Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Is that man Boris? And if it is, what still stands in his way? In this week’s cover article, James Forsyth writes that Boris is the only one who can save the Tories from Jeremy Corbyn and, more pressingly, Nigel Farage (he’s backed up by the latest polling from Friday). But the biggest thing standing in his way is himself. In the aftermath of the 2016 referendum, Boris Johnson found himself unorganised, undisciplined, and crushed by public opinion, unable to recover from the vitriol that went his way following the Leave result, and panicked by Michael Gove’s last minute backstabbing.
But the 2019 Boris Johnson is different, James argues. He’s leaner, has better hair – and looks to have absorbed the lessons from his last go at leadership. So can he do it this time? Katy Balls talks to James on the podcast, together with Will Walden, Boris Johnson’s former PR chief.
We also asked – can fantasy fiction be racist? That is, towards real ethnic groups rather than orks. In this week’s issue, Karen Yossman writes about the bashing of a young fantasy novellist for perceived racism in her upcoming book – the novellist had killed off a ‘bronze-skinned’ character who critics argued was black, and placed her story in a fictional Russia (‘the Cyrillian Empire’) where slavery was happening. It was deemed utterly offensive. In the end, the author rewrote her book with the help of multicultural ‘sensitivity readers’. But the larger issue is an interesting one – do fiction writers have a responsibility to portray marginalised groups in accurate and fair ways? On the podcast, Lara Prendergast has a considered and wide ranging discussion with Karen and our literary editor Sam Leith on whether there is any place for social justice within literature.
And lastly, have you heard about Sainsbury’s ‘no-touch’ meat pouches? The idea is to have pre-diced meat in a plastic pouch, saving customers who don’t want to touch meat the horror of having to do cut it. You can open, and tip straight into the pan. If this sounds like an abomination to you, you’re not alone. Laura Freeman writes in this week’s issue about the squeamishness of modern metropolitans, and on the podcast we talk to chefs James Whetlor, who runs his own goat meat company supplying kid goats, and Olivia Potts, Spectator Life’s Vintage Chef, about the pleasures of getting your hands dirty.