Simon Jenkins

Farewell to arms: Britain’s depleted military

39 min listen

This week: In his cover piece for the magazine, Andrew Roberts says that the British Army has been hollowed out by years of underfunding and a lack of foresight when it comes to replacing the munitions we have sent to Ukraine. Historian Antony Beevor and author Simon Jenkins join the podcast to discuss Britain’s depleted

Simon Jenkins: The Celts

41 min listen

My guest in this week’s Book Club is Simon Jenkins. His new book The Celts: A Sceptical History tells the story of a race of people who, contrary to what many of us were taught in school, never existed at all. He tells me how and why ‘Celts’ were invented, what it has meant and

Payday: who’s afraid of rising wages?

45 min listen

In this week’s episode: is Brexit to blame for the rise in blue-collar wages? With labour shortages driving wages up, many have blamed Britain’s removal from the single market. However, this week in The Spectator, Matthew Lynn argues that shocks and price signals are how the free-market economy reorganises, and that we are experiencing a global

Broken Trust: the crisis at the heart of the National Trust

33 min listen

On this week’s podcast, we start with Charles Moore’s cover story on the failings of the National Trust. Why is the Trust getting involved in culture wars, and can it be fixed? Lara speaks to Charles, a Spectator columnist and former editor of the magazine, and Simon Jenkins, who was chair of the Trust between

Can London survive coronavirus?

44 min listen

London is the motor to Britain’s economy, so how can it rebuild after the pandemic? (00:55) How can the new Tory leader in Scotland, Douglas Ross, keep the United Kingdom together? (17:50) And why the looming conflict between India and China isn’t in Kashmir, but rather in the Bay of Bengal. (29:33) With economist Gerard

Don’t mention the war

A cascade of poppies falls from ‘weeping windows’ across Britain. A 50-metre drawing of Wilfred Owen appears in the sand, and is washed away by the sea in which he swam. A silhouetted soldier stands on the white cliffs of Dover. A thousand pumpkins ‘recall’ an antisubmarine airship. You can pretend you are in no-man’s-land

Nostalgic nationalist piety

Parish churches are the sentinels of England’s past. They soar over every town and village, pinning it to the nation’s soil. The nave may be empty, the graveyard unkempt and the roll-call of the faithful soon to cede primacy to the mosque. But the Church of England guards our rituals and speaks for our communities.

Monumental folly

The astonishing has happened at Stonehenge. Some prehistoric force has driven ministers to make a decision. It is to spend half a billion pounds burying the adjacent A303 in a tunnel, to bring ‘tranquillity’ to the ancient place. The result has been a predictable outcry from protestors. The television historian Dan Snow has compared the

Vanity bombing

‘When you’ve shouted Rule Britannia, when you’ve sung God Save the Queen, when you’ve finished killing Kruger with your mouth…’ So wrote Kipling derisively of the domestic cheerleaders of the Boer War. The lines came to mind this week as the Commons again strained at the leash of war. Horrified by the Aleppo atrocities, MPs

Why cathedrals are soaring

Something strange is happening in the long decline of Christian Britain. We know that church attendance has plummeted two thirds since the 1960s. Barely half of Britons call themselves Christian and only a tiny group of these go near a church. Just 1.4 per cent regularly worship as Anglicans, and many of those do so

Money for nothing | 30 June 2016

Tate Modern’s new Switch House extension in London has been greeted with acclaim. It is a building designed in the distorted geometry of neo-modernist cliché, and offers a breathtaking array of piazzas, shops and cafeteria, with the added attraction of a free panorama of London that is much better than the adjacent Shard’s. There has

Letting terror win

There is nothing a government in a remotely free country can do to stop a suicide bomber in a crowded space. As a weapon, he has the precision of a drone missile. The only preventive task open to the police and security service is to penetrate and destroy a terrorist cell in advance. This means

War still has the best tunes

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Simon Jenkins and Fraser Nelson discuss whether foreign interventions can work” startat=1768] Listen [/audioplayer]Is it going to happen again? Will the next 12 months really see western armies return to Iraq? Last year was meant to signal an end to wars of intervention that dominated the world stage at the turn of the

The myth of the housing crisis

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Simon Jenkins vs James Forsyth on the housebuilding myth” startat=1215] Listen [/audioplayer]There is no such thing as the English countryside. There is my countryside, your countryside and everyone else’s. Most people fight just for theirs. When David Cameron told the BBC’s Countryfile he would defend the countryside ‘as I would my own family’,

Who are you calling a blob, Owen Paterson?

Why did David Cameron send Owen Paterson to Environment if he meant to sack him? Paterson knew and cared about his subject. He wore green wellies with panache, loathed Europe and wind turbines, and argued with everyone. He was a sop to the shires and a bulwark against Ukip. Yet like his colleague Michael Gove,

Who do you Trust?

Visitors to Thomas Hardy’s birthplace in Dorset, a small thatched cottage built by Hardy’s great-grandfather, used to be met by a bare house and a guide book. Now they are greeted by a fire in the grate and a curator at the parlour table, dispensing tea and cakes and chatting about the author’s childhood. Those

Complete the Thatcher revolution

Simon Jenkins says that the Iron Lady’s work will not be complete without the devolution of power to local communities. Is the Tory leader ready to embrace this mission? The Tory party still has to come to terms with Margaret Thatcher. As she broods this week in Chester Square, the revolution associated with her name

Nobody has been left out

Histories of Victorian London now come two a penny. They are the left-wing historian’s answer to biographies of Good Queen Bess. What is there new to say? We start with fog and smells and move on to disease and the working classes. We meet Charles Booth and Henry Mayhew. We chastise the rich and welcome