Ed Howker

… in the battle for London

Charlatan, fornicator, liar, inebriate, pugilist, Marxist, anti-Semite; Ken Livingstone has been called many things but never a writer. Actually, that’s a shame because his words following the 2005 London bombings were brilliantly defiant; perhaps the most powerful speech by a British politician in the last decade. He can be witty — the former leader of

The Winter Fuel Allowance is indefensible

Freed from the shackles of elected office, Steve Norris remains an electrifying speaker. He is also refreshingly honest. So, when I met the 66-year-old former mayoral candidate at a Tory conference fringe on the future of London, he was only too happy to admit how spent his Winter Fuel Allowance: “I’m amazed by the Chancellor’s

Boris’s last chance to show imagination

Back in 2008, one Mayoral candidate explained that it would require imagination to solve London’s housing problems. The candidate developed a manifesto that suggested a new form of “democratic” home ownership, which which would “help build stronger communities”, and which would allow houses to “remain affordable for future generations”. He said he would “create a

Alan Greenspan doesn’t exist

Five years have passed since Alan Greenspan stepped down from the most influential banking job in the world. (Now that’s how to leave at the right time.) Described in books, interviews and profiles too numerous to mention as ‘the most powerful regulator/person on earth’, he served as Chairman of the Federal Reserve for 19 years.

Exclusive: Yes to AV leaflets printed on ballot machines

Chris Huhne’s decision to threaten the Prime Minister with legal action — as I mentioned earlier — is particularly curious because he must be well-aware of the conflicts of interest at work in the Yes campaign. After all, his partner, Carina Trimingham is a director of Yes! and the Electoral Reform Society. She has been

A question for Chris Huhne

You know a political campaign has gone terribly wrong when a Cabinet Minister threatens defamation proceedings against the Prime Minister. And that is precisely what happened this weekend, when Energy Secretary Chris Huhne began snarling in the Sunday papers. Stating that the Tory claim that the AV electoral system would cost more was “demonstrably untrue,”

Different class | 26 March 2011

 I’ve always found Britain’s education system ­bewildering. Our public schools are private; our church schools take the children of committed ­atheists; and ‘distance learning’ happens at home. My old school, Bradford Grammar School (BGS), is not a ‘grammar school’ in the way most ­people would imagine. It is a member of the Headmasters’ Conference and it charges fees. That a

EXCLUSIVE: The Yes2AV campaign’s dysfunctional strategy

A few weeks ago, I revealed the curious conflict of interest faced by the organisation funding the case for electoral reform. Now, it seems that ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ (YTFV) has adopted a very peculiar new tactic: let’s call it the ‘erectile dysfunction strategy’ – certainly, it’s one worthy of the most unscrupulous online pharmacists.

Getting the balance right

Branko Milanovic is the lead economist at the World Bank’s research department, a professor at the University of Maryland and a grand fromage at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace too. Branko Milanovic is the lead economist at the World Bank’s research department, a professor at the University of Maryland and a grand fromage at

The alternative story

What the Electoral Reform Society doesn’t want you to know In ten weeks’ time, Britons will be asked to vote on arguably the dullest question ever put to a referendum: whether to adopt the Alternative Voting system in our general elections. Under AV, instead of picking one MP, voters would list their first, second and

EXCLUSIVE: What the Yes to AV campaign doesn’t want you to know

For this week’s magazine (subscribers click here or follow this link to subscribe from £1/week), I have been on the trail of the ‘Yes To Fairer Votes’ (YTFV) campaign, attempting to discover the real source of their funding. What I found reveals a catalogue of undeclared donations, hidden money trails and one massive conflict of

What’s the big idea?

If you’re not quite sure what the Prime Minister means when he talks about the big society, you’re not alone. If you’re not quite sure what the Prime Minister means when he talks about the big society, you’re not alone. Before the election, a poll found that most people hadn’t heard of it and only

Revealed: The Olympic cash-in

It’s costing more than the government cuts in welfare, more even than the UK’s Irish bail-out, but what exactly is all that money set aside for the 2012 Olympic Games actually being spent on? You might be surprised. In this week’s Spectator, Andrew Gilligan and I disclose, for the first time, all the petty, legally-binding

Exclusive: the fee hike won’t create a market

The fee vote really comes down to two questions. First, will the fee hike proposed by the coalition government actually create an internal market in higher education? Second, what will be the effect on the public finances? There is good reason to be doubtful.   First, the market: the idea, I suppose, is that world-class universities might

Phil Woolas, four investigations and a funeral wreath

It may take another week to discover if Phil Woolas has the right to challenge the election court ruling that destroyed his career. To the delight of his cadre of supporters in the House, judges have said there are “difficult questions to resolve” – not about the evidence of Woolas’ campaign making “false statements”, but

Cameron’s clearances

James Cummings could never refuse a drink. Even after his boss — a Watford publican — threatened him with the sack he couldn’t lay off the bottle. He’d worked his way through the profits of a family business, two houses and a marriage by then. He eventually awoke in a tunnel under the Elephant and

Spectator Exclusive: Britain’s welfare ghettos

Today we are releasing a brand new picture of the nation’s welfare ghettos. Our research gives a disheartening insight into the extent of dependency in England and Wales. The top line: things are getting worse. This is much more detailed and useful information that the statistics often bandied about by politicians. It is well known,