Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris is a columnist for The Spectator and The Times.

Save us from the plague of plastic tree protectors

Can nothing protect us from a plague of plastic tree protectors? They’ve descended on us like locusts, covering our hills, dales and roadsides with a nasty green and black petrochemical swarm. They are not for the most part biodegradable, and those that claim to be will still disintegrate into microplastic debris lodged into our soil.

Donating to charity is too easy

It’s been a torrid few weeks for anyone who knows anyone who was running in the London Marathon. In have come the emails sent by the sender to himself or herself, and BCC’d no doubt to a very long list of the sender’s friends: ‘I’m running the London Marathon on 21 April, for [insert name

What is there left to say about the Tories?

Spare a thought for us political commentators. We stare into the void between now and a (presumed) decisive Labour victory in a (presumed) autumn general election, haunted by the need to say something significant on a weekly basis at least. Yet there seems so little left to say. Readers don’t need to be told that

Euthanasia is coming – like it or not

Throughout the short life of the Assisted Dying Bill which failed in the Commons, the ‘faith community’ (a quaint term for that category of human beings who throughout history have been more assiduous than any other in trying to kill each other) have with skill and persistence deployed an argument of great potency. Such is

Britain’s prisons shame us all

Many years ago, for my Great Lives BBC radio programme, we recorded Jeremy Paxman’s championing of the life of Anthony Ashley Cooper, 7th Earl of Shaftesbury. It was an excellent choice and Mr Paxman persuasively laid out that great campaigner’s achievements in the reform of child-labour legislation and the lunacy laws. ‘As we look back

How to claim mental illness benefits

For my newspaper I wrote last week about the rocketing numbers (now more than nine million) of our fellow citizens who are ‘economically inactive’ (aged 16-64, unemployed but not seeking work). Within that category, a fast-growing number (nearly three million) are claiming a range of disability or sickness-related benefits, usually a PIP (personal independence payment).

This gay history is a work of genius

Columnists get unsolicited free copies of new books, it often seems by almost every post. They frequently come as publishers’ ‘uncorrected proofs’, before publication day. Publicists are of course hoping we might mention the book in something we write, and often there’s a friendly note inviting us to provide a quote for the book-cover’s inside

Lionel Shriver, Angus Colwell and Toby Young

32 min listen

On this week’s episode, Lionel Shriver asks if Donald Trump can get a fair trial in America (00:39), Angus Colwell speaks to the Gen-Zers who would fight for Britain (08:25), Matthew Parris makes the case for assisted dying (13:15), Toby Young tells the story of the time he almost died on his gap year (20:43),

Ignore the reactionaries who oppose assisted dying

‘If I’d known where it would take me I might never have started.’ This need not be an expression of regret. There are journeys where the final destination is best hidden from the traveller, due to the psychological difficulty he may have in embracing the future until we’re nearly there. This column will move on

The one question the Covid Inquiry must ask

The Covid Inquiry grinds on. The process is ‘too focused on office tittle-tattle’ says one former minister in my newspaper this morning. Possibly – though it may also be that the warped focus consists in the media reports filtering out the worthier but more boring stuff. The inquiry (say others) is too focused on the

Algeria has proved a revelation

‘Please accept coffee without payment. You are visitors.’ So said the manager of the retro-chic little Café Auber in downtown Algiers, where we’d paused on a stroll down to the harbour after Christmas. We’d considered the city just a stop on our way into the Sahara. Instead it proved a revelation. Were you to arrive

Is it your fault if you’re fat?

Sorry Santa, but there’s no sugar-coating this: you’re eating too much. And it’s nobody’s fault but your own. Human beings have agency. You have it within your power to cut down. An excellent book written by restaurateur and policy adviser Henry Dimbleby, with his wife Jemima Lewis, sets out the figures. They’re shocking. In Ravenous:

Lord Sumption is wrong: laws can change facts

It’s with triple reluctance that one disputes anything said or written by Jonathan Sumption. First, Lord Sumption is among the commentators I most admire, with an intellect against which it must be foolhardyto pit one’s own. Secondly, as a former Supreme Court justice, his legal expertise will be immense, whereas I only read law as

You can’t trust the will of the people

Abraham Lincoln’s ringing declaration echoes down the years. His 1863 Gettysburg Address, delivered 160 years ago this Sunday, gave us ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’: a clear and simple formulation, it has come to be seen as the very definition of democracy. But Lincoln was wrong: wrong then and wrong

Katy Balls, Matthew Parris and Fabian Carstairs

20 min listen

This week: Katy Balls reads her politics column on Keir Starmer’s ceasefire predicament (00:54), Matthew Parris warns us of the dangers of righteous anger (06:48), and Fabian Carstairs tells us how he found himself on an internet dating blacklist (14:29).  Presented by Oscar Edmondson.  Produced by Cindy Yu and Oscar Edmondson. 

When righteous anger goes wrong

From abroad I’ve returned to a country where, in language to which the word ‘shrill’ hardly does justice, fellow British commentators have been letting fly on both sides of the argument about Gaza and how Israel should or should not respond to Hamas’s unspeakable attacks on 7 October. There’s just one thing both sides –

The four big questions our politicians need to answer

Anyone would think (anyone, that is, who has followed our three main annual party conferences this autumn) that Britain’s principal political parties were proposing distinct solutions to Britain’s problems. After all, the heat if not the light emitted by domestic politics in recent years has been unremitting. Sir Keir Starmer spent more than half his

The folk wisdom that’s just wrong

I was only a boy when I first began protesting against the idiocy of so much of the folk wisdom handed down to us. Proverbs, adages and aphorisms (‘a pithy observation that contains a general truth,’ says my dictionary) are recited to children by grown-ups, often in a singsong, holier-than-thou voice; and I couldn’t help

Matthew Parris, Dan Hitchens and Leah McLaren

23 min listen

Matthew Parris, just back from Australia, shares his thoughts on the upcoming referendum on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice (01:08). Dan Hitchens looks at church congregations and wonders why some are on the up, while others are in a spiral of decline (08:32), and Leah McLaren describes the delights of audio and tells