The Spectator

1 December 2012



The great divide

National politics no longer has anything to say to the north of England. The results are frightening


The human hand grenade

Meet the minister who wants to blow away the obstacles to success in modern Britain


The Turner prize is boring

And people are finally beginning to say so


A lifesaver’s lament

I rescued a drowning man. He didn’t thank me


Not graphic and not novel

Literary prizes have no business with comics


The edge of destruction

How the world escaped the Cuban missile crisis – and what Britain would have done if it hadn’t

The Week

Leading article

Why we won’t sign

Anyone picking up a newspaper in recent days will have noticed that the press has been writing a lot about…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Rotherham Borough Council took away three children from foster parents because they belonged to the UK Independence Party. ‘If…



As I returned to the House of Commons, it was clear I had swapped one jungle for another. For the…



Local elections in Catalonia, which could lead to an independence referendum, put the region in a race with Scotland to…

Ancient and modern

Democracy and the C of E

By refusing to consecrate women as bishops, the C of E has failed in the eyes of all its Revd…



Too busy for terrorism Sir: The Islamisation of countries surrounding Israel may not necessarily constitute an increased threat to the…



Now is the time to buy stock in George Osborne

Few politicians have a more volatile share price than George Osborne. His career to date has been a tale of…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

There is excitement that a foreigner could have been made Governor of the Bank of England. But the truth is…

By the book

The Wizard of Oz

The Conservatives’ next election campaign will be run by Lynton Crosby, an Australian whose success has earned him the title…

Matthew Parris

Can anyone defeat the town-hall zombies?

Others have already swelled a chorus of rage against Rotherham -council for removing three foster children from the couple caring…

James Delingpole

Back in the Delingpole fold

Gosh, I can’t tell you how lucky you were not to have been brought up in the Delingpole family. There…

Any other business

The Goldman Sachs candidate wins, but spare a thought for the popular loser

So now we know. It’s not the popular insider, the All Souls professor or the Whitehall veteran. It’s not an…


An Irish peasant girl with her family’s last few possessions after eviction for non-payment of rent (The Illustrated London News)

Lead book review

A deeply stricken country

Ireland has suffered bitterly over the centuries through
war and want. And the disastrous famine of 1845-9
proves in itself a divisive subject, says Paul Johnson


Two angry old men

Though lasting literary friendships between natural rivals are not rare — Byron and Shelley, Coleridge and Wordsworth and Edward Thomas…


Redemption through rock and roll

‘I’m the President, but he’s the Boss’, Barack Obama declared a couple of years ago, and most Spectator readers will…

The only truly great Redgrave: Vanessa in 1966


The gulf of greatness

Ladies and gentlemen,’ Laurence Olivier declared in his clipped, semi-metallic tones to the audience at the Vic as he took…


Rich pickings

Despite its playfully obfuscating title, the rationale behind this anthology is pretty straightforward. A ‘fake’ is a fictional text that…

‘Man Writing a Letter’ by Gabriel Metsu


A selection of recent art books

With one or two exciting exceptions, almost all art books fall into a very limited number of easily identified categories,…


The thin end of the wedge

Aunts, generally of an antic or highly unconventional kind, are a literary staple. Anyone wanting to find the best of…

Shades of Greene: a Havana interior by Andrew Moore, one of many haunting photographs of decayed grandeur from Cuba (with essays by Joel Smith and Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo), published by Damiani, £50


A heady mix of vice and voodoo

By any standards, Haiti represents a great concentration of misery and dashed hopes. From the air, the Caribbean republic is…


Children’s books for Christmas

My 20-month-old granddaughter totters into the room. Her eyes are shining with the fervour of St Bernadette. She has caught…


Wild, wild times

There are, I believe, only two jokes in Diarmaid Ferriter’s latest voluminous tome: one, citing Liam Cosgrave, sometime Taoiseach, considered…

Sebastian Coe


Classic Coe

You sense that writing Seb Coe: The Autobiography (Hodder, £20) must have been a pleasurable task for the Lord of…


Arts feature

Declaration of independence

Having left the Donmar, Michael Grandage set up his own company. He tells Will Gore that he never wants to run a theatre again — not even the National


Friends reunited

Christopher Wood (1901–30), billed as the great white hope of British Modernism, who perished by his own hand before his…


Talking dirty

Attached to the ménage of every artistic outfit these days will be an employee who believes there is a magic…


Decline and fall

Some operas become, thanks partly to the frequency with which they are produced, victims of their own popularity. The most…


Caravan killers

Here’s a fun diversion for all the family: how many ‘high-concept’ film ideas can you think of in a single…


Comic clockwork

Pinero’s comedy The Magistrate is a marvellous confection of shameful secrets and multiplying concealments. Agatha, a beautiful widow of 36,…


Fame and fortune

Having planned to devote every one of this week’s 800 words to Sir David Attenborough’s 60 Years in the Wild…


Value for money

It’s been challenged as ‘elitist’ and at times in its more than 60-year history it’s been threatened with deletion from…

Culture notes

Review: The Rolling Stones at the O2 Arena

‘How’re you doing in the cheap seats? They’re not that cheap, though, that’s the problem,’ said Mick Jagger as he…


High life

High life

The gossip is that the Washington Post is in bad trouble and losing money as only Tina Brown can. Not…

Low life

Low life

Last week I received by post an invitation card from The Spectator office to the Parliamentarian of the Year Awards…

Real life

Real life

Never turn your back on builders. I only nipped out to walk the dog. I was barely gone half an…

Long life

Long life

The first thing that strikes you when you arrive for an investiture at Buckingham Palace is how polite the police…




Ever heard of the ‘gum-wrapper coup’? My guess is not — as far as I’m aware, only one person has…


London Classic

To celebrate the London Classic, which starts at Olympia this Saturday, I shall be paying a series of homages to…

Chess puzzle

No. 246

White to play. This position is from Anderssen-Kieseritzky, Simpson’s in the Strand, London 1851. It is known in chess literature…


Remaking history

In Competition No. 2774 you were invited to supply an extract from the diary of a well-known historical figure that…


2091: Plain and simple

The unclued Down lights are of a kind, as are the unclued Across ones.  Across 1 Accent reflecting everything at…

Crossword solution

2088: Pathe seat

The unclued lights (including the pair at 3/34) are all buried in Père Lachaise (when translated may give ‘PA THE…

Status anxiety

You either have a free press – or you don’t

By the time you’re reading this, David Cameron will probably have made up his mind about how to respond to…

Spectator sport

Sympathy for Roman Abramovich

There’s a rough old whiff emanating from Stamford Bridge these days, and the source of the stench is Roman Abramovich,…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. My son attends a drama school and, while I have always encouraged him to be open about his background,…


Tanya Gold reviews Colbert

A creation myth: Earl -Cadogan wandered into Oriel, the ancient Sloane Square brasserie on his land, like a lardy dachshund,…

Mind your language


‘I wandered home ’tween twelve and one,’ sang my husband, waving his head from side to side in the fond…