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 September 6

Ancient and Modern: Nicias vs Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond claims to be thrilled that so many people in Scotland are suddenly gripped by politics. The importance of the question before the Scots -- the future of their 8.5 per cent of the United Kingdom -- is only part of the reason. What really...
'Another Man's War', by Barnaby Phillips - Review
Another Man's War Barnaby PhillipsOne World, pp.313, £20, ISBN: 9781780745220 The British who fought in Burma became known as the 'Forgotten Army' because this was a neglected theatre of the second world war. Barnaby Phillips's tale is about the...
Arts Feature: The Treasures of Turin
To most non-Italians Turin spells Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino (Fiat). But this subalpine city has a longer history than the internal combustion engine. It may be twinned with Detroit, but its cavalcade of equestrian monuments testifies to...
Bridge: Janet De Botton
One person who lets out a whoop of delight when I am on holiday is my saintly partner, Artur Malinowski. He gets a holiday too -- from me and my daft mistakes -- and can play proper bridge with some of the greats who are dying to partner him. This...
Britain's Muslims Await the Backlash
The headlines give British Muslims good reason to worry British public opinion has never really turned against Muslims. According to Pew's 2014 Global Attitudes survey, 26 per cent of us have 'unfavourable' attitudes towards Muslims in this country;...
Cinema: Before I Go to Sleep
Before I Go to Sleep15, NationwideBefore I Go To Sleep is Rowan Joffe's adaptation of S.J. Watson's bestselling thriller of 2011, but whereas the book was smart, gripping, ingeniously plotted and had psychological depth -- who are we, when we can't...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. In his Spectator notebook of 30 August, describing a recent gaudy at the Oxford college he attended in the l980s, Radek Sikorski asked, 'Dear Mary, please help, what do you say when asked: "Do you remember goose-stepping in your jackboots across...
Diary: Paul Wood
 LebanonThe Beirut press corps gather to remember the murdered journalist Jim Foley. People stand for a minute's silence, drink in hand. Below the balcony, the nightly Beirut traffic jam sends the sound of car horns floating upward. Before killing him,...
Exhibitions: Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision
Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and VisionNational Portrait Gallery, until 26 OctoberColour, Light, Texture: Portraits by Matthew Smith and Frank DobsonNational Portrait Gallery, until 6 April 2015 Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) claimed that nothing has really...
Food: Tanya Gold
Fischer's is Austria made safe for liberals, gays, Jews and other Untermenschen riffraff, because it is a restaurant, not a concentration camp, and because it is in Marylebone High Street, not Linz. It is the new restaurant from Chris Corbin and...
'Gin Glorious Gin', by Olivia Williams - Review
Gin Glorious Gin Olivia WilliamsHeadline, pp.317, £14.99, ISBN: 9781472215338Gin Glorious Gin: How Mother's Ruin Became the Spirit of London is a jaunty and diverting history of 'a wonderful drink that embodies the best of London', which is a judgment...
High Life: Taki
Back in the very early Sixties there was an uninhabited islet off the west coast of Greece by the name of Skorpios. It was wild, with neglected olive groves, and its asking price was around $60,000. Step forward Aristotle Socrates Onassis, who snapped...
'How We Are', by Vincent Deary - Review
How We Are Vincent DearyAllen Lane, pp.261, £16.99, ISBN: 9780241005355 Vincent Deary is a therapist, and this book is the first part of a trilogy. How We Are is about human nature. Books two and three will be called How We Break and How We Mend...
Hugo Rifkind: Is Looking at a Nude Photo of Jennifer Lawrence Really the Same Thing as Stealing It?
Listen'If you click on Jennifer Lawrence's naked pictures,' said the headline on the Guardian 's website, 'you're perpetuating her abuse.' That gave me pause. Even though I haven't. In all honesty, I haven't even had the opportunity, and I thought I...
In Defence of My Son
I know that people with Down's syndrome are not better off dead, because I know my son No household that contains a 13-year-old boy is eternally tranquil. There had been a bit of temperament that evening, an outright refusal to go to bed, hard words...
Italy's Refugee Crisis
Italy's decriminalising of illegal immigration has acted as a green light to boat people, and the journey is a deadly one The next time you eat a fish from the Mediterranean, just remember that it may well have eaten a corpse. As the Italian author...
Justine Greening Interview
Justine Greening says that the Conservatives will not win big until they really home in on social mobilityListenJustine Greening wants to talk about social mobility. If it is not immediately obvious why the Secretary of State for International Development...
Leading Article: Nato's Challenge
This week's Nato summit was originally intended to look back on lessons learned from Afghanistan and reflect on the notion that (as Barack Obama put it) a 'decade of war is now ending'. How naively optimistic that seems now.In the past week a second...
Letters
Advice for CameronSir: David Cameron once saved my life from a school of Portuguese man o' war jellyfish, so now's the time for me to save his political life with this advice: to do nothing. The British people are a fair-minded lot; they will give him...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
I have been, on and off, a lifelong smoker; but I gave up in January 2009 on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration as President of the United States. It was out of feelings of solidarity with the poor man, who I assumed (incorrectly, as it turned...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
When I was 32, tired at last, for the moment anyway, of seizing the day, I stopped drinking and gave up smoking and enrolled for two A-levels in one year at the local technical college. My decision coincided with a state decision to expand the middle...
Martin Vander Weyer: Applause for the Beeb's New Leading Lady - but Did the Male Runner-Up Deserve Such a Kicking?
Hats off to Rona Fairhead, the former Financial Times executive who will succeed Lord Patten as chairman of the BBC Trust. It requires a brave spirit to take on this poisonously politicised role -- and Fairhead starts with the disadvantage that...
Matthew Parris: The Problem with a Wider Definition of Rape
When Mary Jane Mowat remarked recently that rape conviction statistics would not improve 'until women stop getting so drunk,' the retired Crown Court judge knew there would be a row. It followed.The judge, knowing that only 60 per cent of rape charges...
Mind Your Language: Escalated
Shaun Wright, the police and crime commissioner for South Yorkshire, spoke to Sky television last week about how little he knew of sexual exploitation of young people in the area. 'This report demonstrates that lots of information was not escalated...
Music: Peter Phillips
One might have expected the streets of Edinburgh, especially at festival time, to bear some evidence of the political struggle currently engulfing our nation, but in fact there was none at all. Apparently, the arguments for and against independence...
Notes On. Sicily
Don't make the mistake of thinking that Sicily is anything like the Isle of Wight: it's 70 times the size, and mountainous. Despite some beautifully engineered roads, it always takes longer to get around than one expects. Even my Sicilian friend...
Opera: Les Troyens
Les TroyensFestival Theatre, EdinburghGuglielmo TellUsher Hall, Edinburgh I wonder whether grand opéra really takes war as seriously as this year's Edinburgh Festival wanted it to. These vast works, written to exploit and reflect the power, resources...
Portrait of the Week
HomeBritain's terror threat level was raised from 'substantial' to 'severe' in response to fighting in Iraq and Syria, meaning that an attack on Britain was 'highly likely'. Three days later, David Cameron, the Prime Minister, in a hesitant statement...
Radio: In Memoriam; Tweet of the Day
A strange coincidence on Saturday night to come back from the cinema, having seen a film about a woman fighting to save her job while suffering from depression and thoughts of putting an end to it all, only to switch on the radio and hear from people...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
Incredible as it seems to me now, there was a time when a wolf whistle was annoying. A man would shout something approving from a scaffold and I would harrumph about my privacy being invaded, my gender not being respected, my dignity as an intelligent...
Rod Liddle: Parenting? Leave It to the Bureaucrats
My first act upon returning from my holiday was to sign the online petition to have the supremely irritating children's cartoon figure Peppa Pig banned from television. I have always found the creature half-witted, arrogant and sinister, and the...
Russia's NATO Myth
Claims by Putin and Gorbachev about the post-Soviet settlement are contradicted by their country's own secret records Nato is taken more seriously in Russia than in the West. Here, Nato is largely seen as yet another international bureaucracy, as...
Scotland Is Voting for Real Politics
Whatever the outcome of the referendum, Scotland will be better for having had the debate http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_4_Sept_2014_v4.mp3ListenLet us take a trip to America in 1976. The unelected incumbent president, Gerald Ford,...
Spectator Sport: Roger Alton
That excitable but likeable hombre, Everton manager Roberto Martinez, took it upon himself to give a stern lecture to the Brazilian-born Spaniard Diego Costa after Chelsea's sensational 6-3 victory at Goodison at the weekend. Costa, who operates...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
I had an interesting discussion with my friend Aidan Hartley earlier this week about whether the young men fighting for the so-called Islamic State are psychopaths. (This was before the news broke of Steven Sotloff's beheading.) Aidan is better placed...
Television: Bring Back Betjeman!
Is it just me or are almost all TV documentaries completely unwatchable these days? I remember when I first started this job I'd review one almost every fortnight. Always there'd be something worth watching: on the horrors of the Pacific or the Eastern...
Theatre: Eye of a Needle
Eye of a NeedleSouthwark Playhouse, until 20 SeptemberToastPark Theatre, until 21 SeptemberEye of a Needle , by newcomer Chris MacDonald, looks at homosexuality and asylum. Gays from the Third World, who've suppressed all evidence of their orientation...
'The Bone Clocks', by David Mitchell - Review
The Bone Clocks David MitchellSceptre, pp.595, £20, ISBN: 9780340921609 Reincarnation has hovered over David Mitchell's novels since the birth of his remarkable career. His haunting debut novel, Ghostwritten (1999), featured a disembodied spirit...
'The Children Act', by Ian McEwan - Review
The Children Act Ian McEwanCape, pp.224, £16.99, ISBN: 9780224101998The Children Act could hardly be more attuned to the temper of the times, appearing just as our newspapers are full of a story about parents absconding to Spain with their critically...
'The Establishment: And How They Get Away with It', by Owen Jones - Review
The Establishment: And How They Get Away With It Owen JonesAllen Lane, pp.368, £16.99, ISBN: 9781846147197 Owen Jones's first book, Chavs, was a political bestseller. This follow-up skips over the middle classes and goes to the other end of society,...
The Great Tory Split: Divide and Don't Rule
Cameron's inability to manage schisms within his own party could cost him the electionListenThe general election is now Ed Miliband's to lose. This is not a controversial statement: the polls say it, the bookmakers say it and in the last week several...
The Great Tory Split: Eurosceptics Seize Their Chance
Eurosceptics are sensing a new opportunityListenTory backbenchers, who have been happy for months, are once more sunk in gloom, sitting in dejected huddles in the Commons tearoom. William Hague went to gauge the morale of the troops there this week and...
The Turf: Robin Oakley
One of the greatest parliamentary sketch-writers of all time, Norman Shrapnel, made a point of never socialising with the politicians whose performances he chronicled. 'I was worried it might dilute the purity of my hatred,' he explained. When writing...
'Victoria: A Life', by A.N. Wilson - Review
A new, revisionist biography argues that it was only after her husband's death that Queen Victoria found her true self. Jane Ridley is impressedVictoria: A Life A.N. WilsonAtlantic Books, pp.642, £25, ISBN: 9781848879560 Do we really need a thumping...
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