Roger scruton

What Shakespeare can teach us about cancel culture

The following is an edited excerpt from Douglas Murray’s lecture at the Sheldonian Theatre earlier tonight, in honour of Sir Roger Scruton. It features the actor Kevin Spacey reciting a scene from William Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. By the last year of his life Roger had finally been not just honoured in his own country but given a position by a Conservative government to advise on that most pressing of issues – how to try to build beautiful housing in a country desperately in need of housing and even more desperately in need of beautiful housing. Roger was engaged in his researches when a young snake of a man came to

Roger Scruton’s philosophy of wine

The philosopher Roger Scruton died in January 2020 just a few weeks shy of his 76th birthday. He left behind a large circle of admirers and a correspondingly large shelf of books in a variety of genres – novels, opera libretti, volumes of occasional journalism, cultural and architectural criticism, and various philosophical works, popular as well as technical. He wrote and wrote about music, hunting to hounds and politics. He also wrote about the subject that brings us together: wine. Roger was a gifted teacher, always on the lookout for opportunities to educate the ignorant, enlighten the benighted and expand the horizons of those cramped by bigotry and parti pris.

Roger Scruton’s campaign for beautiful buildings is finally being won

Travelling around Britain, one is given the sense that built up areas are mostly ugly, while the countryside is mostly beautiful. As a lover of the urban, this is distressing. For new buildings to be ugly feels as inevitable as death and taxes. But it does not have to be. Over almost a decade, a small group of activists have brought beauty into the heart of development policy. The Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s speech at Policy Exchange this week signals that a revolution is well under way, even if there is still a long way to go. Given that almost everyone thinks that the appearance of the built environment matters,

Douglas Murray

Roger Scruton gets his job back

Roger Scruton has been reappointed as head of a government housing body after he was sacked in April following a magazine interview in which his views were misrepresented. The letter from housing secretary James Brokenshire, who fired Scruton, is published below: Dear Sir Roger, Thank you so much for our conversation about the next steps on the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.  As we both recognise, the publication of the Commission’s Interim Report provides an opportunity to consider next steps in finalising recommendations to Government to promote quality and beauty in the built environment.  You have already been so influential in advancing this vision and I hope you will be able to

Letters: Why we need music festivals

Disastrous decisions Sir: One cannot but agree wholeheartedly with Lionel Shriver (‘This is not a natural disaster’, 16 May). Given the unremarked impact of other diseases which she mentioned, Covid-19 is small beer. The government set out on the right path with its herd immunity policy, but was bounced into lockdown by the ‘science’, hounded by the media in full cry. We are now in a situation where employees, mainly in the public sector and supported by the unions, refuse to rise from their feather beds and return to work. This is not a situation from which we will recover easily — if at all.George KellyMaids Moreton, Buckinghamshire Guarantee improvement

Letters: When is a sport not a sport?

Save the children Sir: Your leading article is correct that the government should have evaluated the detriment caused by shutting schools, against the risk posed by Covid-19 (‘Class divide’, 16 May). This is not a glib trade-off between protecting lives and allowing children to go to school: the predicament foisted on young people will affect their future for decades. Exams were abruptly cancelled in March. This has left many schools dealing with apathetic individuals. The disparity between disadvantaged and affluent students is widening: middle-class schoolchildren are twice as likely to receive online tuition, and only 8 per cent of teachers in low-income communities report more than three-quarters of work being

How far should we go to defend free speech?

This week sees the official launch of the Free Speech Union — an organisation that stands up for the speech rights of its members. It’s my baby, but a number of people have come on board as directors, including Douglas Murray and Professor Nigel Biggar. I’ve also had a lot of help behind the scenes from people who got in touch after reading about it in this column. I was on the Today programme on Monday to talk about it and have done a number of interviews since. By the time you read this, I’ll be recovering from the launch party, scheduled for Wednesday night. So far, it’s going pretty

Sir Roger Scruton’s last report could revolutionise UK housing

Earlier this month the philosopher and author Sir Roger Scruton passed away. In a series of tributes to his work and his character, many reflected on the contributions he made to his fields of expertise and society at large. Today in central London, one of his final contributions was revealed. The Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission published its findings on housing in the UK this afternoon. The work, led by Sir Roger and Nicholas Boys Smith, is a product of a year-long review of the UK’s planning system, which has come up with 45 policy proposals organised around eight key themes for all levels of government. Scruton’s last piece of

Roger Scruton’s special role in Poland’s passage to democracy

Roger Scruton’s funeral takes place in London today, and he’ll be in the thoughts and prayers of his admirers worldwide – many of them in Poland. We Poles owe him an unusual debt, one he mentioned in his Spectator diary last month when he wrote about his journey to Warsaw. Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, presented him with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit in recognition of his ‘extraordinary efforts in supporting the democratic transformation in Poland and for developing Polish-British academic and scientific exchange’. In his Spectator diary, he wrote about how he also met men that day who had been imprisoned for 20 and 30 years

Roger Scruton: A man who seemed bigger than the age

Sir Roger Scruton has died. Diagnosed with cancer last summer, he passed away peacefully on Sunday surrounded by his family. There will be a lot of things written and said in the coming days. But perhaps I could say a few things here. The first is to reiterate something that the Scruton family have said in their announcement of his death. There they refer to how proud they are of Roger and of all his achievements. I think I can say that all Roger’s friends share that feeling. His achievements were remarkable. He was a man who appeared to know about absolutely everything, producing books on architecture, philosophy, beauty, music,

Sir Roger Scruton: 1944-2020

Sir Roger Scruton died today at the age of 75. In an article for the 2019 Christmas issue of The Spectator, republished here, he looked back on his year: January My 2018 ended with a hate storm, in response to my appointment as chair of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. But the new year brings a lull, and I hope and pray that the Grand Inquisitor enthroned by social media will find another target. February The 27th is my 75th birthday, and as it happens the last Wednesday meet of foxhounds for the season. We host the meet and celebrate with our neighbours. Despite my wife Sophie’s protests, I

Letters: Roger Scruton and the meaning of life

Wonder and gratitude Sir: Roger Scruton, in a very personal and moving portrait of his year (‘My Strange Year’, 21 December), reminds us that crisis is opportunity; and concludes that the meaning of life is gratitude — something we may only realise when, as Virgil put it, ‘mentem mortalia tangunt’. I think that language may betray us a bit on this great question and that there is no meaning of life. Rather, the meaning is life. Our response to this is-ness — this amazing, often painful gift — may be to turn aside into the ressentiment which Nietzsche warns against; or — as Roger Scruton does — to feel wonder

The persecution (and vindication) of Kevin Myers is a parable of our times

It seems seasonably suitable to celebrate good news. Unfortunately, as in most serviceable stories, for something good to happen, something bad had to happen first. Though we’ve only been in sporadic touch since, I met Kevin Myers three decades ago at a boozy lunch in Dublin. He was already a journalistic institution. By his own estimation, he’s published roughly 7,000 columns, largely for the Irish Times and the Irish edition of the Sunday Times, totalling some five million words. He’s regularly stuck up for Israel, a state no more popular among Celtic worthies than among the Momentum sort. He also built his once-prodigious reputation by opposing the IRA, which at

Roger Scruton: My 2019

  January My 2018 ended with a hate storm, in response to my appointment as chair of the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. But the new year brings a lull, and I hope and pray that the Grand Inquisitor enthroned by social media will find another target. February The 27th is my 75th birthday, and as it happens the last Wednesday meet of foxhounds for the season. We host the meet and celebrate with our neighbours. Despite my wife Sophie’s protests, I maintain my resolve to give up hunting at 75, counting again the broken bones, sprains and muscular disorders acquired over 35 years in the saddle, or, rather,

Antisocial media

Two considerable injustices were undone this week. The first was the reinstatement of Sir Roger Scruton to the government’s ‘Building better, building beautiful’ commission. The second was the prosecution of Carl Beech for fraud and perverting the course of justice. The cases may be very far apart in their details, but their origins lie in precisely the same contemporary malady. Scruton was sacked from his unpaid position in April. The root cause was a doctored and false interview carried out by George Eaton. The New Statesman subsequently apologised for misleading its readers. But what was most shocking was not that one left-wing hack doctored his quotes, nor that by publishing

Full letter: James Brokenshire apologises to Roger Scruton

James Brokenshire has apologised to Roger Scruton for sacking him as a government housing adviser. Here is the full text of James Brokenshire’s apology: Dear Sir Roger, As you will be aware, the interim report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is due to be published today. I wanted to take this moment to thank you for the significant contribution you have made in helping to bring this about and for your leadership in promoting beauty in the built environment. I believe the Interim Report maintains the intellectual underpinning which you set out through your work with the Commission and provides a strong platform from which further work can now

The three unanswered questions from the Roger Scruton hit job

The New Statesman has apologised to Sir Roger Scruton. In a statement published on its website, the magazine has admitted that in April this year its deputy editor, George Eaton, tweeted out ‘partial quotations’ from an interview with the philosopher ‘including a truncated version’ of a quotation. The New Statesman has further admitted that the effect of this quote-tampering was that: The views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage.  We apologise for this, and regret any distress that this has caused Sir Roger. It is good of the New Statesman to finally admit what any fair observer has known for months. And to catch up with what I revealed on the

High life | 9 May 2019

New York   Here’s a question for you: if your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, toy boy even, lied repeatedly to you about a serious matter such as fidelity, would you continue to trust them? I suppose some fools would, but most wouldn’t. So here’s another question: how can the British people even countenance voting for those they entrusted with implementing their 2016 decision to leave the bureaucratic dictatorship that is the EU? Duh! Actually, I’d be in the UK by now and trying to stir things up, but I’m stuck in the Bagel with pneumonia, bronchitis, and all sorts of other bugs that caught up with me while in pursuit

Full transcript: Douglas Murray in conversation with Roger Scruton

What does it mean to be a conservative? Last night, The Spectator brought together Douglas Murray and Roger Scruton to discuss that question. Here is the full transcript of their conversation: Douglas Murray: Some months ago, The Spectator said to me that they would like me to do an event and who would I like to do it with. And I said I’m very used to doing events with my enemies and spend rather too much time with them and would like to spend the evening with a friend. And they said: anyone in particular? And I said first choice, Roger Scruton. And a lot of things have happened since

Which Tory MPs have apologised to Roger Scruton?

What does it mean to be a Conservative? It’s a question that most of the Tory front bench might struggle to answer these days, but if they were looking for guidance, they could do worse than heading to a packed Emmanuel Centre in London this evening. There, author, journalist and Spectator Associate Editor Douglas Murray was joined by the philosopher and housing tsar Sir Roger Scruton, as they discussed the future of Conservatism. The pair covered a large amount of ground over the course of the evening, as they mulled over the reasons the Conservative Party had abandoned its right-wing roots, the left’s advantage in communicating slogans, and the role