The Spectator's Notes

Cyclists are the Jeremy Corbyns of the road

Three years ago next month, the journalist Andy Webb put in a Freedom of Information request to the BBC. He asked for material which he believes would expose a new cover-up of the BBC’s behaviour over Martin Bashir’s notorious 1995 Panorama interview with Diana, Princess of Wales. The cover-up in question (there was a much

What makes MPs special

On Monday, the House of Commons passed, by one vote, a motion to allow MPs to be suspended from parliament (a ‘risk-based exclusion’) if arrested for sexual or violent crime. The government had preferred that the trigger should be charge, not arrest, but there were enough Tory rebels, including Theresa May, for the lower threshold

The science behind Olivia Colman’s left-wing face

The new hunting year formally began last week. Should I resubscribe? Politically, the outlook is bleak. In February, Steve Reed, the shadow environment secretary, announced that Labour would implement a ‘full ban on trail and drag hunting’, on the grounds that there were ‘loopholes’ in Labour’s hunting ban. This even though, when advocating the original

Europe has no answer to its immigration problem

Pulling off the rhetorical trick that Brexit would undermine the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement, Michel Barnier, the EU negotiator, said in 2018 that the agreement meant removing borders not only from maps, ‘but also in minds’. Even a single CCTV camera on the North-South roads was considered a threat to the peace process. Now

A helpful suggestion for Taylor Swift’s boyfriends

Sir Mark Rowley should not resign. We must try to break our habit of getting rid of each Metropolitan Police Commissioner before his/her term is complete. He has done nothing iniquitous or seriously incompetent. He is, however, systematically wrong about the right to protest, elevating it over the much more important right of the general

My letter from Chris Packham

I do not know Chris Packham, the BBC nature broadcaster, personally, but he wrote me a letter last month, enclosing a book called Manifesto, The Battle for Green Britain by Dale Vince which, he tells me, ‘has something very important to say at this most important time’. In his letter, Chris says that ‘irrespective of

Why do MPs send nude pictures of themselves?

Adam Dyster has gone to work for the shadow Defra secretary Steve Reed. I admit this is not an appointment which would normally trouble the political scorers, but it is a straw in the wind. Mr Dyster was, until recently, the adviser to both the chairman and the director-general of the National Trust. As Zewditu

The London Library should leave us in peace

Reading only slightly between the lines of US foreign policy on Israel/Gaza, I detect that its most urgent aim is to get rid of Benjamin Netanyahu. The same goes for the Foreign Office and Lord Cameron. The shocking killing of the World Central Kitchen workers is being pressed into the service of this cause by

The three most radical words Jesus said

Some Jewish friends recently asked me: ‘What is Good Friday?’ At first, they said, they had thought it was so called because of the peace agreement signed in Northern Ireland in 1998. Then they had learnt that it was a Christian thing, but they weren’t sure what. They wanted to know why it was ‘Good’.

We have less freedom now than we did 40 years ago

Forty years ago this week, I became the editor of this paper. That is as long ago from now as was D-Day from then. It must seem as distant to today’s young as did the men on the Normandy beaches to my 27-year-old self. I can now see more clearly how much my generation enjoyed

Why are the photo agencies punishing Kate?

Media scrutiny of the Princess of Wales and her personal photoshopping of her Mothering Sunday photograph has been intense. One important set of players has escaped attention, however: the picture agencies. It was they – AP, Getty Images, AFP, Reuters, Shutterstock and PA – who issued a ‘mandatory photo kill’ of the image. They doubted

Could I be on the National Trust Council?

The end of the Cold War offered the former communist countries the chance to live a western way of life. But it also brought back what was known as the ‘nationalities question’, so long suppressed by Soviet power. We in Britain think little about this. We can easily see why the slowdown in western arms

My trip to Kyiv with Boris Johnson

Last week, en route to Oxford, I dropped in on Boris Johnson at his rural retreat, where he is writing his ‘not exactly memoirs’. Unlike Cincinnatus, he has no plough, but he does possess one of those squat, computer-driven lawnmowers which move silently about the lawn, grazing. Boris is impulsive. At lunch, he suddenly said: ‘Let’s

What is Prince William thinking?

In a statement, the Prince of Wales says he ‘refuses to give up’ on ‘a brighter future for the Middle East’. Nobody thought he had given up, so why did he feel the need to say it? His Churchillian reference to ‘the darkest hour’ does not work. In 1940 the darkest hour was for Britain

British cheese… or gay dating website?

If you can vote in Rochdale, you have a choice of three candidates with Labour backgrounds in the coming by-election. There is George Galloway, the man who famously saluted Saddam Hussein’s ‘courage and indefatigability’. George used to be a Labour MP but is now the candidate of the Workers Party of Britain. Then there is

Should King Charles have announced the news of his cancer?

Everyone seems to agree that it is better for royal personages to be open if they have cancer. It helps thousands of other sufferers and their families. But nowadays sheer necessity is part of it: the omnipresent video evidence of the monarch’s daily life makes it unavoidable that people will notice physical changes. This applies

Would Jesus really be against the Rwanda Bill?

Sitting in the Chamber late on Monday afternoon for the Lords debate on the UK-Rwanda treaty, I was impressed by the standard of oratory. Most of the best speeches came from those – Lords Goldsmith (the Labour one), Kerr of Kinlochard, Anderson of Ipswich – who argued that the treaty was not, in itself, proof

What Nikki Haley has over Trump

In June 2022, I interviewed Nikki Haley on stage for JW3, a Jewish organisation in north London. She was personable, clear, well-briefed and pleasingly normal, with the interesting exception of her Sikh background growing up in small-town South Carolina (she later became a Christian by conversion). Her conservatism seemed strongly felt, coherent and not extreme.

The joys of the wireless

Obviously, one’s first instinct is to agree that parliament should step in and decree that all the hundreds of sub-postmasters convicted in the Post Office scandal should be exonerated without their appeals needing to be heard. But I suspect that instinct is wrong, for at least two reasons. The first is the precedent. These are