The Spectator

24 November 2012



Israel under siege

The Jewish state faces an ever-increasing threat from Islamist neighbours


Save our speech

Parliament must not be given the power to control the press


Backbench driver

Nick Herbert has left government to concentrate on politics


Going overboard

The founder of Scientology’s stay in Corfu was brief but eventful


Cooking for freedom

A London chef has returned to Mogadishu to make a stand against al-Qa’eda


The great British wind scam

Your taxes are meant to be supporting smaller turbines. In fact, they’re making giant ones less efficient


House of stars

A salute to our parliamentarians of the year

The Week

Leading article

Hold Brussels to account

After four years of economic crisis some kind of normality has at last been restored to European politics. The EU…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week

Home The General Synod of the Church of England voted against the ordination of women bishops. The measure required a…



I once bred a racehorse, half-owned by my mother, born at my mother-in-law’s farm in Suffolk and named ‘Green Moon’…

Ancient and modern

Athenians on voting fatigue

‘Politics is polarised’ intoned the chatterati after the Obama-Romney race to the White House. ‘Sick of party politics’ said the…



Stage and screen Agatha Christie’s play The Mousetrap has notched up its 60th anniversary and its 25,000th performance, by far…



For and against Petraeus Sir: The attack on General David Petraeus (17 November) by Kelley Beaucar Vlahos of was…



Westminster waits eagerly for the return of the Crosby show

Never before in British politics can the recruitment of a part-time consultant have been given so much coverage. The papers…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

Lynton Crosby will soon be appointed to run the Conservative strategy for the next election, say reports. Unnamed sources accuse…


Leveson’s tour of Australia, Lynton Crosby’s uneasy return and the anger of Ben Fogle

Brian Leveson’s epic inquiry into press malpractice is finally drawing to a close. In Britain, the courtroom saga has enjoyed…

Hugo Rifkind

Within ten years, you’ll be buying cannabis at your off-licence

The first time I came across skunk cannabis was in an underground out-of-hours bar in Nottingham in 1997. I think…

Any other business

‘It’s mine, I spend it’: guessing the rapper’s thoughts about Obama’s fiscal cliff

The most stylish fellow passenger in Delta Air Lines’ business class cabin from Atlanta to Heathrow last week was a…


Lead book review

Books of the year

A  further selection of the best books of 2012, chosen by some of our regular contributors


Portrait of the artist as a young man

Had the artist Rex Whistler not been killed in Normandy in 1944 at the age of 39, in what direction…


Shameful home truths

One of our more cherished national myths is that we British do not torture prisoners of war and criminal suspects.…


A duty to protest

A few years ago, in West Africa, a woman came up to me and said, ‘You know what’s wrong with…


The ‘ism’ that ruined the West

In 1974, as editor of the Connoisseur magazine, I ran an ‘1874’ issue to mark the centenary of Winston Churchill’s…


Little boxes, all the same

This book purports to be a history not of London but of its suburbs. In the end this amounts to…


Such fun!

Nearly all the pages in this book are filled with thank-you letters. As a child, Elizabeth Bowes Lyon was writing…


Truth and beauty

Almost 20 years ago, Alice Munro, the Canadian genius of the short story, was interviewed by the Paris Review. She…

Portrait of Proust by Jacques-Emile Blanche


Length and quality

The final volume of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, released at the end of last month, is a landmark in…


Dreams that fade and die

The Dutch writer, Cees Nooteboom, was living in West Berlin in 1989 when the gates opened and the Wall finally…


Business as usual

Dear old Pesto, we all make jokes about him but we all secretly admire him. The BBC business editor’s strangulated…

Neil Young Live


The one who got away with it

The first track on Neil Young’s latest album lasts nearly 28 minutes, for while he usually has no problem starting,…


Arts feature

Lonely Lakelander

Andrew Lambirth on the rising reputation of the eccentric and chaotic Cumbrian artist Percy Kelly


Keeping the faith

In 1929 the founder of Italian Futurism, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, reported from Milan that, after a wartime setback, the movement…


Concealed treasures

The Holburne Museum of Bath is a delight. Its collections were formed by Sir William Holburne (1793–1874), a naval officer…


Dressed to impress

Does the costume make the man or the man the costume? Well, a little bit of both if the Hollywood…


The Dagenham Dustbin

For those of us who find passion in national iconography, this is a melancholy historical moment. It’s a very bad…


Faking it

The star of Gambit, it seems, is the Savoy. And why not? Nobody else seems to want to lay claim…


Change of heart

I think I have developed a crush on Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, which is strange, considering that it is so evidently…


Matchless mono

Record companies: if you insist on sending CDs to my home address without so much as a covering note or…


Warring outcasts

Are we barmy or what? Our mawkish obsession with the first world war demonstrates that we’re in the grip of…


Top of their game

God, I’m jealous of Michael Gove. Not for being a cabinet minister in the same coalition as Nick Clegg and…


Short changed

Was that it? Was that the sum total of 90 years of radio? Radio Reunited, the three-minute ‘celebration’ of the…

Culture notes

A world apart

Although the starving artist in the garret is no longer the favourite public stereotype, painters and sculptors remain something of…


High life

High life

Why is it that adultery can ruin a man’s career but rarely a woman’s? In so-called civilised countries, that is.…

Low life

Low life

After the open-air night drawing class, the teacher invited anyone who felt like it to repair to the pub afterwards…

Real life

Real life

When you start renovating your home, it is like pulling the loose thread of an old jumper. Everything unravels. I…

Long life

Long life

The Daily Mail last week risked alienating its millions of women readers (whom I assume from its normal priorities to…

The turf

Winners and losers

My favourite racecourse-bar story this year involved a towel-clad jockey who had enjoyed his game of golf so much that…



Since the beginning of September I don’t think there has been a single weekend when my team was not away…


Armenian gold

Armenia won the gold medals in the Istanbul Chess Olympiad for the third time in four years — an astonishing…

Chess puzzle

No. 245

Black to play. This is from Kalantar-Petrosian, Erevan 1946. Black has various powerful moves in this position but one is…


Rhyme time

In Competition No. 2773 you were invited to submit a poem entitled ‘On First Looking into a Rhyming Dictionary’. That…


2090: Precipitate

In September sadly we lost 15 (two words) and 12/19. The former produced the 29 of the 4-winning ‘1A/18/39’ (six…

Crossword solution

2087: Golden I

HIEROSOLYMITAN (1D) means ‘of or relating to Jerusalem’. 15, 18, 27, 35A, 38, 5 and 12 may all be preceded…

Status anxiety

Movember, mo’ problems

I’m currently growing a moustache to raise money for various charities associated with men’s health — or ‘doing the Movember…

The Wiki Man

The leftist case for joining a Pall Mall club

I recently met a friend at the RAC Club in Pall Mall. Leafing through their brochures, I noticed there was…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. Even in smart places, waiters have taken my plate away before I have finished, if my head is turned,…


In the colonel’s cellar

Like many soldiers, my old friend is a life-enhancing character. Whenever he phones up and says ‘Need your help’, one’s…

Mind your language


Pippa Middleton, I learnt from the Daily Telegraph, has a ‘passion’ for writing. Justin Welby, the next Archbishop of Canterbury,…