From the Archive

Kate Andrews

Another rate rise from the Fed. Is it enough?

Will the Bank of England raise interest rates again? We’ll know for sure next Thursday, when we get the Monetary Policy Committee’s next announcement on the base rate, but today’s decision from the Federal Reserve to hike rates again makes it more likely that the Bank will follow suit. The Fed has announced another interest rate hike: a quarter of a percentage point, taking the rate to 5 – 5.25 per cent. This tenth consecutive hike in the United States has taken its key interest rate to the highest level since 2007 – approximately where rates sat before the financial crisis hit.  This has caused plenty of controversy across the pond, as fears

What Washington was like during the Cuban Missile Crisis (2002)

On 27 October 1962, US Defense Secretary Robert McNamara stepped out of crisis meetings and looked up at the sky. ‘I thought it was the last Saturday I would ever see,’ he recalled.  This month marks 60 years since the Cuban Missile Crisis. In 2002, Peregrine Worsthorne wrote about what it was like to be in Washington during humanity’s closest shave. Forty years ago the Americans won what I hope will be the nearest thing to nuclear war between superpowers — of which only one is left — ever fought; and the fact that they won it without firing a shot should not diminish but rather increase the extent of the victory.

John Major has taken a pounding (1992)

It’s three decades ago this month since the UK government was forced to withdraw the pound from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on ‘Black Wednesday’. As the pound sinks this week, we revisit Simon Heffer’s cover story from 1992 on how John Major dealt with the debacle. You can read more on our fully-digitised archive. Like many who profess affection for the works of Anthony Trollope, the Prime Minister is not thought to have strayed far beyond the well-known favourites. He is probably not familiar with a lesser work that accurately reflected his state of mind until the markets trussed him up last week — He Knew He Was Right. In

America’s touching tributes to the Queen (1901)

The United States hasn’t always reacted rather snidely to the death of the British monarch. Below is The Spectator’s lead piece following the funeral of Queen Victoria in 1901, available on our fully-digitised archive. Nothing has been more striking, nothing more moving to the British as a nation, than the way in which the Queen has been mourned and her memory reverenced in the United States. The English-speaking people of America almost with one voice have joined the English-speaking people of the British Empire in their expressions of affection for the Queen. The outside world has wondered at the spectacle, and has asked how it comes about that a people

Bush is leading us to tragedy (2002)

It’s 20 years since the clamour for the invasion of Iraq was at its loudest. Boris Johnson, The Spectator’s then editor, spoke to the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Ghazi Algosaibi. You can read more on our fully digitised archive. ‘No, no,’ says the Saudi ambassador. ‘This is how you do it. You cannot lift your arm above the shoulder, and you must do it sideways.’ He moves alongside, a big man with a faint resemblance to Leon Brittan, and makes a thwacking motion. Meet Ghazi Algosaibi, 62, a poet and author, the Arab world’s leading envoy to London, who has recently earned not just a personal rebuke from Jack Straw, but

The monarchy will survive Diana’s death (1997)

Today marks 25 years since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Andrew Roberts wrote The Spectator’s cover story that week, republished below and available at our digitised archive. The story that ended so horribly in that functional concrete Parisian tunnel early on Sunday had begun with a television show in 1969, when the victim was seven years old. In contradiction of Walter Bagehot’s advice, daylight was let in on the magic of the monarchy. Before 1969, all had been deliberately obscure. Who now remembers Commander Colville? For over two decades, Commander Richard Colville DSC was press secretary, first to George VI and then to the present Queen. In Ben

Larkin at 100: a tribute (1985)

This piece is taken from The Spectator’s fully digitised archive. There are many ways of judging poets. One sure test of their personal appeal is how many lines of their poetry you can remember. Not only can I remember a lot of Larkin, I find that it has sunk very deep, and become part of my private language. This is true both of his funny stuff – My wife and I have asked a crowd of craps To come and waste their time and ours… and also the jokey sadness of What else can I answer When the lights come on at four At the end of another year? Give

Mary Wakefield

Remembering Gore Vidal

Fourteen years ago, my then boss, Matt d’Ancona sent me off to interview Gore Vidal. I’ll always be grateful to him for the opportunity. D’Ancona could have gone to meet the great man himself, but he knew I was a fan so he let me go. Is there anything hopeful in American politics then? I asked Vidal towards the end of our enjoyable but pretty dispiriting evening in Claridge’s. I recorded his response as follows: ‘No,’ says Vidal.Anything good about the American people? ‘Not really.’How do you see the future of America panning out? ‘It panned out already, it’s sinking.’ Can anything be done to save it? ‘I don’t give

Why are we so afraid of nuclear power? (2021)

The scientist, environmentalist, futurist, inventor and creator of the Gaia hypothesis James Lovelock has died, aged 103. Last October, he wrote the following piece about the importance of nuclear power. May he rest in peace. The climate change summit in Glasgow will have one important part of the discussion missing: the role of nuclear power. It seems the government is in no mood for a discussion with the nuclear industry — every one of its applications to exhibit at the COP26 summit has been rejected. That’s a shame, because there are plenty of myths to be addressed. We could discuss the lessons from the plant at Fukushima, seriously harmed by a tsunami

Charles Moore

Thatcher’s way with words (1982)

This piece is taken from The Spectator’s archive 40 years ago this week. At the time, Charles Moore was the magazine’s political columnist, aged 25 (he became editor two years later). Here, he writes about the importance of Margaret Thatcher’s rhetoric, one year before her 1983 election win. Those who are paid to survey the wicked world of politics make their easiest money from pointing out the disparity between ‘rhetoric’ and ‘reality’. We, whose only reality is rhetoric — if by rhetoric is meant the production of words — note, half-waspishly, half-priggishly, that public figures do not always do what they say. They talk in terms of idealism and altruism when

The melancholy of Middlemarch (1872)

George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch was released in eight instalments, or ‘books’, throughout 1871 and 1872. A century and a half later, it is heralded as one of the greatest works in the English language. The following piece was written 150 years ago, in anticipation of the release of the fifth book. The author is Richard Holt Hutton, who edited the Economist from 1857 to 1861, as well as The Spectator alongside Meredith Townsend from 1861 until his death in 1897. He oversaw the magazine’s books coverage, during a period in which they and he became one of the most celebrated sources of literary criticism in the country. You can explore

Macmillan’s ‘Night of the Long Knives’ was political genius (1962)

Sixty years ago today, Harold Macmillan carried out a cabinet reshuffle which became known as the ‘Night of the Long Knives’. He dismissed seven ministers – one-third of the cabinet – and replaced them with men who would soon become political heavyweights, such as Reg Maudling, Sir Keith Joseph and Bill Deedes. The Spectator’s leader that week said ‘the new administration is strong in intellect, experience, and vigour, with far more weight placed on younger men, and no concessions offered to those who think that a move to the right would save the day for the party and damn the consequences’. The issue’s cover story was the following essay by

Enlarging Nato will ostracise Russia (1997)

It’s 25 years this month since Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary were invited to join Nato. The Spectator’s cover story that week was this essay by Susanne Eisenhower, president of the Eisenhower Group and granddaughter of President Eisenhower. Explore The Spectator’s archive here. Washington, DC When historians, decades from now,  consider the 20th century they will probably be struck by how the major conflicts of the century were ultimately resolved. At the century’s end, Germany, the country that wreaked more destruction on the world than any other power, is economically prosperous, unified and firmly locked within Nato — all due to the magnanimity of its victors. The Russians, on the other hand, enter the new