The Spectator

25 May 2019 Aus



Leading article Australia

We picked it

The Coalition’s election victory may have come as a shock to many, but certainly not to readers of The Spectator…

Guest Notes

Election notes

At the Anglican boarding school I attended in England as a scholarship boy from the age of ten it often…

Guest Notes

London notes

A Right shambles One of the glories of London is its vast Hyde Park and adjoining Kensington Gardens. On a…

Australian Features

Features Australia


Scott Morrison, having parted Labor’s red sea and led his astonished people to the promised land, must seize his Moses…

Features Australia

If the ABC is so trustworthy, why isn’t anybody watching it?

Here’s a  question. Who said this recently, about the ABC: ‘The ABC is one of Australia’s most important institutions. Now,…

Features Australia

Business/Robbery etc

Bob Hawke and Sir Peter Abeles; Bill Shorten and Anthony Pratt. What is it that attracts such close friendships between…

Features Australia

The sloppiest suicide note

‘No-one saw it coming,’ the shocked commentariat claimed. Goodness.  Where are the ABC’s fact checkers when you need them? In…

Features Australia

The immigration iceberg

In the Middle Ages the periodic return of plague from the Middle East to communities throughout Europe killed off possibly…

Features Australia

It was The Speccie wot won it

‘No body saw it coming,’ the mainstream media repeated endlessly when results emerged on Saturday evening 18 May, contrary to…

Australian Columnists

Brown Study

Brown study

Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US election the day she called Donald Trump’s supporters ‘a basket of deplorables’. After that,…

Australian Notes

Australian notes

Eleven random thoughts Let me start with a bow to those who thought it best to vote for Malcolm Turnbull…

Culture Buff

Captain James Cook. Wedgwood and Bentley, c.1779

Three speakers: one is Director of The Royal Collection comprising over a million objects in 13 royal residences across the…



Corbyn isn’t working – and Labour is being picked apart by its new enemies

Protestors on the anti-Brexit marches have sensed an eerie absence. ‘What is it?’ I thought back in March as I…


Keeping up with Farage: What’s next for the Brexit party?

‘Labour are in so much trouble here you can’t even believe it,’ says Nigel Farage as we sit in a…


Shelf conscious: I had no idea I was such a show-off

I’ve just had new bookshelves put up in the hall, a whole wall-full of them, and for the first time…


Iran alone: Tehran’s perspective on escalating hostilities

On 20 May, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, predicted that Donald Trump would fail to subdue Iran just as…


The day Turkish democracy died

‘It’s official. Turkey is a banana republic!’ My friend Mustapha, a serial entrepreneur, sends me a flurry of doom-laden WhatsApp…


Parent trap: WhatsApp groups are feeding our fears

The mother of a little girl in my son’s year at school recently committed suicide. On the surface she was…

Notes on...

The magic of the Chelsea Flower Show

Chelsea, the most famous flower show in the world, pulled in its devotees once more this week, with its accustomed…

The Week

Leading article

The end of May: Theresa must go so the Tories can heal

This week’s European election was always going to be pointless, at least from a British perspective. It is possible that…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: European elections, milkshake attacks and British Steel buckles

Home The country went to the polls to elect Members of the European Parliament and express its loathing for the…


A presidential pardon for my ‘miraculously shrinking crime’

I owe my return to these pages to the pardon I have received from the President of the United States.…

Ancient and modern

Roman entertainment was far more exploitative than Jeremy Kyle

The Romans were as aware as Jeremy Kyle was of the pleasure that people could get from situations in which…


What punishment can you expect for throwing a milkshake at a politician?

Milkshakes and other missiles What can the man who threw a milkshake over Nigel Farage in Newcastle expect as a…


Letters: Nato’s broken promise

Nigel’s nakedness Sir: Rod Liddle is right to be wary of the hubris that Nigel Farage, the Brexit party leader,…


The Spectator's Notes

If you’re going to leave Notre Dame in ruins, why not set fire to Oxford University?

Almost everyone agrees it is a pity that so few pupils from ‘disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds’ get into Oxford. But no…


The grave mistake that has killed Theresa May’s Brexit deal

The European elections were a gift for Britain’s two new political parties, Change UK and the Brexit party. But only…

Rod Liddle

On milkshakes

Should we make it illegal to study the social sciences? Imagine the amount of tendentious rubbish we could erase from…

Matthew Parris

Only Boris can bury Brexit

Sit down, my swivel-eyed Brexiter friend, and pour yourself a stiff whisky. I’ve something to tell you that’s going to…

Lionel Shriver

Adversity is the new diversity – and it disadvantages everyone

To clear up any confusion, American SATs are closer to A-levels than to British primary-school SATs. In my day, this…

Any other business

Why the British Steel crisis is not about Brexit

There’s a strong sense of déjà vu in this week’s steel crisis. The whole Brexit saga seems to have been…


The flood-prone megacity of Wuhan on the Yangtze now has permeable pavements and artificial wetlands to soak up the water like a sponge

Lead book review

Towards a technological utopia

The rebranding of John Browne has been a long and, to those of us living overseas, instructive affair. Readers will…

Two geishas relax after entertaining a client. Inset is the curfew bell at Asakusa, the major entertainment centre of old Tokyo. Woodblock print by Toyohara Chikanobu


Passing bells for old Tokyo

In Edo (now Tokyo), before the Meiji restoration, bells marked the beginning of each hour. The hours were named after…

Bertrand Russell was portrayed as Mr Apollinax by T.S. Eliot, wittering incomprehensibly and laughing ‘like an irresponsible foetus’


Oddballs of English philosophy

Charles Kay Ogden once proposed that conversations would be conducted more efficiently if participants wore masks. Apart from confirming the…

Zuzana Ruzicková. Credit: Getty Images


Bach helped me survive Bergen-Belsen

One of the great joys of the 18th-century novella La petite maison is the way Jean-François de Bastide matches the…

Geoffrey Hill. Credit: Peter Everard Smith


Last lines on Brexit from Geoffrey Hill

In 2012 OUP published Geoffrey Hill’s Collected Poems; they could have waited, because they’re now going to need another edition.…

Boer refugees were herded by the British into cattle trucks to be shunted into concentration camps at Bloemfontein in 1901. Credit: Alamy Stock Photo


Brutish Brits: You Will Be Safe Here, by Damian Barr, reviewed

Damian Barr explains the upsetting genesis of his impressive debut novel, You Will Be Safe Here, in his acknowledgements: This…


Metamorphosis in progress: a mosaic of the giant Orion being turned into a constellation

Arts feature

The new treasures of Pompeii

One afternoon in AD 79 an unusual cloud appeared above Vesuvius in the Bay of Naples. ‘It was raised high…

Lusty, roistering Suranne Jones as Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. Image: BBC / Lookout Point / Jay Brooks


Sunday night on the Beeb was an orgy of virtue-signalling and third-rate sport

After its new costume drama You Go, Girl! (Sundays) about how amazing, empowered and better-than-men women are, especially if they…

George the Poet in 2014. Photo: Ben A. Pruchnie / Getty Images


Forget the The Reith Lectures. To understand the world listen to George the Poet

At last a podcast that takes the medium to its limit, created by someone who loves listening, understands how it…

The odd couple: Sting and Shaggy on tour in 2018. Photo: Zoltan Balogh / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock


A very odd two hours: Sting and Shaggy reviewed

Many is the pop star who has craved gravitas. Only Sting, however, has pursued it by covering John Dowland on…

Eerily accurate: Will Barton as Boris Johnson in The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson. Image: Pamela Raith


This Boris play only gets it half-right

The opening of Jonathan Maitland’s new play about Boris purports to be based on real events. Just before the referendum,…


A mesmerising retrospective: Victoria Crowe at City Art Centre, Edinburgh, reviewed

This mesmerising retrospective takes up three floors of the City Art Centre, moving in distinct stages from the reedy flanks…

Composer Amy Beach. Photo: Bridgeman Images


The forgotten masterpieces of Amy Beach

At the Wigmore Hall last Friday, the Takacs String Quartet and Garrick Ohlsson played a piano quintet that was once…

Sun & Sea (Marina), the Golden Lion-winning opera at the Venice Biennale. Photo: © Andrej Vasilenko


If opera survives, it’ll be thanks to artists and curators, not opera houses

It was bucketing it down in Venice, yet the beach was heaving. Families, lovebirds, warring kids, a yappy mutt, all…

Sublime: Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman


Rocketman is cheesy and clichéd – and all the better for it

There have been claims that Rocketman, the biopic of Elton John, is ‘cheesy’ and ‘clichéd’, but, in truth, you do…


High life

My feud with Conrad Black

Goody goody gumdrops! The Donald has pardoned Lord Black and I couldn’t be happier. Conrad got a bum deal and…

Low life

Banana leaf, wood-effect on knitted? Choosing my mother’s coffin

The mental fruit of yet another sleepless night was that my mother was determined to arrange her funeral as quickly…

Real life

My little lodger has been stolen from me

‘Farewell then, little lodger. I wish you would stay for ever but I understand that girls in their early twenties…

The turf

In praise of older horses – and their trainers

Newbury is as fair a test for a racehorse as you can get with its galloping track and a wide-open…



Simon Gillis coined a term to describe his disappointment when he sits himself out to allow four of his professionals…


Goring the gambit

One of the most irritating defences to meet when playing 1 d4 as White is the Benko Gambit (1 d4…

Chess puzzle

no. 555

White to play. This position is from Dubov-Giri, Moscow 2019. How did White conclude with a fine blow that forced…


Animal magic

In Competition No. 3099 you were invited to dream up an imaginary animal that is a hybrid of two existing…


2409: Crosswords

The unclued lights are of a kind, including one hyphened, all confirmed in Chambers except for 8 across, which is…

Crossword solution

to 2406: Heptad

The group is ‘Les Nabis’ (anagram of ALBINESS (18)). Its members were VALLOTTON, DENIS, ROUSSEL, RANSON, SÉRUSIER, BONNARD and VUILLARD.…

No sacred cows

How paranoia has infected our politics

The politics professor Matthew Goodwin made an interesting observation on Twitter this week. He pointed out that many of the…

The Wiki Man

Could my slogan have swayed the Brexit vote?

People sometimes ask what slogan could have swayed the Brexit vote: the opposite of the touchstone phrase ‘Take back control’.…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What should I do when my host won’t serve the champagne I brought?

Q. Was I right to feel aggrieved when, having contributed a bottle of fine champagne to a small supper party,…


Debunking the Greek wine myth

A book, a bottle, a bower set in an ancient garden: you think that if you walked round the right…

Mind your language

Why is a book like a sarcophagus?

‘Is it like a packet of fags?’ asked my husband, less annoyingly than usual, but still in some confusion. I…