Page 5

Grade expectations

The Spectator

A television channel has reached a sorry state when the structure of its ownership is more exciting than what it broadcasts. Yet this is precisely what has happened to ITV,...

Page 9

W hen, 50-odd years ago, I started in what was then

The Spectator

known as the Business, later the Arts and more recently the Media, I was warned not to express opinions openly, for fear of alienating the Public. Added to that, my generation...

Page 10

David Cameron must avoid the trap set by Gordon Brown’s pre-Budget report

The Spectator

W hen Ernest Bevin was appointed to run Britain’s wartime economy, he saw his chance to fix policy for decades. ‘They say Gladstone was at the Treasury from 1860 to 1930’, he...

Page 11

A s the bicentenary of the abolition of slavery in this

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country approaches, Tony Blair expresses ‘deep sorrow’ for British involvement in the trade. Extraordinary that he should feel the need to adopt such a tone when the act...

Page 13


The Spectator

MONDAY Trust Labour to go and apologise for the slave trade. The cheek of it! We played just as big a part, if not bigger, in the atrocities of Roots . It’s just as much ours...

Page 14

It is a wonderful world: richer, healthier, and cleaner than ever

The Spectator

Gloom and doom are in fashion. But, writes Allister Heath , a remarkable collection of economic statistics shows that the reality is much, much cheerier. For all our laments to...

Page 16

In Russia, people shrug at Litvinenko’s death

The Spectator

The poisoning of the spy in London is not a big story in Moscow, writes Rachel Polonsky . People are too obedient or too frightened to trouble themselves with the truth Moscow...

Page 18

‘I am one of Thatcher’s children’

The Spectator

Fraser Nelson talks to Andy Burnham, Minister to Watch in our Parliamentarian of the Year awards, and one of a younger New Labour generation who must take on David Cameron A ndy...

Page 20

Apocalypse now on the US blogosphere

The Spectator

David Selbourne finds no reason and much hate on American blog-sites, where the Left pillories ‘fascists’ and ‘racists’, and the Right attacks Muslims with terrifying verbal...

Page 22

The BBC is doing well, as far as I can see: no thanks to MichaelGrade

The Spectator

Rod Liddle says that the departing BBC chairman has no understanding of or interest in public-service broadcasting, and that the Corporation’s progress under his watch was...

Page 23

Ancient & modern

The Spectator

Elephants have been characterised as highly sensitive, socially aware and intelligent because they have noticed in the mirror a white cross marked on their head. What a pathetic...

Page 24

Chávez is the king of poisonous anti-politics

The Spectator

On Sunday, Venezuela goes to the polls. The likely triumph of Hugo Chávez, writes Daniel Hannan , reflects a phenomenon sweeping Latin America that feeds not on hope but on...

Page 25

Mind your language

The Spectator

There has been a mysterious change in the way people use the word as . It is in the construction of the kind, ‘Tall as he was, he could not reach the branch.’ Now they introduce...

Page 26

Zeffirelli: still the Maestro of excess

The Spectator

Robin Lee Navrozov talks to the 83-year-old director about his operatic productions, his anxiety about his forthcoming memoirs, and the similarity between Callas and Thatcher T...

Page 28

Ségo and Dave: are they by chance related?

The Spectator

Celia Walden says that Royal and Cameron are cut from the same cloth: she uses her femininity as he uses his class. And they even look alike T he resemblance first struck me...

Page 30

Why so many state school pupils drop out of Oxbridge

The Spectator

The pressure on the ancient universities to admit undergraduates from state schools has never been greater. But, writes Charlie Boss , many such students fare badly T he Laura...

Page 32

Security v . rights

The Spectator

From the Attorney General Sir: Stuart Wheeler’s article (‘Why the Tories must say No to torture’, 25 November) includes a quote from me about deportation. Taken from a Human...

Crosses and turbans

The Spectator

From John Duffield Sir: The case of Nadia Eweida and her cross (‘The BA row is about fair play’, 25 November) highlights the way in which the entirely laudable aim of ensuring...

Bullies of Bristol

The Spectator

From John Weston Smith Sir: In exposing that bullying and bumbling body, TV Licensing, Charles Moore chose a ripe target (The Spectator’s Notes, 25 November). Recently I bought...

From Bernard Silverman

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Sir: Like Charles Moore, I am innocent of owning a TV set and I received the same threatening letter. I phoned the 0870 number and the employee (who refused to give his name)...

American charity

The Spectator

From Simon Preston Sir: With reference to Simon Nixon’s article (‘Philanthropy is back’, 18 November) a contributory reason why US charitable giving is double the UK’s is that...

Vachement seule!

The Spectator

From Richard Soper Sir: David Rennie, in his article on Ségolène Royal (‘Ségo and Sarko: not so different, after all’, 25 November), commented on her support for a rare breed...

Page 34

Royal intervention in the affairs of another state is a very risky business

The Spectator

P rince Charles’s intervention seems to have played some part, earlier this month, in the release from a Pakistan jail of a British man, Mirza Tahir Hussain, who had languished...

Page 36

When a leading statesman is also a model of decorum

The Spectator

G ood manners are an outward sign of inward grace, a harbinger of nicely judged moral actions, warmly reflecting decency in thought. And by good manners I do not mean Osric-like...

Page 40

Why Porsche would be mad to bid for Volkswagen

The Spectator

Matthew Lynn says Porsche is supremely successful in its own niche, but that does not qualify it to run Europe’s largest mass-market car maker T here are only three hard and...

Page 41

Think outside the jargon box

The Spectator

Matthew Vincent ‘Dinosaurs ... think inside the box. Dolphins ... occupy the space outside the box. The dinosaurs’ negative headset creates a lose-lose situation, whereas the...

Page 42

The myth of affordable housing

The Spectator

Richard Northedge argues that the way to stop house prices soaring is to restrict mortgages — just like the old days T he latest non-job in Britain’s town halls is the...

Page 44

The streets are alive with hip-hop — but there’s still plenty of gold beneath them

The Spectator

I n the mountains south of Zurich, as winter approaches, the farmers bring their cows down. The snowbound higher pastures will soon be empty, and the precious cattle walk down...

Page 46

A very honourable rebel

The Spectator

Anne Chisholm DECCA: T HE L ETTERS OF J ESSICA MITFORD edited by Peter Y. Sussman Weidenfeld, £25, pp. 744, ISBN 0297607456 ✆ £20 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n the autumn...

Page 47

Royal gaffes, writers’ mottoes and mating bugs

The Spectator

Bevis Hillier I n the 1960s I lived in Hampstead, though all these years I have managed not to write a novel about Hampstead dinner-parties. The area was, and still is, rich in...

Page 48

Advertisement feature

The Spectator

Martell’s country weblogger explains... Winter shopping HELLO! What a curious week. You may remember Geoff was taking me on a surprise winter shopping trip and my friend Mary...

Page 50

Megalopolis and micro-organism

The Spectator

Tony Gould T HE G HOST M AP : A S TREET , A N E PIDEMIC AND THE T WO M EN WHO B ATTLED TO S AVE V ICTORIAN L ONDON by Steven Johnson Allen Lane, £16.99, pp. 299, ISBN...

Page 52

Partners on thin ice

The Spectator

Byron Rogers C ONRAD AND L ADY B LACK : D ANCING ON THE E DGE by Tom Bower HarperCollins, £20, pp. 436, ISBN 0007232349 ✆ £16 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 M y one contact...

Page 53

Because We Can

The Spectator

This sensation We say is the nation Acting its destiny. How like is it To the smaller act which here we see, The incomplete Devil paying a visit? We know it is our Fate to...

Page 54

Having another go at God

The Spectator

Nicholas Fearn T HE F ORM OF T HINGS by A. C. Grayling Orion, £12.99, pp. 243, ISBN 0297851675 ✆ £10.39 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 C. Grayling once helped put an end to a...

A choice of gardening books

The Spectator

Mary Keen A spiration. Aspiration. Aspiration is still the watchword for publishers of gardening books. How many heavy, glossy productions filled with Get-theLook pictures does...

Page 56

Liking to be beside the seaside

The Spectator

Matthew Dennison T HE F ORTNIGHT IN SEPTEMBER by R. C. Sherriff Persephone Books, £10, pp.326, ISBN 1903155576 T his is the second time The Fortnight in September has been...

Page 57

A mixed bag of memories

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Page 58

American Midas and Maecenas

The Spectator

Christopher Ondaatje M ELLON : A N A MERICAN L IFE by David Cannadine Penguin, £30, pp. 560, ISBN 0713995084 ✆ £24 (plus £2.45 p&p) 0870 429 6655 I n this current climate of...

Page 59

Christmas art books

The Spectator

David Ekserdjian T he seemingly unstoppable rise of the exhibition catalogue happily does not mean that nothing else gets published, and my selection of glossy delights to...

Page 60

Prize-winning novels from France

The Spectator

Anita Brookner T he Prix Goncourt was awarded, as of right, to Jonathan Littell for Les Bienveillantes (Gallimard). Les Bienveillantes , the Kindly Ones, is the name usually...

Page 61

Roth marches on

The Spectator

W riting here (18 November), Anita Brookner described Joseph Roth’s reports from France 1925-39, The White Cities , as ‘her best read of the year’. I’ve had a copy for several...

Page 62

Flying high with music and words

The Spectator

Henrietta Bredin talks to the composer Jonathan Dove about his latest commissions T he titles of Jonathan Dove’s musical works — Flight, Tobias and the Angel, Palace in the...

Page 63

Talent show

The Spectator

Cita Stelzer The Artist’s Vision: Romantic Traditions in Britain National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, until 18 March 2007 T he National Gallery of Art in Washington...

Page 64

Playing with the past

The Spectator

Tom Rosenthal Louis le Brocquy: Homage to his Masters Gimpel Fils, Davies Street, W1, until 13 January 2007 (closed 22 December to 7 January) L ouis le Brocquy is 90 this...

Page 66

Heaven and hell

The Spectator

Andrew Lambirth Francis Bacon: Paintings from the 1950s Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, until 10 December Stanley Spencer: Painting...

Page 68

Baffling piffle

The Spectator

Lloyd Evans Frost/Nixon Gielgud The Lightning Play Almeida Drunk Enough To Say I Love You? Royal Court B affling. That’s all I can say about Frost/Nixon . The critics have...

Page 70

So-so, actually

The Spectator

Deborah Ross Stranger Than Fiction 12A, Nationwide H onestly, before I took up this beat I had no idea how many new movies aren’t that great and aren’t truly terrible but are...

Page 71

Vintage year

The Spectator

Michael Tanner Cosi fan Tutte; The Turn of the Screw Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Norwich G lyndebourne on Tour is having a vintage year, and that’s not counting its Die...

Page 72

Spanish steps

The Spectator

Robin Holloway ‘H e’s composing me!’ cries the horrified poet in Strauss’s Capriccio as the musician takes the new sonnet and violates its purity by setting it to music. But...

Page 73

News values

The Spectator

Kate Chisholm T he death of Nick Clarke, The World at One , Any Questions and Round Britain Quiz presenter, jolted many commentators — and listeners — to bewail the loss of a...

Page 74

After the tsunami

The Spectator

Simon Hoggart T here was much pre-publicity around Tsunami — The Aftermath (BBC1, Tuesday) implying that the second anniversary of the disaster was a little early to turn it...

Page 75

Pride of Wales

The Spectator

Robin Oakley ‘ ou won’t have to stray too far from Y Paul Nicholls’s elbow today,’ Henrietta Knight told me after the second at Newbury on Hennessy Gold Cup day. Sure enough,...

Page 76

Talking turkey

The Spectator

Simon Courtauld T here won’t be any wild turkeys eaten in Britain this Christmas. However, a few of these birds, which are indigenous to north and central America, are being...

No joke

The Spectator

Taki New York F irst it was Mel, as in Gibson, now it’s Michael, as in Richards. I’m sure none of you has ever heard of the latter, but he’s a big shot in America, especially...

Page 77

The baroness and me

The Spectator

Jeremy Clarke I studied the seating plan of the Club Taurino of London’s 47th anniversary dinner without recognising any of the other names. (I’m a relatively new member.) The...

Page 79

Social services

The Spectator

Roy Hattersley W e lost our post office five years ago, long before losing post offices became fashionable. So we had to run our ‘stop the closure’ campaign without the support...

Page 80

F irst off, I should say I’m no great expert when

The Spectator

it comes to Swedish food. Yes, I’ve been to Ikea — so many veneers, so little time! and, yes, I’ve had the meatballs in the café but, judging by the taste and texture, I think...

Page 82

The Witty gritty

The Spectator

Rachel Johnson on the pesky gift that keeps on giving I went to see a friend the other day. At the door, she clutched at her Pre-Raphaelite, wheaten locks and cried, ‘Don’t come...

Page 84

All shook up

The Spectator

Theo Fennell puts on his blue suede shoes and pays homage to the King T here is a romance attached to American place names that simply doesn’t exist in their English...

Page 86

Outside Artland

The Spectator

Annabel Rivkin reports on a new hip, happening gallery in Soho O ver the past few months, a building on the wrong side of Soho has been discreetly reinventing itself by virtue...

Page 95

Two-horse race

The Spectator

FRANK KEATING F ootball’s European Champions’ League awaits the serious new year stuff once a few loose ends are tied on Wednesday. Arsenal and Manchester United each need only...

Q. The convention with regard to tipping in restaurants is

The Spectator

that one leaves 10 per cent of the bill and hopes it will go to the staff. The bill, however, includes both hidden VAT on the cost of the meal and a mark-up of 250 per cent or...

Q. Going back to your article of 7 October, I

The Spectator

would like to say something about the phenomenon of cutting acquaintances at parties. Being an Irishman, I know that there is a gesture I’ll call the ‘Irish nod’. It’s a very...

Q. I now have 42 assorted nieces, nephews and godchildren.

The Spectator

Over the years I have put huge physical and mental effort into finding things to give them for Christmas which they do not already have. This has become increasingly difficult,...