The Week

Leading article

Britain should not mistake its allies for friends

It would be hard to dream up a more absurd piece of political satire than an agency of the British government called Just Solutions International winning a contract to train prison officers in a country that has executed 175 people in the past year, many of them in public beheadings for offences such as sorcery,

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 15 October 2015

Home Two groups were launched, one in favour of remaining in the European Union and the other in favour of leaving. Vote Leave drew support from Conservatives for Britain, from Labour Leave and from Business for Britain. Lord Rose, chairman of the new group Britain Stronger in Europe, said: ‘To claim that the patriotic course


N.M. Gwynne’s diary: Old names worth dropping

As I get older (and my 74th birthday is now close), I get deeper and deeper into nostalgia. I do not fight this, because nostalgia seems to me to be rational as well as agreeable. Things really aren’t what they once were. ‘But people have always said that,’ is often the response. Yes, and for

Ancient and modern

Socrates and Galen on the Great British Bake Off

As the national girth expands by the second, Auntie, never backward about lecturing us on the topic, continues to glory in the popularity of The Great British Bake Off. What a take-off, ancients would have thought. Philosophers, naturally, had little time for fancy cooking. Socrates argued that cooks had no interest in health, only in


Four great demolition disasters

Bang goes the plan The demolition of six tower blocks in Glasgow failed when the top half of two of the blocks settled upright on rubble. Some more demolitions which went wrong: — A girl of 12 was killed and several people injured in 1997 when the Royal Canberra Hospital toppled rather than collapsed in

From the archives

Our debt to Serbia

From ‘Boldness, Boldness and Again Boldness’, The Spectator, 16 October 1915: There are considerations of faith and honour which must in any case control the action of the allies. Serbia has been our ally from the beginning of the war, and it is now absolutely impossible for us to leave her to her fate. We must stand


Letters: The immoral Vladimir Putin

Putin the gangster Sir: Putin is a gangster’s gangster. While he ruins Russia economically and diplomatically to keep himself in power, he behaves like a renegade in Ukraine and Syria (‘Putin’s triumph’, 10 October). He is a stirrer and an adventurer, who causes danger in the world and to his fellow citizens. In 2011 he