The Spectator

18 May 2019

Cometh the hour

The biggest threat to Boris Johnson’s leadership bid is Boris himself



Cometh the hour: Boris Johnson may be the Tories' best hope

The biggest threat to Boris's leadership bid could be Boris himself


Meet the real Alexander Nix. An interview with the notorious former head of Cambridge Analytica

A year after the downfall of the data company, its former head is ready to talk


Writers blocked: Even fantasy fiction is now offensive

Persecution is endemic in the vicious world of Young Adult publishing


Snog a Tory: Why you should learn to step outside your comfort zone

It's better to be challenged by unfamiliar tastes, ideas and opinions


What one activist's death tells us about war crimes in Syria

Ali Othman was a citizen journalist with a ready smile and no fear

Notes on...

How do Britain’s pubs get their names?

An easy one: what links Jack Straw’s Castle, The Labouring Boys and The Jolly Taxpayer? No, not the parliamentary expenses…

The Week

Leading article

The truth about British inequality? It has very little to do with income

This week the Institute for Fiscal Studies announced a five-year study into inequality in Britain, to be led by the…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Brexit party surges in polls, WhatsApp is hacked and Doris Day dies

Home Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said that the EU withdrawal bill would be introduced in the Commons in the…


As a gay Jewish man I did not expect to be spat at in a west London street

There are many places where a gay Jewish couple wearing yarmulkes wouldn’t feel comfortable walking down the street. I didn’t…


Will more babies be called Archie now the royals have chosen it?

Royal name games Will more children be called Archie following the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son?…

Ancient and modern

How the ancients kept their minds young

In her cover story last week, Camilla Cavendish argued that we could keep mentally fit in old age through ‘physical…


Letters: Why we deserve Corbyn

Labour’s fence-sitting Sir: James Forsyth writes that Mrs May and Mr Corbyn are ‘not, in fact, that far apart’ (‘May’s…


American Politics

Trump's Iran strategy: Keep your enemies close and your hawks closer

 Washington, DC Donald Trump has an itchy trigger finger, and his name is John Bolton. The President’s national security adviser…

Rod Liddle

I'm starting to have doubts about Nigel Farage

The echo chamber is the defining characteristic of this berserk and entertaining political age: squadrons of foam-flecked absolutists ranting to…

James Delingpole

Gratitude lessons show Eton is losing its way

‘Repeat after me, gentlemen: “Thank you for not letting me into your Oxbridge college because I belong to the wrong…

Any other business

Metro Bank was the wrong model for its place and time

This column has long been a fan of the concept of ‘challenger banks’ offering alternatives for personal and small business…


Letitia at the height of her fame in 1825. H.W. Pickersgill’s original portrait was exhibited at the Royal Academy

Lead book review

The celebrated poet who’s been erased from English literature

Letitia Elizabeth Landon was the leading star of 1820s London — until banished from society and the literary canon

Sandra Newman. Credit: George Baier


Parallel worlds: The Heavens, by Sandra Newman, reviewed

Newman’s novel shifts between contemporary New York and Tudor London, and it’s the former that seems strangest

Credit: Robin Hill


Gothic extremes of human cruelty: Cari Mora, by Thomas Harris, reviewed

The spirit of Hannibal Lecter looms large, and there are enough dismemberments to satisfy Harris’s most hardened fans


Feminism for the Fleabag generation: The Polyglot Lovers, by Lina Wolff, reviewed

Everyone behaves badly in this pitiless tale of misogyny,vengeance and a doomed manuscript


Drawing from the deck: superb sketches by sailors

Seafarers paintings and drawings from the 14th century to the present are charming, imaginative, instructive and wonderfully vivid


It’s judo, not chess, that’s Putin’s game

Mark Galeotti argues that the Russian President is an opportunist rather than strategist, simply seeking stability at home and recognition abroad


The stormy lives of Jack the Dripper and the Wife with the Knife

Lee Krasner, married to Jackson Pollock, liked to ‘slash the canvas like a vengeful yenta’. But who was the better painter?


Murder at Margate — and other crimes of passion

Jeff Noon reviews the latest thrillers from Iain Maitland, Mark Billingham, David F. Ross and Jess Kidd


Levitating basketball players: investigating the psychic in sport

Ed Hawkins longs to believe in the possibility of mind control over players. But there’s nothing occult about the psychology of sport


Where were you when you read John Hersey’s ‘Hiroshima’?

Hersey’s article describing the effects of the atomic bomb, published in the New Yorker in 1946, was arguably the most influential of the century


Postcard from the edge: The Rings of Saturn (Shingle Street — unused photograph), 1994

Arts feature

From haunted to haunter: the afterlife of W.G. Sebald

The mystique lives on, but two shows of his photographs attempt to take us behind the curtain of his writing process

‘A was an Artist’, from William Nicholson’s An Alphabet, 1897


The duo that broke the mould of poster design

William Nicholson’s work combined the wit and precision of Manet with Dickens’s sense of character

Natalia Osipova, cursed with a frightful Ascot fascinator, a Halloween shock-wig of black pipe cleaners, in Medusa as the Royal Opera House Credit: ©ROH, 2019 Photograph by Tristram Kenton


Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s #MeToo Medusa is a bad hair day from Hades

A Christopher Wheeldon revival pleases, but the overrated Crystal Pite’s Flight Pattern fails to soar

Credit: RoBeDeRo


The mosque where it’s the men who make the tea

Plus: the power of concerts in prisons and a drama so good I binge-listened to it

Sharon D. Clarke and Wendell Pierce in Death of a Salesman at the Young Vic Credit: © Brinkhoff Mogenburg


Willy Loman would have been fine if he’d worked in a laundry: Death of a Salesman reviewed

Plus: the Globe’s Henry IV (i) is a pillow-up-the jumper am-dram effort (though its Falstaff is one of the truest you'll see)

Andras Schiff Credit: Robert Ghement/EPA/Shutterstock


Anderszewski went at Beethoven’s Diabellis with a nail gun

And Andras Schiff is another venerated pianist likely to let you down when playing overfamiliar repertoire

Emma Thompson as Vivienne Rook in Russell T. Davies’s Years and Years. Credit: BBC/Red Productions/Guy Farrow


A clunky exercise in box-ticking: Russell T. Davies’s Years and Years reviewed

Plus: The Virtues shows, yet again, that nobody does visceral like Shane Meadows

A delightful time machine to a distant past: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets


A Saturday-night variety show: Take That at the O2 reviewed

Plus: Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets reminds us that no one else ever sounded like early Pink Floyd

The tropes of noir and the spaghetti western are passed through a magical prism: a scene from Ciro Guerra and Cristina Gallego’s Birds of Passage


Startlingly fresh and jaggedly strange: Birds of Passage reviewed

This Colombian thriller passes the tropes of noir and the spaghetti western through a magical prism


High life

The death of New York’s nightlife

New York   This is my last week in the Bagel and I’m going to give it the old college…

Real life

Now that Brexit’s been cancelled I’m moving to the Dordogne

If we are going to be forced to live under the cosh of the EU, we want to be in the best part of Europe



The Spring Fours in Stratford-upon-Avon — perhaps the most prestigious event in the English calendar — was as enjoyable as…


Ivory gates

This year’s Grand Chess Tour kicked off in the Ivory Coast with a significant innovation, the first ever tournament in…

Chess puzzle

no. 554

Black to play. This is from Topalov-Carlsen, Côte d’Ivoire 2019. How did the world champion finish off? Answers to me…


Verse and reverse

In Competition No. 3098 you were invited to submit a poem that can be read forwards and backwards, i.e. from…


2408: End of the line

Unclued lights name a man born on 18 May; his position; his son; and (singly or correctly paired, two of…

Crossword solution

to 2405: Satanic

DEVILS at 33D (its ‘essence’ is ‘EVIL’) is linked with ‘Malevolence’ (13) and ‘Roguish’ (19) and Devil’s CANDLESTICK (1), ON…

No sacred cows

In defence of British landowners (and the truth about grouse moors)

I was surprised to read the article by Ben Macdonald in last week’s Spectator urging Britain’s grouse moor owners to…

Spectator sport

The fans make British football what it is – stop fleecing them

It is always possible to tell the difference between a bunch of Manchester City fans and auditions for the latest…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: I’m disabled – how can I stop my carer being so controlling?

Q. I am a disabled man with a good brain and an independent bent. However, I need help to wash…


Tantrums and a top-notch tabbouleh: Ergon House in Athens reviewed

Ergon House is an epicurean boutique hotel in downtown Athens. (I quote the blurb — I never write ‘boutique’ willingly.)…

Mind your language

‘Bolection’ and how the language of architecture was moulded

A pleasant menagerie of words grazes in the field of architectural mouldings (the projecting or incised bands that serve useful…