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How the politically correct garden grows

Next week is ‘Hug a Slug’ week. Well, come on, you did believe it for a couple of seconds. We’ve all grown so used to the fog of humourless eco-rectitude that has settled over our gardens that you probably didn’t even blink. No right-thinking (let alone left-thinking) person these days would dream of paving their

Patrick McLoughlin on HS2, rebellion and Ukip

It was, perhaps, inevitable that heading to interview the Transport Secretary I would end up stuck in traffic — so by the time I reached Patrick McLoughlin’s office, I was running a few minutes late. The normal punishment for tardiness is to be left languishing outside a minister’s office. But McLoughlin does things differently. When

Is any kind of sex still taboo in literature?

The first gay marriage will be conducted this Easter, and those who still object to the idea find themselves in a minority. The majority, according to polls, can’t see what all the fuss is about. How far we have travelled in a relatively short period of time. Until 1967, the punishment for homosexuality was a

Today Crimea, tomorrow Estonia?

 Tallinn, Monday  ‘I have some sad news,’ says the Estonian politician, as we sit down to dinner. ‘War has broken out.’ The pain in his voice is palpable. For this patriotic man, and many like him, Russia’s invasion of Crimea has reawakened memories of an era everyone here hoped was over. Wandering the cobbled streets

Europe’s ‘new world order’ is letting Vladimir Putin run riot

[audioplayer src=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/Untitled_2_AAC_audio.mp3″ title=”John O’Sullivan discusses why we shouldn’t be so afraid of Putin” startat=1088] Listen [/audioplayer]If Vladimir Putin’s invasion and occupation of the Crimea brings to an end the Pax Americana and the post-Cold War world that began in 1989, what new European, or even global, order is replacing them? That question may seem topical


Notes on...

Notes on… Venice

For Henry James it was ‘the repository of consolations’. Wordsworth, an earlier visitor, called it ‘the eldest child of liberty’. Ruskin, a self-professed ‘foster child of Venice’, dedicated his life to study of its buildings. Wagner and Browning died there, and Stravinsky left instructions to be buried there, in the island cemetery of San Michele,