The Week

Leading article

When Isis comes home

The Islamic State’s pretence to nationhood was based on the holding of territory. With the battle for Mosul this week, together with the loss of the land that it controlled in Syria, that pretence is becoming harder to maintain. The area involved is now limited to a few shattered cities, and corridors between them. The

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 20 October 2016

Home Steven Woolfe, the MEP who spent three days in hospital after an altercation at a Ukip meeting, said he was resigning from the party, which was in a ‘death spiral’. Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, told its annual conference that an independence referendum bill would be published for consultation this


Diary – 20 October 2016

The week began badly when I spotted three grey squirrels gathering beechnuts in our arboretum. During our time at our home in Northamptonshire, my wife and I have anguished over our reluctance to indulge in wanton killing — and how far our tolerance of damage to the trees and nesting birds will stretch. But two

Ancient and modern

From Socrates to Boris

In writing an article that argued both for and against the European Union, Boris Johnson was following a solidly classical precedent — that the finest exponents of the art of persuasion were those able to argue equally convincingly on both sides of any question. An anonymous document entitled Dissoi Logoi (‘Two-sided arguments’, c. 4th Century


Barometer | 20 October 2016

Ape escapes A gorilla got out of its enclosure at London Zoo and entered a keepers’ area, prompting an evacuation of visitors. Other gorillas who tried to emulate King Kong: — Casey, a 400 lb male, scaled a 15-foot wall and a four-foot fence at Como Zoo in Minnesota in 1994 and spent an hour

From the archives

The King’s contribution

From ‘A Royal contribution’, The Spectator, 7 October 1916: His Majesty has passed through troublous times, in the constitutional controversy, in the Irish imbroglio, and in the war, when passion rose to its highest point. The temptation to go behind his Ministers, and to snatch popular favour at their expense, must have been tremendous sometimes. ‘Remember,


Letters | 20 October 2016

Russia’s war crimes Sir: In his article ‘Vanity Bombing’ (15 October), Simon Jenkins quivers with contempt at MPs digging ‘deep into the jaded rhetoric of a superannuated great power’ and ‘shouting adjectives and banging drums’. But he does Parliament and decent, careful motivation a deep disservice. I don’t know what preceded his splenetic outburst, but Syrian