Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Matter of Upbringing

Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck was the archetypal second son, being born at Burlington House on September 14, 1774, into that condition, the child of the third Duke of Portland. The family was noble but not rich, and Bentinck was effectively aware of this situation all his life. Continue reading

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Samuel Johnson and the Vanity of Human Wishes

Samuel Johnson, the Dr Johnson of national memory, is primarily known for his wit. His epigrams are hardly common currency, but they do have a certain appeal – and a certain constituency. Who has not heard ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’ or ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life’ (a particular favourite of Boris Johnson) deployed in conversation by someone altogether too keen on appearing intelligent? Continue reading

Turkey’s Raw Deal

The nation of Turkey has, it seems, few defenders. Once the receptacle of popular goodwill and support – in Europe generally and not least in Britain, where many public figures advocated on behalf of its joining the European Union – the country has become instead something of a pariah. In the increasingly fevered final stages of Britain’s EU referendum campaign, Turkey (and its projected entrance into the Union, with its single market and free movement of labour) is used as a byword for increased migration, something which has become an essential preoccupation of many British voters. Continue reading

David Cameron and Continuity

For the first time in years, things can be said to be changing in Britain. For over half a decade, during the Cameron era, politics in this country had exhibited a particular sort of inertia. Though the ordinary stuff of government – and the attendant challenges involved with governing – took place, change never seemed to be the order of the day. Continue reading

Notions of Nationalism

The formation of nations is not a concept which is too far from public consciousness in the West today; we are certainly aware of the challenges and opportunities associated with ‘nation building’, both in the immediate post-war situation in the 20th century and in the current century. In addition, the question of colonial powers creating nations – all too often portrayed as simply drawing lines on the map in the final rapid dash towards decolonisation – is something that cannot be avoided. Continue reading

Boris Johnson: Foreign Secretary

It’s official. Boris Johnson, the former Mayor of London who until recently was the favourite to succeed David Cameron as Prime Minister, is Britain’s new Foreign Secretary.

It is his voice, not that of the more sedate Philip Hammond, which will now shape British foreign policy, and it is his visage which will be increasingly associated with the British nation, by allies and friends as well as enemies the world over. Continue reading

Necessary History

Review – Salafi-Jihadism: The History of an Idea by Shiraz Maher

The advent of the Islamic State (IS) took much of the world by surprise.  The suddenness of that group’s appearance, coupled with the rapid growth of territory under its control, was a shocking development. In addition, the brutality of IS, and the extent to which it revelled in cruelty which was invariably described as ‘medieval’, meant that it was, in many ways, an organisation which defied easy description. Continue reading