The Spectator

17 November 2018 Aus

Very public health


Leading article Australia

Don’t sign

If, as seems to be reliably reported, the Morrison government has decided both to sign up next month to the…

Guest Notes

Conservative notes

Why don’t the Libs fight to win? Imagine that in getting your public affairs news you were restricted to the…

Guest Notes

Remembrance notes

Exactly a year ago I was on my way home starting the final stage of recovery from prolonged surgery.  Indeed…

Guest Notes

Submarine notes

A working sub fleet and crew tomorrow, for 1/2 the price Now we have a new PM, he should look…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Very public health

I’ve known health minister Greg Hunt for over twenty years. When he is convinced about something he doesn’t hold back…

Features Australia

No guilt, no apology

Convicted of murder, Derek Bromley can teach us all a lesson about saying sorry when we are not guilty. And…

Features Australia

Business/Robbery etc

Beware of lawyers making recommendations about regulating the business community; they will inevitably lead to more business – for lawyers.…

Features Australia

Sisters aren’t doing it for themselves

Every era has its noble lies – the ideas that underpin a civilisation. The noble lie of contemporary culture is…

Australian Books

Books Australia

Flexing China’s muscles

We live in interesting times. And, according to Taylor, a respected academic from the Australian National University specialising in geopolitics,…

Australian Columnists

Brown Study

Brown study

There was something ritualistic about the latest terrorist outrage in Melbourne. True, it was hideous from the moment that Hassan…

Culture Buff

Helen Thomson and Caroline Brazier

By my count, the 2019 Season will be the 40th produced by the Sydney Theatre Company. The coming season is…



In China’s new surveillance state, everyone will be watched, reviewed and rated

The bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai is the fastest in the world. It takes just over four hours to…


Social credit is just one part of China’s new state control

Chairman Mao talked of ‘three magic weapons’ for seizing power: the united front, the armed struggle and construction of the…


My one-night stand-up hell

At 8.45 p.m. I was back in the toilets again feeling pure terror. In front of me was a narrow…


How BlackRock became a sanctuary for clean-cut bankers and dormant politicians

A few months ago, an aggressive US pressure group called the Campaign for Accountability declared that it had a new…


The Ivy League’s dirty secret

 New York There comes a point in a New York expat’s life when you suddenly realise that the liberal elites…


When does a murderer become a madman?

There was no reason for Edward Drummond to believe this January day was going to be different to any other…

The defeat of Boudica is believed to have been fought on Watling Street

Notes on...

The Roman road that came to define Britain

All roads lead to Rome, the saying goes. Well, all roads except for the Roman road of Watling Street, which…

The Week

Leading article

It’s a bad deal – whichever way you look at it

During last year’s general election campaign, Theresa May declared that ‘You can only deliver Brexit if you believe in Brexit’.…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: Moment of truth for Theresa May’s Brexit deal

Home Theresa May, the Prime Minister, defended a 500-page technical draft of the agreement on withdrawal from the European Union.…


Jo Johnson: My Brexit resignation was a revolutionary act

Jacob Rees-Mogg observed that my resignation last week was ‘the “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment in the Brexit process’. If this…


Have wildfires really got worse over the years?

Hard bitten A British tourist died after contracting rabies from a cat bite in Morocco. Whatever happened to the prominent…

From The Archives

Trial and punishment

From ‘The Kaiser’, 16 November 1918: What is to be done with the Kaiser? For the question must certainly be…

Ancient and modern

Call the polis

If Brussels is willing to offer the British Parliament only a dog’s Brexit, that should tell Parliament everything it needs…


Letters: Art is as important as history in the remembrance of the past

Hearts as well as heads Sir: Simon Jenkins suggests we should stop remembering and start forgetting about the first world…


The Spectator's Notes

If Corbyn’s PM, expect him to wear a white poppy and Frida Kahlo T-shirt

‘It’s time for Bond — Basildon Bond,’ is the joke among pro-Leave MPs as Theresa May serves up her mess…


The maths probably won’t work for May, however hard she tries

The bad news for Theresa May is that Brexit isn’t over. She might have agreed terms with the European Commission…

Rod Liddle

The elites will never let us peasants fully revolt

Peasants’ Revolts tend not to work out too well in this country, for the peasants. I suppose that is why…

James Delingpole

Why I won’t be turning Catholic just yet

I didn’t get an audience with the Pope when I visited Rome last weekend. But given that he’s a borderline…

Any other business

Anyone seen Jeff Bezos? I’m here to talk to him about tax

 Los Angeles/Seattle US stocks briefly rallied after the midterm results as markets looked favourably on a divided Congress and the…


Lead book review

Books of the year – part two

Daniel Swift I feel as though I came late to the Sarah Moss party. Nobody told me she was this…

Saul Bellow, photographed in Paris in 1982. Extraordinary literary intelligence saw him through the mess of his own life


Saul Bellow: love the work, if not the man

Boxing writers sometimes try to make comparisons across weight groups. They used to say, for example, that Floyd Mayweather was…

Alexander Chee. Credit Bloomsbury Publishing


Does an autobiographical novel really count as fiction?

Orhan Pamuk, writing about Vladimir Nabokov’s masterful memoir Speak, Memory, noted that there was a particular ‘thrill’ for the writer…

‘Attack on the Sealkote mutineers by General Nicholson’s Irregular Cavalry, 1857.’ Illustration by Charles Ball


The Lion of the Punjab: the short, brutish career of John Nicholson

‘I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion’, said Winston Churchill as prime minister in 1942,…

A river of green topiary cascades down the terrace steps at West Dean. Cotoneaster horizontalis covers the wall on the right


Top topiary: the year’s best gardening books

There are probably no more gifted professional gardeners in England than Jim Buckland and Sarah Wain, husband and wife and…

Kurt Eisner and friends plan a brave new world. Credit. Getty Images


Dreams of utopia before the Nazi nightmare

Today Munich is a prosperous and peaceful place — Germany’s most affluent, attractive city. Wandering its leafy avenues, lined with…

David Garrick in Shakespeare’s Richard III, painted by Francis Hayman


What was the celebrated Garrick really like as an actor?

The age of Garrick, Norman Poser, a law professor, insists, gave us much of what we take for granted today…


Japanese puzzle: how can an advanced, dynamic country function with such an ancient population?

When Japan hosts the Rugby Union World Cup next year, and still more so the summer Olympics in 2020, all…


‘He strikes me dumb with admiration.’ Van Gogh on Howard Pyle’s pirate illustrations

Arts feature

The facts – and fiction – of piracy

Avast there, scurvy dogs! For a nation founded on piracy (the privateer Sir Francis Drake swelled the exchequer by raiding…

‘The Laden Table’, c.1908, by Édouard Vuillard


A charming celebration of Vuillard’s muse – his mum: Barber Institute’s Maman reviewed

Fin-de-siècle Paris was not just the art capital of the world, it was also the fashion capital. In 1901, 300,000…

RLPO and the NDR Radiophilharmonie performing Britten's War Requiem in Liverpool Cathedral. Photo: Liverpool Philharmonic / Mark McNulty


Britten’s War Requiem almost sounded like a masterpiece – but it’s isn’t, is it?

‘What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?’ We’ve heard a lot, lately, of the knell that tolls through the…

The Somme battlefield today. Photo: Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images


Radio 3 had the most simple yet effective way of reflecting on war’s impact

Amid all the remembrance, Radio 3 came up with a simple yet effective way of reflecting on war’s impact. Threaded…

‘Portrait of a Young Man with a Book’, c.1524–6, by Lorenzo Lotto


Lorenzo Lotto’s 16th century portraits come startlingly close to photography

You can, perhaps, glimpse Lorenzo Lotto himself in the National Gallery’s marvellous exhibition, Lorenzo Lotto: Portraits. At the base of…

King David with his musicians: a page from the Vespasian Psalter, 8th century


To say this is a ‘once in a generation’ exhibition seems absurdly modest

‘The barbarians drive us to the sea, the sea drives us to the barbarians; between these two means of death…

The whole narrative of Dynasties was too suspiciously shapely. Image: BBC NHU


How does David Attenborough know what the monkeys are thinking?

The opening episode of BBC1’s Dynasties — the new Attenborough-fronted series from the Natural History Unit — introduced us to…

The Listener

The ideal album for getting rid of guests over Christmas: Yoko Ono’s Warzone reviewed

Grade: A+ Ooh, you can have some fun with this when the unwanted guests swing by this Christmastide. These are…


A mess: Fantastic Beasts reviewed

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the sequel to the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find…

Lee Evans in Pinter Three. Photo: Marc Brenner


Lee Evans’s acrobatic clowning is the best thing about Pinter Three

Pinter Three appeals to opposite poles of the play-going spectrum. The birdbrains like me will enjoy the music-hall sketches while…


High life

I love life – and girls – too much to act my age

New York A little Austrian count was born to my daughter last week in Salzburg, early in the morning of…

Low life

France’s second world war shame

The monument to this French village’s war dead is a plain white stone block with the head of a grizzled…

Real life

Education, spiritual guidance and a good cappuccino: the new face of the NHS

Left at the Dementia Café, right at the Sleep Office, past the Spiritual Care Centre… This was my journey through…



It’s no surprise that so many bridge players are computer programmers or systems analysts; it’s an ideal game for those…


Paradise mislaid

World champion Magnus Carlsen missed several chances to win with black in the first game of his title defence, currently…

Chess puzzle

no. 532

Black to play. This is a variation from Carlsen–Caruana (Game 2), London 2018. White has forked the black bishop and…


We’re scamming

In Competition No. 3074 you were invited to submit a scam letter ghostwritten by a well-known author, living or dead.…


2385: R and R

The theme is two historic people who were contemporaries. Unclued lights give their forenames, places of birth and death and…

Crossword solution

to 2382: A pointed remark

The quotation is 10/11/39. Remaining unclued lights are all daggers.  First prize G. Snailham, WindsorRunners-up Lynne Gilchrist, Willoughby, New South…

No sacred cows

Free speech is officially dead in British universities

When I first read about plans for a new academic periodical called The Journal of Controversial Ideas, I got the…

Spectator sport

The All Blacks: world-class time-wasters

Marvellous team, the All Blacks, of course. But they certainly know how to waste some time. Here are some things…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I stop rabbits eating Mum’s graveside flowers?

Q. A difficult couple of our acquaintance always object to other guests at dinner and can be very rude to…


It’s a Jewish homage to the Wolseley, and that is no bad thing: Tish reviewed

Tish is a new grand café in Belsize Park, north London, but kosher. There are not really enough Jews to…

Mind your language

Collins dictionary has got ‘gammon’ all wrong

In the annual dictionary wars to nominate words of the year, in the hope of attracting publicity, Collins has made…