GPs will be offered bonuses for recruiting patients into clinical trials, says The Times, as part of a push to lure pharmaceutical giants to the UK. It’s part of a £650m government programme to boost life sciences, with funds also earmarked for speeding up the approval of new drugs. Britain’s population is on track to overtake France’s for the first time, says the I newspaper. Record migration means that by 2025 the UK will become Europe’s second-largest country with around 68 million people, trailing only Germany, which has 83 million residents. British beaches may face a “monster jellyfish invasion” during next week’s half-term break, says the Daily Star. Warming sea temperatures will tempt the venomous blobs further north than usual, possibly including deadly Portuguese man o’ wars. “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…”
A rig off the coast of Aberdeen. Simon Dawson/Bloomberg/Getty
The madness at the heart of our energy policy
A few weeks ago, everyone was appalled to learn that Russia had been sending spy vessels around the North Sea in a possible precursor to sabotage. But Moscow “needn’t bother”, says Juliet Samuel in The Times – our own government is systematically strangling our oil and gas industry all by itself. Its recent windfall taxes, coupled with Labour’s pledge to stop all “new investment” in fossil fuels, have sent the industry into a tailspin. “Nine in 10 capital projects in the North Sea are now on hold.” Activity in new fields is at a 40-year low. Big energy firms are telling their shareholders they’re shifting their focus towards “more stable political environments, like West Africa”.
There might be an argument for destroying one of our “prime economic assets” – and an employer of 150,000 people – if it were good for the planet. In fact, the reverse is true. Two thirds of Britain’s energy still comes from fossil fuels, much of which we get from the North Sea. So if UK production falls, we just have to buy more European gas – meaning Europe will “burn more coal and import more carbon-intensive gas by ship”. In private, ministers admit that it’s a mess; they know they could limit the damage with a couple of easy tweaks. The problem is politics: anything seen as helping out the evil oil firms is a no-no. It’s a disgrace. Our government is “knowingly engaged in an act of economic vandalism”, all for the sake of “short-term political gain”.
The Photography Centre at London’s V&A opened yesterday, celebrating the museum’s picture collection – one of the largest and most important in the world. It includes snaps of a firework exploding over a 1980s London building site; a woman looking out over the Indian coast; a rioter running away from burning objects in the street; and a blast in a limestone quarry. See more here.
The “humanities catastrophists” are at it again, says Henry Oliver in The Critic. You know the ones – the people who think the decline in studying English at universities marks some sort of existential threat to our cultural landscape. It’s nonsense. The reality is that “many, if not all” the virtues of such courses are available away from lecture halls. And off campus, “the humanities are thriving”. Literary events abound. Sales of fiction boomed during Covid. There are dozens of bookish Substacks with thousands of followers, several publishing houses solely dedicated to reviving “out-of-print classics”, and more literary periodicals than we could ever need. “Literature enrolments may be suffering. Literature isn’t.”
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Sergey Brin, the billionaire co-founder of Google, has ploughed more than $250m into bringing airships back to our skies, says Bloomberg. The firm in question, Lighter Than Air, is about to unveil the first of its Pathfinder 1 models (pictured), a 122-metre-long blimp given buoyancy by 13 “helium bladders”. Why Brin wants a whole fleet of airships “remains a partial mystery”, given the industry “barely exists today”. Alan Weston, the company’s CEO (and a founding member of Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club), says they could one day be a “viable, green means for transporting freight”.
From different tribes: Suella Braverman and Ron DeSantis. Leon Neal, Scott Olson/Getty
Our Tories are nothing like America’s Republicans
The National Conservatism movement’s flagship conference in London last week was a damp squib, says John Burn-Murdoch in the FT, with criticism coming even from moderate conservatives in right-wing publications. How did its US organisers “misjudge their target market so badly”? Many people don’t realise just how different Britain is to America, especially when it comes to politics. “From immigration and racial discrimination to whether to defend tradition or embrace change, UK Conservatives actually come out closer to US Democrats than Republicans.” One speaker at the conference, for example, declared that “Britain is a Christian nation, or it is nothing at all.” Yet only 24% of Tories think being Christian is important to their national identity – about the same as Democrats (25%) and way below Republicans (53%).
These “starkly different social attitudes” exist because the UK and the US are very different places. America remains “far more racially segregated” than Britain. Black workers there earn 22% less an hour than their white counterparts, compared to a deficit of 6% in the UK. Black Americans live four years fewer than whites, on average; in Britain, black people “live longer than their white compatriots”. Another big contrast is the media. In the US, no single news provider serves more than a quarter of the population. In the UK, almost 60% of people regularly get their news from the BBC, “and both Labour and Conservative supporters generally trust its output”. These and other differences help explain why our politics is so much less heated than it is in the US. Aspiring “transatlantic culture warriors” should take note.
A FRENCH HOLIDAY HOME Le Sivadal is a six-bedroom stone farmhouse near the award-winning medieval village of Cordes-sur-Ciel in the southwest of France. The kitchen and living space in the main house boast beams and high ceilings, along with a huge wood-burning stove for cold winters. Outside there is a swimming pool and around 2.5 acres of grounds, with open views of the surrounding countryside. The property has income potential via lettings. Toulouse airport is a one-hour drive. €575,000. Click here for more details.
This clip of a drinker rolling his kayak while keeping his pint of Guinness above water has racked up almost five million views on Twitter. As one user says: “There is zero chance that guy isn’t Irish.”
F Scott Fitzgerald was as insecure as they come, says Florian Illies in his new book Love in a Time of Hate. One evening, the author revealed to Ernest Hemingway “in a choked voice” that his wife Zelda had told him his penis was too small. Hemingway suggested they immediately head to the gents so that he could assess the matter for himself – where he decided, in his “expert opinion”, that everything was “perfectly fine”. Alas, Fitzgerald couldn’t be consoled. “One more reason to drink.”
It’s the world’s first “nepo dad”: Rob Grant, father of pop star Lana Del Rey. The 69-year-old previously worked as an ad man – but now, thanks to the record-producing contacts of his daughter, he is releasing his debut album Lost at Sea, inspired by his love of boating. “The nepo daddy thing I love,” Grant tells GQ, after fans flooded his Instagram comments with the term. “I thought, ‘My God, this would make really cool merch.’” He has even bought the website domain www.nepodaddy.com.
“Why should I care about posterity? What has it ever done for me?”
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