Germany has rejected Merkel’s military legacy

‘We are witnessing a turning point… the world is not the same anymore,’ said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday in a speech that will be remembered as the country’s biggest military shift since 1945. Staring down the barrel of Putin’s gun, Scholz announced a massive and immediate cash injection for Germany’s armed forces as well as a long-term commitment to higher defence spending. Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine has pulled Germany out of decades of complacency and misguided pacifism. Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock seemed genuinely shocked at the discrepancy between Putin’s words during her visit to Moscow last month and his actions in Ukraine. She has said she feels betrayed:

How the gender debate is dividing Germany

Pronoun politics can be something of a minefield. But if you think the gender debate is confusing, spare a thought for our German cousins. The quirks of the language make it hard to avoid causing offence, even for those determined to tread carefully. German, as with French and Spanish, has different noun endings for masculine and feminine words. For example, eine Ärztin specifically refers to a female doctor and ein Arzt to a male doctor. The masculine form is used most frequently and as a sort of gender catch-all. And it’s here that the issue arises. The language has, to be fair, adapted to cater for modern sensitivities. In modern

Merkelism is here to stay – and that’s bad news for German politics

When Angela Merkel leaves office after Bundestag elections next month, she will have forever changed the course of German history. Merkel has steered Germany through a recession, the Eurozone and migration crises and the Covid-19 pandemic. During the Trump presidency, Germany’s chancellor became an icon for liberals around the world. Yet her legacy in terms of Germany’s domestic politics leaves much to be desired. And her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has been left searching for meaning, with many voters now left wondering what the point of the Union is after Mutti. On the face of it, Merkel’s insistence on reaching for consensus in German politics appears to be something to celebrate. Under her

Claudia Winkleman’s new Radio 2 show gets off to a brainless start

Last Saturday on Radio 2 Claudia Winkleman was inaugurated as the host of what was formerly Graham Norton’s mid-morning spot. She announced her arrival by playing ‘Help!’ by the Beatles and offering a line-up comprised solely of fellow Saturday-night TV presenters. Here was Sir Tom Jones, calling in from ‘a terrace overlooking the Thames’ and repeating more or less the same interview he had delivered on Graham Norton’s TV show last month. Half an hour later came David Walliams, and to round things off Ant & Dec were prevailed upon to talk about their ‘jampacked’ ITV show later on that day. ‘How do you not unravel doing it?’ gushed Winkleman,