The Spectator

18 April 2015

Mob rules

Would-be leaders of the left are harnessing the mood of angry populism



Left-wing populism is on the rise - and may take Ed Miliband to No10

Would-be leaders of the left are harnessing a mood of angry populism. It’s better as a way of getting elected than as an approach to government


How Hillary Clinton found her populist side (and why she’ll have to lose it)

The Democratic party has moved left under Obama. It’s not a look that suits the former first lady


The SNP has replaced the Church of Scotland

That’s why its arguments are so impervious to evidence and reason


The awful rise of 'virtue signalling'

Want to be virtuous? Saying the right things violently on Twitter is much easier than real kindness


Sorry Katie Hopkins, but I’m not dieting. Ever

As Kingsley Amis said, no pleasure is worth giving up for the sake of two more years in a geriatric home

Forces of nature: Maggi Hambling with ‘Amy Winehouse’, a painting exhibited at her Walls of Water show last year


How Ed Miliband lost the Jewish vote

He’d be the first Jewish prime minister since Disraeli. So why is a swing-voting community overwhelmingly backing the Tories?

Møns Klint as painted by Claudia Massie

The Week

Leading article

Cameron led calls to remove Gaddafi. Why is he silent on Libya's drowning refugees?

Cameron’s triumphant intervention in Libya has ended with death in the Mediterranean. This is why we need foreign policy to become an election issue

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home Launching the Conservative party manifesto, David Cameron, the party leader, told voters he wanted to ‘turn the good news…


David Starkey’s diary: Why don’t we celebrate the triumphs of private dentistry?

Plus: Ed Miliband’s dangerous virtue, and a more enjoyable alternative to Adam Smith


Campaign songs and the singers who wish they weren’t

Plus: What Viv Nicholson’s spending spree would cost today, and where the right to buy is used most

Ancient and modern

Demosthenes vs Michael Fallon

The Defence Secretary could — and should — have taken a lesson in rhetoric from ancient Athens

From The Archives

Am I still an Englishman?

From ‘Some reflections of an alien enemy: the contradiction between being and feeling an Englishman, by a Czech’, The Spectator, 17…


Spectator letters: The mobility scooters strike back

Plus: Suits on the beach, hiring vicars and airline accidents



The Tories have survived a near-death experience. But they’re not home yet

David Cameron may look ‘too posh to push’. In fact, friends say, he’s simply too worried about losing

Rod Liddle

Call me insane, but I’m voting Labour

I can’t stand the party’s mindset, leadership and many of its policies, but on one key issue I trust it more than the rest

Matthew Parris

Scotland knows the power of a common enemy. We English don’t

In Scotland as in Catalonia, it is a shared sense of victimhood that is the strongest source of patriotism

Hugo Rifkind

Warning: you may be about to vote for more than one government

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act has changed everything. No, wait, don’t go away…

Any other business

How Helge Lund’s humungous salary helped Shell to a bargain

Plus: Canvassing for election predictions on a delayed Ryanair flight


An Armenian orphan in 1915. Hundreds of thousands of Christian women and children who survived the genocide suffered forced conversion to Islam

Lead book review

At last: a calm, definitive account of the Armenian genocide

On the centenary of the Armenian genocide, Justin Marozzi is appalled by how this great catastrophe has been almost entirely buried, through neglect or denial, until now


The miracle of modern flight, by a 747 pilot with a poet’s sensibility

In a review of Skyfaring, a memoir by Mark Vanhoenacker, Stephen Bayley overcomes his nervousness on the subject of flying and is entranced by a pilot’s poetic vision

Superstar curators like Hans Ulrich Obrist tour the world making items desirable through their selection alone, while paranoically insisting that what they do is ‘work’. Study for Tate Modern Sign (Bill Burns, 2012)


Spoilt for choice: we are all curators now

Curating embraces everything these days — including sandwiches — says Jack Castle, and the superstar curators of exhibitions have become far more important than the artists themselves


Murder on Grub Street

M.J Carter’s The Infidel Stain, set in the dark alleys of Dickensian London, combines pornography and the Chartist movement in high Victorian melodrama


Between town and country

The perpetual dilemma of where to live is explored in Melissa Harrison’s vibrant novel of roots and belonging

Gyalo Thondup (right) pictured with the Dalai Lama on their arrival in India in 1959


From diplomacy to disillusion with the Dalai Lama’s big brother

Gyalo Thondup, brother of the Dalai Lama, recalls in detail his many years directing Tibet’s foreign policy. But can we believe him?, asks Jonathan Mirsky

Latrines dating from the second century at Ostia Antica, outside Rome


How the Romans went about their business

We know a lot about Roman baths, says Peter Stothard, but not so much about their lavatories. Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow in The Archeology of Sanitation in Roman Italy has the subject comprehensively covered


The theory wars have ended in stalemate

James Wood, Michael Hoffmann and the state of modern literary criticism


Women go off the rails

In a review of Caryl Phillips’s The Lost Child, Alex Clark finds shades of Emily Brontë in this novel about the erasure of female experience

Plotinus and Michel de Montaigne are included in George Steiner’s broad survey. His argument that we should elevate the pursuit of disinterested knowledge over the making of money is a familar one since classical times


From Plotinus to Heidegger: a history of European thought in 48 pages

George Steiner is a deeply erudite, elegant writer, with a profound knowledge of European culture. It’s a pity his latest essay, full of lovely disquisitions, lacks a single original argument


The mysterious pleasure of Magnus Mills

Magnus Mills’s novel The Field of the Cloth of Gold is certainly not about is Henry VIII. And what it is about doesn’t really matter. Just enjoy its pure word music

From Russia with love


The Great Gatsby meets Fifty Shades of Oligarch

Vesna Goldsworthy’s novel about Moscow-on-Thames is a tense, witty page-turner, says Viv Groskop


Murder in a black Texas Arcadia

Attica Locke’s smart legal thriller, Pleasantville, is set in an elegant suburb of Houston, specifically designed for middle-class blacks. But it’s still a ghetto — with very few exit points

Tippi Hedren helps save schoolchildren in The Birds. Hitchcock confided to François Truffaut that he’d had ‘some emotional problems’ with Hedren during the shoot. For the final scene, live birds were attached to Hedren’s clothes. The actress became increasingly hysterical over the course of the week it took to film it, and when a bird finally went for her eyes, she collapsed


A profile of the worlds’s most famous film director — with the most famous profile

The Master of Suspense was full of fear and paranoia himself, reveals Christopher Bray in a review of two lives of Alfred Hitchcock


Arts feature

Cars are our cathedrals

Stephen Bayley hails the automobile - a miracle of technical and artistic collaboration - and mourns its demise

‘Propeller (Air Pavilion)’, 1937


Better than Robert? Sonia Delaunay at Tate Modern reviewed

The Russian-born French artist emerges from her husband's shadows - and triumphs


Why Daniel Barenboim should be the next head of the Berlin Phil

Irrespective of his 'peace-making', the Israeli-Argentine is the greatest all-round musician in the world


ENO's Between Worlds at the Barbican reviewed: too respectful

Tansy Davies's score marks a real arrival for the British composer but ultimately the opera loses its way

Find the voice, find the character: Steve Nallon as Margaret Thatcher


Even those who reviled Thatcher will be moved, appalled and astonished: Dead Sheep at the Park reviewed

Plus: split in half like the atom, Tom Morton-Smith's Oppenheimer  would have twice the force

Gardeners’ world: Alan Rickman (Louis XIV) and Kate Winslet (Sabine De Barra) at Versailles


A Little Chaos review: Kate Winslet emotes her little socks off

But the pacing is dreary and the characters do not connect in this period drama about a gardening showdown at the court of Louis XIV


I wish Daenerys Targaryen would free the nipple: Game of Thrones series five reviewed

Also there's only one throat-slitting and one burning-at-the-stake, moans James Delingpole


Why Bette Davis loathed theatre

Plus: two award-winning plays on the World Service that crackle with energy

Arts feature

Boris Johnson on his plans for the Olympic Park: inspired or whimsical?

The Mayor would like his cultural development of the Olympic site to emulate the mighty legacy of the Great Exhibition. But will it?


High life

The lost talk of old Noo Yawk

Red brick tenements, gangsters and genuine working-class accents are a thing of the past in Manhattan

Low life

A child in church! It’s a miracle!

Oscar’s Easter day (eggs included)

Real life

I’m just not cut out to be a local activist

Why do people turn perfectly adequate titles into meaningless jargon?



As if a turtle you have laid your eggs in a bowl of sand. Unlike the turtle you sit next…

The turf

AP McCoy’s last chance for a fairy-tale ending

The Grand National wasn’t his grand finale - on to Sandown!



When I was growing up, the loudest, most explosive arguments erupted when my parents played bridge together. Not surprisingly, when…

Spectator Wine, Wine Club Offers

April Wine Club II

When I was pondering a theme for this week’s offer with Mark Cronshaw, operations director of The Wine Company, he…


Hit for six

The Hamilton Russell trophy for London clubs has been dominated in the past by the RAC. This year, though, they were…

Chess puzzle

No. 358

White to play. This is from Lee-Zakharov, Vrnjacka Banja 1963. Black has just captured on c3 and now 1 Qxc3…


On the record

In Competition No. 2893 you were invited to suggest suitable Desert Island Discs for a historical figure, living or dead.…


2207: An unusual angle

In six answers the wordplay ignores an item. These items (two of them identical) are not listed as specific 27…

Crossword solution

To 2204: Security

Five perimeter entries, and 29 and 30, are types of BODYGUARD. First prize Amanda Spielman, London SW4 Runners-up Dr S.M.…

Status anxiety

The Green party manifesto is even crazier than you’ve heard

My favourite bit is the chapter called ‘It does all add up’

Spectator sport

However daft English cricket gets, there’ll always be Wisden’s obituaries

This year: Richard Attenborough, Clarissa Dickson Wright, and a late appearance for opening batsman Bobby Moore

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I stop friends calling without warning?

Plus: What to do when waiters call you ‘you guys’, and how to keep fellow students out of your beautiful room