Why I’m voting for Starmer

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The Labour leader with his wife, Victoria. Christopher Furlong/Getty

Why I’m voting for Starmer

In our rural backwater, says Max Hastings in The Times, there are still some Conservatives – “the red-trouser brigade” – who cannot imagine voting any other way. They think it ridiculous that I, who pay school fees, should be happy to vote for the party that plans to add 20% to my bill. Yet I am among the millions who feel that the need for change trumps self-interest, or even scepticism about the Labour manifesto. There is also a yearning to deal the current Tory party a blow “sufficiently devastating” that in opposition it might come to its senses, and rediscover both competence and a moral compass.

Keir Starmer’s government will start with some advantages. Its top players are clean, untarnished by the corruption associated with the Tories: David Cameron’s seedy lobbying, the rampant cronyism of the PPE scandal, and so on. Their plans to lower the voting age are said by critics to be “cynical and irresponsible”. Well, successive governments have allowed themselves to be held hostage by Britain’s selfish old folks: enfranchising teens could help “break the tyranny of pensioners”. There is much to do, and even more room for failure. But the other lot have, since 2010, “failed to do any of the big and important things Britain needs”. It seems rather admirable that when much of Europe is lurching to the right, Britain appears ready to try, once again, a government of the centre-left.

🤡🥱 One thing’s for sure, says Tim Stanley in The Daily Telegraph: it’s not going to be a fun ride. The Tories were “gamblers, shaggers, nutters and clowns” in office. But at least they were funny. Starmer, by contrast, appears to be gearing up for a “war on joy”. His government will villainise motorists, discourage meat-eating and “scream at smokers that they’re going to Hell”. There’ll be rainbow flags everywhere, ministers reeling off pronouns, gender nonsense endorsed. One of the most revealing moments of the election so far was when Rishi Sunak told an interviewer he loved Haribo and Twix, and an angry caller demanded to know why he was making light of tooth decay. “Britain is going to be run by people like that for five long years.”

Heroes and villains

Charles Russo/Stanford University

Virginia Hislop, 105, who has finally picked up her master’s degree from Stanford, 83 years after her time on campus came to an abrupt end. “Ginnie” left the university in 1941 without handing in her thesis, because she wanted to marry her then boyfriend before he went off to serve in World War Two. “My goodness,” the great-grandmother said at the graduation ceremony. “I’ve waited a long time for this.”

Philip Davies, a senior Tory caught up in the Westminster betting scandal, for offering an unrepentant (and entirely reasonable) defence of his actions. The 52-year-old was accused of putting an £8,000 wager on losing his seat in Shipley, West Yorkshire, where he has a relatively meagre 6,242 majority. “What’s it got to do with you,” he told reporters. “I hope to win. I’m busting a gut to win. I expect to lose.”

Diesel, a pet donkey who has been found “living his best life” with a herd of wild elk, five years after running away from his owners in California. The equine escapee was recorded happily grazing with his new gang earlier this month, only a few miles from where he first went missing during a hike. Former owner Terrie Drewry says she has no plans to try to bring him back. “He is truly a wild burro now. He’s out there doing what he’s raised to do.”

School officials in Florida who banned a book about banning books. The Indian River County School Board voted to remove Alan Gratz’s somewhat provocatively titled Ban This Book, a novel about a girl who creates a secret library filled with forbidden texts. Board member Kevin McDonald said its title and theme “challenges our authority”.


It’s time to Go Wylde. Wylde is a farmers’ market, where everything happens online. Liberated by technology, fishermen, farmers, hunters and artisans of all types pitch up with what they’ve caught, grown and made. And they set the prices. You pick what you fancy, and – with nationwide delivery – everything arrives in one convenient box on a Friday morning. Head on in to check it out…


THE WOODLAND HIDEAWAY This enchanting six-bedroom home lies within seven acres of landscaped gardens in Elmbridge, Surrey. The 18th-century building boasts a sweeping open-plan hall with marble-surround fireplace, a large living room lined by French windows, and an impressive ensuite master bedroom with wonderful views of the lawns below. The grounds include a peaceful walled garden, private woodland and a separate cottage with additional accommodation. The local station is a short walk, with trains to London in 40 minutes. £6.5m


Taylor Swift with a mid cup of coffee. Alessio Botticelli/Getty

Teenage slang is totally “based”

When my son leaves for university in the autumn, among the things I’ll miss most are his lessons in teenage slang, says Stephen Marche in The New York Times. I’ve found the argot of his generation to be “so much better and more useful” than any I’ve used before. And his slang offers an “accidental and useful portrait” of how kids his age see the world. They have devised a distinct language for a society characterised, “online and off”, by collapsing institutions and a loss of faith in a shared sense of meaning.

Take mid, used to described things that are essentially “average or slightly below”. You can’t really complain about them, but they don’t spark joy. They’re often the result of market research that has refined them to the exact level where “tepid consumer acceptance” is achieved, but no more. Everything in Starbucks, for example, is mid. So too everything in an airport. It’s a “brilliant, precise word” for a consumer world of mild disappointments. Another good one is glazed, which refers to the kind of “artificially positive” gloss that runs rampant on social media. It isn’t quite lying, but it’s clearly balls. There’s also sus, short for “suspect”, and my favourite of all, based, from “based in reality”. What a perfect word for those little oases in the “informational chaos we inhabit”. With so much that’s mid, glazed or otherwise sus, how nice to be able to describe the relief of meeting someone, simply, based.

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Ayo Edibiri and Jeremy Allen White in The Bear

TV – The Bear
This US kitchen drama, returning for its third season, “remains among the very best shows on television”, says Benji Wilson in The Daily Telegraph. It’s about a talented chef (Jeremy Allen White) who returns to his hometown of Chicago to take over his late brother’s restaurant, and is now pushing for a Michelin star. The show’s calling card is its chaotic energy, and the flickering fast-cuts and rollercoaster storyline admittedly aren’t something you’d “want to sit through after tea and scones”. But this is still a “beautifully, stubbornly slow-cooked drama” that’s not to be missed. Disney+, 10 episodes

Podcast – Shadow World: Thief at the British Museum
In this gripping BBC series, amateur sleuth Ittai Gradel tells Katie Razzall how he uncovered the theft of hundreds of ancient treasures from the British Museum. Gradel, a Danish antiques dealer, was browsing eBay when he spotted gems from the museum’s collection for sale, sparking a years-long investigation to find the culprit and return the rocks to London. “Though it’s true crime, it feels more like a whodunnit,” says Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. It’s got it all: a “foreign detective, missing precious gemstones, a potential thief whose story appears to crumble through proper sleuthing”. And Gradel is a perfect guide, both “charismatic and eccentric, with a mind like a steel trap”. Nine episodes, about 15 minutes each

Inside politics

Labour’s Rosie Duffield poses with her campaign companion Paco. Wiktor Szymanowicz/Getty

Lessons from a life on the campaign trail

As the daughter of a politician, “and having stupidly married one”, I’ve propped up a candidate in no fewer than 11 elections, says Sasha Swire in The Sunday Times. So here’s a bit of hard-earned advice to those poor souls currently traipsing around some far-flung constituency with their wannabe-MP partners. First off, “dogs are your secret weapon”. No one in Britain likes speaking to politicians. But if you have a pooch, “people will literally bow down before you and start talking to your kneecaps”. They have other uses too. I once overheard my husband say to a disgruntled voter: “Please don’t talk to me like that in front of my dog.”

Make sure you visit every old people’s home you can. “The residents are sitting ducks. And they are always in.” Don’t be disappointed when your election poster disappears – it’ll almost certainly be the work of those “modern-day cattle rustlers”, the Lib Dems. Never believe their denials. “It’s always them.” And a word of warning: after weeks of “leapfrogging over front garden walls”, your partner will be tanned and super-fit. Their ego will be “off the Richter” – and so will their sex drive. “You will need a solid bank of excuses. More than normal.” Finally, there’s the count, the “most agonising six hours of your life”. If it looks like you’ll lose, make a beeline for those who “haven’t a cat’s chance” of winning either. “Crack open a bottle of champagne with them, get sloshed and start hurling jeers and insults at the TV screen as familiar faces win or lose their seats.”

🎙️ Listen to Sasha Swire talk about her favourite books here.



“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning.”
French philosopher Jean Baudrillard

That’s it. You’re done.