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. Jonathan Miller: Boris and Macron’s unlikely bromance
When Emmanuel Macron was elected just over two and a half years ago he hoped to deliver a ‘European renaissance’ that would overhaul the continent’s political structures. One magazine even ran a cover that depicted the French President walking on water. Now, only the most hardcore of Macron’s fans remain unshaken by his remarkably dismal performance. French unemployment is still double that of Germany or the UK, there have been 61 consecutive weeks of street protests, and Macron’s mission to unseat the socialist mayor of Paris looks doomed. Macron has also managed to alienate himself internationally. When he denounced Nato as ‘brain-dead’ he ended up being attacked by Donald Trump and admonished by Angela Merkel, while his recent cosying up to Vladimir Putin has infuriated many of his allies. Incredibly, the world leader who appears to be Macron’s new best friend is Boris Johnson. After more than two years of trashing Britain and Brexit, Macron has softened his tone. What’s changed? For a start, Macron likes power and Boris Johnson’s new majority of 80 and five-year mandate make him one of the most stable leaders in Europe. Macron currently needs help in his overextended foreign policy against militant Islamism in Africa — in this fight Britain is the only capable military ally France can call on. France also has gigantic stakes in British energy, transport and services, so there is much scope for the two leaders to work together.
2. James Forsyth: Labour has to change to win — but will any leadership candidate say so?
Now that Jess Phillips has dropped out of the Labour leadership race, the party has lost the one candidate who was prepared to break decisively with the past four years. The lack of an audience for her message is ‘a reminder that the party has not yet come to terms with the scale of its rejection by the electorate’, says James Forsyth. The remaining four candidates talk more of reuniting the Labour party than of reaching out to the country. Lisa Nandy’s diagnosis of why Labour lost is more interesting than the others’ and she is the candidate who is beginning to cause most concern for the Tories paying close attention to the contest. But, despite this, she still insists on defending free movement, a policy which has been rejected by Labour’s heartlands and will also be a settled issue by the time of the next election. None of the candidates can say how they will win back seats in Scotland. Unless the problem is solved, the party will have to win well over half the seats in England to govern alone. It may well take another leadership contest before the next general election for Labour to accept what it needs to do to win.
3. Andrew Doyle: will the real ‘Liam Evans’ please stand up?
In his diary, the comedian Andrew Doyle wonders if he might one day have to kill off his spoof Twitter persona, Titania McGrath, because she ‘overtakes my life’. His uber-woke creation already gets him into trouble. Recently, Andrew was accused of writing an ‘obvious hoax piece’ for the Independent under the name ‘Liam Evans’ which called for offensive comedians to be prosecuted for hate speech. ‘About the authorship I couldn’t possible comment,’ says Andrew. Yet he points out that if you take the fourth letter of every sentence of the article it spells out ‘Titania McGrath wrote this you gullible hacks’. An incredible coincidence.
4. John R. Bradley: the end of Spring
This January marks ten years since the Arab Spring, but good news anywhere in the Middle East is hard to find. Egypt is ruled by a brutally repressive regime, Libya is in the throes of civil war, Yemen is facing the world’s worst ever famine, and the Syrian war is only now coming to a close. Even Tunisia, championed as one of the Arab Spring’s only successes, has elected hardline Islamist governments which have undone the progressive reforms of the autocrat Ben Ali. The great irony of the Arab Spring is that the region’s only hope may now lie in Riyadh, where Mohammed bin Salman’s rejection of Wahhabism is the most positive global ideological change since the fall of communism. It would be wrong to continue the calls for cultural and economic sanctions over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, he says, since sanctions only hurt ordinary people and Bin Salman is the last great Arab hope.
5. Sarah Whitebloom: HR lingo has turned job-hunting into a nightmare
Have you ‘risen to the challenge’? Can you ‘deliver at pace’? Can you describe an occasion when you’ve ‘gone above and beyond’? If you have not applied for work in the past few, the jargon of ‘human resources’ — or HR as it is known — may be unfamiliar to you, says Sarah Whitebloom, yet it is now crucial to become fully HR-aware if you’re to stand a chance of even securing an interview for many jobs. ‘One seasoned finance director told me he has repeatedly failed to get HR for an interview on the grounds that he does not have enough experience of… being a finance director. His 30-year career was insufficient proof.’