James Kirkup

James Kirkup

James Kirkup is a partner at Apella Advisors and a senior fellow at the Social Market Foundation.

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

Being attacked by the BMA is good news for Keir Starmer

Here are two facts about British healthcare that not enough people know.  First, GPs don’t work for the NHS. They are private contractors who sell services to the NHS via GP partnerships which are profit-making businesses owned by GPs.  Second, the British Medical Association is not a medical body. It’s a trade union for doctors,

Why yesterday’s men will loom large in 2023

New year, old politicians.  Yesterday’s men will loom large in the politics of 2023.  British politics has a nostalgia problem, often to the benefit of our over-large population of former prime ministers. They may have disappointed in office, but the urge to rose-tint our memories means failure is no bar to a lucrative or influential

An invitation to the editor of Edinburgh’s student paper

You’re reading this because quite a long time ago now, I was a student at Edinburgh University. As well as doing a bit of academic work, I fell into journalism editing the university newspaper. It’s called the Student and it’s pretty old. Founded in 1887 – by people including Robert Louis Stevenson – it’s probably

Rishi Sunak will regret his Channel crossings crackdown

Rishi Sunak’s latest promises on asylum and immigration suggest the PM has learned very little from his Tory forebears. Ken Clarke used to compare eurosceptic right-wing Tories to crocodiles circling the prime ministerial boat. Most Tory leaders chose to feed the crocodiles buns to keep them happy. But what happens when you run out of buns? David

Cutting immigration means higher taxes

‘Only the higher-than-expected numbers of migrants coming to the UK under the post-Brexit migration regime adds materially to prospects for potential output growth over the coming five years relative to the assumptions that we made in March.’ That’s from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) assessment accompanying the Autumn Statement. It’s a pretty striking line:

What the Gavin Williamson saga says about British politics

I wonder if the fall of Gavin Williamson is the latest evidence that British political parties are becoming harder to govern. It seems quite possible that his resignation is part of a story that will see Rishi Sunak struggle to command Conservative MPs to accept difficult choices on tax and spending. Any upset could even

Raising inheritance tax is fair and right

Here’s a thought experiment about tax and fairness. Imagine two people, Janet and John. They’re both 30 years old. Janet did better at school and works harder than John, does longer hours and earns more. Her salary is £50,000. Her take-home pay is £37,776 – she pays £12,224 in income tax and national insurance each

‘Bring Back Boris’ means the Conservatives are unleadable

Boris Johnson was finally thrown out of Downing Street because of his handling of sexual misconduct allegations by a political ally. Dozens of ministers quit his government over his lack of integrity. He remains subject to an investigation that could see him suspended from parliament for dishonesty. Dozens of Conservative MPs believe he is the

The Huntonomics trap

I don’t know who will become the next prime minister, and I’m not going to make a guess here. But I do make this prediction: the next leader is going to face a major internal Tory fight over immigration. That prediction is based on the thing that drove Liz Truss from office: the urgent need