Little boys who grew up to be Britain’s bravest brothers.

First published in The Mail on Sunday on Sunday 10 November 2019 .

As we honour the fallen, Lord Ashcroft recounts their heroic stories.

The sleepy Norfolk village of Whissonsett, population 488, is mentioned in the Domesday Book commissioned in 1085. Yet it also has another claim to fame that is apparent from a village sign erected, by chance, exactly 900 years later.

For the sign, unveiled in the summer of 1985 just a stone’s throw from the village church, honours the memory of two remarkable brothers: Derek and Hugh Seagrim. They are the only siblings ever to be awarded, separately, their country’s foremost gallantry awards: the Victoria Cross (VC) and the George Cross (GC). (more…)

See the November 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 November issue of the magazine has four pages on the life and career of Company Sergeant Major Edward Thomas Chapman, who was awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) for bravery during the Second World War. (more…)

‘He’s a bit Trumpy for me’, ‘She seems quite right-wing’, ‘There’ll be riots in the streets!’: my election focus groups in Finchley, Cambridge and Richmond

My general election focus group tour has begun with a look at three heavily remain-voting constituencies that the newly confident Liberal Democrats hope to take next month: Cambridge, which they aim to win from Labour, and Finchley & Golders Green and Richmond Park, both of which they hope to take back from the Conservatives.

‘A bit tantrummy’
There was not a great deal of excitement about the prospect of going to the polls again, and some doubted it was even necessary: “It’s a kind of vanity election. I think he was so annoyed he threw his toys out of the pram and said ‘right, let’s call their bluff, let’s call an election.’

Read more …

Trump’s final countdown? It’s one year to the next presidential election

It’s the first Tuesday in November, which means that 52 weeks from today, Americans will be voting on whether or not to give Donald Trump a second term in the White House. My latest research sheds some light on what voters are thinking with a year to go – and why the outcome is anything but settled. The full findings are set out in my report, Trump’s Final Countdown?, but here are five of the main points.

Trump’s 2016 voters approve of his performance – but with wide variations
My 15,000-sample survey found voters disapproving of President Trump’s performance by 56% to 40%. More people said they “strongly disapproved” than the total with a positive view.

Read more …

Simba’s Sanctuary

First published in the Mail on Sunday on 27 October 2019.

Looking regal and majestic, he lay on a wooden platform with his proud head and golden mane held high. He appeared to be back to his rightful position as the “king of the jungle”.

It was a poignant and emotional moment for me as: the first time that I had ever set eyes on Simba. Six months earlier, my investigative team had rescued him from certain death from a hunting area on the edge of the Kalahari desert, South Africa.

Back in April, maltreated, malnourished, drugged and abused, he was destined to become someone’s trophy in a “canned hunt”: one in which the lion is shot in a severely-enclosed space with no chance of escape.

Read more …

England and the Union

In August, my research in Scotland found a slim majority for independence. In September, my poll in Northern Ireland found a tiny margin for leaving the United Kingdom and joining the Republic. This month, to round out the picture, I have surveyed voters in England to see how they feel about the union, especially the parts of it that voted to remain in the EU, and how they see the prospect of one or more of the home nations deciding to go its own way.

Who benefits?

Many English voters think Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively benefit more from the union than the rest of the UK. This is particularly the case among those who voted Leave in the EU referendum, and especially among Conservative Leavers – two thirds of whom say Scotland benefits most from being part of the union, compared to one in five who think all parts of the UK benefit equally from its membership.

Read more …

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 …

Sign up for free email alerts
Read new posts as soon as they appear on