The Week

Leading article

Pickets of privilege

Treatment for that once-virulent condition, the British disease of strikes, has largely been successful. The number of working days lost to industrial action in the first ten months of last year was the second-lowest since records began. Pay and conditions have been relentlessly improving. Since the Winter of Discontent in 1979, the average worker’s disposable

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 14 January 2016

Home David Cameron, the Prime Minister, said that, on Britain’s place in the European Union, ‘what I would like to see is a deal in February, then a referendum that would follow’. The pound sank to its lowest against the US dollar since 2010, after Britain’s manufacturing sector shrank unexpectedly by 0.4 per cent in


Diary – 14 January 2016

Whatever you do, don’t allow your six-year-old to be caught short at Crewkerne station. With the rain pouring and the wind howling, my daughter needed the loo. But it was locked. And no staff anywhere to be seen. So I pressed the ‘Help’ button on one of those machines that have replaced stationmasters. ‘How can

Ancient and modern

The mercenaries of IS and ancient Greece

Last week we read that Isis was crumbling, but still a force to be reckoned with. That is true, but its army is by definition a mercenary one, fighting for pay, and when that runs out, so will they. Ancient Greeks knew all about mercenaries. The 6th century bc Cretan mercenary Hybrias proclaimed ‘I have

From the archives

Compelling evidence

From ‘The Position of the Government’, The Spectator, 15 January 1916: Any man who knew the nature of Englishmen, or rather, let us say, of the English-speaking race, during war, would have been able to foretell that an enactment to compel shirkers to do their duty would be certain of something like universal acceptance… Our


Letters | 14 January 2016

Borderline case Sir: Alex Massie (‘The painful truth for Ruth’, 9 January) correctly identifies the challenges facing the Scottish Conservatives. But he is wrong to say it will ‘never’ be the moment for a Tory revival. Tax devolution is a game-changer. For the first time in years, the Conservative party gets to fight a Scottish