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Save our speech

In 1644 John Milton appealed to parliament in the Areopagitica to rescind its order to bring publishing under government control by creating official censors. I wonder what he would make of Lord Justice Leveson’s report, due to be published next week, which is expected to re-introduce statutory control of the press into English law after

Israel under siege

The dictators have fallen one by one. Several more look likely to fall soon, and few will miss them. But as popular revolutions approach their demise, something else has come along. In one country after another, the Muslim Brotherhood — the fundamentalist revolutionary Islamic party founded in 1920s Egypt — and other Islamist parties have

Backbench driver

The burdens of office can wear a man down. When Nick Herbert was the minister for policing and criminal justice, he looked exhausted; as if he was carrying the troubles of two departments on his shoulders. But having quit the government in the September reshuffle, he is relishing his newfound freedom. He says he can

Cooking for freedom

A few days before I met Ahmed Jama in Mogadishu, three Islamist gunmen from Al Shabaab — al-Qa’eda’s Somali branch — burst into his new restaurant wearing suicide bomb jackets. They sprayed the place with bullets and then detonated themselves. One bomber set himself off in the dining room itself, killing 20 of Ahmed’s customers.

The great British wind scam

Almost everybody agrees that wind turbines are ugly and inefficient. But you’d think that the government, if it must persist in subsidising renewable energy, would do everything it could to incentivise wind power producers to create as much energy as possible while keeping the aesthetic damage to a minimum. Astonishingly, it is doing the opposite.

House of stars

The Spectator’s Parliamentarian of the Year awards were held at the Savoy Hotel on Wednesday. Here are the winners: Newcomer of the year Andrea Leadsom (Con). For her work grilling bankers on the Treasury select committee and setting up the Fresh Start Group. Backbencher of the year Alistair Darling (Lab). His campaign for the Union has

Going overboard

What is it about islands that appeals to little men with big ideas? It’s Corfu I’m thinking about, primarily. Napoleon was obsessed with the place. Kaiser Wilhelm owned a summer palace here, the neoclassical Achilleion, where he installed a huge and hideous statue of Achilles. Can I add George Osborne to the list? Perhaps I’d