The Spectator

25 May 2019

Corbyn isn’t working

Labour is being picked apart by its new enemies



Corbyn isn’t working – and Labour is being picked apart by its new enemies

Rivals are sweeping down like vultures to attack what remains of the party


'I must be off my rocker': Nigel Farage on the campaign trail

The Brexit party has already achieved a reach far beyond what Ukip ever had


Shelf conscious: I had no idea I was such a show-off

Choosing which books to display has exposed my vanity


Iran alone: Tehran’s perspective on escalating hostilities

It would take a rare set of circumstances for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to entertain the Trump prospectus


The day Turkish democracy died

‘It’s official. Turkey is a banana republic!’ My friend Mustapha, a serial entrepreneur, sends me a flurry of doom-laden WhatsApp…


Parent trap: WhatsApp groups are feeding our fears

The technology we use to share our feelings seems to exacerbate them

Notes on...

The magic of the Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea, the most famous flower show in the world, pulled in its devotees once more this week, with its accustomed…

The Week

Leading article

The end of May: Theresa must go so the Tories can heal

This week’s European election was always going to be pointless, at least from a British perspective. It is possible that…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: European elections, milkshake attacks and British Steel buckles

Home The country went to the polls to elect Members of the European Parliament and express its loathing for the…


A presidential pardon for my 'miraculously shrinking crime'

I owe my return to these pages to the pardon I have received from the President of the United States.…

Ancient and modern

Roman entertainment was far more exploitative than Jeremy Kyle

The Romans were as aware as Jeremy Kyle was of the pleasure that people could get from situations in which…


What punishment can you expect for throwing a milkshake at a politician?

Milkshakes and other missiles What can the man who threw a milkshake over Nigel Farage in Newcastle expect as a…


Letters: Nato’s broken promise

Nigel’s nakedness Sir: Rod Liddle is right to be wary of the hubris that Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader,…


The Spectator's Notes

If you’re going to leave Notre Dame in ruins, why not set fire to Oxford University?

Almost everyone agrees it is a pity that so few pupils from ‘disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds’ get into Oxford. But no…


The grave mistake that has killed Theresa May’s Brexit deal

The European elections were a gift for Britain’s two new political parties, Change UK and the Brexit party. But only…

Rod Liddle

On milkshakes

Should we make it illegal to study the social sciences? Imagine the amount of tendentious rubbish we could erase from…

Matthew Parris

Only Boris can bury Brexit

Sit down, my swivel-eyed Brexiter friend, and pour yourself a stiff whisky. I’ve something to tell you that’s going to…

Lionel Shriver

Adversity is the new diversity – and it disadvantages everyone

Like all attempts to take a shortcut to social justice, this advantaging of one group will disadvantage others

Any other business

Why the British Steel crisis is not about Brexit

There’s a strong sense of déjà vu in this week’s steel crisis. The whole Brexit saga seems to have been…


The flood-prone megacity of Wuhan on the Yangtze now has permeable pavements and artificial wetlands to soak up the water like a sponge

Lead book review

Towards a technological utopia

Ingenious innovations in science and engineering could make for a healthier future for us all, says Simon Winchester

Two geishas relax after entertaining a client. Inset is the curfew bell at Asakusa, the major entertainment centre of old Tokyo. Woodblock print by Toyohara Chikanobu


Passing bells for old Tokyo

Before Japan adopted Western time, great bells would keep the hours in the shogun’s city, telling people when to rise, eat and sleep

Bertrand Russell was portrayed as Mr Apollinax by T.S. Eliot, wittering incomprehensibly and laughing ‘like an irresponsible foetus’


Oddballs of English philosophy

Jonathan Rée’s beguiling history includes vignettes of the eccentric Bertrand Russell and of Thomas Davidson, the Aristotelian turnip-hoer from Aberdeen

Zuzana Ruzicková. Credit: Getty Images


Bach helped me survive Bergen-Belsen

Throughout her incarceration, the memory of Bach’s music brought ‘order in chaos and beauty in ugliness’, recalls the Czech harpsichordist Zuzana Ruzicková

Geoffrey Hill. Credit: Peter Everard Smith


Last lines on Brexit from Geoffrey Hill

Hill’s deep thought about English politics has always been evident, and his final poem records his ‘numbness after the shock of exit...’

Boer refugees were herded by the British into cattle trucks to be shunted into concentration camps at Bloemfontein in 1901. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo


Brutish Brits: You Will Be Safe Here, by Damian Barr, reviewed

Barr’s meticulously researched debut novel attributes South Africa’s current violent state to the brutality of the British in 1901

Life at the Globe

Life at the Globe



Metamorphosis in progress: a mosaic of the giant Orion being turned into a constellation

Arts feature

The new treasures of Pompeii

Daisy Dunn reports on the excavations in the north of the Roman city that shed fresh light on the secrets of Roman life

Lusty, roistering Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Image: BBC / Lookout Point / Jay Brooks


Sunday night on the Beeb was an orgy of virtue-signalling

Plus: why a cultish New Zealand horror-comedy fly-on-the-wall mockumentary about vampire housemates is worth your time

George the Poet in 2014. Photo: Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty Images


Forget the Reith Lectures. To understand the world listen to George the Poet

Have You Heard George’s Podcast? outdoes Jonathan Sumption’s hard-to-follow first lecture in making you look at current issues differently

The odd couple: Sting and Shaggy on tour in 2018. Photo: Zoltan Balogh / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock


A very odd two hours: Sting and Shaggy reviewed

There were moments when one thought: honestly, how has it come to this?

Eerily accurate: Will Barton as Boris Johnson in The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson. Image: Pamela Raith


This Boris play only gets it half-right

Plus: the flop-factory that is the Royal Court churns out another nasty, ill-plotted drama


A mesmerising retrospective: Victoria Crowe at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, reviewed

The painter's often sublime landscapes and interiors dominate this show

Composer Amy Beach. Photo: Bridgeman Images


The forgotten masterpieces of Amy Beach

The composer's lifelong romantic style explains why demand for her music dried up, not, as some would like to think, prejudice

Sun & Sea (Marina), the Golden Lion-winning opera at the Venice Biennale. Photo: © Andrej Vasilenko


If opera survives, it’ll be thanks to artists and curators, not opera houses

There were two extraordinary Gesamtkunstwerks at this year’s Venice Biennale that thoroughly, depressingly, outshone Glyndebourne’s new production of Damnation of Faust

Sublime: Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman


Rocketman is cheesy and clichéd – and all the better for it

The film also has a terrific central performance from Taron Egerton that captured the Elton-ness of Elton without ever resorting to mimicry


High life

My feud with Conrad Black

Goody goody gumdrops! The Donald has pardoned Lord Black and I couldn’t be happier. Conrad got a bum deal and…

Low life

Banana leaf, wood-effect or knitted? Choosing my mother’s coffin

My mother and I have been planning her funeral – with the help of Doreen from the Co-op

Real life

My little lodger has been stolen from me

The builder b calls her my mini-me and I wish she could have stayed for ever

The turf

In praise of older horses – and their trainers

There is no more patient ironer-out of equine wrinkles than Sir Michael Stoute



Simon Gillis coined a term to describe his disappointment when he sits himself out to allow four of his professionals…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 25 May

We’ve not had an offer from Messrs Corney & Barrow in a while and it’s a treat to welcome them…


Goring the gambit

One of the most irritating defences to meet when playing 1 d4 as White is the Benko Gambit (1 d4…

Chess puzzle

no. 555

White to play. This position is from Dubov-Giri, Moscow 2019. How did White conclude with a fine blow that forced…


Animal magic

In Competition No. 3099 you were invited to dream up an imaginary animal that is a hybrid of two existing…


2409: Crosswords

The unclued lights are of a kind, including one hyphened, all confirmed in Chambers except for 8 across, which is…

Crossword solution

to 2406: Heptad

The group is ‘Les Nabis’ (anagram of ALBINESS (18)). Its members were VALLOTTON, DENIS, ROUSSEL, RANSON, SÉRUSIER, BONNARD and VUILLARD.…

No sacred cows

How paranoia has infected our politics

The politics professor Matthew Goodwin made an interesting observation on Twitter this week. He pointed out that many of the…

The Wiki Man

Could my slogan have swayed the Brexit vote?

People sometimes ask what slogan could have swayed the Brexit vote: the opposite of the touchstone phrase ‘Take back control’.…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What should I do when my host won’t serve the champagne I brought?

Q. Was I right to feel aggrieved when, having contributed a bottle of fine champagne to a small supper party,…


Debunking the Greek wine myth

A book, a bottle, a bower set in an ancient garden: you think that if you walked round the right…

Mind your language

Why is a book like a sarcophagus?

‘Is it like a packet of fags?’ asked my husband, less annoyingly than usual, but still in some confusion. I…