bathed in screen-light and now they’re depressed and anxious. Should we have seen it coming? Until very recently my parent friends were in determined denial. Z is the best generation that has ever lived, they said, free from prejudice and

Douglas Murray

Are you a creative or a destructive?

There is a stage direction in The Glass Menagerie in which Tennessee Williams describes a tune that will recur through the play. Like a piece of delicately spun glass, he says, it should summon the thought of ‘How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken’. The cleverer young people want to live

Starmer’s foreign policy problem is only just beginning

This could have been the week that Keir Starmer buckled under pressure from his party and called for a ceasefire in Gaza. A fifth of his MPs have publicly backed one, including 13 frontbenchers and big names such as Anas Sarwar, Sadiq Khan and Andy Burnham. Starmer’s suggestion in a radio interview that Israel could

Rod Liddle

Is this where world war three starts?

Daugavpils You can tell quite a bit about a place by the number of national flags on display. One or two on public buildings here and there is a healthy genuflection to a moderate and comfortable patriotism. But groups of the same national flag every five paces, on every building and festooning the parks and

Matthew Parris

When righteous anger goes wrong

From abroad I’ve returned to a country where, in language to which the word ‘shrill’ hardly does justice, fellow British commentators have been letting fly on both sides of the argument about Gaza and how Israel should or should not respond to Hamas’s unspeakable attacks on 7 October. There’s just one thing both sides –

Douglas Murray

It’s time to cut our ties with Qatar

A friend of mine was recently doing business with the Qataris. Nothing strange there: a lot of people have in recent years. But of course Qatar is one of the main funders – and the main international host – of the terrorist group Hamas. The Gulf state has form in the area. In the decade