Today's Liberal News

Helen Lewis

Goodbye to Tory Britain

The last time Britain traded a Conservative government for a Labour one, back in 1997, the mood was so buoyant that the new prime minister, Tony Blair, declared: “A new dawn has broken, has it not?” His successor Keir Starmer is far less of a showman, and even many of his supporters feel pessimistic about Britain’s future prospects. Yet the scale of Starmer’s victory today appears comparable to Blair’s landslide.

The British Prime Minister Bowed to the Inevitable

Please read this as classic British understatement: Today was not, on the face of it, an ideal time for Rishi Sunak to call an election.
One of the perks of being Britain’s prime minister is getting to choose the date when voters deliver their verdict on your government. Most push their advantage by selecting a time when their party is ahead in the polls, the economic mood is buoyant, and their supporters are optimistic about success.

I Hope You All Feel Terrible Now

Updated at 4:04 p.m ET on March 22, 2024
For many years, the most-complained-about cover of the British satirical magazine Private Eye was the one it published in the week after the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. At the time, many people in Britain were loudly revolted by the tabloid newspapers that had hounded Diana after her divorce from Charles, and by the paparazzi whose quest for profitable pictures of the princess ended in an underpass in Paris.

Is Kara Swisher Tearing Down Tech Billionaires—Or Burnishing Their Legends?

Few journalists and their sources have fallen out as completely as Kara Swisher and Elon Musk. The reporter met the future billionaire in the late 1990s, when she was a tech correspondent for The Wall Street Journal  and he was just another Silicon Valley boy wonder. Over more than two decades, they developed a spiky but mutually useful relationship, conducted through informal emails and texts as well as public interviews.

Biden’s Age Is Now Unavoidable

As an outsider observing the U.S. presidential election, I have been wondering for months when Joe Biden’s age would become a thing. Biden is 81 already—the oldest person ever to occupy the White House—and is seeking another four-year term. He is older than George W. Bush, who stopped being president in 2008, and older than Bill Clinton, who gave up the job in 2000. He is older than the hovercraft, the barcode, and the Breathalyzer.

The Crown Has Nothing Left to Say

I’m going to miss The Crown. At its best, it has been alternately soothing, nostalgic, and educational, and even at its worst, it has always been well acted and gorgeous.Unfortunately, the second half of the sixth and final season is very much The Crown at its worst.

Modern Britain Is a Scene From Slow Horses

“No one enters Slough House by the front door,” the novelist Mick Herron writes in Dead Lions, the second book in his series about an “administrative oubliette” for useless spies exiled by MI5, Britain’s domestic-intelligence agency. “Instead, via a shabby alleyway, its inmates let themselves into a grubby yard with mildewed walls, and through a door that requires a sharp kick most mornings, when damp or cold or heat have warped it.

Travis Kelce Is Another Puzzle for Taylor Swift Fans to Crack

This Thanksgiving, America is divided: One half knows why the word squirle is funny, and one half does not. Are you in the latter group? Then you should know that earlier this month, a series of tweets surfaced by Taylor Swift’s new boyfriend, the Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce. In one of them, from 2011, he offered this observation: “I just gave a squirle a peice of bread and it straight smashed all of it!!!! I had no idea they ate bread like that!! Haha #crazy.

The Other Ozempic Revolution

On Labor Day weekend, 35 excited guests arrived at a campground in Newark, Ohio, for a retreat dedicated to “fat joy”—a place where people could swim, dance, do yoga, roast marshmallows, and sleep in cabins with others who had been made to feel guilty about their weight. The point of Camp RoundUp was “really diving into the joy of being at summer camp, the joy of being a fat little kid again,” Alison Rampa, one of the organizers, told me.

London’s Day of Creeping Extremism

How do you decide who owns a country? At 10:30 this morning in London, a group of black-clad men were gathered about 100 meters from the Cenotaph, Britain’s most famous war memorial. They were chanting. “We want our country back,” went one refrain, followed by “You’re not English, you’re not English, you’re not English anymore.”This group was—as another of their chants put it—“Tommy’s Army.

The Journalist and the Fallen Billionaire

Michael Lewis was captivated by Sam Bankman-Fried from their very first meeting—and on the evidence of Lewis’s new book, Going Infinite, his affection has not wavered in the two years since. Which is surprising, because Bankman-Fried is no longer a lauded cryptocurrency billionaire but an alleged con man, on trial for seven counts of fraud and money laundering. (He has pleaded not guilty.

Nobody Should Care About a Woman’s ‘Body Count’

Ever since Elon Musk’s lackeys began fiddling with the algorithms of X (formerly Twitter), I have noticed a distinct shift in the content that is pushed onto users. My “For you” tab is now a nest of tradwives, shoplifting videos, and that guy who has strong opinions on trouser creases. It is also home to the kind of old-fashioned misogyny that I once thought was on the decline.

The Weird, Fragmented World of Social Media After Twitter

Are you on Bluesky? Let’s be honest: Probably not. The Twitter clone is still in beta and has been notoriously stingy with its invite codes. Its small size means that every time an influx of newbies arrives, the existing user base freaks out, filling the algorithmically curated “Discover” tab with incredibly overwrought complaints.

The Humiliation of Ron DeSantis

Before his stump speeches in his reelection campaign last year, Ron DeSantis liked to play a video montage that showed him being gratuitously rude to reporters at press conferences. It was petty and graceless—and warmly received by the Florida governor’s base. At a DeSantis rally in Melbourne, Florida, last fall, I watched the video from an elevated press pen alongside a gaggle of local reporters.

The Feminists Insisting That Women Are Built Differently

Was the sexual revolution a mistake? From the 1960s through today, the majority of feminists would instantly answer “no.” Easier access to contraception, the relaxation of divorce laws, the legalization of abortion, less emphasis on virginity, reduced stigma around unmarried sex—all of these have been hailed as liberating for women.But in the past few years, an emergent strand of feminism has questioned these assumptions.

The Hogwarts Legacy Boycott That Wasn’t

When Hogwarts Legacy was released in February, the verdict from video-game sites was close to unanimous: The latest spin-off from the Harry Potter series was a heartless mess, the product of a bigoted worldview, and playing it involved an uncomfortable act of moral compromise—or at least holding your nose and reassuring yourself that J. K. Rowling was not directly involved.The tech magazine Wired gave the game 1/10, and said its “real-world harms are impossible to ignore.

What You Can’t Say on YouTube

Recently, on a YouTube channel, I said something terrible, but I don’t know what it was. The main subject of discussion—my reporting on the power of online gurus—was not intrinsically offensive. It might have been something about the comedian turned provocateur Russell Brand’s previous heroin addiction, or child-abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. I know it wasn’t the word Nazi, because we carefully avoided that.

Prince Harry’s Book Undermines the Very Idea of Monarchy

Imagine a fairy-tale city—on the coast, perhaps, with sailboats bobbing in the breeze. This is Ursula K. Le Guin’s Omelas, a fictional utopia where “the air of morning was so clear that the snow still crowning the Eighteen Peaks burned with white-gold fire.”But Omelas holds a horrifying secret: Its continued existence relies on a single malnourished, unloved child being kept in a cellar, alone and uncomforted, in filth and fear.

The Cringeworthy End of Harry & Meghan on Netflix

Well, here we all are again. Ready for three more hours of expensively lit retribution? I hope so, because the second half of Netflix’s documentary Harry & Meghan dropped today, covering the four and a half years from the couple’s wedding to the present day.The final three episodes of this six-hour series—Ken Burns needed just three times as long to get through the entire Vietnam war—focus on the Royal Family’s relationship with the press (again).

Harry and Meghan Are Playing a Whole Different Game

Fame at last! Two minutes into Netflix’s Harry & Meghan documentary, the headline of an article I wrote in January 2020 flashed on the screen. “Harry and Meghan Won’t Play the Game,” it said. Observing the departure of the duke and duchess of Sussex from the Royal Family—and from Britain itself—the story declared that “no royal has ever taken on the press quite so directly, much though they might have wanted to.

Rishi Sunak, Scion of Britain’s New Ruling Class

In December 2019, nearly 14 million people voted for Boris Johnson to become prime minister of Britain. Last month, 140,000 Tory members voted for Liz Truss to succeed him. And today, the support of 195 Conservative members of Parliament was enough to install Rishi Sunak on Downing Street.British democracy is shrinking, and the result is Sunak—a politician who lacks a popular mandate but does have incredible wealth and an air of hoodie-wearing dorkiness.

Liz Truss’s Living Nightmare

In March 1841, William Henry Harrison became the ninth president of the United States. He gave the longest inaugural speech in history—one hour and 45 minutes—developed a cold, and then, after a mere 32 days in charge, succumbed to a mixture of pneumonia and 19th-century medicine.According to a persistent, if apocryphal, rumor, Harrison caught that fatal chill at his inauguration.

Boris Johnson’s Terrible Parting Gift

In his last days as prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson conducted a farewell tour of the country. Possibly he expected something like the accolades his beloved Roman generals were given—a small arch in his honor, say—or at least a few angry Gauls walking miserably behind his chariot. Instead he went to a field in southwest England and stared at a hole in the ground.

I’m the Driver Now

Thirty-seven, I decided, was old enough. Even here in Britain, that is an advanced age to begin learning to drive, but somehow, I had never gotten around to it. And so I found myself, one morning last fall, trying to master the exact sequence of foot movements required to hit something called “biting point.

The Intersectionality of Hate

“The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be—will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved.”These are not the words of the teenager who walked into a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, on Saturday to hunt down Black Americans, although they might as well be. These are the words of Tom Buchanan, a rich, repugnant character in the 1925 novel The Great Gatsby.

The Abortion Debate Is Suddenly About ‘People,’ Not ‘Women’

Say what you like about the ACLU; it knows how to get people talking. But not necessarily in terms favorable to the ACLU. Late last month, the civil-liberties organization was revealed to have ghostwritten Amber Heard’s contentious Washington Post op-ed about suffering from domestic violence; the article was timed to coincide with the release of her film Aquaman.

Among Europe’s Ex-Royals

Photographs by Jelka von LangenOne peculiarity of European aristocrats is that their names pile up, like snowdrifts. It’s lunchtime in Tirana, the capital of Albania, and I am about to meet Leka Anwar Zog Reza Baudouin Msiziwe Zogu, crown prince of the Albanians.The Albanian royal residence is easy to miss, tucked away on a quiet side street behind the national art museum.

Of Course Putin Is Being Canceled

Perhaps the time has come for Vladimir Putin to go on Joe Rogan’s podcast, because Russia has been canceled. Following the invasion of Ukraine, governments and companies around the world have distanced themselves from Russia and its citizens. “The West is not just trying to surround Russia with a new Iron Curtain,” its director of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, said last week.

‘In the Name of God, Go’

“In the name of God, go!”If you wanted to choose a quotation to wound Boris Johnson—a man who wrote a biography of Winston Churchill as a coded advertisement for his own virtues—then this would be it. When Johnson’s fellow Conservative David Davis stood up in Parliament today and said these words, he must have intended them to be a fatal blow. Davis was not comparing the prime minister to his hero Churchill.

Two Years Is Long Enough

I got my COVID-19 booster shot last week, on the first day I was eligible. My shot was delayed because I caught COVID in early December, an experience that was low-key grim: two days of shotgun sneezing, no taste or smell for a week, and a constant fatigue that didn’t abate until the holidays. I was very glad to face the coronavirus with two Pfizer doses already in my arm, and even more grateful that my parents and 91 percent of Britons in their age group are triple-jabbed.