The Spectator

23 March 2019 Aus


Leading article Australia


Australians sometimes think our Kiwi cousins are two hours ahead but more than 20 years behind us. New Zealand is…

Diary Australia


A visit to Britain reveals growing anxiety that we’re witnessing the Great Brexit Betrayal. One of Twitter’s funniest and most…

Guest Notes

Zeitgeist notes

The Inquirer section of the Weekend Australian March 16-17 kicked off with a veritable drum roll performed vigorously by editor-at-large…

Guest Notes

Naval notes

Australian bravery ignored Incompetence, inertia and injustice mar the fighting record of our World War II Navy, and our government…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Boys and the biff

Readers might be surprised to learn that Dr Peter Miller and his team of eager researchers at Deakin University are…

Features Australia

The Left’s bad joke

After the atrocity comes the inevitable blame game. Hardly waiting to draw breath, Wajahat Ali leapt into print in the…

Features Australia

Whither withering democracy?

In June 1995 the New Yorker magazine published a long article by the distinguished American journalist Michael Kelly examining dissatisfaction…

Features Australia

Silencing Milo

The decision by the Federal Government Minister for Immigration to deny provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos a visa to enter Australia is…

Features Australia

Why we need the Muslim Reform Movement

My visit to Australia from the US was planned over a year ago for this week. In the immediate wake…

Features Australia

Media freedom long overdue

‘The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing…

Australian Columnists

Simon Collins

Simon Collins

In the early 1980s I went out briefly with the daughter of a Thatcher cabinet minister, and spent several evenings…

Culture Buff

Jacqueline McKenzie and Mandy McElhinney

Mosquitoes is not a particularly alluring title for Australians but it is the title of the latest play by Lucy…



Theresa May’s Brexit strategy has humiliated Britain

The government has lost the ability to run the country. It is no longer in charge of its own destiny,…


Brexiteers and Remainers can’t both be right about Bercow’s ruling

Has there been a Brexit disaster? It depends on your point of view. When John Bercow ruled that the Prime…


Speaker-speak: the maddening rhetoric of John Bercow

Much has recently been written about the incumbent Commons Speaker, from (vigorously denied) allegations of bullying to (less vigorously denied)…


When will Britain stop poaching the world’s medics and train our own instead?

For years, Britain has been failing to train enough doctors and has been importing them instead. This has been a…


‘The Islamic State will never die’: their territory is gone but the jihadis are always with us

 Beirut As I write, Isis is still holding out on a few hundred square yards of dirt in the village…


We thought New Zealand was safe from extremism. We were wrong

In a blink, everything has changed and yet nothing has changed. Life goes on. The long, hot days of a…


Why do we love The Archers, when all the characters are loathsome?

OK, Archers fans out there. All five million of you. Ask yourselves a straightforward question. Why on earth do you…


A viral hit: how the Christchurch killer weaponised internet culture

‘Remember, lads: Subscribe to PewDiePie.’ With these words, the killer began broadcasting his slaughter of 50 worshippers at two mosques…

Excellent creatures

Notes on...

The triumphant return of the British beaver

I know a magical West Country woodland where a sunlit stream meanders through the great oaks, with a series of…

The Week

Leading article

The Conservative Party bears the most blame for the Brexit mess

For many people, next Friday was supposed to be a celebration. Boris Johnson spoke about an ‘independence day’ marking the…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Brexit delay, terror in NZ, and a very expensive pigeon

Home Theresa May, the Prime Minister, wrote to Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, asking for a delay…


Douglas Murray: will we have a country left after Brexit?

It isn’t easy getting around the Gulf these days. The blockade on Qatar means no direct flights from most of…

Ancient and modern

Unlike MPs, Cicero understood the meaning of sovereignty

The problem with Brexit is that parliament is not designed to do what the people have commanded it to. MPs…


The biggest explosions in history

The march of time If we leave the EU on 29 March, with which historic events will that date be…


Australian letters

Uninspired Sir: As an Australian pessimistically into his eighth decade I’ve been dutifully voting since the age of 21. Partly…


The Spectator's Notes

Britain’s fate now lies in the hands of Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel says disdainfully, ‘I admit I was not on top of the British parliament’s 17th-century procedural rules.’ Her implication…

Rod Liddle

On the subject of John Bercow

You can buy the latest edition of Thomas Erskine May’s Parliamentary Practice for just over three hundred quid, but I…

James Delingpole

In defence of snake oil

A few months ago I had possibly the best massage I’ve ever had. My masseuse, Anouschka, had learned her skills…

Mary Wakefield

There’s an arms race underway – between headphones and musak

I live with a ghost, or rather, I share an address with a man who’s been dead for many years.…

Any other business

Merging two unhappy companies is a recipe for disaster

It never works to take two unhappy companies and blend them into a bigger pile of misery. That’s the way…


The outcome of Diderot’s discussions with Catherine was that she largely ignored his advice. Engraving from François Guizot’s Histoire de la France

Lead book review

How Diderot’s pleas to end despotism fell on deaf ears in Russia

Denis Diderot (1713–84) is the least commemorated of the philosophes. Calls for his remains to be moved to the Panthéon…

A plague of locusts in North Africa. Colin Everard himself describes driving on desert roads in a race against a 35-square-mile swarm


Days of the locust: our continuing battle with an ancient plague

Carried on monsoon winds across the Red Sea, vast swarms of desert locusts have posed a deadly threat to the…


Writing as revenge: Memories of the Future, by Siri Hustvedt, reviewed

Why are people interested in their past? One possible reason is that you can interact with it, recruiting it as…

Laila Lalami


A Mojave desert mystery: The Other Americans, by Laila Lalami, reviewed

Late one night, on a dimly lit stretch of highway in a small town in the Californian Mojave desert, an…

A fallen woman in a vicious world: Jack the Ripper’s last victim, depicted in Le Petit Parisien


Why are we so obsessed with Jack the Ripper, but care so little for his victims?

Before she was the subject of true-crime mythologising, Catherine Eddowes made her living from it, selling ballads based on real-life…


The short, happy life of the long playing record

On 19 June 1948, the modern LP was unveiled at a press conference by the Columbia Records president Ted Wallerstein,…


Brexit can be surprisingly thrilling, as Alan Judd’s latest spy novel demonstrates

The long gestation period of Brexit has allowed authors to plan and write and publish novels in time for the…


The Englishman who saved Japan’s cherry blossoms

Between 1639 and 1853, seeds and scions of flowering cherry trees travelled across Japan to Edo (present-day Tokyo). Each came…


How Polynesia came to be inhabited is still one of the world’s great mysteries

Later this month, a boat builder from Lake Titicaca in Bolivia will fly to the Russian city of Sochi to…

Nina Stibbe. Credit: Alecsandra Raluca Dragoi


Further adventures of a dysfunctional family: Reasons to be Cheerful, by Nina Stibbe, reviewed

My ex-dentist resembled a potato wearing a Patek Phillipe. In those precious moments between the golf course and the cruise…

The empress who was just too imperious: portrait of Matilda from the Golden Book of St Albans, 1380


The queen of England who never was: the life of the Empress Matilda

The Empress Matilda, mother of the Plantagenet dynasty, is the earliest queen of England who never was; by rights she…

Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Credit: Rex Features


Missive from a living fossil: Little Boy, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, reviewed

In his adopted city of San Francisco, the poet, publisher and painter Lawrence Ferlinghetti is venerated to levels nearing those…


In the pavilion of fun: Bowlaway, by Elizabeth McCracken, reviewed

Bowlaway, Elizabeth McCracken’s first novel in 18 years, is a great American candy-colour Buddenbrooks, a multi-generational epic spanning almost 100…


Life after death: Billie Holliday at the Hologram USA Theater

Arts feature

The rise and rise of the holographic tour

In March 1968, Frank Zappa released an album called We’re Only in it for the Money. Presumably, then, Zappa —…


Full of lovely paintings that might lead you astray: The Renaissance Nude reviewed

Early in the 16th century, Fra Bartolomeo painted an altarpiece of St Sebastian for the church of San Marco in…

Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Photo: Marc Brenner


Watch Tom Hiddleston ruin Pinter’s finest play

No menace, no Venice. This new production of Pinter’s Betrayal is set on a bare stage with scant regard for…


Why did no one think the premise of Mums Make Porn was questionable?

What can parents do about the avalanche of pornography available to their children on tablet, phone and laptop? This question…


Is the increasing secularisation of funerals a good thing?

‘You’re thinking these girls all wrong,’ Miss Mai tells Enid in Winsome Pinnock’s play Leave Taking, adapted from the recent…

Fresh and wild: Chrystal E. Williams as Lady Macbeth and Brenden Gunnell as Seryozha in Graham Vick’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk


Raw, frightening, overwhelming: Birmingham Opera’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk reviewed

You can see Graham Vick’s work at La Scala or the New York Met. But if you want to be…


The fall of Daniel Barenboim

A few years ago, I hooked up with a BBC team in Berlin to record a programme with Daniel Barenboim.…

Spell-binding: Lupita Nyong’o as Adelaide in Us


Nyong’o is spellbinding but the plot is ultimately baffling: Us reviewed

Us is a second feature from Jordan Peele after his marvellous debut Get Out, which was more brilliantly satirical than…


High life

I’m back in New York: the city that’s perennially offended

New York   Goodbye, snow-capped peaks; hello, swampy brown East River. So long, fresh alpine air; greetings to choking diesel…

Low life

After ten weeks spent caring for my mother, I had to relearn the art of conversation

I said my goodbyes and went outside with my trolley bag to wait for the taxi. While waiting, I looked…

Real life

Professional villagers won’t rest until they have eliminated mud from the countryside

‘Don’t touch anything sharp. Don’t saw anything or drill anything or sand anything,’ said the builder boyfriend as he left…



It’s exceptionally rare to pick up an 11-card suit. You might think it would happen at least once in a…


Family silver

The World Team Championship in Astana, Kazakhstan, finished last week with a victory for Russia but with an outstanding team…

Chess puzzle

no. 546

Black to play. This position is from Sasikiran-McShane, Astana 2019. Black’s queen is attacked, his knight is vulnerable and b7…


The big reveal

In Competition No. 3090 you were invited to submit a recently discovered lost poem by a well-known poet that makes…


2400: Unclued

All unclued entries are, unusually, not all unclued; all are different and there are no proper nouns. A repeated cryptic…

Crossword solution

to 2397: Obit V

Albert Finney, a fine ACTOR (13), died on 7 February 2019. His legacy includes SATURDAY NIGHT (10) and SUNDAY MORNING…


Farringdon’s Quality Chop House is macabre, but at least it has character

I love the drug of television, which is slightly less awful than the drug of social media because the conversation…

Mind your language

Does a dark lantern give out light?

‘Does a dark lantern give out black light?’ asked my husband as if in delirium. He was reading a book…

No sacred cows

Why the LGBT health panel isn’t diverse enough

On Monday, the government announced that Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Women and Equalities as well as the Secretary of…

Spectator sport

How Scotland humiliated England in the Six Nations

Outside the rugby superhighway of the A316, linking Richmond, Rosslyn Park, the Quins and HQ, it’s hard to imagine anyone…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: how do I stop a man making lewd comments?

Q. My wife’s closest friend and her husband visit us every couple of months or so. Without fail he will…