The Spectator


13 December 2014

A new deal on immigration

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

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Previous Issues



Black flags and Christmas lights: a letter from Beirut

13 December 2014

The assumption here is that Lebanon will be the next place the jihadis target


What’s behind the Boris Johnson show?

13 December 2014

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


Penelope Lively’s notebook: Coal holes and pub opera

13 December 2014

Plus: Seasonal Shakespeare with six-year-olds

Christmas Choir

The threat to Christmas carols – and how to save them

13 December 2014

Singing, like swimming, is natural, healthy and intensely pleasurable — but you have to try it to know


The transvestite, the fat cyclist and the woman from Chest Monthly: writers' tales of weird dates

13 December 2014

Stories of the path of romance from A.L. Kennedy, Jack Whitehall, Celia Walden, Toby Young and many others

UKIP Prepares For Rochester And Strood By-Election

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

13 December 2014

The problem Ukip has highlighted is real. But there are better solutions


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

13 December 2014

The need for a ‘more active foreign policy’ clashes with the deep-seated pacifism of the federal republic


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

13 December 2014

Plus: The forward-thinking elderly, and agreeing with a critic


Why are we abandoning the Middle East's Christians to Isis?

13 December 2014

If the Christians of Iraq and Syria are to survive, they may have to do it in Acton


The Christmas lunch

13 December 2014

A short story by Nina Stibbe, illustrated by Carolyn Gowdy


Alexander McCall Smith’s notebook: America vs my diet

13 December 2014

Plus: Changing manners in baseball caps and grammar

Ofsted Chief Inspector visits school

Has the Chief Inspector of Schools really gone rogue?

13 December 2014

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

13 December 2014

Plus: Trying to interview a model, and glamour in Earl’s Court


Interview: Alex Salmond’s game plan for the Commons

13 December 2014

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


Pippa Middleton on wine, fishing and Kim Kardashian

13 December 2014

Plus: Eulogy for a church, and my first go at country dancing


Valérie Trierweiler’s notebook: Christmas as a singleton

13 December 2014

Plus: Throwing out books, and #BringBackourGirls


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

13 December 2014

Forget the culture war rhetoric. We squares have won


Alan Turing's last victory

13 December 2014

Once secret, then misrepresented, the story of Bletchley Park has become a worldwide cult

Berlin And Ladies

From the archive: Sound of the season

13 December 2014

How ‘White Christmas’ invented the modern festive song

Illustrated by Michael Heath

The Servant

13 December 2014

A Christmas short story by Mark Forsyth, illustrated by Michael Heath

The aurora: you really have to see it for yourself

The Northern Lights

13 December 2014

Getting here took a long time. First a flight to Seattle, then a connection to Fairbanks, followed by a coach to Coldfoot Camp and a final stage by minibus. It’s… Read more

The Week


Leading article

Age-old truth

13 December 2014

We are living longer, healthier and more prosperous lives than ever — it’s one of the greatest advances of our time, and yet our politicians prefer to see it as… Read more


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the year

January Floods covered 28,000 acres of the Somerset Levels. Ukip suspended an Oxfordshire councillor for saying floods were God’s punishment for legalising same-sex marriage. An Afghan was granted asylum because… Read more

Photo: David Benett/Getty


Joan Collins’s diary: The joy of fake Christmas trees

13 December 2014

Plus: The hell of airport security



100 years of Pyrex, processed cheese and nudes in movies

Plus: Some of 2014’s less successful predictions


Ancient and modern

How the Romans taught Latin (N.M. Gwynne would not approve)

13 December 2014

Ancient texts for Greeks learning Latin (and vice versa) look suspiciously like the Cambridge Latin Course

A Soldier's Christmas

From The Archives

From the archives

13 December 2014

The Vantage Point of Peace



Spectator letters: RT replies, Bristol bristles, and Ross Clark doesn't (yet) eat his hat

Moscow writing Sir: After months of lamentations from western politicians and officials about losing the ‘information war’ to Russia, a former executive editor of Radio Free Europe tries to paint… Read more


Spectators notes

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

13 December 2014

Why does Mr Justice Mitting hold PC Rowland to such low standards? Is it because he thinks he’s a pleb?


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

13 December 2014

Whichever major party loses, its leader will go, and no one will be keen on another vote any time soon


Are old fairy stories too scary for kids?

13 December 2014

The folk tales of old prepare a child for life

Rod Liddle

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

13 December 2014

If you’re going to take advantage of a food bank, at least have the good grace to look a bit peckish and skeletal

James Delingpole

This Christmas, I wish you the gift of flu

13 December 2014

For a freelance like me, illness is the only hope of time off

Matthew Parris

Why it’s time to revive the commonplace book

13 December 2014

A collection often tells us more, unwittingly, about its compiler than a self-description would

Hugo Rifkind

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

13 December 2014

Graduate poverty, at least at first, carries a weightlessness – a sense of being able to observe society from the outside


How do I ever get speaking gigs? I’m guessing it goes like this…

13 December 2014

Plus: Seeing my father in the BT archive; and hoping for a normal new year


‘The Lion Queen’

Roll up, roll up! A history of the circus from Ancient Egypt to the present

13 December 2014

A review of The Greatest Shows on Earth by Linda Simon reports that female acrobats as well as freaks were considered ‘liberated’ by the Victorian circus

Scenes from the garden of The Hope

The quirkiest garden book Roy Strong has read in years

13 December 2014

Meet the eccentric aristocrat who gardens in diamonds, with a gin in one hand and a chainsaw in the other, in a review of Digging with the Duchess by Sam Llewellyn

Seamus Heaney in 1996

Seamus Heaney: no shuffling or cutting — just turning over aces

13 December 2014

Craig Raine pays homage to the genius of Seamus Heaney in a review of his New Selected Poems

Richard Ford Photo: Getty

After the trilogy (and the hurricane): the likable return of Frank Bascombe

13 December 2014

A review of Let Me be Frank With You by Richard Ford reveals the 68-year-old Frank Bascombe happy in his retirement despite the proximity of his ex-wife


The lie detector and the Lasso of Truth: a history of Wonder Woman

13 December 2014

A review of The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore reveals that the creator of the cartoon heroine also invented the polygraph and maintained a curious ménage-à-trois

From ‘The Temptation of Eve’: detail of glass from Ely Cathedral designed by Pugin, 1858

Cambridge, showcase for modernism (and how costly it is to fix)

13 December 2014

In a review of the new Pevsner Cambridgeshire, Simon Heffer admires the city at its heart that doubles as an ancient university and a showpiece of modern architecture

King Nebuchadnezzar leaving Tyre Photo: Getty

A treasure-trove of grisly Arab tales may appeal more to an Isis fighter than your average British reader

13 December 2014

In a review of the medieval Arab Tales of the Marvellous and News of the Strange, one of the greatest marvels is that the manuscript survived at all

The undiscovered country: ‘Germany? Where is it?’, asked Goethe and Schiller in a collaborative poem. ‘I don’t know where to find such a place.’ Above: ‘Goethe in the Roman Campagna’, 1787, by Johann Tischbein, currently on show at the British Museum

German history is uniquely awful: that’s what makes it so engrossing

13 December 2014

A review of Germany by Neil MacGregor suggests that Germans have always been federalists and that the Holy Roman Empire which lasted 1,000 years was a forerunner of today’s EU


This ex-priest’s history of the gospels could unsettle the most faithful churchgoer

13 December 2014

Damian Thompson urges us all to read the fascinating and provocative Christ Actually: The Son of God for a Secular Age by James Carroll

Bridge on the 3,798-metre-high Baroghil Pass, leading from Badakhshan in Afghanistan to northern Pakistan

The powerful steppe empires of Central Asia were bound together by silken thread

13 December 2014

A review of Christoph Baumer’s History of Central Asia explores some of the loneliest and loveliest places on earth

Jacques-Louis David, emboldened by Madame Vigée Le Brun, included a smiling display of teeth in his portrait of Madame de Sériziat (1795)

How the smile came to Paris (briefly)

13 December 2014

A review of The Smile Revolution in 18th-century Paris by Colin Jones shows how advances in French dentistry spawned a whole new genre in portrait painting

Fair Maid Of Kent

All you’ll ever need to know about the history of England in one volume

13 December 2014

A review of Robert Tombs’s history of the English salutes a stupendous achievement


Juliet Townsend (1941-2014)

13 December 2014

Mark Amory remembers a close friend and Spectator reviewer, whose range included Rudyard Kipling, children’s books, Northamptonshire, lord lieutenants and Georgette Heyer

Writer and illustrator, Tove Jansson with her popular Moomin Photo:Kenneth Jonasson/PA

Hiding in Moominland: the conflicted life of Tove Jansson

13 December 2014

A review of Tove Jansson: Work and Love by Tuula Karjalainen reveals that the Moomins’ creator dreamt of living with her mother like two bears in a den

Illustration by Arthur Rackham from Grimm's Fairy Tale, Fitcher's Bird. Published late 19th Century Photo: Getty

Grimms’ fairy tales: the hardcore version

13 December 2014

A review of Grimms’ Original Folk and Fairy Tales suggests that the first version lacked the best bits

Enough, comrades, it’s time to give Transnistria a break

Transnistria: a breakaway republic of a breakaway republic

13 December 2014

A review of Transnistria by Rory MacLean provides an insight into a country that is recognised by no other country


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

Climate change, Bruegel-style

13 December 2014

The world depicted by the Flemish master in 'Census at Bethlehem' is all too familiar, says Martin Gayford


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

13 December 2014

It’s a ritual that passes for culture and tradition but is neither, says Norman Lebrecht

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

Snow - art’s biggest challenge

13 December 2014

Many have attempted snowy scenes, very few have succeeded - not even Monet

Outsize origami: Gehry’s Fondation Louis Vuitton

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

13 December 2014

Jonathan Meades thinks it’s rash to judge an entire country by the comings and goings of the rancorous former First Bimbo


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

13 December 2014

It’s easy to take the piss out of this seaside town, says William Cook, but people keep coming back so it must be doing something right

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

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

13 December 2014

Haobin Wang was one of the many delights in the Royal Academy of Music’s production of Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, which far outclassed the Royal College’s Zauberflote

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

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

13 December 2014

But Lloyd Evans finds some surprising highlights in Hackney Empire’s classic Mother Goose and Leicester Square Theatre’s homoerotic Sleeping Booty!

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

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

13 December 2014

The story on which this Norwegian adventure movie is based was a remarkable achievement. Sadly this isn’t

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

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

13 December 2014

Marcus Berkmann mourns the passing of old-school rock criticism and its legendary bile

Sensual but not thrilling: Carlos Acosta as Basilio

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

13 December 2014

And there’s an English mildness to the production and costume. Marianela Nunez compensates, though

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

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

13 December 2014

James Delingpole gives us his tips on how to take Greg right back to his luvly jubbly honest cockney roots

Jarvis Cocker Photo: Getty

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

13 December 2014

On Archive on 4 Jarvis Cocker goes in search of Singing Together, which for 50 years each week saw schools around the country united in song


High life

High life

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

13 December 2014

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

Low life

Low life

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

13 December 2014

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

Real life

Real life

Here’s what I’ve learned in 2014

13 December 2014

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

Long life

Long life

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

13 December 2014

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

Wild life

Wild life

I cannot imagine living in a world without lions

13 December 2014

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


The turf

Christmas reading for racing folk

13 December 2014

‘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




Pierre Zimmermann, captain of the hugely successful Monaco team, plays with Franck Multon and they are probably the best sponsor/professional partnership in the world. Franck occasionally partners a somewhat less… Read more

The two billionth view

Christmas Quiz Questions

Christmas Quiz

13 December 2014

So they say In 2014, who was quoted as saying:1. ‘There is no status for the partner of a head of state, and there has never been one.’ 2. ‘He’s… Read more

‘And the winners are …’

Christmas Quiz

The answers

13 December 2014

So they say 1. President François Hollande of France 2. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, of Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister 3. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, during… Read more



London greats

13 December 2014

The London Chess Classic, graced by two former world champions Viswanathan Anand and Vladimir Kramnik, as well as the world number two, Fabiano Caruana, is nearing its close. Full details… Read more


Chess puzzle

Christmas chess puzzle

13 December 2014

White to play. This position is from Anderssen-Kieseritzky, London 1851. It is a brilliant encounter that became known as the Immortal Game. White has already gambitted both rooks. How does… Read more



Season’s greetings

13 December 2014

In Competition No. 2877 you were invited to submit a Christmas round robin as it might have been written by a well-known fictional character. Most of the entries were bursting… Read more


Christmas Crossword

Anagram Pie Christmas double puzzle

13 December 2014

A first prize of £100, three prizes of £25 and six further prizes of the Chambers Book of Great Speeches (hardback) will be awarded for the first correct solutions opened. The… Read more


Crossword solution

To 2189: Offering

13 December 2014

Answers to clues in italics — stramash (1A), pasteboard (33) and lineated (36) — are treated as in the ROMAN (15A) custom of SUOVETAURILIA (1D), involving the SACRIFICE (4A) of… Read more


Spectator Wine

Christmas Wine Club II

13 December 2014

Just in case you missed it last week we’re showing again the details of the final Wine Club offer of the year, courtesy of Private Cellar, the East Anglian wine… Read more

Toby Young

Status anxiety

What will it take to live up to my father’s Great Life?

13 December 2014

I received a phone call the other day that I wasn’t expecting. It was a BBC producer calling about a Radio 4 series called Great Lives, presented by Matthew Parris.… Read more

Spectator sport

Spectator sport

Fifteen things we learned about sport in 2014

13 December 2014

It was the year of KP, Keano and the Kiwis; of Federer, Froch and Phil the Power (no change there then); of Sochi and Suarez; of Rory and Ronaldo; McCaw,… Read more



The most preposterous restaurant to have opened in London this year

13 December 2014

Somerset House, a handsome Georgian palace on the Thames, was once the office of the Inland Revenue, and the courtyard was a car park, but that particular hell is over. Instead… Read more


The Wiki Man

How to pick the perfect present

13 December 2014

I had always attributed it to bad luck in the genetic lottery. I am three-eighths Welsh and a quarter Scottish, which is a rotten mixture: part Cavalier, part Roundhead. This… Read more


Battle for Britain

Battle for Britain

13 December 2014


Cognac and the Viking connection in la France profonde

13 December 2014

The chestnut trees were still resplendent in yellow leaf along the banks of a misty autumn river on its glide through woodlands, pasture, comfortable towns — and vineyards. This was… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary solves problems for Jim Broadbent, N.M. Gwynne, Jesse Norman and others

Once again Mary has invited some of her favourite figures in the public eye to submit personal queries for her attention. From Jesse Norman MP Q. We’ve been having a… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

The curious language of Christmas carols

13 December 2014

I could never understand as a little girl why we sang: ‘Away in a manger, no crib for a bed.’ I knew what a manger was, and I knew that… Read more