Camilla Long

Sunday Times

Camilla Long never fails to get right to the heart of an issue, holding a huge range of powerful figures to the fire. Much of her writing shows incredible breadth: there is her signature wit but also heartfelt anger at the failures of people in authority. She is a must read.

On January 22, for example, she wrote how her partner, a photojournalist, had been arrested covering the Just Stop Oil protests. This was an anguished personal piece. At every turn of the way the police “got something wrong, winged it, bullshitted, cut corners”, eventually holding him for nearly 16 hours for no reason. Do you know what it is like when someone close to you is arrested, she wrote. “It’s as if they’ve been deleted. For an hour I thought Ben had had a car accident or was in hospital or dead”.

Eventually, she got to the bottom of things: the police had rounded him up simply because they “wanted to look good for Suella Braverman”. Everything comes down to “PR” for the police now, meaning that they’re happy to overlook basic freedoms, while serious issues, such as Wayne Couzens, or the rapist David Carrick, or even local burglaries, are ignored. “Burgle someone, punch them, mug them or rape them, and you won’t get nicked. Make the police look bad, however, and you’ll get lifted within seconds”, she concluded.

She tackled another serious scandal, covid fraud, in her article on Baroness Mone on November 27. It was a matter of national outrage, she said, that this “weeping tower of Glaswegian cray” had been given £200m by the government’s compromised covid programme.

When Long interviewed Mone 10 years ago, she thought the bra mogul was “the most chaotic person I’d ever met”. Why do politicians love people like her? “Is it because they feel poor, and therefore boring?” Up until Long’s often hilarious, but sobering article, few commentators had grasped the impact of the story. Mone’s behaviour was, however, “shocking”.

On May 28, while paying touching tribute to the writer Martin Amis, she launched a serious attack on “the policing of thoughts and opinions”. Amis, she wrote, was a delight: far from the “macho” man of letters, he was “kind, gentle, watchful”. But his books could “never, ever” be written now, an age of “tepid burble”.

This was a moving, thoughtful lament for a bygone age: the world of what novelist Hanif Kureishi called the "rude" ones. It “saddened” her Amis was dead and would take “a chunk” of his “swaggering world” with him, leaving us alone in a universe where there’s now no one to protect us against the “uniform mass bollocks”.

What makes Long's articles so irresistible are their range of subjects and fresh observations. You can never tell where she's going to go. She entertains the reader with an unsparing, forensic gaze, while provoking and inspiring new ideas. It’s addictive.