The Spectator


Leading article Australia

Free speech beached

Let’s start by stating the bleeding obvious. The organisers of any ‘right-wing’ rally that allow or fail to prevent a…

Guest Notes

Identity notes

Colourful opinions In the last edition of the Saturday Paper for 2018 there is an article by a self-styled ‘Person…

Guest Notes

Brexit notes

Parris and the mob No doubt many readers viewed with incredulity Speccie columnist Matthew Parris’s nostalgia for the democratic process…

Guest Notes

Conservative notes

Lefty Tory Brits Arriving in London for a posting at Australia House during the dying days of the Blair government,…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Shame, shame, shame on New Zealand

Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel once famously wrote ‘what hurts the victim most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but…

Features Australia

One-way hate speech

Britain is allowing political correctness, or fear of political incorrectness, increasingly to destroy its civil liberties and silence freedom of…

Features Australia

Foreign aid, feminist propaganda

‘Where are the women business leaders in Vietnam?’. It sounds like a question at a pub trivia night. The answer…

Australian Books

Books Australia

Of the people

This must be the first occasion when a book on politics, written in Australia, has  been listed among the year’s…

Australian Columnists

Wozzeck (courtesy Opera Australia) Photo:Ruth Walz

Culture Buff


The story is bleak, very bleak; the music bleak and very loud, yet Wozzeck is regarded as an outstanding 20th…

Simon Collins

Simon Collins

If you still haven’t got around to making a New Year’s resolution, why not make one you won’t be able…

Brown Study

Brown study

Here at the United Nations Cultural Reform Centre we are working on a major project that will help deliver us…

Australian Notes

Australian notes

How on earth can we ensure that 2019 is a more positive and constructive year than the last one? Australia…



Project Fact: how scared should we really be of a no deal?

Food shortages, diabetics going without insulin, outbreaks of salmonella and swine flu: a no-deal Brexit has become a dystopia of…


How Eddie Davenport rebranded middle-class swingers parties as ‘posh’ orgies

The English love a story of posh people behaving badly, especially one that involves sex, drugs or drink — preferably…


Who poses a greater threat to the West: China or Russia?

At the height of the Cold War, as the West faced off against Red China and the Soviet Union, people…


The middle-class cats that are ditching meat

As I write, my cats and a visitor from the next street are hammering into their food, at nearly £5…


How Britain became the world’s largest expert in medical marijuana

If you were looking for an international drugs empire, Downham Market would not be the first place you’d think of.…


The strange love-in between Michel Houellebecq and Emmanuel Macron

France’s literary event of the year took place this week with the publication of Michel Houellebecq’s new novel, Serotonin. Named…


There were far fewer terror attacks last year. Here’s why

They don’t like to use the ‘Q’ word in counter-terrorism. It’s a bit like blurting out the name of the…

A cure for homesickness: Shakespeare & Co

Notes on...

The homesick Brit’s guide to Paris

‘Yes, it’s here!’ says the sign above the English épicerie in Paris. ‘Yes, at last,’ thinks the starved expat wandering…

The Week

Leading article

Political discourse in the UK is broken – here’s how we fix it

For several weeks now, a group of anti-Brexit protesters have found a way of regularly appearing on television news. They…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week: a government defeat, the harassment of Anna Soubry and Trump’s wall crisis

Home The government drifted towards a vote by the Commons, which it had cancelled in December, on its withdrawal agreement…


If anyone knows May’s secret plan, it’s Philip

As a hack who lived and breathed the financial crisis, you might think that at the start of 2008 and…

Ancient and modern

Those tempted to turn over a new leaf this year should remember Aesop’s fables

At this time of year the media urge us all to turn over a new leaf and believe that we…


Letters: Europe is changing – so do we really need to leave?

The changing EU Sir: If, as Frederik Erixon writes, ‘there is a strange pre-revolutionary atmosphere in Brussels’ and ‘power will be…


The Spectator's Notes

Behind the story of Anna Soubry being called a Nazi lies a classic Brexit sequence of events

Behind the incident of Anna Soubry being called a Nazi by a small group of Leave yobs beside College Green…


Does May even have a Plan B?

Cabinets these days are fractious affairs. Ministers take increasingly unsubtle digs at each other as they rehearse the same old…

Rod Liddle

Can the National Trust please forget about ‘heteronormative privilege’ and just look after houses?

There is a satirical website called ‘Guardian headline generator’ which purports to offer a service to aspirant journalists who wish…

James Delingpole

How to become a country squire – like me

In the days when I was less happy in my skin than I am now, I used to feel stabs…

Any other business

Why Macron is happy to leave Renault’s chief shivering in his Tokyo cell

In France after New Year, the only gilets jaunes I spotted were a rather dejected bunch near an autoroute exit.…


‘Arise Hungarians, your country calls you!’ The poet Sandor Petofi declaims the famous ‘Talpra Magyar’ on 15 March 1848. Lajos Kossuth stands to the right

Lead book review

Hungary is being led once again down a dangerous nationalistic path

Norman Stone has already written, with a brilliant blend of humour, understanding and scepticism, histories of the Eastern Front, Turkey,…

Detail of ‘Penn’s Treaty with the Indians’ by Benjamin West. Though William Penn was celebrated for his humane treatment of Native Americans, his heirs swindled the Lenape out of a million acres of territory


Should William Penn be shaking in his grave?

The ultimate driving force of William Penn’s adult life is inaccessible, as the Quaker phrase ‘Inner Light’ suggests. While a…

Yoko Ono in the Dakota building, on the first anniversary of John Lennon’s murder. Credit: Getty Images


Partying with John and Yoko: The Dakota Winters, by Tom Barbash, reviewed

Tom Barbash’s dark and humorous second novel takes a risk by combining invented and real characters. I feared nagging doubts…

Credit: Getty Images


Nazi caricatures: The Order of the Day, by Éric Vuillard, reviewed

There was a time when you read French literary novels in order to cultivate a certain kind of sophisticated suspicion.…

Some artists talk for hours unprompted. Others, such as Patrick Caulfield (above), find the simplest question often difficult to answer


It’s a lifetime of hard work being an artist

Once, when a number of Royal Academicians were invited to Buckingham Palace, the celebrated abstract painter John Hoyland (1934–2011) found…

Credit: Getty Images


Love in a time of people-trafficking: Among the Lost, by Emiliano Monge, reviewed

From the very first pages of Among the Lost, we’re engaged, and compromised. Estela and Epitafio are our main anchors,…

Credit: Getty Images


Make it a new year’s resolution to be less active

As a boy Josh Cohen was passive, dopey and given to daydreaming. Now a practising psychoanalyst and a professor of…

‘The conclusion of the 18 October demonstration’


Small but deadly: postcards that fuelled the Russian Revolution

In this handsomely illustrated book Tobie Mathew makes a case for the lowly postcard’s role in the politicisation of pre-revolutionary…

Credit: Getty Images


Catchwords for today — what’s in, what’s out

The mid-term elections in the US, when Democrats took over Congress, were hailed as a victory for ‘progressives’, while David…

When William I’s bloody conquest came to an end, it was his coronation in London, on Christmas Day 1066, that sealed it


What did the Romans ever do for London?

When Bishop Guy of Amiens looked across the Channel in the 11th century he saw ‘teeming London [which] shines bright.…

Chigozie Obioma. Credit: Jason Keith.


An Igbo Paradise Lost: An Orchestra of Minorities, by Chigozie Obioma, reviewed

Nurture hatred in your heart and you will keep ‘an unfed tiger in a house full of children’. A man…

Credit: Getty Images


Life and death in 1970s Belfast: For the Good Times, by David Keenan, reviewed

David Keenan’s debut novel, This is Memorial Device, about a small town in Lanarkshire and its post-punk scene, showed that…

Francis Bacon in front of his triptych at the Galerie Claude Bernard in the Rue des Beaux Arts, Paris in 1977


France gets a taste for Bacon

The case of Michael Peppiatt is a curious one. He first met Francis Bacon when he was an undergraduate at…

Credit: Getty Images


In Epping Forest’s dark undergrowth

In this current era of identity politics and a more fluid approach to gender and sexuality amongst a younger generation,…


Pounds of flesh: Takayasu throws Takakeisho to the ground to win the 2018 Kyushu tournament in Fukuoka

Arts feature

The balletic, bum-baring rituals of sumo

An early morning in late November in the peaceful glades that surround an ancient temple complex. A Shinto priest in…

Divine comedy: Steve Coogan as Stan Laurel and John C. Reilly as Oliver Hardy


The best tribute possible to the greatest comics ever: Stan & Ollie reviewed

You mess with Laurel and Hardy at your peril. Their fan base is essentially the entire world. Samuel Beckett adored…

Neil MacGregor shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron a model of the new Humboldt Forum. Photo: Carsten Koall / Getty Images


Neil MacGregor’s intense, impassioned new radio programme is shamelessly anti-Brexit

I suspect that whether or not you admire Neil MacGregor’s latest series for Radio 4, As Others See Us (produced…

Doors drummer John Densmore and Police percussionist Stewart Copeland. Photo: BBC / Somethin’ Else Sound Directions Ltd / Nico Wasserman


According to BBC4, what was one of the ‘most important inventions in modern music’?

Here’s a tricky quiz question for you. What word completes this sentence from a BBC4 documentary on Friday: ‘The world…

Pro-Trump propaganda at the Donmar Warehouse by Lynn Nottage. Photo: Johan Persson


A masterpiece of pro-Trump propaganda: Sweat at the Donmar Warehouse reviewed

Sweat, set in the Pennsylvanian rust belt, looks at a blue-collar community threatened by a factory closure. The script uses…

‘The Artist with his Wife Margaret and Eldest Daughter Mary’, c.1748, by Thomas Gainsborough


It’s hard to think of finer images of children than Gainsborough’s

When he knew that he was dying, Thomas Gainsborough selected an unfinished painting from some years before and set it…


High life

Why 1919 wasn’t the year it’s cracked up to be

Gstaad The funny thing is that I was at school with a man called Ted Widmer, and I recently read…

Low life

I ended New Year’s Eve more sober than I started it

We were eight for dinner on New Year’s Eve: four men and four women with a combined age, I would…

Real life

The Kafkaesque nightmare of cancelling my BT broadband

Oh, I suppose I might as well give it a whirl, I thought, as the recorded voice began its dirge:…

Wild life

Why former prisoners make the best lawyers

Kampala   I am terrified of being with former death-row prisoner Susan Kigula. This is because she qualified for her…



For those of us who play rubber bridge at TGR’s, the New Year began with the very sad news that…


Three titans

The Dutch grandmaster Genna Sosonko specialises in biographies of the greats of the Soviet era. His earlier forays covered the…

Chess puzzle

no. 536

Black to play. This position is from Botvinnik-Smyslov, World Championship, Moscow (Game 18) 1958. How could Smyslov have forced instant…


The ex factor

In Competition No. 3080 you were invited to supply an elegy on a piece of obsolete technology. Thanks to Paul…


2390: Tea shop

Unclued lights, all confirmed in Chambers or Collins, are three sets of four words of a kind, each set relating…

Crossword solution

to 2388: Sea rocket

The quotation was ‘IN MY BEGINNING IS MY END’ (12/15) from East Coker (an anagram of the title), second poem…

No sacred cows

The unending war against masculinity and men

For the first time in its history, the American Psychological Association (APA) has issued guidelines for mental health professionals working…

Spectator sport

If ever a man deserved his gong, it’s Sir Alastair Cook

Here’s a date for the diary: if you’re in south London on 11 April, head for the Oval. It’s going…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary: How do I get an answer from my elusive publisher?

Q. What is the current etiquette regarding chasing an opinion from a publisher to whom, by agreement and via a…


This is a restaurant for affluent halfwits: Bob Bob Ricard reviewed

In January, you could go to Bob Bob Ricard in Soho. I do not know why it is called Bob…

Mind your language

Illeism: the weird habit of talking about oneself in the third person

Someone has been putting about reports that Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, refers to himself in the third person as…