Will Heaven

How the Tories can ‘level up’ without annoying Nimbys

Have the Conservatives lost their nerve on planning reform? Not quite, but a couple of small interventions at the Conservative party conference in Manchester point in a new direction. If anything, they suggest more ambition, not less, on the part of the ministerial team involved – though less opportunity for a falling out with southern

The great pretender: Nicola Sturgeon’s independence bluff

31 min listen

In this week’s podcast, we talk to The Spectator‘s editor Fraser Nelson and associate editor Douglas Murray about the challenges facing a freshly re-elected SNP. What next for Nicola Sturgeon – full steam ahead for IndyRef2? Or have neither Scotland or Number 10 the bottle for an all-out battle for independence? [01:02] ‘When you look

How Boris’s planning revolution can keep Nimbys on side

There is a basic political idea behind the Planning Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech. When you build a house, someone buys it – and when they do, they tend to start voting Conservative. The Bill’s aim is to get more houses built, 300,000 a year by the mid 2020s, helping to create millions more

The tricks and tactics of Miqdaad Versi

If truthful reporting risks increasing tension between communities, should it still be published? Do journalists have a social duty to repress certain topics which are unhelpful? These questions tend to separate free societies from those countries where the press is muzzled. In Britain, there has been a tradition: readers decide what is acceptable. But that

Downside’s downfall: the dissolution of a monastery

The monks of Downside Abbey in Somerset elected a new abbot last Thursday, according to sixth-century rules laid down by St Benedict. The next day, they sent an email notification saying they had voted ‘to make a new start and to seek a new place to live’. It was a shock to those who know

Why Edward Colston’s statue should have stayed up

Edward Colston sleeps with the fishes. A mob of Bristolians has toppled the statue of one of their city’s founding fathers, Saddam-style, and lobbed the poor fellow into the docks. Other footage on social media shows protesters kneeling on his brass neck, as if he had something to do with modern-day police brutality in the

The problem with ‘Islamophobia’ and the Tory party

On Sunday, Policy Exchange held three events at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester – one on the Irish backstop with Arlene Foster, Leader of the DUP; one with Michael Gove talking to Iain Martin on how to deliver Brexit; and one on the subject of Islamophobia. There were some fascinating moments throughout the afternoon.

The empress of art

Somewhere in the bowels of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art is a portrait from a lost world. Its subject is a beautiful young woman: Her Imperial Majesty, Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran. The condition of the work, however, a luminous print by Andy Warhol from 1977, is so bad that it could be a

In our ageing society, can we afford retirement?

Recently, Fraser Nelson, Editor of the Spectator, hosted a roundtable lunch in the boardroom at 22 Old Queen Street, in association with Prudential. On the agenda was the question: ‘In our ageing society, can we afford retirement?’ In attendance were Fraser Nelson; Will Heaven, the Spectator’s Managing Editor; Elliott Mears, the company’s Head of Partnerships;

Jail breaks

You need a strong stomach to be Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons, as a letter from Peter Clarke — the current holder of the title — proved this week. HMP Birmingham was in an ‘appalling’ state during his unannounced visit at the start of August. ‘We saw evidence of bodily fluids left unattended, including

A tale of two abbeys

Twenty years ago, Douai, a monastic boarding school in West Berkshire, shocked parents with an announcement that it was ‘no longer viable’. Pupil numbers had fallen through the floor — below 200 — and the sums didn’t add up. So four centuries of history were brought to an end and the boys were sent packing.

The Landmark Trust

About halfway across Lundy, if you’re trudging from the landing bay towards the north lighthouse, there’s a tiny holiday cottage all on its own. It’s a mile and three quarters from the island’s village and very basic inside. There are two bunks in the single bedroom; a dodgy oven in the kitchen that only works

Will the Commonwealth dare to defy the Queen?

The Queen has done something quite extraordinary today: she has, very carefully, made an explicitly political intervention at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in London. She told assembled world leaders: It is my sincere wish that the Commonwealth will continue to offer stability and continuity for future generations and will decide that one day,

Labour’s capital gains

Ever since last year’s general election, when Jeremy Corbyn inspired the strongest Labour surge since 1945, the Conservatives have been unsure if this was a freak occurrence or the start of something bigger. As they have learnt to their cost, opinion polls aren’t as reliable as they once were: only election results matter. There will

Will Theresa May invoke Nato’s Article 5 on collective defence?

There was a striking use of language in Theresa May’s statement to the House of Commons on the Salisbury nerve agent attack. Pointing an accusatory finger at Moscow, the Prime Minister declared: Mr Speaker, on Wednesday we will consider in detail the response from the Russian State. Should there be no credible response, we will conclude

Our violent and squalid prisons need a dose of Victorian reform

This morning the new Justice Secretary, David Gauke, delivered one of those keynote speeches about prisons. You know the sort: half an hour in front of a crowd of ‘stakeholders’ at a convenient London location. It’s increasingly hard to take such occasions seriously. Not only are we on the sixth justice secretary since 2010 –

No, the suffragettes should not be pardoned

Exactly 100 years after (some) women won the right to vote, Ruth Davidson has joined calls for a posthumous pardon for jailed suffragettes – the militants who violently fought for that right. ‘Voting was a value judgement, not an intrinsic right,’ says Davidson. And that historic inequality is why she supports the pardon, no questions