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The SpectatorThe Spectator

The Spectator

June 15, 2019

Every week The Spectator is packed with opinion, comment and analysis about politics, arts and books. We lead the way on the great issues of the day, from political scandals to social trends. What you read in The Spectator today becomes news elsewhere in the weeks to come. We have the best columnists on Fleet Street, from Charles Moore, Rod Liddle, Matthew Parris and Alexander Chancellor to James Forsyth, the best-con

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United Kingdom
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English
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Press Holdings Ltd - The Spectator
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access_time4 min.
hard sums

‘Choice’ is a word that is used liberally in Conservative thinking — whether it be about schools, hospitals or consumer goods. It is when consumers have choice, goes the argument, that providers of goods and services are forced to up their game. Choice brings diversity, inspiring new ideas and allowing for their success. It is not clear that the same rule applies to Conservative leadership elections. Never before have Conservative MPs been presented with such a broad array of candidates. Ten made it to the first ballot, rather than the more usual four or five. It is hard to argue that the quality of the contest has improved as a result. On two of the most substantial issues — Brexit and the economy — there is a worrying paucity of ideas. Boris…

access_time1 min.
contributors

John R. MacArthur is president of Harper’s Magazine and author of The Selling of ‘Free Trade’, a critique of the Nafta trade deal. On p24 he asks why the Democrats won’t impeach Trump. Jonathan Sumption is a former Supreme Court judge and the author of a four-volume history of the Hundred Years War. He delivered this year’s Reith Lectures. He discusses the Crusades on p30. Taylor C. Sherman, who writes about modern India on p34, is an Associate Professor at LSE who works on 20th century Indian history. He asks why K.S. Komireddi has it in for modern India on p34. Dorian Lynskey’s The Ministry of Truth: A Biography of George Orwell’s 1984 is out now. He writes about the pop star Moby on p39. David Sinclair has written about pop music for the…

access_time3 min.
portrait of the week

Home Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, a candidate for the Conservative leadership, admitted he had used cocaine several times 20 years ago. ‘I deeply regret the mistake that I made,’ he said. ‘It was a crime.’ He also said: ‘Certainly when I was working as a journalist I didn’t imagine I would go into politics.’ His admission came as the Daily Mail published extracts from a biography on Gove by Owen Bennett, due to be released next month, that relates an earlier admission of cocaine use to party colleagues. Ten candidates for the leadership started the race after Sam Gyimah withdrew: Michael Gove, Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Andrea Leadsom, Esther McVey, Dominic Raab and Rory Stewart. Later on Thursday, those failing to get the backing…

access_time4 min.
diary

It was when the kindly folk at the Theatre Royal Haymarket said ‘You’ll be in Paul Whitehouse’s dressing-room’ that it sunk in: the epic biting off of more than I could chew. But there was no going back. In a couple of hours, I would be on stage — and this time, I’d sing. Exploring Paul’s stuff didn’t do much to keep the stage fright at bay: comedy-friendly hats and break-a-leg cards were in massed array. Kindly messages from my friends featured the words ‘gosh’ and ‘brave’. A couple of months ago, the stunt had seemed a bright idea. I have a new book to push, Wordy, one of those literary tapas samplers which despite its miscellany (or possibly because of it) readers seem to enjoy. There’s some strenuous stuff on…

access_time5 min.
is an autumn election inevitable?

There’s a joke going around the various warring tribes in the Tory leadership contest. They might not win this time, they tell each other, but not to worry: ‘We’ll all meet again in November.’ The point is that whoever succeeds Theresa May is doomed: the 31 October deadline will pass not with Britain leaving the European Union but with a political crisis and a general election that will be won by Jeremy Corbyn. After that, the Tories will in a few months go through the whole process again — this time to pick a leader of the opposition. ‘We’re using this leadership campaign as a test run for when the whole thing collapses in the autumn,’ says one aide. Some MPs are more optimistic and think the next prime minister will…

access_time4 min.
the spectator’s notes

You would think it would be unarguable that ‘Serious times demand a serious leader’. This, with small verbal variations, is the slogan of both Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt in the current Tory contest, so it is obvious against whom their phrase is directed. Yet there is a counter-argument. The times we live in are undoubtedly serious, and for the past three years we have had, in Mrs May, the most unrelentingly serious leader ever. It has been a disaster. The post-2008 revolts across the western world have all been against seriousness as defined by existing leaderships. Trump, Salvini, Farage, Boris etc. strike a chord because they can burlesque the pomposity and self-righteousness of the conventional politicians who have led us badly. Words like ‘serious’ and ‘grownup’ are used mostly…

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