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The Labour Party Conference Continues

Murphy’s mission

The proverbial visitor from Mars would assume that the Scottish Nationalists had won—not lost—September’s referendum. Alex Salmond has given another… Continue reading

Spectator competition: Mr Micawber’s Christmas round robin (plus: sell the Bible to modern audiences)

'Micawber in his element' - Artist -  Fred Barnard  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This year’s festive comp asked for Christmas round robins as they might have been written by a well-known fictional character.… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: A warless world

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

From ‘Dreams of a Warless World’, The Spectator, 19 December 1914: In truth, there is only one way to stop… Continue reading

Life isn’t easy for Gove’s guinea pigs. I should know – I am one

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Westminster hasn’t made life easy if you are a 16-year-old. Michael Gove’s education reforms are well underway but the reorganisation… Continue reading

Cloakrooms should be free to stop young women freezing to death

Scantily-clad girls heading off on a night out in Newcastle

As I wiggled into my tights in preparation for an end-of-term night out, I was faced with the perennial clubbing… Continue reading

The best (and worst) of ballet and dance over Christmas

The highlight of the Christmas shows: Arthur Pita's The Little Match Girl. Photo: Phil Conrad

The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, until 4 Jan *** The Little Match Girl, Lilian Baylis Studio, until 4 Jan ***** Edward Scissorhands, Sadler’s Wells, until 11 Jan *** Alice’s… Continue reading

Spectator internships 2015: applications open

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Christmas is coming, and so are new year’s resolutions. If yours is to get some journalistic work experience, then we’d… Continue reading

Listen: Lucy Powell tries to dodge questions on leaked Ukip document with ‘it’s irrelevant to you!’

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How has Labour managed to make such a mess of its response to the leak of a document on dealing… Continue reading

Yes, this Spectator Christmas card is a bit brutal. But so is the Christmas story

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‘What kind of message are you guys trying to send with that brutal Christmas card?’ asked my friend in the… Continue reading

Ukip MPs decline to comment on Nigel Farage’s ‘chinky’ remarks

Nigel Farage on Phone Farage this morning.

Another week, another controversial set of controversial remarks from Nigel Farage — this time, it’s about the use of the… Continue reading

Why do internet companies have one rule for paedophilia and another for terrorism?

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Today’s Times investigation into how the Islamic State is encouraging young British women to marry into this terrorist organisation is chilling.… Continue reading

Why Alex Salmond’s help could hinder Labour

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Anyone surprised by Alex Salmond’s comments in the Independent about SNP MPs possibly voting on English matters if it helped… Continue reading

Does Hollywood need bullies?

The Sony leak revealed harsh emails about Angelina Jolie (Photo: Getty)

There have always been bullies in Hollywood; it’s institutionalised, like a form of hazing, but the key difference between the… Continue reading

Why is George Osborne’s aide paid £95,000? Because he’s worth it

Rupert Harrison (right) is more than just a bag carrier. But he carries bags too. And newspapers.

The Daily Mirror has today splashed on the fact that Rupert Harrison, chief economic adviser to the British government, has… Continue reading

The Spectator at war: A Scandinavian league

Kings Haakon of Norway, Gustave of Sweden and Christian of Denmark. Image: Agence Rol/Bibliothèque nationale de France

From A Scandinavian League, The Spectator, 19 December 1914: THE meeting of the three Scandinavian Kings at Malmo is an… Continue reading

Watch out Labour, Ukip are coming for you

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How much of a threat is Ukip to Labour? The tanks of the people’s army have been on the Conservatives’… Continue reading

The fatal contradiction at the heart of the Tory message: there is no money, except for people we like.

David Cameron and George Osborne Visit Eastbourne Pier

Next year’s general election looks like being the most gruesomely entertaining in years. Entertaining because no-one knows what is going to… Continue reading

The May-Cameron feud claims another victim

(Photo: Toby Melville/Getty)

The increasingly bloody feud between Theresa May’s political operation and David Cameron’s has claimed another victim. Nick Timothy, May’s long-serving… Continue reading

Rod Liddle: my favourite books of the year

?Explore the Home Counties?, LNER poster, 1936.

I’ve been away in Oslo. Not the world’s most exciting destination, I have to say. And the locals really do… Continue reading

Labour’s ‘quick and dirty’ briefing

Lucy Powell told MPs they could get a 'quick and dirty' briefing on Ukip.

More fallout from the Labour Ukip leak reaches me. Some sources in the party remain amazed that it apparently never crossed… Continue reading

Labour tries to deal with dysfunctional campaign machine after Ukip leak

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After spending all week stamping all over their own report about how to approach Ukip, Labour is now trying to… Continue reading

This is how you can fight the Taleban

(Photo: A Majeed/Getty)

The murder of over a hundred children by the Taleban in Peshawar left people furious but also frustrated. What can we… Continue reading

What on earth qualifies Alan Rusbridger to run an Oxford college?

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When Alan Rusbridger announced his departure from The Guardian, two questions presented themselves. The first was: who will succeed him?… Continue reading

Why Frozen is a fabulously irritating film

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For a film I’ve never seen, I really, really hate Frozen. For those who don’t have children and don’t look… Continue reading

Chelsea fan Brocket dampens Arsenal’s Christmas

Lord Brocket with some friends. Image: Getty.

It could be a bleak Christmas party for Arsenal Football Club on the 22 December, as Steerpike hears their planned festive bash… Continue reading

Meet Libby Lane – the first interview with the first woman bishop

Libby Lane, the first female bishop in the Church of England (Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty)

Why is Libby Lane the first woman bishop appointed by the Church of England? She was one of the first… Continue reading

PMQs sketch: Three senior politicians are accused of mass murder

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Time travel came to PMQs today. The leaders discussed what year it will be in 2020. The answer, naturally, isn’t… Continue reading

The oldest trick in the detainees’ book

Sir Thayne Forbes. Image: Getty

The £31 million al-Sweady Inquiry is in. And it describes claims that up to 20 Iraqis were killed and mutilated… Continue reading

Magazine

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Black flags and Christmas lights: a letter from Beirut

Blue and white Christmas lights twinkle over the shops near my apartment in Beirut’s Christian quarter; pricy boutiques display elaborate nativity scenes. But people are having trouble getting into the… Read more

What’s behind the Boris Johnson show?

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To interview the Mayor of London is to witness an extraordinary performance

Penelope Lively’s notebook: Coal holes and pub opera

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I have been having my vault done over. Not, as you might think, the family strong room, but the place beneath the pavement — the former coal cellar — pertaining… Read more

The threat to Christmas carols – and how to save them

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A glorious, healthy and intensely pleasurable tradition is in danger

How to fix Britain’s immigration crisis (without leaving Europe)

UKIP Prepares For Rochester And Strood By-Election

The crisis is real. And we can solve it without leaving Europe

Europeans no longer fear Germany. But do the Germans still fear themselves?

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Germans are beginning to recognise that they will not always be able to stay out of military conflicts

David Hare’s notebook: The National Theatre belongs to taxpayers, not corporate sponsors

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The nicest day of the year was spent at Charleston in May. The Sussex farmhouse shared by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell looked splendid in the streaming sunshine. As a… Read more

The Christmas lunch

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Illustrated by Carolyn Gowdy The early Christmas lunch party had been Bunny Wedgewood’s idea. But Bunny had pulled out the day before, having been sectioned by her daughter and son-in-law.… Read more

Alexander McCall Smith’s notebook: America vs my diet

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The trouble with going on an American book tour is that I know it’s going to play havoc with my diet. People on diets can very quickly become diet bores,… Read more

Has the Chief Inspector of Schools really gone rogue?

Ofsted Chief Inspector visits school

Sir Michael Wilshaw must revamp his power-crazed organisation

Edie Campbell’s catwalk notes: the joys of the hunt ball, and mystery of Grozny fashion week

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It seems as though I have just been on some grand tour of the absurd. It helps that I work in fashion, quite possibly the most absurd of all industries.… Read more

Interview: Alex Salmond’s game plan for the Commons

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Scotland’s former first minister on the allure of the Commons, the Queen and Prince Charles – and the defects of Cameron and Miliband

Pippa Middleton on wine, fishing and Kim Kardashian

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A few days ago I went truffle hunting in Piedmont. It’s been a bumper year for white truffles in northern Italy — the best ever, according to some experts —… Read more

Valérie Trierweiler’s notebook: Christmas as a singleton

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Christmas will be a very warm occasion for me. I’ll be spending it with the Massonneaus — my family — as I do every year. It will be five brothers… Read more

Straight white males are the winners in the sexual counter-revolution

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Forget the culture war rhetoric. We straight white males have won

Alan Turing's last victory

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The story of how we cracked Enigma was top secret, then misrepresented. Now it’s a worldwide cult

From the archive: Sound of the season

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How ‘White Christmas’ invented the modern festive song

The Servant

Illustrated by Michael Heath

You will see, alas, that all of this is true. One morning, I awoke in a feather bed in a room in a tavern and reached, as I always did,… Read more

Columnists

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Charles Moore's notes: A matched pair of popes, and a patronising judge

Pope Francis is favourably compared to Pope Benedict in the media. I hope it is not being slavishly papist to… Read more

From coalition to chaos – get ready for the age of indecision

German Chancellor Angela Merkel Visits The UK

A recent email from Samantha Cameron started an intriguing debate in the Prime Minister’s social circle. It was an invitation… Read more

Are old fairy stories too scary for kids?

Bluebeard giving keys to his wife, engraving by Gustave Dore, 1862 Photo: Getty

Moving house, stacking books in boxes, I came across a clutch of fairy books, Andrew Lang’s folk tales from around… Read more

Why are there so many fat people in pictures of food banks?

General Election - Social Issues

Were you aware that the famous actor Andy Garcia was born with a foetus growing out of his left shoulder?… Read more

This Christmas, I wish you the gift of flu

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Have you had the horrid bug that’s going round yet? I’ve got it now and I do hope you get… Read more

Why it’s time to revive the commonplace book

Kenneth Baker Photo: Getty

Among the gifts that have come my way this Christmas season, none has given me pleasure more immediate or more… Read more

Twentysomethings: you won’t miss being poor. But you will miss not knowing what you’re doing

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What I miss most about being very young is the cluelessness. It’s enormously liberating, cluelessness. The boundaries of life are… Read more

Arts

‘The Census at Bethlehem’, 1566, by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Climate change, Bruegel-style

The world depicted by the Flemish master is not so different from our own, says Martin Gayford

The Nazi origins of the Vienna Phil’s New Year’s Day concert

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Vienna’s New Year’s Day concert is still tarnished by its Nazi origins, says Norman Lebrecht

Snow - art’s biggest challenge

‘Melting Snow at Wormingford’, 1962, by John Nash

In owning a flock of artificial sheep, Joseph Farquharson must have been unusual among Highland lairds a century ago. His… Read more

Le French bashing has spread to France. Are things really that bad?

Outsize origami: Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton

The popular sport has spread to France. Are things really that bad, wonders Jonathan Meades

Fortune tellers, pound shops and Orville: why I love Blackpool

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Fortune tellers, pound shops and Orville: it’s easy to take the piss out of Blackpool, but William Cook loves it

Agents will be queuing up to sign this 26-year-old baritone from Sichuan

Gianni Schicchi Photo: Hana Zushi-Rhodes, Royal Academy of Music

The Royal Academy of Music’s end-of-term opera can always be looked forward to because it never disappoints: the repertoire is… Read more

Panto season has arrived - and even the kids are turning their nose up at it

Slick, handsome and richly costumed: ‘Mother Goose’ at the Hackney Empire

‘What is a panto?’ I asked my companion at the Hackney Empire’s Saturday matinee. ‘It’s basically a really bad play,’… Read more

If you like bland films full of blondes, you’ll love Kon-Tiki

Agnes Kittelsen as Thor Heyerdahl’s wife, Liv — one of the film’s many blondes

Kon-Tiki is a dramatisation of Thor Heyerdahl’s 4,300-mile, 101-day journey across the Pacific by balsa-wood raft, which took place in… Read more

Why we love hating the music we hate as much as we love loving the music we love

"Andrew Mueller hates The Doors more than any band in the world" Photo: Getty

It’s all gone now, of course. Not just the magazines themselves, but the legendary bile of old-school rock criticism

Royal Ballet’s Don Quixote: Carlos Acosta is too brainy with this no-brain ballet

Sensual but not thrilling: Carlos Acosta as Basilio

One feels the pang of impending failure whenever the Royal Ballet ventures like a deluded Don Quixote into a periodic… Read more

How to win MasterChef - and why salmon is the fish of the devil

Masterchef: The Professionals: Marcus Wareing, Gregg Wallace, Monica Galetti Photo: BBC

If ever my near-neighbour William Sitwell is killed in a bizarre shooting accident and I end up taking his place… Read more

Children’s radio was once at the core of the BBC - now it’s all but disappeared

Jarvis Cocker Photo: Getty

It was a bit of a surprise to hear Jarvis Cocker, the embodiment of cool and former frontman of Pulp,… Read more

Life

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Taki's Christmas gift to readers: a masterclass in the art of seduction

Here is my Christmas gift to Spectator readers, one that applies mostly to unmarried males, but is also available to married ones who might wish to test if that old… Read more

Forgive us our Christmases as we forgive those who Christmas against us

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After lunch on Christmas Day my father always stood at the sink in his apron and yellow Marigolds and did the washing-up. Rolling up his shirtsleeves the gentleman’s way, as… Read more

Here’s what I’ve learned in 2014

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The countryside is all very well so long as you know you can leave it. Funnily enough, exactly the same can be said for the town. I realise I have… Read more

Without Jesus and with less Santa, what does Christmas mostly consist of?

Volunteer Santas Meeting In Berlin

More than ever this year I find friends planning to go abroad for Christmas, some to countries such as India where the sun shines and Christmas is barely celebrated at… Read more

I cannot imagine living in a world without lions

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Laikipia We are privileged to live with lions on the farm. We hear them most nights. We encounter them frequently. Out walking last month, I sensed four lions the instant… Read more

Christmas reading for racing folk

Leighton Aspell riding Many Clouds win The Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury Photo: Getty

‘Hang on a minute—he’s a bit wobbly,’ trainer Oliver Sherwood told photographers imploring him to stand with his winner when Many Clouds won this year’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury.… Read more