The Spectator

20 January 2018

The great plastic panic

Packaging from petrochemicals is bad but what if the alternatives are worse?



Revealed – the truth about plastic

Yes, packaging’s bad, but what if the alternatives are worse?


What do proper communists really think of Corbyn?

The revolution is not coming anytime soon, but the twenty-somethings are in it for the long haul


Amazing grace

In the darkest corners of the world, Christian missionaries are still saving lives


Real men bathe together

You can’t beat a session of naked kneading and flailing at a hammam


The curious star appeal of Jordan Peterson

Why are young Brits flocking to hear a psychology professor talk about morality?


Parole is unfair and unworkable. Let’s abolish it

Offenders should be locked up for what they have done, not for what they might do


Why the sleepy old CoE is just a greedy, moneygrubbing property tycoon

The church has always been hard-nosed about the land it owns

No strings: padel is played with a solid racquet

Notes on...

Padel power! But will this crazy new sport ever be a hit?

More aerobic than tennis but easier on the joints, it’s a sport for our times

The Week

Leading article

Jeremy Corbyn’s takeover is complete – and the Tories are terrified

The ‘harmless crank’ has seen his left-wing agenda go mainstream

Portrait of the week

Carillion crashes owing £1.5 billion: directors’ conduct is probed

Also in Portrait of the Week: Hawaii’s nuclear alert; Ukip leader dumps his girlfriend over racist messages


Justin Webb: the day I was forced to hide from John Humphrys

Also: my green-ink Twitter hecklers and the replies I don’t post

From The Archives

The mischief of Bolshevism

From the archive: 19 January 1918


Which UK employer pays men 80 per cent less than women?

Also in Barometer: Britain’s biggest corporate failures; rough-sleeping blackspots; forests of statistics

Ancient and modern

Army recruiters should follow the Roman example

Just who do they think they will attract with this new touchy-feely approach?


Letters: the truth about UK farming by Sir James Dyson

Also: Rod Liddle’s vocabulary, superslow broadband and child screen addicts


The Spectator's Notes

Why I won’t see The Darkest Hour

Also: the BBC made no mention of the communion ceremony during its Coronation documentary


You can’t beat Corbyn with Miliband – but the Tories are trying to anyway

Fiddling around with university fees isn’t going to make the Conservatives suddenly competitive

Lionel Shriver

I recycle – then lie to myself that I’m saving the planet

So much of what we carefully separate just ends up wasting energy

Rod Liddle

Women’s pay could bankrupt the BBC

It has dug itself a very deep hole and is calling for more shovels to finish the job

James Delingpole

How the Rat sniffed out £15,000 down the back of my virtual sofa

Not being cursed with any of my genetic make-up, he possesses certain special qualities that I lack

Any other business

Outsourcing is a good thing, regardless of the Carillion crash

Also in Any Other Business: Why Vince Cable is wrong about the GKN takeover


Eva Braun dieted obsessively, but didn’t hold back on the pilfered champagne

Lead book review

Culinary cold war at the White House

The revolting food served by Eleanor Roosevelt not only depressed her husband but scandalised all Washington, according to Laura Shapiro

Four million bats stream from the Deer Cave every evening in Gunung Mulu National Park


Leeches, bats and toxic sap in Borneo’s Eden

We bled so much when the tiger leeches dropped off us, the camp looked like a bombsite’, says the explorer Robin Hanbury-Tenison


An 80th birthday party causes no end of trouble in Barney Norris’s latest novel

Both Ireland’s Troubles and the anxieties of a 25-year-old anorexic unfold over a single day in Turning for Home


Ethnic cleansing and the horrors of Buczacz

The bloodbath involving former friends and neighbours in the East European border town in 1941 makes this atrocity especially shocking, says Omer Bartov

Mary Shelley: a major writer, with a heartbreakingly difficult life


Mary Shelley’s monstrous creation close up

Fiona Sampson traces Mary’s life from unmarried teenage mother to the author of one of the most enduring of all horror stories

A recruiting poster from 1917, establishing the Wrens


Getting women on board: the history of the WRNS

Though women had for centuries nursed and cooked for British sailors, it wasn’t until 1917 that they were officially recruited by the Royal Navy


Jenny Erpenbeck finds a novel way to tackle the migrant problem

Her thoughtful Go Went Gone sees the plight of refugees through the imaginative eyes of a retired academic in Berlin


High life

Taki: In praise of French women

Catherine Deneuve has expressed some badly needed truths about this crazy witch hunt

Low life

Jeremy Clarke: The power of ‘Bonjour’

Since I started bonjouring and bonsoiring one and all, I am everybody’s friend

Real life

Melissa Kite: The death of humour

In a post-joke world, everything is a hate crime

The turf

Why I’ll chain myself to an earthmover at Kempton Park

If the course didn’t exist, the Jockey Club would invent it. So why sell it off?



The first home tournament of 2018 was last week’s four-day European Open Trials. Ten selected pairs played 216 boards at…

Spectator Wine

Wine Club 20 January

Well, I don’t know about you but I found the recent festivities somewhat challenging. I didn’t draw a sober breath…


Willing to wound

‘Willing to wound and yet afraid to strike,’ wrote Alexander Pope about Atticus. Those lines more or less describe the…

Chess puzzle

no. 489

White to play. This position is from O. Howell-Pickersgill, Hastings 2017/18. White now terminated proceedings abruptly. What was the key move?…


Rude food

In Competition No. 3031 you were invited to provide a review by a restaurant critic that is tediously loaded with…


2342: Decorative

Two unclued lights are terms for the same style. One, consisting of two words, forms a cryptic indication of each…

Christmas Crossword


A beastly business The quote is 1A/92/18D from the poem ‘A Visit from St Nicholas’. The theme was the names…

No sacred cows

Why my pet dog Leo had to go

It was nothing too serious, just a little nip. But the man from Ocado was understandably upset

The Wiki Man

A nice, cuddly NHS would be bad for us

We can have an efficient health service or one no one complains about. We can’t have both

Dear Mary

Mary solves your problems: How can I get over my smartphone separation anxiety?

Also: How to hide a housekeeper’s hideous cushions and how to keep friends as a birthday looms


Is the great vintage of 2015 retreating into itself

Some wines may turn out to have too much fruit, making harmony impossible

Mind your language

Where does Donald Trump’s new favourite word come from?

In Polite Conversation, Jonathan Swift presents dialogues made up of clichés, banalities and catchphrases. When Miss Notable makes a remark…