The Spectator


15 February 2014

‘Instant wildlife – just add water’

The ideology that created an unnatural disaster

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Previous Issues



Revealed: how green ideology turned a deluge into a flood

15 February 2014

Somerset saw the floods coming. The Environment Agency should have, too.

The British Academy Film Awards - Heads On Sticks

And the prize for most fatuous awards ceremony goes to...

15 February 2014

Gosh, has the competition ever been tougher?

Taylor Swift's RED Tour - London, England - 2/10/2014

Why I've started my own Mail Online

15 February 2014

Media moguls aren’t philosophers. So it’s time for philosophers to become media moguls

Race Demo

Britain has many major problems - racism isn't one of them

15 February 2014

It has less prejudice than the countries where I’ve lived before – and more people taking offence

60 Playmate Bunnies Celebrate Playboy's 60th Anniversary

Warning: upspeak can wreck your career

15 February 2014

A caution to my daughter that’s worth passing on

Here are little towns as pretty as any in Tuscany

The Marche

15 February 2014

It's always meant to be the next Tuscany. It's still blessedly quiet

The Week

Sun Rises As Somerset Levels Recovers From Recent Flooding

Leading article

Britain needs small government, not weak government. That means strong flood defences

15 February 2014

The need for cuts shouldn't let those in power wriggle out of their unglamorous responsibilities


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: as the waters continue to rise

Home Floods grew worse in the West Country. The village of Moorland, Somerset, was abandoned. Then the Thames flooded, from above Oxford to Teddington. Eventually, David Cameron, the Prime Minister,… Read more

White Dee with her daughter Caitlin


White Dee's diary: From Benefits Street to Downing Street?

15 February 2014

Plus: On being Channel 4's biggest hit, and on James Turner Street as a tourist attraction



Barometer: The kamikaze pilot who retired after three missions

Plus: poaching by numbers, homes on flood plains, and the best-paid university bosses


Ancient and modern

Ancient Rome’s fraudulent foreign students

15 February 2014

Modern lessons from a fourth-century tax dodge



Spectator letters: Fears for Scotland, and John Cornwell answers Melanie McDonagh

Save our Scotland Sir: Matthew Parris is quite right to praise Lord Lang’s speech in the Lords on Scottish independence 9 (‘The End of Britain’, 8 February) and there were other… Read more



If David Cameron can't get the floods right, all his hopes will wash away

15 February 2014

He's right to be on alert. Governments that don't look competent get no credit when things go well

Spectators notes

The Spectator's notes: What shall we call the Country Formerly Known as Britain?

15 February 2014

Plus: In praise of 'Jesus and Mo', and a minor medical menace

Rod Liddle

We buy dogs to reflect ourselves. So who’s buying all these killer pitbulls?

15 February 2014

My dog, by contrast, is intelligent, vigorous and middle class


Why did Theresa May deport my homeless friend?

15 February 2014

The officials who flew Marc to France reassured him that he could, perhaps should, come straight back

James Delingpole

The martyrdom of Mark Steyn

15 February 2014

I envied him for getting sued by Michael Mann. But now he needs all the support we can give


Where I’m looking for the next great banking blow-up

15 February 2014

Plus: George Soros’s secrets, and what changed at Sainsbury’s


Faisal’s dark, liquid eyes and distinguished bearing caused a sensation at the Paris Peace Conference

The enlightened king of Iraq

15 February 2014

Faisal I was humane, far-sighted, distinguished — and rather dishy, shows Ali A. Allawi in his hefty if loosely-written biography 

The Seagram Building, Park Avenue, New York

The man who gave the world (but not London) the glass skyscraper

15 February 2014

Detlef Mertins's book on the architect Mies, who designed New York's Seagram Building, is suitably monumental

The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina Photo: Getty

Did Hurricane Katrina have an angel of mercy — or an angel of death? 

15 February 2014

Did Dr Anna Pou euthanise victims trapped in the Memorial Medical Centre? Sheri Fink's Five Days at Memorial takes a close look at this — and much else

Edmund Burke (left) and Thomas Paine, caricatured by Gillray and Cruickshank respectively

Where did the Right and the Left come from? 

15 February 2014

The pamphlet war between the 'conservative' Edmund Burke and the 'radical' Thomas Paine remains with us in unexpected ways, shows Yuval Levin in The Great Debate

A sign common in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1956 Photo: Getty

How to get around South Africa's many boundaries

15 February 2014

In Dispatcher: Lost and Found in Johannesburg, Mark Gevisser remembers the secret roads and escape routes a young gay like him — and other dispossessed people — took in the land of apartheid

Lord Tweedsmuir and President Franklin D. Roosevelt Photo: Time & Life/Getty

The Scot who became more Canadian than the Canadians

15 February 2014

By focusing on one man in John Buchan: Model Governor General, J. William Galbraith casts a clear sidelight on a dying British empire


The Shock of the Fall is a worthy Costa Book of the Year

15 February 2014

The schizophrenic hero of Nathan Filer's novel, Matt Homes, gives us a true, clear view of the world through his distorted vision


Isabel Allende's Ripper doesn't grab you by the throat

15 February 2014

Interweaving a thriller with the backstories of a large cast of characters, the Chilean author give us two underwhelming novels in one


Marble portrait of Augustus, c.40 BC

What Emperor Augustus left us

15 February 2014

The Roman ruler abolished the Republic – but he also created a new system of imperial government and oversaw a flourishing of the arts

Choristers at Westminster Abbey, 1962 Photo: Getty

Are hymns dying? 

15 February 2014

As church attendance falls off a cliff, so is our beautiful heritage of sacred singing

Stroke of Luck, Park Theatre Photo: Simon Kane

Putin: ‘Oi, Europe, you’re a bunch of poofs’

15 February 2014

Plus: The actor in Stroke of Luck who's ripe to play Brian Sewell

Vanitas’, mid-1650, by Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione

'Castiglione: Lost Genius' loses his genius in a sea of brown

15 February 2014

Plus: A sneak preview of the drawings of Gainsborough, one of the greatest European draughtsmen of the 18th century

Gwyn Hughes Jones as des Grieux with Chiara Taigi as Manon

Manon Lescaut is twerking — should we applaud or shudder? 

15 February 2014

How the Welsh National Opera's MTV version of Manon the minx made me wish for comfortable cotton underwear

Steven McRae in Frederick Ashton’s ‘Rhapsody’

Bach is made for dancing

15 February 2014

Plus: Directors of Swan Lake could learn something from Channel 4's reality TV show Big Ballet

Crack team: Matt Damon and George Clooney in ‘The Monuments Men’

Bury every copy of Monuments Men in mines across Europe, so George Clooney can try again

15 February 2014

Clooney has cast himself, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchett in a patchy show that tells, not shows

Joachim Klaus leads the raid on the Jonkhere bank in Salamander

So long, Scandinavia. Bonjour, Benelux! 

15 February 2014

Comparing the cops of Salamander, Midsomer Murders, Brooklyn Nine-Nine — and Danny Boyle's frustrating Babylon

A stowaway jumps from a ferry to avoid police checks Photo: Getty

Ali risked his life to escape Afghanistan — and now teaches Britons how to survive there

15 February 2014

Plus: The show that makes you want to visit Calcutta (but not Kolkata)


Take a look at John Maynard Keynes's armchair

15 February 2014

Discoveries: Art, Science and Exploration marks the first time Cambridge university's eight museums are collaborating


High life

High life

Why doesn't Stephen Fry boycott the Saudis as well as the Russians? 

15 February 2014

Call me sentimental, but I’ve never seen a better opening ceremony than the Sochi one, evoking Russia’s great past in literature and in many other things. The ballet sequence was… Read more

Low life

Low life

My night in Zambia with Ian Dury 

15 February 2014

Every time I hear that song ‘Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll’ played on the radio, I think, Lord, how I miss Ian Dury. Then I wish they’d play… Read more

Real life

Real life

Let's make Andre Rieu the leader of the world 

15 February 2014

‘Please, I beg of you, take me to see André,’ was my mother’s heartfelt plea. And so it was that we turned up at Wembley Arena — she, my father… Read more

Long life

Long life

In praise of Milton Keynes

15 February 2014

Who would ever have thought it, but I have become quite fond of Milton Keynes. Although I live slightly closer to the ancient city of Northampton than to this widely… Read more

Wild life

Wild life

Jubilant greetings to you, Celestino! How is the atmospheric pressure in your corner? 

15 February 2014

 Laikipia ‘I am old and cannot work again,’ said Celestino. ‘But you are 46 and we have many years to go.’ ‘No. Working for you has made me blind.’ ‘We… Read more



15 February 2014

A couple of Sundays ago, in London, Zia Mahmood and Demetri Marchessini held the first ever ‘Goulash Individual’ tournament. ‘Goulash’ deals involve wild distributions of suits — and the day… Read more




15 February 2014

George Osborne is a supporter of chess. During the award ceremony at 11 Downing St for last year’s London Candidates’ tournament, he told me that as a teenager he attended… Read more


Chess puzzle

no. 301

15 February 2014

White to play. This position is from Carlsen-Caruana, Zurich 2014. White’s pin against the black rook and the passed pawn on d7 are the key components of his winning combination.… Read more



Hard-boiled Blyton

15 February 2014

In Competition 2834 you were invited to submit an extract from a classic of children’s literature rewritten in the style of hard-boiled crime fiction. My word, you were good this… Read more



2149: Super!

15 February 2014

Each of the unclued lights (one of two words and one of three) can be preceded by the same word which solvers must state when submitting their entry. All resulting… Read more


Crossword solution

Solution to 2146: 4 ÷ 4 = 8

15 February 2014

One 4-letter word is to be placed in the middle of another to yield an 8-letter solution: 6 ÷ 19 = 44: 14 ÷ 8 = 1A; 31D ÷ 37… Read more


Battle for Britain

Battle for Britain

15 February 2014

The Wiki Man

Will self-driving cars know what to do in the middle lane?

15 February 2014

I am convinced that when I took my driving test in 1983 I was asked by the examiner, ‘What lane of a three-lane motorway should you use when driving at… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What do I do now I haven’t sent a thank-you letter?

Q. Over New Year I stayed with a man who combines being a generous and exciting host with a punctilious need for swift, hand-written appreciation. I had every intention of… Read more



A spirit to warm Bruegel’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’

15 February 2014

The ostensible subject matter is misleading, as is any conflation with his lesser relatives’ wassailing peasants and roistering village squares. But Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s work is profoundly serious. It… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

A learned poet's mystifying mistakes

15 February 2014

I enjoy Poetry Please, but was shouting mildly at the wireless the other day when a northern woman poet was using the whining intonation that some seem to think the… Read more