PTSD-suffering military veterans show long-term benefits from working with orphaned baby rhinos

In December last year, I travelled to a secret location just outside South Africa’s famous Kruger National Park to report on a unique project.

The location was, and still is, secret because it is where dozens of young rhinos, some only weeks or months old, are brought when they are found abandoned and orphaned: in almost all cases their mothers have been brutally shot and dehorned, sometimes while they are still alive, by poachers.

So if the evil poachers knew the location of the Care for Wild Rhino Sanctuary, they could go there in search of easy pickings: some of the older rhinos have well-established – and therefore valuable – horns. (more…)

The Pompeii of the First World War: Remains of 110 soldiers are found in a Belgian field surrounded by revolvers, HP sauce bottles and even a harmonica

Published in The Mail On Sunday on 06 October 2019.

  • The ‘Dig Hill 80’ project is situated on the outskirts of Wytschaete in Belgium
  • It gives an unprecedented snapshot of life on the front line from 1914 to 1918
  • Flare guns, medals, water bottles, bullets and an HP Sauce bottle were found

This week more than 80 soldiers who perished during the Great War will finally be laid to rest with full military honours close to where they fell on the Western Front.

These burials, including those of 13 British soldiers who were killed more than a century ago, are the result of one of the most extraordinary archaeological discoveries of modern times. (more…)

The trouble with the “true Brexiteers”: final day of my Conservative Conference Diary

Twitter wags have complained that the omnipresent message of the week – “Get Brexit done. Invest in our NHS, schools and police” – means that the conference centre is emblazoned with a list of things the Tories have not delivered. This seems unfair – parties need to look forward not back, as that Mr Blair used to say – but as I found in my most recent research, many voters are treating the “invest” part of the proposition with more than a little scepticism, even if they are pinning their hopes on the first.

I can’t help noticing, by the way, that some of those demanding that we “get Brexit done” had the chance to do exactly that three times but voted not to do so on each occasion. What they mean is that we should “get Brexit done” on terms they find acceptable. Fine – but as so often in politics, it depends how we conjugate the verb: I’m defending an important principle, you are being obstructive, he is undermining democracy.

Read more …

Perhaps Johnson really is the British Trump – and voters like it: my Conservative Conference Diary

As the story about Jennifer Arcuri rumbles on, people in quiet corners here in Manchester occasionally ask each other if she will spell real trouble for Boris Johnson. To which the answer seems to be, why this one in particular? The surrounding allegations about the PM’s behaviour towards women – heavily denied, it should be noted – have merged with complaints about his supposedly inflammatory use of language into a narrative about his fitness for office. All this has a familiar ring about it. The sense of déjà vu comes from the early months of the Trump presidency, when his opponents would latch on to each new story about his personal conduct in the hope that surely now his supporters would realise their terrible mistake. Unmoved, Trump voters had long since decided that they could tolerate his foibles as the price of getting things done: “we didn’t elect him to be a saint, we elected him to be a leader,” as one memorably told us during my US research.

Read more …

See the October issue of Britain at War for Lord Ashcroft’s new bravery article

Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.

The October issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Major Michael “Bronco” Lane, a true SAS legend following a quite remarkable military career.

Lane, who was born in Manchester, joined the SAS in 1967, six years after enlisting in the Royal Artillery in his home city. In 1976, aged 30, he took part in the Army Mountaineering Association’s expedition to Mount Everest. (more…)

A welcome to Issue Number 2 of Iron Cross

First published in Iron Cross magazine on 01 October 2019.

I am delighted to have been asked to write a welcome to this the second issue of Iron Cross magazine and to be able to commend this splendid publication to the reader as an important historical journal. It provides an honest and objective look at German military history from 1914 to 1945 for the first time. (more…)

Could Tory MPs be whipped to vote that they have no confidence in their own government? My Conservative Conference Diary

In most spheres of life, whether in politics or business or anything else, when trying to predict what will happen in an uncertain situation you usually have some kind of solid foundation from which to project. The thing that makes it so hard to forecast where things will go with parliament and Brexit is that there are no firm assumptions from which to build. The combination of the PM’s determination to hold an election, Labour’s refusal to do so until no deal is off the table combined with the SNP’s newfound resolve to topple Boris Johnson potentially takes this uncertainty to new heights, or depths. Could we see Conservative MPs whipped to vote that they do not have confidence in their government, and the official Opposition whipped to vote that they do? 

Read more …

State of the Nation: my new polling on the political landscape and the battle lines for the next election

The Conservative Party conference that opens today takes place at a more volatile and unpredictable time than any previous gathering I can remember. My new research, including an 8,000-sample poll, helps to make sense of what is going on by showing what the voters themselves make of the unfolding drama.

The Brexit Saga, part 94

When asked what they would most like to happen with Brexit, nearly eight in ten Conservative Leave voters choose Boris Johnson’s position of leaving the EU on 31 October with or without a deal. However, only 32% of them think this is the most likely outcome. One in five of them think we will leave after the current deadline, and nearly a quarter believe we will end up remaining in the EU. Overall, 36% back the PM’s policy, including six in ten 2017 Conservatives, nearly seven in ten Leave voters overall, and more than half of Labour Leavers.

Read more …

The public’s verdict on our political class? They waver between fury and contempt

This article was first published in the Mail on SundayThe full report and data tables are below.

On the face of it, the government is in real trouble. The Supreme Court ruling against the Prime Minister follows a succession of parliamentary defeats, defections, expulsions and daily headlines about turmoil and chaos. But it is a good rule of thumb in politics that the noisier it gets, the more it pays to take a step back, a deep breath, and a good look at the bigger picture.

Read more …

Jacob’s Ladder Book Launch Speech

Speech made on Tuesday 10 September 2019.

Watch the full speech that I made on Tuesday 10 September 2019 at the launch of my new book, Jacob’s Ladder: The Unauthorised Biography of Jacob Rees-Mogg.  The launch was attended by a wide variety of guests, including Jacob Rees-Mogg himself.

Buy the book here …

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