Monthly Archives: June 2016

An Afterword to the Cameron Era

This last week has felt terribly strange. It was – at least in domestic terms – the first time in my politically aware life that things have seemed tremendously, dreadfully significant. I have lived through many wars and revolutions in foreign countries (and I have followed many of them with interest), but the current chaos overtaking Britain’s political system seems different again; it is both less severe and in a way worse, not least because it is entirely self-inflicted. Ministers have resigned; shadow ministers have been fired; and every political party (with a few exceptions) now faces real internal turmoil. This is not the stuff of stable government; it is not the ideal breeding ground for a generation of sensible, pragmatic leaders and statesmen. Continue reading

Advertisements

Talking Turkey: Britain’s Toxic EU Referendum

Britain’s referendum campaign on whether to leave the European Union has become decidedly bitter. Indeed, the atmosphere is frequently considered ‘poisonous’, as those who advocate for Britain to remain within the EU are called ‘traitors’ by their opponents, and as many who support the Leave campaign are stereotyped as ignorant, malevolent or both.  Continue reading

Martin Guerre and the End of the Individual

The story of Martin Guerre is one of the most fascinating in early modern history. Perhaps that is why it is so well documented, both in chronicles and legal writing at the time and more recently, where it has served as the subject of films in French, German and English, and books, including one by Natalie Zemon Davis, which I recently had the pleasure to read. Continue reading

Mea Culpa

Over a year ago, I made a very optimistic prediction. During the 2015 election campaign, when the Conservatives proposed holding a referendum on our EU membership, the then Labour leadership and others united to say that it would be a bad idea. They said it would be divisive, that it would harm the very democracy it was intended to strengthen, and that virtually nothing good could come out of the exercise. Continue reading

Kronstadt for Hillary Clinton

There we have it, then. AP reports, based on interviews with various super-delegates, that Hillary Clinton has the support of sufficient numbers of them (in addition to the delegates she has won during the primary process) to clinch the Democratic nomination. Excepting any major upset at the parties’ national conventions, the presidential campaign proper will be fought between Clinton and Donald Trump. Continue reading

A Historical Scandal

Last month, Patrick Johnston, vice-chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, was said to have uttered something outrageous. In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, he justified the university’s cancellation of a course in sociology and anthropology by stating that ‘[s]ociety doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian’. Continue reading

Lord William Bentinck and Utilitarianism

A common theme – or at least an oft-repeated one among some scholars – when discussing elements of British imperialism in India in the 19th century is that of the philosophy of Utilitarianism and its supposed influence on government policy and the men who made it. Continue reading