David Blackburn

The quest for the perfect malt

It was poker night. Five yuppies crammed round a table in a room at the back of a south London semi. Tumblers and water were on the table. Conventions had developed. The host cooked the food (or so he said) and the four guests each brought a bottle of whisky. The guests rotated between four

Boris Johnson’s European crusade to save the Tory party

The Sunday Telegraph has news that Boris Johnson will give a speech next week in which he will throw his weight behind a report, published by Volterra, calling for Britain to renegotiate its membership of the EU. The Telegraph reports: ‘The capital’s gross domestic product (GDP), currently £350 bn — or just over a fifth of

Is NATO a busted flush?

Rory Stewart is no soft-touch. When he was elected chairman of the Defence Select Committee, it was thought that he would hold the government and NATO’s feet to the fire. And so it has come to pass. The committee has published an alarming report on NATO’s unpreparedness to meet a threat from Russia. It says,

An amateur’s guide to the glories of Gleneagles

Pity the folk at Gleneagles. They have the misfortune to host the Ryder Cup this year. Nothing, surely, can surpass the drama of the previous contest between the United States and Europe, held at Medinah Country Club near Chicago in 2012. The Yanks dominated for two days before Ian Poulter, an Englishman who plays golf

David Cameron hints at tax cuts for Middle England

The Telegraph’s Christopher Hope tweets the news that David Cameron is open to raising the threshold for the 40p rate: NEWS! PM: “I would love to raise the 40p tax threshold, I understand the problem, but would have to look at the books before doing it” — Christopher Hope (@christopherhope) July 30, 2014   The

Moeen Ali reminds us that sometimes sport is the only place for politics

Moeen Ali, the England cricketer, faces a possible reprimand after the International Cricket Council (ICC), the game’s governing body, censured him for wearing two wristbands, one saying ‘Save Gaza’, the other ‘Free Palestine’. International cricketers are, you see, prohibited from making political statements on the field. The English Cricket Board, which is not above making political

Labour confirms Tory strategy: Vote Nigel, Get Ed

Talk to most Tory strategists about Ukip and Ed Miliband and they say something along the lines of ‘Vote Farage, get Miliband’. They hope that this will deter people from voting Ukip or win back those Ukip supporters who are not irreconcilable to the Tories. The Telegraph has news that Labour’s private polling confirms the

George Osborne’s taxing dilemma

Some of what David Smith, author of the essential Economic Outlook column in the Sunday Times, says today will be salve to George Osborne: ‘…the government intended to spend £722bn in the 2013-14 fiscal year. In fact, it spent £714bn. Spending has been lower each year than set out in 2010. Current spending was originally

Ed Miliband stakes all on his ‘big choice’

Labour will launch its summer campaign later today. The centre-piece is Ed Miliband’s speech. He will present a ‘big choice’ to the British public, arguing that they cannot afford 5 more years of Conservative rule. Miliband’s argument is simple: the economy is broken, only we can fix it; the NHS is threatened, only we can

No EU agreement on ‘Tier 3’ sanctions against Russia

Sir Malcolm Rifkind was right: there was no agreement in Europe on serious against Russia. The FT’s Peter Spiegel tweets the news that many have been expecting: The #EU ambassadors meeting finally breaks. No decision on “phase three” sanctions, but meeting again tomorrow. And maybe Mon. And Tues. — Peter Spiegel (@SpiegelPeter) July 24, 2014   The

Labour’s sports betting levy will hit poor punters

Harriet Harman has set the hare running this morning by proposing a levy on sports betting. The shadow sports minister Clive Efford said: ‘We believe it is right that businesses that make money from sport should contribute to sport. We are consulting on whether we should introduce a levy on betting, including online betting, to

Europe split over sanctions against Putin’s Russia

The European Council has spoken! We must all come back on Thursday after it has considered its approach to fresh sanctions against Russia. The communiqué from today’s meeting of the Council is full of fine ambition: albeit ambition that was agreed on 18 July. We are promised an extended list of: ‘…entities and persons, including