Spectator books of the year: Charlotte Moore enjoyed Barry’s novel on Irish drunkenness

Common People by Alison Light (Fig Tree, £20) is a shot in the arm for family historians like me. Her… Continue reading

Will mainstream parties get the credit for turning up the volume on immigration?

(Photo: AFP)

David Cameron is set to give his big immigration speech this coming week, according to the Sunday Times, while James… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Christopher Howse was sickened by Charles Saatchi’s collection of thoughts

Image: Getty.

Wonderful year for Pevsner, or rather for us who use the guides as we potter about. Four new vols: Bedfordshire,… Continue reading

Five things we learnt from Theresa May’s Desert Island Discs appearance

Theresa May on the cover of the new Spectator Life.

This week belongs to Theresa May. Although the longest serving Home Secretary in fifty years continues to dodge leadership questions, her movements over the next… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Melanie McDonagh embraces The Essence of the Brontës

Charlotte Brontë. Image: Getty.

Muriel Spark wasn’t only one of the great British novelists but a cracking literary critic and a lovely essayist. Her… Continue reading

No breathing space for Miliband and Labour

Ed Miliband's Speech To Scottish Labour Party Conference

This was meant to be the weekend when Ed Miliband got some ‘breathing space’, a chance to recover after the… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Lewis Jones on Ian McEwan and narrow boats

Author Ian McEwan

Music Night at the Apollo: A Memoir of Drifting (Bloomsbury, £14.99) describes the year Lilian Pizzichini spent with her cats… Continue reading

Has the resurgent SNP scared Gordon Brown away from Westminster?


It’s being reported that Gordon Brown has decided not to fight the next general election. Odd timing, you might think,… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: Topsy-turvy

A recruiting poster on Fleet Street in London. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

From The Spectator, 21 November 1914: Both at home and abroad this war has already caused us to wonder whether… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Molly Guinness on the ‘oddly adorable’ New York dentist


What You Want, or the Pursuit of Happiness by Constantine Phipps (Quercus, £20). This is a deeply eccentric book —… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Sam Leith explains why The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters nearly lost him money


I liked Adam Nicolson’s The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (William Collins, £25) so much that — if I had… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Marcus Berkmann reveals the only book this year he didn’t want to finish

Clive James in 1976. Image: Getty

As someone who spent several years writing TV reviews mainly for laughs, I kneel before the twin idols of Clive… Continue reading

The politician who can fill a venue quicker than Kylie


What’s the most significant political story of the week, Ukip winning Rochester or Emily Thornberry’s resignation? Well, I suspect, it… Continue reading

We’re too frightened of appearing ‘racist’ to have a debate about immigration

(Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty)

A rather typical 24 hours in the life of modern Britain.  Everyone does another round of ‘we need to be… Continue reading

Spectator competition: ‘Jabberwocky’ for the digital age (plus: Christmas round robins from fictional characters)

The slaying of the Jabberwock (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The call for scenes describing a well-known character from children’s literature past grappling with a 21st-century problem drew an entry… Continue reading

Spectator books of the year: Jane Ridley on her favourite books about The Great War

Image: Getty.

2014 has been the year of 1914. In the same way that Christmas puddings appear in supermarkets in October, many… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: German lessons

Over the top -- British soldiers in the trenches. Image: Getty

From The Spectator, 21 November 1914: No English writer knows more of German ways than Mr. Dawson, and his large… Continue reading

Nigel Farage: I would love a Labour defector to join Ukip

Nigel Farage outside Rochester Castle in Kent, after Mark Reckless won the Rochester and Strood by-election last night.  Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Ukip’s victory in Rochester has lead to the inevitable question of ‘what next?’ for the party. Now that Nigel Farage… Continue reading

One night in Rochester: how Ukip won and what comes next

A victorious Nigel Farage emerges in Rochester on Friday morning. Photo: Sebastian Payne.

How did Ukip steal their second seat from the Tories with a candidate as uninspiring as Mark Reckless? Now that… Continue reading

Ed Miliband reveals he ‘feels respect’ whenever he sees a white van


The fallout from Emily Thornberry’s ‘snobbish’ photo of a flag-furnished house in Rochester looks like it still has plenty of… Continue reading

Seven good reasons why you should avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics


Thanks to Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928, antibiotics put an end to a world where people died from the… Continue reading

Thanks to Emily Thornberry’s resignation, the biggest losers from Rochester were Labour

The real losers (Photo: Ben Pruchnie/Getty)

Walk round the Commons today and it is striking that Tory MPs are in relatively good spirits while Labour ones… Continue reading

Reckless gets a cross party welcome

Reckless delivering a speech in Rochester following the Ukip victory.

On zero sleep and only seven hours after being re-elected, Mark Reckless was back in the Commons and sitting on… Continue reading

Bookies point to Philip Hollobone as next Tory-Ukip defector

The odds Ladbrokes are giving on the next defectors and the 2015 election. Photo: Sebastian Payne for The Spectator.

Forget opinion polling, bookmakers are usually the most astute predictors of election outcomes. Ladbrokes are out in force in Rochester… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: Dispatches from the front

A French 75 gun in action at Cape Helles in 1915. Image: By Central News Agency [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

From The Spectator, 21 November 1914: The papers of Tuesday and Wednesday contained two exceptionally interesting despatches from an eyewitness… Continue reading

Rochester points to a British general election where no one wins

(Photo: Carl Court/Getty)

Rochester is not a freak. It has given us a glimpse of what bookies now believe to be the lost… Continue reading

Will there be more defections to Ukip?


Now that Ukip has bagged a seat that the Tories thought they could win, other would-be defectors may well be… Continue reading



Free speech is so last century. Today’s students want the ‘right to be comfortable’

Free speech is so last century. Today’s undergraduates demand the ‘right to be comfortable’

London’s real Olympic legacy: paying to build the stadium twice

The Olympic Stadium and the Orbit Tower seen from Green Way

Giving London’s Olympic stadium a ‘legacy’ is proving to be a very costly business

For some left-wing men, the misogyny of the Islamic State is part of the appeal


For some left-wing men, the misogyny of the Islamic State is part of the appeal

How America’s right wing is becoming a lot more like Britain’s

2012 Republican National Convention: Day 2

America’s right wing is becoming a lot more like Britain’s

Life is full of little endings. We should pay them more attention


Life is full of little endings. We should pay them more attention

Steve Jobs’s button phobia has shaped the modern world


An irrational fear that has reshaped the technological world

A miracle: French hotels actually like dogs

Three glamorous guests, 1921

The first time I checked in to a French hotel with a golden retriever — his name was Gregory, predecessor of the incumbent Douglas — I left him, clearly unhappy,… Read more

It’s not just Ed Miliband. Labour’s on the wrong side of history


Thanks to globalisation, ‘progressive’ politicians have nowhere to turn


Keynote Speech By New Leader Of The SNP Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland's political earthquake – and what it will do to Westminster

‘She sold out the Hydro arena faster than Kylie Minogue,’ said one awestruck unionist of Nicola Sturgeon this week. Scotland’s… Read more

Sulking, weeping, throwing tantrums: we’re all toddlers now

Philae tweets and sends pictures back to mission control Photo: Getty

I wonder how long it will be before we actually crawl back into the womb? The average mental age of… Read more

Why it's uncivilised to sneer at patriotism

When Islington MP Emily Thornberry passed this house when campaigning in Rochester, was she right to think it so remarkable as to tweet a picture of it as if in shock? 

Is it racist to be patriotic? Is patriotism, by definition, small-minded and exclusive? When you strip away the onion layers… Read more

The Green Blob believes in science – except when scientists disagree with it

Professor Anne Glover Photo: Danny Lawson/PA

The Green Blob which did for Owen Paterson has claimed another victim. Her name is Anne Glover and she was,… Read more

Are the Qataris ready for the curse of Canary Wharf?

Canary Wharf Skyline seen at Night

I’ve written before of a ‘curse of Qatar’ that might explain misfortunes attending the Gulf state’s UK investments, of which… Read more


David Hockney at work in his studio, c.1967

David Hockney interview: ‘The avant-garde have lost their authority’

David Hockney talks to Martin Gayford about 60 years of ignoring art fashion

The good, the polite and the ugly: British artistic responses to the Spanish civil war

‘Sunrise’, 1938, by John Armstrong

The Paris World’s Fair of 1937 was more than a testing ground for artistic innovation; it was a battleground for… Read more

The reopened V&A Cast Courts are a fabulous spectacle of Victorian theft and reverence

Conservator Johanna Puisto dusts the cast of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ post-conservation, November 2014

The great municipal museums are products of the 19th-century imagination, evidence of lofty ambitions and cringe-making limitations. They are exact… Read more

Why students of curation start off as lively citizens of the world and end up as dulled parrots of ideological cant

Preparations Are Made Ahead Of The Roman Cieslewicz RCA Retrospective

The world exists and then it disappears, piece by piece, the gaps widening until one age is replaced by another,… Read more

The story of the first painting to sell for over a million pounds

‘Portrait of Juan de Pareja’ by Velázquez

Nothing could have prepared the art world for the astounding moment in 1970 when, at a Christie’s sale on 27… Read more

No one in the Bible has been as elaborately misrepresented as Mary Magdalene

The erotic Mary, left, by Gregor Erhart (c.1515–20) and the penitent Mary, right, by El Greco (c.1577)

A bogus history book and a new oratorio turn Mary Magdalene into the wife of Jesus and a human rights activist. Damian Thompson feels sorry for the poor woman

Norman Mailer’s wife comes out of the shadows

Soloman and Marion

‘It’s not as bad as I thought it would be,’ said Norman Mailer to his wife, Norris Church, after reading… Read more

Just because The Homesman has a few women in it doesn’t make it a ‘feminist western’

Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones star in The Homesman

The Homesman, which stars Hilary Swank and Tommy Lee Jones and is set in the Nebraska territory in the 1850s,… Read more

Why radio is a surprisingly good medium for talking about art

"Gulf Stream" by Winslow Homer Photo: Getty

You might think it a fool’s errand to attempt programmes about art on the wireless. How can you talk about… Read more

Jaw-dropping confessions of a very un-PC Plod

Confessions of a Copper: Stephen Hayes

There can’t have been many people who watched Confessions of a Copper (Channel 4, Wednesday) with a growing sense of… Read more


Supermac and JFK, 1963 Photo: Getty

Snobbery, sneering and secret sniggers: the sad truth about the so-called 'special relationship'

To the grand Herrera house on the upper east side of Manhattan for lunch in honour of Lord and Lady Linley. David Linley is over here to receive an award… Read more

‘Are you going out tonight, Frasier? If you are, don’t leave without me’

Jeremy Clarke with Baroness Trumpington

An hour earlier I had stepped off a plane from Dublin and I was three-quarters deaf in one ear. I had a drink in the bar at Boisdales Canary Wharf… Read more

If the tofu munchers had their way, horses would sleep on mattresses in bespoke tents like a Glastonbury VIP area


Before I go any further, I would like to make clear that no animals were harmed in the making of this column. You might think that goes without saying, but… Read more

Lottery winners are strikingly unimaginative about spending money


I thought that this week I might write about memory loss, but couldn’t remember if I’d written about it last week. Then I remembered that I had written about it,… Read more

There are echoes of Turkey and Armenia in the revisionist view of the Rwandan genocide

Kenya It’s a long time since I thought of Thaddee, our Kigali stringer when I was covering Rwanda for Reuters. I remembered him because a recent fashion in western universities… Read more