Rod liddle

My night with Rod Liddle

‘I was 12 when I first got laid.’ ‘Where was that?’ ‘In Middlesbrough.’ ‘How the hell did you get lucky at 12 in Middlesbrough, when I only managed it at 15 and on my father’s boat off Cannes in 1952?’ ‘It was a dark and stormy night.’ This was no tortured confession by some doomed poet or gender-confused feminist, just party banter between the great Rod Liddle – who went Bulwer-Lytton on me – and the poor little Greek boy. The setting: the Old Queen Street garden where The Spectator is located and where we celebrated the sainted editor’s 50th birthday. Before I get to that, though, what is it

The wisdom of Rod Liddle

New York At a chic dinner party for some very beautiful women, your correspondent shocked the attendees by quoting an even greater writer than the greatest Greek writer since Homer – Rod Liddle – and his definition of why royalty matters: because it is ‘anachronistic and undemocratic’. Hear, Hear! A particularly attractive guest, Alissa – on a par with Lily James – took me aside and asked me if I really believed what the greatest writer ever, Rod Liddle, had written and I had just quoted. She also asked whom I had in mind as the greatest Greek writer since Homer, and I answered: ‘Moi.’ I then sat down and

Durham students’ Rod Liddle protest in pictures

After eighteen months of Covid, there were some who feared the age-old tradition of the campus leftie had died out. Fortunately the furore about Rod Liddle has revived the inglorious habits of angry undergraduates at Durham University, with dozens of students assembling today to protest the travesty of a columnist’s after-dinner speech. Mr S has covered the ups and downs of this sorry tale these past five days, with today’s Durham demo being the culmination of efforts to undermine Principal Timothy Luckhurst of South College for inviting Rod to speak at high table. Among the highlights include Jonah Graham, Durham SU’s Welfare and Liberation Officer, asserting to the assembled throng that ‘this is not an issue about

Durham University to probe Rod Liddle speech

The masters of Durham University have reacted with Olympian swiftness to the hysteria which greeted Rod Liddle’s dinner speech at South College on Friday night. Students professed themselves to be ‘literally shaking’ at The Spectator columnist’s comments on sex and gender issues — poor darlings. The adults in and around campus, meanwhile, were equally eager to vent their sense of horror. The local Labour society insisted that ‘Our university doesn’t owe hate a platform’ and the Students’ Union demanding the resignation of the College Principal Tim Luckhurst. And the Durham dons are at pains to show such concerns are taken seriously, issuing thumping public statements disassociating the university from such dreadful

Diary – 11 July 2019

I am beginning to feel like a sort of fairground curiosity: one of those pickled things in jars that Victorians stared at. It is Boris’s fault. Because I once had a close friendship — all right, all right, a tendresse — with Mr Johnson, I am pointed at, photographed, and harried in the aisles of shops. Soon members of the public will be tearing off bits of my clothes — something Russian peasants used to do with anyone who had met the Tsar, as if this would bestow some of Batiushka’s divine status. Tabloid journalists doorstep me, believing I have the answers. I am a female Zoltan Kapathy; not so much an

Toby Young

Boris and The Sextator farce

Fourteen years ago, almost to the day, Lloyd Evans and I received a note from Boris. It was the press night of Who’s The Daddy?, our play about the various sex scandals that had engulfed The Spectator in the previous 12 months, and we were terrified about how he’d react. As the editor of the magazine, he would have been within his rights to sack us, given how disloyal we’d been. We had portrayed him as a sex-mad buffoon with a portrait of Margaret Thatcher on his office wall that turned into a pull-down bed — in constant use throughout, needless to say. Not only that, but we’d sent up

Letters | 11 July 2019

Crisis in Hong Kong Sir: It was inspiring to see Hong Kong protesters raising the British flag as a symbol of freedom and liberation — a vivid image of the fondness in which it is held, even more than two decades after our surrender of the territory (‘A question of liberty’, 6 July). However, raising the colonial flag in the legislative chamber was no mere nostalgia but also a challenge to our government. Are we going to stand by today and betray that trust? The British government might be wary of criticising Beijing’s overreach in Hong Kong in case China tightens the screws further against ‘foreign interference in internal affairs’.

Women’s work

I don’t know which day Rod Liddle travelled down from the northeast and found nothing but women’s voices cluttering up Radio 4, as he wrote about in last week’s magazine. But his description is not one I recognise. If anything we still hear too much from male commentators, male presenters, male writers, male comedians. In recent years, for instance, the gender-balance of contributors to the Today programme has improved from the 18 per cent of female guests just a decade ago, but there’s still a long way to go before we need to apologise for wanting to hear more from women. Very often they speak truth to power (because not

Letters | 8 March 2018

Pipeline politics Sir: In his article ‘Putin’s gamble’ (3 March), Paul Wood quite rightly mentions that one of the key reasons why Russia played hardball in Syria was Assad’s willingness to block the efforts of Qatar to build a natural gas pipeline through the country to supply Europe. This would have undermined Russia’s market power in Europe, and weakened Russian leverage over Europe when defending its actions in Ukraine. Some of the strategic issues at play in Syria exist in Libya, but to a lesser degree. Libya supplies Europe with gas from large offshore deposits through the GreenStream pipeline to Italy. Qatar tried for years to get Muammar Gaddafi to agree

For one night only: Rod Liddle at the London Palladium

If Rod Liddle is one of your guilty (or not so guilty) pleasures and you’ve been toying with the idea of subscribing to The Spectator, then we have the perfect excuse. We do reader events every so often, the most popular of which have been with Rod Liddle. They have both sold out in a flash. The last one, a thousand-seater venue, was filled within four days – we barely had time to put an advert in the magazine. This time, we’ve booked Rod again – but this time in the 2,300-seater London Palladium on Tuesday 15 May at 7pm. It will be the biggest event ever held by The

High life | 13 July 2017

I was going through my paces in Hyde Park, sweating out the booze, raising the heartbeat with short wind sprints, keeping my mind off the weekend’s debauchery and the ensuing Karamazovian hangover. I sat down on a bench, took off my sweaty polo shirt, opened the Daily Telegraph, and took in some rays. A police officer approached me — but with a smile. ‘Are you by any chance Taki?’ he said. ‘Guilty as charged, constable, but this time I’m clean.’ He smiled broadly and asked if he might sit down. Well, Constable Hackworth turned out to be straight out of The Blue Lamp. A Spectator reader, he somehow recognised my

Letters | 27 April 2017

Aid is not the answer Bill Gates says he is a huge fan of capitalism and trade (Save Aid!, 22 April) but then spoils it by repeating the received wisdom about aid: ‘If you care at all about conditions in Africa – the population explosion, measles, polio — then don’t suggest there is a private-sector solution to these problems. It’s outrageous.’ No. It is not outrageous. A vigorous private sector is the only answer to African development. I have spent my life in Africa, working in 18 of its countries, usually deep in the bush. I have watched numerous aid programmes fail once the external funding is removed, and have spent

Letters | 9 March 2017

On Scottish independence Sir: Alex Massie writes of the order permitting a second Scottish independence referendum: ‘Having granted such an order in 2014, it will be difficult to refuse Mrs Sturgeon’s demand for another’ (‘Back into battle’, 4 March). Surely that is precisely why Mrs May should refuse another? It was the SNP who described the 2014 vote as a chance in a lifetime. The only thing way in which Brexit could have changed matters is if it had been a fundamental and unforeseeable upset. Alex Massie, from this and his previous writings, clearly believes it was. But the Conservatives, at the time of the Scottish vote, had promised to

The Spectator’s Notes | 1 December 2016

It seems perplexing that François Fillon, now the Republican candidate for the French presidency, should be a declared admirer of Margaret Thatcher. Although she certainly has her fans in France, it is an absolutely standard political line — even on the right — that her ‘Anglo-Saxon’ economic liberalism is un-French. Yet M. Fillon, dismissed by Nicholas Sarkozy, whose prime minister he was, as no more than ‘my collaborator’, has invoked her and won through, while Sarko is gone. In this time of populism, M. Fillon has moved the opposite way to other politicians. He says his failures under Sarkozy taught him that France needs the Iron Lady economic reforms which it

Letters | 6 October 2016

Studying grammars Sir: Isabel Hardman (Politics, 1 October) states that no reputable research backs up the belief that grammar schools promote social justice. I am not sure she is correct. For instance, Lord Franks’s 1966 report on Oxford University recorded an accelerating rise in the share of places taken by state school pupils at that university in the 1939–1966 period. This increased from 19 per cent to 34 per cent, excluding the semi-private direct grant schools. Include the direct grants and the figure rises from 32 per cent in 1939 to 51 per cent in 1965. This change, reversed in the comprehensive years after 1965, coincided with the introduction of

Real life | 6 October 2016

After a year dealing with estate agents I can only say: a plague on all their houses, except the one of mine they’re trying to sell. I do hate being obvious and lashing out at oft maligned groups because it really is too clichéd. I belong to several of these hated groups myself, after all. Journalists, they get it in the neck all the time. And hunters. See Rod Liddle last week or Liz Jones the weekend before that for some classic examples of how the left rip me to shreds whenever I dare to suggest that I would like to keep the countryside a nice place in which to

The best thing about Brexit? It’s not my fault

Brexit Britain fills me with calm. Six weeks on, there’s no point pretending otherwise. Losing is far better than winning. I am filled with enormous serenity at the thought of this terrible, terrible idea being not my fault at all. I didn’t expect to feel this way. Although there were signs, now I think back, on the night of the vote. I was at Glastonbury, obviously. (‘Of course you were!’ cried Rod Liddle, when I saw him a few weeks later.) Of course I was. There, with the rest of the metropolitan, liberal, bien-pensant yadda yadda. I found out at about 2 a.m., after a pleasant evening doing pleasant Glastonbury things.

The naked dinner

Bunyadi caters to folk for whom public nudity is somehow thrilling; I am here because A begged to go and bashed the steering wheel of the Honda Civic with his fist. I am not only nude, which is odd, because being sexually exciting is not my journalistic identity, but, worse, I have accepted a freebie. There was no other way to get in. I asked Rod Liddle, who fashioned an anti-Bunyadi polemic a few weeks ago, to accompany me. He muttered ‘skidmarks’. Then he said no. It is a glowering ex-nightclub in Elephant and Castle, south London; a black building on a corner with the windows taped up. It looks

Letters | 14 April 2016

In defence of Charles Sir: As a former full-time member of the Prince of Wales’s office, and a part-time equerry for 20 years, I can identify with some of HRH’s interests, just like Geoffrey Wheatcroft (‘How to save the monarchy’, 9 April). In my case we share a passion for churches and other historic buildings. I also share some of Mr Wheatcroft’s frustrations — the chaos of the prince’s office has at times driven me to distraction. As the product of a Yorkshire grammar school, I have never considered myself part of any ‘Highgrove set’: the prince calls me ‘Matthew’, and I call him ‘Sir’. But Mr Wheatcroft is wrong

Letters | 14 January 2016

Borderline case Sir: Alex Massie (‘The painful truth for Ruth’, 9 January) correctly identifies the challenges facing the Scottish Conservatives. But he is wrong to say it will ‘never’ be the moment for a Tory revival. Tax devolution is a game-changer. For the first time in years, the Conservative party gets to fight a Scottish battle on its strengths of economic competence; meanwhile, the SNP finally gets to demonstrate how to eliminate austerity and raise public spending — all without raising taxes. (In a low oil-price environment.) Toxic Tories? Not half as toxic as Labour are now. Post-referendum, voter positions are deeply entrenched and a party that can’t even agree on