Jonathan sumption

The best children’s books: a Spectator Christmas survey

J.K. Rowling Poignant, funny and genuinely scary, The Hundred and One Dalmatians was one of my favourite books as a child and the story has lingered in my imagination ever since. Blue iced cakes always put me in mind of Cruella de Vil’s experimental food colourings, and whenever our dogs whine to get out at dusk I imagine them joining the canine news network, the twilight barking. There’s simply no resisting a book containing the lines ‘There are some people who always find beauty makes them feel sadder, which is a very mysterious thing’, and ‘Mr Dearly was a highly skilled dog-puncher’. Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall There are countless children’s

Lord Sumption was right to quit the Supreme Court

There used to be a saying: ‘never discuss religion or politics’. That was just a societal rule, a prudent tip for an enjoyable evening. But that principle is also in our constitution. This is a fact recognised by the Supreme Court — and particularly by Lord Sumption — earlier this year. Sharing your political opinions is, for some people, a breach of constitutional obligations. The UK is odd, some think, in having the constitution that we do. Far younger states with bright and shiny constitutions, written in single documents, seem to look down on our frumpy older version. But if we are playing constitutional top trumps, the UK scores near

The corona curtain-twitchers are watching

Welcome, then, to a country in which the police send drones to humiliate people taking a walk and dried pasta has replaced the pound as the national currency. ‘Gimme that pappardelle, mofo.’ ‘Not until you prise it from my cold dead hands, punk.’ A week is a long time in politics, but also a long time in pestilence. And the next time someone uses the phrase ‘the new normal’, I may well break my social distancing regimen and chin him. The lockdown has come as a great boon to the police, who seem to be enjoying it immensely, and indeed to Britain’s vibrant community of curtain-twitching, onanistic, meddlesome ratbags. Police