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The Spectator

20 July 2019

Watson’s new plot

The Labour leader may about to be floored

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Is Jeremy Corbyn finally on the way out?

The Labour leader may about to be floored


I’m a doctor, and tried the new GP app. My experience was terrifying

I was given the wrong diagnosis and the wrong treatment – twice


The hypocrisy of our politicians’ support for press freedom

Where were they when innocent journalists were having their lives destroyed?


Varadkar’s backstop gamble could cost Ireland dearly

There’s a growing realisation that no deal could actually happen


Why are there so few Polish people on British TV?

Our biggest immigrant group is under-represented on screen


Why nail-biting sports matches are good for mental health

The brain needs the ‘cerebral climaxes’ that come from resolution

No pigs in sight: Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Notes on...

The charm – and artifice – of the English cottage garden

The confusion is understandable. You arrive at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon, keen to experience the quintessential cottage garden —…

The Week

Leading article

It’s not just Scotland’s drugs shame – it’s Britain’s

Twenty years ago, the Scottish parliament was reconvened after a lapse of almost three centuries. The logic for devolution was…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Theresa May’s new role, England’s cricket victory and the world's steepest street

Home In a televised debate between the rivals for election by members of the Conservative party as their new leader…


Nick Robinson: I’ve underestimated Boris ever since our Oxford clashes

By this time next week the Johnson era will surely have begun. ‘We can, we will, we must now escape…


When will man make it to Mars?

Mars missions When will there be a manned Mars mission? — As early as 1962, Nasa studied the practicalities of…

Ancient and modern

Roman plebs would have known how to tackle Corbyn’s cabal

Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to take serious action against Labour’s anti-Semitic members is no surprise: Marxists know who their friends are.…


Letters: Melissa Kite saved my life – twice

Leave we must Sir: It is interesting that as the Brexit process drags, people become more distanced from what was…


The Spectator's Notes

What would Jane Austen say about Debrett's going digital?

Seventy-five years ago on Saturday, the July plot failed. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg placed a bomb in a briefcase…


Will ‘chairman Boris’ revive cabinet government?

It has become something of a tradition in British politics: an incoming prime minister promises to restore proper cabinet government.…

Rod Liddle

The ethnicity pay gap just doesn’t add up

I suppose it was a bit naive to wander on to Newsnight having been booked to talk about Brexit and…

Matthew Parris

Leaving the EU won’t stop the Remain struggle

My voice is often recognised by people who don’t know me. My face, which is unmemorable, less so. But once…

Lionel Shriver

The best response to hate speech is free speech

There’s a broad mainstream consensus on both sides of the Atlantic: Trump’s tweet telling four hard-left minority Congresswomen to ‘go…

Any other business

Should we all be alarmed by Boris?

Back when Boris Johnson was editor of this magazine and MP for Henley, I was with him at a Tory…



Andreï Makine’s new novel is ‘masterful’

The Archipelago of Another Life reviewed


How to train your husband

Mary Killen considers Melissa Katsoulis’s The Secret Life of Husbands


It’s time we treated the moon with some respect

A clutch of new books on our close celestial neighbours reviewed


All of nature in a village in Norfolk

Mark Cocker’s A Claxton Diary reviewed


The problem of being, and writing

Paul Kingsnorth attempts to escape his fate in Savage Gods


The novel Silicon Valley’s tech moguls won’t be amused to read

Joanna Kavenna’s Zed is chillingly believable and extremely funny


‘I just kept getting turned down and turned down’: Catherine Foster

Arts feature

From the NHS to Bayreuth: Norman Lebrecht talks to midwife-turned-opera singer Catherine Foster

The story of the soprano fêted on the Continent but shunned by Covent Garden exposes the snobbery at the heart of British opera

‘The Tea Party’, 1727, by Richard Collins


A brief history of tea

Teapots are the star of a show at Compton Verney that charts the journey from drink of kings to the nation’s favourite brew


A sonic masterclass: the Silesian String Quartet at Wigmore Hall reviewed

Plus: Remoaners and Brexiteers will come away equally offended by Buxton Festival’s sublimely silly Orpheus in the Underworld


The BBC’s Extinction Rebellion doc is pure hagiography

Plus: season three of Stranger Things is self-indulgent and twee – more Scooby-Doo than Alien


How to talk to astronauts

Two podcasts and a Radio Four drama series about the Apollo landings make them seem even more amazing than they did at the time


The greatest actor in the world couldn’t salvage David Hare’s batty adaptation: Peer Gynt reviewed

Plus: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin would be perfect for the Sunday-night snooze-in slot

Animal magnetism: you’ll want to reach into the screen, pluck Simba out and take him on to your lap for a cuddle


Completely and utterly and entirely blown away: The Lion King reviewed

You’ll want to pluck Simba from the screen and give him a cuddle


High life

Let’s choose our politicians by random selection

Athens Standing right below the Acropolis, where pure democracy began because public officials were elected by lot, I try to…

Low life

Italy, in seven hours and five trains

People laughed when I told them my plan but nothing beats the window seat of a stopping train hugging the Ligurian coast

Real life

Why won’t the police acknowledge that speeding coppers are a liability?

The builder boyfriend fell foul of a police car going 100 mph down the wrong side of the road

The turf

One to watch: the 5lb claimer Theodore Ladd

He impressed me with his coolly competent performance on Busy Street at Ascot



I have always thought the term ‘bridge holiday’ was an oxymoron. When I travel with my team to various events,…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 20 July

A bumper offer this week from our old chums Yapp Bros. Led by step-brothers Jason Yapp and Tom Ashworth, the…


Tal story

Sixty years ago, the great Mikhail Tal won the Candidates tournament by a massive margin to qualify for a world…

Chess puzzle

no. 563

White to play. This position is from Tal-Rantanen, Tallinn 1979. This game features a typically brilliant Tal finish. Can you…


When two becomes one

In Competition No. 3107 you were invited to provide an extract that is a mash-up of two well-known works of…


2417: Six Nations

One of the unclued entries (two words) can be followed by each of the others (two of three words, one…

Crossword solution

to 2414: Matchplay

Conrad HILTON (2), Michael WILDING (37), Mike TODD (24), Eddie FISHER (3), Richard BURTON (30), John WARNER (31) and Larry…

No sacred cows

I’m starting a trade union for intellectuals

I have just returned from Minneapolis after attending the annual conference of the International Society for Intelligence Research. That’s ‘intelligence’…

The Wiki Man

Why extravagant things don’t have to feel expensive

‘Suppose you bought a case of claret a few years ago for £20 a bottle. It now sells at auction…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How should one react when someone invites you to an expensive restaurant — then lets you pay the bill?

Q. Further to your advice about how to refuse invitations, I had a friend, who sadly died young, who disliked…


The tastes of summer: polo, Pimm's and plenty of Champagne

England. On a glorious summer afternoon in the Sussex countryside, I had been invited to watch polo at Cowdray Park,…

Mind your language

Must Harry and Meghan’s son really learn to ‘essentialise’ race?

‘Ha, ha,’ said my husband, as though he’d made a joke. ‘Here’s one for you.’ He waved a page of…