James Butler

James Butler is a contributing editor at the LRB and a co-founder of Novara Media.

Johnson’s Downfall

James Butler, 21 July 2022

BorisJohnson does not like resigning. Shamelessness has been his trademark, and it has allowed him to brazen out scandals that would have brought down other politicians (and better men). Before his speech outside Number Ten on 7 July, his sole political resignation had been from Theresa May’s cabinet in 2018, the opening gambit in his successful campaign to take her job. In 2004,...

From The Blog
6 July 2022

An updated version of this piece appears in the 21 July issue of the paper.

Fewer ministers than ever care about their departments, as the internecine vortex of Westminster and dreams of a slot on Question Time suck in most of their attention. This doesn’t entirely explain why Britain, after twelve years of Conservative government, is run-down, stagnant, expensive, underpaid, unequal, corrupt, socially fractured, backward-looking, hungry and fearful. But it doesn’t help. It will take more than dislodging Johnson to change that.

Short Cuts: Love of the Gardenesque

James Butler, 23 June 2022

Bulbs wait​ for the right conditions – sufficient light, water, warmth – to produce new growth. Eighteen months ago, when I moved to a new boat, the conditions were right for me, too. For the first time after more than ten years living in London I had some outdoor space. I lugged pots, troughs and bags of compost and, by the end of the summer, had planted a little patch around...

Short Cuts: Limping to Success

James Butler, 26 May 2022

Earlyresults matter in politics. The news on the morning of 6 May seemed to confirm a familiar story. Labour had taken two totemic Tory councils, Wandsworth and Westminster, piling on metropolitan voters but failing to ignite the electorate outside the cities. Tory losses were bigger than expected, and by the end of the day looked very bad indeed: the cumulative loss was 485 seats; before...

From The Blog
25 March 2022

Max Webster’s production of Henry V at the Donmar Warehouse promised to examine a riven England and the alternating cast of cynics and inadequates who govern it. The interpretation is still apt, though the genuflections to colonialism and climate change seem like the perfunctory box-ticking of liberal orthodoxy. Other interpretations are now more pressing, and more awkward. This is a war play, the story of an overweening king set on reconquest, on the flimsiest of pretexts. Or is it? Isn’t it also the story of a master rhetorician, a reformed actor-king uniting a fractious nation?

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