The Week

Leading article

Power and the people

When The Spectator was founded 188 years ago, it became part of what would now be described as a populist insurgency. An out-of-touch Westminster elite, we said, was speaking a different language to the rest of London, let alone the rest of the country. Too many ‘of the bons mots vented in the House of

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the year | 8 December 2016

January The cost of an annual season ticket from Cheltenham to London rose to £9,800. Oil fell below $30 a barrel, compared with more than $100 in January 2014. David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that once his negotiations with the EU were done, ministers could campaign for either side in the referendum on Britain’s


Diary – 8 December 2016

Novelists can’t merely tell cracking tales. We’re supposed to save the world. At the University of Kent, a student implored me to inscribe The Mandibles with instructions for ‘how to keep this from happening’ — for the feverish young man now vowed to devote his life to preventing my new novel’s debt-fuelled near-future financial collapse.

Ancient and modern


What is a ‘kudo’? According to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, it is a mark of honour, many of which should be given to the Commons’ British Infrastructure Group, for demanding the scrapping of Air Passenger Duty. The Alliance clearly thinks that ‘kudo’ is the singular of our ‘kudos’. It is not. Kudos is singular already: it


Barometer | 8 December 2016

Forgotten anniversaries 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Russian revolution. Other anniversaries: 50 years Radio 1; first North Sea gas pumped ashore in County Durham; first cash dispenser (at Barclays in Enfield) 100 years First international airmail service (between Brindisi in Italy and Valona, Albania); first use of air raid siren in UK; first

From the archives

Faith in the trenches

From a letter published under the heading ‘The religion of the ordinary soldier’, The Spectator, 23 December 1916: During a discharge of gas at the beginning of July along our front, one of the cylinders was displaced by the near bursting of an enemy shell. It turned the nozzle round, and the gas began to pour


Letters | 8 December 2016

Taking precedent Sir: In his excellent piece on the Supreme Court Article 50 ruling (‘Brexit in the balance’, 3 December), Joshua Rozenberg says that the 2015 European Referendum Act was not drafted with sufficient precision. But surely the whole basis of having an unwritten constitution is that the law is therefore interpreted on the basis