Conservatism has no future unless it tackles housing

At the i. While Margaret Thatcher secured 42 per cent of the youth vote in 1979, Britain’s second female prime minister got less than half that, and to the vast majority of under-40s the party is essentially repulsive,  regarded as the Nasty Party, to use Theresa May’s famous Ratnerism. A number of factors might explain this, among them the expansion of university education, declining religious belief, the dominance of the Left in education and media, or the way small-c… Read on

Is America’s ‘despair epidemic’ about to arrive in Britain?

At the Spectator. Numerous commentators have linked America’s huge rise in early deaths with the decline of organised religion, in particular the sense of hope and community faith brings. And perhaps just as importantly religion also offers some respite from the relentless competitiveness of life, since it emphasises the importance of acceptance and dignity. Never mind if he isn’t rich or famous or especially talented, a man doing an ordinary, honest job and looking after his family can hold… Read on

Never mind the terrorists, chaps, London will just keep calm and carry on.

At the Spectator It’s the same argument people make about crime: why are people so worried, when we have less crime than in the 1990s? But we have farmore crime than in the 1950s. If this sort of decline had taken place in an area like child poverty or maternal mortality, such comparisons would hardly be taken seriously. Imagine if cancer survival rates were now worse than 40 years ago: would anyone be arguing ‘lol they were much worse in… Read on

The shrinking circle of religious tolerance

At the Acton Institute This fits in with Max Weber’s observation that people are much more likely to trust people with religion – even one totally different to theirs – to atheists. Etymologically “religion” comes from the Latin “to bind,” and religious belief has almost universally played a central part in maintaining high levels of trust within groups. Trust, or social capital, is a vital ingredient for any healthy society or political system. Even highly secular, liberal groups, such… Read on

Do we really want restrictions on German immigration?

Nein, I say. (And despite what the government thinks, non-EU migration is a much bigger issue for voters, even Leave voters.)

To attract my fellow kids, the Tories need more houses, not memes

At Spectator blogs So here’s a proposal to save the Tory party: devolve all planning law to the regional level – allowing Greater London to build on its green belt, in return for which the Tory-voting shires can preserve theirs. This is actually a viable solution in a way that building on brownfield sites isn’t, for as the Adam Smith Institute point out: ‘Just 3.7 per cent of London’s green belt—that fraction within 15 minutes walk of existing train stations—would… Read on

Plutôt anglais que britannique

A Spectator article of mine on the modern significance of identifying as British or English appears in the latest Courrier International.

Saint of the day: Oswald of Northumbria

Saint of the day: Oswald of Northumbria

After Edwin’s death the different parts of Northumbria split once again, and Ethelfrith’s son  Eanfrith ruled Bernicia, the people reverting to the ‘abominations’ of paganism in Bede’s words, whatever that means. Paulinus fled, leaving another Italian, James the Deacon, all alone to run an isolated church in the wilds of Deira. Luckily Northumbrian kings never lasted long, and Eanfrith was no exception; he had made a truce with the local British chieftain Cadwallon but after falling out he went off… Read on

How single men and women are making politics more extreme

At the Week In the late 20th century a similar thing happened with a number of products on the market, among them children’s toys. When Lego first came out, your options were basically a Lego set or a slightly different Lego set; even when I was very young in the 1980s the spaceman was about as complex as it got. But today you have a vast range of options, including Star Wars Lego, Batman Lego, princesses, knights, aliens, and… Read on

The Great Viking Army turned up in early medieval England. What happened next will blow your mind

The Great Viking Army turned up in early medieval England. What happened next will blow your mind

I thought I’d take a sideways step from making the world a better, happier place writing about politics and how everything is terrible – and instead write some history books about how everything used to be terrible. They’re aimed at the young adult market, although they can happily be read by adult-adults, a sort of slightly older Horrible Histories. The five books cover English history in the medieval period, from the fall of Rome to the War of the Roses…. Read on