Energy prices

Why a nightcap is a dream Christmas present

Have you finished your Christmas shopping yet? I ask because there is a must-have item for 2022 that may have so far escaped your attention. And that’s a small irony because at some point in the weeks ahead it will almost certainly be staring you in the face. Whether you’re reading A Christmas Carol and enjoying John Leech’s illustrations, or relishing in the monochrome horror of Alastair Sim in Brian Desmond Hurst’s gothic version of 1951, or enjoying once again Michael Caine’s peerless performance in the Muppets’ musical adaption, you will notice that one of Ebenezer Scrooge’s nocturnal accessories is never missing: the nightcap. You don’t have to be a

Why Covid means the big state is back

History suggests that when the state expands in a crisis, it doesn’t go back to its pre-crisis level once the emergency is over. After the first world war, the Lloyd George government extended unemployment insurance to most of the workforce, fixed wages for farm workers and introduced rent controls. The second world war led to Attlee’s nationalisations, along with the creation of the NHS and the modern welfare state. In the magazine this week I ask if Covid will lead to a permanently bigger state. There is another danger in all this intervention: can the country afford it? Last year, state spending exceeded 50 per cent of GDP for the first time