New Statesman

It’s easy to be cynical, but a big budget Lord of the Rings TV show could be great

I have a confession. I am a huge Tolkien fan, but when news of Amazon’s big-budget Lord of the Rings TV franchise hit social media, I furrowed my brow and scratched my head in puzzlement. With six super-sized films, I thought, did we really need a TV adaption as well?

Judging by ...

today 15:19 open_in_new
Brexit puts politics before prosperity. Why shouldn’t the EU do the same?

Eight months after triggering Article 50, the UK has made painfully little progress in the Brexit negotiations. Faced with this reality, David Davis has appealed to Germany and France not to "put politics above prosperity". That, of course, is a subject on which the Brexit Secretary and his ...

today 15:19 open_in_new
Ingrid Goes West is a barbed LA comedy for the Instagram age

Tragedy plus time equals comedy, but comedy plus time can look simply quaint. Watching LA Story in 1991, it was hilarious when Steve Martin ordered a half double-decaffeinated half-caf with a twist of lemon. Now that would qualify as one of the simpler items on any coffee shop menu.

...

today 13:15 open_in_new
Brexit puts politics before prosperity. Why shouldn't the EU do the same?

Eight months after triggering Article 50, the UK has made painfully little progress in the Brexit negotiations. Faced with this reality, David Davis has appealed to Germany and France not to "put politics above prosperity". That, of course, is a subject on which the Brexit Secretary and his ...

today 13:15 open_in_new
The lessons in How to Survive a Plague make it a worthy Baillie Gifford winner

We take it for granted today that if you contract the HIV virus, however much it impacts your life, it is not a death sentence. There are anti-retroviral drugs which mean you can live life to the full, even if it is punctuated by a regime of health checks and medication.

It is hard ...

today 13:15 open_in_new
Joan Bakewell’s Diary: Talking to centenarians about death

I have been talking about death a good deal lately. People don’t do it enough. Social taboo and superstition still inhibit our willingness to discuss what is, after all, one of life’s great rights of passage. In a recent BBC Panorama I engaged with a number of people who are 100 years old ...

today 12:13 open_in_new
“I didn’t know what I was”: Barbara Hosking on working in Downing Street and coming out at 91

“Coming out at 91!” chuckles Barbara Hosking, offering me a plate of chocolate digestives. “I think people want me to be out and proud, holding a banner!”

The former Downing Street aide’s sexuality is possibly the least interesting part of the memoir she’s just released, ...

today 12:13 open_in_new
Why Jamie Bell should be the next James Bond

When I got home last week from seeing Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, the story of the romance in the late 1970s between a budding young actor, Peter Turner, and the ageing-but-undimmed actress Gloria Grahame, I rushed to my laptop. The film had been engrossing, and the lead performances ...

today 12:13 open_in_new
I fought for free speech on campus – but I don’t agree with Tory plans to safeguard it

One year ago my students' union voted to ban the Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Express from campus. Its reasoning was that these papers “have a tendency to fuel fascism, racial tension and hatred in society”.

Although there’s some truth in that assessment, the answer shouldn't ...

today 11:11 open_in_new
In sexual misconduct cases, we must not confuse accusation and proof

A few years ago, a Pew Research Center study warned of the need for “instant gratification” and “loss of patience” associated with the hyperconnected lives we live today, in which immediacy is expected almost as a right. This sort of haste is now our minds’ default setting, according ...

today 11:11 open_in_new
What would a Canada-style Brexit trade deal mean for the UK?

Brexit has changed a great number of things about British politics, but the strangest is surely the new habit of describing the inevitable consequences of government policy as a shock or some kind of "blow" to British hopes.

And so it is with the reaction to Politico's scoop – ...

today 11:11 open_in_new
I fought for free speech on campus – but I don’t agree with Tory plans to safeguard it

One year ago my student’s union voted to ban the Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Express from campus. Their reasoning was that these papers “have a tendency to fuel fascism, racial tension and hatred in society”. Although there’s some truth in that assessment, the answer shouldn't be to ...

today 10:09 open_in_new
The plot to stop Brexit

On the evening of 5 December, among the five-star splendour of London’s Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel, 300 of Britain’s most senior EU supporters will assemble for the “Exit from Brexit Dinner”. For the price of £200 (£2,000 for a table of ten), guests will hear from speakers ...

today 09:07 open_in_new
The fatal ambition of Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown was a big beast in an era when there were big beasts in British politics rather than the minnows and charlatans we have today. He was interested in ideas and concepts, not the fripperies of politics. He was tested by terrible tragedies: the loss of an eye as a teenager and, when ...

today 09:07 open_in_new
Boris makes headlines – but these overlooked ministers truly endanger the Tories

According to Soccernomics – Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski’s book on the use of data in football – talent scouts are more likely to recommend blond players than anyone else. Not because they’re better, but simply because they stand out on the pitch and linger in the memory as a ...

today 09:07 open_in_new
Long live the mildly eccentric competence of BBC local radio

“If you’re around Barrow Raiders’ rugby ground a little bit later, you might meet this lady, who’ll be walking on fire and broken glass.” Val Armstrong, a presenter on Radio Cumbria, prepares to speak to a listener doing something improbable for Cancer Care.

An otherwise ...

yesterday 17:25 open_in_new
Macron’s supporters are walking away from his party En Marche

Six months into his term, the luck of France’s young, shiny new president is fading. As Emmanuel Macron’s party La République en Marche (LREM), created in April 2016, prepares for its conference on Saturday, 100 members have announced they are leaving, bemoaning a “lack of internal ...

yesterday 17:25 open_in_new
“People are born evil”: the unlikely cynicism of Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino

Amy Sherman-Palladino thinks the concept of innate human goodness is bullshit. “I believe that people are born evil,” she says, emphatically, “and you have to beat goodness into them. I don’t believe it’s the other way round.”

This might be surprising for fans of Gilmore ...

yesterday 17:25 open_in_new
“This time they need us to win”: how student fees protests have changed since 2010

As the demonstration is in full swing through London’s fashionable West End, one passer-by walking down the streets with his toddler shouts to no-one in particular: “Bloody generation who wants something for nothing.”

Earlier that Wednesday, on a grey autumnal day in central ...

yesterday 17:25 open_in_new
Why Tory MPs are embracing Labour’s economic policy

At the 2015 general election, the Conservatives denounced Labour for wanting to "borrow forever" and "crash the car again". Unlike the Tories, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls did not pledge to achieve a budget surplus but to invest - in housing most of all. This was mainstream economics. Keynes long ...

yesterday 16:23 open_in_new
The Boy with the Topknot combines the particular with the universal to brilliant effect

The other night I attended an event at which a writer railed against the question “Where are you from?” on the grounds that when a white person asks it of a black one, it’s little more than racist. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this: as someone who asks pretty much everyone they meet ...

yesterday 15:21 open_in_new