Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite teaches history at UCL. She is co-editor of The Neoliberal Age?, about Britain since the 1970s. Women and the Miners’ Strike, co-authored with Natalie Thomlinson, is due in October.

‘We’ve messed up, boys’: Bad Blood

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 16 November 2023

Gary Webster​ was seventeen when he was told he had Aids and might have just two or three years to live. It was early 1983 and he was at Treloar’s, a boarding school for children with haemophilia and other disabling conditions. He had to give the news to his parents himself. In his written statement to the Infected Blood Inquiry he said the ‘worst thing’ was the stigma. He...

No Place for Grumblers: Ready for the Bomb?

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 27 July 2023

In​ 1955, William Strath was asked to produce a report for the government on the possible impact of nuclear conflict on the UK. Strath, a former tax inspector, economic planner and experienced civil servant, came to the conclusion that Britain was unlikely to emerge from a nuclear attack as a functioning society, never mind as a nation able to wage war. The United States had recently tested...

Puny Rump: Sick Notes

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 13 April 2023

The analogy between the welfare state and the sick note ignores the fact that, unlike the sick note, the welfare state has been consistently popular with the public – despite the carping of the Daily Mail. Grassroots critics of welfare have rarely called for cuts but overwhelmingly for expansion: for the system to live up to the high hopes invested in it.


Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 22 September 2022

In the early​ 1960s, London was boring. The population was in decline, the buildings were black with pollution and there were still bombsites in the City. Public transport was hard to come by after 11 p.m. and many shops in the West End closed at 1 p.m. on Saturday, not reopening until Monday. Sunday was so dull that in 1964 a guide was released with tips on what you could actually do on the...

Bring out the lemonade: What the Welsh got right

Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, 7 April 2022

Charlotte Williams imagines a Welsh identity that is not based on ‘land, language, lineage’ but is progressive, open and diverse. This is Richard King’s project too, and his book is an attempt to construct a genealogy for a progressive Welsh nationalism. Although he includes blood-and-soil nationalists like Barnard Jenkins, and opponents of nationalism like Neil Kinnock, most of the voices in his book belong to people like Charlotte Williams or Ron Davies: people who are critical of exclusionary forms of nationalism but who believe in the possibility of an inclusive civic nationalism, and in the idea that self-government is better for Wales than Westminster government. And who’s to say that one version of Welsh nationalism is more ‘true’ than any other? The claim that ‘Wales is a nation’ isn’t a descriptive statement: it is – or aspires to be – an illocutionary act. Nations are all imagined communities, in Benedict Anderson’s phrase, and they can be imagined in different ways. The question is how many people can be persuaded to imagine the community in the same way.

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