Archives - Politics





Like Dominic Cummings, Novak Djokovic took the public for fools – and seems unlikely to face the consequences

Tennis had its Dominic Cummings moment this week, when four Top 50 male players tested positive for Covid-19 after playing in Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour. This series of exhibition tournaments, held in Belgrade, Serbia and Zadar,...



Podcasts are a vital tool for understanding – and bearing – our new world

Like most people, my state-mandated exercise regime under lockdown is very simple. Every few days, it’s off on the bike for a dart around the hinterlands of East Norfolk – invariably taking a liberal attitude to the one-hour time...



Lukewarm in lockdown? Attitudes to the UK government and media Covid-19 response

I compiled a survey through Google Forms over a 7-day span between Saturday 18th and Friday 24th April 2020. Respondents were asked a range of questions related to government and media handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, principally in...



Male, pale and stale: The optical problem of Britain’s political response to Covid-19

What unites every one of the eight Cabinet ministers that has participated in one of Downing Street’s daily coronavirus briefings? They are men. Despite highly relevant briefs – the Home Office (Priti Patel); Work and Pensions...



Why we must stay cheerful amid the coronavirus lockdown

As we enter the bleak realm of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s remarkable to consider how quickly the barometers of life have shifted. Just three weeks ago I remember enjoying the dividends from a £25 pub quiz bar tab on a...



Bercow, Djokovic, Bloomberg… and Alexa: my 22nd February diary

Home Alone with Michael Scott Perhaps foolishly, my parents have entrusted me with the defence of the family home this week as they take off for a half-term jaunt. I’ve not encountered any incompetent criminals and spooky old men...



From one blog to another: my response to Dominic Cummings

Dominic Cummings, Number 10 strategist and professional book swallower, has set out his invitation: from data scientists and economists to researchers and oddballs, he needs a cognitively diverse army to join his operation to...



British politics has reached its nadir – but at least Corbynism is over

I won’t be trying another election prediction any time soon. For the third time in four years, I found myself turning in at 4:30am despondent after a seismic result which realigns the Conservative party formally as the Brexit party....



Predicting the 2019 UK General Election

Using a lethal combination of polling data, random number generation and wishful thinking, I have devised a seat-by-seat prediction for Thursday’s general election. This is a critical poll for the direction of the United Kingdom:...



My 10 Book Countdown for 2019

10. Serhii Plokhy, Chernobyl: History of a Tragedy (Penguin Books, 2019) The central message of Serhii Plokhy’s sensitive account of the April 1986 Chernobyl reactor explosion is simply how avoidable it was. Drawing extensively...



First Past the Post politics needs to go: here are the alternatives

The ongoing Tory leadership contest epitomises the democratic deficit in this country. As I detailed in my last blog, a dedicated selectorate of about 150,000 pensioners – perhaps 0.3% of British adults – will choose the next...



Johnson is Sideshow Boris – it’ll be Prime Minister Farage by Christmas

We are witnessing the collapse of the post-war political order in the UK. The Brexit conundrum has destroyed long-standing class and regional loyalties. The Labour party’s traditional coalition has frayed under Jeremy Corbyn’s...



The Independent Group represents me – but can it represent Remainer Britain?

With just under 900 hours until Brexit Day and no negotiated withdrawal agreement, it should come as no surprise that the British political status quo is dissolving before our eyes. Since 10 ‘o’clock on Monday morning, eleven MPs...



Black and white photo of Roosevelt and Johnson

Summer Reading Review: The Path to Power (1982)

The Years of Lyndon Johnson Volume 1: The Path to Power Robert A. Caro ​ Robert A. Caro is the consummate chronicler of political power – its acquisition, use and abuse. The New Yorker has spent half a century writing 4,500...



Jewish protesters holding placards

Regardless of the evidence, Jeremy Corbyn is allergic to toeing a line

Jeremy Corbyn’s backbench image was the quixotic hard-left ideal: the recalcitrant rebel. On matters of principle, he opposed his own party 428 times during the Blair-Brown years, on legislation from football disorder prevention to...



2017's 12 Days of Christmas

2017 has been another year to suspend belief, exceed expectations and defy prediction – or, in the case of Donald Trump, a year to meet expectations by continuously defying what could never be predicted of a sitting U.S. president....



A selection of headlines from old Cambridge newspapers

Student comment journalism cannot be allowed to descend into self-parody

The guarantee of free speech and the creation of spaces where all opinions – no matter how unsavoury – can be aired, is a thorny and well-worn issue. I’ve had to think carefully before immersing myself in its hazardous waters....



Hillary Clinton sat in front of a microphone

Hillary Clinton’s insight remains crucial – even if we don’t want to listen

Several months ago, I greeted the somewhat inevitable news that Hillary Rodham Clinton had written a post-mortem memoir of her 2016 presidential defeat with cynicism and limited curiosity. What could the former First Lady and...



Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn superimposed in front of a Union Jack

May must clear up her mess – look at the alternatives

With last night’s passage of the Queen’s Speech – or, should I say, the remnants of a content-free Conservative manifesto reliant on tautology and the whims of 10 Stone Age parliamentarians drafted in at a cost of £100m each to...



My keyboard

“She must be revelling in it”: Keyboard warriors and partisanship in national catastrophe

I don’t feel it’s my place to attempt any further comment on the specifics, beyond simply reiterating shock and support for the 22 killed and 59 hurt in the Manchester attack last night. These have been rightly shared across...



A triptych of Theresa May, Andy Murray and Kevin Spacey

1983 all over again?

It is as if the world is plotting for me to fail my exams. Starting on 1st June, they come two days after the much-anticipated release of House of Cards Season 5, and, for a tennis nut like me, three days from the start of the French...



Angela Merkel holding a beer

One too many? Drinking cultures in politics and university

There can be few more stressful occupations than that of Member of Parliament in the opening weeks of spring 2017. Representatives of the opposition parties, and indeed many Tories, will be mourning their powerlessness in the...



John Bercow in the House of Commons

John Bercow: Is standing up for sanity above his pay grade?

John Simon Bercow is determined for his tenure as Speaker of the House of Commons to make a meaningful difference. Not only has he rehabilitated the image of Parliament in the aftermath of an expenses scandal that ousted his inept...



A parody of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

2016: My annus mirabilis; Earth’s annus horribilis

A year ravaged by war, demagoguery, fear, lies, and anger which make any progressive question the basic decency of mankind? Or a brilliant year of excitement and success, albeit one in which I peaked in my excessive consumption on New...



Hillary Clinton stood in front of a backdrop of the American flag

8th November, 2016: A Day Which Will Live in Infamy

As soon as the rain started on that cold November night, I almost knew he would win. Of course, I suppressed that inkling of doubt and convinced myself that Clinton would triumph comfortably by 5 or 6 percentage points, as I fuelled...



Former US presidents talking happily to each other

Predicting the American election - a history since 1992

With the U.S. presidential election two weeks away, it seems that Hillary Clinton has finally dispatched the scourge of Trump. The crucial “October Surprise” came in the form of a 2005 tape of the Republican candidate in peak...



Ed Balls and Katya Jones dancing on Strictly Come Dancing

Glitterballs and fears for the direction of British politics

I wonder how Craig Revel Horwood might react to the Labour Party’s re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader? ‘Pedestrian’, he might lament, ‘better luck next time, darling’. At least, that was his comment on Ed Balls’ first...



Primary school children playing around a table

Britain's attainment problem

There is a road out of Norwich which seems to demonstrate the mistaken priorities of British society. As you turn onto Hethersett Lane, on the left is the John Innes Centre, a pioneering scientific research institute, its car park...



Theresa May and David Cameron in the House of Commons

Newsflash: Theresa May is NOT Margaret Thatcher

Even in the second decade of the 21st century, British media commentators still cannot help but infer that all women who reach the top echelon in politics must be the same. Columnists cannot reconcile themselves to having a second...



Boris Johnson performing a salute

Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary - crude or shrewd?

Harold Wilson famously remarked that a week is a long time in politics, but judging from the events of the past five days, I think it's worth revising that observation down to a day, even an hour. As I sat down on Monday morning to...



Three football players laying on the pitch looking disappointed

The English Disease: Politics and Football

This week, with one exit from Europe already guaranteed, I did not relish the prospect of an English loss in the European football championship, particularly against a country with the population of Leicester and with (almost) their...



David Cameron's Resignation

We need to calm down and accept this mess, or democracy is done for

Jeremy Clarkson is rarely a reputable political barometer for the United Kingdom. But on the subject of his Twitter response to Thursday’s exit from the European Union, the disgraced presenter was remarkably prescient. “Right. We...