On Changing Britain

raftTeacher: “What does your father do, little Billy?” “He plays the piano in an opium den”. Teacher calls home. Father: “I lied: but how can you tell an eight year old boy that his father is a politician?”

In polls, more than eighty per cent of the public feel ‘politics is broken’. When strangers discover I’m a politician they often look at me as though they are unsure whether I am a snake or a monkey. And all the questions they ask – put as politely as they can – imply they are astonished by our ignorance, our shoddiness, and our incompetence. Which leaves democracy in a strange position. Our democracy has been developing for four hundred years, the British people have never been so educated or confident, but the gap between public and politicians has never felt larger: citizens are deeply disappointed in their politicians. The same is true in almost every ‘democratic’ country.

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Diary: Am I Still A Conservative?

My parents gave me a subscription to The Spectator in 1984, when I was 11. When I was 12, I wrote a letter to the editor, criticising the progressive views of the Bishop of Durham, and Charles Moore — who had just become the editor at the age of 27 — published it under the […]

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What is wrong with us?

What is wrong with us? The United Kingdom should be one of the most impressive democracies on Earth. We have incisive and apparently incorruptible judges; an undeferential, boisterous and intelligent media; and an extraordinary culture of voluntary activity – supplemented by charitable superpowers such as Oxfam and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. […]

Liberation Portrait

No Deal

No-Deal is not a destination: it is a failure to reach a destination. And it would be perceived rightly – by our international partners and investors – as a signal failure of sense, statesmanship, and strategy. We would drop overnight into the margins of the world’s trading system. We would have left all the fundamental […]

Brexit

OF COURSE THERE’S A CLIMATE EMERGENCY

There is – undoubtedly – a global “climate emergency”. 39 million acres of tropical forests were lost in 2017 alone, the ice shelves are melting at ten times their predicted rate and we are at risk of losing more than 30% of the species on earth by 2050. And that is before you count the direct […]

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NO DEAL

No-Deal is not a destination: it is a failure to reach a destination. And it would be perceived rightly – by our international partners and investors – as a signal failure of sense, statesmanship, and strategy. We would drop overnight into the margins of the world’s trading system. We would have left all the fundamental […]

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May’s deal avoids the pitfalls of no deal and no Brexit

Every day I am told that my support for Theresa May’s Brexit deal makes me a traitor to my constituents and the nation. Some messages are from members of the UK Independence party; about half are from Remain voters. Each assumes they alone truly speak for “the people” and that only a knave, or a […]

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ON BREXIT

The last two weeks have taught me much about the difference between an MP, a Minister and a national politician. The changes, which I have helped to bring in the last eight years – signing the law to introduce a 5p tax on plastic bags, pushing superfast fibre out in Cumbria, or trying to install […]

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MY DAY SHADOWING A PRISON OFFICER

On Wednesday 7 November, I had the privilege of spending a day at HMP Wormwood Scrubs shadowing a prison officer. It was an invaluable experience — and a unique opportunity to understand the logistics, reality and detail of how a prison is run. I was able to follow the full morning routine shadowing an individual officer — to see […]