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. Matt Purple: The worst-case scenario for the US election
Tuesday night’s embarrassing and chaotic debate between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden is a foretaste of the democratic meltdown that could be coming America’s way after the election, writes Matt Purple. What if, whoever wins, the other side does not accept the result? The last time a presidential election turned seriously litigious was Bush v. Gore in 2000. The Supreme Court’s resulting decision, decided by a 5-4 margin, is still one of the most controversial in the high court’s history. Now, thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s vacancy, the Supreme Court has only eight justices. If Trump is prevented from appointing Amy Coney Barrett, and if the election results are challenged all the way up, the justices could split evenly on who the effective president elect is. That would kick the decision back down to the lower courts, but multiple lawsuits could result in multiple rulings, a muddle that might create enough confusion for both candidates to claim victory. Suddenly the republic itself would be over a barrel.
2. James Forsyth: Will Johnson’s suppression strategy be vindicated?
‘Prime Ministers do not get to choose the crisis that defines them,’ writes James Forsyth. Johnson’s premiership will be forever associated with Covid. This autumn and winter will be hard for him. Covid has forced the government to spend its political capital far earlier than it would have liked. The public will be less forgiving of government mistakes during the second wave than the first and his MPs will further resist restrictions on personal and economic freedom. For Johnson, the question now is whether his calculation that the cavalry will arrive in the Spring is correct and whether he has the plan to galvanise the nation for the rebuilding effort that will be needed once this pandemic has passed.
3. Douglas Murray: Is this the start of a conservative comeback?
The proposed appointments of Paul Dacre to Ofcom and Charles Moore to the BBC are good early-warning shots, writes Douglas Murray. ‘The last Labour government rigged almost every institution in this country with enormous craft and cunning.’ Even now, we have institution after institution in this country run by people who aspire more than anything else to the divisive ‘woke’ agenda. ‘If the Johnson government wants to do something meaningful it should not just follow through on their appointments; it should follow them up with a fusillade every bit as relentless and long-lasting as the Labour one, the repercussions of which this country still suffers from.’
4. Petronella Wyatt: My food fights with Boris
Some of Petronella Wyatt’s most rancorous arguments with her ex, Boris Johnson, were about food. ‘His idea of fine dining was Pizza Express,’ she writes in this week’s diary. ‘One of the worst crises of our friendship came when I cooked him a seafood risotto. The preparation had taken me hours, the ingredients a good deal of money. As always he was late, and my risotto sat on the stove coagulating. Finally, its potential recipient arrived only to gaze upon it as one might gaze upon a dish of beetles. “I can’t eat that. Do you have any crisps?” This enraged me more than any of his sexual delinquencies.’
5. Yiannis Baboulias: The fall of Golden Dawn
Next week, the biggest Nazi-related trial since Nuremberg will conclude, writes Yiannis Baboulias. Following the murder of Greek musician Pavlos Fyssas by a member of the neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn, the entire leadership and dozens of members were charged with running an organised crime syndicate. Until now, many of their crimes have gone unpunished. The trial has uncovered a ‘personality cult’ under the leadership of Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and although he now faces prison, the dangers of Greek neo-Nazism are not going away.
6. Bas Javid: A policeman's notebook
The horrific killing of Sgt. Matt Ratana last week reminded Met commander Bas Javid of the ‘lowest of lows’ that can come with a job in policing. But these lows are also accompanied by the ‘highest of highs’, recounts Bas, as he reflects on the hard work the police have done to keep the country safe during the pandemic. Bas goes on to recall a conversation he had in 2006 with his brother, Sajid, about their dream jobs. ‘He wasn’t even an MP at that point and said he’d love to be home secretary or chancellor. My ambition was to be a commander in the Met… This is a country of incredible opportunity. More people should know that.’