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. Douglas Murray: turning the tide
The British government has no idea what to do about migrants crossing the Channel this summer, writes Douglas Murray. The Channel crossings are now a parallel asylum system — one that privileges people who have broken the law. But these people are not going to add to the wonderful diversity of Britain. The government should look to Australia and Denmark and turn round the vessels at sea. Will anything change? It comes down to the question of whether Boris Johnson is a political opportunist or not. If so then all that stuff he said in recent years about taking back control was just a handy phrase. One he rattled off because he thought it might help him win. If he means it then he must get control of this country's borders.
2. Charlotte Eager: the alpha migrants
Migrants making the journey across the Channel are impressive and hard-working people, argues Charlotte Eagar. Anyone who can walk for days, negotiate with people-traffickers, survive the journey across the Aegean in an overloaded rubber boat, dodge the Turkish and Greek coastguards, hitch-hike through Europe and then go another 500 miles and smuggle themselves into the UK by lorry or boat, is exceptional. You’d want them on your team. They are alpha-migrants. So it seems mad that they are forbidden to work until they get their ‘leave to remain’ and refugee status. There are jobs no British people want to do. We have always filled that gap with workers from abroad. Why not use the people beaching on our shores?
3. James Forsyth: Boris’s last shot
Ministers were fretting about the reopening on 19 July. Those nerves have now been replaced by cautious optimism, writes James Forsyth. Privately, though, the scientists are still stressing. They warn that there is still a danger of another wave with a bigger peak than this one. The spectre of another Covid wave will haunt the government until, at least, next Easter. Given that the government’s unspoken strategy is to achieve herd immunity through vaccination, the fact the UK is not jabbing secondary school pupils is a problem. Johnson’s chief concern at the moment is that there are three million 18- to 30-year-olds who have not even had their first jab.
4. Patrick Jephson: my brush with a royal literary crisis
Cue general outrage following the announcement that Prince Harry has written a ‘literary memoir’, writes Patrick Jephson. None of us has all the facts about why he and his family have moved to California yet that hasn’t stopped pro- and anti-Sussex camps mobilising with a fervour more appropriate to a mediaeval war of religion. Having worked for eight years for another royal dissenter I know that some caution is required when deciding who should be sanctified and who should be burned at the stake. For what it’s worth, I reckon there’s plenty of blame to go round.
5. Jeremy Paxman: a pretty kettle of fish
British writing about fly fishing has become a lackadaisical, threadbare thing, writes Jeremy Paxman. Monthly magazines are full of accounts of riverbank expeditions which end in a tussle, the angler’s rod ‘bucking like a bronco’, and eventually with a ‘bar of silver’ lying on the riverbank. If I had to attempt my own explanation of the charm of fly fishing it would be the requirement to be silent, the need for close observation and the fact that while you are striving for these two objectives, the natural world goes about its business around you. The fly fisher is free.