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Spectator competition: make the case for sugar, fags and a sedentary lifestyle (plus: how not to curry favour with US customs officials)

23 August 2014 9:30
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The recent challenge to come up with misleading advice for British tourists travelling abroad produced a postbag that was infused with a spirit of sadistic mischief. As usual with comps… Continue reading

5 Comments

The Spectator at war: Bayreuth on the eve of war

23 August 2014 8:00
The Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, Bavaria, shortly before its official opening in 1876. Image: Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Spectator, 22 August 1914: Inter arma silent Musae; but Bayreuth on the eve of the war showed very few signs of the coming cataclysm. It is true that on… Continue reading

2 Comments

Cringe at the Fringe: are these really the ten funniest jokes from Edinburgh?

22 August 2014 14:10
Tim Vine with his award for the best one-liner. Photo: PA

According to a poll, the funniest one-liner at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe was a joke about a vacuum cleaner: ‘I’ve decided to sell my hoover… well, it was just collecting… Continue reading

51 Comments

The dodgy world of posthumous art works

22 August 2014 12:47
Garry Winogrand's
'Los Angeles'
(1983). Photo: © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

What does an artist do with work that isn’t quite up to his or her standards? Throw it out? Frank Stella and Robert Rauschenberg both tried that, putting artworks they… Continue reading

2 Comments

The ‘Buckingham Bonaparte’ is cornered

22 August 2014 8:41
John Bercow sits in the royal box on centre court before the start of the men's singles third round match between Serbia's Novak Djokovic play France's Gilles Simon on day five of the 2014 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon. Image: CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

With the interventions of former Speaker Betty Boothroyd, ex-ministers — including Jack Straw, Malcolm Rifkind and Margaret Beckett – and the Clerk of the Australian Senate, Rosemary Laing, it is becoming… Continue reading

34 Comments

It’s time we contemplated the possibility of a post-conflict Kurdistan

21 August 2014 15:56
Aid arrives in the Kurdish city of Erbil. Image: Getty

There’s a  curious aspect to the debate – or what passes for it – about Britain getting involved in military action against the Islamic State. Isabel Hardman put her finger… Continue reading

27 Comments

What’s the difference between Isis and Saudi Arabia? It’s a matter of degrees

21 August 2014 12:48
A Peshmerga fighter waits on the Isis front line. Image: Getty

There are now thought to be more British-born members of Isis than there are Muslims in the British Army, leading lots of people to ask how they could hate us so… Continue reading

197 Comments

The Matter of Scotland: Try, try and try again.

21 August 2014 11:05
james-i

PG Wodehouse, who was only the twentieth century’s greatest English-language novelist, once remarked that there existed just two ways to write: “One is mine, making a sort of musical comedy without music… Continue reading

9 Comments

How self-testing can help beat cervical cancer

21 August 2014 10:59
Image: Getty

Self-testing is now available to any individual wishing to rule out conditions such as diabetes, pregnancy and bowel cancer. Traditionally, however, screening for cervical cancer has required women to attend a… Continue reading

1 Comment

Cry Bradford, for George and George

20 August 2014 18:42
George Galloway speaking at a solidarity conference in Iraq in September 2002. Image:  Taha AL-Rubayyh/Getty Images

It’s going to be the battle of the Georges in Bradford West at next year’s general election – and Mr S reckons it could be a worth keeping an eye… Continue reading

51 Comments

Tattoos are sad and stupid – we should discriminate against people with them

20 August 2014 15:31
David Beckham leaves the field. Photo:  ORLANDO SIERRA/AFP/Getty Images

It’s not often you can blame Samantha Cameron, Sandra Howard and Cheryl Cole for a social trend that blights the job prospects of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of men and women,… Continue reading

272 Comments

Britain’s beheaders – how we came to export jihad

20 August 2014 14:34
Illustration: Christian Adams

This feature is a preview from this week’s Spectator, out tomorrow: It is the now familiar nightmare image. A kneeling prisoner, and behind him a black-hooded man speaking to camera.… Continue reading

480 Comments

English voters send a message to Scotland: we can’t go on living like this

20 August 2014 11:07
The Championships - Wimbledon 2013: Day Five

Way back in the olden days, Scottish Labour won the 1999 elections to the Scottish parliament, at least in part, on the back of the slogan Divorce is an Expensive Business.… Continue reading

487 Comments

Is there anything worse than kids’ parties? Actually yes – the shops that sell kids’ presents

19 August 2014 16:17
Photographer:
Andersen Ross / Blend Images

It has been a bad fortnight. Not only am I off the sauce for a few weeks to help my liver grow back, last weekend saw me preparing for a… Continue reading

17 Comments

Britain abandons foreign policy. And abandons debates about foreign policy too.

19 August 2014 16:10
IRAQ-UNREST

Cynics have long suspected that Britain’s foreign policy is as independent as its nuclear deterrent. Cynics have a point. Perhaps, as some suggest, it’s time to concede the game’s a… Continue reading

75 Comments

Owen Jones: ‘Our generation’s Orwell’?

19 August 2014 15:34
Owen Jones protesting outside the head offices of the Daily Mail in October 2013. Image: Dan Dennison/Getty Images

Calling in a favour from a comrade to help flog your new book is hardly a new trick, but Mr S wonders if Owen Jones really thought this one through:… Continue reading

101 Comments

I’d like to share my favourite violent pop video with you

19 August 2014 14:03
Robin-Thicke-Blurred-Lines-Video-Feature

This week has seen the Prime Minister playing Mary Whitehouse again. On Monday he announced that, as of October, music videos on sites like YouTube and Vevo are to carry… Continue reading

17 Comments

Listen: Austin Mitchell’s curious theory about women in power

19 August 2014 11:25
Austin Mitchell poised to take a photograph of a powerful woman – the Queen – arriving at Parliament in 2010. Image: Getty

Where are the Labour sisterhood this morning? Presumably they’re not listening to Woman’s Hour, where one of their Westminster colleagues blamed the ladies for Britain’s paralysis on the world stage.… Continue reading

55 Comments

Britain’s anti-Semitic whiff of Weimar

18 August 2014 18:52
Shelves in Sainbury's, Holborn, emptied of kosher foods. Image: Colin Appleby

There is a whiff of Weimar in the air in Britain. Barely a week now passes without some further denigration caused by anti-Semitic, sorry, pro-Palestine demonstrators targeting businesses run by… Continue reading

1,160 Comments

When should Britain go to war?

17 August 2014 10:42
Over the top -- British soldiers in the trenches. Image: Getty

There’s been a lot written this week about whether or not to fight the Islamic State in Iraq. This time the consensus among Spectator writers is that Britain should. There’s… Continue reading

47 Comments

Spectator competition: recast a nursery rhyme in the style of a well-known author (plus pets who perish in unusual ways)

16 August 2014 9:28
Little Miss Muffet cast in sand at the  Creepy Crawlies Sandscupting Exhibition in Melbourne, Australia. Image: Getty

I was prompted to ask for short odes on the death of a pet in unusual circumstances by Thomas Gray’s poem ‘Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned… Continue reading

1 Comment

When did suicide cease to be morally repugnant?

15 August 2014 15:37
NHS

The great Theodore Dalrymple once came up with the theory that there is a fixed level of righteous indignation in any society. As soon as we become more relaxed about… Continue reading

93 Comments

Richard Dawkins doesn’t get it: religion is rational

15 August 2014 15:06
Villiers

Where to start with Prof Dawkins’ latest observations about religion and fundamentalism? In response to questions from an audience in Edinburgh where he was promoting his autobiography this week he… Continue reading

289 Comments

It’s time we accepted that depression is a terminal illness

15 August 2014 14:29
AA012853

For Robin Williams, depression was a terminal illness. He also, his wife has revealed, suffered from Parkinson’s disease. These two problems are far more connected than most people know: for… Continue reading

13 Comments

Roland Barthes was a fan of Sister Sledge – and I can see why

15 August 2014 11:36
Debbie Sledge of Sister Sledge at Tramlines Festival 2014. Photo:  Andrew Benge/Redferns via Getty Images

Disco, the tackiest of music subcultures, is the nostalgia choice de nos jours. The sudden revival is a sort of pop gentrification. You want proof? They play Baccara’s ‘Yes Sir,… Continue reading

22 Comments