Featured articles


A radical mistake

In the early 1990s, after the shock of the 1989 fatwa against Salman Rushdie, I began to do some research among those who condemned him, and learned that a strange thing was happening among young British Muslim men and women. I first wrote about this strange thing in my novel The Black Album, which concerns

Knowing the score

When I come home from work and stick my key in the door, there is a pitter-patter of tiny feet as my eight-year-old twin boys run up to me and shout: ‘Paris St-Germain won 3-1! First he scored, then he missed, then…’ They are suffering from a harmless case of sports geekery. I had it


Now that almost six months have passed since the EU referendum, might it be time for old enemies to find common ground? Matthew Parris and Matt Ridley, two of the most eloquent voices on either side of the campaign, meet in the offices of The Spectator to find out.   MATTHEW PARRIS: Catastrophe has not

Red with the people’s blood

Few 20th-century historians doubted that the 1917 Russian revolution was one of the most influential events of their time, indeed of all time. As the centenary commemoration approaches, however, it seems remarkable how far and how fast the ideology that inspired Lenin and millions of his worldwide followers has receded in significance. Many are the

Season’s beatings

My colleagues at the commercial and chancery bar are all at their chalets in Gstaad, funded by the endless fees from Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and the family bar are out en famille in Mustique, awaiting the festive fallout — there’s something about turkey, port and the Queen’s Speech that pulls marriages apart like a pound-shop

The invention of Santa

Santa Claus ate Father Christmas. It happened quite suddenly. Well, it took about a decade, but that’s suddenly in cultural terms. Over the course of the 1870s the venerable British figure of Father Christmas was consumed by an American interloper. Father Christmas (first recorded in the 14th century) was the English personification of Christmas. Just

The Netflix revolution

There have been two revolutions in television during my lifetime. The first happened in 1975 when Sony launched its Betamax video system — which allowed viewers to record shows and see them when they wanted. Of course, Betamax was found to be clunky and unreliable and it was soon replaced by VHS but, without realising

When the Donald met the Vlad

SpeccieLeaks presents: Transcript of private meeting between President Trump and President Putin, 14 February 2017, Andreyevsky Hall, Grand Kremlin Palace   PUTIN: So how are you liking Russia? TRUMP: Fabulous. Amazing. And this room — incredible. You have beautiful taste, my friend. Beautiful. PUTIN: You like gold? TRUMP: Very much. We used a tremendous amount

‘I get so frustrated with Whitehall’

The Prime Minister’s office is a small, unimpressive room in 10 Downing Street with miserable views and unexceptional furniture. Since moving in, Theresa May has spruced it up — but only a little. There is now a large glass meeting table; her predecessor preferred to chat on the sofas. She has also delved into the

Brexit’s breaking points

Trying to write the first draft of history on the EU referendum and the leader-ship mess that followed had both its dramatic and its comic elements. My phone never stopped ringing with Eurosceptics keen to tell me why their contribution to a meeting that had previously escaped my notice was the decisive factor in securing

My naughty list

In the spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, here, in no particular order, are my current irritants:   • Paddy Ashdown   • Lady (Shami) Chakrabarti of Kennington   • First Minister Nicola Sturrrgeon   • Brussels grands fromages Michel Barnier, Guy Verhofstadt and Monsieur Tipsy Jean-Claude Juncker   • Three out of five Newsnight discussions   • Dance judge Len Goodman (those

From goth to Chancellor

If only I’d known. If only I’d foreseen that the teenage classmate who strode through our school gates every morning, rolled-up Daily Telegraph tucked incongruously (and insouciantly) under one arm, dark leather trench-coat flapping rhythmically in sympathy with the long, swaying black crows-wings of shoulder-length hair, square-heeled boots clicking and clacking their way into morning

More features

The Dwelling

Charlie Zailer wasn’t sure if she’d won or lost. On the victory side of the equation, she’d managed to avoid spending Christmas Day with her sister, and she’d successfully blamed it on work. Her ‘Sorry, but I have to go in for at least a few hours’, delivered in a tone that suggested it was

Have you ever had a prayer answered?

Justin Welby Archbishop of Canterbury There have been lots of wonderful answers to prayer over many years, including recently. One I remember was as a 15-year-old sitting in chapel with the prospect of three frightening tests that day, for which I had done no preparation, and praying that if I got through it then I

Julia’s Baby

Julia should not have come to the wedding. That much was clear as soon as she arrived. Late, she was, and massive in belly. Her hat festooned with tropical fruit; her dress — hideously colourful. She made the hinges shriek on the great church door and winced, as it slammed shut, with a shudder. Puffing


Wildlife Notebook

The morning is cold and dark but the orchard is thronged with birds. Moorhens dash from one side to the other; woodpeckers drill the damp ground for worms; fieldfares bounce from hawthorn hedge to apple tree and back again; magpies terrorise all of them. They freeze when the buzzard comes over until, crows and blackbirds

Notebook | 8 December 2016

It’s weird being friends with someone who suddenly becomes President of the United States, not least for the reflected glory that suddenly rains down on one’s own far less powerful cranium. I was roundly ridiculed by numerous high-profile journalists and celebrities for predicting Donald Trump’s victory throughout his 16-month campaign. Now, many of those same

Traveller’s Notebook

I was drinking in the bar of Manhattan’s Nomad Hotel when in snuck The Most Seen Human Ever To Have Lived. This is an old puzzle: who is the most ‘observed in the flesh’ individual in history? Since we’re discounting depictions (paintings, photographs, films), it has to be someone alive in the jet age with

Notes on...


Although drinking excessive levels of alcohol is up there with Olympic cycling and democracy as things the British excel at, the same cannot be said for dealing with the aftermath. Over the festive season we splash more than £2 billion on trips to the pub as punters take exhortations to have a merry Christmas a