Matthew Dancona

The rise of the neo-confs

The G20 summit and its long build-up – Gordon’s world tour – clarified for me what has shifted in the geo-political landscape since the election of Obama. So dazzling is the President’s smile and so impressive his oratory that it is easy to lose sight of the content: or, more accurately, the form. But in

‘In a global era, we need our roots more than ever’

Gordon Brown tells Matthew d’Ancona why he is so preoccupied with national identity. In the modern world, he says, we must be explicit about what being a Briton means ‘The problems will arise if you cannot say to a young person that there’s going to be a job after the training. We’ve got to make

A son who inspired only goodness and love

Matthew d’Ancona reflects on the death of Ivan Cameron and the transformative impact this little boy had upon the man who will probably be our next Prime Minister When people ask me about David Cameron’s character, and what sort of man he is, I always cite a very clear memory I have of sitting in

Back in a Blur

Old rockers don’t die, they just go to Glastonbury. Or, in the case of our own Alex James, write a column for The Spectator. It is nine years since Blur played together and, though their forthcoming reunion tour has been public knowledge for a while, there is a special frisson in today’s disclosure that they

A landscape of risk and potential

The Daily Mail has today picked up a scare story initially given (rather more nuanced) prominence by the Guardian’s ever-more influential Jackie Ashley. Speaking in a debate about social networking sites, Baroness Greenfield, Oxford neuroscientist and director of the Royal Institution, argued that the new digital technologies may actually be changing the brains of a

How we got here

My first journalistic job was at the free speech and human rights magazine, Index on Censorship (which, many years later, I still warmly recommend to Coffee Housers who care about fundamental liberties). My months at its offices on Highbury Fields had a profound effect on me, and stirred in me a sense that something unexpected

Labour has lost the next election already 

Predict in haste, repent at leisure is a sound maxim for all pundits. I have also long thought that there has been a bipolar quality to much writing about Gordon Brown – exaggerated savagery when his fortunes are waning and equally daft euphoria when they pick up (June 2007, September 2008). So I did not

A worthy opponent for Obama

One of the favourite maxims of the Bill Clinton war-room was: “Speed kills.” If so, has there ever been a more politically lethal response to an incoming President than the book that just landed on my desk? Welcome to Obamaland: I have Seen Your Future and It doesn’t Work (Regnery) is by our very own

See Frost/Nixon for free

Ron Howard’s movie Frost/Nixon is that rarest of things: a film that not only replicates the brilliance of the stage play that inspired it, but transcends the original. Peter Morgan’s drama about the unforgettable interviews between David Frost and former President Nixon in 1977 gives Howard magnificent source material, to which he adds all the

Apocalypse 2009?

Splendid to see Boris developing the Apocalypse Now theme for 2009 which he road-tested in the Spectator Christmas issue. Here’s what the Mayor says in his New Year message: I want to quote Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now when he says ‘Some day captain, this war is going to end’, and some day, this recession

What maps will guide us through 2009?

I am struck by the absence of philosophical route-maps out of the current financial crisis: a subject I addressed in my Sunday Telegraph column this weekend. Compare and contrast the Seventies, when the Tories had the inspiration of Hayek and Friedman and the texts that poured out of the CPS and IEA. I recently asked

Best of British: breakfast with Lily Allen

Matthew d’Ancona talks to the quintessentially English pop star about growing up, her longing to have children, celebrity culture, US politics and her new album I am sitting opposite a demure young Englishwoman, sipping on jasmine tea, who would like nothing more, she says, than to settle down and have children. Young people and their

The Mumbai Atrocities

When I was in Mumbai in February I stayed at the Taj and ate the best fish curry I have ever tasted at Leopold’s: both targets in tonight’s shocking attacks. Even as the angry flames light up the sky of this extraordinary world city, it is clear that this was, at least in part, a

A thin offering

So what’s left? Bits have been falling off New Labour like body-parts off a leper. Prudence is long gone. Today, as I blogged earlier, we lost the all-important principle that wealth creation is the basis of enhanced social justice. Which leaves the famous statement of ideological eclecticism that defined Tony Blair’s premiership if not his

Imprudent, and proud of it

The most interesting line in the PM’s press conference was Brown’s argument that, precisely because it is “funded”, the Tories’ latest tax proposal does not represent a fiscal stimulus. Gordon is now positively flaunting his jilting of Prudence, scorning the Tories because they are trying to cling to the fiscal principles – “stability”, “responsibility” etc

What are the political risks and rewards of tax cuts?

As Tory Diary notes over at ConservativeHome, Fraser is making the running on the tax cut issue. His Spectator columns and Coffee House posts have pointed UK political strategists in the direction of Obama’s tax-cutting proposals and their centrality to the President-elect’s campaign. The FT’s story on Saturday made it unambiguously clear that Brown was

History now

Two films on release show how brilliantly and how badly film can capture recent history. In Obama week, Oliver Stone’s W ought to have been the ideal Friday night flick, and, being a fan of his magnificently paranoid series of US political movies, from Salvador via JFK to Nixon, I had high hopes. But his

The fight for Obama’s friendship

No man on Earth has more new best friends that a President-elect – especially the first black Commander-in-Chief, a walking charisma machine, swept to victory by a nation longing for change and hope. Nick Robinson’s fisk of some of the remarks made by British politicians in the past twelve hours is unimprovable. Brown sees Obama

Cocktails & apprehension

At the CNN party in Marylebone, Andrew Marr, James Purnell, Dame Sue Tinson, sundry BBC chieftains, Whitehall officials and Labour apparatchiks galore down cocktails, watch the huge screen, and dig in for a long night. The sense among centre-Left guests is one of superstitious apprehension. ‘It all looked safe in 2000,’ says one Blairite. ‘And

Election 2008: The West Wing vs 24

Today, America is one huge television studio, in which the respective spirits of two great drama series are locked in mortal combat: namely, The West Wing and 24. Aaron Sorkin’s seven-season saga of the presidency of Jed Bartlet was a form of televisual therapy for a liberal elite disillusioned by the reality of the Clinton