The Spectator

29 March 2014

Reclaiming Islam

Can Islam be reconciled with free expression? The answer is yes



It's time to reclaim Islam from the fanatics. Here's how

Can my religion be reconciled with free expression? The answer is yes


Please stop trying to raise my awareness

Once, campaigners and charities tried to fight social evils. Now they just tell us about them


Why Simon Stevens - more radical than most Tories - may save the NHS

Simon Stevens may make more difference as chief executive of NHS England than anyone has yet realised


Why I won’t let my children learn French

It’s ‘the language of human rights’, says François Hollande. Not in Africa it isn’t


Let Putin have Crimea – and it will destroy him

Why losing this province could be the making of Ukraine


The equal pay bomb that could wipe out public sector jobs

Birmingham's £1 billion settlement on 'comparable jobs' makes outsourcing look very attractive

Notes on...

The right way to see Madrid

It's not the idealistic, innocent city you might walk through at first. It's more interesting than that

The Week

Leading article

Putin's aggression is the price of western weakness

Once you've decided you can't afford a big stick, it doesn't matter how loudly you speak

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that inheritance tax ‘shouldn’t be paid by people who’ve worked hard and saved…



I had a slight shock last week, while listening to Desert Island Discs. The admirable nurse Dame Claire Bertschinger had…


The not-so-great escapes

Plus: pensions after Osborne, and the best places to live past 100

Ancient and modern

Epicurus on particle physics

Television science is just catching up with the ancients


Spectator letters: Bereaved parents against press regulation, and a defence of Tony Benn

Why we need a free press Sir: As bereaved parents and (to borrow from some signatories of last week’s advertisement)…



Has Ed Miliband's luck finally run out?

The Budget made clear how much stands between him and No. 10

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator's Notes: If Putin can have a referendum, so can Boris

Plus: Sir Peter Tapsell on appeasement; Roy Jenkins's vague Europhilia; and being kept up by the call to prayer

Rod Liddle

An ex-fascist or two isn't the BBC's problem. Its boss class is

Duncan Weldon's past - as a Labour adviser and elsewhere - doesn't affect his ability to do the job

James Delingpole

How I learned to stop worrying and love the Bomb

Nuclear terror made me the man I am. And now it’s keeping us from a pointless war with Russia

Any other business

Why I’ll join the silver stampede to cash in a pension

Plus: Business rates and the North/South divide, and Mark Carney’s new men at the Bank of England


Lead book review

Was Roy Jenkins the greatest prime minister we never had?

A review of John Campbell’s biography of Roy Jenkins. The liberal reformer may have been snobbish and self-indulgent, but he was also a visionary


Samuel Beckett walks into a nail bar

A review of George Saunders’ award-winning book of short stories Tenth of December. Distinct, troubling, funny: Saunders is a worthy winner of the Folio prize


Witnesses in the heart of darkness

A review of David Van Reybrouck’s Congo: The Epic History of a People. This panoramic history of a wronged nation is energised by first-hand testimonies and the author’s eye for arresting human detail.

The Vikings arrive in England during the second wave of migration (Scandinavian school, 10th century)


Civilisation’s watery superhighway

A review of Lincoln Paine’s The Sea and Civilization. A learned and deeply researched global view of maritime history


When posters told us our place

A review of Keep Britain Tidy and Other Posters From the Nanny State, edited by Hester Vaizey. The voice of welfare Britain was intolerably bossy – but some of the graphics are beautiful

Greer Garson and Walter Pidgeon survive the Blitz in Mrs Miniver (1942).Churchill reckoned it was ‘worth six war divisions’ and Goebbels considered it an ‘exemplary propaganda film’, but to Lillian Hellman it was‘a piece of junk’


When Mussolini came knocking on Hollywood’s door

A review of Mark Harris’ Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War. The brave irrational filmmakers who brought the war home


‘A dandy aesthete with visions of sacrificial violence’

A review of Patrick Bishop’s The Reckoning. This biography of the Zionist freedom fighter (or terrorist, depending on your view) Avraham Stern is compelling stuff.


Whistling is a bloody nuisance

A review John Lucas and Allan Chatburn’s A Brief History of Whistling. Sheepdogs, Star Trek and the Guanch people of La Gomera: there's a serious side to whistling. But it's still incredibly annoying


Arts feature

Why are Shakespeare’s women so feeble?

The bard did not give his female characters pivotal roles — but some of his contemporaries did, as the new RSC season shows


Where’s a goofy, flat-chested shrew when you need one?

Ray Cooner’s caper Two Into One is like eating a pound of cheesy Wotsits, while Jon Fosse’s The Dead Dogs is like spending a night with five suicidal depressives


The great and the good and the gassed and the dead

The National Portrait Gallery brings together a vivid collection of Great War portraits

‘Overhang’ by Julian Cooper


Julian Cooper's rock profiles

From Manet and Degas to the Himalayas via Peru, painter Julian Cooper has journeyed around a fair bit for his art. His latest show focuses on Cumbria’s rocky outcrops


What backing singers are really thinking behind the ‘ooh, ooh, oohs’

Twenty Feet from Stardom is the kind of documentary you won’t want to end


Handelian pleasures vs modern head-scratchers

The Linbury Studio Theatre’s new commissions are hit and miss, while a musically focused new production of Ariodante at the RAM hits the spot

Roberto Bolle in ‘Le Jeune Hommeet la Mort’ at the Coliseum


Kings of Dance: a show to keep the Sun King happy

Breath-taking feats from the leads steer Kings of Dance night away from the trite and circusy


Game of Thrones tells the story of Britain better than most histories

The popular TV drama gives a vivid idea of how people might have behaved in the Middle Ages – which is brutally


How Radio 5 Live transformed the airwaves

A 20th-anniversary celebration. Plus: the joy of the 15-minute radio short

Culture notes

The art of data

Charts, maps and tables: the British Library shows off its fact-rich publications in this small, thoughtful and free new exhibition


Low life

He's a great friend. He knows everything. Please don't let him phone

It's too sunny a day for a long conversation with Frank. But now my knee's gone twang

Real life

I accidentally bought a racehorse. Would you like to join a syndicate?

It's back to Plan A with dear Darcy – perhaps with your help

Long life

I'll have to give up Waitrose. It's too exciting for me now

Why do supermarkets insist on moving everything about? Are they just keeping the staff on their toes?

Wild life

A £50 million search for love

The cremation of my friend Michael on a large pyre of fever-tree logs



You’ve probably read about the English Bridge Union’s attempt to get bridge reclassified as a sport rather than a game…


Magnus force

As the World Championship qualifier (aka Candidates tournament) approaches its final rounds in Khanty-Mansisk, it is worth emphasising the Everest which…

Chess puzzle

No. 307

White to play. This is a possible variation from Mamedyarov-Topalov, Khanty-Mansisk Candidates 2014. The black king is rather exposed in…


De haut en bas

In Competition 2840 you were invited to provide an extract from the autobiography of a modern-day celebrity, ghostwritten by a…


2155: Poor Billy’s left out

The unclued lights (two must be paired) are of a kind, verifiable in Brewer.   Across 10   Details from Britain…

Crossword solution

to 2152: T20

Each letter of each solution and each unclued light has to be represented in the grid by its numerical position…

Status anxiety

Lessons from Tina Brown on the art of failing upwards

In New York, the facade of success is all-important. Brits do it differently

The Wiki Man

The engagement-ring theory of property bubbles

We buy houses like we buy diamonds. That’s why they’re so stupidly expensive

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What can I do about guests who don’t know how to wash up properly?

Plus: The truth about royal banquets, and a ruling on Mother's Day


What Quique Dacosta knows that Picasso didn’t

The problem of innovation and tradition – and a young chef who solves it

Mind your language

When did we stop ‘tossing’ coins?

The progress of another flipping Americanism