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The Spectator

16 November 2019

Marriage of convenience

Can Nigel Farage help Boris win Labour Leave seats?

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Can Nigel Farage take the Tories to victory?

Boris’s marriage of convenience may just pay off at the polls


The five groups of voters the Tories are targeting

The party’s electoral strategy rests on persuading voters who’ve never voted Conservative in their lives to go blue


Trevor Rene’s battle to stay in Britain

He's the perfect candidate to be a British citizen – so why won't the government let him remain?


Exclusive: Dominic Cummings’s secret links to Russia

The damning kompromat that reveals the Russians are once again meddling in UK politics


Now is the time for the Tories to be borrowing more

The government should not be afraid of making the case for debt


OK zoomer, is that really the best you’ve got?

It’s not us baby boomers who are the problem

Notes on...

The joy of rummaging through Gladstone’s annotated books

Gladstone’s Library began as that most English of things: a great man’s visionary idea. William Gladstone, at the age of…

The Week

Leading article

Our flood defences aren’t fit for the climate we have now

This week’s political fuss over whether the floods in Yorkshire constitute a ‘national emergency’ misses the point. It is too…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Farage’s climbdown, Yorkshire’s floods and Australia’s fires

Home Nigel Farage, the leader of the Brexit party, climbed down from his resolution to field 600 candidates in the…


It would be a big mistake to underestimate Corbyn

Thud. It’s my advance copy of Dorothy Byrne’s new book, Trust Me, I’m Not a Politician, landing on the doormat.…


How many countries have been ruled by a Boris?

Leaders called Boris How many countries have been ruled by a Boris? — Russia has had two Borises in charge.…

Ancient and modern

For the ancient Greeks, the only point in taking part was to win

The England team reached the final of the rugby world cup in Japan but they lost. As athletes, they knew…


Letters: Why I’ll vote for Boris

A bad idea Sir: Your editorial in favour of an amnesty for illegal immigrants (‘The case for amnesty’, 9 November)…


Rod Liddle

My charter of fundamental rights

I was chatting to a young medical student, a very bright chap from West Africa, who was nonetheless perplexed by…

James Delingpole

The joy of a day spent bagging almost no birds

The highlight of my country calendar is when I’m lucky enough to be invited to what even the host describes…

Sam Leith

Sordid confessions of a Centrist Dad

I have a shameful secret. I’ve been watching these… videos online. Amazing what you can get in a couple of…

Any other business

Why China is planting its flag on what’s left of British Steel

It cannot be other than good news that a rescuer has been found for the bankrupt remains of British Steel,…


Lead book review

Books of the year – part two

Continuing from last week, our regular reviewers choose the books they have enjoyed reading most — and sometimes least — in 2019


Yalta was a carve-up — and the Poles are understandably still bitter about it

To do Churchill justice, he did press for a square deal for Poland in 1945. But his military dubbed it ‘Operation Unthinkable’


Eleanor of Aquitaine is still as elusive as quicksilver

Was she a prototype feminist or a murderous, sex-obsessed virago? For someone so renowned, the written record is astonishingly thin


Ben Lerner’s much hyped latest novel reads like an audit of contemporary grievances

Though set in the 1990s, The Topeka School captures the sense of malaise we now associate with Trump’s America, but the subtlety of the previous novels is missing


Children’s questions about death are consistently good fun

Gift books for the Christmas market include Caitlin Doughty’s Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Another question being ‘Can We Give Grandma a Viking funeral?’


Friends forever: the inside story of the American sitcom classic

Throughout the 1990s, the series was shown in 175 countries and dubbed into 40 languages. But fame took a heavy toll on the leading actors


Tips for Christmas tipples

Vermouth is back, says Henry Jeffreys — and cider now has much of the complexity of wine


Less radical, less rich: Elizabeth Strout’s Olive, Again is a disappointment

Strout’s winning formula in Olive Kitteridge — describing mundane life punctuated by a startling event — is beginning to wear dangerously thin


Free of Lucian Freud — Celia Paul’s road to fulfilment

Paul writes of her ten-year relationship with Freud without rancour; but only after they parted could she concentrate on her own career as a painter


The surrealism of war against Isis

At every break in the fighting in Mosul in 2016, out came the phones — for selfies, texting, calling mother or watching execution videos


Arts feature

What really happened at Troy?

A dazzling exhibition at the British Museum reveals all


Fascinating and compelling: Bruce Hornsby at Shepherd’s Bush Empire reviewed

Plus: there was a sense of abandon at A-ha’s gig at the Royal Albert Hall


How Nova revolutionised women’s magazines

Nova did for magazines what Mary Quant did for clothes


Why are Haydn’s operas so lousy? La fedelta premiata reviewed

Plus: iridescent, haunting and comforting new work by Zoë Martlew, Yfat Soul Zisso and Joanna Ward


The man who built Britain’s first skyscraper

Charles Holden's 55 Broadway is the symbol – and, until recently, the headquarters – of the greatest public patron of the modern in 20th century Britain: London Transport


Patronising, clichéd and corny: BBC1’s Gold Digger reviewed

Plus: you get a solid quota of laughs from Gold’s sweet new sitcom The Cockfields


The Polish electronic music revolution of the 1950s

Plus: how to prepare for your own funeral


Detailed and devastating: Marriage Story reviewed

Noah Baumbach's latest marks the return of Scarlett Johansson as an interesting actress


The script’s a dud: Antipodes at the Dorfman Theatre reviewed

Plus: deliciously nasty dialogue from Eugene O’Hare at the Park Theatre


Unsettlingly faithful to the spirit of Schiele: Staging Schiele reviewed

Plus: Francesca Hayward and Marcelino Sambé are the stars of Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty

The Listener

The cult of Trifonov is doing the pianist no favours

The Deutsche Grammophon engineers have buggered up the his latest Rachmaninov recording


High life

I’d rather live under communism than the tyranny of social media

My advice to my fellow octogenarians? Lay off the cocaine

Low life

The joy of a Rwandan airport

The staff in the arrivals hall dealt with my visa complications and loss of ipad with grace ahd efficiency

Real life

The strange case of six missing horse rugs

Why on earth would someone pinch six horse rugs, two lunge lines and a towel?



Congratulations to Janet de B and her team, who had an excellent week last week — as I know to…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 16 November

Reports of the demise of our old chums at FromVineyardsDirect are grossly exaggerated. Indeed, those many readers who expressed concern…


Dubov’s dynamite

When Daniil Dubov advanced his queen’s pawn in Batumi last month, he might as well have chewed the head off…

Chess puzzle

no. 580

Dubov-Svane, White to play. Later in the event, Dubov played another masterpiece, sacrificing a rook to reach this extraordinary position.…


It’s a date!

In Competition No. 3124 you were invited to compose clerihews about any date in the calendar. I was very grateful…


2434: Eat it!

The unclued lights (two of two words), individually or as one pair, are of a kind.   Across 9    City…

Crossword solution

to 2431: Pride of place

Each of the pairs of unclued lights is a CITY (formed from the letters in the yellow squares) and its…

No sacred cows

Why does someone keep sending me furniture?

When a new vacuum cleaner was delivered to my house last week I assumed it was a belated birthday present…

Spectator sport

England’s rugby team are embarrassingly sore losers

Sports events come and go, but good manners, as William of Wykeham might have put it, last for ever. Or…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What should I do about a Lib Dem friend who can no longer take a joke?

Q. I sent a WhatsApp message to a Lib Dem friend of 15 years. ‘How are you finding being a…


Back in the Babington Triangle: Roth Bar & Grill reviewed

The Roth Bar & Grill exists on an art-farm called Durslade in Bruton, Somerset, which is also the country outpost…

Mind your language

Why is a ladybird called a ‘bishy barnabee’?

People in different regions like to think their dialects incomprehensible to outsiders, yet they can usually come up with quite…