James Kirkup

James Kirkup

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

Spare a thought for Liz Truss’s comms advisers

Spare a thought for Liz Truss’s communications advisers. They’re following the unwritten rules of crisis management to a tee, but it’s only making things worse. They find themselves in this quandary partly because the government’s situation is uniquely bad – and partly because the Prime Minister is so bad at communicating. Watching Truss’s interview with the

Liz Truss is still at the mercy of the Bank of England

Last week, I wrote here that 14 October was the key date in British politics, because the expiry of the Bank of England’s gilt-buying programme would force the Government to act to lower gilt yields. Be in no doubt: the sacking of Kwasi Kwarteng today is a consequence of the Bank’s refusal to go on

James Kirkup

In praise of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the secret centrist

These are hard times for centrists, though we should be used to that by now. My tribe – clever, technocratic, sometimes liberal and sometimes smug – has been losing arguments and elections consistently for several years, often deservingly. We may know all about how policy works, but we haven’t been great at politics. A common

Liz Truss’s fate rests with the Bank of England

James Carville, an ostentatiously aggressive adviser to Bill Clinton, once said that when he died, he wanted to be reincarnated ‘as the bond market – you can intimidate everybody’. Carville and Clinton had learned something that a lot of people in UK politics seem to be overlooking. The bond market, where government loans (gilts, in

Things could be about to get worse for Liz Truss

It’s a cliche to report an air of unreality at the Conservative conference here in Birmingham. All party conferences are divorced from political reality, cut off from the rest of the country by steel fences and self-absorption. But this little bubble of self-referential noise feels even further away from normality than usual. Safe behind the

Can Labour take advantage of Truss’s mini-Budget?

I used to write about bond markets, so I speak with some authority when I say this: bonds are boring. Really, most normal people find talk of gilts and yields extremely tedious. Likewise, terms like debt and deficit are off-puttingly technical and easy to mix up. Basically, the public finances are hard to get excited

Does Britain care more about pubs than schools?

Politics is about priorities: what do we consider to be important? I worry that Britain doesn’t attach enough importance to children and their education. As the first lockdown eased in the summer of 2020, I was unhappy that pubs reopened before schools. I thought that said something about our priorities as a nation An interview

The key difference between Liz Truss and Boris Johnson

‘It’s fair to give wealthiest more money back – Truss’. That’s the headline on a BBC News story following Liz Truss’ interview with Laura Kuenssberg today, where she was asked about the merits of cutting National Insurance. Don’t worry if you missed the headline though. You’ll get plenty more chances to see it when Labour MPs

Sunak and Truss are wrong about solar

Rishi Sunak has joined Liz Truss in grumbling about solar panels in fields. This is all rather dismaying, and revealing. It suggests that Conservative leadership contenders – and the party faithful they’re appealing to – lack faith in the transformative power of markets and free enterprise. Those solar panels that Sunak and Truss deplore are

The case for an October election

Neither Liz Truss nor Rishi Sunak would name Gordon Brown as an inspiration, but I wonder if whoever becomes PM next month might take a lesson from Brown’s premiership and call a snap general election. This might sound like a frankly mad idea. Inflation is soaring and dreadful energy bills are about to hit. The

Why the Tavistock clinic had to be shut down

There are many reasons why what is sometimes crudely called ‘the trans issue’ is important. One is the political failure that left the legitimate views of many women (and men) ignored by decision-making individuals and bodies, who instead prioritised the views of interest groups and campaigners. Another is the multiple failures of governance that have

The bravery of Allison Bailey

Allison Bailey is a criminal defence barrister at Garden Court chambers in London, a large and important group of lawyers with a reputation as a human rights ‘set’ supporting trans rights. In December 2018, she complained to her colleagues about Garden Court becoming a Stonewall ‘Diversity Champion’. She said that Stonewall advocated ‘trans extremism’ and was

The Conservative party has ceased to be serious

I’m not sure that the Conservative party wants to win elections. Tom Tugendhat was knocked out of the leadership contest on Monday, and Liz Truss is now the bookies’ favourite to be the next Prime Minister. Any party that thinks the latter beats the former cannot say it is serious. There are several reasons for

Is Labour changing its mind on trans issues?

Amid the noise of the Tory leadership fight, some significant comments in the papers could be missed today. Here’s the quote, from a Sunday Times interview with an intelligent, ambitious female politician in her forties: Biology is important. A woman is somebody with a biology that is different from a man’s biology. We’re seeing in sport

The case for Tom Tugendhat

When the editor of The Spectator asked me to write about Tom Tugendhat, I initially declined, explaining that doing so would put me in a slightly difficult position. Tom and I have been friends for 20-something years since we met as young journalists via the Scotsman and then Bloomberg’s City of London newsroom. So I can’t

Boris didn’t break the system

Britain’s Donald Trump. A constitutional vandal. A grave and potentially even systemic threat to the rule of law and representative democracy. Boris Johnson has been called all of those things in the last few years. Most of that criticism was cobblers, and we reached peak cobblers earlier this week when he hunkered down in No.

History won’t look kindly on Boris

‘Them’s the breaks’. Those three words speak volumes about Boris Johnson’s ability, his character and his fears. The words show Johnson retains the talents that made him a successful columnist. I know a lot of people don’t like this, but he was a good columnist, in the sense that he consistently said things that people

Pity the doctors fighting for their £1 million pensions

As inflation rips into living standards, everyone is feeling the pinch and many are looking for help. Some people are asking for more from the state. That really means help from their fellow taxpayers, because sooner or later, that’s where public money comes from. We all have our own views about which groups merit that

The night that David Cameron sealed Britain’s Brexit fate

Friday 29 June 2012 isn’t a famous date in British history, but it deserves at least a footnote. Because I reckon it’s the day the Brexit referendum became inevitable – largely thanks to David Cameron’s inability to stop talking. What follows is my argument, based on personal involvement, that Cameron set the referendum process in