Sarah Vine

Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday

Exceptionally clever. An excellent writer. Insanely fast. And very very brave. In the tumultuous last 18 months Sarah Vine has become the beating heart of the Mail - the columnist readers turn to first to make sense of it all.

So powerful is her voice that she now has three weekly columns – in the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday and Weekend Magazine. Her words are regularly puffed on the paper’s front page; are always in the top stories on Mail Online and Mail Plus, attract thousands of comments and shares; and regularly debated in the wider media.

Whatever the subject of the day – from Ukraine, the fall of Boris Johnson, the death of the Queen to deeply personal stories including the humiliation of hair loss and the jaw-dropping account of the sacking of her former husband, she’s one of only a handful of commentators who aren’t afraid to say what they think in an increasingly censorious cultural climate.

There are of course perils for saying what people increasingly feel they can’t. And this is made startlingly clear in a heartfelt column on the murder of MP Sir David Amess. She writes as a political spouse and mother whose young family has experienced lies, abuse and hatred because of their father’s political career.

She acknowledges that nothing they’ve experienced can ever compare to what Lady Amess and her daughters are going through but asks: ‘When did choosing a life of public service become a death sentence?’ The ‘climate of fear and loathing’ that allowed the vilification, abuse and persecution of politicians and their families to proliferate needs to be challenged, she argues. This isn’t special pleading, but a powerful defence of the principle of free speech – the right to share ideas and opinions without fear or retribution.

And it applies equally to columnists. ‘I’ve been screamed at in public,’ she writes. ‘Told I should never have been allowed to have children. With each blow, each attack, your resilience diminishes… It has over the years caused repeated bouts of depression.’

The courage it takes for columnists like Sarah to speak their mind should never be underestimated. Not least because Sarah’s views are not always what you think they will be. She speaks her own mind with warmth and wit. She favours no one, yet is never cruel or vindictive. And that is why, even if you totally disagree with her, if her columns infuriate you as much as delight, she is still the one newspaper columnist you really can’t afford to miss.