Molly Guinness

Agonised questions

It’s terribly difficult to write a novel about soul-searching, and Elif Shafak has come up with a rather clever device to do so: Peri grows up in Istanbul listening to her parents fighting about religion. Solemn, naive and tortured, she gets a place at Oxford, where she makes friends with Mona, who wears a headscarf

How to grapple with discipline in schools

The government’s new school discipline leader Tom Bennett has a difficult brief; he’s in charge of stopping the schoolchildren of the entire nation swinging on their chairs, playing on their telephones, making silly comments and passing notes. Discipline is a problem the Spectator has often grappled with over the years. Writing in 1970, Rhodes Boyson

There’s nothing ‘normal’ about turning down a pay rise

The MPs grandstanding about how they’ll give any salary increase to charity should all be ashamed of themselves. The entire point of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority is to take away self-regulation from politicians. It’s frankly none of their business to decide how much they’re paid, and the cries of protest are specious anyway given

Never marry a lounger, a pleasure-seeker, or a fribble

It’s good to see that an actual anthropologist is studying the behaviour of some of America’s weirdest women. Wednesday Martin’s book The Primates of Park Avenue describes the exhausting lives of Manhattan’s most full-on wives: sci-fi beauty regimes, frenetic fund-raising, intensive mothering and military household management. In 1832 when a farmer in Lancaster offered up

Sensible Tories still believe in One Nation Conservatism

David Cameron has said the Conservatives will govern as a party of one nation. The phrase was apt at a time when part of the country seems to be pulling away with all its might, and after a bad-tempered election campaign, where class warfare was actively encouraged in some quarters. For a time, the phrase

Possible ways to neutralise the SNP

The prospect of government by short-term deals and extortion is so depressing that you can see why Ed Miliband has said he won’t go in for that kind of thing, and why David Cameron and Nick Clegg have finally started laying down some red lines. But there’s no getting away from the electoral mathematics, as

Duelling advice for Nigel Farage

A Polish prince this week challenged Nigel Farage to a duel. The prince, Yanek Zylinski, blames Farage and Ukip for anti-Polish sentiment in the UK so he’s suggesting they meet in Hyde Park with their swords one morning. The Spectator of 1838 would be disappointed that 21st century princes are still throwing down gauntlets: The pretence on which

Bored teenagers are the last people we should be forcing to vote

One of the trendy things to worry about these days is political disengagement among young people. A think tank called the Institute for Public Policy Research is so worried it’s suggested people be forced to vote in the first election after their 18th birthday. They say political apathy among the young is undermining democracy, but

Thank goodness we only have to watch one TV debate

The treasurer of one of Manchester’s Conservative clubs is a lifelong Labour voter who votes only as a mark of respect for his father, who always voted Labour. He’s one of the few club regulars we met who bothers to vote, but he never watches the news and takes pride in knowing nothing about politics.

Reflections on the importance of Mothering Sunday

For Mothering Sunday, some advice to mothers from a 1912 edition of The Spectator. Be with him yourself as much as you can… I have no fear of your being a fussy mother, worrying him with continual attentions, but I have just the slightest fear lest you should entertain that silly idea that seeing much

50 years on, the battle for civil rights continues in America

Fifty years since the first civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, America still has huge problems with race. Only this week a federal investigation into the killing of an unarmed black man in Ferguson last year concluded that the police there were racist. They’ve been making millions of dollars by targeting black people and