Leo McKinstry

Leo McKinstry is a British journalist, author and historian.

It’s time to abolish Police and Crime Commissioners

When the idea of having Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) first arose it seemed so promising. These would be locally elected candidates, tough and charismatic and they’d be given the power needed to transform the country. Bureaucrats have taken control of British policing, said David Cameron at the time, and cops should be dealing with

How sport helped shape the British character

Faith in state planning was central to Harold Wilson’s pledge to modernise Britain. It was his rhetorical vision of a country guided by strategic foresight and ‘forged in the white heat of technology’ that helped him win the 1964 election. But Wilson also displayed the same attachment to planning in his personal life. Back in

The self-delusion of ‘Bomber’ Harris

The scene in the German port was like a vision of hell. As the incendiary bombs rained down on Hamburg that hot summer evening, the centre of the city was engulfed by a conflagration so intense that it seemed to herald the Apocalypse. Trees were uprooted, buildings demolished, trains ripped from their tracks, roadways turned to

Is it moral for ambulance workers to strike?

Confronted by the threat of an ambulance workers’ strike, the Health Secretary could not have been more forthright: ‘Those concerned must face up to the consequences of their actions. Lives are at stake. The ambulance men have put their case to me. It will not be strengthened by some of them adopting what will be seen

How Elizabeth ensured the monarchy survived

Perhaps the most powerful tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s success is that, at the time of her death, republicanism remains a fringe cause in Britain. Today we mourn the end of her unique reign, yet the immediate future of the Crown is secure because of the admiration she inspired. Without her steadfast, reassuring presence on the

The troubling rise of ‘apostrophe laws’

Two new measures, aimed at toughening the justice system, came into force last month. The first, known as Tony’s Law, enables the courts to impose a life sentence on anyone who causes or allows the death of a child or vulnerable adult in their care, while the maximum term for cruelty that leads to serious

A short history of political violence

The ugly attack on Iain Duncan Smith by five protestors at the Tory conference in Manchester has been widely seen as another illustration of how dangerously embittered British politics has become. We now live, it is often said, in a world of deepening friction, hate and intolerance. Angela Rayner’s now notorious rant about Tory ‘scum’

How corporations rebrand poverty

The other week, when I was shopping in Margate, I saw a number of posters from Boots urging support for its campaign against ‘hygiene poverty’. Barely aware of the term, I looked it up online and was soon presented by claims that much of Britain is gripped by a crisis of personal neglect because of

Judge Ollie Robinson on his cricket skills, not his tweets

Ollie Robinson, who made his Test debut for England at Lord’s last week against New Zealand, is an outstanding cricketer with both bat and ball. But that ability apparently counts for little. His performance was overshadowed by the discovery of some incendiary, tasteless tweets he had sent almost a decade ago as a teenage professional.

Is awarding medals to Bomber Command heroes a wise idea?

Will the heroic members of Bomber Command, who played such a vital role for Britain during the Second World War, finally get the recognition they deserve? In recent years, there has been growing pressure on Whitehall to strike a campaign medal for the RAF crews who fought during the conflict, thereby giving them the special

Leo McKinstry, Emily Hill and Daisy Dunn

19 min listen

On this week’s episode, Leo McKinstry starts by arguing that having to sell the family home to pay for social care is not an injustice. (00:50) Then, Emily Hill reads her piece. She’s not looking forward to the return of hugging. (08:00) Daisy Dunn finishes the podcast by examining the underappreciated art of asparagus. (12:30)

The great pretender: Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bluff

31 min listen

In this week’s podcast, we talk to The Spectator‘s editor Fraser Nelson and associate editor Douglas Murray about the challenges facing a freshly re-elected SNP. What next for Nicola Sturgeon – full steam ahead for IndyRef2? Or have neither Scotland or Number 10 the bottle for an all-out battle for independence? [01:02] ‘When you look

Selling the family home to pay for care is not an injustice

The sound of the well-off grumbling about their finances is always an unattractive one. But there is one gripe that has become particularly powerful, filling the airwaves and shaping public policy. This is the persistent, ever louder complaint from many households that they are required to sell the family home to pay the costs of

Holy Relic: What will be left of the Church after the pandemic?

34 min listen

Are parish churches about to be devastated by bureaucracy and mismanagement? (00:55) What’s the story behind the UK’s vaccination efforts? (07:55) Has an intransigent union stopped firefighters from helping the Covid response? (21:55) With church volunteer Emma Thompson; Rector of Great St Barts Marcus Walker; The Spectator‘s deputy political editor Katy Balls; senior project manager

In defence of Neville Chamberlain

Among the unorthodox enthusiasms of Lloyd George was an interest in phrenology, the pseudo-science that holds that an individual’s character can be revealed by the shape and size of the cranium. Of his first sighting of the rising politician Neville Chamberlain during the Great War, Lloyd George later wrote, ‘When I saw that pinhead, I

Don’t create more rules, Priti – just enforce them

Setting out his nine principles of policing that underpinned the creation of the Metropolitan force in 1829, the home secretary Sir Robert Peel wrote that ‘the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them’. But those wise words are lost on

The caution that almost cost us the Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain, which began 80 years ago this week, occupies a unique place in our island story. Its epic moral quality, representing the triumph of freedom over tyranny, continues to resonate to this day. The RAF’s victory marked a crucial turning point in the war; it was the first time the Nazi machine

Is Attlee really more worthy than Churchill?

As the toxic furore over statues continues, a number of left-wingers yearn to see the monument to Winston Churchill in Parliament Square replaced by one to Clement Attlee. In their eyes, the austere, long-serving Labour leader is far worthier of veneration than the cigar-chomping imperialist. To them, Attlee is the man who not only helped