The Spectator

The Spectator

:"For other uses see Spectator.""The Spectator" is a weekly British
magazine first published on 6 July 1828. [Cite newspaper The Times|section=Advertisements|day_of_week=Sat|date=Jul 05 1828|page_number=4|issue=13637|column=D] It is currently owned by the Barclay brothers, who also own "The Daily Telegraph". Its principal subject area is politics, about which it generally takes a robustly conservative editorial line, although regular contributors such as Rod Liddle write from a perspective which some consider to be left-wing. The magazine also has extensive arts pages on books, music, opera, and film and TV reviews.

Editorship of "The Spectator" has often been part of a route to high office in the British Conservative Party; past editors include Iain Macleod, Ian Gilmour and Nigel Lawson, all of whom became cabinet ministers. Editorship can also be a springboard for a greater role in public affairs, as with Boris Johnson (1999 to 2005), Conservative Mayor of London. [ [ BBC NEWS | Politics | Johnson wins London mayoral race ] ]

Policy positions

From its founding in 1828 "The Spectator" has taken a pro-British line in foreign affairs; such was the case in 1904 when it raised concerns about the anti-British and Pan-Asian attitudes prevalent amongst Indian students in Japan.

Like its sister publication "The Daily Telegraph", "The Spectator" is generally Atlanticist and Eurosceptic in outlook, favouring close ties with the United States rather than with the European Union, and it is usually supportive of Israel. However, it has expressed strong doubts about the Iraq war, and some of its contributors, such as Matthew Parris and Stuart Reid, express a more Americosceptic, old-school conservative line. Other contributors such as Irwin Stelzer argue from an American-style neoconservative position. Like much of the British press it is critical of the unilateral extradition treaty that allowed the Natwest three to be extradited, and in July 2006 the magazine devoted a leading article to lambasting the US Senate ["The Spectator", 8th July 2006]

Cultural positions

"The Spectator" is one of the few British publications that still ignores or dismisses most popular culture, in the way that (for example) "The Daily Telegraph" did under W.F. Deedes, or "The Times" did under William Haley. The magazine coined the phrase "young fogey" in 1984 (in an article by Alan Watkins).


Although there is a permanent staff of writers, "The Spectator" has always had room for a wide array of contributors. These have included Auberon Waugh, Jeffrey Bernard (the "Low Life" column) and Taki (the "High Life" column). Following Bernard's death, the "Low Life" column is now written by Jeremy Clarke. Joan Collins contributes regularly as Guest Diarist, as does Barry Humphries. The book reviews are often 'outsourced' to outsiders who are experts in the given subject, so consequently it is rare to see the same review author twice in as many weeks. The restaurant section is also an irregular piece. British-born South African journalist, Jani Allan is also a former correspondent.

Recent times

The magazine has prospered in recent times. Under former editor Boris Johnson and his appealing Wodehousian aura clumsy public relations did no harm. He resigned in December 2005, on taking up an appointment as Shadow Minister for Higher Education. Johnson's final months as editor were marred by the negative reaction to an editorial written by Simon Heffer criticising the people of Liverpool for engaging in "vicarious victimhood" following the death of Kenneth Bigley. Johnson made a personal apology. Recent articles have resumed the theme in commenting on public declarations of grief following the Murder of Rhys Jones.

The circulation was not at all hindered by the notoriety the magazine achieved after revelations about Johnson's affair with one of his columnists Petronella Wyatt, the extramarital adventures of its publisher Kimberly Quinn and affair of the associate editor Rod Liddle. The nickname "The Sextator" has gained some currency.

Treatment in Other UK Press

In "Private Eye", the magazine is usually referred to either as "The Spectacularlyboring" or as "The Hasbeano" (with Boris Johnson, while he was editor, referred to as "Boris the Menace" and with other parodic cartoon strips portraying people associated with "The Spectator" as characters in "The Beano").

Kings of the Deal

"The Spectator" caused controversy in 1994 when it printed an article on the Jewish influence in Hollywood, written by William Cash, who at the time was based in Los Angeles and working mainly for "The Daily Telegraph". Cash claimed that the Jewish media elite was "culturally nihilist" and that Jewish influence reflected a Jewish lack of concern for traditional cultural values [ [ Kings of the Deal and responses from subsequent issues] ] .

The "Telegraph" had considered the article too risky to publish, but "Spectator" editor Dominic Lawson thought Cash's idea was as old as Hollywood itself and that Lawson's being a Jew would mitigate adverse reactions to publication. There was, however, considerable controversy, although owner Conrad Black did not personally rebuke Lawson. Max Hastings, then editor of "The Daily Telegraph", wrote with regard to Telegraph group owner Conrad Black, who also owned "The Jerusalem Post" at the time, "It was one of the few moments in my time with Conrad when I saw him look seriously rattled: 'You don't understand, Max. My entire interests in the United States and internationally could be seriously damaged by this'." [ [ If Conrad Black was a bully - I never saw it - Telegraph] ] Black himself had and has a Jewish wife, Barbara Amiel.

The article was defended by some conservatives. John Derbyshire, who says he has "complicated and sometimes self-contradictory feelings about Jews", wrote on National Review Online regarding what he saw as the Jewish overreaction to the article that "It was a display of arrogance, cruelty, ignorance, stupidity, and sheer bad manners by rich and powerful people towards a harmless, helpless young writer, and the Jews who whipped up this preposterous storm should all be thoroughly ashamed of themselves" [ [ John Derbyshire on NRO] ] .

The psychologist Kevin B. MacDonald, writing in response to Derbyshire's critical review of his book "The Culture of Critique", wrote of how "chilling" it was that "critics of Jews simply disappear from sight - their professional horizons limited if not entirely ended." MacDonald used Joseph Sobran and Cash as examples of such people "who have called attention to Jewish power and influence in certain areas. Jewish groups have made any critical discussion of Jewish issues off limits and that's vitally important because, yes, Jews are a very powerful group." [ [ The Conservatism of Fools: A Response to John Derbyshire] ]

Similarly, Kevin Myers wrote in "The Sunday Telegraph" that "we should really be able to discuss Jews and their Jewishness, their virtues or their vices, as one can any other identifiable group, without being called anti-Semitic. Frankness does not feed anti-Semitism; secrecy, however, does. The silence of sympathetic discretion can easily be misunderstood as a conspiracy. It is time to be frank about Jews." Myers complained that Jews described "The Spectator" as anti-Semitic.

Cash apologised for the article and visited the Simon Wiesenthal Center. "The Forward" reported that he had trouble publishing his work and that Lawson could not publish an article on the birth of his daughter with Down's syndrome in "The New Republic" because of owner Martin Peretz's complaint about the article.Fact|date=November 2007 More generally, the controversy can be seen to embody divisions within conservatism, between pro-Zionist neoconservatism and an older scepticism of Jews.Fact|date=May 2008


*Robert Stephen Rintoul 1828, as founder, until his death in 1858
*Mr. Scott 1858–61 []
*Meredith Townsend 1861, as sole editor for a short time, then as co-editor with R.H. Hutton until 1886 and sole editor again until 1887
*R. H. Hutton, as co-editor, 1861–86
*John St Loe Strachey 1887–1925
*Evelyn Wrench 1925–32
*Henry Wilson Harris 1932–52
*Walter Taplin 1953–4
*Ian Gilmour 1954–9
*Brian Inglis 1959–62
*Iain Hamilton 1962–3
*Iain Macleod 1963–5
*Nigel Lawson 1966–70
*George Gale 1970–73
*Harold Creighton 1973–75
*Alexander Chancellor 1975–84
*Charles Moore 1984–90
*Dominic Lawson 1990–5
*Frank Johnson 1995–9
*Boris Johnson 1999–2005
*Matthew d'Ancona 2006–


External links

* [ The Spectator] official site
* [ Exact Editions] digital edition

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