James Kirkup

James Kirkup

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

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

Are we heading towards a British Donald Trump?

The Tiverton and Wakefield by-elections are, of course, shatteringly bad for the Conservatives and Boris Johnson. They should finally destroy any illusions Conservatives hold about the PM’s electoral appeal. As I and several others have often pointed out, Boris is not a Heineken politician and hasn’t been one since the middle of the last decade.

The BBC gets new orders: back trans rights, ignore women

‘For the record, I knocked two out. One woman’s skull was fractured, the other not. And just so you know, I enjoyed it. See, I love smacking up Terfs in the cage.’ Can someone who says such things be considered a respectable commentator on women’s rights and interests? I suspect that most people who glory

Why Starmer shouldn’t relaunch

Yesterday’s Times carried a report that will only add to Sir Keir Starmer’s troubles. It quoted several members of the shadow ministerial team suggesting that Starmer is dull and unimpressive.That will only sharpen the perception, held by quite a few Westminster people, that the Labour leader isn’t doing as well as he should be, given

It’s not right-wing to be worried about trans-rights policies

I’ve been writing about sex and gender for a few years now, largely because it’s a subject that needs to be better understood. Far too much about this issue is shrouded in misinformation and dishonesty, not least because some of the people and groups interested in the issue have made considerable efforts to keep this

Meet the Tories quietly hoping to lose the next election

Would it be good for the Conservatives to lose power at the next election? Should smart young Tories with an eye on the future want to lose? Those are questions I’ve heard discussed in Conservative circles recently. And those questions arise from a Tory reading of politics that goes something like this: Boris is leading

Wandsworth shows politics is now all about education

Wandsworth, London I’m writing this in Labour-controlled Wandsworth, my leafy bit of south London. More precisely, I’m writing it sitting outside the sort of coffee shop where the drinks come in jam jars and everyone has a beard. I’d also bet that every one of the 30-odd people here – staff and customers – has

Mark Harper is an honourable politician

This is a short story about Mark Harper MP, who is making headlines. These days Harper is probably best known as a backbench critic of Covid restrictions, but he once had a promising career as a minister, including a spell in David Cameron’s cabinet between 2015 to 2016. But that career hit a bump in

A lesson for those calling Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe ‘ungrateful’

In the latest installment from the idiot age of Twitter, #ungratefulcow has been trending. The reason? Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe had expressed, mildly and politely, some unhappiness that it had taken Her Britannic Majesty’s Government six years to free her from Iranian captivity. Cue a handful of shallow trolls slagging her off, and a lot of other people slagging them off. I say

Care about the trans debate? Ask yourself this question

J.K. Rowling is talking about sex and gender again, which means a lot of people are getting angry. It’s striking how the prospect of a woman eloquently stating her opinions and refusing to stop stating them – even when she has been told to shut up – seems to make some people unhappy. Because Rowling

The problem with the UK’s transgender clinic

This is not a good time to be a girl. Research from Steer Education last month showed that far too many girls are sad and anxious and concealing their troubles from others. In 2019, the Lancet published research showing girls’ rates of self-harm had tripled since 2000. Other studies show girls are much more likely

The march of the middle-class apprentices

Tony Blair used to joke that he could announce the start of a war during a speech on skills policy and no one would notice. Like all the best jokes, it contained more than a grain of truth. Britain — or rather educated Britain — has never been interested in the parts of our education

Will Britain welcome Ukrainian refugees?

Immigration used to be the most-discussed issue in British politics. It gets less attention these days, for reasons too varied to go into here. But even though some voters have been focused on other things, there have been significant changes. Some have been good. Others bad. And the bad ones are about to collide with