Dan Hodges

Mail on Sunday

Whereas it’s normally easy for an acute Westminster watcher to discern the allegiances of most political pundits, Dan Hodges can never be pinned down.

Unwavering in his assessment of politicians of all colours, his thumpy and perceptive writing nevertheless exudes an abiding love of the world of Westminster. Hodges achieves this by having an unparalleled range and breadth of senior - and unfamed - contacts. His proud and robust stance means he wins even greater respect from those whose adversities (and sometimes successes) he writes about. Typical was his column headlined “What the voters in Starmer Crescent, Darlington, reveal about Rishi’s battle with Labour to hold the Red Wall”. It was sharply prescient about the impending Red Wall backlash against Rishi Sunak, while also highlighting the reticence of working class voters to fully embrace Sir Keir Starmer in what they considered his opaque political project. In “Crumbling schools, jail breaks... and a hapless PM with the non-Midas touch”, Hodges spotlighted how the school building concrete crisis would have a defining impact on the Government, undermine the PM’s attempts to define himself as an agent of delivery and derail his “Five Pledges” electoral strategy. One standout column in particular exhibited profound insights as well as being a deeply poignant tribute to his mother who had recently died. He wrote how the NHS had been a godsend to her – as it is to countless others – but at a time of its 75th anniversary, he said the health service was being shamefully betrayed by a lack of coherent management. In summary, Hodges’ moving analysis of his mother’s experience led him to conclude that we will never be able to reform and modernise the NHS in a way that’s so desperately required at the same time as people continue to deify the current set-up. In a nutshell, a column which showed Dan Hodges at his very best.