Colin Kidd

Colin Kidd teaches at St Andrews. He is the co-editor of Political Advice: Past, Present and Future.

Chief Justice John Roberts fears a future radical Democrat administration bent on reforming an anomalous institution. The court, he seems to feel, shouldn’t be too far out of step with public opinion, which is the reason – possibly against his own deeper inclinations – his was the swing vote that upheld Obamacare, a betrayal that alienated his fellow conservatives on the court. In the meantime, Joe Biden has nominated Justice Stephen Breyer’s replacement, Ketanji Brown Jackson, who would be the first Black woman justice on the court. During Breyer’s last session the court is set to rule on a Mississippi law banning almost all abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy. With six conservatives on the nine-person court, Roberts knows that another prudent defection on his part will not be enough to save Roe. But he might entice one of the conservative justices into supporting a less provocative outcome: further hollowing out Roe without explicitly overturning the constitutional right to abortion.

So abrasively​ right-wing was George W. Bush’s gravel-voiced vice-president, Dick Cheney, that he got the nickname Darth Vader. Out of office he hammed up the part, making public entrances to the Imperial March from Star Wars. He once asked his wife, Lynne, if it annoyed her that people referred to him as Darth Vader. Not at all, she said, ‘it humanises you.’ Cheney’s...

Was peace long delayed as a result of Protestant stubbornness? Unionist constipation should never be discounted, though it’s far from the whole truth to assert that they kept up an unthinking veto. While many of the mainstream leaders of Ulster Protestantism conformed to caricature as unimaginative defenders of their laager, others, including Desmond Boal, a close collaborator of the Democratic Unionist Party leader, Ian Paisley, were willing to explore the idea of a federal Ireland. Paisley was quick to retreat from this, but did not denounce his friend. (Indeed, Paisley’s reputation as an irreconcilable afforded him some opportunistic licence: he had briefly contemplated an all-Ireland deal with a de-Catholicised Republic shorn of its 1937 constitution.) Most imaginative of all were Ulster’s loyalist extremists, who in the 1970s considered the idea of an independent Ulster with a Bill of Rights for the Catholic minority. 

New Unions for Old

Colin Kidd, 4 March 2021

If​ Scots sometimes seem unduly exasperated with Brexiter nationalism, it isn’t just because they voted heavily against Brexit. Nor, in the case of Scottish unionists, is it simply a consequence of a well-founded anxiety that our reckless departure from the EU threatens to break up the United Kingdom. Rather, it comes from the perception that England’s nationalism is crude, unreflective and cartoonish by comparison with the arguments put forward for Scottish independence. Even those of us who are instinctively anti-nationalist – wary of nationalist rhetoric, and the dangers it might bring – recognise that Scottish nationalism is much more sophisticated than its boorish English cousin. The SNP explicitly renounces ethnic nativism, champions a pro-immigrant civic nationalism, and embraces the post-sovereign realities of interdependent nation-states. The prospectus for Scottish independence has some awkward gaps, not least on the currency question, but it’s still far more comprehensively thought through than Brexit.

The​ political volatility of the last decade has made fools of us all. Very little has panned out as pollsters and pundits predicted, and the rapid succession of bizarre new normals has made it difficult to recover our previous expectations about the likely trajectory of political life. Predicting the course of politics has always involved a speculative flutter; but it’s usually more...

Boris Johnson’s japes are comparable in neutralising effect to the softening charm of Tony Blair. How can such a matey, blokey person, ‘someone you could have a pint with’, possess darker, colder...

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Colin Kidd’s study of Scottish Unionism goes, as he himself insists, sternly against the prevailing ideological current, which is focused on the emergence of political nationalism in both...

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Our Slaves Are Black: Theories of Slavery

Nicholas Guyatt, 4 October 2007

In 1659, during the last months of the Commonwealth, 72 slaves from Barbados managed to escape to London. They complained to Parliament that they had been living in ‘unsupportable...

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