Alistair Carmichael, Secretary of State for Scotland visits the Engine Shed on October 10, 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Alistair Carmichael could be the first test of recall

Pressure is growing on Alistair Carmichael, the former Scotland Secretary and only Lib Dem north of the border, to resign… Continue reading

Revealed: Stephen Fry’s brush with the law over James Rhodes injunction


Last week James Rhodes won a legal battle to publish his memoir Instrumental: A Memoir of Madness, Medication and Music. This… Continue reading

George Osborne kissed Lynton Crosby after election promise backfired

Lynton Crosby

It isn’t the type of kiss-and-tell story Mr S is used to reading in the Sunday papers, but Lynton Crosby has… Continue reading

There’s one obvious reason why this image could only be of Shakespeare

A face that Country Life claims to be of Shakespeare featured in the 'Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes'. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

Professor Stanley Wells writes that the newly identified picture of Shakespeare on the title page of Gerard’s Herball (1597) is ‘obviously… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: Strikes and scraps of paper

Image: Getty

From ‘Scraps of Paper‘, The Spectator, 22 May 1915: Fifty years ago Parliament was far more conscious collectively of the… Continue reading

Revealed: Lithuania, not Sweden, was Britain’s real Eurovision choice

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 02.20.51

So when Nigella Lawson popped up on television to give Britain’s results, what had Britain decided? The UK vote is… Continue reading

How to break Britain’s Eurovision curse

Screen Shot 2015-05-24 at 01.24.05

“Over the past five years, Britain has produced some of the biggest chart-topping acts on the planet from Adele to One Direction,… Continue reading

Ireland’s gay marriage vote was never an equal contest


In more ways than one it’s impossible to be heard above the din right now in the wake of the… Continue reading

Gay marriage will split the Catholic Church

Image: Getty

Ireland, for so long the most overtly Catholic state in Western Europe, has voted for gay marriage by a stupendous margin –… Continue reading

Is Matthew Richardson set to ‘unresign’ from Ukip?


After Nigel Farage resigned as the leader of Ukip following his defeat in South Thanet, he hastily ‘unresigned’ days later. Not… Continue reading

Spectator competition: An update on Belloc’s kiddie delinquents (plus: write a poem celebrating a modern-day blot on the landscape)

Image: Getty

The call for an update on one of the children in Cautionary Tales who lived to tell the tale attracted… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: Has Kitchener gone mad?

WW1 Recruitment Posters To Be Auctioned

From ‘Array the Nation’, The Spectator, 22 May 1915 THERE have been many surprising things in this war, but perhaps… Continue reading

Cameron confident about renegotiation result: but will it please voters?


David Cameron was in an extremely confident mood when he addressed the press at the end of today’s EU summit… Continue reading

Ed Balls won’t rule out an appearance on Strictly


Former Labour MP Ed Balls has appeared on BBC news today in his first interview since he was ousted from his… Continue reading

A sugar tax is simply a tax on the poor


Why is it that whenever anyone proposes a tax on the wealthy all hell breaks lose, but when someone proposes… Continue reading

Europe cannot allow an ungoverned space to exist on its doorstep

A Libyan coastguard boat carrying around 500 mostly African migrants arrive at the port in the city of Misrata on May 3, 2015, after the coastguard intercepted five boats carrying people trying to reach Europe (Photo: Mahmud Turkia/Getty)

Last month, 700 migrants attempting to sneak into Europe drowned when their rickety vessel capsized in the Mediterranean. This week, the… Continue reading

Alistair Carmichael responsible for Nicola Sturgeon leak

Alistair Carmichael attends a Cabinet Committee  meeting in September 2014 (Photo: Getty)

During the election campaign the Telegraph reported that Nicola Sturgeon wanted David Cameron to remain Prime Minister, after a memo was leaked to… Continue reading

A tax on sugar won’t work, as the shipwreck of the Danish ‘fat tax’ shows

Image: Getty

Bad ideas die hard in the world of ‘public health’, especially when the government can make money out of them.… Continue reading

Will Theresa May allow Muhammad Salah to enter the UK?


Unencumbered by the regressive Liberal Democrats, the new government has already managed to start taking extremism seriously.  The counter-extremism legislation which… Continue reading

This ‘new image of Shakespeare’ is obviously not Shakespeare – but I’ll tell you who it might be

A face that Country Life claims to be of Shakespeare featured in the 'Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes'. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

In its issue dated 20 May, Country Life has published a long article by the botanical historian Mark Griffiths claiming… Continue reading

Never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker, or a fribble


It’s good to see that an actual anthropologist is studying the behaviour of some of America’s weirdest women. Wednesday Martin’s… Continue reading

BBC announces Labour leadership hustings from constituency symbolising party’s failure

Ed Miliband speaking in Nuneaton during the general election. The seat, which failed to go red on 7 May, will host the first Labour leadership hustings. Picture: PA

After Harriet Harman announced that Labour would ‘let the public in’ to its leadership contest, the BBC has announced that… Continue reading

Kezia Dugdale running for leader of Scottish Labour

Jim Murphy, stands with Kezia Dugdale after being announced as the new leader of the Scottish Labour Party on December 13, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Kezia Dugdale, the deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, has announced that she’s running for the leadership of the… Continue reading

Mr Cameron goes to Latvia

Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on immigration at the Home Office, on May 21, 2015 in London, England.

Five days before the Queen’s Speech, David Cameron is taking on the first big challenge of this new Parliament: renegotiating… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: The future of Italy

A group of Alpine Infantry soldiers camped at the foot of Mount Vilau in the Italian Alps during World War I.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

From ‘The Future of Italy‘, The Spectator, 22 May 1915: WHEN the King of Italy found himself unable to accept… Continue reading

Cameron’s seven-day GP service is a mad promise straight out of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’


I love the series Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister for many reasons, among them the timeless, elegant dialogue that can… Continue reading

Dennis Skinner wins Westminster turf war against the SNP


Of all the MPs to pick a fight with, Dennis Skinner is not high on Mr S’s list. Still, that… Continue reading

Nigel Farage kowtows to critics and takes a summer break

UKIP leader Nigel Farage speaks during a press conference in which he announced his resignation after failing to win the South Thanet constituency on May 8, 2015 in Broadstairs, England.

Nigel Farage stamped his authority on Ukip with a round of sackings, but he has also listened to his critics.… Continue reading

Another child abuse memoir. Why can’t the past be private?

James Rhodes has won the right to publish an autobiography telling of his abuse as a child (Photo: Getty)

I feel torn on pianist James Rhodes’ victory at the Supreme Court yesterday. On one hand, the lifting of the… Continue reading

Kendall is a hard act to follow for Cooper and Burnham


Liz Kendall is the great unknown Labour leadership candidate. She is the only one who hasn’t been in government or… Continue reading

Which London mayoral hopeful has a ‘plethora of erotic art’?


With Ivan Massow currently vying to be the next Mayor of London, the businessman released a campaign video this week… Continue reading

Camilla Cavendish to head Number 10 policy unit

Camilla Cavendish at The Times CEO Summit in 2011.

As British politics becomes more presidential, the structure of Number 10 matters more and more. David Cameron values continuity, collegiality… Continue reading

Kendall, Cooper and Burnham all have perceived weaknesses to overcome

Labour MPs (L-R) Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Mary Creagh, Tristram Hunt and Liz Kendall address delegates at the Progress annual conference in central London on May 16, 2015.

Now that Liz Kendall has enough MPs backing her to make it on to the ballot paper for the Labour… Continue reading

Chuka Umunna was the victim of an old-fashioned Westminster character assassination

Labour Leader Ed Miliband Announces His Party's Education Manifesto

A few months after Ed Miliband was elected Labour leader I met with one of his supporters in the shadow… Continue reading

The Tories try to deal with latest net migration target failure

Border Force At Work At UK Ports

One of the odd decisions that the Tories made before the election was to pursue their net migration target, in… Continue reading



Michael Gove vs the lawyers - his toughest fight yet

The Justice Secretary’s new mission will make education reform look like child’s play

What does your front garden say about you?


What does your front garden say about you?

Nigel Farage cannot lead the Out campaign


Ukip’s leader must co-operate for the good of his country

Letter from Kathmandu: China's beating India in the aid wars


After the first earthquake we were told that the chance of another one was 200 to 1. A fortnight later, when we were just beginning to recover, the second one… Read more


(Photo: Getty)

Cameron's small majority means big challenges ahead

In ancient Rome, when a general rode in triumph through the city, a slave would stand behind him whispering into… Read more

Charles Moore’s Notes: Who benefits from Prince Charles shaking Gerry Adams’s hand?

Prince Charles shakes hands with Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (Photo: Getty)

Who benefits from Prince Charles’s handshake with Gerry Adams? Not the victims of IRA violence, including the 18 soldiers who… Read more

Let’s set the cops on barbaric fox-hunters


Among those deeply disappointed with the Conservative party’s victory on 7 May was Britain’s diverse and vibrant community of wild… Read more

Calling all British tourists — Ukraine needs you!

Kiev's  St. Sophia Cathedral

 Kiev ‘What the hell’s going to happen to your poor country?’ I ask the man in the flea market not… Read more

On Jim O’Neill, the new ‘Northern Powerhouse’ supremo

Powerhouse Jim O'Neill (Photo: Getty)

A doff of my flat cap to Jim O’Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist who has been made a peer,… Read more



The toughest, smartest, strangest creatures ever to evolve are nearing the end of their continental shelf life

The rich, strange, finely balanced ecosystems of the oceans — on which our lives depend — are profoundly threatened, says Rose George

Peter Watson: exquisite taste in art, if not in men

Lankily elegant and exquisitely dressed: Peter Watson (right) with Oliver Messel

It would not have surprised their friends in the 1930s when Peter Watson had… Read more

How 18th-century gardeners ordered their plants after a great storm, a terrible drought and ‘a little ice age’

Primula auricula

I hesitate ever to criticise an author for the inappropriateness of a book’s title,… Read more

Colonel Blood: thief turned spy and Royal pensioner

Irish-born soldier and adventurer Colonel Thomas Blood (Photo: Getty)

In the words of one of his contemporaries ‘a man of down look, lean-faced… Read more

Barbara Pym: a woman scorned

Barbara Pym (Photo: Getty)

Anyone who has ever listened to the thump of a rejected manuscript descending cheerlessly… Read more

Uncle Joe is revered in Putin’s Russia as a benevolent dictator

‘We will achieve abundance’ promises a propaganda poster of 1949. But by 1952 most free Soviet citizens shared the same diet as the inhabitants of the Gulag

‘Lately, the paradoxical turns of recent Russian history… have given my research more than… Read more

Francis Barber: reluctant member of Dr Johnson’s mad ménage

Portrait thought to be of Francis Barber by Sir Joshua Reynolds

We know a great deal about Samuel Johnson and virtually nothing about his Jamaican… Read more

An epic journey (in Hobson-Jobsonese) through the first Opium War to the British seizure of Hong Kong

Author Amitav Ghosh (Photo: Getty)

T.H. White complained that the characters in Walter Scott’s historical novels talked ‘like imitation… Read more

Monty’s arrogance nearly lost us the war: an alarming angle on the Ardennes offensive

Out of the woods: American forces attack a German machine gun post, December 1944. The grim determination of the Allies, whose heroism kept the Germans at bay, helped pave the way for the final Russian advance on Berlin

Both German and Allied troops could be accused of war crimes in the struggle for the Ardennes. It’s a tragic and gruesome history, involving heavy casualties — but flashes of black humour make it bearable, says Clare Mulley


Arch enemies: Euston Arch (left), torn down to make way for London’s most miserable train station (right)

Should Euston Arch be raised from the dead?

Yes  William Cook Rejoice! Rejoice! Fifty-four years after its destruction, Euston Arch has returned to Euston. Well, after a fashion.… Read more

Welcome to Japan’s best kept cultural secret: an art island with an underground museum

Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima. Photo: Fujitsuka Mitsumasa

In his introductory remarks to the Afro–Eurasian Eclipse, one of his later suites for jazz orchestra, Duke Ellington remarked —… Read more

Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum is very good news - for the Met

Much compared to a photocopier: Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum

About six years ago the first section of the now celebrated High Line was opened in New York and made… Read more

How dedicated a fascist was Le Corbusier?

Scapegoat for all of urban life’s ills: Le Corbusier, c.1950

The ‘revelations’, 50 years after he drowned, that Le Corbusier was a ‘fascist’ and an anti-Semite are neither fresh nor… Read more

What really happened in the Berlin Philharmonic election

Christian Thielemann leading the Staatskapelle Dresden  (Photo: Getty)

The morning after the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra failed to elect a music director, I took a call from Bild-Zeitung, Berlin’s… Read more

Fine production of a painful play: Death of a Salesman at the Noel Coward reviewed

She makes Medusa look like a dinner lady: Kate Fleetwood as Tracy Lord in ‘High Society’

Here come the Yanks. As the summer jumbos disgorge their cargoes of wealthy, courteous, culture-hungry Americans, the West End prepares… Read more

We Are Many reviewed: does anyone think this anti-Iraq War film will change anything?

Thousands of protesters gather for an anti-war demonstration in New York, 2003

Big-screen documentaries never change the world. Blackfish has not shortened the queues to see maltreated killer whales leap through hoops… Read more

Half-brilliant, half-bewildering: Peter Pan at Welsh National Opera reviewed

Peter Pan (Photo: Clive Barda)

In Beryl Bainbridge’s novel An Awfully Big Adventure the producer Meredith Potter issues a doughty injunction on the subject of… Read more

Rapture - and loathing: Woolf Works at the Royal Ballet reviewed

The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

People have been saying that Wayne McGregor’s new Woolf Works has reinvented the three-act ballet, but not so. William Forsythe… Read more

A bit silly: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reviewed

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, BBC1

BBC One’s 2015 choice of Sunday-night drama series is beginning to resemble the career of the kind of Hollywood actor… Read more

The history of India in 50 personalities

Prof. Sunil Khilnani (Photo: Getty)

The idea of using objects — salt, cod, nutmeg, silk — to turn history lessons into something popular and accessible… Read more


Memory lane: Taki and Joan Collins

I once tried to buy coke from the head of Manhattan detectives

This is as good as it gets. A light rain is falling on a soft May evening and I’m walking… Read more

The ant mind is right up there with the medieval one


From somewhere in the tree canopy, a nightingale song. The virtuoso trilling and warbling, the underwater bubbling, the teetering on… Read more

My podgy thumbs will never be iPhone-compatible


You can’t always get what you want. And you can never get what you want if you want a phone… Read more

A Finnish man was fined £83,000 for speeding because his annual income is £10.1 million


I have rather a poor record for speeding over the years. I have been caught by cameras quite often, sometimes… Read more

The Kenya Fly Fishers’ club makes the Bullingdon look rather left-wing


   Nairobi Trout were first introduced into Kenya’s highland streams in 1905. Men like Ewart Grogan, ‘baddest and boldest of… Read more