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The Spectator

25 January 2020

The French connection

Macron has fallen under Boris’s spell

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Le bromance: Macron has fallen under Boris’s spell

The French President has suddenly stopped disrespecting les rosbifs


The latest fad: eating your way to better mental health

It’s the new marketplace for people wanting to make a fast buck out of the fears of vulnerable consumers


Ten years on, the Arab Spring has only benefited the Islamists

The legacy of the revolution is hopelessness and helplessness


Torture a Tory, make him an MEP? Not any more

‘Epiphany.’ That was the word that Robert Rowland, soon-to-be-ex-MEP for the Brexit party, used to describe his discovery of the…


Inhuman resources: when did job-hunting become such an ordeal?

Before I became fully HR-aware, I thought my CV would speak for itself

Notes on...

Will Kent conquer Champagne?

Driving home through Kent the other day, I was struck by how much the topography has changed. When I was…

The Week

Leading article

Britain’s misguided approach to asylum is threatening lives

The news this week could easily have led with the deaths of 14 Afghan and Iraqi migrants in the English…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Prince Harry leaves, Jess Phillips drops out and Trump goes on trial

Home The Duke of Sussex left England to join his wife, Meghan, in Canada. This followed an agreement that stripped…


Andrew Doyle: I may have to kill off Titania McGrath

I start the week by going through my iPhone to delete the numbers of former friends. It sounds depressing, but…


How much public income does the royal family receive?

Parliamentary motions The government floated the idea of moving the House of Lords permanently to York.    Until it was found…

Ancient and modern

What would the ancient Greeks have made of Megxit?

There are as many explanations for Harry and Meghan’s problems with the royal family as there are commentators. May as…

From The Archives

Mr Pooter goes to Europe

By Leo McKinstry, The Spectator, 17 August 2002: The modern MEP is a titan of tedium, a figure whose every…


Letters: Slimming down the monarchy will only hasten its decline

Royal travails Sir: The travails of the royal family outlined by Penny Junor (‘In check’, 18 January) may be public…


The Spectator's Notes

I won’t be applying to be director-general of the BBC

Despite huge public pressure, I shall not be applying to be director-general of the BBC. It was kind of Tony…


Labour must change if it is to win

In the past 40 years, only two leaders of the opposition have gone on to become prime minister: Tony Blair…

Rod Liddle

A last chance to save the BBC

Whoever becomes the next director-general of the BBC should take a close look at last week’s Question Time. It came…

Matthew Parris

Vegans are brave – and they have a point

It was a clear and icy night at home in Derbyshire last week. I love these times and, before bed,…

Lionel Shriver

Democrats are trying really hard to lose this election

Should Bernie Sanders become the Democratic presidential nominee, expect the media to overuse these sprightly English expressions: ‘between a rock…

Any other business

HS2’s completion is as likely as King Harry’s coronation

Seven years ago, when HS2 was still officially costed at £33 billion, I wrote that I was looking forward to…


Lead book review

How a fraudulent experiment set psychiatry back decades

In the 1970s, a social psychologist published ‘findings’ deeply critical of American psychiatric methods. The problem was they were almost entirely fictional


Babies are aware of bilingualism from birth — if not before

In a fascinating study of the bilingual brain, Albert Costa explains exactly what is going on when we switch effortlessly from one language to another


Rembrandt remains an enigma

Since so little is known about the painter’s life, Onno Blom’s portrait is inevitably sketchy, though his background detail is meticulous


The Pearl Harbor fiasco need never have happened

7 December 1941 is certainly ‘a date that will live in infamy’ — because the US State Department ignored repeated warnings of Japan’s intentions in the Pacific


We were highly amused: the Queen — and Mrs Thatcher — thought Ken Dodd tattyfilarious

Dodd was a favourite at Royal Variety Performances, and his enthusiasm and stamina were unlimited, leaving his audiences limp with laughter


Dreaming of the desert: my life in the Sahara, by Sanmao

Sanmao leaves Taiwan for the unpromising backwater of Laayoune — a world of mute slaves, child brides and the neighbours’ marauding goats


The wanderings of Ullis: Low, by Jeet Thayil, reviewed

A grieving Indian poet, Dominic Ullis, clutching a box containing his wife’s ashes, arrives in Bombay seeking oblivion


Desperate to preserve her sister Jane’s reputation, Cassandra Austen lost her own

Gill Hornby imagines an elderly, over-protective Cassandra destroying ten letters ‘of danger’, in an act that has dismayed Austen’s devotees ever since


Making mischief: J.M. Coetzee’s The Death of Jesus is one almighty tease

Coetzee concludes his baffling Jesus trilogy — whose message, if any, remains elusive to the end


In this golden age of corruption, it takes much courage to be a whistleblower

Like many ‘mavericks of morality’, Allen Jones found that doing his job meant losing his job when he challenged Johnson & Johnson over the harmful drug Risperdal


Does questioning women about their sex lives constitute harassment?

Centring on the #MeToo debate, Mary Gaitskill’s novella This is Pleasure raises many questions that defy easy answers


How did the infamous Josef Mengele escape punishment?

His selection process and barbaric experiments at Auschwitz resulted in the agonising deaths of millions. Yet he died a free man, swimming in Brazil in 1979


Arts feature

The history, power and beauty of infographics

W.E.B. Du Bois's eloquent and ingenious charts, maps and diagrams showing the progress of 19th-century African Americans were powerful weapons for a besieged community


Dazzling and sex-fuelled: Picasso and Paper at the Royal Academy reviewed

Picasso jettisoned muses but clung on to Metro tickets, postcards, restaurant bills and bottle labels


The audience were in tears: Christian Gerhaher/Gerold Huber at the Wigmore Hall reviewed

Plus: Richard Jones's production for the Royal Opera House does pretty much everything you could want from a Bohème


Fun and likeable and forgettable: The Personal History of David Copperfield reviewed

Armando Iannucci's adaptation is 600 pages of Dickens squashed into just under two hours so it feels more like CliffNotes than the real deal


Best gig of the week: the fuzzy, slacker melodies of teenage quintet Disq

Plus: thin whiny pop from Alfie Templeman, and is Sinead O'Brien the new Patti Smith?


Radio 4's new H.P. Lovecraft adaptation will give you the chills

Plus: the brilliance of LBC's eviscerator-in-chief Maajid Nawaz


Sweeping, sod-you comedy – irresistible: Billionaire Boy reviewed

Plus: a creaky new play about a remarkable encounter between Edward VIII and Marlene Dietrich


Netflix's Messiah is a great concept undermined by implausible politics

Plus: Sky's latest bingewatch Cobra also suffers from trying to advance an unbelievable narrative


High life

Why do monsters make such good writers?

Did any of you know that most of the 20th-century monsters — Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Ceausescu, Duvalier, and even the…

Low life

Whisky and striptease: stories from an old people’s home

The Commander, in his nineties and a big hit with the ladies, once stumbled headfirst into the fire

Real life

What has Mr Benn got to do with horse insurance?

The Insurance Emporium has adopted a 1970s children’s TV character as its mascot

The turf

The trainer who gives the big boys a run for their money

This year Sean Curran boasts ten winners from just 35 runs



Sad to say, the length of time you’ve been playing bridge is no indication of how good you are. Indeed,…


More than a game

Cars, computers and cadavers: taking them apart is normally reserved for experts and the pathologically curious. In his new book,…

Chess puzzle

no. 588

Rowson-Yermolinsky, World Open 2002. This position arose after a tactical skirmish. White has only one good way to meet the…


Bizarre books

In Competition No. 3132 you were invited to submit an extract from one of the following books: Noah Gets Naked:…


2441: To and fro

28 2, born in 36, is best known for 10 41 (four words). He also produced a 19, 11 (two…

Crossword solution

to 2438: Shining Bright

The unclued lights can be linked with GOLDEN, at 30D, which had to be highlighted. The trio is GOLDEN EYE…

No sacred cows

George Orwell would have been a Brexiteer

I’ve been reading a new biography of George Orwell that’s been published to coincide with the 70th anniversary of his…

The Wiki Man

The great train robbery: why Britain’s rail prices need a rethink

Outside mathematics, the word ‘commute’ can mean two things. Mostly it refers to the act of making a daily journey…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How can I stop my mother-in-law sitting on newspaper whenever she comes to my house?

Q. When my mother-in-law visits, she puts newspaper on a dining chair before sitting down. I’m so speechless that someone…


A toast to Roger Scruton

In clubs and other admirable locations throughout the civilised world, glasses have been raised and toasts proposed. But this was…

Mind your language

Rebecca Long-Bailey is right: hyphens come and go

When Francis Hurt inherited the Renishaw estate in 1777, he changed his surname to Sitwell. His eight-year-old son and heir…