The Spectator


Leading article Australia

Turnbull’s Costa Concordia

In 2012, the liner Costa Concordia struck a rock just off the Italian coast. The huge ship capsized and sank,…

Guest Notes

Racism notes

Taking offence means we all walk on eggshells Recently, a controversial cartoon was drawn of a tennis champion which many…

Guest Notes

Conservative notes

The Right is cleaving Take a look at right-of-centre political parties in the Anglosphere. In Canada things are bad, very…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Business/Robbery etc

As disasters go, 9/11 is now much less of a problem for the world than 9/15. There are no widespread…

Features Australia

Dispatches from the conservative frontline

In early 2017, as feminists in pink pussy hats marched in shocked outrage at the election of President Trump, a…

Features Australia

Revenge of the Queen Bees

Three girls in school tunics and battered hats are firing a machine gun in the quad. ‘Girls, girls, a little…

Features Australia

The war of the world

To properly understand the trend of world political events in recent years, it is essential to appreciate that a titanic…

Features Australia

Aux bien pensants

You can’t walk on both sides of the street, PM If the Coalition were to go to the general election…

Australian Books

Books Australia


‘There was no body. There was no wrench. There was no evidence.’ The first two statements are undoubtedly true. Lawyers…

Australian Columnists

Latham's Law

Latham’s law

It’s the iron law of government administration. After a new bureaucracy is established, initially with limited powers and responsibilities, it…

Culture Buff

Kate Morton

She was born in a small town in South Australia, later grew up on Tamborine Mountain and, when aged barely…

Brown Study

Brown study

The nomination by President Trump of Brett Kavanaugh as a Judge of the Supreme Court of the USA is very…



Tech gurus don’t let their kids have smartphones. Here’s why

Pupils are back in classrooms and parents can finally have a brief respite from worrying about their children’s excessive screen…

Caption: Nike’s new campaign starring American football quarterback Colin Kaepernick strains to be poetic. Photo: Getty


When did advertising become so banal?

Walking down the street on my lunch break, I sometimes pass a delivery man wheeling a large handcart of Japanese…


How Orbán duped the Brexiteers

To the inhabitants of the British Isles, the nations of central Europe have always existed in a semi–mythical space, near…

Jeremy Corbyn’s economic policies might sound daft – but he radiates rebellion. Photo: Getty


Corbyn dares to be different – why don’t other MPs?

One of the better plays at the National Theatre in recent weeks has been about a 21st-century banker, Judy, who…


Welcome to the hard centre – and the future of British politics

The Conservative party has to move beyond Brexit and leaders: what is it going to be about? I suggest it…


James Cleverly: the Tories are to blame for Corbyn

As Labour gathers for its conference in Liverpool this weekend, the Conservatives will be watching with trepidation, rather than the…


Hilary Mantel’s Cromwell was just fiction. Here are the facts

One of the many pleasures of writing the life of Thomas Cromwell was to reach out behind the various versions…

Pete Conrad, one half of the second Apollo 12 team, on the moon in 1969

Notes on...

Second best: Why runners up are more interesting than those who come first

Who was the second prime minister? Everyone knows Robert Walpole was the first. Firsts get all the fame and glory.…

The Week

There is method in the apparent madness of Donald Trump’s trade wars. Photo: Getty

Leading article

Trade wars: The method behind Donald Trump’s madness

Donald Trump campaigned as an unrepentant protectionist and, on the face of it, he has lived up to his word.…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the Week: Brexitry, Jaguar and the Lib-Dems’ non-leader

Home Britain was overwhelmed by Brexitry. Before flying off to an EU summit in Salzburg, Theresa May, the Prime Minister,…

‘The possibility that our next PM will be named Mogg has prompted me to enquire about one-way tickets to Switzerland.’ Photo: Getty


Max Hastings’s diary

The Hastingses have idyllic lives but, like most seventysomethings, we find ourselves in ever-closer proximity to mortality. We hold season…


How much does it cost to cryogenically freeze a person (or a pet)?

Trans mission Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt ordered research into a huge rise in referrals of under-18 girls to transgender services.…

Ancient and modern

The EU’s divide and rule

‘Divide and rule’ (or ‘conquer’) diplomacy aims to disunite the opposition, the better to control it. The ancients were masters…


Australian letters

Flying circus Sir: Congratulations on 10 years of The Speccie Oz. As you note in your editorial, your contributors have…



Forget hard and soft Brexit – we’re heading for a blind Brexit

Brexit won’t be over by 29 March 2019. Britain will legally leave the European Union on that date. But that…

Rod Liddle

Men and women are born equal but different. Deal with it

I was delighted to see Claire Foy win an Emmy award for her portrayal of the Queen in the fine…

James Delingpole

15 reasons to fall in love with Germany and Germans

Things I learned about the Germans after a fortnight living as a non–tourist in Frankfurt:   1. Germans, and Germany…

Any other business

Jaguar’s boss isn’t scaremongering. The UK car industry is in big trouble

‘I’m afraid I think he’s making it up,’ was the retort of Tory MP Sir Bernard Jenkin on Monday’s Today…


Mount Longdon, Falkland Islands, where members of the 3rd Parachute Regiment died in fighting on 11–12 June 1982

Lead book review

Helen Parr’s intimate portrait of the Parachute Regiment – Our Boys – captures the essence of modern Britain

On the night of 13 June 1982, Dave Parr was hit by shellfire on Wireless Ridge. He was 19, a…

The assassination attempt on Napoleon, in the Rue Saint-Nicaise, Christmas Eve 1800


The history of Britain’s secret war on Napoleon is astonishing, inspiring and disturbing

Laws and sausages, we know, are better not seen in the making; and neither are ‘black ops’. Waterloo may have…

Wampanoag chief Metacomet (c.1639 - 1676) who, after years of tolerating the colonists in Massachusetts, finally rebelled against their continued encroachment upon his lands, in what became known as King Philip's War (he was called King Philip by the settlers)


Good first novels without ends leave one wanting more

Novels today do not want to be done. Thank Anthony Burgess and John Fowles for this, most immediately, but alternate…

Lord Dyson, on right: there is a book to be written about the contribution that the offspring of Jewish refugees have made to English law


Two legal big hitters consider the appropriate distribution of governmental power in Britain

Sir Stephen Sedley read English at Cambridge and Lord Dyson Classics at Oxford. Both switched to law and achieved high…


Julie Burchill is bored by Robin Green’s account of her time at Rolling Stone – and says hippies still stink

The last time I saw a copy of the New Musical Express — the ferociously influential 1970s pop paper which…

Sons and haters: Henry II was much aggrieved by his acquisitive sons


Two new books explore the triumphs and tribulations of an underrated king – Henry II

Poor old Henry II: once fêted as one of England’s greatest kings, he has long been neglected. Accessible books on…

The majority of sexual encounters in giraffes involve two males necking


Humans are animals, and our extinction is inevitable – but we’re still pretty amazing

Ever since enlivenment of the primordial blob, before thoughts were first verbalised, all nature has always been motivated by a…

‘Achilles has a dispute with Agamemnon [following Briseis being taken away, and Achilles refusing to fight until she is returned]’, J.H. Tischbein, 1776, oil on canvas. (Bridgeman Images)


Pat Barker travels to Troy, but finds herself diverted somewhere outside Ypres

Sing muse, begins The Iliad, of the wrath of Achilles. We are dropped straight into the tenth year of the…

Author Kate Atkinson attending the Costa Book Awards for her novel Life After Life


Kate Atkinson’s new novel Transcription asks us how carefully we are paying attention

Transcription, Kate Atkinson’s 11th novel, sees her returning to the detective fiction she honed in her series about Jackson Brodie,…

A game of cricket on Tilford Green, Surrey, outside The Barley Mow


My grandmother’s perfect pub – a memoir by Laura Thompson

As an emigrant from Scotland, I was taken aback by the weird foreignness of the south of England. Some of…

From Don Quixote to Alan Partridge, delusion lies at the heart of many lasting comic creations


Paul Ewen’s Francis Plug is the saviour of comic fiction

Such was the perceived low standard of the 62 books recently submitted for the 2018 Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction,…


Fantastic beasts and where to find them: ‘Wild Woman with Unicorn’, 1500–10

Arts feature

A brief history of unicorns

After the England football team beat Tunisia at this summer’s World Cup, they celebrated with a swimming-pool race on inflatable…

What a scorcher: bearing the brunt of Harold Pinter’s temper was one of life’s central experiences

Arts feature

The night I kissed Harold Pinter

I think everyone was a little nervous of Harold. Including Harold, sometimes. He was affable, warm, generous, impulsive — and…

Sir Simon Rattle conducts the LSO at the Barbican


Rattle’s recapitulation: LSO/Simon Rattle at Barbican reviewed

A pregnant silence, a peaty belch from the tuba, and the scrape of brass on brass as gears lock into…

Arinzé Kene is a performer of great charm and charisma led astray by bad advice and public money


Blacktivist rhetoric and impenetrable symbols: Misty reviewed

Arinzé Kene’s play Misty is a collection of rap numbers and skits about a fare dodger, Lucas, from Hackney. Lucas…

A bloody miracle: ‘Apollo and Marsyas’, 1637, by Jusepe de Ribera


The Spanish artist who is more gruesome even than Caravaggio

Last year my wife and I were wandering around the backstreets of Salamanca when we were confronted by a minor…

Letter signed by Wagner from an exhibition at the Saxon State and University Library in Dresden in 2013


As a writer, Richard Wagner was both sublime – and unreadable

No one any longer denies the immense significance of Wagner’s musical-dramatic achievement, even if they find it repellent. But his…

‘Camo 15-Inch Howitzer’, 1916, by F.J. Mears


Authenticity over artistry: Brushes with War reviewed

The first world war paintings of Paul Nash are so vivid and emotive that they have come to embody, as…

JR and Agnès Varda in Faces Places, a mesmerising meditation on lives lived


The invisible woman of French cinema: Faces Places reviewed

Faces Places is a documentary directed by Agnès Varda in collaboration with JR, the famous Parisian photographer and muralist (although,…

Easy rider: Jodie Comer as Villanelle in Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Killing Eve


Camp, preposterous and weirdly good fun: Killing Eve reviewed

After the all-conquering success of Fleabag — her brilliant dark comedy about a smart but rudderless young woman in London…


High life

An audience with the Pope

Perception and reality, truth and falsehood, black and white; nowadays the salivating chattering classes don’t know their arse from a…

Low life

A foretaste of Frexit

Moving day. The contents of a hillside shack to be moved four miles to a cave house perched high on…

Real life

Why my lodger has to be a girl

The little lodger is moving in. I chose her after an exhaustive search of twentysomethings looking for accommodation, during which…



Around this time each September, I get to say, ‘I’m off to Tangier for a few days to play high-stakes…



The only official interregnum in the reigns of the world chess champions was that between the death of Alekhine in…

Chess puzzle

no. 524

Black to play. This position is from Gurgenidze-Tal, Moscow 1957. What is the most direct way to break into the…


This sporting life

In Competition No. 3066 you were invited to submit an ode to a piece of sporting equipment. There is a…


2377: In order

The dozen unclued lights can be arranged in a specific sequence when preceded by or followed by their sequence indicators…

Crossword solution

to 2374: Watch your step

The unclued lights are DANCES. First prize K.J. Williams, Kings Worthy, Winchester. Runners-up Bridget Workman, Purley;C.S.G Elengorn, Enfield.

No sacred cows

It’s as I suspected – my defects can’t be cured

I’ve just finished making a one-hour documentary about character for Radio 4 that’s due to be broadcast on Saturday at…

Spectator sport

Is there a limit to what the human body can do?

Has the world gone mad? There’s Beauden Barrett, the world’s best stand-off, and rugby player of the year seemingly by…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: Our insufferable children are rounding on our eightysomething neighbour

Q. A neighbour, a wonderful old friend in his late eighties, is a marvellous raconteur. As a family we have…


It is essentially a crap Le Gavroche, and that is not an insult: Roux at Parliament Square reviewed

Politicians are having a terrible time of late, along with the rest of us — it’s not much fun watching…

Mind your language

Why ‘whiter than white’shouldn’t get you suspended

A detective superintendent has been placed on ‘restricted duties’ while the Independent Office for Police Conduct investigates a complaint that…