Plans to move the Lords up North whiff of gimmickry 

The Government is thinking of relocating the House of Lords to York in a bid to “connect” better with the North. The intention is good and there is no strict constitutional argument against moving; South Africa has three capitals, dividing its legislature, administration and judiciary.

But is a York Lords necessary, what are the costs and is it practical? People want modern government to be close to them, for sure; but they also want it to be efficient. Why York? It’s a beautiful city, but others will demand to know why they were overlooked. “And why”, York might ask, “do we only get the House of Lords and not the Commons?” One answer might be the strain on York’s infrastructure if the whole…

Policy on Iran needs to be tough, yes, but also consistent

It is perfectly reasonable to despise General Qassim Soleimani, ask if assassinating him was the right thing to do and worry about what Iran will do in response. 2020 has begun with a shock. At times like these, the presidency of Donald Trump can rattle the nerves – is he working to a plan or shooting from the hip? – but the Commander-in-Chief is trying to reassert authority in a situation made dangerous not by the West, but by Iran.

Iran is the dictatorship trying to dominate the Middle East, and Soleimani, the second most powerful man in the country and head of the elite Quds force, was the brains behind the operation. It was Soleimani who sponsored Shia-backed militias in Iraq and shored up…

Make sure to send a festive thank you, even if it’s only a text message

You still have time, you know. But it’s running out. This is almost your last chance. We are heading into Thank You Weekend, which seems to come around more quickly every year. 

I am full of admiration for those of you who get your thank-you letters done and posted between Christmas and New Year, but my writing hand is usually too deep inside the tin of Roses to make that possible – the looming, guilty necessity of getting them done a tiny (but ever-growing) counterpoint to the pleasures of the season. 

You need to write them before the first week of the year is out, or face up to the reality that it is just not going to happen and embrace your inner ungrateful wretch. 

As an aside, if you’re…

Britain should spend the 2020s promoting freedom at home and abroad

This week, we say goodbye not only to a year but to a decade. Julie Burchill calls the 2010s the Troubled Teens – and they had their fill of war, disaster and online vanity. But the Teens were also marked an onward march of human progress: extreme poverty and global inequality, child mortality and several diseases have all fallen.

The prime motors were peace and capitalism. Progress shrank where there was conflict (Syria) and socialism (Venezuela), but it stormed ahead where countries embraced free markets – and technology, for all its faults, is empowering billions. It is assumed that conservatives are pessimists about the future, but in fact they are, and have every cause to be, hopeful – because…

If Labour fails to purge its Leftists, Britain could be left without a functioning Opposition

They claim to be soul-searching in a much-needed period of reflection following the hammer-blow of a fourth, and most emphatic, electoral defeat in less than a decade.

But what Labour people are really caught up in this bleak midwinter is not a search but a battle for the soul of the party, one which will define and shape the future of Left-of-centre politics for a generation.

In a spectacularly ill-advised choice, Ed Miliband, the last failed leader but one, is among a panel invited by the Labour Together group to tour the country to figure out how the party got this last election so badly wrong. The inquiry includes a series of “listening events” with defeated candidates, activists and voters….

Britain is teaching the world a lesson in stability and good governance

‘Count your blessings’ is a phrase which you don’t hear much these days. Which is a subject in itself. But at this time of year it is something that is especially worth doing. Not just because of the Christmas Season but because of how close our country recently came – however fast we might already have forgotten it – to a very different path.

Just imagine for a moment where we might have been if events had turned out differently last week. Had Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party won we might all be haggling for basic commodities and flights out right now. Dogs would be starting to eye their owners warily as the nation dug in for the first of five consecutive winters of discontent. It is almost as bad,…

Labour’s retreat into "the Tories are fascists" is as insulting as it is predictable

According to the Labour Party, the defeat they suffered last Thursday is far, far worse than previously imagined. Their leader, manifesto and policy on Brexit were not just comprehensively rejected, but in the view of virtually every Labour MP and grassroots activist, they were rejected in favour of an "extreme right wing" party.

Boris Johnson, so this consensus goes, heads the most extreme government, not just in the post-war period, or in living memory, but as Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell put it, “the most extreme right-wing cabinet we’ve ever seen in the political history of this country.” The problem for Labour is that this judgment applies not just to the new government, but to everyone who…

Britain’s cultural elite think those of us who voted for this Tory landslide are thick racists

Come election day, I knew the Conservatives would triumph: coworkers, friends and my mother will confirm that I predicted a Tory majority of 40 seats plus.

It was based on gut. I woke up that morning and thought: “The British might be eccentric but we’re not mad. Jeremy Corbyn cannot win.”

But right up to election day, a lot of us were worried he might – even though the polls told us he was facing a drubbing. Why the disconnect? One answer is that Britain might be a moderate country but our cultural establishment is liberal-Left.

We live submerged in a culture that is at odds with most people’s values, yet it does its best to convince us that we are “the few” and they – the comedians, the actors,…

How Boris Johnson turned me from Communist to Conservative

You spend so much of your post-pubescent years wondering what it will feel like, building it up as this big thing – and then it’s all over in a minute and you wonder what all the fuss was about; voting Conservative, that is.

Last week I greatly enjoyed my stint at being not a Shy Tory but a Wry Tory, which means I know very well what Boris Johnson is but, as the Shangri-Las sang, “He’s good-bad – but not evil!” There were no saviours here – adults shouldn’t need saviours anyway – but a vast number of Labour voters took a deep breath and put their X in an alien box, thus choosing the good-bad bounder over the evil Jew-baiting racist.

I was proud to be one of them. Brought up in a Communist household…