The Week

Leading article

Jail break

One of the stated objectives of this week’s brief strike by prison officers was to publicise the dire conditions in many of our jails. In this regard, as in many others, it was a failure. The strike triggered discussions as to whether it was legal (it wasn’t, the High Court ruled) and questions about how

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 17 November 2016

Home Nigel Farage, the caretaker leader of Ukip, was photographed with a smiling Donald Trump as the two men held a meeting at Trump Tower in New York. Downing Street was furious at suggestions that Mr Farage might act as a go-between. Theresa May, the Prime Minister, said at the Lord Mayor’s banquet that policies


Diary – 17 November 2016

Nobody knows anything. William Goldman’s famous first law of the movie business — that no one can say before the fact what’s going to be a hit or a flop — is our new rule of political punditry. Pollsters, experts, markets tell us with scientific certainty what’s going to happen. Then the voters come along

Ancient and modern

Thucydides on Donald Trump

‘America’s journey into the great unknown’, screamed a headline greeting Donald Trump’s election as next President of the United States. Most of us call it the future, which has a long and distinguished tradition of being unknown. In the ancient world there was quite an industry in attempting to foretell the future: oracles, auguries, dream


Barometer | 17 November 2016

Long divisions Donald Trump reaffirmed his plan for a border wall between the US and Mexico, but said parts might end up as a fence. Who has the longest, highest barriers? India-Bangladesh India is still building a 2,545-mile three-metre-high barrier of barbed wire and concrete. Morocco-Western Sahara Separated by a 1,700-mile sand berm, typically two

From the archives

Germany and the City

From ‘English versus German banking’, The Spectator, 18 November 1916: At the present moment a good many of us are in the mood to feel that we never wish to see any kind of German within our country again; but it is quite certain that this attitude of mind will not endure for ever, and it


Letters | 17 November 2016

Wisdom of crowds Sir: According to Matthew Parris (‘Can we trust the people?’ 12 November), I have become part of the mob. Nevertheless, I have never really thought of myself in that way. Although it may be reasonable to criticise the antics of Farage or Trump, surely it is wrong to characterise all those who voted