David Cameron reportedly went on a camping trip in the Saudi Arabian desert with disgraced financier Lex Greensill and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – months after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. He isn’t the first PM to have embraced dodgy figures, says Max Hastings in The Times. Harold Wilson ennobled the creator of the Gannex mac, Joseph Kagan, who eventually went to prison for theft and tax evasion. “Winston Churchill’s most intimate friend was the newspaper tycoon Lord Beaverbrook, of whom it was said that he never espoused a cause which was both honourable and successful.”
Rather, Cameron’s big mistake is that he tried to continue being capital-I “Important” after leaving office. Drifting among much richer friends, he pursued “soft wealth without hard labour” by joining Greensill Capital and lobbying the government for them. His tragedy is of “a decent human being” who has reverted to the entitled mores of the Bullingdon Club.
Yang is back with a bang
Andrew Yang has plenty of striking ideas, say Josh Glancy and Laura Pullman in The Sunday Times. The tech entrepreneur’s presidential campaign gained attention thanks to his support of universal basic income. He’s now the leading Democratic candidate for the New York mayoralty, and advocates legalising magic mushrooms and inviting TikTokers to set up residency in the city. But with the federal government handing out three consecutive “stimulus cheques” to Americans, his plan to give $2,000-$5,000 a year to New York’s 500,000 poorest citizens doesn’t look so crazy.
Liz Truss is not for turning
Trade Secretary Liz Truss grew up shouting “Maggie, Maggie, Maggie, out, out, out!” on marches with her left-wing mother. But some Tories think she’s their modern Thatcher – a state-educated free marketeer with a penchant for wearing bright block colours and little tolerance for “Whitehall verbosity”, says Anna Isaac in Politico. Officials say she sends wordy briefs back marked “TL;DR” (too long; didn’t read), with “dead-eyed emojis” (😵). She has a “hatred of mayonnaise”, a passion for burgers and a taste for cold white wine – in moderation. “Her addiction is politics, not booze.”
Starmer needs to hit unmute
Keir Starmer’s first year in office has been a tale of Zoom backdrops, says Stephen Bush in The Times. For most of it, Labour’s red studio background made “some of his shadow cabinet look half dead”. The purple that followed was worse. Now a “crisp white” ensures they no longer look as if they’ve been “dug out of a grave”. It suits Starmer’s approach to the pandemic, “something that Labour needed to survive, rather than to capitalise on”. Where he goes from here is a trickier question.