James Kirkup

James Kirkup

James Kirkup is director of the Social Market Foundation and a former political editor of the Scotsman and the Daily Telegraph.

In defence of David Cameron’s comeback

David Cameron is back. This will make some people unhappy, because they dislike the man. Common reasons for disliking Dave include Brexit and austerity. But there’s also the Greensill lobbying and just the general, all-pervading shiny-faced smugness of a man who, one suspects, never really gave a toss about any of it and was just playing

Are we diluting the meaning of ‘mental health’?

What does ‘mental health’ mean? Is the answer to that question undergoing a generational change, as younger people become more aware of – and likely to talk about – their mental state and to discuss it in terms of ‘mental health’? And will that cultural change have economic effects? These are some of the questions

The truth about Rachel Reeves’ ‘plagiarism’

With all due respect to the diligent journalists who revealed it, I don’t think it’s a big deal that some bits of Rachel Reeves’ book about women in economics were copied from Wikipedia.  The book, The Women Who Made Modern Economics, was launched at an Institute for Government event in Westminster on Wednesday evening. An

How Brits turned soft on crime

It is almost exactly 30 years since a young Labour politician told his party’s annual conference in Brighton that as home secretary, he would be ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’. That line helped make Tony Blair a star, since it allowed a left-wing party to grab an issue where its

Rowing back on his climate plan, Starmer is in it to win it

Over almost 30 years in and around Westminster, I’ve noted some persistent and essential differences in the culture and mindset of our two big political parties. Tories generally want to win elections, and are prepared to subordinate pretty much all else to that objective. How else to explain their regular mutation into a new form of

What’s wrong with lots of immigration?

18 min listen

This week’s net migration figures were lower than expected, but still far higher than the ‘tens of thousands’ first promised by David Cameron. What’s gone so wrong, and what’s the downside of using immigration to boost economic growth? Fraser Nelson speaks to Damian Green, the Conservative MP and former immigration minister, and James Kirkup, a Spectator regular

The trouble with Britain’s net migration figure

Where to start with the net migration figures? As someone who has generally defended liberal immigration policies, I could just shout, yet again, about the economic benefits. That would no doubt annoy a few readers, get some angry clicks, and add precisely nothing to the conversation.   Or I could point out that this is what Britain voted

The Tories would be lost in opposition

It is widely observed that many Conservatives are preparing to lose power at the next general election.  The Conservative Democratic Organisation and National Conservatism meetings last week are generally regarded as preparation for the leadership battle that would likely follow Rishi Sunak’s departure from No. 10. Most (though not all) Tories appear to assume that

We need to talk about the Liberal Democrats

Since 2015, it has been common and rational for people in Westminster to ignore the Liberal Democrats. After the end of the coalition government, the Lib Dems suffered repeated electoral losses and misjudged or mishandled big political events: the fact that the most clearly anti-Brexit UK party has ended up with just 14 MPs today

Will the Tories become radicalised over the ECHR?

I’m writing this shortly after hosting Professor Tim Bale and David Gauke at the Social Market Foundation for a talk about Tim’s excellent book about the radicalisation of the Conservative party in recent years.   That discussion raised a very good question: is leaving the European Convention on Human Rights the next Brexit?  The immediate

What I got wrong about junior doctors

I recently wrote a column elsewhere about the junior doctors strike. As if often the way with this topic, it resulted in some strong and sometimes vituperative reactions.  It also led to many conversations with people in and around medicine.  Some of them thought I’d got things wrong. That’s a reasonable position to take, and

James Kirkup

What junior doctors really earn

16 min listen

Striking junior doctors are demanding a 35 per cent pay rise. Is that realistic? And are junior doctors really underpaid? Lucy Dunn is joined by economics editor Kate Andrews and Spectator contributor James Kirkup.

Women are being ignored again in the surrogacy debate

Just over five years ago, I wrote an article here about sex and gender and the issues raised by policies and practices allowing people to self-identify in the gender of their choice. Then, the topic was obscure and marginal to a great many people: my decision to write about it was regarded by many friends

At least Gavin Williamson tried to keep schools open during Covid

Governing means accepting and embracing trade-offs. Almost every public policy choice involves deciding how important one set of people are, or how to balance their interests with others. Covid mitigation measures were a case study in government-as-trade-off. Time and again, ministers had to weigh up public health, NHS capacity, economic and fiscal costs, human freedom

There’s still a hint of life in the Tory party

Westminster is a place of consensus, orthodoxy and prevailing wisdom. At any given moment, there is the Narrative, the story that everyone – or close to everyone – believes, or pretends to. The Narrative can ignore objective facts, but also change quickly when finally confronted with realities too big to overlook.  I reckon the last

How self-ID helped bring down Nicola Sturgeon

In the years when I wrote a lot about sex and gender and politics and law, I made the same observations many times. One, that politicians weren’t talking fully and openly about the implications of self-identified gender, and the policies and practices related to it. Second, that as a result, such policies would never be

Nicola Sturgeon and the vindication of the Terfs

Scottish prison service rules allowing male-born transgender offenders to be housed in women’s prisons have been suspended and are now under ‘urgent review’. The women who raised concerns about this issue for several years have thus been vindicated; their persistence and determination in raising those concerns should be noted and acclaimed.  The Scottish development follows