Previous issues


The Spectator

19 September 2015

Why I left

I cannot be part of a movement run by half-educated fanatics

Sign up to the Weekly Highlights email

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



Why I’ve finally given up on the left

Left-wing thought has shifted towards movements it would once have denounced as racist, imperialist and fascistic. It is insupportable


Celebrating the red dawn among the Corbynistas of north London

There wasn’t much time for the hopey-changey stuff while there was a chance to be vile about the Tories


‘Perhaps we needed to tip the whole thing over’: Jon Cruddas on Jeremy Corbyn's Labour

Ed Miliband’s policy chief talks about why Labour lost and the decline of the Blairites


Paula Radcliffe is a victim of our hypocrisy and confusion about drugs and sport

The London marathon winner’s clash with Tory MP Jesse Norman is symptomatic of a debate that both shames and risks the health of athletes


Ben Carson has an amazing story. How about policies?

The neurosurgeon who is suddenly Donald Trump’s closest rival is relaxed, impressive – and not to be pinned down on detail


Meet the librarians – and book borrowers – of the Calais Jungle

In the middle of the Calais migrant camp, there is a book-filled haven of peace


Why I’m sick of slippery-slope arguments

Real, life-changing medical advances are being blocked for fear of ‘designer babies’; humane laws are stymied because of things they do not propose

La Baule: the view from the beach

Notes on...

Having a ball in La Baule

This seaside town in Brittany was the perfect location for a stag weekend – even if the locals were a bit sniffy at times

The Week

Leading article

The Tories must move quickly to recruit ex-Labour voters. Here's how

The Conservatives have a stunning array of social achievements. They need to talk about them more

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Jeremy Corbyn chooses his shadow cabinet


Chris Mullin’s diary: Murdoch’s men couldn’t face even a fictional Corbyn victory

Plus: the pact that could save Labour; Vince Cable’s economic confession; and a sincere Tory for Corbyn


How many party leaders get nearly 60% in their membership vote? More than you’d think

Plus: How our railway is racing ahead; pylons to be proud of; Met Office summer predictions

Ancient and modern

The relative experience of Roman consuls and Corbyn

The new Labour leader’s political life has just been one long protest

From The Archives

Time to tax

From ‘The coming budget’, The Spectator, 18 September 1915: At present the large majority of householders and electors pay no direct…



Jeremy Corbyn’s victory puts the EU referendum on a knife edge

Political futures hang on the question – not least that of Boris Johnson

The Spectator's Notes

Charles Moore’s Notes: what the Labour party needs is a parliamentary representation committee

Plus: the origins of Corbynite leftism; a study of manhole covers; Malcolm Turnbull; and Sir Walter Scott

Rod Liddle

How could the BBC allow Last Night of the Proms to be hijacked by worthy banalities?

Is nothing sacred? They sacked Clarkson, and now they won’t even let us enjoy ‘Land of Hope and Glory’

Matthew Parris

Some day soon we’ll all accept that useless lives should be ended

If the law does not lead, it will follow — at root the reason is Darwinian

Hugo Rifkind

The problem with Jeremy Corbyn’s populist media-loathing

To regard the fourth estate as a coherent and malicious political entity is conspiratorial madness

Any other business

Don’t weep for Costa – but the Living Wage punishes small businesses that need our support

Plus: uneasy feelings about an oil price war; and ten years of ‘Any Other Business’


White glazed bowl, Shunzhi-Kangxi period, Qing dynasty, 1650–70

Lead book review

The perils of porcelain – and the pleasures of Edmund de Waal

De Waal’s The White Road finds the history of porcelain manufacture shrouded in secrecy and littered with terrible disasters, says A.S. Byatt

Nixon with Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld in 1969


Niall Ferguson's biography of Henry Kissinger is a masterpiece

Former British ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles hails the Kissinger biography as ‘a great work about a great man by a great historian’

Herring girls had to wash their hair six times on a Saturday night to rinse out the smell


The current scarcity of herring may itself be a red herring

Donald S. Murray’s fascinating Herring Tales shows how vast shoals of this fickle fish have for centuries been appearing in our waters — only to disappear again


The perfect big bang that opens this book was too good to be true

Everyone in Bill Clegg’s psychological thriller Did You Ever Have a Family is touched by tragedy — except the reader

The dining car of the London to Liverpool express — back when croutons were still served with the soup


Sexual assault, chamber-pot etiquette, and other problems of early rail travel

Simon Bradley’s celebration of the network is likely to become a classic of social history — vivid, authoritative but never trainspotterish


A gleeful vision of the future from Margaret Atwood

The sex-filled dystopia of The Heart Goes Last reflects a writer at the height of her powers cutting loose and having fun


What drove Europe into two world wars?

Fear and nationalism, along with Nazism and fascism, are the predictable villains of Ian Kershaw’s To Hell and Back — while communism gets off curiously lightly

The shape-shifting Fens, thought to be the landscape of Beowulf and the haunt of Grendel


Spirit of place: the landscape of myth and magic

The medieval historian Carolyne Larrington finds tales of green men and black dogs still flourishing in 21st-century Britain


Life in Rio’s most infamous favela — where you have to pay the cops to arrest criminals

Brazil may be the land of the future, as Misha Glenny suggests — but living there now has become practically impossible

Leaving Afghanistan — with a pack of potential troubles


The way we treat our heroes is a disgrace

No longer the MoD’s responsibility, our traumatised ex-forces feel abandoned, betrayed and shamefully dependent on charity, according to Matthew Green’s Aftershock


Matt Ridley manages to Pangloss over the nastier aspects of evolution

Ridley’s ‘general theory’ boasts of surpassing even Darwin’s — but his vision of a utopian libertarian future looks like evolution gone horribly wrong


The history of modern Germany — within four walls

Thomas Harding’s A House by the Lake chronicles the rise of Nazism through the story of one small summer retreat on the outskirts of Berlin

Photograph by Charles Sturge

Narrative feature

Remembering P.J. Kavanagh

Christopher Howse pays tribute to the poet, soldier, actor and former Spectator columnist and poetry editor, who has died, aged 84


Still from the documentary ‘Palio’: a medieval rite at once nonsensical and puerile, and yet profoundly alive and meaningful

Arts feature

Palio exposes the bribery and violence that lies at the heart of Siena’s lawless ritual

A new documentary lifts the lid on the Italian horse race-cum-medieval pageant where you're hospitalised for coming second

Clara Schumann


There's a good reason why there are no great female composers

Nothing by Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Ethel Smyth or Judith Weir matches up to the work of their male counterparts


As good a treatment of a Bellini opera as we are likely to see: WNO's I puritani reviewed

Plus: the Royal Opera's first ever production of Gluck's Orphee et Eurydice is full of risible dancing and pointless directorial decisions


The Globe's Oresteia lets Aeschylus speak - the Almeida's muzzles him

Adele Thomas's faithful approach to the Greek tragedy achieves something both stately and sickening. Robert Icke's production, meanwhile, warrants a visit from trading standards officers

‘Socialist realism and pop art in the battlefield’, 1969, by Equipo Cronica


The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern - our critic goes zzzzz

Plus: though handcrafting his own reputation is Ai Weiwei favoured medium, there are some works of real poignancy and beauty in his Royal Academy show

The ascent of man: Michael Kelly as Jon Krakauer


All about the climb (and little else): Everest reviewed

Oscars do not beckon for this crudely characterised, Gravity wannabe. On the plus side, Keira Knightley is at her least annoying


War, socialist tyranny and the oppression of the handicapped - welcome to the new dance season

The start of the year is all good if sombre stuff, and includes a revival of English National Ballet's Lest We Forget, a version of 1984 from Northern Ballet and a new work from Amici Dance Theatre


An Inspector Calls is poisonous, revisionist propaganda - which is why the luvvies love it

Yet despite the oppressively didactic set-up, the BBC's new TV adaptation of J.B. Priestley's weird melodrama grips and compels


The Baroque composer who was a world music pioneer

Plus: the politician of the future and Orwell before he was famous


The turf

It's scary what it takes to be (and stay) a jockey

An outstanding crop of apprentices are squeezing out more established jockeys

Spectator Wine, Wine Club Offers

September Wine Club II

Just in case you hadn’t noticed, the Rugby World Cup kicks off this Friday with England vs Fiji at HQ.…


2229: Gnome

The third letters of extra words in two dozen clues spell out a 35 (in ODQ 7&8), associated with the…

Crossword solution

To 2226: Whitehouse

X was Ingrid Bergman, winner of a TERN (21) of OSCARs (8), who was born on 29th August 1915 and…

High life

Was Maria a virgin, a prude or a woman who liked to torture?

I was so traumatised, aged 16, by unrequited love that I stopped playing tennis and going to brothels

Low life

Modafinil, ladies and gentlemen. Recommended.

And Modafinil with Taki sitting in front: even better

Real life

Have my bones fallen to bits like the Oxford professor said they would?

I’m encasing myself in extra strong bubble wrap just in case

Long life

Sexism and racism in outer space

Attempts to reflect equality and diversity in our messages to extraterrestrials is a waste of time



The cheating scandal rages on. The latest to be accused is the world’s number one-ranked pair, Fulvio Fantoni and Claudio…


Grand Tour

This week I conclude my coverage of the St Louis leg of the million dollar Grand Tour.  Carlsen-So: Sinquefield Cup,…

Chess puzzle

Puzzle no. 379

Black to play. This position is a variation from So-Nakamura, St Louis 2015. How can Black conclude the attack with…


Arty limericks

In Competition No. 2915 you were invited to submit limericks featuring a well-known artist and a destination of your choice.…

Status anxiety

My obsession with litter is bordering on mental illness

My fury at the sight of rubbish is now so great that I’ve started picking it up wherever I happen to go

Spectator sport

Another Federer-Djokovic classic – let's pray it wasn't the last

Plus: Smaller teams to watch out for at the Rugby World Cup

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I address a magistrate of indeterminate sex?

And how can I bring a little joy to a memorial service?


Finally, a foodie restaurant that isn’t pretentious, overpriced or insulting to the intelligence

Portland doesn’t offer its diners a ‘philosophy’, despite its spindly Swedish decor – but the food is glorious

Mind your language

A lesson in graceful Twitter style – from a resigning shadow minister

Jamie Reed demonstrates the blithe insouciance useful in the face of trolls