The Spectator

28 May 2016

Brexit, and the return of political lying

The Chancellor and PM are using every dirty trick in the Blairite book to win a Remain vote





Brexit, George Osborne, and the art of post-factual politics

In their EU campaign, the Chancellor and Prime Minister have put dirty tricks back at the heart of government

'Spectre' German Premiere In Berlin


It’s time to kill James Bond

After six decades, and several writers better than Ian Fleming, this character is simply worn out



François Hollande has found a shameful saviour

The French president is looking more hopeless than ever. But he has good reason to be plotting a run for re-election



How the 'dating apocalypse' led me to vajazzle my armpits

For the increasing number of single women in their thirties, any dating idea can seem worth trying, no matter how bizarre

Flags of the United Kingdom and the European Union. UK Flag and EU Flag. British Union Jack flag


The great EU power trap

Having influence in a powerful European Union means giving it much more power over us

Manchester city centre, UK


Manchester isn’t oppressed, Andy Burnham – it’s wildly overrated

Mancunians used to laugh at the chippy folk in Liverpool. Now they match them for self-congratulation

A kind of posthumous existence: a death mask of Keats, sold at auction for £16,100 in 1996

Notes on...

A beautiful place to die: Italy and the Romantic poets

There has never been a better time to make the pilgrimage to Keats’s grave

The Week


Leading article

Britain really is ceasing to be a Christian country

The decline in religious belief has become precipitous in recent years


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home The government published a Treasury analysis warning that an exit from the EU would plunge Britain into a year-long…

The Three Second Rule


Prue Leith: British hotels still serve filthy food

Also in her diary: Doctor difficulties, Liverpool’s grands projets, Kenneth Baker’s brainchild, further adventures with bats



The many, many resting places of St Thomas à Becket

Also in our Barometer column: children in care, football managers and mountain-climbing vegans


Ancient and modern

The best guide to being an EU politician – from 1,900 years ago

Plutarch’s advice to Greek rulers suggests he would understand today’s politics to a T

(Photo: Getty)

From The Archives

The Spectator, 1916: To win the war, lose the dogs

A modest proposal on food economy from 100 years ago



Think Brexiters are friendly and cheerful? Try manning a Remain stall

Also in Spectator Letters: Facebook; Verdi; toilets; TVs; bullfighting




The EU referendum has shown us the real David Cameron

Freed from normal election constraints, senior politicians are revealing what truly motives them

Spectators notes

The Spectator's Notes

If we vote Leave, will Juncker have us shot?

Also in The Spectator’s Notes: The EEA, the memoirs of Algy Cluff, and whatever happened to Tory modernisation?


Rod Liddle

Even fruitcakes and fascists are more popular than the flaccid centre

Norbert Hofer, Alexander Van der Bellen, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are all part of the same phenomenon

Matthew Parris

Matthew Parris

How Leave can win (or at least lose with honour)

Unless the Brexit campaign can capture something of the St Crispin’s Day spirit, it has no chance

Hugo Rifkind

Hugo Rifkind

Lariam and my six months of madness

We’re finally stopping giving our soldiers Lariam. Thank goodness for that


Any other business

Smokers are paying for your pension

Also in Any Other Business: the return of the Greek crisis; the mystery of Noreena Hertz


Computer illustration of double-stranded DNA molecules

Books feature

How Siddhartha Mukherjee gets it wrong on IQ, sexuality and epigenetics

We need a readable, authoritative popular guide to the latest developments in genetics. This, sadly, isn't it

Author Philip Hensher (Photo: Getty)


Elegiac and exuberant: short stories from Philip Hensher and Helen Oyeyemi

The master of precision and the ebullient fabulist — though very different writers — are highly recommended reading

‘The Letter’ by Rex Whistler


The dying days of the English country house

Adrian Tinniswood vividly captures the last days of gracious living in his jaunty history,The Long Weekend

Diego Maradona runs past English defender Terry Butcher just before scoring his second goal during the World Cup quarterfinal, 1986


Why Juan Villoro is the best football writer you've never heard of

Juan Villoro, Mexico’s foremost man of letters, captures the beautiful game to perfection

Patricia Highsmith (Photo: Getty)


Crime pursues the crime writer

There’s no escape for Patricia Highsmith even in rural Suffolk, in Jill Dawson’s fictionalised vignette of the troubled novelist

Chris Herzfeld’s message: apes are really just like us


Going ape with boredom in captivity

Chris Herzfeld’s account of the orangutan Wattana, in need of constant mental stimulation, suggests that primates are really just like us

A crowded Nevsky Prospect in St Petersburg (Photo: Getty)


Sexual tension and Siberian magic mushrooms

Charlotte Hobson’s promising debut novel explores the Russian avant-garde scene through the eyes of an English governess on the eve of the first world war

Bridge Club (Photo: Getty)


No place for sissies among the Bridge Ladies of Connecticut

In a highly distinctive memoir, Betsy Lerner affectionately skewers her mother’s bridge-playing friends — with their impeccable reserve and luncheons of silvery fish

Alex Otto, the German actor and theatre director, as King Lear c. 1920


Sneers and jeers over Lears

There’s only one true version of King Lear, says Sir Brian Vickers — and any Shakespeare scholar who disagrees can go hang

St Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai


Breaking the commandments on Moses’s mountain

In his engrossing history of travellers to Mount Sinai, George Manginis describes the 19th-century theft of the priceless Codex Sinaiticus by Constantine Tischendorf



Equipped for life with a copy of Thucydides

Oxford’s reverence for the Classics over the centuries is brilliantly celebrated by L.W.B Brockliss — who also imagines a glorious virtual future for the university

Author Nina Stibbe (Photo: Getty)


Chaos among the commodes in Nina Stibbe’s old folks’ home

Stibbe’s teenage heroine tries to make sense of the eccentric inmates and a mountain of unpaid bills at Paradise Lodge

Bradford protestors tie a copy of The Satanic Verses to a stake in Bradford and try to incinerate it


How The Satanic Verses failed to burn

In 1988, Bradford Muslims didn’t apparently manage to incinerate Rushdie’s book — symbolic, says Kenneth Baker, of the endurance of the written word


True or false? The Temple of Bel, Palmyra, before and after its destruction at the hands of Islamic State

Arts feature

Why confront the ugly lie of Islamic State with a tacky fake?

In an age of advanced technologies, copying might not be a deviant variant, but the essential thing. But does that mean the beauty of Palmyra can be reproduced by robots?

Doing it for themselves: the first issue of the first punk fanzine ‘Sniffin’ Glue’
OEDIPE, Royal Opera House (Photo: Clive Barda)


Not a repertory piece but in its dignity it earns respect: Royal Opera’s Oedipe reviewed

The music lacks memorability, the staging evokes a sigh and the performances are mildly uneven – but I wasn’t bored for a moment

Daniel Kaluuya (Christopher) and Luke Norris (Bruce) in Blue Orange at the Young Vic (Photo: Johan Persson)


I came out feeling euphoric and disorientated: Young Vic’s Blue/Orange reviewed

Plus: a quirky, engaging, affectionate portrait of David Baddel’s mum and dad at the Menier Chocolate Factory

Switch House, Tate Modern: it’s a strange object, this ziggurat, with its curious, knobbly, loose-weave brick overcoat wrapping awkwardly round the building’s sharp creases


The lifts are lovely: Tate Modern’s extension reviewed

The new ten-storey Switch House is a strange object with an exposed-concrete interior, some promisingly large new galleries and an optimum belvedere

Portrait of a Lady: Chloë Sevigny as Alicia Johnson and Kate Beckinsale as Lady Susan in ‘Love & Friendship’


Why Deborah Ross wants to punch G.K. Chesterton in the head

Because he’s utterly wrong about Jane Austen’s novella Lady Susan – and this delicious film adaptation, Love & Friendship, by Whit Stillman proves it

Jo Brand in Going Forward, BBC4


Isn’t it puke-inducing being lectured about poverty by millionaire comics?

Jo Brand and Omid Djalili (of BBC4’s anti-austerity comedy Going Forward) should try watching Addicted to Sheep, which is so politically incorrect I’m surprised it hasn’t got an 18 certificate

A premature baby in an incubator known as an 'isolette' - a plexiglass bubble that approximates the conditions of the womb (Photo: Getty)


Coney Island amusement park used to display premature babies to a paying public

Plus: Jane Goodall makes the ideal guest on Radio 3’s Private Passions with her undemanding music choices and chimp tales


The Heckler

The Royal Court is the Eddie the Eagle of theatre

The sixty-year-old institution has a large reputation built on minuscule achievements




Drinking partner

In Competition No. 2949 you were invited to submit a poem about sharing a drink with a famous writer. I…


High life

Cannes, exclusive? I’ve met classier crowds in brothels

It was fun in the 1950s but nowadays it’s nothing but sleaze and selling


Low life

My manhood is hanging in the balance

Depending on the result of my recent blood test, my oncologist may halt my cancer hormone treatment


Real life

What on earth was the girl from Taiwan doing in my bedroom?

What with rows with neighbours and people going bump in the night – I’m not cut out for Airbnb


Long life

What the world looked like after my brain haemorrhage

A knife? I didn’t know what a knife was. I’d never heard of such a thing


The turf

The art of picking winners on the Flat

The beginning of the season is always tricky for punters, but there are helpful indicators if you know where to look




If you live in (or anywhere near) London, and you enjoy a good teams tournament, you could do no better…


Spectator Wine

Wine Club 28 May

The following wines from Private Cellar are all about summer, chosen with long lunches on the lawn, picnics by the…



Garry’s comeback

To great surprise, the former world champion Garry Kasparov staged a brief comeback when he participated in a blitz tournament…


Chess puzzle

No. 410

Black to play. This position is from So-Nakamura, Ultimate Blitz Challenge, Saint Louis 2016. How did Black make a key…



2262: Numbers game

The unclued Across lights are of one linguistic kind and the unclued Down lights are of another, all of which…


Crossword solution

To 2259: Eco

The unclued lights can be preceded by GREEN which had to be shaded in green, as indicated in the solution…

Toby Young

Status anxiety

My day as the only Eurosceptic at the finishing school for Europe’s elite

At Sciences Po in Paris, I was listened to with polite amusement, but almost no one took the threat of Brexit seriously

Spectator sport

Spectator sport

Cricket needs a top-to-bottom overhaul: here’s how I’d do it

Fewer Tests, conferences for the counties, and inter-city T20s full of razzle-dazzle

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Is it OK to ask to drink the wine you brought to a dinner party?

Plus: coming up against wedding guests’ chronic flakiness; the man who stayed too long



The RA’s new restaurant prioritises its art over its customers

But the Keeper’s House is nonetheless my kind of place

Mind Your Language

Mind your language

Word of the week: 'concept'

I thought this one was dead. It’s alive and infesting trade magazines