General election 2017

Theresa May’s great comeback is now underway

Theresa May has always made her holidays sound as sensible and lacking in exoticism as she is. But something strange happens to the Prime Minister when she takes a break. After her last break, she decided she wanted a snap election. Now she’s back from the three-week holiday that was supposed to help the Conservative party calm down, and she’s declaring that she is here ‘for the long term’ and that she does want to fight the next election for the Conservatives. Her colleagues had urged her to take a long break this summer. They might now start getting a little suspicious when their leader next starts talking about some

If Brexit is dying, what about democracy?

Never meet your enemies — you might like them, and that ruins stuff. I had dinner with the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, about a year ago. During his time in office, Rowan came out with what I considered to be some of the most cringing, effete, left-liberal, self-abnegating rot I have ever heard. But then, at this dinner, I met the most kindly, charming, humble and witty human being. If a man could be said to actually radiate goodness, that was Rowan. I left the dinner utterly dismayed. Never meet your enemies. So it is with Matthew Parris. I bump into Matthew every so often and am always

James Forsyth

The dark clouds threatening Brexit

It’s summertime and the living is easy… unless you’re a civil servant working on Brexit. Whitehall has recognised that the UK needs to step up its preparations for leaving the EU and to offer greater certainty about the country’s immediate future. A big speech is planned for September, probably by the Prime Minister, which will set out more of the government’s thinking on the issue. One aspect of Brexit that urgently needs clarity is how Britain will leave the European Union. Theresa May has long been open to a transitional period or, as she terms it, an implementation phase. But since the election, the government’s enthusiasm for this has become

The Tories need a ‘what’ as much as a ‘who’

Theresa May has made it to the summer. In the aftermath of the election, Downing Street’s immediate aim was to get the Prime Minister to the parliamentary recess. On Thursday they succeeded. They think that the next six weeks will give the government a much-needed chance to regroup and catch its breath. Like a cricket team playing for the close, they hope conditions will be more favourable when proceedings resume. But is there any reason to think that things will be different in September? The summer break can do many things but it can’t conjure up another 20 Tory MPs or put time on the Brexit clock. Tory optimists claim

Let May govern

It used to be said that loyalty was the Conservatives’ secret weapon. While other parties might descend into internecine warfare, the Tories would always, when circumstances demanded, show just enough respect for their leader. The words ‘loyalty’ and ‘Conservative’, -however, lost their natural affinity during the Major years. Since then, to borrow a phrase from the left, the leadership of the party has descended into a state of permanent revolution. After the failure of her general election campaign, Theresa May seems to have become a tortured prisoner of her cabinet. Talks of leaks are exaggerated. It’s quite true that our political editor, James Forsyth, was able to disclose a row

Corbyn can be beaten – here’s how

The Tory party is suffering from an intellectual crisis of confidence. Before 8 June, its collective view was that Jeremy Corbyn was simply too left-wing to be a serious candidate for the prime ministership in modern Britain. He hadn’t learnt the lessons of Labour’s defeats in the 1980s, and while he might excite a noisy 35 per cent of the electorate, thought the Tories, he’d never be able to put together a general election-winning coalition. Corbyn, however, came closer to victory than any Tory had expected. His Labour party got 40 per cent of the vote and took seats off the Tories. Not one of them had seen it coming and,

Letter from a Corbynista

Dear Uncle James, Thank you for your note (‘Letter to a Corbynista’, June 24). Firstly, of course we’re still friends, so there is no need to worry about that. The world would be a boring place if we all agreed on everything, and probably a backward one too if no one was challenged on their views. I should also explain my background for the benefit of readers not related to me. I come from a Conservative-voting family, I’m privately educated and I work as the financial controller of a multinational group. If there is a stereotypical Labour voter, or even a ‘Corbynista’, I’m not sure I’d fit the mould. In

Rod Liddle

The Corbyn coalition

One of the most disappointing things about the general election for me was how few people must have read Nick Cohen’s article ‘Why You Shouldn’t Vote For Jeremy Corbyn’ before entering polling booths on 8 June. Or perhaps they did read it and thought: up yours, mate. The more I think about it, the more I suspect it’s a case of the latter. Mr Cohen, quoting from a Labour party member, listed the perfectly sensible reasons why sane people would not want Corbyn as prime minister. These included, but were not confined to: his support for the IRA and opposition to the Northern Ireland peace process; his admiration for the

James Forsyth

Why May must stay

Sometimes crises end simply because all of the participants are exhausted. Essentially, this is what has happened with the post-election Tory leadership crisis. No one has the energy for a fight, so Theresa May carries on as Prime Minister. Conservative MPs say it is now almost certain that she will make it to the summer break and will still be in place at party conference. If the coronation of a new leader could be arranged, things would be very different. But it can’t be. From the great offices of state down, the Tories are simply too split – over both policy and personnel – for the succession to be resolved

Stronger together

There is unlikely to be much of a legacy from Theresa May’s premiership, which could yet be truncated a short way into its second year. Yet one very good thing looks like coming out of it: the strengthening of the United Kingdom. The Union suddenly looks in better health than it has done for several years. Nicola Sturgeon did not quite scotch her dream of a second independence referendum this week, but in delaying the required legislation until the autumn of 2018 at the earliest she has bowed to the inevitable. She has been sent, as the Scottish national anthem says, homeward tae think again. Meanwhile, the importance of Northern

What are the Conservatives for?

Should it be Boris? He was twice elected mayor of a Labour city and if the Tory mission is to stop Jeremy Corybn, surely you need someone charismatic to see off a populist. Then again, David Davis is a dependable caretaker, a bruiser who can hold the line on Brexit. Or why not skip a generation? There’s the articulate Priti Patel and the accomplished Dominic Raab. And to make this party go with a bang, why not ask Michael Gove to be someone’s campaign manager? He’ll change his mind on the day and then: pow! They’ll all form a circular firing squad, like last time, and whoever’s left standing wins.

Europe’s imploding right

If the British Conservative party is feeling stunned, having calamitously misread the public mood in a general election, then it is in good company. Across Europe, right-wing parties are struggling to find messages that resonate. It’s not that voters have turned away from conservative ideas: polls show a huge number interested in individual liberty, lower taxes and the nation state. The problem is that conservative parties have given up on those ideas — and, as a result, voters are giving up on them. Take Fredrik Reinfeldt, prime minister of my native Sweden between 2006 and 2014. He started off well, reforming welfare and cutting taxes. But then it all went

To a young Corbynista

Dear John, I really hope you won’t be offended by this letter from your uncle. I have nothing but respect for you and I would hate to damage the friendly relationship we have had since I first met you when you were six years old. I understand from your aunt that you voted Labour in the latest election and that you are a ‘Corbynista’. In fact even your aunt herself — a lifelong Tory as far as I know — has been saying how nice Jeremy Corbyn is and how much better he handled the Grenfell Tower tragedy than Theresa May did. Of course, you can vote for whoever you

Corbyn’s youth vote

Whether the youth vote had any serious impact on the result of the general election or not, Jeremy Corbyn knew how to exploit it in a way both Plato and Aristotle would have understood. In his Republic, Plato argued that democracy resulted in rulers behaving like subjects and subjects like rulers, with teachers pandering to the young, and the young in turn despising them. As a result, youths make ‘every conversation or action into a trial of strength with their elders’, while their elders ‘patronise them, exuding bonhomie and a sense of fun, and imitate them, because they do not want to appear disagreeable or despotic’: Corbyn rapping with assorted

Portrait of the week | 15 June 2017

Home Theresa May, the Prime Minister, spent the week confronting the consequences of the general election that she had called to bring ‘stability and certainty for the future’. It had instead surprisingly left the Conservatives with no overall majority. They won 318 seats (a loss of 13) and Labour 262 (a gain of 30). The Scottish National Party won 35 (a loss of 21), with the Conservatives gaining 12 extra seats in Scotland, even capturing Stirling. Labour won an extra five seats in Scotland. Angus Robertson, the SNP leader at Westminster, lost his seat, as did Alex Salmond. Nick Clegg, the former Lib-Dem leader, lost his seat, but Sir Vince Cable won

James Delingpole

I don’t blame millennials for voting for Corbyn

On the morning after the election I was drinking coffee with one of my heroes, Sir Roger Scruton. We talked about the moment during the 1968 Paris évenéments when Scruton, who had been fairly apolitical up to that point, suddenly discovered he was a conservative. He had watched the educated children of privilege wantonly destroying the property of their social inferiors in the name of something or other, and realised: ‘Whatever they are for, I am against.’ That was the reason he has spent so much of his life since trying to develop a philosophy of conservatism as thorough, persuasive and enticing as the variations on Marxism so compelling to

Freddy Gray

Corbyn copy

Since the election, Jeremy Corbyn has been parading himself as prime-minister-in-waiting. ‘Cancellation of President Trump’s State Visit is welcome,’ he tweeted this week, ‘especially after his attack on London’s Mayor and withdrawal from #ParisClimateDeal.’ The message was clear: unlike ‘Theresa the appeaser’, Jeremy is willing and able to tell that climate change-denying Islamophobe across the water to get stuffed. Jez we can, Jez we can. There may be another reason why Corbyn is glad to think that Trump might not come to these shores, and that’s because the more the British see of the dreaded Donald, the more they might recognise how much he and the Labour leader have in

Martin Vander Weyer

Let’s have a dose of business sense in Downing Street before it’s too late

Take no notice of the resilience of the FTSE100 index, which, having reached record pre-election highs, shed barely 100 points at its opening last Friday and recovered most of them by Monday. Dominated by multinational companies, it is being sustained by global market sentiment and the relative weakness of the pound, which makes our blue chips look good value; it is not offering a signal that investors think all is well. But do take notice of the Institute of Directors, speaking largely for mid-sized businesses, when it says that confidence among its members has crashed since polling day: from 34 per cent optimistic vs 37 per cent gloomy last month,

Isabel Hardman

Labour’s happy surprise

‘Science,’ wrote Jules Verne, ‘is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth.’ Perhaps this is why politics, which claims to be a science, is so littered with tremendous errors at the moment. It wasn’t just the pollsters and the pundits in Westminster who called this election wrong. People embedded in constituencies couldn’t even correctly predict their own results. These days, politics seems a lot more like alchemy than a real science. On the night before polling day, a group of Labour MPs compared notes about how things were looking in their patches. It was