Paul Vallely

Paul Vallely is visiting professor in Public Ethics at the University of Chester and a senior research fellow at the Brooks World Poverty Institute at the University of Manchester. He writes on ethical, political and cultural issues. He has a fortnightly column in the Independent on Sunday and also writes for the New York Times and the Church Times. His latest book is Pope Francis – Untying the Knots. He was co-author of the report of the Commission for Africa and has chaired several development charities.

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Pope Francis puts people first and dogma second. Is this really the new face of Catholicism?

'Gay' was not a word which would even pass the lips of his predecessor, Benedict XVI

Hadley Fraser as Garry Kasparov in The Machine (Picture: Helen Maybanks)

Theatre Review: The Machine, Manchester Festival

When the interval arrived during The Machine I realised I had been so engrossed by the play that I had forgotten to take a single note during the first half. A play about a chess match between a man and a computer, as its author Matt Charman, had conceded beforehand, sounded almost terrifyingly dull. But this was no ordinary man. It was Garry Kasparov, the youngest world chess champion ever, who reigned unchallenged for two decades. Nor was it an ordinary machine. It was Deep Blue, then the most sophisticated chess computer the world had ever seen, which could analyse more than 500 million positions every second.

Theatre Review: The Masque of Anarchy, Manchester Festival

One of the little touches of genius about this year’s Manchester International Festival has been the imaginative choice of venues with which the artistic director Alex Poots has given extra resonance to the works being staged. Perhaps the best example of this was Maxine Peake’s bravura performance of The Masque of Anarchy, the long poem which Percy Byshe Shelley wrote in indignation against the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

John Tavener at Bridgewater Hall as part of Manchester International Festival

Classical review: John Tavener, Bridgewater Hall, Manchester International Festival

Very occasionally a performance is so special that the audience feels reluctant to shatter the moment which hangs in the air between them and the musicians with something as profane as applause. So it was at the concert of music by Sir John Tavener at the Manchester International Festival which contained no fewer than three world premieres by the great man as he approaches his 70th birthday.

The Old Woman, Manchester International Festival

Theatre review: The Old Woman, Manchester International Festival

It would help if you read Daniil Kharms’ short story before you go to see The Old Woman which opened this year’s biennial Manchester International Festival. It would help. But not a lot.

Hidden horrors: Media coverage of the Oxford trial has focused unfairly on race and religion

The Oxford child sex abuse case shows how the media talks in stereotypes but misses the big picture

Muslim community activists are not given enough credit for challenging distorted notions of masculinity

(Top row) Akhtar Dogar, Anjum Dogar, Kamar Jamil; (Bottom row) Assad Hussain, Bassam Karrar, Mohammed Karrar and Zeeshan Ahmed

The Oxford child sex abuse verdict highlights a cultural problem, but not a specifically Muslim one

Parallels between the Oxford case and last year’s case in Rochdale raise some difficult questions. But the issues are much more complex than they seem

May 1977: Thatcher waves a mascot after speaking at the Conservative Women’s conference

How Margaret Thatcher built the myth of The Iron Lady

Saviour of the nation from post-war decadence, or heartless milk-snatcher who destroyed heavy industry and decimated whole communities? Paul Vallely sifts the reputation from the reality

Rare case: The Philpotts were not typical of anything

On a one-way street to social inequality

Lashing out at the freakshow of Mick Philpott won't solve the problems of our overstretched welfare system

Symbolic visit: Obama on Friday leaving the Yad Vashem hall of remembrance

Barack Obama gave young Israelis a dream but little more than that

Stirring words aside, it is not clear what the US President can do to make peace in the Middle East a lasting reality

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War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?