The Spectator


23 May 2015

Gove vs the Euro-judges

The Justice Secretary’s new mission will make education reform look like child’s play

Subscribe from £12 »

Previous Issues



Michael Gove vs the lawyers - his toughest fight yet

23 May 2015

The Justice Secretary's new mission makes education reform look like child's play


Should we fear a Mugabe-style land grab in rural Scotland?

23 May 2015

The rise in Scottish nationalism may have implications for landowners and immigrants alike


'We need 10,000 mayors' - an interview with Steve Hilton

23 May 2015

An interview with Steve Hilton, Cameron's former chief strategist


What does your front garden say about you?

Local weirdo, agoraphobic, or ambitious vicar?


Nigel Farage cannot lead the Out campaign

23 May 2015

If he does, he will alienate Tory Eurosceptics


Letter from Kathmandu: China's beating India in the aid wars

23 May 2015

Meanwhile it's said India and China are using the relief effort to compete for influence


Why I won’t be going on Celebrity Big Brother — despite being tempted

23 May 2015

In the end, I turned down my invitation to appear on the reality TV show

Guild houses in the Grote Markt, Antwerp

Antwerp: the compact, charming capital of a country that doesn’t quite exist yet

23 May 2015

It combines Dutch can-do and Catholic joie de vivre – just don’t try to speak French…

The Week


Leading article

Isis is our worst possible enemy

23 May 2015

What can be done about the jihadist death cult's growing power?


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home The annual rate of inflation turned negative in April, for the first time since 1960, with deflation of 0.1 per cent as measured by the Consumer Prices Index, so… Read more

(Photo: Getty)


Nigel Farage’s Diary: the fallout from the elections

23 May 2015

My decision to remain as leader; and Patrick O’Flynn’s resignation



Cakes, the epicentre of gay rights

Plus: high pay on the railways, and where you can drink and drive


Ancient and modern

Lessons for Red Len

23 May 2015

Trade unions were better in ancient Rome

Sir Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, speaking at Enfield, 1915 (Photo: Getty)

From The Archives

National Government, 22 May 1915

23 May 2015

‘There must be no thought of who is a Liberal and who a Unionist’



Spectator letters: What decommissioned officers did after the war

Plus: More suggestions for cheap funerals; the dark mysteries of the creative process; and lovely pit bulls



Cameron's small majority means big challenges ahead

23 May 2015

Already Tory backbenchers with grudges are getting ready to agitate

Spectators notes

Charles Moore’s Notes: Who benefits from Prince Charles shaking Gerry Adams’s hand?

23 May 2015

Plus: it was the hunts wot won the election; and obituary battles

Rod Liddle

Let’s set the cops on barbaric fox-hunters

23 May 2015

Cameron should tighten up the hunting ban, rather than repeal it

James Delingpole

Calling all British tourists — Ukraine needs you!

23 May 2015

The inhabitants of Kiev are brave in the face of a tanking economy and the fighting in the east


On Jim O’Neill, the new ‘Northern Powerhouse’ supremo

23 May 2015

Plus: whether oil prices are set to soar once more; and Red Len is at it again, working busily against Labour’s interests



The toughest, smartest, strangest creatures ever to evolve are nearing the end of their continental shelf life

23 May 2015

We’re all in deep water now, says Rose George, having poisoned the seashells and plankton that sustain our oceans — and ourselves

Make up: Setting us apart from other mammals?

Terror Management Studies is a brand new area of research — and it’s not about IS or Boko Haram

23 May 2015

The Worm at the Core is too excited about overcoming the fear of death to bother with the enjoyment of life

Lankily elegant and exquisitely dressed: Peter Watson (right) with Oliver Messel

The Mad Boy, Peter Watson, Cecil Beaton and the limo — by Sofka Zinovieff

23 May 2015

Peter Watson, the 1930s playboy who wafts in and out of other biographies, at last takes centre stage

Primula auricula

How 18th-century gardeners ordered their plants after a great storm, a terrible drought and ‘a little ice age’

23 May 2015

The enchanting illustrations alone are worth the price of this hefty book — which is more for the coffee table than the bedside

Irish-born soldier and adventurer Colonel Thomas Blood (Photo: Getty)

Colonel Blood: thief turned spy and Royal pensioner

23 May 2015

Robert Hutchinson glamorises the ‘mapcap, harum-scarum escapades’ of Thomas Blood, but this 17th-century rogue was no Scarlet Pimpernel

Barbara Pym (Photo: Getty)

Barbara Pym: a woman scorned

23 May 2015

All hell broke loose when the editors at Cape turned down Barbara Pym’s seventh novel (even though it wasn’t much good)

Edward Thomas (Photo: Getty)

Edward Thomas: the prolific hack (who wrote a book review every three days for 14 years) turned to poetry just in time

23 May 2015

The first world war, as well as inspiring some wonderful poetry, provided Edward Thomas with an elegant end to a messy life

‘We will achieve abundance’ promises a propaganda poster of 1949. But by 1952 most free Soviet citizens shared the same diet as the inhabitants of the Gulag

Uncle Joe is revered in Putin’s Russia as a benevolent dictator

23 May 2015

Stalin’s latest biographer dispenses with the myths and gives us all the facts — which far surpass any fabricated horror

Portrait thought to be of Francis Barber by Sir Joshua Reynolds

Francis Barber: reluctant member of Dr Johnson’s mad ménage

23 May 2015

Dr Johnson’s Jamaican man-servant remains Gough Square’s invisible man, despite Michael Bundock’s years of research

Author Amitav Ghosh (Photo: Getty)

An epic journey (in Hobson-Jobsonese) through the first Opium War to the British seizure of Hong Kong

23 May 2015

Amitav Ghosh’s Opium Wars trilogy reaches a deafening finale with Flood of Fire


Arch enemies: Euston Arch (left), torn down to make way for London’s most miserable train station (right)

Should Euston Arch be raised from the dead?

William Cook says a rebuilt Euston Arch would herald an architectural renaissance; Stephen Bayley thinks it would be civic cowardice and a betrayal of progressive Victorian values

Chichu Art Museum, Naoshima. Photo: Fujitsuka Mitsumasa

Welcome to Japan’s best kept cultural secret: an art island with an underground museum

23 May 2015

Western modernism - from the paintings of Monet to the land art of Walter De Maria - feels supremely at home on the paradisiacal art island of Naoshima

Much compared to a photocopier: Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum

Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum is very good news - for the Met

23 May 2015

Like the High Line, the Whitney has grown into a monster, says James Fenton, and in its new show, America Is Hard To See, the country’s minor artistic talents attempt to topple the art stars

Scapegoat for all of urban life’s ills: Le Corbusier, c.1950

How dedicated a fascist was Le Corbusier?

23 May 2015

His first building was for the Soviets, so it might be more accurate to call this celebrated modernist a promiscuous tart - like all architects

Christian Thielemann leading the Staatskapelle Dresden  (Photo: Getty)

What really happened in the Berlin Philharmonic election

23 May 2015

Christian Thielemann and Andris Nelsons apparently split the orchestra down the middle. So why don’t they hire them both?

She makes Medusa look like a dinner lady: Kate Fleetwood as Tracy Lord in ‘High Society’

Fine production of a painful play: Death of a Salesman at the Noel Coward reviewed

23 May 2015

Plus: Kevin Spacey has destroyed the Old Vic by installing sparkly floors and corny balconies. The theatre’s new production of High Society is similarly nightclubby

Thousands of protesters gather for an anti-war demonstration in New York, 2003

We Are Many reviewed: does anyone think this anti-Iraq War film will change anything?

23 May 2015

What exactly is the point of this earnest documentary surveying the anti-war marches of 2003?

Peter Pan (Photo: Clive Barda)

Half-brilliant, half-bewildering: Peter Pan at Welsh National Opera reviewed

23 May 2015

Plus: more lost boys from the CBSO and Andris Nelsons in an electric concert performance of Parsifal

The Royal Ballet: Woolf Works (Photo: Tristram Kenton)

Rapture - and loathing: Woolf Works at the Royal Ballet reviewed

23 May 2015

Plus: something peculiar, unsettling and sensational from Mark Baldwin and Gavin Higgins for Rambert Dance

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, BBC1

A bit silly: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell reviewed

23 May 2015

Though it is to be congratulated on its bold rejection of Sunday-night convention, there’s still way too much hamming up in BBC One’s eccentric new drama series

Prof. Sunil Khilnani (Photo: Getty)

The history of India in 50 personalities

23 May 2015

An epic new Radio 4 series that shows how to do history on radio without Neil MacGregor


High life

High life

I once tried to buy coke from the head of Manhattan detectives

23 May 2015

This is as good as it gets. A light rain is falling on a soft May evening and I’m walking north on a silent Park Avenue hoping to get into… Read more

Low life

Low life

The ant mind is right up there with the medieval one

23 May 2015

From somewhere in the tree canopy, a nightingale song. The virtuoso trilling and warbling, the underwater bubbling, the teetering on the brink before the tumbling cascade. I’m wearing turquoise Speedo… Read more

Real life

Real life

My podgy thumbs will never be iPhone-compatible

23 May 2015

You can’t always get what you want. And you can never get what you want if you want a phone with buttons. I’ve been nursing along an old BlackBerry. Well,… Read more

Long life

Long life

A Finnish man was fined £83,000 for speeding because his annual income is £10.1 million

I have rather a poor record for speeding over the years. I have been caught by cameras quite often, sometimes getting points on my licence and paying modest fines, and… Read more

Wild life

Wild life

The Kenya Fly Fishers’ club makes the Bullingdon look rather left-wing

23 May 2015

   Nairobi Trout were first introduced into Kenya’s highland streams in 1905. Men like Ewart Grogan, ‘baddest and boldest of a bad bold gang’, shipped Loch Leven fingerlings in ice-packed… Read more




I was lucky enough to sit next to David Gilmour of Pink Floyd at a friend’s dinner the other night. I’d been chatting earlier to his wife, the novelist Polly… Read more



Reichenbach falls

23 May 2015

The former world champion Vladimir Kramnik recently espoused an opening system which I elaborated in a tournament in Germany in 1975. Remarkably, in the first two rounds of the Mannheim competition,… Read more


Chess puzzle

Puzzle no. 363

23 May 2015

White to play. This is from Kramnik-Svidler, Russian Team Championship, Sochi 2015. The black pieces are in a tangle and vulnerable to tactical strikes. How did Kramnik now launch just… Read more



21st-century Belloc

23 May 2015

In Competition No. 2898 you were invited to give an update on one of the children in Cautionary Tales who lived to tell the tale. Belloc’s gallery of kiddie delinquents… Read more



Plus ça change

23 May 2015

The unclued Across lights (Individually or as a pair) are defined by the unclued Down lights (individually or as a pair).   Across   1    Consistent growth, as an… Read more


Crossword solution

To 2209: Safe-blowers

23 May 2015

The unclued lights were preceded by PETER (translation of 32A) to form phrases listed in Chambers or Brewer. First prize Christopher Bellew, London W6 Runners-up Alexander Caldin, Salford,… Read more

Toby Young

Status anxiety

It's hard not to gloat, but I'm trying my hardest

23 May 2015

I was disappointed to hear Andy Burnham on Marr last Sunday declare his opposition to free schools. He put plenty of distance between himself and Ed Miliband, even admitting Labour… Read more


Battle for Britain

Battle for Britain

23 May 2015

The Wiki Man

The importance of selective inefficiency

23 May 2015

Readers of a certain age may remember choosing a cassette player in the 1980s. In theory the process was simple: we would have read reviews of competing devices in audiophile… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary, what do you do when you can't read the replies to a wedding invitation?

Q. How can I discipline inconsiderate people who do not reply properly to wedding invitations? I am being driven demented by replies on cards from people who have scrawled, for… Read more



What to drink when you're on a cloud of post-election euphoria

23 May 2015

Most of my friends are still on a cloud of post-election euphoria. There is one exception: those involved with opinion-polling. They have all the conversational self-confidence of a director of… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Mind your language: Heritage this and heritage that

23 May 2015

Benidorm has applied for World Heritage status. To achieve this, says Unesco, a site must have ‘outstanding universal value’ in one of ten natural or cultural categories. Perhaps Benidorm is… Read more