Looking beyond black and white in Ferguson

23 August 2014
National Guard Called In As Unrest Continues In Ferguson

The ongoing Ferguson crisis in America is really two stories rather than one. The first story is the straightforward mystery of what happened when Darren Wilson (‘the white cop’) killed… Read more

Aid is no substitute for helping refugees

23 August 2014
A policeman stands guard outside Tilbury Docks, where one man was found dead alongside 34 other people inside a shipping container Photo: Getty

The tale is now familiar: shouts are heard from inside a freight container and police are called. A cargo of human beings is discovered, some gravely ill. This happened last… Read more

23 August 2014


Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, writing of the Islamic State in northern Iraq, said: ‘If we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement,… Read more

A.N. Wilson

23 August 2014
John Betjeman Photo: Getty

Like many inward-looking children, I always doodled stories and poems. Knowing one wanted to be a writer is a different matter altogether. That moment came when I read Lytton Strachey’s… Read more

23 August 2014

Tough at the top The clocks on Big Ben were cleaned by abseiling window-cleaners. Some other big cleaning/painting jobs: — Repainting the Forth Railway Bridge used to be a metaphor… Read more

Why the Ancient Greeks didn’t have middle-aged spread

23 August 2014

A drug has been invented to halt what is known as middle-aged spread. But it would be so much better if there was no such thing as middle age in… Read more

From the archives

23 August 2014
Pope Pius X

From ‘News of the Week’, The Spectator, 22 August 1914: Pope Pius X died at 20 minutes past one on Thursday morning. In a moment of lucidity, just before his death,… Read more

23 August 2014

Worth the candle Sir: I was saddened by Charles Moore’s account of the Westminster Abbey candlelit vigil marking the centenary of the start of the first world war (The Spectator’s… Read more

David Cameron's fog of war

23 August 2014
David Cameron cut short his holiday to return to Westminster, following the beheading of  journalist James Foley Photo: Getty

It was clear that things were going wrong for David Cameron when he had to say that his position on Iraq was ‘very, very simple’. To use that phrase was… Read more

Romance isn't a religion. Stop looking for The One and join The Queue

23 August 2014

Pity the modern starlet. Be she steaming-hot pop-tart or reality-show show-off, her range of emotional experiences will, thanks mostly to the gentlemen of the press, be strictly limited. She will… Read more

The surer we are that machines can think, the less sure we'll be about people

23 August 2014

Having written (for a Times diary) a few sentences about consciousness in robots, I settled back to study readers’ responses in the online commentary section. They added little. I was… Read more

Julian Assange is a narcissist and a nut — and if America comes for him we should take his side

23 August 2014
Julian Assange speaks at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he has been holed up for two years Photo: Getty

Poor Julian Assange. Call me a contrarian but I’m genuinely starting to feel sorry for the guy. He’s just made such a mess of his life, hasn’t he? And with… Read more

It’s not just left-wingers who think the bosses’ pay boom is unhealthy

23 August 2014

The FTSE100 index stands precisely where it did in the first week of December 1999. Whichever way you look at it, shareholders — including pension funds — have had a… Read more

Our boys in the Islamic state: Britain's export jihad

23 August 2014

It is the now familiar nightmare image. A kneeling prisoner, and behind him a black-hooded man speaking to camera. The standing man denounces the West and claims that his form… Read more

Travels in Isis country: priests, Peshmerga and property developers

23 August 2014

Arriving in Erbil, you don’t feel you are in Iraq, but another country altogether, which is what the Kurds would like. The city’s outer ring is shiny and new, a… Read more

The Islamic State is destroying the greatest melting pot in history

23 August 2014
Arab Bee Hive Village

As the fighters of the Islamic State drive from village to captured village in their looted humvees, they criss-cross what in ancient times was a veritable womb of gods. For… Read more

Sorry, Kellie Maloney, but to be a woman you must first be a girl

23 August 2014

Anybody with an ounce of compassion would have been doffing caps in recent days to Frank Maloney — as, indeed, absolutely everybody with an ounce of compassion vigorously and noisily… Read more

Revealed: The Pope's war with the Vatican

23 August 2014

If you want to understand how Pope Francis is planning to change the Catholic church, then don’t waste time searching for clues in the charming, self-effacing press conference he gave… Read more

The Origin of Poetry

23 August 2014

Forgive the figure curled like a question mark in the corner no one speaks his language He tried to read a newspaper and failed, print swimming like tadpoles in a… Read more

The biggest civil liberties outrage you've never heard of

23 August 2014

Imagine you bought a ticket for the opera and then a copper told you how you may travel to the opera house. You absolutely may not drive there, he says,… Read more

Seville: a city to get lost in

23 August 2014
The Plaza de España at dusk

On our second night in Seville we got lost. We’d been to a flamenco concert, my first, a little way out from the centre. Eight musicians sat in a horseshoe… Read more

Books and arts

23 August 2014
‘The Story’ by Dan Llywelyn Hall

The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again

23 August 2014
Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love James Booth

Bloomsbury, pp.532, £25, ISBN: 9781408851661

How does Philip Larkin’s gloom retain such power to disturb? His bleakest verses have the quality of direct address, as if a poetical Eeyore were protesting directly into our ear.… Read more

Is America headed for tyranny? It is when the other side's in charge...

23 August 2014
The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America F.H. Buckley

Encounter Books, pp.424, £18.99, ISBN: 9781594037191

For the last 50 years Americans have been decrying the increase of presidential power whenever the party they oppose is in office.  Republicans hated to see Kennedy and Clinton throwing… Read more

80 sq yds per gallon

23 August 2014

Nothing brings him to the door quite as surely as Silexine Watertight, the complete waterproofer. One Imperial Quart. Opened this morning to seal a stump, it scents my hands beyond… Read more