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 27

Ancient and Modern: Social Justice, Salmond-Style
Alex Salmond spent two years campaigning for independence for Scotland on the grounds of 'social justice'. Now, claiming that the vote was lost because of the 'old' (subtext: the rich), he says he might declare independence anyway. His unprincipled...
Cinema: What We Did on Our Holiday
What We Did On Our Holiday12A, NationwideWhat We Did On Our Holiday is written and directed by Guy Jenkin and Andy Hamilton, the pair who created the hit BBC sitcom Outnumbered , and this is like an extended episode of Outnumbered minus anything that...
Dear Mary: Your Problems Solved
Q. The Idler Academy is within walking distance of my house and I note from the programme of autumn events that my own son is due to give a talk there. We get on well but he hasn't mentioned this debut, probably because he knows how irritating it...
Diary: Tom Bower
This week marks another milestone in my 15-year battle with Richard Branson. Ever since he unsuccessfully sued me in 1999 to prevent the publication of my first damning biography, we have exchanged shots. His anointment on Sunday as Britain's most...
Drink: Bruce Anderson
Rivers are the cradles of civilisation and the Loire is an outstanding example. It is one of the head-waters of modern France. By the 7th century, the region had emerged from the Dark Ages and was building on Roman traditions to lay foundations that...
'Europe Needs Systemic Change'
Václav Klaus, the former Czech president, on David Cameron, the EU, Russia -- and the end of free speech Václav Klaus has made a habit of saying things others shy away from saying, but it doesn't seem to have done him much harm in the popularity stakes....
Exhibitions: Austin Lee: Mixed Feelings; Ed Fornieles: Modern Family
Austin Lee: Mixed FeelingsCarl Kostyál, 12a Savile Row, W1Ed Fornieles: Modern FamilyChisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Road, E3 In the mid-1990s the art world got excited about internet art (or 'net.art', as those involved styled it). This new way...
Exhibitions: Late Turner: Painting Set Free
Late Turner -- Painting Set FreeTate Britain, until 25 January 2015 Juvenilia is the work produced during an artist's youth. It would seem logical to think, therefore, that an artist's output during their old age would be classified as 'senilia'....
High Life: Taki
AthensThis grimy semi-Levantine ancient city has its beauty spots, with childhood memories indelibly attached. There is a turn-of-the-century apartment building across the street from my house where in 1942 or '43 I watched a daughter and wife scream...
How the Camera Shapes Our Relationship with Architecture
Everyone knows about architecture being frozen music. The source of that conceit may be debated, but its validity is timeless and certain. For all its weightiness, architecture plays with ethereal proportion, harmony, resonance and delight: the stuff...
'How to Be a Conservative', by Roger Scruton - Review
How to Be a Conservative Roger ScrutonBloomsbury, pp.194, £20, ISBN: 9781472903761 Roger Scruton is that rarest of things: a first-rate philosopher who actually has a philosophy. Unfortunately at times for him, that philosophy is a conservative one....
'I Joke Too Much: The Theatre Director's Tale', by Michael Rudman - Review
I Joke Too Much: The Theatre Director's Tale Michael RudmanCapercaille Books, pp.272, £12.99, ISBN: 9781909305823 At the age of 75, the theatre director Michael Rudman has got around to his memoirs, their title taken from the mouth of Willy Loman...
It's Time for Cameron to Choose Which Direction He's Headed
The PM signals left while turning right. But now it's time for clarityListenIt is not mere hyperbole to say that the period between the Conservative party conference and the general election will be momentous. The next election will decide whether we...
James Delingpole: Why I Love Grand Theft Auto V
The last -- and only -- time I had sex with a whore she was so impressed by my performance that she begged me to do it all over again. I thank the drugs. Before popping out in my stolen car for my rendezvous with my skanky ho, I had smoked a couple...
James Forsyth: Cameron Must Reunite the Tories or Lose Next Year's Election
ListenNo one goes to Birmingham to revive a marriage. But that is what David Cameron and the Conservative party must do next week at conference. They must find a way to put the passion back into their relationship, to learn to trust each other again...
Leading Article: The Good Fight
It is a mark of the uncertainty of our policy in the Middle East that just over a year ago Parliament was recalled to debate whether to launch military strikes in aid of rebels in Syria. This year, it has been recalled to discuss whether the RAF...
'Letters to Véra', by Vladimir Nabokov, Translated by Olga Voronina and Brian Boyd - Review
Vladimir Nabokov was happily married for over 50 years and rarely apart from his wife. More's the pity, discovers Philip HensherLetters to Véra Vladimir Nabokov, translated by Olga Voronina and Brian BoydPenguin Classics, pp.864, £30, ISBN: 9780141192239 After...
Long Life: Alexander Chancellor
Winslow Hall is a large and handsome country house in Buckinghamshire, built in 1700 by Sir Christopher Wren, which Tony Blair nearly bought in 2007 when he was looking for an imposing residence appropriate to his station in life as a retired prime...
Low Life: Jeremy Clarke
'Stand outside the fishmongers in 20 minutes and call this number,' she said, 'and I can arrange it.' On Saturday evening I was scrubbed up for a big night out. I was wearing a black jacket and black jeans, which is overdressed for a night out in...
Martin Vander Weyer: Is the US Using Bank Fines to Bring Allies into Line against Russia?
Here's one for all you conspiracy nuts out there, prompted by readers' comments on my recent item about whether BP has been unjustly targeted by the US political and judicial establishment. I gather there's a theory that the hounding of non-US banks...
Mary Wakefield: Can Brutalised Jihadis Be Saved by Forgiveness?
Could you ever torture someone? Could you, under different circumstances, in a different world (I hope) than the one which led you to this Spectator , be as brutal as the fighters of the Islamic State? Your answer, I reckon, is most likely to be...
Michael Fallon: Islamic Extremism Is Britain's Battle
The Defence Secretary Michael Fallon is an eager interventionist The Ministry of Defence is like a sauna on Sunday. The air circulation system has been switched off and the place is hot -- and deserted. Yet when you reach the Secretary of State's...
Mind Your Language: The Islamic State
I'm puzzled by the dropping of the one part of the name of the Islamic State that seems certain. That it is Islamic, many dispute. That it is a state is just as unclear. But calling it the does not bestow honour upon it, any more than referring...
Notes On. Artists' Houses
I'm not sure what took me to Salvador Dalí's house in Port Lligat, but it sure as hell wasn't admiration. As a public figure, I hold him alone responsible for the look-at-me culture that gives contemporary art a bad name. And as a painter... don't...
'Only When I Laugh: My Autobiography', by Paul Merton - Review
Only When I Laugh: My Autobiography Paul MertonEbury Press, pp.344, £20, ISBN: 9780091949358 Has there ever been a nun or a priest who wasn't a bent sadist? Because here we go again. At school Paul Merton was terrorised by a nun who, in her black...
Opera: William Tell
William TellWelsh National Opera, in rep until29 NovemberIl barbiere di SivigliaRoyal Opera, in rep until 5 October Is there a fundamental, insuperable problem with staging Rossini's Guillaume Tell on a budget, without the resources to conjure up...
Our Attitude to Animal Suffering Is Barking
Our attitude to animals and their suffering is bonkersListenWe love animals more than we love people. Of course we do. Following the recent fire at a Manchester dogs' home, people donated £1 million and blocked the M6 with their cars as they arrived...
Painting: Rembrandt
'Rembrandt: The Late Works'National Gallery, 15 October to 18 January 2015 Talking of Rembrandt's 'The Jewish Bride' to a friend, Vincent van Gogh went -- characteristically -- over the top. 'I should be happy to give ten years of my life,' he exclaimed,...
'Please, Mister Postman: A Memoir', by Alan Johnson - Review
Please, Mister Postman: A Memoir Alan JohnsonBantam Press, pp.327, £16.99, ISBN: 9780593073414 Alan Johnson's first volume of memoirs, This Boy , is still in the bestsellers' list, but the Stakhanovite postman has made a second delivery, timed impeccably...
'Plenty More', by Yotam Ottolenghi - Review
Plenty More Yotam OttolenghiEbury Press, pp.352, £24, ISBN: 9780091957155 It would be a mistake to treat Plenty More , the new cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, merely as a collection of recipes. It is a collection of recipes, as it happens, and very...
'Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalisation of Democracy', by Francis Fukuyama - Review
Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalisation of Democracy Francis FukuyamaProfile Books, pp.464, £25, ISBN: 9781846684364 The problem with a futuristic thesis -- particularly when summarised by a futuristic...
Portrait of the Week
HomeDavid Cameron, the Prime Minister, visited New York for talks at the United Nations; he said Britain supported the American air strikes on the Islamic State. 'These people want to kill us,' Mr Cameron said on NBC news. Mr Cameron met President Hassan...
Real Life: Melissa Kite
A crazy woman is living inside my head. It's not just the normal crazy woman who camps out there from time to time and argues about parking tickets. It's a new crazy woman who thinks she can avoid parking tickets by fighting men in the street. Physically,...
'Rendez-Vous with Art', by Philippe De Montebello and Martin Gayford - Review
Rendez-vous with Art Philippe de Montebello and Martin GayfordThames & Hudson, pp.248, £19.95, ISBN: 9780500239247 Surely only a double-act of the stature of Philippe de Montebello, the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1977 to...
Rod Liddle: We Always End Up Talking to Terrorists, One Way or Another
It is a horrible thing to say, but I suspect that sooner or later we will begin to get irritated by the John Cantlie Show. Mr Cantlie is the British photojournalist who is being held captive somewhere in Syria by the maniacal and barbarous Islamic...
Status Anxiety: Toby Young
Women spend ten days a year in a grumpy mood, according to the Daily Mail . The top triggers include being overweight, feeling undervalued, having a bad hair day, breaking a nail and the wrong time of the month.The standard reaction to this among...
Television: James Walton
Needless to say, it's not uncommon to hear single British women in their thirties and forties saying that all the good men are married. But in The Men with Many Wives (Channel 4, Wednesday) this came with a twist: it turned out to be precisely the...
Theatre: King Charles III
King Charles IIIWyndham's Theatre, until 31 January 2015Doctor Scroggy's WarShakespeare's Globe, in rep until 10 October Suppose Charles were to reign as a meddlesome, self-pitying, indecisive plonker. It's a thought. It's now a play, too, by Mike...
'The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language', by Rowan Williams - Review
The Edge of Words: God and the Habits of Language Rowan WilliamsBloomsbury, pp.224, £20, ISBN: 9781472910431 It used to seem rather obvious that the world was full of evidence for God. These days, theologians no longer beat this drum -- but some...
The PPE Bores Have Taken over Britain
Britain is now run by Oxford PPE graduates. The consequences have been disastrous If graduates from an architecture school designed buildings that were unfit for human habitation or doctors from a university's medical faculty left death in their wake,...
The Wiki Man: Rory Sutherland
It is a trick which often works on children. Do not tell them to eat vegetables; instead ask whether they want broccoli or spinach.Question such as 'Red or white?' or 'Still or sparkling?' are examples of placebo choice: a psychological hack which...
Why Are Undergraduates Being Forced to Take Sex Education Classes?
Universities are forcing undergraduates to attend sex education classes. Poor studentsThe freshers heading off to university this month won't only be bombarded with invites to join clubs and enough free Pot Noodles to sustain them till Christmas. They'll...
Why John Hoyland May Become the New Turner
What happens to an artist's reputation when he dies? Traditionally, there was a period of cooling off when the reputation, established during a lifetime, lost momentum and frequently collapsed, quite often presaging a long fallow period before reassessment...
Wild Life: Aidan Hartley
EnglandWe dropped off our daughter Eve at her new school in the Midlands and started the long journey home to Africa. On the train we sat down and my wife Claire looked as if she'd seen a ghost when she saw the elderly lady in the opposite seat. After...
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