Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons

Michael Simmons is The Spectator's Data Editor

Kate Forbes takes the lead in SNP poll

Kate Forbes has taken an early lead in the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon. The Finance Secretary, who’s currently on maternity leave, has emerged in first place in a poll of Scottish voters. The poll for the Scotsman asked 1,004 people who they’d like to see leading the SNP and settling into Bute House. Forbes leads among SNP voters

Scotland will have a new leader on 27 March

So now we know: Scotland will get its new leader on 27 March. The rules that will determine how Sturgeon’s successor – and Scotland’s sixth First Minister – will be chosen, were thrashed out by the party’s National Executive Committee on Thursday night. Nominations are now open and will close a week today. The ballot

Nicola Sturgeon’s legacy in six graphs

Nicola Sturgeon has announced that she is resigning, after eight years as First Minister. She has been in charge for a long time: a full generation by some definitions. This is certainly time enough to make your mark on a country with devolved powers unparalleled in the democratic world. But as she prepares to leave

Is the NHS on the road to recovery?

Has the NHS turned a corner? The winter crisis may be over, with pressure on the health service beginning to ease, but the pace of improvement is glacial. The latest performance figures for NHS England, published this morning, point to small improvements: waiting lists have flattened off and remain at 7.2 million; 12 hour waits

Will the strikes prove terminal for Britain’s railways?

Today is being dubbed ‘Walkout Wednesday’: thousands of schools are shut as teachers go on strike – and civil servants and lecturers are also on the picket line. Railway staff continue their strike today too and there is little sign of the strike deadlock being broken. We’re losing more working days to industrial action than

Keir Starmer is right about the NHS

Keir Starmer’s diagnosis of the NHS is correct. ‘If we don’t get real about reform, the NHS will die,’ he says. The Labour leader, and odds-on favourite to be next PM, has called for an ‘unsentimental’ shake-up of a service that is undeniably failing. Millions are waiting for treatment, ambulance waits are so long they

A nightmare month for the NHS

The NHS is struggling. In December, English A&Es saw their busiest month on record: 170,000 people waited more than four hours to be admitted and nearly 55,000 waited more than 12 hours. These are the highest figures ever recorded. Ambulance response times were their worst ever too: the average wait for emergency call-outs was 93

Sturgeon is irresponsible to blame Scotland’s NHS crisis on patients

Nicola Sturgeon has blamed ‘unnecessary attendances’ at hospital for the mounting crisis within Scotland’s health service. In a speech defending Health Secretary Humza Yousaf this morning, she said ‘hospitals right now are currently almost completely full’. Turn to Facebook and her government is running a series of adverts where the government’s clinical director, Jason Leitch, advises patients to seek

Why the rising unemployment rate might not be such bad news

Is unemployment beginning to bite? Or are the workless trying to rejoin the economy? That’s the key question after the unemployment rate rose to 3.7 per cent today.  Figures released by the Office for National Statistics this morning reveal that even though unemployment is up, ‘economic inactivity’ is starting to fall, having previously grown by

Are NHS failures making us poorer?

The NHS has a crisis every winter, but this year’s is on a different scale. Before a wave of strikes puts patients and care at risk, stats released by NHS England this morning show a health service already on the brink. Last month, the number of 12-hour waits in A&E departments in England exceeded 37,800,

Ian Blackford resigns as SNP Westminster leader

Ian Blackford has resigned after five years as Westminster leader of the SNP. In a statement he said the time was right for ‘fresh leadership’ and that he will not be standing for reelection at the group’s AGM next week. The announcement comes just a fortnight after the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP survived an attempted

Michael Simmons

House prices fall (again) – but is it the time to buy?

House prices have fallen for the second month in a row, according to Nationwide – following wider predictions of a 9 per cent fall in the market. Nationwide’s house price index fell 1.4 per cent last month after falling 0.9 per cent the month before. That’s still up 4.4 per cent year-on-year but (pandemic excluded)

Scotland is getting sicker

For Scotland to stay at its current levels of health in 20 years’ time it would have to entirely eradicate cancer. That’s according to the Burden of Disease study published this morning by Public Health Scotland.   The report found that although the country’s population is projected to fall in the next two decades, its annual ‘disease burden’ – the

Ian Blackford clings to power following attempted coup

Last night was shaping up to be a night of the long sgian dubhs for the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford. SNP backbenchers have grown unhappy with Blackford’s leadership after several scandals during his tenure. Yesterday a challenge briefly emerged from Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn, though Blackford has managed to survive the attempted coup. 

The NHS is at breaking point – and it’s about to get worse

Last month, the number of twelve-hour waits in A&E departments in England exceeded 40,000 for the first time ever – an increase of 11,000 in one month. Waiting lists for consultant-led treatment have grown by some 70,000 patients, having passed seven million in September. Ambulance response times, too, are back up over an hour on

Why are excess deaths higher now than during Covid?

More people are dying every week than during Covid’s peak years. Last month there were 1,482 more deaths than average each week – known as excess deaths – compared with just 315 two years ago and 1,322 last year. In the week to 21 October (the most recent week of data) ONS figures reveal there

The metrics that will decide the next PM’s fate

Gone in a flash, Liz Truss becomes the shortest serving prime minister in British history. As it stands, she’s 75 days short of George Canning, who lasted some 119 days in office before dying from tuberculosis. If Truss’s successor wants to avoid joining her and Canning at the lower ends of the Wikipedia, they’ll need

Six graphs that could seal Liz Truss’s fate

When Britain crashed out of the European exchange rate mechanism on Black Wednesday, prime minister John Major phoned the Sun editor Kelvin McKenzie to ask how the day’s events would be covered. McKenzie is said to have responded: ‘Prime minister, I have on my desk in front of me a very large bucket of shit

NHS waiting list exceeds record-breaking seven million

NHS waiting lists have exceeded seven million people for the first time since records began. That means nearly 12 per cent of people in England are waiting for consultant-led treatment. A&E waiting times broke records too: nearly 33,000 people waited more than 12 hours from decision to admit to admission. The target is four hours.