The Spectator


18 April 2015

Mob rules

Would-be leaders of the left are harnessing the mood of angry populism

Subscribe from £12 »

Previous Issues


First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Attends CND Scotland Scrap Trident Rally

The SNP has replaced the Church of Scotland

18 April 2015

That’s why its arguments are so impervious to evidence and reason


Left-wing populism is on the rise - and may take Ed Miliband to No10

18 April 2015

Would-be leaders of the left are harnessing a mood of angry populism. It’s better as a way of getting elected than as an approach to government

Hillary Clinton Begins Presidential Campaign In Iowa

How Hillary Clinton found her populist side (and why she’ll have to lose it)

18 April 2015

The Democratic party has moved left under Obama. It’s not a look that suits the former first lady


Virtue signalling: the trendy alternative to being good

18 April 2015

Want to be virtuous? Saying the right things violently on Twitter is much easier than real kindness


Sorry Katie Hopkins, but I’m not dieting. Ever

18 April 2015

As Kingsley Amis said, no pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home

Forces of nature: Maggi Hambling with ‘Amy Winehouse’, a painting exhibited at her Walls of Water show last year

‘This stuff goes on being alive’: Maggi Hambling on the power of painting

18 April 2015

The artist, at 69, on Rembrandt, Twombly and talking to God

CBI Annual Conference 2014

How Ed Miliband lost the Jewish vote

18 April 2015

He’d be the first Jewish prime minister since Disraeli. So why is a swing-voting community overwhelmingly backing the Tories?

Møns Klint as painted by Claudia Massie

The Week

The new boat people

Leading article

Libyans are dying as they flee the mess Britain helped create. It's time to help

18 April 2015

Cameron’s triumphant intervention in Libya has ended with death in the Mediterranean. This is why we need foreign policy to become an election issue


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Launching the Conservative party manifesto, David Cameron, the party leader, told voters he wanted to ‘turn the good news in our economy into a good life for you and… Read more

ThinkstockPhotos-160041565 copy


David Starkey’s diary: Why don’t we celebrate the triumphs of private dentistry?

18 April 2015

Plus: Ed Miliband’s dangerous virtue, and a more enjoyable alternative to Adam Smith



Campaign songs and the singers who wish they weren’t

Plus: What Viv Nicholson’s spending spree would cost today, and where the right to buy is used most


Ancient and modern

Demosthenes vs Michael Fallon

18 April 2015

The Defence Secretary could — and should — have taken a lesson in rhetoric from ancient Athens

Czech legionnaires during WW1 (Photo: Getty)

From The Archives

Am I still an Englishman?

18 April 2015

From ‘Some reflections of an alien enemy: the contradiction between being and feeling an Englishman, by a Czech’, The Spectator, 17 April 1915: What I most regret having lost is my… Read more



Spectator letters: The mobility scooters strike back

Plus: Suits on the beach, hiring vicars and airline accidents



The Tories have survived a near-death experience. But they’re not home yet

18 April 2015

David Cameron may look ‘too posh to push’. In fact, friends say, he’s simply too worried about losing

Rod Liddle

Call me insane, but I’m voting Labour

18 April 2015

I can’t stand the party’s mindset, leadership and many of its policies, but on one key issue I trust it more than the rest

Matthew Parris

Scotland knows the power of a common enemy. We English don’t

18 April 2015

In Scotland as in Catalonia, it is a shared sense of victimhood that is the strongest source of patriotism

Hugo Rifkind

Warning: you may be about to vote for more than one government

18 April 2015

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act has changed everything. No, wait, don’t go away…


How Helge Lund’s humungous salary helped Shell to a bargain

18 April 2015

Plus: Canvassing for election predictions on a delayed Ryanair flight


An Armenian orphan in 1915. Hundreds of thousands of Christian women and children who survived the genocide suffered forced conversion to Islam

At last: a calm, definitive account of the Armenian genocide

18 April 2015

On the centenary of the Armenian genocide, Justin Marozzi is appalled by how this great catastrophe has been almost entirely buried, through neglect or denial, until now


The miracle of modern flight, by a 747 pilot with a poet’s sensibility

18 April 2015

In a review of Skyfaring, a memoir by Mark Vanhoenacker, Stephen Bayley overcomes his nervousness on the subject of flying and is entranced by a pilot’s poetic vision

Superstar curators like Hans Ulrich Obrist tour the world making items desirable through their selection alone, while paranoically insisting that what they do is ‘work’. Study for Tate Modern Sign (Bill Burns, 2012)

Spoilt for choice: we are all curators now

18 April 2015

Curating embraces everything these days — including sandwiches — says Jack Castle, and the superstar curators of exhibitions have become far more important than the artists themselves

Lord Shaftesbury (Photo: Getty)

Murder on Grub Street

18 April 2015

M.J Carter’s The Infidel Stain, set in the dark alleys of Dickensian London, combines pornography and the Chartist movement in high Victorian melodrama


Between town and country

18 April 2015

The perpetual dilemma of where to live is explored in Melissa Harrison’s vibrant novel of roots and belonging

Gyalo Thondup (right) pictured with the Dalai Lama on their arrival in India in 1959

From diplomacy to disillusion with the Dalai Lama’s big brother

18 April 2015

Gyalo Thondup, brother of the Dalai Lama, recalls in detail his many years directing Tibet’s foreign policy. But can we believe him?, asks Jonathan Mirsky

Latrines dating from the second century at Ostia Antica, outside Rome

How the Romans went about their business

18 April 2015

We know a lot about Roman baths, says Peter Stothard, but not so much about their lavatories. Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow in The Archeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy has the subject comprehensively covered

Critic James Wood (Photo: Getty)

The theory wars have ended in stalemate

18 April 2015

James Wood, Michael Hoffmann and the state of modern literary criticism


Women go off the rails

18 April 2015

In a review of Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child, Alex Clark finds shades of Emily Brontë in this novel about the erasure of female experience

Plotinus and Michel de Montaigne are included in George Steiner’s broad survey. His argument that we should elevate the pursuit of disinterested knowledge over the making of money is a familar one since classical times

From Plotinus to Heidegger: a history of European thought in 48 pages

18 April 2015

George Steiner is a deeply erudite, elegant writer, with a profound knowledge of European culture. It’s a pity his latest essay, full of lovely disquisitions, lacks a single original argument

Magnus Mills (Photo: Getty)

The mysterious pleasure of Magnus Mills

18 April 2015

Magnus Mills’s novel The Field of the Cloth of Gold is certainly not about is Henry VIII. And what it is about doesn’t really matter. Just enjoy its pure word music

From Russia with love

The Great Gatsby meets Fifty Shades of Oligarch

18 April 2015

Vesna Goldsworthy’s novel about Moscow-on-Thames is a tense, witty page-turner, says Viv Groskop


Murder in a black Texas Arcadia

18 April 2015

Attica Locke’s smart legal thriller, Pleasantville, is set in an elegant suburb of Houston, specifically designed for middle-class blacks. But it’s still a ghetto — with few very exit points

Tippi Hedren helps save schoolchildren in The Birds. Hitchcock confided to François Truffaut that he’d had ‘some emotional problems’ with Hedren during the shoot. For the final scene, live birds were attached to Hedren’s clothes. The actress became increasingly hysterical over the course of the week it took to film it, and when a bird finally went for her eyes, she collapsed

A profile of the worlds’s most famous film director — with the most famous profile

18 April 2015

The Master of Suspense was full of fear and paranoia himself, reveals Christopher Bray in a review of two lives of Alfred Hitchcock


1959 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham

Cars are our cathedrals

18 April 2015

Stephen Bayley hails the automobile - a miracle of technical and artistic collaboration - and mourns its demise

‘Propeller (Air Pavilion)’, 1937

Better than Robert? Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern reviewed

18 April 2015

The Russian-born French artist emerges from her husband's shadows - and triumphs

Daniel Barenboim conducts the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo: Getty)

Why Daniel Barenboim should be the next head of the Berlin Phil

18 April 2015

Irrespective of his 'peace-making', the Israeli-Argentine is the greatest all-round musician in the world


ENO's Between Worlds at the Barbican reviewed: too respectful

18 April 2015

Tansy Davies's score marks a real arrival for the British composer but ultimately the opera loses its way

Find the voice, find the character: Steve Nallon as Margaret Thatcher

Even those who reviled Thatcher will be moved, appalled and astonished: Dead Sheep at the Park reviewed

18 April 2015

Plus: split in half like the atom, Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer  would have twice the force

Gardeners’ world: Alan Rickman (Louis XIV) and Kate Winslet (Sabine De Barra) at Versailles

A Little Chaos review: Kate Winslet emotes her little socks off

18 April 2015

But the pacing is dreary and the characters do not connect in this period drama about a gardening showdown at the court of Louis XIV

Free the nipple!

I wish Daenerys Targaryen would free the nipple: Game of Thrones series five reviewed

18 April 2015

Also there's only one throat-slitting and one burning-at-the-stake, moans James Delingpole

Bette Davis, 1940 (Photo: STF/AFP/Getty)

Why Bette Davis loathed theatre

18 April 2015

Plus: two award-winning plays on the World Service that crackle with energy


Boris Johnson on his plans for the Olympic Park: inspired or whimsical?

18 April 2015

The Mayor would like his cultural development of the Olympic site to emulate the mighty legacy of the Great Exhibition. But will it?


High life

High life

The lost talk of old Noo Yawk

18 April 2015

New York ‘Gimme a BLT on rye and hold da mayo’ is a great Noo Yawk sound. So is boid for bird, and toerty-toird for 33rd Street. True working-class accents… Read more

Low life

Low life

A child in church! It’s a miracle!

18 April 2015

To say that Oscar was warmly welcomed as he stepped through the massive oak door into a chilly House of God for the first time in his life on Easter… Read more

Real life

Real life

I’m just not cut out to be a local activist

18 April 2015

By and large, I’m not really sure the world is ready for me to join the steering committee of a community project in Lambeth seeking Lottery funding. It sounds like… Read more

Long life

Long life

The tortoises are alive! (And sitting on the duck’s eggs)

18 April 2015

No sooner had I written last week’s column about the sad disappearance of the two tortoises in my care than they suddenly showed up. The sun had shone for two… Read more



18 April 2015

As if a turtle you have laid your eggs in a bowl of sand. Unlike the turtle you sit next to your own heap overlong considering the wondrous thing    you’ve… Read more


The turf

AP McCoy’s last chance for a fairy-tale ending

18 April 2015

It all depends how you like your fairy tales. OK, so we would have loved the retiring Tony ‘AP’ McCoy, 20 years a champion, to have won his last Grand… Read more




When I was growing up, the loudest, most explosive arguments erupted when my parents played bridge together. Not surprisingly, when my father offered to teach me I made my excuses… Read more


Spectator Wine

April Wine Club II

18 April 2015

When I was pondering a theme for this week’s offer with Mark Cronshaw, operations director of The Wine Company, he sucked his teeth, stared into the distance and came up… Read more



Hit for six

18 April 2015

The Hamilton Russell trophy for London clubs has been dominated in the past by the RAC. This year, though, they were knocked for six in the final decisive match by the… Read more


Chess puzzle

No. 358

18 April 2015

White to play. This is from Lee-Zakharov, Vrnjacka Banja 1963. Black has just captured on c3 and now 1 Qxc3 runs into 1 … Qxf1 mate. However, White can do… Read more



On the record

18 April 2015

In Competition No. 2893 you were invited to suggest suitable Desert Island Discs for a historical figure, living or dead. Your choice of castaways was somewhat narrow — Richard III,… Read more



2207: An unusual angle

18 April 2015

In six answers the wordplay ignores an item. These items (two of them identical) are not listed as specific 27 of 22 in Chambers, unlike the other unclued entries.  … Read more


Crossword solution

To 2204: Security

18 April 2015

Five perimeter entries, and 29 and 30, are types of BODYGUARD. First prize Amanda Spielman, London SW4 Runners-up Dr S.M. Sheerin, Princes Risborough, Bucks; Vincent Clark, Frant, East Sussex

Toby Young

Status anxiety

The Green party manifesto is even crazier than you’ve heard

18 April 2015

I’m disappointed that Ed Balls’s suggestion that the Office of Budget Responsibility should audit the parties’ manifestos was never taken up, not least because we will never know what Robert… Read more


Battle for Britain

Battle for Britain

18 April 2015
Spectator sport

Spectator sport

However daft English cricket gets, there’ll always be Wisden’s obituaries

18 April 2015

He’s a tall man, Kevin Pietersen, and he casts a long shadow. It loomed large over the Long Room at Lord’s last week where the great, the good, and the… Read more

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I stop friends calling without warning?

Q. I have moved from London to the centre of a historic market town, now becoming famous as a foodie destination. For some reason people who would never have dreamt… Read more



The Ivy Chelsea Garden: Richard Caring has finally built a restaurant I admire

18 April 2015

The Ivy Chelsea Garden is a restaurant inside an Edwardian house disguised as a Tudor house on the King’s Road; it was formerly the fetid Henry J. Bean’s American Bar… Read more

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Why do politicians go potty for ‘passion’?

18 April 2015

‘I long for spontaneous passion but I will never get it with my husband because I think he has Asperger syndrome,’ wrote a reader of the Sun to Deidre last… Read more