Online comments

From now on, I’ll greet Brexiteers with a grin

I’m cheering up about Brexit. The moaning has to stop. Why be downhearted and edgy when you’re confident of your argument? Leavers: you’re all wrong. I’m not totally sure — one never can be — and certainly I could be mistaken: and one day we’ll know. Meanwhile I place my confidence in the judgment of those in British politics I most admire, people like Michael Heseltine, Chris Patten, John Major, Ruth Davidson and Kenneth Clarke; and, sticking to my guns and with a merry two fingers up to the lot of you, I leave you Brexit types to the snarling din emanating from your Brexit cave. Chins up, Leaver trolls

Here’s what’s wrong with the ‘public sector ethos’

An infuriating benefit of readers’ online comments beneath the efforts of a columnist like me is that as you read the responses an understanding dawns of the column you ought to have written. Some readers are stupid, unpleasant or obsessive; but most are not. As you learn their reactions you see where your argument was not clear, where you were short of information, and where you were simply wrong. But more than that, you sometimes tumble for the first time to where the nub of a problem that perhaps you danced around may lie. Last Saturday I wrote for the Times about the self-righteousness of spokesmen for public services threatened

Wish list

Compilation schompilation. Having been in music for as long as I have you would think I had a good idea how record companies work. I’ve made two compilations before. But it’s a whole new big thing now in the music world. Ministry of Sound have offices of people whose full-time jobs are about clearing tracks and licencing them for compilations. These are usually for dance music albums, very expertly mixed by specialist DJs. Mine was to be a bit different, spanning 50 years of music. We’d agreed on a three CD release. Ministry said just give us a wish list of around 100 or 150 tracks, and we’ll check on

Dear Sirs and Madams

Those who write letters and send them by post are a dying breed. I was fortunate to have served as a newspaper columnist and received a great many. Often eloquent, sometimes humorous, their breadth and depth of experience was wonderful. With the exception of letters that were racist or completely mad, I tried to answer every one of them. If a reader took the trouble to write to me, it was the least I could do to send him or her a personal reply. There was the occasional correspondent from London, but most lived in the country or in provincial towns or cities. Most were Conservatives and many were lifelong

Reading the comments on my Ukip columns, I finally understand the Nazis

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Lord Pearson and Damian Green discuss Ukip and the Tories” startat=81] Listen [/audioplayer]Like many, I’ve always been a bit baffled by the story of the rise of Nazism. The Germans I’ve met have appeared to be human beings like any other: in no signal way a different breed from my own countrymen. Yet these are the great-grandchildren, grandchildren and children of a generation that was taken in by Adolf Hitler; or, worse, carried him forward; who supported (many of them) the Nazis; who knew or guessed what was happening to Jews, homosexuals and other minorities; who must either have turned a blind eye or positively encouraged what was

The SNP’s ‘cybernats’ are a modern political scourge – with the zeal of converts

The first ‘yes’ campaign volunteer knocked on my door towards the end of last year. She was a member of the Scottish Socialist Party. I glanced at her dog-eared tally sheet — in my old block of 40 flats, only three residents had said they would vote no. In this neglected pocket of Edinburgh there are men who roll up their tracksuit bottoms to show off their prison tags. It is made up of decaying towers and pebble-dashed tenements. The people here are going to vote for change. Who can blame them? Now that I have moved to a more genteel suburb outside of the city, a further three yes

You’ll mock me, but I have to ask: why don’t any of my friends have holiday homes?

This is to be one of those columns that makes the writer faintly wish there wasn’t an internet. It would be one thing merely in print — ephemeral, swiftly forgotten, to be stumbled across only by like-minded individuals en route from Charles Moore to Taki — but online I fear there may be sniggering. ‘What planet is he on?’ they will be asking on Twitter, but then, I suppose, they always are. The fact is, there’s been a question preying on my mind these last few weeks and I’m going to be bold, and ask it. You may snigger, you may mock and you may sneer, but that won’t make

It’s not hate that Caitlin Moran can’t stand. It’s being disagreed with

Hell, it’s been tough, but I think I’ve pulled through. I went out this morning to buy some cigarettes and there were plenty of people about, doing stuff — so the world has not changed beyond recognition these last couple of days. Everyone else seems to have made it. I hope you made it OK, too, without the need for counselling. Here we all are, huddled together, clutching at each other for warmth in the post-apocalyptic gloom. But we’re still standing. We managed to survive Caitlin Moran’s 24-hour boycott of Twitter. Moran is a journalist who decided to boycott Twitter because, incredible though it might seem, people keep saying nasty

Letters: David Gower defends bats

In defence of bats Sir: I am saddened by the ‘us versus them’ stance taken by Melissa Kite (‘Bats vs people’, 3 August) when referring to bats. I might be better known for wielding a different sort of bat, but I am a strong supporter of the winged variety. These amazing creatures have lived alongside people for centuries but bats are often misunderstood and even persecuted. So let’s set the record straight; bats are a natural British pesticide, eating midges and other pests. But the last century hasn’t been good for bats. We have carelessly destroyed much of their habitat and, although, as Ms Kite noted, they are protected by

Why is there such guff in the online comments below my articles?

What’s to be done about the online comments sections in daily newspapers? These (for those estimable Spectator readers who have yet to succumb to tablets, iPhones and computer screens) are the spaces that the online versions of newspapers and magazines provide beneath the articles they publish, for readers to offer (or ‘post’) thoughts of their own. Typically there is no limit to the number of responses that can be made, and a generous limit to the length of each response. Contributors may make multiple incursions onto the site, and answer or comment on each other’s posts. Quite often a kind of conversation gets going. Contributors’ email addresses are available to