Jesse norman

Is government preparing to shake the magic money tree again?

Will my bath water still be hot by Christmas? That’s not a question I’d normally feel a need to share with you, but shortly after this morning’s ablutions I read that Bulb Energy — the UK’s sixth-biggest energy supplier with 1.7 million customers, including me — ‘is seeking a bailout to stay afloat amid surging wholesale gas prices’. The spike in the global gas-price graph is extraordinary, up 250 per cent since the start of 2021 and steeper in August. It has many causes beyond our shores, including depletion of stocks last winter, restricted supplies from Russia, hurricane-hit US refineries and increased Asian demand post-Covid. But as this column has

Theresa May’s new ministry of posh

Apart from Boris, where have all the posh boys (and girls) gone in Theresa May’s government? The answer, curiously, is the new department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Secretary of state Greg Clark is impeccably classless, being the product of a Roman Catholic secondary school in Middlesbrough where his father and grandfather were milkmen. But his ministerial team consists of three Old Etonians — Nick Hurd, Jo Johnson and Jesse Norman — plus Margot James (Millfield) and convent girl Baroness Neville-Rolfe. Reassuringly, however, all five have business experience — and more so than Clark himself, who has quietly climbed the greasy pole as an all-purpose policy wonk. Ex-civil-servant Lucy

Revealed: Osborne’s Budget giveaways for Tory marginals

Back in March, the Plymouth Herald was delighted by ‘a Budget with plenty for Plymouth’. As Mark Gettleson noted on Coffee House at the time, Plymouth is a ‘hyper-marginal city’: both its seats are currently held by Tories with small majorities, Oliver Colvile and Johnny Mercer. So the Chancellor’s generosity may not have come out of the blue. Now we have had an Autumn Statement with a bit more for Plymouth – half a million pounds for the 2020 Mayflower anniversary. Some might think it an exaggeration to describe this as pork barrel spending. But it was interesting to see how else Osborne spent the money. Even amid the ‘difficult decisions’,

Our drugs cheat

Do you want to see Paula Radcliffe’s blood? If so, you’re not alone. Radcliffe, three-time winner of the London Marathon has been outed as a drugs cheat by the Tory MP Jesse Norman. No proof, but proof is for wimps. Radcliffe’s name will now always have a certain stink. Norman used parliamentary privilege to talk about ‘the winners or medallists at the London Marathon, potentially British athletes… under suspicion for very high levels of blood doping.’ That was enough to tar Radcliffe as a possible druggie. It’s like accusing a public figure of paedophilia: the softest whisper will do for them. Pressure has been brought on Radcliffe to go public

Alan Yentob admits he inspired W1A bicycle plotline

With the BBC’s self satire W1A proving to be one of the corporation’s most popular shows, much has been made of whether the comedy is too close for comfort given that they are up for charter renewal next year. Indeed Alan Yentob was mocked in March after he was photographed with a bike which bore a striking resemblance to the one owned by Ian Fletcher – Hugh Bonneville’s fictional BBC ‘Head of Values’ character. Then, in the most recent episode, Fletcher sported a newer model of fold-up bike, which bore an even closer likeness to Yentob’s own £1,000 Brompton bike. When Mr S caught up with Yentob at the annual GQ and Land Rover

Are Cabinet seats being kept warm for rising stars?

The reshuffle seems to have gone down reasonably well with Tory MPs – though there is as yet still no position for Nadhim Zahawi or Jesse Norman, which some think rather odd. The pair organised the Lords rebellion and are both able and bright. But Norman in particular may be in a bit of a Kevin Pietersen-style situation in that he has, in Number 10’s eyes, blown more than one chance. It wasn’t just his organisation of the Lords rebellion but his mysterious absence on the day of the Syria vote. It may be that the Tory leadership have decided that there is a ‘trust issue’ there. This will still

The reshuffle hasn’t mollified everyone

With Dominic Raab’s appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice, a pattern is starting to emerge in David Cameron’s reshuffle of reconciliations with old foes in a new parliament. Raab organised one of the most effective rebellions of the last Parliament on the Immigration Bill, which left the Tory whips in complete chaos. Now he has been brought into government. Cameron is also – belatedly – handing out jobs to members of the ‘Curry Club’: a group of Conservatives who are pretty savvy at sniffing out policies that won’t work on the doorstep (and who have rather proven this by increasing their majorities). Curry Club members include Tracey Crouch, who will

Dear Mary: Jesse Norman asks how to deal with defectors

From Jesse Norman MP Q. We’ve been having a little local difficulty at work with one or two colleagues who vigorously assert their loyalty to the organisation, but then go and join a would-be competitor. It’s not that this is bad for morale; on the contrary. But it confuses some of our customers. Your advice would be most welcome. A. Take the tip of a top industrialist who never tried to refuse a resignation: congratulate the deserter effusively on his decision and declare publicly that he and his new organisation will make an excellent fit and wish him well. Finish with the wise words of Sacha Guitry: ‘When a man

Dear Mary solves problems for Jim Broadbent, N.M. Gwynne, Jesse Norman and others

Once again Mary has invited some of her favourite figures in the public eye to submit personal queries for her attention. From Jesse Norman MP Q. We’ve been having a little local difficulty at work with one or two colleagues who vigorously assert their loyalty to the organisation, but then go and join a would-be competitor. It’s not that this is bad for morale; on the contrary. But it confuses some of our customers. Your advice would be most welcome. A. Take the tip of a top industrialist who never tried to refuse a resignation: congratulate the deserter effusively on his decision and declare publicly that he and his new

Must MPs always vote before we go to war?

Jesse Norman was permitted three minutes for his speech to the Commons in last Friday’s debate. But the contribution from the Conservative MP for Hereford & South Herefordshire was one of the more important backbench interventions — and no less important for being wide of the debate’s focus. The House was being invited to support British intervention against the Islamic State. Mr Norman’s speech was about whether the invitation was even appropriate. As he put it, ‘A convention has started to develop that, except in an emergency, major foreign policy interventions must be pre-approved by a vote in Parliament.’ The MP thought this unwise. I disagree. Or half-disagree. But ­Norman’s case

Revealed: the cross-party motion to stop Bercow in his tracks over clerk appointment

With just a few days before the House of Commons returns for the autumn term, the revolt against John Bercow’s plan to appoint Carol Mills as Clerk of the House is growing. Coffee House has seen a motion that a cross-party group of MPs plan to table to stop the Speaker in his tracks. The motion, which I understand has the support of more than 50 MPs from all three main parties, including PPSs, does not attempt to block the appointment, but simply calls for a pre-appointment hearing and report (which could lead to a recommendation that Mills not be appointed). It says: ‘That this House believes that the recommendation

Podcast special: Spectator writers, friends and foes make predictions for 2014

We’re almost at the end of 2013, so here’s our extended special of  The View from 22 podcast. We’re delighted to bring together the best of The Spectator’s family and friends to discuss their highlights of this year and predictions for 2014. This is what they had to say: Nigel Farage on what Ukip will do next year: ‘I haven’t entered this as part of a popularity contest. I’m in this to shake the whole thing up. Ukip now has the ability to realign British politics’ Rory Sutherland on the evolution of technology : ‘The next great advances will be in psychology. All the technology in the world is no use

A refreshing attempt to renew conservatism, boycotted by the Tory leadership

Apropos of the current issue’s excellent cover story (‘The End of the Party’) about the hollowed husks that are today’s party conferences, I spent Saturday at the 2nd Conservative Renewal conference in Windsor. It was an interesting day, not least because what was intended to be a genuinely open meeting, though dominated by Conservative party activists, was boycotted by the Conservative party’s own leadership. Organised by Adam Afriyie and the Windsor Conservative Association and sponsored by the Conservative Home website, the keynote speaker was the former President of the Czech Republic, Vacláv Klaus. Other speakers came from a broad range of the conservative grassroots movements including the TaxPayers’ Alliance, Migration Watch and


Ban the word ‘twerk’

Jesse Norman MP, who used to lead the Prime Minister’s policy forum, is using his spare time to write for ConservativeHome. About twerking. For those of you who have missed this craze, the Oxford English Dictionary, in a shameless PR stunt, added the term to their latest edition: ‘To dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.’ Turning to Jesse’s piece, apparently ‘the press have started to scrutinise’ Norman’s ‘public remarks with all the fervent enthusiasm of a group of Miley Cyrus fans at a twerking convention.’ How could we not? After all, Norman is the author of such deathless prose as this:

Exclusive: Jesse Norman to leave No.10 policy board after Syria vote

Jesse Norman is to leave the Number 10 policy board after abstaining in last week’s vote on Syria, I have learned. It was made clear to the Tory MP, who is known to have disagreed with the government’s position on Syria, that this was an inevitable consequence of avoiding a three-line whip vote. But I understand that the decision was made more in sorrow than in anger, and sources hope the path back for Norman will be a quick one. An announcement on his replacement will be made shortly. The policy board hasn’t, as I revealed in the politics column last week, gelled brilliantly yet, but colleagues found Norman impressive

Isabel Hardman

‘To sack Jesse Norman over a moral issue like whether to support war is outrageous’

Jesse Norman’s departure from the policy board hasn’t come as a huge surprise to many Tory MPs: I was with one after the vote who was subjecting his twitter feed to a lengthy examination to work out whether Norman was stranded overseas. The only evidence available was that Norman went to a beer festival on 26 August and found out about the recall from the BBC and Easyjet. ‘I love beer festivals, but I also know when to turn up,’ grumbled the MP. It would have been a terrible message to send to other backbenchers if Norman hadn’t been moved from his job. This is a sign of Number 10

Letters: My cuts are real, says Francis Maude

We’ve only just begun Sir: In Ross Clark’s article ‘Cuts, what cuts?’ (22 June), he suggested that I was boasting about saving the taxpayer £5.5 billion. It’s true: I’m proud of my department’s Efficiency and Reform Group and the work of civil servants across Whitehall who have sliced out wasteful spending. But the figures he used were 12 months out of date. Last year we saved the public purse £10 billion — 80 per cent up on the figure he quoted. That increase — which doesn’t include the savings from tackling fraud, error and uncollected debt — rather put pay to the Audit Office’s concern that our earlier savings might not have been

Jesse Norman interview: Edmund Burke, our chief of men

When he arrived in London, Burke had a very brief career in law. He soon dedicated his time to critical thinking, writing and politics. Burke published a number of ground breaking books, including: A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, and Reflections on the Revolution in France. In his new book, Edmund Burke, Jesse Norman dissects Burke’s outstanding intellect, and his career. He then asks how these ideas might be applied to modern politics. Jesse Norman is Conservative MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire. In 2012 he was named as the Spectator’s Parliamentarian of the Year. He is a member of the Treasury

Edmund Burke – a writer one should always read

I thought readers might be interested in this piece in the current print edition of the magazine. It is my review of a very interesting new book on Edmund Burke, Edmund Burke: Philosopher, Politician, Prophet by the MP Jesse Norman. I much recommend it. Those who haven’t read Burke before will, I am sure, be spurred to do so. And those who have are certain to head back to him. As I mention in the piece, Burke is one of those writers who give you that wonderful feeling of, ‘why don’t I just read this all the time?’

No 10’s outreach programme mustn’t leave underused MPs scratching their heads

David Cameron is really trying to reach out to his party at the moment. The announcements of a policy board of MPs and a policy chief who is also an MP were intended to show that it’s not just the inner circle that calls the shots. Jo Johnson appears to have received a bigger promotion than initially announced: today’s Sun reports he’s not just leading on policy, he’s also taking over from Oliver Letwin in writing the manifesto. But appointing Chris Lockwood to the policy unit has added to the impression that the PM really trusts his friends and those who hail from the same social circle. He did, after