The Spectator

15 June 2013

The best leader Labour never had

Forget about the Conservatives. Michael Gove should be leading the Labour party



Why Michael Gove is the best leader Labour never had

Forget about the Conservatives. Michael Gove should be leading the Labour party


To transform schools, sack bad teachers and hire great ones. It'll transform education - and the economy

The future of Britain won't be decided in a battlefield. It will be decided in a classroom.


Recycled graves – coming soon to a cemetery near you

For 150 years, Britain has tightly restricted the re-use of graves. That may be about to change


Chief Rabbi: atheism has failed. Only religion can defeat the new barbarians

The West is suffering for its loss of faith. Unless we rediscover religion, our civilisation is in peril


My last chance to follow in Napoleon’s footsteps

St Helena, the island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on which Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled and died, is…


Energy special: Get ready for the ‘fire ice’ revolution

The next great fossil fuel rush could make life very difficult for oil sheikhs – and for greens


Energy special: The green jobs myth

Affordable energy would create more jobs than expensive climate-change policies ever could


Energy special: It’s decision time on shale gas

Britain is finally going to have to make a decision about shale

Better for the soul than Ibiza


America's Pacific Coast is no match for Cornwall

The first time my wife and I decided to rent a cottage in Cornwall in the summer holidays, the idea…

The Week

Leading article

Top secrets

This week’s exposé of the US National Security Agency has been heralded as the greatest intelligence leak since the Pentagon…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Six men from the West Midlands — Omar Khan, Jewel Uddin, Mohammed Hasseen, Mohammed Saud, Zohaib Ahmed and Anzal Hussain…


Anne Applebaum’s diary: Spies, terrorists and an undercover ham sandwich

I am trying very hard to understand why everyone is shocked — shocked! — by news that the US government…

Ancient and modern

A little foresight

After a damning IMF report on the EU’s botching of the Greek financial crisis, a Eurocrat snootily commented that hindsight…



Souls on ice Three Oxford academics have revealed that they have paid to become cryonically preserved at death in the…


Letters: The barristers strike back

Legal squabbles Sir: Harry Mount’s angry and unfocused polemic (‘Against the Law’, 8 June), demonstrates a fundamental ignorance of the…



The Tory party are finally going to have to decide about Europe. It’ll break them

By the time the G8 is next held in this country, the United Kingdom may well have left the European…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

Few things in history can be more worth thinking about than the first world war, so in a way one…

Rod Liddle

The blurry line between Islam and Islamism

There’s an Islamic school in Birmingham which is very highly regarded. It’s called Darul Uloom — the same name as the…


Steerpike: The Lib Dems’ free school fight, Dignitas on Scotland, and more

Some politicians don’t read their own manifestos. And some don’t even read the names of their own parties. When it…

Matthew Parris

The day I awoke my inner predator

Gweru on the central Highveld of Zimbabwe used to be called Gwelo when I was there as a boy but…

Any other business

George Osborne’s Lloyds sale will be all about votes – just as Mervyn King warned

When a politician’s speech is spun ten days in advance, you know there’s trouble behind the scenes. Next week’s Mansion…


‘Well, gentlemen, I think we all fought a good fight’(The Spectator, 16 October 1959)

Lead book review

The birth of modern Britain

Sam Leith on the dawning of the consumer age in Britain, when Harold Macmillan reminded us that we’d never had it so good


Consolations of the Forest, by Sylvain Tesson - review

In this book, the French writer Sylvain Tesson spends six months, mostly alone, in a log cabin in Siberia. ‘Cold,…

The figure of the flâneur, captured by Degas in ‘Place de la Concorde’, had its origin in Mr Spectator


Tales of Two Cities, by Jonathan Conlin - review

In Jonathan Conlin’s Tales of Two Cities the little acknowledged but hugely significant histoire croisée of two rival metropoles gets…


A Place in the Country, by W.G. Sebald - review

Within a few years, and in four books — The Emigrants (1996), The Rings of Saturn (1998), Vertigo (1999) and…


Bedford Park, by Bryan Appleyard - review

Nothing in Bryan Appleyard’s Bedford Park betrays the fact that it is his first period novel: not its deft characterisations,…

Talluluh Bankhead, the only convincing flapper in the book, photographed c.1930


Flappers, by Judith Mackrell - review

I’m never quite sure what the term ‘flappers’ means. How did these creatures flap, and why? Where did they flap?…

Nijinski by Georges Barbier in ‘Le Festin /L’Oiseau d’or’ (1912)


Nijinsky, by Lucy Moore - review

The first biography of Vaslav Nijinsky, which appeared in 1934, was written by his wife Romola with the help of…


Memoirs of a Leavisite, by David Elllis - review

As the author of this wise, patient and delightful book wryly reminds us, Stephen Fry — who, of course, knows…


A Time by the Sea, by Ronald Blythe - review

I first encountered Ronald Blythe at Benton End, a glowing oxblood farmhouse above the river Brett, poised on the edge…


Arts feature

Royal bling with the Tudors at the Queen’s Gallery and the V&A

Leanda de Lisle revels in two exhibitions celebrating Tudor and Stuart fashion


To survive the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, don’t linger — just scan and pounce

The Royal Academy’s biggest annual prize is the Charles Wollaston Award, worth £25,000, for the most distinguished work in the…


Review: Stir yourself — I am Nasrine is far from an Earnestly Grim Wrist Slitter

I Am Nasrine is one of those small, low-budget films showing somewhere awkward on a day and time that probably…

Munnings’s love rival: Dan Stevens as Gilbert Evans with Emily Browning as Florence Carter-Wood


Film review: Summer in February: as vivid as a Munnings masterpiece

We like our artists to be larger than life and preferably bohemian, even if nowadays we’ve had to accept that…

Sam Evans (Jason Watkins) and Nina Leeds (Anne-Marie Duff) in ‘Strange Interlude


Theatre review: Despite the wordiness and monstrous plotlines, Strange Interlude is gripping

First the good news. Strange Interlude by Eugene O’Neill has been cut down from five hours to just under three…


We should be teaching kids to make programs like Word, not how to use them

Technology is turning the human urge to consume information into an unhealthy addiction. Some of this consumption — reading, following…

Exquisitely moving: Emma Bell as Elsa in ‘Lohengrin’


Opera review: Crying with the heroine in WNO’s Lohengrin

In Act II of Lohengrin, after the villainess Ortrud has interrupted the procession to the Minster, and sown the seeds…

Is she hallucinating? Clotilde Hesme as Adèle in ‘The Returned’


Television review: The Returned is the finest, purest heroin

With the possible exception of Game of Thrones, The Returned (Channel 4, Sunday) is the best series you will see…


Radio review: The Archers — Soapland’s response to our post-9/11 world

He’s gone. Not that anyone apart from Lilian will miss him. But Paul’s been despatched (at long last) to the…

Culture notes

Herzog at the BFI: Mad men in the rainforest

‘I am the wrath of God. The earth I pass will see me and tremble.’ Not my words, Mr Speaker,…


High life

High life: I may have lost the race but I got my reward

St Tropez To the once upon a time sleepy fishing village, now the focal point for Russian oligarch excess, outrageously…

Low life

Low life: There’s no such thing as race — or is there?

The barbecue was a sawn-off 40-gallon oil drum with holes punched in the sides. It stood on a rock under…

Real life

Real life: I always regress to a three-year-old when my horses aren’t well

‘Dealing with a bruised soul’ is how I read the headline on the front of Horse Scene magazine. When I…

Long life

Long life: Who’s top of the Louis XIV league of show-offs?

Great wealth has always bred envy and resentment among the rest of us, which is why even in ancient times…

Wild life

Wild life: Could I ever revive the Pinguaan Springs?

Il Pinguaan Springs When I first saw the Pinguaan Springs they were small, fetid bogs set about with papyrus, the…



Last week I was glued to BBO, watching the US trials to select the two teams who will represent America…



Thessaloniki is said to be named after a half-sister of Alexander the Great. Fidé staged a recent Grand Prix there,…

Chess puzzle

puzzle No. 270

Black to play. This position is from Bacrot-Ivanchuk, Thessaloniki Grand Prix 2013. This was the scene of Ivanchuk’s only success.…


Show time

In Competition 2801 you were invited to rewrite, in pompous and prolix style, any well-known simple poem.   Space is…


2117: Highlands and Islands

The solutions to numbered lights are the words missing from the story. The unclued lights are the names of twenty-two…

Crossword solution

Solution to 2114: MMCXIV/CCCII

The unclued lights are headwords in Brewer under the SEVEN heading. The title indicates the sum ‘2114 divided by 302…

Status anxiety

Cadbury World is a big fat rip-off

When did it become a tradition to organise expensive birthday treats for your children? I don’t want to sound like…

Spectator sport

Spectator sport: Forget this year’s Formula 1 championship – here comes 1976

Even if you don’t have a head for petrol, you can’t have failed to have noticed that the Formula 1…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Should I pretend to do anything other than play bridge?

Q. Is it acceptable to admit that you don’t ‘do’ anything? Or should one pretend to be writing a book…

Mind your language


‘Scatter ye rosebuds while ye may,’ sang my husband, reckless of words and tune, thereby offending the ghosts of Herrick,…


Restaurant: Kaspar’s at the Savoy

Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill is named for superstition, snobbery and avarice. At a dinner at the Savoy in 1898…