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1:54 pm

The BBC degrades itself with its Phillip Schofield fixation

From an “exclusive” interview to a live feed on the This Morning presenter’s departure, the broadcaster has left its lofty ideals behind.

By John Ware

Did Phillip Schofield groom his young lover? So far, the young man has not made that claim, despite, one assumes, reporters waving large cheque books in his face to try to get him to tell his story. ITV says he has told the broadcaster he has no “wish to be named or identified”. Did Schofield manoeuvre him into a job on ITV’s This Morning, which he presented? Again, ITV says the young man was appointed by proper process. Did Schofield lie to ITV about the fact that they’d had sex when rumours spread? Yes, but then so did his young lover, several times, apparently right up to the last moment. Has Schofield in any sense sought to minimise his guilt at having lied? ...

11:24 am

Is Sunak delivering on his migration promises?

Because his reputation relies on the perception of competence, the PM’s “stop the boats” campaign must be seen to be succeeding.

By Freddie Hayward

Will “stop the boats” soon become “fewer boats”? The Prime Minister delivered a speech yesterday (5 June) arguing progress had been made on stopping migrants crossing the Channel in small boats. He said crossings were down 20 per cent. The Times reports this elicited “several raised eyebrows” in the Home Office because most crossings occur between July and September, anyway. Meanwhile, the most important political fact remains that, as Ben’s chart below shows, the cost of living dominates voters’ priorities. But Sunak has placed his five priorities – halving inflation, growing the economy, reducing national debt, reducing NHS wait times, and stopping small-boat crossings – at the forefront of his pitch to the public. He trades in competence. And that depends ...

2 days ago

Does turning 30 still matter?

We’re not supposed to care, but we do. Is it for a reason as awkward as women’s fertility?

By Pravina Rudra

When I was growing up, the prospect of turning 30 seemed to loom over women as midnight did for Cinderella – when the carriage melted into a pumpkin and the fantasy of our twenties ended, we would have to embrace reality. I think particularly of the Friends episode “The One Where They All Turn 30”: Rachel bursts into tears at her own birthday party, bemoans how she hasn’t had three kids already, and dumps her boyfriend (it takes seeing him commandeer a scooter down their apartment block landing to see she has no future with a 24-year-old called Tag). In 1996 meanwhile, Bridget Jones saw life through the lens that “single women in their 30s” are “treated as freaks by society”. But now, everything happens later, if ...

2 days ago

Andy Burnham is a recurring problem for Starmer

The Manchester mayor has intervened again in Labour politics. Last month he told the party leadership to “leave me alone”.

By Freddie Hayward

Here comes the cavalry. Mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have condemned Labour’s treatment of Jamie Driscoll, the mayor of the North of Tyne, who has been blocked by the party from standing in the newly-formed position of mayor in the north-east. Labour itself won’t comment on “individual cases” but its governing National Executive Committee (NEC) seems to have taken the decision because Driscoll interviewed Ken Loach, who has been expelled from the party, about his films that were made in the north-east region. On the interview round yesterday (4 June), Jonathan Reynolds, the shadow business secretary and member of the NEC, justified the decision in terms of Labour’s zero-tolerance approach to anti-Semitism. However, Sharon Graham, the general secretary of Unite, ...

5 days ago

How to solve a problem like free speech? Even the tsar will struggle

University students need to be exposed to different views - but even the government doesn't seem to know where to make trade-offs.

By David Willetts

Earlier this week, the government named its long-awaited "free speech tsar" for higher education. It is Arif Ahmed, a professor of philosophy at the University of Cambridge, who said he will defend "all views". He will be responsible for investigating breaches of the Freedom of Speech Act, which was passed last month.I do believe there are threats to freedom of speech in our universities. One reason is that our views and our identities appear to be more closely entwined – criticism of someone’s opinions is likely to be seen as an attack on who they are. Another is the emergence of the idea that language itself can be an instrument of oppression, so what you say matters even more. These ...

5 days ago

Will the SNP ever stop blaming Westminster for its own failures?

The bottle return scheme is only the latest example of the Scottish government’s epic incompetence.

By Chris Deerin

As my friend Euan McColm rather brilliantly puts it, the problem with trying to turn a bottle return scheme into a major constitutional crisis is that it’s a bottle return scheme. This minor flaw in the Scottish government’s calculations hasn’t stopped the SNP-Green coalition from trying to do just that, of course. In the fight for national liberation everything is a weapon, whether it’s a sword or a soiled nappy. If baby Holyrood has a problem, it’s always mother Westminster’s fault. Speaking of weapons, the politician in charge of the project, Lorna Slater, the circular economy minister and Green MSP, is somehow still in post despite her startling incompetence and the long trail of chaos left in her wake. There is ...

5 days ago

Why are voters so relaxed about record immigration?

And, perhaps more importantly, for how long will that attitude last?

By Ben Walker

The net migration figure for the calendar year 2022 was 606,000, and 488,000 the year before. Though the methodologies were different, it was just 260,000 in the 12 months up to June 2014. “But I thought we voted Leave,” cry the Faragistas. Net migration today is largely driven by non-EU arrivals. (Net migration from the EU is in the negative.) Remarkably, voters appear unbothered by this. The UK is less opposed to immigration today than it was ten years ago and less keen on closing Britain’s borders entirely. The proportion wanting cuts to the number of immigrants has fallen from 67 per cent in February 2015 to 43 per cent last year. Most agree migration is a net benefit, both to ...

5 days ago

Why won’t Dorries declare her Talk TV earnings?

The former culture secretary still hasn’t entered any payments into the MPs’ register of interests.

By The Chatterer

How much is Nadine Dorries being paid for her weekly show on TalkTV? The Chatterer is frustrated to report that we still don’t know. The former culture secretary first appeared as a host on the Rupert Murdoch-owned channel last October as a temporary fill-in for Piers Morgan, whose salary is rumoured to be around £15m a year for his TalkTV show and Sun column. Dorries landed her own Friday night show on the channel in February. The first episode, you might recall, featured an interview with her former boss (hero?) Boris Johnson. And yet, as of early June, there have been no entries in the MPs’ register of interests. We still don’t know her TalkTV salary, or even how much she was paid for her week’s work ...