Make no mistake: the Tory right is to blame

💧 Hearing water | 📈 Gamestop | 👑 Thousand-year-old gossip

In the headlines

Schools in England will be banned from teaching children they can change gender and from delivering any form of sex education to under nines. Head teachers have called the review “politically motivated”, and have pointed out that sex education typically only starts at age 10. A manhunt is under way after a French drug trafficker was broken out of a prison convoy by armed accomplices yesterday. Mohamed Amra, thought to have gang ties in Marseille, was returning to jail after a court hearing in Normandy when gunmen rammed the van he was in and opened fire, killing two officers. The first official portrait of King Charles as monarch has been unveiled at Buckingham Palace. Artist Jonathan Yeo explained the ethereal red background was inspired by the uniform of the Welsh Guards, while the endangered monarch butterfly above his right shoulder signifies the King’s metamorphosis from prince to sovereign.

Jonathan Yeo


Finnbarr Webster/Getty

Make no mistake: the Tory right is to blame

If the Tories are smashed at the coming election, says Janan Ganesh in FT, it will be the fault of the Conservative right, “and almost no one else”. Just look at the polls: every major bump for Labour emanates from a scandal on the Tory right. Partygate, presided over by Boris Johnson, “whom the right adored”. Liz Truss, chosen by the right, sinking the pound with her mad mini-Budget. And Brexit, the right’s ultimate project, which just one voter in three now thinks was a good idea. It’s utterly ludicrous that Conservative right-wingers still talk as though Sunak “received and then squandered a plum inheritance” from them. “Excuse me, what?”

Sunak is unpopular with voters, true, “but the Tories could replace him with David Attenborough and still inspire hatred”. They have simply made too big a mess. After Brexit, they could have gone in a “Dominic Cummings-ish direction” by deregulating and rethinking the state from first principles. But to “quit the single market and embrace big-government conservatism”; to have trade barriers with Europe and a high tax burden – well, “it might just be quicker to burn mounds of cash in Trafalgar Square”. If, as some argue, the Tories are losing because the Rwanda scheme is dragging, why is Britain about to elect a Labour government that promises to scrap it? The Tories must “finger the correct culprits for their defeat, then stigmatise them”. Charitable sorts love to argue against the “blame game”. These people should be admired for their sweet natures and ignored. “There is no progress without the rigorous assignment of blame”.


A side-by-side comparison of cold (left) and hot water being poured.

It turns out most people can tell the difference between cold and hot water being poured based on the sound alone, says The New York Times. Cold water tends to “sound brighter and splashier, while hot water sounds duller and frothier”. Chinese researcher Xiaotian Bi has found out why: hot water traps bigger bubbles, producing lower-frequency sounds, whereas cold water traps smaller ones, which make a slightly sharper snap when popped. See if you can tell the difference by listening here.

Inside politics

Politicians may love to bang on about their roots, but it turns out most voters simply aren’t paying attention, says The Independent. New data from More in Common shows that only 11% of people know Keir Starmer’s father was a toolmaker, while 18% know Sunak’s father was a GP, despite both politicians bringing it up constantly. Only 8% of people think the Labour leader had a working-class upbringing.


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On the money


Shares in GameStop are rocketing again, three years after it became the original “meme stock”. In January 2021, amateur traders made a huge (and slightly tongue-in-cheek) bet on the struggling chain of US video game shops, causing its share price to surge and Wall Street firms to make heavy losses. One of the original ringleaders Keith Gill – known online as “Roaring Kitty” – broke a three-year silence on X last weekend, posting a wordless meme (pictured) of a gamer “leaning forward in a chair, as if gearing up for action”, says BBC News. His followers duly started buying up the stock, boosting GameStop’s share price by 70% on Monday alone.

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Russian elites are more anti-Western than ever

When terrorists attacked a Moscow concert hall in March, few were surprised that a branch of Islamic State claimed responsibility, says Tatiana Stanovaya in Foreign Affairs. But contrary to all evidence, Vladimir Putin blamed Ukraine, “and by extension the West”. For the most part, Russians simply accepted this, even those who also accepted IS involvement. It’s an odd thought, but Russian elites often “blur the distinctions between Islamist terrorists, Ukrainians and Americans”, viewing them as components of a world system defined by its hostility to Russia. And it reveals how war has made Russians more anti-Western than ever, “binding them to Putin as their sole assurance of survival”.

Many Western observers assumed “war fatigue, resource shortages, and intelligence failures” would lead to internal conflicts and disillusionment with Putin. “That has demonstrably not happened.” Instead, the war has become an end in itself, creating career and business opportunities and boosting the economy. When Emmanuel Macron suggested recently that Nato might deploy ground troops, senior figures in Moscow were far from unhappy. “How does Europe not understand this?” one Moscow policymaker asks me. “The prospect of engaging Nato soldiers is far more motivating than confronting Ukrainians.” There’s even a thought in Kremlin circles that the deployment of Western soldiers to Ukraine would work in Russia’s favour, as the inevitable casualties would weaken the resolve of Moscow’s enemies. Only total military defeat or a prolonged financial crisis could do anything to shake Putin’s grip. “Western leaders face the unenviable task of determining how to engage with a Russia that has grown increasingly self-confident, bold, and radical.”


For all the fanfare around U2’s residency at the new Las Vegas Sphere, “it all ended with a bit of a whimper”, says Popbitch. Reviews were underwhelming, with the consensus being that the band “weren’t up to their usual slick standard”. Industry types have an inkling as to why: right from the off, Bono was “determined to spend the absolute bare minimum of time in Vegas”. He’d jet in for appearances then head straight back off. The reason? He’s convinced the desert air is “bad for his throat”. He might have saved his voice, but it came “at the expense of the rest of the show”.


I read a really “magnificent” bit of news this week, says Ella Risbridger in the FT. The King has snubbed his younger son by making his older son the chief of the younger son’s former regiment, “in a row about the younger son’s inability to hold his tongue about the skeletons in the family cupboard”. It’s like gossip “from a thousand years ago”. Pick any point in the last 10 centuries and you’ll find the younger sons of kings scheming against their fathers, “and the fathers scheming right back at them”.


Snapshot answer

It’s a photorealistic mural of a boat, which was commissioned by a California mariner after local authorities forced him to put up a fence to conceal his vessel. Municipal rules demanded a six-foot barrier, but “said nothing about how the fence should be decorated”, says NBC News – so in a “light-hearted jibe at officialdom”, Etienne Constable hired a local artist to create a mural that made it look as though the fence wasn’t there.


“If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
American novelist Anne Lamott

That’s it. You’re done.