The Spectator

18 February 2017 Aus

Lapping it up


Leading article Australia

Turnbull’s PPL lesson

One of the mistakes that plagued Tony Abbott during his period as Prime Minister was his stubborn commitment to the…

Diary Australia

Australian diary

After such a long hot summer it is oddly refreshing to be back in Canberra for the start of the…

Diary Australia

DC diary

The Trump presidency is less than 48 hours old as I wing my way from Los Angeles to Washington DC,…

Guest Notes

Conservative notes

Conservatism is the new Punk The other day, I logged onto eBay and ordered a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.…

Guest Notes

Deplorable notes

First, an apology. In my cover story last week (‘The Cory revolution’) I implied that Miranda Devine supported the Turnbull…

Australian Features

Features Australia

Tony, Pauline and Cory

The best chance of sound and honest government returning to Australia will be the emergence of, if not a grand…

Features Australia

The refugee fetish

On February 8, the Australian published a full page advertisement paid for by 72 organisations calling for the evacuation of…

Features Australia

Picking judges

President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats in the United States are about to engage in political warfare about who will…

Features Australia

Lapping it up

Last time around they managed to put her in gaol. Now they are rolling out the red carpet. Pauline Hanson…

Features Australia

Book lover’s notes

The hot days of summer inspire two impulses, a good clean up, curiously called a spring clean, and the desire…

Features Australia

Hawke’s myopia

Bob Hawke is a respected former Labor PM, but in a recent article in the AFR he incorrectly elevated Israeli…

Australian Columnists

Culture Buff

Vincent van Gogh Wheat Field with Cypresses, Saint-Rémy, 1889. The National Gallery London

Make sure you are in Melbourne between late April and early July to see the important Van Gogh exhibition coming…



Let’s not dance

Why will people simply not believe you when you tell them that you don’t want to dance? Their reactions mimic…


Bad publicity

Whatever calamitous infelicities David Beckham did or did not email to his publicist, few will doubt that he has lived…

Ingrid Bergman, Getty


Gaslighting the nation

Arguably the cruellest thing you can do to human beings is to rob them of faith in their own sanity.…

Rodin’s ‘Gates of Hell’: more than 300 figures, including a panther-like Eve


Rodin at 100

The girl who posed for Auguste Rodin’s figure of Eve on the ‘Gates of Hell’ was, the sculptor said, a…


Corbyn’s blueprint

Twenty years ago Venezuela was one of the richest countries in the world. Now it is one of the poorest.…


Mick Jagger’s lost memoir

Ask any publisher of popular non–fiction anywhere in the world which book they would most like to sign, and it…


Bye bye, Buller

RIP the Bullingdon Club, 1780–2017. It isn’t quite dead — but it is down to its last two members. That’s…


‘Isis? Bomb those suckers’

These are the last days of the ‘caliphate’. The place Isis made their capital, Raqqa, in Syria, is encircled and…


It’s all too personal

When I was little I owned a set of pencils that had my name engraved on them. I didn’t have…

The Week

Ancient and modern

From Tacitus to Justin Welby

Many are still questioning the enthusiasm with which newspapers have implicated Archbishop Justin Welby, as a young man, in the…



Special forces Cathedral constables at York Minister got back their powers of arrest, which they had held from the 13th…



I’m boning up on conversational Spanish for a trip to the Primera Persona festival in Barcelona with Alexei Sayle. We’re…

From The Archives

War and law

From ‘The confiscation of enemy property’, The Spectator, 17 February 1917: It is perfectly possible to remove German influences without…



Living room Sir: Sajid Javid is quoted as saying that the biggest constraint on building more houses is the ‘lack…

Portrait of the week

Portrait of the week

Home The Queen opened a new National Cyber Security Centre in London. Britain’s contribution to Nato has fallen below the…

Leading article

Labour’s love lost

Just as it seems that Labour has reached the bottom of the abyss, Jeremy Corbyn and his party somehow manage…



For the sake of the constitution, please shut up

One of the striking features of Britain’s unwritten constitution is how it relies on various people keeping their opinions to…

The Spectator's Notes

The Spectator’s Notes

How does Vladimir Putin think about the world? It becomes dangerously important to know. I still have not seen a…

Any other business

My survey of bank closures suggests a new purpose for the tarnished Co-op

Many thanks to the stampede of readers who sent news of bank branch closures. There’s certainly a national pattern, and…

Hugo Rifkind

I went to Florida to see Disney World. What I found looked like a dying country

I’ve always sensed a whiff of sadness in Florida, perhaps because so many people go there to die. Although not…

Matthew Parris

In (conditional) defence of John Bercow

James Duddridge is not wrong. The Tory MP for Rochford and Southend East, who has put down a ‘no confidence’…


Cosette, by Emile-Antoine Bayard. Illustration for Les Misérables


The classic that conquered the world

Somewhere between his first and second drafts, Victor Hugo decided to change the title of his great novel from Les…


A whirlwind life

The dust cover features one of the best-known caricatures of Richard Wagner, his enormous head in this version opened like…


What the secretary saw

What the secretary sawSarah Churchwell Big Bosses: A Working Girl’s Memoir of the Jazz Age by Althea McDowell AltemusUniversity of…

Ezra Pound as a young man


The nature of genius

On 21 December 1945, Ezra Pound was confined to St Elizabeths hospital in Washington DC. He had broadcast for Rome…


Bedside manners

‘A tricky part of my job,’ the GP said, scrolling through the next patient’s notes, ‘is breaking good news.’ As…

The game butcher, with dead rabbits and live, caged ones beneath. (Scene from the 1840s)


Tricks of the trades

Oddly enough, one of the most historically influential pieces of British writing has turned out to be an essay that…

Cardinal Richelieu is transformed from villain to ‘physical and moral genius’ in Dumas’s sequel to The Three Musketeers


Swash and buckle aplenty

A feeble king and his scheming minister, a hunchback noble and the Daughters of Repentance, a botched assassination and a…


Everyday unhappiness

This is an extraordinarily compelling novel for one in which nothing really happens but everything changes. Sara Baume’s narrator is…


In praise of LSD

Ayelet Waldman is, surely, not the first writer to have scrolled through a list of ‘Books of the Year’ and…


Three’s a crowd

James Lasdun’s latest novel, billed as a psychological thriller, opens in Brooklyn in the summer of 2012. Charlie and his…

Magic lantern slides from the mid-19th century


The game of life

In the introduction to his new book Steven Johnson starts out by describing the ninth-century Book of Ingenious Devices and…


‘Portrait of a Musician’, thought to be Claudio Monteverdi, c.1590, by a Cremonese artist

Arts feature

Thoroughly modern Monteverdi

‘Eppur si muove’ — And yet it moves. Galileo’s defiant insistence that the Earth revolves round the Sun, his refusal…

Alex R. Hibbert and Mahershala Ali in ‘Moonlight’


Three ages of man

Moonlight is, in fact, a traditional story about identity, and finding out who you are, but it has rarely been…

‘Peasants’, c.1930, by Kazimir Malevich


The good, the bad and the ugly

Vladimir Putin notoriously declared the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 to be one of the greatest disasters of…

Doing a disservice to a lovely opera: Angela Gheorghiu as Adriana Lecouvreur


British sea power

The story so far: in 1986 English National Opera hired Jonathan Miller to direct Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado. The…

School children listen to a radio broadcast given by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi in 2014


United nations

The Indian Prime Minister has twigged something that President Trump has yet to understand. On Monday, celebrated as World Radio…

The SAS in the Western Desert, c.1942. John Tonkin second from right.


Fatal attraction

Recently on holiday I did a very bad thing. I nearly left the Fawn to die on a precipitous mountain…

Sheila Reida (Gloria), Keziah Joseph (Hope) and Rachel Davies (Maureen) in Sandi Toksvig’s Silver Linings Photo by Mark Douet


Stuffed but dissatisfied

Sandi Toksvig’s new play opens in a Gravesend care home where five grannies and a temporary nurse are threatened by…




What can be more regrettable than picking up a huge hand and landing in the wrong contract?   It happened…


Cui Bono

The cause célèbre at the Tradewise tournament in Gibraltar, which finished earlier this month, was the extraordinary protest by Hou…

Chess puzzle

no. 444

White to play. This position is a variation from Hou Yifan-Ju, Gibraltar 2017. Hou lost this game to her compatriot.…


Trigger point

In Competition No. 2985 you were invited to provide a poetic preview of the day Article 50 is triggered.  …


2297: Thoroughly

Each of nine clues contains a misprinted letter in the definition part. Corrections of misprints spell a two-word phrase. Clues…

Crossword solution

to 2294: Times Square

Perimeter words are names of the most recent GEOLOGICAL PERIODS.  First prize J.P Green, Uppingham, RutlandRunners-up Paul Jenkinson, Zollikon, Switzerland;…

Dear Mary

Dear Mary

Q. My husband and I like to go to concerts and recitals but he is an artist with a very…


American English

Ralph’s Coffee & Bar is in the Polo Ralph Lauren flagship store on Regent Street. It is rare that fashion…

High life

High life

Gstaad One’s unpopularity on account of calling it a night diminishes in direct proportion to the severity of the next…

Low life

Low life

A deep frost in the winter of 1821–22 killed the orange trees in Nice. The Anglican minister to the English…

Mind your language


‘It is rocket science,’ said my husband waving a pinnately lobed leaf snatched from his restaurant salad. He doesn’t much…

Real life

Real life

Fine, so I got it completely wrong. It turns out the sale of my flat was not held up by…

Spectator sport

Breathtaking and brilliant

Perfection in sport: unattainable, but sometimes you can come close. Moments, people, actions you never tire of watching: Roger Federer’s…

Status anxiety

Can I bear to sack the digital babysitter?

I was astonished to discover in conversation with another dad last week that he and his wife intended to introduce…

The turf

The turf

The drumbeats are quickening ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and at this stage there really is no substitute for going…