Benedict Spence

Euros 2021: can Scotland beat England?

If you’d like some idea of how Scotland’s long-awaited return to an international football tournament is going, consider this: it took less than an hour of play before the image of goalkeeper David Marshall leaping, despairingly, into his own net in a doomed effort to stop the Czech Republic’s Patrik Schick scoring a goal from

The secret to beating Croatia

First things first: don’t get your hopes up. England don’t have a bad team. In fact, this year they’re pretty good; not quite the ‘golden generation’ of 2006, but good enough to win the tournament. That very fact ought to sound a note of caution: we’ve been down this weary road before. After the year

The New York Times’ cowardly decision to ditch cartoons

The New York Times has said it will stop publishing political cartoons, six weeks after an image of a blind, kippah-wearing Donald Trump being led by a dog with the head of Bibi Netanyahu appeared in the paper. The cartoon was rightly condemned and an apology swiftly issued. But scrapping cartoons for good – and parting ways

What should go in the Brexit museum?

Have you ever wondered what happened to Boris Johnson’s Brexit bus? One might think such a large, controversial item would be too conspicuous to vanish into the ether, but for the life of me, I have no idea where it is. Yes, I know, red buses aren’t exactly a novelty in the UK, being the

The art of the public apology

If your genetic code survived the Pleistocene epoch, and prospered sufficiently that you find yourself reading this, I feel I ought to warn you that you are in great danger. For though the woolly marmoset and sabre-toothed sloth may be extinct, a new apex predator has emerged: human beings, or more specifically, other human beings.

The sad decline of The Simpsons

In the latest episode of ‘Americans Do the Funniest Things,’ it has emerged that The Simpsons is to replace the white voice actor for the character of Dr. Julius Hibbert with a black actor.  Hibbert, for those who don’t know him, is a mainstay of the show — a family doctor recognised by his white

Carrie Symonds and the cult of rewilding

Carrie Symonds is to join the Aspinall Foundation as its new head of communications, in a move very much on-brand for the Prime Minister’s squeeze. Symonds has been credited with Boris Johnson’s metamorphosis from pro-liberty, free market Brexiteer to environmentalist — a strategy that she may have spotted as working rather well for disgraced former

The strange case of Colombia’s cocaine hippos

When I first heard the expression ‘cocaine hippo,’ my initial thoughts were that it must either be a reference to some sort of industrial scale drug mule operation, or that someone was being rude about Mitch McConnell.  In fact, the origins of the cocaine hippo aren’t far from the former, but are even more outlandish

Why ban goal celebrations?

Football is an emotional sport, as anyone who has ever had the misfortune of being in Glasgow on derby day will attest. When your team wins, or even just scores a goal, that emotion can be hard to contain. Players, on occasion, have been known to celebrate such occurrences; sometimes they even make physical contact

Diego Maradona, a god of football

Argentina has announced three days of national mourning after the death of Diego Maradona. Take a second and think about that. Who in Britain, beyond the Queen, might command such nationwide grief? Despite his untimely death, Maradona will never truly die. Gods never do.  Naples is able to marry the divine and the devil like

12 items to stockpile for a No-Deal Brexit

When you hear the word ‘stockpiling’, the first thought that pops into your head is probably the image of forest-dwelling folk in remote reaches of the US, usually bearded, always armed, with hunting vests, baseball caps, a few tonnes of canned food buried beneath their shack and enough kerosene to defrost Svalbard. Yet with the

Liverpool University shouldn’t cancel William Gladstone

After the fall of the statue of slaver Edward Colston in Bristol, it was only a matter of time before attention turned, once again, to England’s other great slave-trading city of Empire, and the figures behind it. William Gladstone is one of Liverpool’s most famous sons. One of the great Liberal politicians of the age,

7 alternative jobs for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Lords, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages: the moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are calling time on their membership of the royal family, deciding to live a financially independent existence, and flying off into the sunset for the snowy wilds

Five TV sitcoms that are ripe for banning

So we’ve come to it once again: busybodies fretting about what the kids are watching on TV. It’s one of those things that comes around at least once every decade, alongside video games, rap music, pornography and social media — a medium that needs to be strictly controlled, lest it infest the suggestible lesser minds

EU elections could be a golden opportunity for Brexiters

A Brexit delayed until Halloween will be regarded as a nightmare for many. It must seem to the people who voted to leave the EU that escaping the bloc is slipping further and further away. The extension confirms their fears that the government and Brussels are prepared to re-write the rules in order to avoid

How advertisers are capitalising on the culture wars

It’s still only January but already we’re on our third advert-related outrage of the year. To the Army’s ‘Snowflakes’ poster campaign and HSBC’s bold assertion that Britain is not an island, we can now add Gillette’s ‘the best a man can be’. We’ve come a long way since the greatest affront to British audiences was

How Italy’s populists stepped up their war with Macron

The war of words between the governments of Italy and France escalated last week, after Italy’s deputy Prime Ministers, Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Salvini, gave their support for the gilets jaunes movement against French President Emmanuel Macron. The two sides have repeatedly come to blows over all manner of issues, from immigration to economics,