Leading article

After Rwanda: what will Labour do now?

Keir Starmer is advertising for someone to head his newly created Border Security Command. The salary is higher than his own: the person in charge of stopping the boats would earn between £140,000 and £200,000. According to the ad, the job of patrolling the English Channel can be done remotely from any one of 12

How would we handle an avian flu pandemic?

Concerns have been raised in recent months after an outbreak of avian flu caused by the virus H5N1 was detected in cattle in the US. To date, 139 affected herds have been identified, and four dairy workers have contracted the virus. The UK Health Security Agency, which previously believed there to be minimal risk of

Why don’t international laws apply to Russia?

The Kremlin has denied it targeted the Kyiv children’s hospital that was struck by a missile on Monday. It was aiming at legitimate military and civil infrastructure targets, it says, but the missile was intercepted by Ukraine’s Nasams defence system and the debris fell on the children’s ward. This is an easily debunked lie. The

A manifesto for Labour

Never has an opposition leader with ratings as dismal as Keir Starmer’s gone on to win an election. In any other year, his wooden speeches and nebulous agenda would have earned him a place on the long list of Labour losers. But this time, the real question of the election was: who has disappointed voters

The ideas-free election

On the face of it, 2024 is a great year for democracy. Britain is one of 50 countries to hold elections, with a record two billion people globally expected to have cast a vote by Christmas. This is partly down to the growing number of democratic countries, particularly in the past three decades. Last year

Starmer and Le Pen’s similarities

Emmanuel Macron’s decision to call a snap election in France is turning out to be a blunder of Sunakian proportions. His second term as president lasts until 2027 and he could have struggled on with a hung parliament in which his was the largest single party. But when Marine Le Pen’s National Rally won 31

The danger of a Labour supermajority

We are witnessing what could well be the last few weeks of a constrained Labour party. Sir Keir Starmer is saying as little as possible about his agenda and is instead listing what he won’t do (raise income tax, etc). He is rightly fearful that the Conservatives may do better than the opinion polls suggest.

The EU ‘elections’ vindicate Brexit

If Britain had not left the European Union, we would be going to the polls this week as well as on 4 July. The European parliament elections have come round again and it is likely that there will be a mass revolt against the direction of the EU project. Across the continent, voters disillusioned with

What Labour lacks

Has Keir Starmer promised anything so far, during this general election, that will make anyone’s life significantly better? The clearest pledge is to impose VAT on independent schools and it’s hard to see how this benefits anyone. Many of the smaller schools will have to close and others will be forced to cut bursaries. The

A summer election is suicide for the Tories

As soon as Rishi Sunak told the House of Commons that ‘there is going to be a general election in the second half of this year’, nervous Tory MPs spotted a problem: that could mean 4 July, which the Prime Minister has now announced will be the election date. Calling an early election is an

Britain should embrace the AI revolution

Rishi Sunak’s big speech this week was easily lampooned. Having accused Keir Starmer of ‘doomsterism’, the Prime Minister warned that Britain’s most dangerous years lay ahead, and talked of the threat from ‘colluding authoritarian states’. Less attention was paid to the part of his speech about artificial intelligence, which was in fact genuinely optimistic. As

Tories for Starmer

Nick Boles was once at the heart of a mission to renew Conservatism. He was one of a small number of modernisers, central to the Cameron project, who ended up serving as Tory ministers. He quit over Brexit and this week made his public debut in a new job as an adviser to Rachel Reeves.

Why Sunak should stay

In the end, the Tories did just as badly as predicted in the local elections. They lost about half of the council seats they were defending as well as ten out of the 11 mayoralties up for election and did not even come close in London. It’s a disaster, but one consistent with the opinion

The cost of European peace

After six months of delay, the US Senate has finally passed a $60 billion foreign-aid package which will send urgently needed ammunition and military equipment to Ukrainian soldiers. It may well be the last such cheque to be signed in Washington. Donald Trump is favourite to be the next president of the United States and

A smoking ban is pointless and illiberal

Why is Britain poised to ban cigarette smoking, when the habit is already dying out anyway? Smoking is seen by the young as disgusting and outdated. A generation ago, 50 per cent of school pupils said they had smoked at some point. By the time David Cameron came to power, this was down to 25

Common sense prevails in the gender debate

The publication this week of the Cass Review into gender-identity services for young people marks a welcome return to reason in an area of medicine which for the past few years has been driven by identity politics. No one is denying that there are those who deserve psychological – and in some cases physical –

How Britain smashed the slave trade

It was bound to happen sooner or later: a guest on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow presented an artefact which derived from the slave trade – an ivory bangle. One of the programme’s experts, Ronnie Archer-Morgan, himself a descendant of slaves, said that it was a striking historical artefact but not one that he was willing

Covid and the politics of panic

During Easter weekend four years ago, the country felt on the verge of catastrophe. The prime minister was in hospital having just come out of intensive care, the Covid-19 death toll was at more than 1,000 deaths a day, and hospitals were trying to cope with a flood of patients. It had been estimated that

What does Rachel Reeves stand for?

As the world discovered when she was caught lifting other people’s work for her book on women in economics, Rachel Reeves is not the most original of thinkers. But she has political talents. She has cultivated her image as an uninspiring technocrat in order to present herself as someone who will not spring surprises or

Why we don’t need another vote on euthanasia

Ethical issues such as abortion and euthanasia are rightly considered matters of personal conscience for MPs at Westminster, so Keir Starmer’s promise of a vote on assisted dying does not automatically mean that Britain will follow Belgium, the Netherlands and Canada in legalising euthanasia, no matter how large a majority Labour might win. When the