Britain’s gamble on the future

🍓 Stacks of strawberries | 🍺 Drunken geography | 😮‍💨 Hiccups begone

In the headlines

As Britons head to the polls today, a final YouGov survey predicted Labour would win a majority of 212 seats – the biggest since 1832 – leaving the Conservatives with just 102 MPs. “Toodle pip!” says the Daily Star. The White House says Joe Biden will “absolutely not” step aside as his party’s presidential candidate. With an increasing number of Democrats, including Barack Obama, concerned about his ability to win re-election, the president insisted: “No one is pushing me out … I’m in this race to the end.” Japan has finally “won the war” against its use of floppy disks, according to the country’s digital minister. Up until last month, people were required to submit many government documents using the outdated storage device, with over 1,000 regulations mandating its use. The Land of the Rising Sun has finally gone digital for all official business.


The Sun, left, and the Starmers on their way to vote this morning. Leon Neal/Getty

Britain’s gamble on the future

After 14 chaotic years of Conservative rule, it’s “time for a new manager”, says The Sun. Rishi Sunak has done his best with the mess he inherited, but the Tories have become a “divided rabble”, more interested in fighting themselves than running the country. Migration is out of control. Taxes are at their highest level since World War Two. Sleaze scandals have broken public trust. Nigel Farage has “struck a chord with millions”, but he’s a one-man-band; the Liberal Democrats are a “joke”. Which means it’s time for Labour. Keir Starmer has fought hard to change his party for the better, purging antisemites and distancing himself from “crazy Marxist Corbynista” policies and MPs. Chancellor Rachel Reeves wants to “turbo-boost economic growth”; Health Secretary Wes Streeting promises “radical reinvention” of the NHS. “We wish them every success.”

“Never has an opposition leader with ratings as dismal as Keir Starmer’s gone on to win an election,” says The Spectator. His “wooden speeches and nebulous agenda” would ordinarily have earned him a place on the “long list of Labour losers”. But this time, the question of the election was: “who has disappointed voters most?” And here, “the Tories proved hard to beat”. Starmer’s first task is to put aside the “fake visions of Britain” that were projected during the campaign and tackle the country as it really is. The welfare system “shamefully keeps 5.6m people on out-of-work-benefits”, the NHS needs urgent rethinking, the highly successful Academy movement should be extended to primary schools. In all this, Starmer has more room to manoeuvre than the Tories had. He can dress up reform in left-wing – “even class-war” – language, which is the only way to make a success of it.

The truth is, betting on Labour is a “leap in the dark”, says The Times. Their promised “dash for growth” will take years to bear fruit, if it ever does. And for the unions, Labour’s return to power will be the “firing of a starting gun” for higher pay demands. The “assault on non-doms” and levying of VAT on independent school fees suggest the party’s “traditional disdain for aspiration” is alive and kicking. Starmer was “admirably clear in backing JK Rowling” over women-only spaces, but many in his party are in hock to trans zealotry. “Sir Keir may have secured a huge majority by Friday. The day after he must begin the process of earning it.”

Food and drink

Wimbledon is “the largest single annual catering operation in Europe”, says ABC News. More than half a million people attend the two-week tournament, fed by nearly 300 chefs across 55 kitchens. In 2023, a total of 281,151 hot meals were served along with 50 tonnes of strawberries and more than 102,000 scones. As for the drinks, the assembled tennis fans drank 257,381 cups of tea and a staggering 341,202 glasses of Pimm’s. New balls please.

Election watch

The Conservative Party has “dramatically reshaped Britain since 2010,” says The New York Times. Just not always in the ways it intended. For the party of business, it’s striking that productivity growth is down by 60%. A party that has, particularly in recent years, made much of cracking down on immigration, can’t be too chuffed to see an asylum backlog up 1,300% and net migration up 170%. Odder still is the party’s refusal to acknowledge what it has done well. Crime is down by 54%, unemployment is down 44%, and fossil fuel use is down 60%. Yet what are three of the Tories’ main bugbears? Sick note Britain, civil breakdown and Net Zero. 🤷🏼‍♀️


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Buddy taking up his father’s trade

“The age of the nepo chef is upon us,” says Stuart Heritage in The Guardian. Gordon Ramsay’s daughter kicked off the trend back in 2015, with her show Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch in which the then-13-year-old documented her summer holiday in LA while occasionally cooking. Now Jamie Oliver’s son Buddy is at it. In his new CBBC show Cooking Buddies, the 13-year-old teaches fellow youngsters to make such varied dishes as “spicy tomato pasta and fish finger sandwiches”. Pukka.

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David Miliband: what could have been. Oli Scarff/Getty

“Don’t let’s be beastly to each other”

The US Democrats have had over three years to prepare for this, says Janan Ganesh in the FT. The day Joe Biden was elected, they should have begun searching – “at his instigation” – for his successor. “Yet here we are.” It’s part of a pattern of shoddy judgement on the Anglo-American left. If the Democrats had chosen a better candidate than Hillary Clinton in 2016, Trump would now be filming The Apprentice season 23. As for the Labour party, all sorts of Tory shenanigans would have been avoided had they canned Gordon Brown before the 2010 election, chosen the correct Miliband brother for 2015 and never bothered with Jeremy Corbyn.

In each of these cases it was plain at the time what had to be done, but “the left found a way not to do it”. At a certain point, it starts to look less like a “series of mishaps” than an underlying character flaw. I think it boils down to an “aversion to conflict with like-minded people”. Just look at the left’s “constant evasiveness about the woke movement”. It’s “just good manners”, they say; “rightwingers are making it up”; “Defund the Police means Let’s Think Hard About Constructive Reform of the Police”. Trying to cravenly excuse a profoundly illiberal movement remains the reflex of far too many liberals. Aware that he wasn’t a genius, George Orwell said his advantage was the “power of facing unpleasant facts”, which allowed him to see “the malevolence of the Soviet project” that the “more sumptuous talents” on the left chose not to. That same denialism lives on in the cowardice of those who haven’t faced up to Biden’s age, and their miserable credo: “don’t let’s be beastly to each other”.

Quirk of history

In 1886, the Temperance Movement published, somewhat paradoxically, a map showing every place in London where alcohol was on sale, says The Oldie. The idea was that people would be so appalled by the abundance of beer in the city that they’d take up arms in an effort to end drinking. “In hindsight, this logic is obviously flawed.”

Staying young

Dumbo’s hiccups

Scientists have discovered a cure for hiccups that works 100% of the time, says Good magazine. Exhale deeply, emptying your lungs, then take a deep breath in and hold it. Without letting any air out, take a few more sips of air, until you can’t take in any more. After a few seconds, try a few more sips, then breathe out slowly. That’s it.


Snapshot answer

It’s the world’s oldest picture story, says The Guardian. The ancient cave painting depicting three human figures and a wild pig was discovered in a limestone cave on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, and dates back 51,000 years. It’s believed to be the oldest human artwork in the world, as well as the earliest known surviving evidence of “imaginative storytelling”.


“Democracy is the process by which people choose who to blame.”
Philosopher Bertrand Russell

That’s it. You’re done.