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Something for Theresa May to think about

John Barrell: The Bow Street Runners, 7 June 2012

The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 272 pp., £65, February 2012, 978 0 19 969516 4
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... criminality’. The word ‘sheer’ did most of the work: the cause of criminality, Theresa May was arguing, was criminality itself. Boris Johnson was quick to agree. When did it become a test of ideological purity to be able to say with a straight face that poverty and unemployment have nothing to do with the causes of crime? Who was the first ...

Why Barbie may never be tried

R.W. Johnson, 5 March 1987

The People’s Anger: Justice and Revenge in Post-Liberation France 
by Herbert Lottman.
Hutchinson, 332 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 09 165580 3
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... Modern states very seldom acknowledge their own crimes. In 1944, however, France had to assume responsibility for the fact – unlike Germany or Italy, there was no army of occupation to do it for her – that in almost every field her élites had been compromised. The resulting purge was not only a comprehensive attempt to found a new moral order: it had undeniable echoes of the Revolutionary Terror ...

Three Poems in Memory of Charles Monteith 9 February 1921 – 9 May 1995

Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon and Tom Paulin, 21 September 1995

... MotoringTom PaulinOr Charlus as McGahern would call youwhen we stacked up stories with Heaney– all fun a great geg pure pleasureI’d think of this village near Donegal town– Mountcharlus they say in those partsnot Mountcharleswhich was how one editor at Faberused to sign every letter he sent(was it Dunn who wonderedhad you somehow acquired a peerage?)then I’d try hard to tracethe Burma Campaign the war woundelocution lessons All Soulsthe office it’s a long way from Co ...

Why anything? Why this?

Derek Parfit: The universe, part two, 5 February 1998

... way for reality to be. And if reality is maximal, because all possible local worlds exist, this may be true because it is the fullest way for reality to be. The highest law may be that being possible, and part of the fullest way reality might be, is sufficient for being actual.If some cosmic possibility obtains because it ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa MayThe Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... dutiful book which reads like a ghost story. The person being haunted is David Cameron. Theresa May grew up in a Cotswolds village called Church Enstone, where her father was vicar for much of the 1960s. The vicarage is within five miles of what became Cameron’s constituency home when he was MP for Witney and is roughly the same distance from what is now ...

The Sense of the Self

Galen Strawson, 18 April 1996

... comes to the sense of the self, the difference between those who can’t sleep and those who can may be more important than any cultural differences. By the ‘sense of the self’ I mean the sense that people have of themselves as being, specifically, a mental presence, a mental someone, a conscious subject that has a certain character or personality, and ...

A Change Is Coming

David Runciman, 21 February 2019

... grinding task that has consumed almost all its energies. Now that one significant part of the task may be reaching a conclusion of sorts, the appetite to resume more conventional hostilities is palpable. The politicians want to give the voters permission to start caring again about the things they normally care about. Their problem is that the voters never ...

Psychological Warfare

Henry Reed, 21 March 1991

... I do not condemn them), Fancy the thing will drag on till August Bank Holiday. Be that as it may, some time in the very near future, We are to expect Invasion ... and invasion not from the sea. Vast numbers of troops will be dropped, probably from above, Superbly equipped, determined and capable; and this above all, Remember: they will be very brave ...


Paul Rock, 17 September 1981

... what has taken place so that ambiguity can be reduced and normality restored. In particular, there may be an effort to rebuild a sense of social reality because it is that sense which has been most acutely upset. When the old certainties fail, an opening is made for people to offer competing declarations about the real moral, political and historical import of ...


Simon Armitage, 21 February 2013

... his hopes, fettering the feet      of the worthier fellow. As that passed over      may this pass also. Beadohilde was bereft      at the death of her brothers but distressed more deeply      by difficulties of her own. Once the unthinkable      thought had occurred, that a child grew inside her,      then her sanity ...


Hugo Williams, 24 September 1992

... at when he mentions the subject. Perhaps he is finding difficulty getting into the passage and it may be necessary to ask why. Perhaps she is dry because there is no natural lubricant for the penis, or perhaps she is very tense and unable to accept him. It may be that the fault lies with the man, if he cannot complete the ...

Will those responsible come forward?

Clive James, 19 January 1984

... May the Lord have mercy on all those peoples Who suffer from a perversion of religion – Or, to put it in a less equivocating way, Who suffer from an excess of religion – Or, to come right out with it, Who suffer from religion. Let Him tell those catholic protestants or protestant catholics Who in Northern Ireland go to bed on Saturday night Looking forward to a morning of Holy Worship That just this once they should make other plans – Have a heavy cold, a stomach upset or a pulled hamstring Severe enough to render them immobile, With something similar for their children – So that they will not be there to form a congregation In a church just big enough for a small massacre ...

True Words

A.D. Nuttall, 25 April 1991

The Names of Comedy 
by Anne Barton.
Oxford, 221 pp., £22.50, August 1990, 0 19 811793 0
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... Everything becomes more difficult, however, when we move to the level of the sentence. It may be nonsense to call a particular word ‘true’, but most people believe that sentences may be true or false. The account given of ‘sentence truth’, however, may itself be either ...

England prepares to leave the world

Neal Ascherson, 17 November 2016

... cast off the cross-Channel hawser mooring her to Europe. This revival is different. Theresa May says she’s bound for the ocean, and she means it. Or rather, she means it because she doesn’t mean it. Nothing in British history resembles this spectacle of men and women ramming through policies everyone knows they don’t believe in. Never mind the few ...

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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... grand-children? When the legal barriers are lifted and the violence suppressed, some sort of hope may return, opportunities may open up, and after a generation or two there may be some success stories. But the situation is not as it was before the injustice or as it would have been had ...

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