Matthew Dancona

The end has come for Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown is finished. I said so on Newsnight last night and I say it again now with even more conviction. In James Purnell, he has lost a truly formidable Cabinet colleague, the best and the brightest of his generation, and one of the few senior Labour figures to grasp the full extent and novelty

A <em>Hamlet</em> to forget

Was I at a different production of Hamlet to that described so rapturously by the critics today? The Donmar’s West End season began with a sublime Ivanov, in which Kenneth Branagh, gave a never-to-be-forgotten performance. Branagh was meant to direct Jude Law in the fourth and final play in the quartet, but pulled out, leaving

Darling and Miliband won’t be moved

In every crisis of leadership, there are a few protagonists who matter much more than most: self-evidently, the Prime Minister’s spouse and core advisers, but also the holders of the great offices of state. The Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, has already announced her departure, triggering today’s spectacularly ill-timed mayhem. As James pointed out earlier, Peter

A true masterpiece

I am going to break from my holiday just to put on record that last night I saw one of the first true masterpieces of the century at the Cannes Film Festival. Lars Von Trier’s Antichrist is both unwatchably horrible and utterly compelling. I shan’t reveal too much of the plot except to say that

Cameron proves himself

The expenses scandal just keeps getting better and better for David Cameron. No, you read that right. The departure of Andrew Mackay is indeed a grievous loss to the Tory leader’s inner circle and – self-evidently – a grotesque embarrassment. But, by pre-empting press disclosure, it shows that Mr Cameron will not wait for the

Cameron delivers a non-electoral milestone

Leave aside the specifics: when David Cameron walks into Number Ten, his press conference this afternoon should be remembered as one of the non-electoral milestones on the road from Opposition to power. Compare and contrast the image of Gordon being interviewed on a train when the Telegraph story first broke last week – blaming the

Speaking for the electorate as a whole

In normal circumstances, Lord Tebbit’s intervention this morning – urging voters to punish the main parties for the expenses scandal at in the June 4 elections – would almost certainly be a disciplinary matter. But these are anything but normal circumstances, and David Cameron would be ill-advised to take action against the mighty Chingford Polecat.

A sorry state of affairs

Gordon’s “Sorry” looks and sounds like catch-up – for the good reason that this is precisely what it is. In my Sunday Telegraph column yesterday, I argued that the British polity had slipped backwards on the moral evolutionary path from a “guilt culture” (governed by moral conscience) to a “shame culture” (governed only by fear

The Labour leadership plot is brewing

Bits of plaster are already falling off the ceiling over tomorrow’s cover story in the magazine, in which (amongst other things) I reveal a plan to launch a leadership challenge to Gordon Brown if Labour’s performance in the local and European elections is as terrible as the party’s strategists fear. The idea, as I explain,

The plotters mean business. But the Gordonator will survive

In a disastrous week for the PM, Matthew d’Ancona reveals the plot to mount a leadership challenge after the June elections. But Brown is absolutely determined to cling to power; and Labour has shabby psychological reasons for keeping him where he is Here is the plan: if the local and European elections on 4 June


An introduction from Matthew d’Ancona, editor of The Spectator The Spectator is a proudly humanist journal. Since the days of Addison and Steele, co-founders of the magazine in its first incarnation in 1711, we have championed the civilising power of learning: not only as a route to employment, but as a path to pleasure. It

‘Yes there is a problem. Yes we are correcting it’

In an exclusive interview, Sir Michael Lyons, the BBC chairman, talks to Matthew d’Ancona about the licence fee, the Ross-Brand affair — and hints at flexibility over funding If there is a stereotype of the BBC chairman, Sir Michael Lyons does not match it. Marmaduke Hussey, for instance, was the archetypal establishment patrician, while Gavyn

A fractured covenant

The 50p tax bombshell is not only a reversion to the worst politics of envy – a form of politics one hoped, naively as it turned out, had been consigned to the dustbin of history. It is also the worst manifestation yet of a very modern aspect of Brownite Labour. As I wrote in the

Politicians against aspiration

James is right about the 50p tax increase being a diversionary tactic: its fiscal value is marginal, given the colossal debt figures that even the Government concedes are on their way. So what is the political content of this tax hike? After the Budget speech, Yvette Cooper told the BBC that the tax system had

The politics of a 50p top rate

This was an astonishing Budget for all sorts of reasons – mostly connected to the proposed levels of debt. But I was most struck by the political symmetry of Darling’s decision to raise the top rate of tax to 50 per cent for those earning more than £150,000 pa. In his 1998 book The Unfinished

Darling needs to blow economic dog-whistle

Whatever the economic equivalent of a “dog-whistle” is, Alistair Darling needs to blow on it loud and clear today. The briefings and counter-briefings from Numbers Ten and Eleven in recent weeks have made clear the rift between a Chancellor who wants at least to acknowledge fiscal reality, and a Prime Minister who wants to keep

Gove’s prophecy

Hat tip for political prophecy to Michael Gove who, in October 2007, provided the best analysis of what makes Gordon tick yet delivered by a senior Tory, and one which is even more impressive in the light of the McBride Affair  In a speech to the Bow Group, Gove dissected the (then newish) PM’s flaws

Byers offers some sensible advice

The piece by Steve Byers on the McBride affair in today’s Evening Standard is essential reading. First, Byers allows himself to gloat publicly upon the fall of “Mad Dog” – “I made little effort to suppress a smile when I heard about his enforced departure from Downing Street”. This is a huge part of the

The line-up remains the same

Yesterday, as the McBride resignation story raged, a distinguished former Labour minister asked me a rhetorical question: why is it always the same faces coming back? Derek Draper, Damian McBride, Peter Mandelson, Alastair Campbell, Charlie Whelan: all have supposedly resigned, disappeared from the front line, retired to explore new careers – and yet, here we

The McPoison remains

Damian McBride’s departure will be spun by his successors as the honourable conduct of a man whose loose talk (or, in this case, emails) became known to the wrong people, compelling his resignation. As McBride – or “McPoison” as Peter Mandelson used to call him – heads off into the night, the Government’s official line