No sacred cows

Confessions of a catnapper

As Christopher Snowdon recently pointed out, the past few governments have had a habit of passing laws that are either wildly ambitious or incredibly trivial, while neglecting the real problems Britain faces, such as the housing shortage, the productivity crisis and the eye-watering dysfunction of the NHS. An example of the former is the net-zero

Do voters really prefer Starmer?

Rishi Sunak has been widely ridiculed for trying to spin the local election results as bad news for Keir Starmer. While acknowledging they were ‘bitterly disappointing’ for the Tories, the Prime Minister cited an analysis by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, the renowned psephologists, showing that a similar showing by Labour in a general election

Who decides which politicians are liars? 

This week the Welsh parliament has been debating a law that would ban politicians from lying. Assuming it ends up on the statute books, any member of the Senedd, or candidate standing to be a member, found guilty of the new criminal offence of ‘deception’ will have to give up being a politician for at

Why won’t Chris Packham have a real debate on climate?

On Sunday, the BBC did something unusual. It invited Luke Johnson, a climate contrarian, to join a panel with Laura Kuenssberg to discuss net zero. As followers of this debate will know, the BBC’s editorial policy unit issued guidance to staff in 2018 saying: ‘As climate change is accepted as happening, you do not need

Even Orwell’s Thought Police didn’t go as far as Trudeau

You’d assume the reaction to the SNP’s new hate crime laws would make other authoritarian governments hesitate before introducing similar legislation. Humza Yousaf has become a laughing stock and his approval ratings have fallen by 15 points. But apparently not. The new Irish Taoiseach, Simon Harris, is determined to railroad through the Criminal Justice (Incitement

My father’s greatest act of kindness

I’ve been busy planning a trip to New Zealand and Australia. I’ll be gone for about five weeks from mid-June, which is by some distance the longest holiday I’ve ever had. Except it won’t be a holiday, since I’ll be spending quite a bit of time raising money for the Free Speech Union’s sister organisations

Could J.K. Rowling be Oxford’s next chancellor?

Among my generation of Oxford graduates – late fifties, early sixties – there is currently a great deal of talk about who the next chancellor should be. In February, the present incumbent, Chris Patten, announced he was stepping down at the end of this academic year, thereby triggering an election to find his successor. The

I’ve found the cure for climate anxiety

A new documentary, Climate: The Movie, by the maverick filmmaker Martin Durkin, is becoming a phenomenon, though it’s received almost no publicity in the mainstream media. It rejects the idea that we’re in the midst of a ‘climate emergency’, so that’s hardly surprising. But it has already racked up millions of views online and been

I’ll never surrender my car

I got a letter this week informing me how much it would cost to renew my car insurance: £2,671.47, up from £1,587.86. It could be worse, I suppose. Owners of Range Rovers tell me that the cost of insuring one in London for a year is about the same as the replacement value of the

Is Gove handing Labour a dangerous weapon?

Michael Gove is back in the news, having come up with a new definition of extremism that he wants to roll out across Whitehall and beyond. Those captured by this definition, whether persons or groups, won’t be able to take up official roles or receive taxpayers’ money, with the primary purpose being to stop Islamic

Help! I’m a full-time dad

For the past ten or so years, Caroline has taken herself off to Barbados for two weeks every winter, leaving her long-suffering husband to hold the fort. To be fair, it’s a freebie, so she can hardly be blamed. Her best friend, Bridie, is a tennis instructor and in return for giving lessons to the

Joe Biden’s dog is out of control

I was shocked to read about the behaviour of Joe Biden’s dog, Commander. According to a CNN report based on freedom of information requests, he bit US Secret Service agents on 24 separate occasions between October 2022 and July 2023. There were also numerous other incidents involving the White House staff. These were not playful

My war reporter friend Sean should win a Bafta

My oldest friend, Sean Langan, was back in the news this week. He’s carved out a niche for himself as a maker of low-budget documentaries in conflict zones and his most recent film was shown on ITV on Monday night. He keeps costs down by shooting them himself on a hand-held camera, which isn’t easy

Acton is now posher than Chiswick

In 2017, David Lloyd Clubs took out a long lease on the privately owned sports facility at the end of my road. It used to be called the Park Club, but the new leaseholders, having spent £9 million tarting it up, proposed to call it ‘David Lloyd Chiswick Park’. As a proud resident of Acton,

I nearly died on my gap year

By the time you read this, my son Ludo will be in South America, where he’s gone for what remains of his gap year. He deferred his university place and has been working in a pub since he left school, trying to earn enough money to go travelling. I made the mistake of telling him

Anti-vaxxers aren’t to blame for rising measles cases

The UK Health Security Agency is sufficiently concerned about the growing number of measles cases in the West Midlands that it declared a ‘national incident’ last week. According to official figures, there have been 216 confirmed and 103 probable measles cases in the region since last October. The cause? The uptake of the MMR vaccine

How to drink, according to Spectator readers

My column from a fortnight ago seeking advice about how to limit my alcohol intake has produced a huge response – and not just from readers. At a dinner last week to commemorate Paul Johnson, a famous historian told me how he manages to be so prolific while still enjoying several glasses every night. He

I’ll miss Derek Draper, the old rascal

The death of Derek Draper, the former Labour party apparatchik, got acres of press coverage, with tributes pouring in from the great and the good, including Tony Blair. But reading the obituaries, I couldn’t help feel that they didn’t do justice to the man I first met in the early 1990s, and for a time

Could a 100-bottle limit help me cut down on drinking?

My New Year’s resolution is to cut down on my drinking. I’m not talking about bringing it within the NHS’s recommended limit, obviously. I’ve never met anyone who confines their alcohol intake to 14 units a week, which amounts to a bottle and a half of wine, ideally spread over many days. I’m thinking of