My prediction for the next general election

My long-standing theory of British general election results is that they are all deserved. This is true not just of big victories e.g. Labour in 1945 and 1997, the Conservatives in 1979 and 2019, but also of no-score draws, such as the two elections of 1974. In our system (though first-past-the-past sometimes exaggerates) the voters are, collectively, always right. Dare I turn this retrospective rule into a prediction? If I did, I would say that the Tories now deserve to lose, but that Labour does not deserve to win. Logic therefore demands a Labour lead but no overall majority. Small British charities and voluntary groups are doing such good work

The hypocrisy of Nigel Farage’s supporters

Much heartened by the barrage of criticism I’ve been receiving from both Spectator and Times readers, I’m returning to the subject of Coutts’s customer selection. I’ve learned over the years how to spot the emergence of a herd opinion, not just by the volume of shouts but also by how members of the herd begin copying and repeating – often word for word – each others’ phrases; and what we now call ‘memes’ take shape. My experience is that when public sentiment begins to attract these characteristics, it is almost always wrong. I never forget the advice of my late grandfather, Squadron Leader Leonard Littler: ‘Whenever I hear of a

Coutts has forgotten what the job of a bank is

We now have a reluctant apology from Dame Alison Rose, followed by her even more reluctant resignation. Her departure is a major achievement, but the reluctance is a symptom of the problem. How could she possibly have thought she could stay after she was caught breaking a client’s confidentiality and spreading untruths about him (untruths which the BBC checked with her before publishing)? How could her chairman, Sir Howard Davies, have possibly thought that she could? And still we have nothing from Coutts, the bank that tried to trash Nigel Farage in the first place. Coutts is a B Corp, meaning a corporation which signs up to the commandments of

Portrait of the Week: NatWest, fires in Greece and Twitter’s new look 

Home Dame Alison Rose resigned as the chief executive of the NatWest group, which owns Coutts bank. She had been the source of a BBC report that Nigel Farage’s account at Coutts had been closed because it no longer met the bank’s financial requirements. Dame Alison also apologised to Mr Farage for ‘deeply inappropriate’ comments in a Coutts dossier on him which showed his account had been closed because of his political views. Her resignation came only after No. 10 had expressed ‘significant concerns’ about her remaining as the board wanted. The volume of goods sold by Unilever fell by 2.5 per cent in the first half of the year,

Matthew Parris

In defence of Coutts

Dame Alison Rose should not have resigned as head of NatWest over the Nigel Farage affair – and ministers who forced this by flinching in the face of a silly media storm should be ashamed of themselves. In the great Coutts debate this columnist finds himself in a minority. I express no opinion on the wisdom or otherwise of the private bank’s decision to drop Farage as a client, believing this to be a private matter between himself and Coutts. I’ll pose a number of questions, but first there’s something we must get out of the way. Whether or not Coutts was wise to exclude Farage, a bank like this

Martin Vander Weyer

Dame Alison’s ousting lifts the lid on banking’s wider moral pickle

When Dame Alison Rose was a frontrunner for chief executive of NatWest in 2019, I described her as ‘sensible’ and ‘unspun’ and said I hoped she’d get the job. That view was based partly on personal impression and partly on a prejudice of mine, expressed consistently since the 2008 crisis, that women often make better senior bankers than men, being less prone to macho risk-taking. Rose has now yielded to political pressure and resigned over her role in the false reporting of the decision to ‘exit’ Nigel Farage as a customer of NatWest’s subsidiary, Coutts. But this column has never been in the business of following the baying crowd in