Previous issues


The Spectator

12 July 2014

A very British witch hunt

The present paedomania follows the classic rule of our establishment: wait 30 years, then strike hard

Sign up to the Weekly Highlights email

The best of the current issue - delivered straight to your inbox, every Thursday.



A very British witch hunt – wild, furious and three decades late

With the good old 30-year rule, Britain can have self-righteous hysteria without anyone in charge ever suffering the consequences


Sloane Rangers vs Arabs – the battle for Chelsea

On one side: old affluence. On the other: shiny new supercars


Wave power is a really, really stupid idea. That’s why it’s getting so much taxpayer subsidy

Civil servants think they can transform our clean energy prospects. The market doesn’t agree. But you’re paying for their hunch anyway


All this airport security is utterly useless

All those ritual checks distract from the intelligence work that actually catches terrorists


Now that everyone’s a journalist, anyone can be sued

The plight of Dominic Prince shows why legal costs are a free-speech issue


How Wales was betrayed by its (Labour) government.

We’ve lived with the Labour leader’s alternative to free-market reform for 15 years. The results are horrendous


Impeaching Obama would be crazy. But the Republicans will probably try

The President’s second term is a perfectly ordinary disaster. This response is as irrational as it is counterproductive

Damp, green and beguiling: Killarney

The Week


Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Theresa May, the Home Secretary, ordered a review, taking perhaps ten weeks, by Peter Wanless, the head of the…


Joan Collins’s diary: Why I gave up on Ascot – and where I go instead

Plus: Paparazzi, football and a plane struck by lightning

Ancient and modern

Assisted dying? Ancient religion was all for it

Death was certainly not welcome. But control was


So are public-sector workers really underpaid?

No. Plus: What government departments fine one another, and the biggest sporting crowds


Spectator letters: A surgeon writes on assisted dying, and an estate agent answers Harry Mount

Real help for those in pain Sir: The fickleness of existence is exemplified by the fact that being Tony Blair’s…



Could Michael Howard be the next EU Commissioner?

A big job is in the offing — but only for the right person

The Spectator's Notes

The real scandal is that government files are 'lost' all the time

Plus: Qatar's role at Royal Ascot, doomwatch with the Prince of Wales, and a novel in verse

Matthew Parris

What kind of idiot tries to stand in the way of a national child abuse panic? I do

I know the rumours. I think they’re mostly nonsense. I don’t expect a fair hearing

Hugo Rifkind

Israel is drifting away from the West – but condemnation won’t help

When was it, do you think, that Israel stopped being regarded as fundamentally a bit like Spain?

Any other business

Gold-fixing is the last ghost of the old City. It won't be around much longer

Plus: Who'd want their investments managed like a Tour de France team? And some cricket advice for Mark Carney


An anti-Soviet rally in Moscow, February 1991: Gorbachev’s reforms resulted in the rise of his nemesis, Yeltsin

Lead book review

It's not just Putin who misses the Soviet empire. President Bush did, too

A review of The Last Empire: The final days of the Soviet Union, by Serhii Plokhy. Newly unearthed material sheds fresh light on the dying days of the 'Evil Empire'

From ‘Amateur Gardener’, c. 1890, showing the much sought after suburban garden at its most perfect


A paean to the British passion for our very own ‘castles’

A review of Everyman’s Castle: The story of our cottages, country houses, terraces, flats, semis and bungalows, by Philippa Lewis. From inglenooks to top-shops, from boarding houses to bedsits, this compendium covers it all (almost)


You’ll never look at dried pasta in the same way again

A review of England and Other Stories, by Graham Swift. These masterful tales about loss and absence conspire to bittersweet ends


A guide to marriage, moving and fatherhood – and also not a bad tool with which to beat your solicitor to death

A review of How to be a husband, by Tim Dowling. There’s only one joke in this 300-page book – that Dowling’s a terrible husband – but it’s a corker

Close-up of Genghis towering 40 metres over his home pastures near the Mongol capital, Ulaanbaatar – the world’s biggest equestrian statue


Genghis Khan was tolerant, kind to women – and a record-breaking mass-murderer

A review of The Mongol Empire: Genghis Khan, His Heirs and the Founding of Modern China, by John Man. The Mongols made China, argues this book, which means it’s unlikely to get a Chinese translation any time soon


The nervous passenger who became one of our great travel writers

A review of Pleasures and Landscapes, by Sybille Bedford. Bedford journeyed through Italy, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Portugal and Yugoslavia and vividly noted the postwar evolution of Europe


A gangster called Capitalism and its vanquisher The Common Good

A review of Mammon’s Kingdom: An Essay on Britain, Now, by David Marquand. An interesting diagnosis of why the secular Left failed Britain - with a shy attempt at a solution


A tribute to the King – or a compendium of journalistic bad habits?

A review of Elvis has Left the Building: The Day the King Died, by Dylan Jones. The GQ editor provides a lot of padding to the basic story, and makes no attempt to disguise it

Illustration, from World War I in Cartoons, Mark Bryant, Grub Street.


The completely ludicrous – and sometimes believable – world of the First World War spook

A review of Secrets in a Dead Fish, by Melanie King. It's John Le Carré - but a Janet and John version


Arts feature

Indiscretions from two veteran producers

Duncan Weldon and Paul Elliott on the West End's good old days - and being shafted

Arts Essay

Isn’t it time we asked the National Theatre to support itself?

Lloyd Evans says yes – but a Great Luvvie Backlash is inevitable when any public body is exposed to reform

‘Hawk Pouncing on Partridges’, c.1827, by John James Audubon


Painted, sculpted and stuffed: a history of the bird in art

From Babylonian ducks to Norwich City canaries: Andrew Lambirth admires the bravery of Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery’s new survey


Perfect dancing but boringly beautiful

The dancing in their new Sadler's Wells show, Sehnsucht/Schmetterling, may have been perfect, but it was also boring


How do you like your pop: clean, dirty or downright soap-shy?

A lot of the best rock ‘n’ roll hasn’t had a bath in weeks but, at the moment, Marcus Berkmann can’t get enough of Coldplay’s lovely glowing textures


Royal Opera's Maria Stuarda: pathos and nobility from Joyce DiDonato, lazy nonsense from the directors

Plus: A Glyndebourne production that fails the fragile early Mozart opera, La finta giardiniera

Naturalistic: Ellar Coltrane and Ethan Hawke as Mason, junior and senior


A miracle: a three-hour film that flies by

But considering Richard Linklater’s new film Boyhood was 12 years in the making, thank God the kid didn’t turn into a 20-stone slob

Decent and enjoyable production: Tom McKay (Brutus) and Anthony Howell (Cassius)


Your starter for ten: why do we Brits so love University Challenge?

James Delingpole revels in a hagiographic two-parter on the nerdy BBC2 quiz show


The next new presenter of Woman's Hour should be a man

Plus: a Radio 4 drama about a Jewish boy who died in Jerusalem in 1947 that could have benefited from a woman’s perspective

Culture notes

Ryedale Festival: a beacon of survival without subsidy

This musical celebration offers the opportunity to tootle across Yorkshire, picnicking along the way


High life

With a hangover like this, my soul is ready to be saved

Spectator parties and a berth on a yacht – who could ask for more, or cope with it?

Low life

Honesty, simplicity, integrity: not what I want the morning after

I was looking for a club full of dissolute writers. This is what I found

The turf

Ralph Beckett's winning way with the fillies

'They appreciate not jostling with the big stallions'



The European Team Championships drew to a close last week and the most successful country overall was …England! The doughty…

Spectator Wine

July Wine Club

We’ve a great selection of regional French wines this week from my old chum Jason Yapp. With carefree al fresco…



This was the watchword of Grandmaster Dragoljub Velimirovic, one of the leading players of the former Yugoslavia. I first encountered…

Chess puzzle

No. 322

White to play. This position is from Velimirovic-Gipslis, Havana 1971. How did White conclude? Answers to me at The Spectator…


Dead-end job

In Competition No. 2855 you were invited to compose an elegy for an endangered profession. Estate agents, travel agents, publishers,…


2170: Hector’s Summer Nights

The unclued lights (one of three words and three of two), as three pairs and three individually, are of a…

Crossword solution

to 2167: Groupies

The unclued lights are ‘nouns of assemblage’, all listed on page 6 of the Word Lover’s Miscellany section in Chambers…

Status anxiety

If John Bercow were two-and-a-half inches taller, he'd never have been such a big success

Take it from an insecure five-foot-eighter: little men have a lot to recommend them

Spectator sport

The crazy rush to run down Alastair Cook

England's captain isn't a great tactician – but he is a great man. His critics would do well to remember that

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Our holiday hosts swim naked

Plus: Dealing with disgusting dinners, and a student's guide to the muffed mwah-mwah


Dean Street Townhouse – at last! Somewhere I'd pay to eat

Nothing is pretending to be anything else, and the stars are agreeably low-wattage