Category Archives: Uncategorized

Somewhere in England: Bedford, a quiet success

There are few pleasures like exploring an unfamiliar town on foot for the first time. A new series of posts on this website, In Praise of Ordinary Places, will look at Middle England towns that are overlooked by tourists (Oxford, Bath … Continue reading

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One place where the Trump presidency may do no harm? Cuba

I’ll leave aside – for now – his misogyny, racial prejudice, egotism, and contempt for democracy and the rule of law. I will even cast my eye away from Michael Gove’s fawning interview in the Times at the beginning of … Continue reading

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Think out-of-town shopping centres are a thing of the past? Take a look at Rushden Lakes and despair

The river Nene – the slowest-flowing river in England, and its tenth-longest – meanders through Northamptonshire past water meadows and dozens of former gravel pits, long ago flooded and now a nationally important habitat for wetland birds. Northamptonshire’s an underrated … Continue reading

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Five reasons why cutting the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is a bad idea – and one silver lining

Constituency boundary changes don’t just matter to map anoraks or political obsessives (I’m a bit of both). And the proposals won’t just mean a cull of MPs: they will reshape our politics by disenfranchising millions of voters. With no suggestion … Continue reading

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Politicians should get out of Westminster for its restoration – and stay out

News that the Palace of Westminster will be out of bounds for six years for the £4bn mother of all restorations has provoked a stream of predictable responses. A strange coalition of metropolitan Guardianistas like John Harris, nationalists and devolutionists … Continue reading

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Does Brexit Mean Brexit?

Hours after the EU referendum result came in Boris Johnson stood at a podium stating how much stronger Britain would become, and staked his claim to be Prime Minister. Just a week later, on June 30th, he was gone from … Continue reading

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Brexit is not a working class revolt, or a resurgence of racists. It was an Oldie rebellion, pure and simple

One Saturday morning a few weeks before the referendum there were two Vote Leave stalls on the streets of Thrapston, the Northamptonshire market town a few miles from my home. I was in a hurry, buying eggs and vegetables at … Continue reading

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The demise of Boris Johnson – the Quintin Hogg of our times – shows that the age of Balliol superiority is now over

The spectacular collapse of Boris Johnson’s Prime Ministerial hopes earlier today have a striking historical parallel. Boris is not – and never has been – the Donald Trump or Winston Churchill of contemporary British politics, or even the Falstaff or … Continue reading

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How working the night shift alongside European migrants made me more determined to vote to stay in the EU, not less

For two months in the run-up to Christmas 2015 I worked the night shift at a Royal Mail sorting office in Peterborough. Media commentators are often quick to appoint themselves as experts on the labour market, but most have never … Continue reading

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A month on, Sadiq Khan’s victory in London no longer looks mould-breaking. In fact it’s a welcome return to politics as usual

A month on, how mould-breaking does Sadiq Khan’s election as mayor of London feel? Yes, it was a historic moment: the first time that a Muslim was elected as mayor of a western capital city. The message it sends to … Continue reading

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