Does Keir Starmer stack up?

Few Labour politicians have anything nice to say about Margaret Thatcher, so when Keir Starmer wrote an op-ed over the weekend praising her for bringing ‘meaningful change’ he was looking for a reaction. The left of the party obliged, calling her legacy destructive and chastising Starmer. Even some former Blairites stepped in to say the

The myth of the Boston Tea Party

At 6.30 p.m. on Thursday 16 December 1773, a group of between 100 and 150 Americans raided three East India Company merchantmen moored in Boston and threw 92,000lb of tea (worth $1.7 million in today’s terms) into the harbour. A central part of the American founding story, the 250th anniversary of the Boston Tea Party

The Ukrainian war can only end in a peace deal

Kyiv In Ukraine, the political mood has become sombre and fractious. As the front lines settle into stalemate, Russia ramps up for a new season of missile and drone attacks, and vital US support for Ukraine’s war effort crumbles under partisan attack in Congress, one existential question looms large. Should Volodymyr Zelensky continue to fight

Gareth Roberts

Make drag innocent again!

One of the most regrettable things about the last decade of general cultural awfulness has been the politicisation and sexualisation of drag. The crude and frequently obvious art of blokes dolled up in women’s clobber has been a golden thread running through British comedy for centuries, from Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor to

Emily Hill

Help! I’m trapped in a leasehold flat

Generation Rent, we are always being told, are fed up of having to pay ‘dead’ money to their landlords. The rate of home ownership among 35- to 44-year-olds plunged from 74 per cent in 2003 to 56 per cent in 2019. But no one should think they will necessarily be better off, or feel more

What’s wrong with eating dog? 

From my desk, as I write this, in a lofty room in a soaring new hotel in Phnom Penh, I can look down at the bustling streets and see the concrete, mosque-meets-spaceship dome of the Cambodian capital’s famous Central Market. Which also happens to be the place where, 20 years ago, I ate the single

Hell is the multi-faith prayer room at Bristol Airport

When the Roman Emperor Justinian finished building the Hagia Sophia church in Constantinople in 537 he compared it to the great temple in Jerusalem. ‘Solomon, I have surpassed thee,’ he declared. Some 400 years later, as visiting ambassadors from Kyiv were led into the same ethereal structure, they remarked: ‘We did not know if we

How China cornered the green market

When Rishi Sunak announced that the 2030 ban on new petrol and diesel cars would be delayed by five years, he framed it as a common-sense move. What he didn’t say is that he had been advised that, had the original deadline stuck, Britain’s electric vehicle (EV) market would have been handed over to China.

Philip Patrick

The deep affinity between Japan and Israel

Tokyo Japan and Israel have a curious bond, which recent events have highlighted. A video showing a group of Japanese senior citizens singing ‘Japan loves Israel, and Israel loves Japan’ (in Hebrew) while waving Japanese and Israeli flags has received more than 900,000 views. The group, believed to be Christians, may be at the extreme

The joy of an archive

It’s amazing how quickly you become ancient history. Thirty years after I left Oxford, my old college, Magdalen – alma mater of Oscar Wilde, Edward VIII and my fellow undergraduate George Osborne – sent out a request to former students. The college archivist asked for ‘Academic work. Records of student societies. College magazines and newsletters.

How I missed out on parenthood

‘Do you have children?’ This stock question still floors me. When confronted, I don the mask, breathe deeply, get a grip and try to answer honestly. It doesn’t always work out that way. In a supermarket queue, my bored fellow shopper seems happy with my breezy reply: ‘Yes! One’s at university, the other teaches English

Madeira is wonderfully lacking in Scrooges

My wife and I arrived in Madeira for a week’s peace and quiet, but the driver from the airport had other ideas and was soon telling us how difficult it was to own a taxi these days. Cars are much more expensive to buy than in Spain, for example, and there is a lot of

How to date a widower

When is it acceptable to consider dating a widower? How do you know if they are still grieving and not ready to move on? According to statistics, men die earlier than women, so I was surprised this year to meet several whose wives had died before them. Divorced since the early 1990s, I had no

Why so many teenagers support Palestine

I’m a sixth-former in one of Britain’s largest comprehensives and know no one who supports Israel over Palestine. Some readers might find that shocking. Consider, though, how my generation gets its news. TikTok is today by far the no. 1 source of news for teenagers; YouTube is next, Instagram third. Studies show the average teen spends

Virology poses a far greater threat to the world than AI

Sam Altman, the recently fired (and rehired) chief executive of Open AI, was asked earlier this year by his fellow tech billionaire Patrick Collison what he thought of the risks of synthetic biology. ‘I would like to not have another synthetic pathogen cause a global pandemic. I think we can all agree that wasn’t a

Sanctions against Russia have backfired

Does a British government department have the right to punish individuals who have broken no laws on the basis of their political views? Are private companies allowed to discriminate against customers on the basis of their nationality alone? For the past two years, the answer to both these questions has been yes – if they

The greatness of C.S. Lewis

He died on the very day that President Kennedy was assassinated, Friday 22 November 1963, so it is not surprising that the event was overshadowed at the time. With the passage of 60 years, C.S. Lewis’s reputation is undiminished and the sheer range of his achievements as a writer and teacher appears ever more prodigious.