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Democratic Sublime

Derek Hirst: Writing the English republic, 19 August 1999

Writing the English Republic: Poetry, Rhetoric and Politics 1627-60 
by David Norbrook.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £40, January 1999, 0 521 63275 7
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... when the axe fell on Charles Stuart’s neck, was no mere romantic gesture. Rather, it declared David Norbrook’s belief that to vindicate the cultural vitality and integrity of English republicanism at its moment of flowering – a moment of high energy not only in politics but also in political thought, journalism and in literature, too – is to make a ...

Beebology

Stefan Collini: What next for the BBC?, 21 April 2022

The BBC: A People’s History 
by David Hendy.
Profile, 638 pp., £25, January, 978 1 78125 525 4
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This Is the BBC: Entertaining the Nation, Speaking for Britain? 1922-2022 
by Simon J. Potter.
Oxford, 288 pp., £20, April, 978 0 19 289852 4
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... undertakers hover in their closing pages), then at least from the crystal set to iPlayer. David Hendy’s book has the strengths of an insider’s account, packed with detail and anecdotes, shrewd in its assessment of personalities, light on socioeconomic change. Simon Potter’s is more academic and astringent. Potter tends to be critical where Hendy ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Remote Killing, 24 September 2015

... a specialist team at RAF Waddington trained at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Over the summer, David Cameron had suggested that he hoped the British air war against Isis could be extended from Iraq to Syria. But, he said, nothing would change – after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq was the only permitted target – until Parliament was reconvened ...

Lines in the Sand

Keith Kyle, 7 February 1991

Saddam’s War: The Origins of the Kuwait Conflict and the International Response 
by John Bulloch and Harvey Morris.
Faber, 194 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 571 16387 4
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Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam’s War 
by Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander.
Gollancz, 352 pp., £9.99, January 1991, 0 575 05054 3
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Cambridge International Document Series: Vol. 1 The Kuwait Crisis 
edited by E. Lauterpacht, C.J. Greenwood, Mark Weller and Daniel Bethlehem.
Grotius Publication, 330 pp., £35.17, January 1991, 0 949009 86 5
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Air Power and Colonial Control 
by David Omissi.
Manchester, 260 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 7190 2960 0
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... he emerged in 1987, under the strains of a war against Iran which he appeared to be losing, as a charter member of what the Jordanians were describing as ‘the great moderate centre’. The other members of this new alignment were Egypt, Jordan and the PLO; it was part of the shift in policy towards Israel which the Palestine National Council finally ...

Beware Kite-Flyers

Stephen Sedley: The British Constitution, 12 September 2013

The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction 
by Martin Loughlin.
Oxford, 152 pp., £7.99, April 2013, 978 0 19 969769 4
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... interpenetration of these two constitutional functions. Take Magna Carta, successively lauded as a charter of English liberties, then dismissed as a carve-up between a tyrannical monarch and his predatory barons, now coming up for its 800th anniversary and due for another reappraisal. Martin Loughlin arguably gets it in one: ‘By establishing the principle ...
... manifesto that came to be known as the Limehouse Declaration. When Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and I met together that morning, we were clear in our intention: in breaking the mould of contemporary politics, we would create a new radical centre, push the Labour Party into third place, change the electoral system and usher in an era of ...

Still Defending the Scots

Katie Stevenson: Robert the Bruce, 11 September 2014

Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots 
by Michael Penman.
Yale, 443 pp., £25, June 2014, 978 0 300 14872 5
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... and John Balliol, lord of Galloway. Both claims originated in the marriages of the daughters of David, earl of Huntingdon, the youngest grandson of David I of Scotland. Balliol had a claim by primogeniture, as the grandson of Earl David’s eldest daughter, Margaret. The strength of ...

Jailbreak from the Old Order

David Edgar: England’s Brexit, 26 April 2018

The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump 
by Anthony Barnett.
Unbound, 393 pp., £8.99, August 2017, 978 1 78352 453 2
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... economic privation or cultural loss. In The Lure of Greatness, Anthony Barnett, the founder of Charter 88 and co-founder of Open Democracy, has identified a third: the constitution. Those who focus on the economic explanation, for Brexit as for the election of Donald Trump, point to the increasing disparity between rich and poor on both sides of the ...

Terms of Art

Conor Gearty: Human Rights Law, 11 March 2010

The Law of Human Rights 
by Richard Clayton and Hugh Tomlinson.
Oxford, 2443 pp., £295, March 2009, 978 0 19 926357 8
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Human Rights Law and Practice 
edited by Anthony Lester, David Pannick and Javan Herberg.
Lexis Nexis, 974 pp., £237, April 2009, 978 1 4057 3686 2
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Human Rights: Judicial Protection in the United Kingdom 
by Jack Beatson, Stephen Grosz, Tom Hickman, Rabinder Singh and Stephanie Palmer.
Sweet and Maxwell, 905 pp., £124, September 2008, 978 0 421 90250 3
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... reflect the traditional freedoms the people of this island are presumed to care about. The Tory charter would reaffirm the primacy of individual freedom and empower the individual to resist overweening state power. However popular in right-wing circles, such a dramatic reversal would inevitably raise a question which could in time become as intractable as ...

The Candidates

Chris Lehmann: Scott, Rick, Ted, Marco and Jeb, 18 June 2015

... A to F) is recalibrated almost every year in an attempt to improve the figures. The unregulated charter schools are paid for with taxpayers’ money. Florida statutes require the organisations administering the schools to be non-profits, but, Florida being Florida, all that energetic for-profit concerns had to do was set up non-profit shell companies as ...

Two Men in a Boat

Ian Aitken, 15 August 1991

John Major: The Making of the Prime Minister 
by Bruce Anderson.
Fourth Estate, 324 pp., £16.99, June 1991, 9781872180540
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‘My Style of Government’: The Thatcher Years 
by Nicholas Ridley.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 09 175051 2
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... every few minutes the room would erupt with laughter, usually at some bleary-eyed sarcasm from David Davis. Francis Maude, laughing louder than anyone, would then restore everyone to order.’ On the other hand, Mr Anderson neatly decapitates a few enemies. One of them is the unfortunate David Shaw, MP for Dover, who is ...

Advised by experts

David Worswick, 21 December 1989

The Economic Section, 1939-1961: A Study in Economic Advising 
by Alec Cairncross and Nita Watts.
Routledge, 372 pp., £40, May 1989, 0 415 03173 7
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The Robert Hall Diaries. Vol. I: 1947-1953 
edited by Alec Cairncross.
Unwin Hyman, 400 pp., £40, May 1989, 9780044452737
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... Union being worked out under the direction of Meade. As it turned out, the International Trade Charter was never ratified, what was left being the GATT, a machinery for negotiating the reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade. Looking over the Section’s work on postwar Britain, one is struck by the amount of thought given to looking forward to ...

At Tate Britain

Frank Kermode: William Blake, 14 December 2000

... other in the complement of pages, page order, colour, and occasionally the wording’ – so says David Bindman in his introduction to William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books (Thames and Hudson, 480 pp., £39.95, 30 October, 0 500 51014 8). Obviously not many such books could be printed, which accounts for their extreme rarity, but Blake thought his ...

Eden and Suez

David Gilmour, 18 December 1986

Anthony Eden 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Weidenfeld, 665 pp., £16.95, October 1986, 0 297 78989 9
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Descent to Suez: Diaries 1951-56 
by Evelyn Shuckburgh, edited by John Charmley.
Weidenfeld, 380 pp., £14.95, October 1986, 0 297 78993 7
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Cutting the Lion’s Tail: Suez through Egyptian Eyes 
by Mohamed Heikal.
Deutsch, 242 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 233 97967 0
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The Suez Affair 
by Hugh Thomas.
Weidenfeld, 255 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 297 78953 8
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... moustache’. This view has been assailed, from opposite angles, by both of Eden’s biographers. David Carlton* is critical of many aspects of Eden’s career, and argues that his views on foreign policy in the Thirties were less wise and consistent than is usually believed. Robert Rhodes James, however, not only endorses the traditional appreciation of ...

The Right Stuff

Alan Ryan, 24 November 1994

The Principle of Duty 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 288 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 1 85619 474 4
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... David Selbourne’s The Principle of Duty is described on the dust-jacket as ‘the most comprehensive theory of civic society written in English since Locke’. ‘In English’ is wise: it excludes Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Durkheim, Hegel, Marx and Weber. The claim remains bizarre: Locke did not produce a theory of civil society, comprehensive or otherwise, but an account of our obligations to government or the state ...

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