Previous issues


The Spectator

20 April 2013

The Iron Lady and the Iron Curtain

Soviet files reveal Margaret Thatcher to have been tougher with Gorbachev behind closed doors

Sign up to the Weekly Highlights email

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



Exclusive: the Kremlin's secret Margaret Thatcher files

Soviet files reveal Margaret Thatcher to have been tougher with Gorbachev behind closed doors


The wind turbine that could ruin Norfolk

The Bodham wind turbine will destroy views for miles around


Michael Wharton: A Peter Simple life

In praise of the satirist Michael Wharton, who would have been 100 this week


Snooker is the world's most skilled, absorbing, tactically subtle sport. Give it a break!

The greatest event in the sporting calendar is on us once more: the World Professional Snooker Championship. With an opening…


Britain's energy crisis: when will the lights go out?

The effects of two decades of short-sighted spinelessness in energy policy may soon be all too apparent


Africa's election aid fiasco

It’ll take more than mobile phones and biometrics to make Africa’s elections fair and trusted

The Week

Leading article

Britain and America face a new terror threat: the lone wolf bomber

The runners who will gather for the London Marathon this weekend will converge on the greatest target in the world.…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home With the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the 2,300 invited to attend Lady Thatcher’s funeral in St Paul’s…



One of Lady Thatcher’s least publicised qualities, which raised her above any  other politician I have known, was the complete…

Ancient and modern

Attractive opposites

Every Polly in the country is up in arms about the ‘divisiveness’ of Mrs Thatcher. But for ancient Greeks, opposition,…



What to do about PMQs Sir: Charles Moore (Notes, 6 April) is right to propose that Prime Minister’s Questions revert…



Ed Miliband, Nigel Farage and the age of cynical politics

Would you rather this country was led by a man who is out of touch, arrogant and smug or someone…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

When Winston Churchill died, Lady Violet Bonham Carter made her maiden speech in the House of Lords. ‘It is hard…

Rod Liddle

In defence of Millwall fans

It kicked off a bit at Wembley last Saturday evening, during the semi-final of the FA Cup between Millwall, of…



Labour activists are quietly amused that Mrs Thatcher’s death may lead to a library being built in her honour. ‘Tricky…

Matthew Parris

Why I won’t be selling my gold or silver

It must be a couple of years since, spooked by the banking crisis and walking past the Savoy hotel on…

Any other business

Gold bugs have always been bores, but perhaps now they’ll be a bit quieter

Unless you bet your life savings on gold some time in the past three years — after its price had…


Last tango in Paris. Albert Guillaume captures the relaxed mood of Europe in 1913

Lead book review

'1913: The World Beforethe Great War', by Charles Emmerson

On the eve of the Great War, the future was anyone’s guess, says David Crane

George Blake returns to England in April 1953 after internment in North Korea, where he was possibly recruited by the KGB


'The Greatest Traitor: The Secret Lives of Agent George Blake', by Roger Hermiston

The spy George Blake, doyen of traitors, turned 90 last year. Almost blind, he lives with his Russian wife outside…


'Babble', by Charles Saatchi

Once all our basic human needs have been met, and we can eat and we can sleep and we can…


'Back to Delphi', by Ioanna Karystiani

If you mixed Lionel Shriver’s chilling We Need to Talk About Kevin with a Joycean stream of consciousness from a…

Cover illustration for the first edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


Paul Johnson reviews 'C.S. Lewis: A Life', by Alister McGrath

C.S. Lewis became a celebrity but remains a mysterious figure. Several biographies have been written, not to much avail, and…


'The Making of a Minister', by Roy Kerridge

Back in the 1960s, England was a bad disappointment to many West Indians. In the grey city streets with their…

Portrait of Rudyard Kipling by John Collier


'The Cambridge Edition of the Poems of Rudyard Kipling', by Thomas Pinney (ed)

The last time I heard Kipling read aloud was last week at a Scout Gang Show. It was the grand…


'Best of Young British Novelists 4', by John Freeman (ed)

The literary magazine Granta had the bright idea, in 1983, of promoting 20 British novelists under 40 by announcing that…

A display of pottery by Emma Bridgewater: ‘The dignified name might have graced the bows of a transatlantic liner’


'The Branded Gentry', by Charles Vallance and David Hopper

We care because our name’s on it. This was the slogan used by Warburtons, the family-owned bakery company, to set…


'Trespassers: A Memoir', by Julia O¹Faolain

In this memoir Julia O’Faolain, author of seven distinguished novels and many short stories, asserts that she has nothing to…


Bookends: Byronic intensity

A year before he died from emphysema in 1990, the composer-conductor Leonard Bernstein agreed to be interviewed by the music…


Arts feature

The future of opera

Opera is challenging established boundaries, as Frederic Wake-Walker explains


Upstairs, downstairs

Never a dull moment at the Jermyn Street Theatre. It’s a titchy venue, the size of a gents’ loo, nestling…


Opera: Der fliegende Holländer and Sunken Garden

Scottish Opera’s new production of The Flying Dutchman, performed in German but advertised in English, is almost a triumph, and…


Exhibitions: R.B. Kitaj: Obsessions The Art of Identity

Nowadays, R.B. Kitaj (1932–2007) tends to be ignored by the critics in this country — like a bad smell in…


Cinema: Love Is All You Need

Love Is All You Need is a romantic comedy that isn’t romantic or comic or much of anything. It stars…


Television: Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary

In Margaret: Death of a Revolutionary (Channel 4, Saturday) — Martin Durkin’s superb tribute to our greatest prime minister —…


Radio: Today; The Reunion

You could say that Sue MacGregor has done as much for women on radio as Margaret Thatcher did for women…

Culture notes

Champion of the people

Welsh miners, Basque child refugees (above), Tyneside shipbuilders, Paul Robeson: In the Shadow of Tyranny at the Scottish National Portrait…



Malade imaginaire

In Competition No. 2796 you were invited to submit a poem about a minor ailment written by a hypochondriac. Brian…

High life

High life

New York I chose to live on 68th street between Madison and Fifth Avenue because it’s next to Central Park…

Low life

Can't pull in England? Buy a Thai girl, he told me

On Sunday morning early I was trying to hitch a ride home. A big white Mercedes van came haring around…

Real life

Real life

Having diagnosed myself with diabetes, I demanded the doctor run a full set of blood tests. Just to confirm what…

Long life

Grand political comedy in Rome and the Vatican

One of the sculptures at the British Museum’s splendid Pompeii exhibition shows four ferocious dogs attacking a stag as it…

Wild life

Wild life

Colobus monkeys in the forest were throat singing like Tibetan monks. Mist rose from the Kericho tea gardens above us…



How do you stand on reunions? I always thought nothing on earth would get me to one but you live…


Adrian Hollis

Adrian, who died earlier this year, was both an Oxford classicist from Keble College and a Correspondence Chess Grandmaster. One…

Chess puzzle

No. 262

White to play. This position is from Hollis-Courteney, Bognor Regis 1959. The Black king is badly exposed. How did White…


Chill factor

In Competition No. 2793 you were invited to submit a short story featuring an animal written in the style of…


2109: Not Quite 50 Shades

Unclued lights (including three of two words and one of three words) are four people connected by the 11A and…

Crossword solution

2106: 30/3

YEARLY FAST (30 3) defines LENT (36) and is also a cryptic indication of PAPACY (16A — i.e. pa +…

Status anxiety

Culture clash in Cornwall

For several years now, I’ve been going to Cornwall for a week during the Easter Holidays — usually to Bude…

Spectator sport

Jonny, still the perfect 10

David Beckham’s elegant but pointless cameo role for Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League defeat to Barcelona the other day…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. I live in Bombay and seem to attract a large number of house guests, notably friends’ daughters on their…


Tanya Gold reviews The Ritz

The Ritz Hotel is a cake on Piccadilly made of stone; inside this cake, Lady Thatcher died. Some think it…

Mind your language


Ian Hislop mocked Stephen Mangan, when he put in a turn as the man asking the questions on Have I…