The Spectator

A weekly, UK-based magazine covering current political, economic, and cultural issues. Articles include interviews, commentary, opinion pieces, essays, and cultural criticism.

Articles from December 2009

Africa Sets an Enterprising Example
Janice Warman sees projects in Kenya that offer a businesslike response to the impact of climate change The hills of Michimikuru are a little piece of heaven: pickers in brightly coloured scarves move slowly through the chest-high bushes of the vivid...
A 'New Paradigm' Built on Sand
At Dubai's soaring, spurious peak, one factoid the emirate's blingburdened battalion of 'corporate communications consultants' liked to slip to junketing media was that Dubai had the world's densest concentration of cranes. Impossible to verify but...
A Solution That Dare Not Speak Its Name
The authors of Superfreakonomics, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, say that geoengineering offers a cheap and effective way of fighting global warming Imagine for a moment that a terrible, unforeseen threat to humankind had suddenly arisen, one...
Battle for the City
For years, the French have resented the success of the City of London. It has become the Rome of the globalised world, where the best financiers flock to do business, make money and pay tax. When Britain wisely stayed out of the eurozone, the City consolidated...
Before and after the Fall
No one here (I mean in Britain, not perhaps in the columns of The Spectator) likes to read anything nice about the Germans. So I shall warn you that there will be some praise for Germany in this review, mixed with the usual level of bashing. If the...
Brush Up Your Handel
'Tis the season to be jolly - in spite of the gloom outside and the torrents of rain. But how do you banish the winter ghouls, put on a mask of good cheer and go forth beaming into the pre-Christmas crowds? Radio Three has come up with a possible help-all,...
Calm Down, Dear. There's Plenty of Time
The Stern Review is four years old but remains a vital tool for Copenhagen's policy-makers. It shows them exactly what not to do, says Robert O.Mendelsohn Across the West, we hear the increasingly shrill prophesies that climate change will destroy the...
Can We Pump Carbon Back beneath the North Sea?
As our offshore oil industry reaches the end of its life, says Elisabeth Jeffries, what it leaves behind could be re-used for storage of captured toxic emissions Few people have ever seen them, except perhaps from a plane. Yet these huge, remote structures...
Closely Guarded Secret
Andrew Lambirth on how the cult of youth can lead to the neglect of distinguished older artists One of the least endearing traits of our age is youth worship. I can understand that advertisers might need to target a large and gullible audience suddenly...
Come on, Girls - Have a Crack!
For centuries, British wives have endured the hell of watching in the cold while their husbands shoot. The answer, says Rachel Johnson, is to pick up a gun and blast away When I was asked recently whether I wanted to go shooting, I felt torn. It's clearly...
Dear Mary
Q. The other night I attended an enjoyable lecture on the Mitford sisters at the British Institute in Florence, the former townhouse of Harold and William Acton, who were lifelong friends of the sisters. The library where the lecture was delivered was...
Debt and Addiction
THE ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER by Robert Morrison Weidenfeld, £25, pp. 462, ISBN 9780297852797 . £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I knew that I was onto a good thing with this book before the page numbers were even out of roman numerals. Describing the...
Diary
To Edinburgh, that most gracious and civilised of cities, for what promises to be a less than altogether agreeable experience. I have to confess that, when BBC1's Question Time rang to ask whether I might be available to take part in last week's show...
Diary of a Notting Hill Nobody
MONDAY Oh dear. Maybe Mr Maude was right. Maybe we are heading for. . . no, I won't say it. I refuse to say the HP words. A few rogue polls, that's all it is. Dave says this would never have happened if we had got his No Complacency message out properly....
Dubai Debacle
When the Marx Brothers announced in 1946 that their upcoming film was called A Night in Casablanca, Warner Bros threatened to sue for breach of copyright. Warner had produced the great hit Casablanca four years earlier, and insisted that the funny men...
Global Warming: The Truth
Climate change has mutated from a debate into a catechism. With so much at stake, says Fraser Nelson, can we afford to dispense with rational argument? Last month, 1,000 emails leaked from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. The...
Great Expectations
After many years writing about my enthusiasms, I'm still fascinated by the relationship between expectation and actual enjoyment. How often have we seen a film everyone has been raving about, and been vaguely and obscurely disappointed? Or read a book...
It's Not Just the Swiss - All Europe Is Ready to Revolt
A ban on minarets may seem racist to the BBC, says Rod Liddle, but in fact we should applaud any small battle won in the people's war against the growing 'Islamification' of Europe Here's a very short and simple pre-Christmas quiz to get you into the...
It's Time for Journalists to Be Honest about Their Corrupting Involvement with PR
I was due this week to interview a person I much admire, for a publication I respect, and for a fee I could more or less live with. My putative interviewee was my undoubted superior in terms both of intellect and genius: someone who has for many years...
Letters
Shooting, moi? Sir: We act for Cherie Blair. We are instructed with regard to an article. . . The Spectator's Notes by Charles Moore (28 November). It alleged that our client attended a shooting party at Lord Rothschild's house in Buckinghamshire with...
Looking Back in Anger
SMALL MEMORIES by Jose Saramago Harvill Secker, £12.99, pp. 181, ISBN9781846551482 £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Portugal has given the world two distinguished novelists. Eca de Queiros, is the Proust of Portugal. His masterpiece, The Maias,...
Man-Made Global Warming Is Real. the Solutions Being Touted Are Not
The pledges many countries will make on greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen are pure fantasy, says Bjorn Lomborg. We must pursue other options Judging by the opinion polls, those gathering at the Copenhagen climate change summit have a lot of persuading...
Meet the Brit in Charge of the Af-Pak 'Kill List'
No one has followed the Taleban and al-Qa'eda more closely than Richard Barrett, head of the United Nations monitoring mission. He tells Christina Lamb why Obama's reinforcements won't scare the fundamentalists away It's known as the 'kill list'. The...
Memorably Bad
In Competition 2624 you were invited to submit a poem in the style of the legendary William Topaz McGonagall on an issue of contemporary relevance to the Scots. Hailed by the TLS as 'the only truly memorable bad poet in our language', McGonagall built...
Nanny Knew Best
A MOTH ON THE FENCE by Nikolay Andreyev, translated by Patrick Miles Hodgson Press, Kingston-upon-Thames, £12.99, pp. 282, ISBN 9781906164027 Born in 1908, Nikolay Andreyev came from a middle-class family in provincial Russia. His father and mother...
Neighbours from Hell
I try not to be a party pooper but the other night I came home to such a cacophony of revelling from a neighbour's house that I concluded there had to be a gathering of international gangsters, drug barons and hookers in my street. The thumping hip...
Novelty Value
IMPORTANT ARTI FACTS AND PERSONAL PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF LENORE DOOLAN AND HAROLD MORRIS by Leanne Shapton Bloomsbury, £12.99, pp. 129, ISBN 9781408804728 . £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 Auction house catalogues are multifaceted...
Portrait of the Week
Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister, announced that Britain would send an extra 500 troops to Afghanistan, bringing its strength there to 10,000. Earlier he had criticised Pakistan for not making 'more progress in taking out' the leader of al-Qa'eda:...
Primary Schools or Training Camps?
When Ed Balls left a Labour fundraiser at a Westminster curry house last Wednesday to be interviewed on Newsnight, he had the look of a man with an ace up his sleeve. David Cameron's attack on the government for allowing public funds to go to schools...
Recent Gardening Books
Philippa Lewis is a picture researcher, with an eye for uncommon facts and a wry way of presenting them. Her book Everything You Can Do in the Garden Without Actually Gardening (Frances Lincoln, £16.99), is a scholarly and entertaining social history...
Requiem for the 'People's Judge'
Matthew Hall deplores a new law that undermines the age-old authority of the coroner and lets the government hold secret inquests into suspect deaths Jack Straw has finally got his wish: despite valiant efforts in the Lords, his Coroners and Justice...
Salmond May Save Labour
Pity Alex Salmond and his separatist supporters. The publication of their manifesto for Scottish independence this week is no threat to the Union, but a requiem for a dream now vanquished. The devolution settlement gave them the rope, and now they've...
Spectator Mini-Bar Offer
This is our last offer before Christmas, and it includes four excellent wines, all of which are inexpensive enough for you to glug through the holiday season, but easily good enough to enhance Christmas dinner itself. A couple of the sample cases would...
Suffering for Art's Sake
Cecilia Bartoli Barbican Messiah Coliseum After a brief but inspissatedly tedious overture by Porpora, played by Il Giardino Armonico, the curtains at the Barbican were pulled aside and Cecilia Bartoli, dressed like a highwayperson from a 1940s escapist...
Taken for a Ride
Everything had gone wrong for him lately, said Mr Beaumont. He was going blind. His prostate trouble had worsened. His dear wife of 60 years had passed away just a fortnight before, following a long struggle with Parkinson's disease. And the day before...
Tensions That Disrupt the World
INSIDE THE KINGDOM: KINGS, CLERICS, MODERNISTS, TERRORISTS by Robert Lacey Hutchinson, £20, pp. 404, ISBN 9780091931247 £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 In 1981, two books on Saudi Arabia were published within days of each other: The House of...
The CIA's 'Global Cooling' Files
The threat of a new ice age loomed so large in 1974 that American intelligence collated a report on the likely effects. Maurizio Morabito unearthed it A high-priority government report warns of climate change that will lead to floods and starvation....
The Foreign Office's New Green Orders
The Foreign Office has cut the conflict-prevention budget and invested in climate change. James Kirkup explains how Copenhagen became more important than Kabul Pity the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Once supreme in Whitehall, King Charles Street...
The Inconvenient Truth about Malaria
Al Gore has made bold claims that climate change is aiding the spread of insect-borne diseases. The science does not support him, says Paul Reiter AL Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, was a masterpiece. Like an elder brother to all humanity, he patiently...
The Minister for Hizb Ut Tahrir
The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, continues to deny that Islamist extremism is being taught in state-funded schools. Here, Andrew Gilligan shows him the indisputable evidence By one of those bizarre coincidences, I bumped into Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary,...
The Spectator's Notes
On Sunday night, I went to Wellington College to defend God. The Almighty does not need human help, of course, but I was asked to oppose Professors Richard Dawkins and A.C. Grayling, and - with Lord Harries, the former Bishop of Oxford - propose the...
The Thin Green Line: Cross It at Your Peril
It was when I saw an internet tweet comparing me to Nick Griffin - with 2,000 people signed up to it - that I realised just how much trouble I was in. My sin: I had written an opinion piece entitled 'Is global warming hot air?' I'd wanted to see if...
The Unspeakable Truth Is That We Lost in Iraq. We Must Not Lose in Afghanistan Too
Britain has fought more wars than any other country, but rarely has it suffered two defeats in a row. That humiliation is what this country is currently drifting towards, following failure in Iraq with failure in Afghanistan. Westminster might be obsessing...
The Wiki Man
I read Dennis Sewell's article on the damaging influence of eugenics on the welfare state with interest and mostly agree with his views. Even in my most rightwing moments, I don't want to open my Spectator to find articles proposing a selective breeding...
Thoughts on the Great Depression
DANCING IN THE DARK by Morris Dickstein W.W. Norton, £22, pp. 576, ISBN 9780393072259 £17.60 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 The Great Depression of the 1930s has passed into myth as essentially American, not global. The Wall Street crash ended the...
Time Wasting
I had to transfer some money into my Polish builder's bank account the other day, so I rang up the Lloyds TSB Execmaster Super VIP service helpline. As usual, I wasn't permitted just to make my transaction and get on with my life. First, the helpful...
Twelve to Follow
Advice should always be received cautiously. I have in mind the two hunters in the American woods. One fell to the ground, his eyes rolling in his head. His companion called the emergency services by cellphone: 'I think my friend is dead. What do I...
Where's Tom?
Me and Orson Welles 12A, Nationwide For a film about drama, Me and Orson Welles - Orson Welles and I? Do we care? - is obstinately undramatic. I kept trying to will it into some kind of life, any kind of life. Come on. You can do it. Think of the children!...
Why Do We Long to Be Nazis and Tarts?
As the fancy-dress party season begins again, Leah McLaren wonders why the British are never more themselves than when they're pretending to be someone else There is a popular urban legend about a British couple in New York who attended a black tie...
Why Marx Would Have Been a Denier
Make no mistake, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels would have given short shrift to global warming and environmentalism in some of their most colourful prose. As Sherlock Holmes explained to the Scotland Yard detective, there is the curious incident of...
Why the Maldives Aren't Sinking
The President of the Maldives recently held a Cabinet meeting underwater, saying his islands may be submerged. In an open letter Nils Axel Morner assures him his country is safe You are obviously very concerned about the effect that sea level rises...
Why We Must Dare to Debate
The climate change debate in Britain exhibits the hallmarks of a collective craze. Asking dispassionate questions is not sacrilegious, says Samuel Brittan I have no expertise on the subject of global warming; nor do I have a strong view about it. But...
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