Jonathan Jones

Jonathan Jones: Earthly Delights

56 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club podcast is the art critic Jonathan Jones. The term ‘renaissance’ is out of fashion among scholars these days, but in his new book Earthly Delights: A History of the Renaissance Jonathan argues that it points to something momentous in human history. On the podcast, Jonathan makes the case for what

What you see is what you get | 25 April 2019

There’s no avoiding the Britishness of British art. It hits me every time I walk outside and see dappled trees against a silver-grey cloud that looks like it was painted by Thomas Gainsborough, or look in the mirror and feel the same gooseflesh anxiety as I do when I see a portrait by Lucian Freud.

No triple-dip: GDP up by 0.3%

The UK seems to have avoided a triple-dip recession. According to today’s estimate from the Office for National Statistics, the economy grew by 0.3 per cent in the first three months of 2013. But it is important to remember that this is just a first estimate, with a margin of error of ±0.7 points. So

Nate Silver on predicting the 2015 general election

I’ve interviewed one of the heroes of last year’s US elections — forecasting expect Nate Silver — for the books blog, but I thought CoffeeHousers might be interested in what he had to say about UK elections. Silver’s attempt to predict the 2010 election didn’t fare so well (his model significantly underestimated Labour and overestimated

Unemployment rises… or does it?

Today’s job statistics are, as usual, mixed — and even a touch confusing. Last month, the headline was that the unemployment had risen to 2.56 million. This month, we’re told that it’s risen again — to 2.52 million. How can both be right? Because the point of comparison is not the previous month, but the

Is nice but dim such a bad thing for Labour?

Labour’s lead in the polls has been pretty steady at around 10 points for a little over a year now. So why does today’s Guardian carry an article with the headline ‘Outright election victory in 2015 looks a distant prospect, pollster tells Labour’? It’s based on two YouGov polls — commissioned by Progress and actually

Deficit falls by 0.3%… maybe

George Osborne will be breathing a sigh of relief this morning. The boast he made in his Autumn Statement in December — ‘the deficit is coming down this year, and every year of this Parliament’ — appears to have held up. But only just. The figures from the ONS today show that the government borrowed

Should the Public Affairs Act 1975 be repealed?

9 per cent of Brits say the Public Affairs Act 1975 should be repealed, and 9 per cent say it shouldn’t, according to a new poll by YouGov. If you’re wondering ‘What on Earth is the Public Affairs Act 1975?’, that’s probably because it doesn’t exist. And yet 18 per cent were willing to offer

Has the jobs recovery stalled?

The number of people in work in December to February was 29.698 million — lower than last month’s 29.732 million and representing a very slight 2,000 quarter-on-quarter fall — according to today’s figures from the Office for National Statistics. Of course, 2,000 is just a 0.008 per cent drop, and since the margin of error

Margaret Thatcher in six graphs

With the debate swirling about Margaret Thatcher’s legacy and her government’s record, it’s worth taking a look at what the cold, hard economic data has to say about her time in office. Of course, growth rates and unemployment figures can’t tell us everything about a period, but they can at least provide a bit of

Two versions of Osborne’s benefits speech

The Times’ Sam Coates picked up on a couple of discrepancies between the text of George Osborne’s Morrisons speech sent out by CCHQ, and the one published by the Treasury. Here’s the CCHQ text: ‘In 2010 alone, payments to working age families cost £75 billion. That means about one in every seven pounds of tax

Poll: Boris could save 50 Tory MPs

YouGov have once again tested how a Boris-led Tory party would compare to a Cameron-led one in the polls. When they last did so in October, they found that Boris was worth a seven-point bump: with Cameron as leader, the Tories were nine points behind Labour; Boris narrowed the gap to just two. The results

Budget 2013: The public’s verdict

We’ve got the first post-Budget polling from YouGov, and it brings mixed news for George Osborne. Certainly, this Budget doesn’t seem (so far) to have dented the Chancellor’s reputation the way last year’s did — but nor has it yet enhanced it as his 2011 Budget seemed to. And on the question of which would

Voters: It’s not Plan A, it’s Osborne

A fascinating poll result from Ipsos MORI today. They ask, essentially, whether people agree with the government’s ‘Plan A’ or Labour’s ‘Plan B’. Specifically, they ask: ‘People have different ideas about the best way of dealing with Britain’s economic difficulties. Which of the following do you most agree with? A1: Britain has a debt problem,

Forget 50p — scrap the 60p tax rate

Imagine if a Chancellor stood up and announced that those earning up to £100,000 would pay a 40p tax rate, those earning £100,000 to £112,950 will pay a 60p rate, and those earning above £112,950 will pay the 40p rate, and then the top earners will pay a 50p rate. That’d be crazy, right? But

The truth about Ukip supporters

Who are all these folk jumping on Nigel Farage’s bandwagon? Ukip — which received just 3 per cent of the vote in 2010 — is now averaging about 11 per cent in the polls. Its rise has fuelled all sorts of speculation about where its supporters are coming from and why they’re turning to the

What Works: The government’s NICE new idea

This afternoon, Danny Alexander and Oliver Letwin launched something so sensible it’s astonishing governments haven’t been doing it before. They’re actually going to use evidence to determine which policies work. The idea is that a number of different centres in a new ‘What Works’ network will examine how effective policies really are, identifying which represent