Jonathan Sacks on religion, politics and the civil war that Islam needs

1 November 2014
Pope Benedict XVI (L), meets Britain's C

Jonathan Sacks has an impressive track record for predicting the age we are in. In his 1990 Reith Lectures, ‘The Persistence of Faith’, the then chief rabbi pushed back against… Read more

The Tories have the right ideas to take on Ukip. So why do they keep messing it up?

1 November 2014
UKIP Campaign In Rochester Before Upcoming By-election

In the 2005 general election this magazine supported the Conservatives, with one exception — we urged voters in Medway not to vote for a deeply unimpressive Tory candidate by the name… Read more

1 November 2014


Home The last British combat troops turned over Camp Bastion in Helmand to Afghan forces and withdrew from Afghanistan after 13 years and 453 deaths. Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary,… Read more

Andrew Roberts

1 November 2014
Napoleon In Exile

To the British embassy in Paris for a colloquium on ‘Napoleon and Wellington in War and Peace’ organised by our ambassador, Sir Peter Ricketts, to mark the bicentenary of the… Read more

1 November 2014

What’s special about Rochester What is special about Rochester and Strood? — Rochester has the second oldest cathedral and school in Britain, after Canterbury. — Medway, the unitary authority area… Read more

Forget Ukip – what we need is some ostracisms

1 November 2014
(Photo: Getty)

For all Nigel Farage’s appealing bluster, he is never going to be in a position to get us out of Europe or, indeed, achieve anything at all. He is, in… Read more

From the archives

1 November 2014
Bedside Reading

From ‘A Probationer’s Diary’, by a Red Cross volunteer, from The Spectator, 31 October 1914: Friday. The wounded are coming to-morrow. Twenty of them. They are to be drafts from a… Read more

1 November 2014

Italy’s to-do list Sir: You would expect a long letter of rebuttal by a piqued senior diplomat in response to the many barbs that Nicholas Farrell packed into his piece… Read more

Scotland needs Jim Murphy (even if he doesn’t want to go back there)

1 November 2014
Shadow International Development Secretary Jim Murphy Photo: Getty

There should, by rights, have been a stampede of candidates to replace Johann Lamont as the leader of the Scottish Labour party. With the new powers promised to Holyrood, the… Read more

Rod Liddle: The top 10 most fatuous phrases in the English language

1 November 2014
Philip Seymour Hoffman Photo: Getty

An apology. A few weeks back, in my blog, I promised a regular series called ‘Fatuous Phrase of the Week’. Like so many publicly uttered promises, this one has failed… Read more

Help me become an addict

1 November 2014

When the White Queen told Alice she had sometimes believed as many as six contradictory things before breakfast, she spoke for us all. But our irrationality goes further than a… Read more

I’ll take Jeremy Clarkson over a howling mob any day

1 November 2014
British television BBC presenter of moto

Perhaps it’s a glaring and personal flaw in my observational skills, but if somebody tried to insult me via a number plate attached to their car, I’m not at all… Read more

How Italy failed the stress test (and Emilio Botín didn’t)

1 November 2014
The late Emilio Botín of Banco Santander Photo: Getty

Continuing last week’s theme, it was the Italian banks — with nine fails, four still requiring capital injections — that bagged the booby prize in the great EU stress-testing exercise,… Read more

The cult of 'mindfulness'

1 November 2014

The chances are that by now either you or someone you know well has begun to practise ‘mindfulness’ — a form of Buddhism lite, that focuses on meditation and ‘being… Read more

The Seabirds

1 November 2014

Out on the crumbling landscape’s farthest edge, Their winter journey starts, and while I know Some names, I can’t recall from stripe of wing Or sobbish cry which honours which.… Read more

Why I’ve joined Lebanon’s exodus

1 November 2014

In early autumn I was on a train travelling from London to Brighton, on the final leg of a journey that began earlier that day in Beirut, and which was… Read more

Rand Paul is like Nigel Farage – except he might win

1 November 2014

When America’s National Institutes of Heath said that it hadn’t cured Ebola yet because of budget cuts, Senator Rand Paul had an acidic answer. No, he told an audience of… Read more

The fightback against wackiness starts here

1 November 2014

At Glastonbury in 2000 I noticed two young men both wearing enormous Y-fronts and carrying an even bigger pair with the word ‘pants’ written on it. They both looked miserable… Read more

The myth of the White Widow

1 November 2014
Interpol Issue 'Red Notice' For Arrest Of Samantha Lewthwaite

Over the past year or so, a determined and fanatical Islamist has been waging a deadly and bloody war against the western world. This enemy is capable of moving unnoticed… Read more

Why Gibraltar needs its hunt back

1 November 2014
Rock of ages: three centuries of British occupation

The British overseas territory of Gibraltar, or, as some would have it, the wart on the bottom of the Iberian peninsula, is not an exciting place for a holiday. You… Read more

Terror plots, threats to liberties, banks in crisis: welcome to Britain during the Napoleonic Wars

1 November 2014
‘There was great danger of being kidnapped by licensed thugs and turned into a not-so-jolly Jack Tar’ George Morland’s ‘The Press Gang’ (1790s)
In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars, 1793–1815 Jenny Uglow

Faber, pp.714, £25, ISBN: 9780571269525

In our own troubled times it is useful and comforting to recollect that ’twas ever thus.  Violent threats against prominent politicians? Jenny Uglow reminds us that in 1802 Colonel Edward… Read more

Michael Frayn’s new book is the most highbrow TV sketch show ever

1 November 2014
Matchbox Theatre: Thirty Short Entertainments Michael Frayn

Faber, pp.292, £12.99, ISBN: 9781783063468

Enough of big ideas and grand designs. Instead, here are 30 unusually small ideas from the giant pulsating brain of Michael Frayn. Matchbox Theatre is a collection of tiny playlets,… Read more

The Tudor sleuth who's cracked the secret of suspense

1 November 2014
Catherine Parr, whose dangerously reformist ‘Lamentation’ Shardlake must recover, comes over as a sympathetic and attractive figure
Lamentation C.J. Sansom

Pan Macmillan/Mantle, pp.650, £20, ISBN: 9781447260257

Some reviewers are slick and quick. Rapid readers, they remember everything, take no notes, quote at will. I’m the plodding sort, making more notes than I can ever use and… Read more

Things to do: read this book

1 November 2014
A Little Bill of Fare.
As he journeyed through Europe in the 1870s writing his travelogue A Tramp Abroad, Mark Twain grew increasingly tired of the cuisine — which he described as ‘a monotonous variety of unstriking dishes’. Towards the end of his trip he compiled a list of the foods he longed for most, which were to be prepared and eaten immediately on his return
Lists of Note Shaun Usher (compiled)

Canongate/Unbound, pp.318, £30, ISBN: 9781782114529

It would be perverse not to succumb to the temptation to write this review as a list. So, the first item is how very handsome an object this book is:… Read more

Was John Cleese ever funny?

1 November 2014
John Cleese Book Signing
So, Anyway... John Cleese

Random House, pp.424, £20, ISBN: 9781847946966

Like many of my generation I was enchanted by the surrealistic irreverence of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, until I overheard other boys — it was never girls — excitedly murdering… Read more