2 July 2005
The Spectator was established in 1828, and is the oldest continuously published magazine in the
English language. The Spectator’s taste for controversy, however, remains undiminished. There is no
party line to which The Spectator’s writers are bound - originality of thought and elegance of expression are the
sole editorial constraints.
The trial issue contains a “Thought Crime Special” with articles from Melanie Phillips,
“I think, therefore I’m guilty”; Christopher Booker writes about
“Scientists in hiding; the demonisation of academics who question the consensus”; Alan Rusbridger explores
“How to stifle the press” and how England’s libel laws make it easy.
UK politics come under scrutiny from
James Forsyth, Brendan O’Neill ponders if teenagers could ever be
“Drunk and orderly”; while
Tom Hollander writes his diary and
James Delingpole says
eat local organic food if you like, but don’t kid yourself that it’s ‘green’.
The Spectator’s regular arts coverage includes
1. Kate Andrews: the jab age
Vaccine progress is still being made but it’s too slow, officials think, to defeat the virus, writes Kate Andrews. Cases are rising, fast, and the government is spooked. The Delta variant changed the equation: it is far more contagious and has placed herd immunity much further out of reach (estimated to require close to 85 per cent immunity). Given that 21 per cent of the population are children, the adults need to comply. The old notion of ‘Covid status certification’ is gone and, in its place, a new system: no vaccine, no entry. Coercion is rarely found to be the winning strategy for swaying hearts and minds. For all the talk of a ‘roadmap to freedom’, no one can pretend we have arrived at the end.
2. Sajid Javid: my week in isolation
It is tempting to imagine a day where we can declare the pandemic is over and quickly move on with our lives, but the reality is that there will not be a big victory moment, writes Sajid Javid. This virus will still be with us in one form or another for the foreseeable. Even if you’ve had both doses of a vaccine, there’s still a small chance that, like me, you can catch Covid — albeit with a far smaller chance of being hospitalised. That’s why instead of fully releasing the handbrake — or as some might prefer, keeping us under state control forever — we’re encouraging a shift towards personal responsibility.
3. Douglas Murray: get ready for the Boring Twenties
Far from roaring, as some have suggested, it is more likely that we are currently entering the era of the Boring Twenties, argues Douglas Murray. The future rolling out before us is one not of greater freedom but one of endless pings, masks, boosters and variants. People who like government interference in their lives might be happy. People fond of mass surveillance and monitoring might be happy. People keen on a future in which government and private-sector busybodies use the virus as an excuse not to do anything they don’t want to do will be happy. That’s before we get on to the debt, inflation and the growing inability to accrue capital that is again going to disproportionately affect the young. So if these Twenties can roar, then excellent. Good luck to them. But I don’t fancy their chances.
4. James Forsyth: the tax and spend Tories
A meeting last Friday between the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Health Secretary nearly resulted in an agreed policy on social care, writes James Forsyth. But then Sajid Javid tested positive for Covid, putting the three into isolation and the policy announcement this week on hold. The expectation in Whitehall is that national insurance, or a social care levy, will rise to pay for it. In the battle of manifesto pledges, social care has trumped taxation. The size of the rise hasn't yet been determined. But it will be at least one penny.
5. Matt Ridley: the case against organic food
Following the recent publication of Part Two of Henry Dimbleby’s National Food Strategy, the organic movement quickly suggested that organic food and farming offer the solution to the Strategy’s vision. But, Matt Ridley argues, the scientific evidence indicates that the food safety risks of eating organic food are considerably greater than in non-organic food. This is primarily because organic crop production relies on animal faeces as a fertiliser, an obvious vector for potentially lethal pathogens such as E-coli, but also because organic crops are more prone to harmful mycotoxins as a result of inadequate control of crop pests and diseases.