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The Spectator

28 March 2015

Return to the rose garden

The Prime Minister could never admit it, but he’s dreaming of – and scheming for – another coalition

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He’ll never admit it, but David Cameron is already plotting another deal with Nick Clegg

A few months ago, the Tories were thinking of a minority government if they didn’t win outright. Now that’s changed


Alex Salmond sets out his terms for Ed Miliband

‘The alternative to doing a deal is not doing a deal’ – just prop him up and bleed him dry


Lord Freud: the man who saved the welfare system

Despite Labour’s attempts to have him fired, the welfare minister is a model public servant


Sweden’s feminist foreign minister has dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia. What happens now concerns us all

Margot Wallström’s principled stand deserves wide support. Betrayal seems more likely


Belle Gibson and the pernicious cult of ‘wellness’

We’re too eager to believe in the power of lifestyle change


In praise of messy old kitchens

Minimalism and obsessive hygiene are killing the heart of the home


‘You are always close to me’: Unity Mitford’s souvenirs of Hitler

Hitler’s adoring notes to Unity Mitford – and her family’s campaign to stop my book


The return of the fountain pen

They’re not just historical curiosities – the design these days is vastly improved, and sales are increasing


That’s not a ‘sharing economy’: that’s an invitation to sell your whole life

Uber and Airbnb are brilliant at cosy rhetoric, but they’re helping to create a world in which we’re all less secure

Let there be light: Saint Peter’s at dawn

Notes on...

Rise early to see the Vatican at its best

‘Before hours’ tours show you the masterpieces without the crowds – and they’re not that expensive

The Week

Leading article

How to fix our defence budget mess

It’s never a good idea to define achievement purely in terms of spending – but it’s a worse one to guarantee aid spending while not doing the same for defence

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home David Cameron, who was cutting up lettuce in his kitchen, told James Landale of the BBC that he would not…


A censored hymn to motorway misery

Plus: who benefits from long election campaigns; and Britain’s most indebted streets

Ancient and modern

When Rome’s 99 per cent stood up

Revolt against the rich can happen — sometimes

From The Archives

Better off out

From ‘President Wilson’s Mistake’, The Spectator, 27 March 1915: The Americans have a world of their own in which to take…


Spectator letters: who kept us out of the euro, and how to deal with squirrels

Plus: Names for God; the limits of freedom in Nato; and a defence of Stephen Sondheim


Rod Liddle

How Ukip became the incredible disappearing party

The establishment would just like Nigel Farage to go away — and they’re working on getting their wish

James Delingpole

From teapots to rare meat, my Britain is becoming a lost country

People of my generation and older are increasingly doomed to feel like strangers in a politically correct land

Any other business

So the FTSE100 has finally broken its record – it’s still not doing nearly as well as executive pay

Plus: A ‘challenger bank’ arrives from Spain; and memories of Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore



Wolves in the Lake District get everyone’s pheromones going

A review of The Wolf Border finds Sarah Hall’s wolves far sexier than her humans

Charles Dodgson

Lead book review

Stolen kisses and naked girls: there is much to wonder about in Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland

Reviewing Robert Douglas-Fairhurst’s The Story of Alice, A.S. Byatt enters the dodgy world of Charles Dodgson

From Tom Brown’s School Days, illustrated by Thomas Hughes


A rebellion among Rugby schoolboys proved perfect training for its ringleader in putting down a Jamaican slave-rising in later life

In a review of The Old Boys by David Turner, Eric Anderson reflects on how comprehensives created a golden age for Britain's independent schools


A lost American classic to rival anything by Faulkner

John Ehle's The Landbreakers contains one of the most frightening passages in American literature

Leonid Yakobson in Leningrad c. 1926


Leonid Yakobson: the greatest ballet genius you’ve never heard of

A review of Janice Ross’s Like a Bomb Going Off brings the neglected choreographer Leonid Yakobson firmly back centre stage


The knives come out of the cabinet in Churchill’s wartime government

As if fighting the Nazis wasn’t enough, Winston Churchill faced fierce dissension in his own ranks, as a review of Jonathan Scheer’s Minister’s of War reminds us


Baiting the trap with CHEESE: how we fooled the Germans in the second world war

Alan Judd recalls how an inventive MI6 agent continued  to bamboozle the Germans from prison in a review of Double Cross in Cairo by Nigel West

‘The Giantess’ by Leonora Carrington, currently on show at Tate Liverpool


A mad menage — and menagerie - in Mexico: the life of Leonora Carrington in fictional form

The crazy life of the rich young girl looking for a surrealist adventure makes for a sadly unexciting novel, says Cressida Connolly

Lesley Blanch in a bar in Menton in the south of France, in 1961Lesley Blanch in a bar in Menton in the south of France, in 1961


Lesley Blanch: a true original on the wilder shores of exoticism

Lesley Blanch was incapable of writing a bad or boring sentence, says Philip Ziegler, reviewing On the Wilder Shores of Love


Things fall apart in Denis Johnson’s latest novel of madness and anarchy in Sierra Leone

Denis Johnson’s splendidly unreliable spy-narrator in The Laughing Monsters makes for an equally unpredictable, uproarious plot


Miranda July may be a film director, performance artist, sculptor and designer — but she is no novelist

In a review of The First Bad Man by Miranda July Robert Collins enters a surreal world of sex and love and loneliness

Although Keynes hated his appearance, he was much painted by the Bloomsbury Group, including by Roger Fry (above)


John Maynard Keynes: transforming global economy while reading Virginia Woolf

In a review of Universal Man by Richard Davenport-Hines, Matthew Walther finds the great economist practically perfect in every way


Arts feature

Reimaging the lost masterpieces of antiquity

Martin Gayford visits two tantalising - and jaw-dropping - new surveys of Greek and Roman sculpture at the British Museum and Palazzo Strozzi

‘Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington’, 1829, by Sir Thomas Lawrence


Wellington's PR machine

As this National Portrait Gallery show reveals, it took a while for portrait painters to get the public image of Wellington right

Arts feature, Culture studies

How gaming grew up

A slew of artistic independent games are supplanting the big studio brands. Peter Hoskin reports on this boardroom-versus-bedroom battle


Why we should revel in the empty virtuosity of Handel's pasticcios

Gesamtkunstwerk be damned. Long live the Baroque jukebox. Alexandra Coghlan on two Handel pasticcios, Giove in Argo and Catone in Utica, at the London Handel Festival


Shrapnel at the Arcola works for the slayers, not the slain

But Lloyd Evans encourages you to catch Stevie at the Hampstead Theatre - especially if you're old and female


Lily James's Cinderella is more of a doormat than my actual doormat

Kenneth Branagh's live-action remake of the Disney classic, while beautiful, is also dreary and insipid


Does the future of radio really lie in podcasts?

Plus: the sweet sounds of the Kalahari desert - and drunk Geordie clubbers - courtesy of Chris Watson


Channel 4's The Coalition reviewed: heroically free of cynicism

Plus: Trevor McDonald sits down with the Mafia and hears of the sad decline of the Mob


High life

Make no mistake: the Top Gear brouhaha is cultural warfare

The PC vipers are after Clarkson because they want to make all speech that they deplore into hate speech

Low life

Football in front, infibulation behind

The Man City v Barcelona match was punctuated by a discussion about the rights and wrongs of FMG

Real life

I gave the blasted Paltrow method a go and allowed a bit of conscious uncoupling to creep in

But I’ve come to my senses. I don’t want to stay friends with a former boyfriend who’s got himself a younger woman

Long life

Be different, be original: that’s what makes a popular politician

Ed Miliband should have followed Boris’s lead and cultivated an exotic image in keeping with his unusual looks

Wild life

The warrior arched his body, readying to sling his spear at my chest

I thought of the spears of Ajax and Hector, points cleaving brains, skewering bone into bladder



Janet de Botton and I decided to spice things up a bit at the Young Chelsea heat of the nationwide…


Caro can

The Caro-Kann Defence, 1 e4 c6, has always appealed to me. It has the advantage of staking a claim in…

Chess puzzle

No. 355

Black to play. This position is a variation from Ganguly-Vitiugov, Gibraltar 2014. The game started as a Caro-Kann and is…


End paper

In Competition No. 2890 you were invited to imagine that one of the major newspapers has ceased publication and provide…


2204: Security

In nine clues, cryptic indications omit reference to parts of answers; these parts must be highlighted, to reveal a definition…

Crossword solution

2201: Facility

The words FAST FORWARD (given by letters added to definitions in clues) define 42 and 11, both indicating the way…

Status anxiety

How (and why) we lie to ourselves about opinion polls

Those who tweet favourable results aren’t trying to make them more likely; it’s something else

The Wiki Man

A lesson in decision-making from the world’s worst road sign

It’s cognitive bias that makes me blame myself for missing the M25

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Plus: How to say thank you for a disgusting meal, and friends and cleaners


Wines to toast a warrior saint

Contemplating the Reconquista with the aid of a fine Spanish white

Mind your language

Where ‘poop’ came from

The strange and windy history of Danny Alexander’s nursery word