The new issue of The Spectator is now out, chock-full of the best writing in the English language. Here are a few of my highlights.

Damian Thompson argues that religion is the new politics – the forces tearing up the Middle East, Africa and even Asia are to do with God rather than country. But, he asks, can Britain’s secular leaders now recognise—far less shape—the world around them? This is, insha’Allah, the first of many features you’ll read from Damian who is, I’m delighted to say, joining The Spectator’s family. So if you like his piece, there will be plenty more.

Melissa Kite asks if British humour is dying. We used to like rude jokes, but now the PC squad is suffocating even most basic gags. Okay, Michael Fabricant’s joke about wanting to punch Yasmin Alibhai-Brown may not have been the funniest made by a politician – but, Melissa says, her boyfriend made the same joke the other day. Is she supposed to report him to the police?

Not that the police have covered themselves in glory over phone hacking. Our leader says that £100 million has been spent on what is clearly not the crime of the century. Many will think it’s a ‘politically-motivated show trial,’ says Rod Liddle. On Coffee House Alex Massie says it looks more like a war on Rupert Murdoch.

James Forsyth brings news of private speech delivered by George Osborne last week where he flexed his Thatcherite muscles ahead of the 2018 Tory election contest (and if you’re not aware of it, you’re obviously not on the same wavelength as the Parliamentary Conservative Party). Ed Miliband’s problem is that he’s not on the same wavelength as Britain, says Matthew Parris. We think he’s a plonker, therefore everything he does is silly. ‘Boris Johnson could eat a bacon bap tomorrow and turn it to his advantage.’

JK Rowling’s second novel under the Robert Galbraith pseudonym is shooting up the bestseller charts – undeservedly, says Ben Hamilton. There’s a complete lack of pace or intrigue, in spite of 50 chapters each starting with an epigraph from a pre-19th century play. ‘A feat that’s especially impressive considering the book’s non-existent literary impact.’

In books, we celebrate Laurie Lee’s centenary, and his ‘still sexy, still gently intoxicating’ work. In arts, Deborah Ross reviews (okay, trashes) Walking on Sunshine (‘I think my goldfish, Bubbles, could have made a more intelligent film’ she says). Toby Young also wonders if his ‘obnoxious personality’ has doomed Free Schools in the eyes of the public – he’s wrong, of course, because everyone loves him. Everyone who reads The Spectator, that is, and they’re the best type of people. To join them from £1 a week, click here.

Tags: The Spectator