The Spectator

25 March 2017

The camps don’t work

Our global system for aiding refugees dates from the 1940s – no wonder it’s broken



Why camps are the wrong way to help today’s refugees

A system designed in the 1940s is no longer fit for purpose

Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness (Getty)


What Martin McGuinness’s eulogisers would like to forget

The IRA commander never showed any remorse for the suffering he caused


The importance of being trolled

On Twitter, victimhood is a sign you’ve made it – and a way to boost your career

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer takes questions during the daily press briefing (Getty)


Why I’m falling in love with Sean Spicer

Under Trump, the White House press briefing has changed out of all recognition — at last


Life after No. 10 is not what David Cameron was hoping for

George Osborne’s high-profile new job throws a harsh light on his old boss

Party time... blossoms at Himeji Castle in Japan

Notes on...

Let’s cherish the cherry blossom: its fleeting beauty is like life itself

In Japan this is party time with TV news tracking the progress of the ‘blossom front’

The Week

Leading article

Europe should follow Britain’s lead on refugees

We're doing the right thing — why is Mrs May so reluctant to admit it?

Portrait of the week

Theresa May names date to trigger Brexit under Article 50

Also in Portrait of the Week: death of Martin McGuinness; FBI investigates Donald Trump’s Russian connections


In defence of George Osborne, by the Evening Standard’s departing editor

He may lack journalistic experience, but he does have the right temperament — and the right ratlike cunning

Red dawn: Lenin demands revolution, April 1917


The men who declare themselves princes

Also in our Barometer column: a profile of Britain’s drone owners; Europe’s most Muslim countries; and 100th birthdays

Ancient and modern

What it really means to cross the Rubicon (Theresa May’s about to do it)

Caesar’s remark is widely misinterpreted. The real version fits Article 50 better


The SNP don’t speak for Scotland? Don’t be so sure…

Also in Spectator Letters: the tragedy of the commons in Cyprus, DNA tests for dogs, the Quran and misogyny, darning and Jack the Ripper


Hugo Rifkind

Jean-Claude Juncker is now the hardest Brexiter there is

If they have any sense, Angela Merkel and whoever leads France will lock him in a cell until the whole thing is over

James Delingpole

For a real Oxbridge education, you now have to go to Durham

Attempts to broaden the social mix at Oxford and Cambridge have instead created a sterile PC monoculture

Any other business

Why Google’s still not doing the right thing

Also in Any Other Business: a post-Brexit opportunity, the return of Bob Diamond, and a justifiable pay bonanza

Rod Liddle

What shocks me about the BBC: occasionally it isn’t biased

The corporation’s prejudices are so obvious as to be blinding – and they obscure its baby steps towards impartiality

The Spectator's Notes

Meeting Martin McGuinness: when I saw the mask slip

Also in The Spectator’s Notes: the case for building more roads; how cooking could be the new smoking


How both Britain and the EU might claim victory in the Brexit talks

Negotiations will be long and may be bitter, but the solution could be a simple compromise


Lenin centre stage — as the great self-promoter

Lead book review

How Lenin manipulated the Russian Revolution to his own ends

He even viewed the starvation of countless peasants as a ‘progressive element’ in weakening the Tsar, says Victor Sebestyen


A genial green guide to 2000 AD

A glorious compendium of 40 years of the sci-fi comic is a must for all fans of Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dog

Boualem Sansal


By 2084, will Islam rule the world?

The novelist Boualem Sansal foresees the universal caliphate becoming a grim reality within the next two generations

Susan Hill


Is Susan Hill trespassing on Anita Brookner territory?

The lonely heroine of From the Heart is destined for ordinariness — until she stops second-guessing other people’s feelings

George Fox, founder of the Quakers, was no fanatic, but a practical man of God. He is likened to St Francis of Assisi for his ‘charistmatic blend of literalness and freedom’


A century of holy heroes — from Thomas More to George Fox

More clearly saw the need to reform the Church from within, says Eamon Duffy — who mourns the death of ‘Erasmian England’

The burning of Savonarola (detail) Getty Images


The secret of survival in Machiavelli’s Florence

Despite Erica Benner’s best efforts, Machiavelli still emerges as a master of opportunism, cunning and deception

Sana Krasikov


Is The Patriots the 21st century’s Doctor Zhivago?

Sana Krasikov has written an outstanding family saga, spanning the Cold War era to the emergence of the new Russia


The best sort of magic realism — from Michael Fishwick

His rebellious hero is uprooted to the country — and is entranced by folklore surrounding the appearance of a white hare

Portrait of Talleyrand by Ary Scheffer


What Theresa May could learn from Talleyrand

Lecturing and table-banging were never his style, says Linda Kelly. But charm and warmth and shrewdness were


A story of three bears — and what it means to be human

Yoko Tawada’s surreal new novel fizzes with ideas about exile, migration, fame and love


Has Dorthe Nors’s heroine reached a dead end?

Her life seems at an impasse, and she’s continually being yelled at by her driving instructor. Can she change gear in time?

‘Family Scene’, by Kahlil Gibran, c. 1914


Kahlil Gibran: from penniless refugee to universal Prophet

Millions the world over have drawn comfort from his mysticism. But Gibran’s private life was not quite so uplifting


‘Absent Friends’, 2000–1, by Howard Hodgkin

Arts feature

Howard Hodgkin claimed not to be an abstract artist. So what exactly was he?

The National Portrait Gallery’s brilliantly conceived new show, Absent Friends, offers insight into the essence of this late, great painter’s art

Slyly surreal: Christopher Alden’s Partenope at ENO


Denial has rarely looked so good: ENO’s Partenope reviewed

Plus: Laurence Cummings conducts a mercifully brisk performance of Handel’s Faramondo

Time to retire: pianist Maurizio Pollini at the Royal Festival Hall in March 2016


Maurizio Pollini needs to retire

Plus: a delicious combination of soloist, programme and venue at the Wigmore Hall

Jarvis Cocker: contrived or beguiling?


Why I revel in Jarvis Cocker’s pretentiousness

Plus: a visit to Ai Weiwei’s subterranean studio in Berlin

Adam Driver as Adam Sackler, the most unsparingly but sensitively drawn modern male to grace the small screen this decade


The real joy of Lena Dunham's Girls is the boys

The long-running series, which is about to come to an end, offers one of the most sound critiques of modern man available on TV

A nest of vipers forced into a skirt and cardigan: Imelda Staunton as Martha in ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’


Prejudiced pap for Remainer elitists: Dorfman Theatre's My Country reviewed

Plus: awards are certain for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? but a warning – this is not a fun night out

Brenda Blethyn as DCI Vera Stanhope 'wearing the kind of hat not seen since the glory days of All Creatures Great and Small'


DCI Vera Stanhope may well be the most implausible cop on TV

Plus: a BBC2 documentary that makes us realise (all over again) how foreign the American justice system can seem

Sergei Polunin in his spangled merkin performing Narcissus and Echo at Sadler’s Wells


What's missing from Project Polunin: taste

Plus: an evening at the Royal Ballet is saved by Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite

Ginger Leigh Ryan in ‘All This Panic’


A jumped-up episode of Bergerac: Another Mother's Son reviewed

Plus: a surprisingly good documentary about teenage girls that didn't make me want to stick forks into my eyes


The winner of the What’s That Thing? Award for bad public art is...

‘Origin’ by Solas Creative, a clumsy, aggressive, cheap-looking new sculpture overlooking Belfast


High life

Why we should all tune in to Russia Today

Unlike US networks and the BBC, it has a sense of humour and doesn’t do fake news

Low life

I fit the left’s conception of a populist like a bespoke glove

As I listened to Andre, it dawned on me that I don’t know much about anything

Real life

The curse of the gastro-preneur

Where once there was a reasonably priced Sunday roast there is now a chateaubriand for the cost of a side extension



Everyone knows him, but hardly anyone can pronounce his name — which is why Jacek Pszczola is universally called Pepsi.…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 25 March

Spectator readers, being wise wine-lovers, are particularly fond of Château Musar, that extraordinary wine born of the Bekaa Valley in…


Pauline conversion

Paul Keres is the only chess player to have appeared on the euro currency, his face adorning the two-euro piece…

Chess puzzle

no. 449

White to play. This position is from Mareco-Nakamura, Pro-League, 2017. Can you spot White’s winning coup?Answers to me at…


A to P

In Competition No. 2990 you were invited to submit a poem of 16 lines in which the lines begin with…


2302: Urbane turban

The solutions to twelve clues, all of which lack definition, have to be adapted as the title indicates before the…

Crossword solution

to 2299: Pieces of Eight

The unclued lights, including 28/3 in its English translation, are compositions by Carl Nielsen, (i.e. pieces of 8 Down).  First…

Status anxiety

Should conservatives fear new working-class support? Some clearly do

It’s lefties who have put most effort into understanding blue-collar Trump and Leave voters

The Wiki Man

The secret that let me learn to love the airport bus

On landing, the pilot made an announcement so psychologically astute that I wanted to offer him a job

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How to coax a thank-you letter from your guests

Plus the etiquette of choosing barbers and eating nuts


The charms of old Paris – and the naughtiest girl of the 20th century

Remembering Pamela Harriman over the wines of one of France’s finest female vignerons

Mind your language

Of course ‘girl’ can mean ‘woman’. It has done for centuries

If your dictionary tells you otherwise, you need a bigger dictionary