Jesse Norman

Daily life at the 18th-century Bank of England

The England cricket team was once greeted at an Ashes test by an Australian banner with the immortal words ‘WOTHAM IS A BANKER’, the simple genius of the line being that you knew Wotham was being insulted before you had worked out quite who Wotham was, or what exactly he was being accused of. But,

How the rebels plan to finish off Boris

45 min listen

In this week’s episode: Is the Prime Minister a dead man walking? Spectator Political Editor James Forsyth and MP Jesse Norman who expressed no confidence in Monday’s vote discuss the future of Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party. (00:45) Also this week:Why is there so much virtue signalling in modern advertising? Spectator Columnist Lionel Shriver and

Why I can no longer support Boris Johnson

Dear Boris, As you know, I have supported you throughout your career in politics: for Mayor of London in 2008 and 2012, and for Leader in 2016 and 2019. As Prime Minister, you have been dealt a very difficult hand with Covid and Ukraine, and you deserve great credit for much of the way in

The Enlightenment was a many-splendoured thing

History used to be so much easier. There were the Wars of the Roses, then the Reformation, the Civil War, the Enlightenment and finally the Victorians. Each one had its own century and its distinctive tag. Throw in Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, garnish with a few zealots and adventurers, some glorious triumphs and some

My clash with Cameron

MPs have a standard approach to political biographies, which falls into three phases: first, preliminary gossip about what will or won’t (always a lot more interesting) be in it; second, mildly salacious enjoyment of the usually tepid leaks and excerpts in the press beforehand; and third, once the book comes out, the inevitable furtive rummaging

Wrong but revered

Who was Walter Bagehot? For generations of politics students he has been the all-but-unpronounceable — Bayge-hot? Baggott? — author of the magisterial The English Constitution (1867). Since the 2008 crash he has enjoyed a vogue among central bankers for Lombard Street (1873), his brilliant anatomisation of the City of London. He remains the most revered,

Politics trumps trade

‘What the hell is going on?’ That anxious wail of economic incomprehension has been heard ever since President Trump decided last January to impose tens of billions of dollars of tariffs on China and other countries, including Canada, Mexico and the member states of the EU. The wail went up another octave last week as

A law unto himself

John Law was by any standards a quite remarkable man. At the apogee of his power in 1720, he was the richest private citizen in Europe and controller-general of finance in France, responsible not merely for the country’s income and expenditure but for its commerce, navigation, agriculture and industry. He created and presided over one

Polemicist of genius

‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ Ronald Reagan made this most unconservative of lines a leitmotif of his 1980 presidential campaign, knowing its radicalism would highlight his energy, personal optimism and desire for change. As it duly did. The astonishing power over words of its author, Thomas Paine, persists

Where did the Right and the Left come from? 

What is the origin of left and right in politics? The traditional answer is that these ideas derive from the French National Assembly after 1789, in which supporters of the King sat on one side and those of the revolution on the other. Yuval Levin in The Great Debate, however, argues not for seating but

Diary – 7 July 2012

House of Lords reform is like a dose of the clap: it may feel good at the time, but the result is an unending pain in the proverbials. I can’t, er, speak from personal experience, but even the briefest glance at the government’s plans to elect the Lords makes the point. The new bill comes

Borneo Notebook

••• After a week in the jungle, it is perfectly clear to me that in any contest for creepy-crawly capital of the world, Borneo would be right up there with no questions asked. They tell you about the mosquitoes. What they don’t tell you about are the leeches, which are everywhere. The ordinary brown kind