The Week

Leading article

Better together

This time two years ago, the United Kingdom stood on the brink of dissolution. The referendum on Scottish independence hung in the balance and momentum was with the nationalists. The optimism and energy of Alex Salmond’s campaign stood in admirable contrast to the shrill hysteria of Project Fear, the name given to a unionist campaign

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week | 25 August 2016

Home Virgin Trains released videos showing that there were seats available when Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, was filmed sitting on the floor of a railway carriage saying: ‘This is a problem that many passengers face every day, commuters and long-distance travellers. Today this train is completely ram-packed.’ He then continued his


Diary – 25 August 2016

To Edinburgh for the book festival, where I am to explain Fools, Frauds and Firebrands to respectable middle-class Scots, who have an endearing way of suggesting to me that I, like them, am a thing of the past. They queue to buy the book, which is nice of them; however, the publisher has failed to

Ancient and modern

Nero’s scandalous spads

Theresa May has brought her own advisers with her into No. 10, and as usual the knives are out for them: they are parasites, and what are the civil service and the cabinet for anyway? Romans had the same trouble with freedmen. A ‘freedman’ (libertus or libertinus) was someone who had been a slave but been


Barometer | 25 August 2016

Golden years How many Olympic events would Team GB have to win before we could earn back the gold reserves sold by Gordon Brown? — Olympic gold medals are in fact gold-plated silver and contain only 6g of gold. Between 1999 and 2002 Gordon Brown sold off 395 tons of gold — enough to mint

From the archives

Just not cricket | 25 August 2016

From ‘The bed-rock of war’, The Spectator, 26 August 1916: As a rule in war the bowling has a great advantage over the batting, but it happens that the newest fashion in combat has given a great temporary advantage to the defence. To break a trench line which rests like that of the Germans on the sea


Letters | 25 August 2016

Golden age problems Sir: Johan Norberg’s ‘Our golden age’ (20 August) is absolutely right — we do live in a golden age; antibiotics still work, we have less starvation, the world is open for trade, with all its benefits. But there is a fly in the ointment: human overpopulation. Global warming (if you believe in it), degradation