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David Runciman: How the coalition was formed, 16 December 2010

22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... Australians), they seem to have been unembarrassable. Yet that’s not how it worked over here. David Laws’s 22 Days in May, which recounts the negotiations that preceded the formation of the coalition government from the inside, explains how it happened that in our case the winners actually ended up winning. Hardly surprisingly, it’s not that Lib ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Shuffling Off into Obscurity, 5 May 2016

... David Laws​ ’s memoir of his time in government ends with everything in tatters: he has lost his seemingly safe seat, his party has gone from being a full partner in government to having the same number of MPs as the Democratic Unionists, his leader is shell-shocked and barely able to appear in public without breaking down ...

Whose Nuremberg Laws?

Jeremy Waldron: Race, 19 March 1998

Seeing a Colour-Blind Future: The Paradox of Race 
by Patricia Williams.
Virago, 72 pp., £5.99, April 1997, 1 86049 365 3
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Colour Conscious: The Political Morality of Race 
by Anthony Appiah and Amy Gutmann.
Princeton, 200 pp., £11.95, May 1998, 0 691 05909 8
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Race: The History of an Idea in the West 
by Ivan Hannaford.
Johns Hopkins, 464 pp., £49.50, June 1996, 0 8018 5222 6
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... is that it blights the future for later generations: ‘Woe betide those who enact unjust laws, depriving the poor of justice, plundering the widow and despoiling the fatherless! What will you do when called to account? To whom will you flee for help, and where will you leave your children?’ (Isaiah 10:1-3). We don’t have to see our predicament in ...

Progressive, like the 1980s

John Gray: Farewell Welfare State, 21 October 2010

... Though few anticipated the agreement, it is not difficult to understand why David Cameron and Nick Clegg should have made a bargain to share power. By forming a coalition Cameron secured protection from his mutinous right wing, while Clegg became the pivotal player in British politics. What is more surprising is the degree of unity the government has so far exhibited ...

Masses and Classes

Ferdinand Mount: Gladstone, 17 February 2005

The Mind of Gladstone: Religion, Homer and Politics 
by David Bebbington.
Oxford, 331 pp., £55, March 2004, 0 19 926765 0
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... the vapid tax-and-spend policies they had drifted into. Their new spokesmen – Vincent Cable, David Laws and Mark Oaten – are the first prominent Liberals since Jo Grimond who could seriously claim to be heirs of the Grand Old Man. Political commentators point out that parties make such shifts because otherwise they have little hope of getting ...

Two Poems

David Harsent, 22 June 2006

... whores, prisons, a creeping sea-fret, muggings, beggars, the blind, blind beggars, bad odour, bad laws A guitar, the tree, the streetlamp, the hangings In the space between two tall chimneys, a single star Thank you The key to my door is in the usual ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... Should​ the voters have known better? The modestly obscure Orange Book of 2004, edited by David Laws, later briefly chief secretary to the Treasury in the 2010 coalition, with contributions from Clegg, Vince Cable and Chris Huhne, did stress free market and non-statist solutions to problems of public policy – in deliberate contrast to the ...

Managing the Nation

Jonathan Parry, 18 March 2021

Conservatism: The Fight for a Tradition 
by Edmund Fawcett.
Princeton, 525 pp., £30, October 2020, 978 0 691 17410 5
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... it might have posed to the Conservative electoral juggernaut at the 2015 election. Nick Clegg and David Laws would have done better to reflect on the lessons of the 1880s. If free-market pro-EU Liberals had fought the 2015 election as a small but boisterous and essential entity within a Cameron-led coalition, on the model of the Liberal Unionists after ...

Who was David Peterley?

Michael Holroyd, 15 November 1984

... David Peterley’s Peterley Harvest was first published on 24 October 1960. The book had a curious history and, shortly before publication, stories began to appear in the press declaring it to be an elaborate hoax. The jacket of the book contained the information that David Peterley was the only son of an old Quaker family that had ‘lived in the Chilterns and been neighbours of Milton and the Penns ...

Thirty-Five States to Go

David Cole: America’s Death Penalty, 3 March 2011

Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition 
by David Garland.
Oxford, 417 pp., £21.99, September 2010, 978 0 19 959499 3
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... disparity up to American exceptionalism, but that’s more a slogan than an explanation. And as David Garland points out in Peculiar Institution: America’s Death Penalty in an Age of Abolition, on this and many other matters of criminal justice, the United States is not so much a single nation as a federation of 50 states, each of which has substantial ...

Cosmic Inflation

David Kaiser: The Future of the Universe, 6 February 2014

Time Reborn: From the Crisis in Physics to the Future of the Universe 
by Lee Smolin.
Allen Lane, 319 pp., £20, April 2013, 978 1 84614 299 4
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... discipline. Two hundred years earlier, Isaac Newton had bequeathed to them a remarkable system of laws which made it possible for them to describe – and predict – the motion of everything from an apple falling from a tree near Woolsthorpe to the orbit of the Moon around the Earth. When Mach was still a child, it had been concluded on the strength of ...
The Idea of Poverty: England in the Early Industrial Age 
by Gertrude Himmelfarb.
Faber, 595 pp., £20, March 1984, 0 571 13177 8
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... his optimistic view of the future, by de-moralising political economy, and by arguing that the laws of population meant that for most people life would always be nasty, mean, brutish, short, and poor. Only in the second edition of his Essay on Population did Malthus soften his tone somewhat, and tentatively admit that Smith may have been right. But by then ...

How stripy are tigers?

Tim Lewens: Complexity, 18 November 2010

Unsimple Truths: Science, Complexity and Policy 
by Sandra Mitchell.
Chicago, 149 pp., £19, December 2009, 978 0 226 53262 2
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... minded philosophers have assumed that all sciences are, or should be, like physics. Reflecting on laws of nature, she writes: ‘The search for universal, exceptionless laws, for example, was taken by 19th-century British philosophers . . . to be the goal of scientific investigation, as they reflected on the enormous ...

Not God

David Lindley, 30 January 1992

Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science 
by Michael White and John Gribbin.
Viking, 304 pp., £16.99, January 1992, 0 670 84013 0
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... a theory of everything would have to be to leave no toehold for religion. Even if all the laws of physics are found and neatly linked together, and even if these laws dictate that the universe must have the shape and appearance we see it to have, one can still ask why these ...

Short Cuts

David Kaiser: The Higgs Boson, 25 August 2011

... make it fall apart; and the elusive Higgs. Those particles interact according to specific laws of force, the mathematical expression of which makes extensive use of certain types of symmetry. The theoretical contraption is by no means beautiful – to many theoretical physicists the Standard Model has more than a whiff of Rube Goldberg about it, and ...

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