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The SpectatorThe Spectator

The Spectator

June 22, 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
Editora:
Press Holdings Ltd - The Spectator
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access_time4 minutos
plan b

When Boris Johnson was appointed editor of this magazine two decades ago, an unkind soul said it was like ‘entrusting a Ming vase in the hands of an ape’. The remark encapsulated many people’s worst fears about the man who will almost certainly be Britain’s prime minister in four weeks’ time, if not before: that Boris is an irresponsible joker. Similar warnings were made when he was elected London mayor. His refusal to conform to type encourages a constant expectation of imminent disaster. What if Boris flops in No. 10? Even his supporters can’t be sure he won’t fail: his election as leader is a gamble from a party that believes its very survival is at stake. Much depends on which Boris Johnson it is who takes up residence in Downing…

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contributors

Laurie Graham is a novelist, journalist and former Daily Telegraph columnist. She lives in Dublin and on p24 explains why she no longer owns a television. Rowan Pelling, who writes about promiscuous showgirls on p34, is editor of the Amorist, a former editrice of the Erotic Review, and author of The Decadent Handbook. Fiona Sampson is a poet, critic and former editor of Poetry Review whose most recent book is In Search of Mary Shelley. She reviews Hugo Williams’s new collection on p38. Jean Seaton, who writes about Nineteen Eighty-Four on p38, is professor of media history at the University of Westminster, director of the Orwell Prize and the official historian of the BBC. Geoff Dyer’s many books include The Ongoing Moment and The Street Philosophy of Garry Winogrand. He writes about the great…

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portrait of the week

Home Boris Johnson was well ahead in the parliamentary stage of the contest for the leadership of the Conservative party, gaining 126 of the 313 votes by MPs in the second ballot, with Jeremy Hunt second at 46 (and Dominic Raab knocked out). He had declined to take part in a Channel 4 debate, and was represented by an empty podium before an audience purporting to be floating voters. The most memorable metaphor of that debate concerned bin bags. Rory Stewart said: ‘I was trying to cram a whole series of rubbish bins into the rubbish bin.’ He had meant to say ‘a whole series of rubbish bags’, but the point was that unrealistic Brexit promises resembled his dustbin experience. Johnson did appear later on a BBC debate, with Jeremy Hunt,…

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diary

I am besieged by media folk asking when I shall make good on a four-year-old threat to flee to Buenos Aires should Boris Johnson become prime minister. How can I get on to a flight, I ask, when so many other voters are already wait-listed? In truth, however, we are being served successive courses in a national banquet of self-harm, too grisly to merit jokes. Nobody should blame Johnson for wanting to be prime minister: many unsuitable people do. But there will be infinite historical curiosity about how the Tory parliamentary party could scramble to deliver Britain into the custody of a man whom few of its members would entrust with their wallet, handbag or spouse, save to secure a cabinet seat. A year or so back, I asked a…

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trump’s re-election campaign never stopped

New York The great ceremonial game of poll dancing is gearing up for its quad-rennial orgy. Headlines across the fruited plain bark out numbers and percentages in mystic confabulation. Votaries sway back and forth as the modern magi of the press repeat the results of this contemporary incarnation of taking the auspices. Was any medieval or ancient devotee of numerology more besotted by the task of squeezing significance out of numbers than our pollsters and their marks, or clients, are today? I doubt it. During the First Punic War at the naval battle of Drepana in 249 bc, the commander Publius Claudius Pulcher grew impatient when the sacred chickens failed to signal divine approval for the battle by refusing the grain they were offered. ‘Bibant,’ shouted Pulcher, tossing the fastidious birds into the…

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the spectator’s notes

Boris and his team made a mistake by agreeing to take part in Tuesday’s BBC leadership debate. In such decisions, candidates must be absolutely ruthless. It does not matter whether one is accused of ‘running away’ if one does not take part. The only question is, ‘Will going on X improve the candidate’s chances with the relevant electorate?’ The relevant electorate in the Tory leadership campaign is 1. MPs and 2. party members. Nobody else matters, except inasmuch as wider opinions affect those who vote. Boris could easily have reached MPs without going on the BBC debate. He can less easily reach party members, but even then, he can find more suitable platforms later. When Mrs Thatcher was leader of the opposition, she was eager to debate on television with…

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