Recent Blogs

My three fears about Taliban-run Afghanistan

My three fears about Taliban-run Afghanistan

When the Taliban were toppled in Afghanistan in 2001, I had only been a member of Parliament – representing a constituency that has many Muslim, as well as non-Muslim, voters – for a matter of months. But I can remember well the mood of the House in the weeks that followed. No one was under any illusions. This wasn’t going to be easy. The West’s involvement in Afghanistan was likely to continue for years.

The West must not be fooled by the Taliban’s spin doctors

The West must not be fooled by the Taliban’s spin doctors

On Thursday the Taliban took to social media to declare that after a 20-year interruption, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan was back in business. In a month’s time, when we mark the anniversary of 9/11, they will doubtless again be governing nearly all the country. In the West there are understandable fears that the return of the Taliban means the return of Al-Qaeda, whose presence in Afghanistan provoked the American-led intervention in the first place.

Afghanistan: The risks of a lose-lose situation

Afghanistan: The risks of a lose-lose situation

Afghan women are once again cast in the role of collateral damage, as Afghanistan’s politics is played out via brutal images of desperate mums throwing babies over barbed wire to American soldiers at Kabul Airport,  interspersed with photos of an Afghan woman shot by a Taliban goon for not covering her hair. The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, and the collapse of its institutions, was as fast as the Americans’ dash to leave the country at breakneck speed.

Why a statute of limitations on Troubles-related incidents is the right answer

Why a statute of limitations on Troubles-related incidents is the right answer

Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, in the briefest of Commons statements this week, announced a “statute of limitations, to apply equally to all Troubles-related incidents”. To understand how radical this move was, you need only look at his predecessor’s 2014 Stormont House Agreement – and the misguided reaction, yesterday, from Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, who wrongly claimed that the announcement was a breach of the UK’s international obligations.

The UK government and intervention

The UK government and intervention

Should a government provide subsides and intervene in the economy? This is an area of focus and some controversy following the recent decision to provide a government subsidy to Nissan and intervention to aid the steel sector.

One could be forgiven for thinking that the biggest criticism of such government intervention was from those arguing to reduce the size of the state. Government spending is, after all, at high levels, and the tax take, in relation to the size of the economy, at an all-time high. In fact, the biggest criticisms appeared to be from those wishing we were still in the EU, or so it seemed. Notwithstanding that, what is the issue?

UK economic policy after a positive week

UK economic policy after a positive week

This was a good news week for the City and for the UK’s levelling up agenda. Nissan’s announcement of a significant investment in Sunderland was an important moment. Not just in terms of the jobs it will safeguard and create, but also given the specific and numerous warnings made regarding the company’s future during the Referendum. It was a watershed moment, further showing that Project Fear has not materialised and that now is the time to look ahead to recognise the immense policy focus that is needed to ensure strong, sustained growth.

The poor whites that politics forgot

The poor whites that politics forgot

If you were at school in Barnsley in the 1970s, you would have had a sense of sitting on top of one of the most important coalfields in Europe, and one that was helping to power your country. If you were a boy who was not academically gifted, you would have almost certainly walked straight into an apprenticeship and then into a reasonably well-paid skilled or semi-skilled manual job.

Churchill College has made a wise decision in closing down the working group on Churchill, Race and Empire

Churchill College has made a wise decision in closing down the working group on Churchill, Race and Empire

Is the tide in the so-called culture wars beginning to turn? Recent evidence suggests that at least a mainstream effort to push back against activism by a vocal minority is working. Oriel College, Oxford is not going to remove its Rhodes statue. And yesterday Churchill College, Cambridge announced the disbanding of its Churchill, Race and Empire Working Group, which was established in the wake of the Black Lives Matters protests last year. The news holds particular resonance for us as the authors of a Policy Exchange paper which was published after an event at Churchill College, Cambridge on 11th February this year.

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