Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Politics References

Following the comment on the last post from one desperate AS-level student, I thought it might be worth providing a couple of useful links on matters of political interest.

First up, this post on the Guido Fawkes website is not only a good rant about the state of politics today, but it references my favourite political book of the moment, Peter Oborne's admirable 'Triumph of the Political Class', and Fawkes thinks he's found a genuinely honourable and exciting US presidential candidate.

Next, 'Skipper' Bill Jones' post here about political parties is a brilliant piece for AS students to use for the AS topic on the same subject. Well worth noting - Jones considers whether commentator Simon Jenkins is right to announce the death of the party system. Sorry it's just too late for the mock!

Finally, for now, two views on David Cameron's performance at the dispatch box after the Queen's Speech. Norfolk Blogger loathed it and gave the victory to Cameron; the 'Spectator's' Fraser Nelson, not unnaturally, awarded the victory to Cameron in his Coffee Shop post here. Happy reading.

4 comments:

David Carnell said...

I've also been reading Oborne's book but have found it slightly more one-sided than perhaps you have.

Oborne is, without doubt, a skilled orator. His latest book is by turn stimulating, brilliant and slightly dotty, as befits a writer too fluent for his own good.

The theory goes that the country is run by an elite political cadre much like 18th century Whigs, involving MPs, SpAds, civil servants, thinks tanks etc.

But because this is Oborne, this Leviathan only extends as far as Blair, Campbell and other New Labour oligarchs. Oborne does have the grace to admit this began with Thatcher but even that misses a much bigger point.

Oborne lambasts political reporters for being to ready to take the word of the politicians as read, but he is no more of an outsider than the next journalist.

He also seems to think that some sort of marvellously vicotrian-value based society existed until just before he appeared on the political scene in the early 1990s. This was simply not true. Lloyd George was as corrupt as they come and there was a post-war consensus amongst the eleite under Butskell in the 1950s.

Oborne also fails to mention the new media that is beginning to not only hold politicians to account but destroy reputations. No talk of 24/7 news or internet blogging.

There are also omissions when he fails to highlight Lords Ashcrofts donations to the Tories or Paul Dacre's power at the Daily Mail. Co-incidently he is Oborne's boss.

Micheal White at the Guardian summed up this book best when he said:

"In short, this is a High Tory book masquerading as something else, a bit like Namier or Lord Hailsham's mid-70s attacks on "elective dictatorship", which stopped in 1979 when he regained office."

I wouldn't recommend it for anyone but those looking to be future columnists on the Daily Mail. Not a career to be encouraged.

consultant said...

Giles – posting helpful links for students to use? What happened to the good old days of flinging copies of Calvocoressi at us and, in response to requests for page references, assuring us that we should “just read any of it, it’s all good really”?

“Next, 'Skipper' Bill Jones' post here about political parties is a brilliant piece for AS students to use for the AS topic on the same subject. Well worth noting - Jones considers whether commentator Simon Jenkins is right to announce the death of the party system. Sorry it's just too late for the mock!”

Diligent students of this subject may also enjoy Timothy Garton Ash’s piece in the Guardian last month, which asked the question “If our political parties did not exist, would we ever need to invent them?” He explores the topic of political parties in fledgling democracies, drawing on the example of Poland where, since its first free elections almost 20 years ago, a democratic state appears to have emerged without the accompanying establishment of major political parties. He then suggests that this phenomenon can also be seen in some more established democracies such as Italy, and goes on to argue that the large, permanent parties found in Britain and the US are an unnecessary anachronism in the modern age.

It can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/Columnists/Column/0,,2198417,00.html

The analysis remains relatively shallow and his conclusions not fully explored, but it’s an interesting quick read nonetheless. Students might also benefit from exposure to Garton Ash’s style; his comparison of the current policy squabbles between Labour and the Tories to “transvestites snatching at the same cocktail dress” is exactly the kind of simile examiners love.

Mircea I of Wallacia said...

Looks like I shouuldn't have opened my mouth. I can't really comment on Obornes book as I am mid-read at the moment (I didn't think you'd have understood the standard student abbreviation 'ATM'). Already though, this book is laying it on thick. I'll get back to you when I've finished, at which point I think that I'll be the only student in our year who has actually "read around the subject".

jeremy paxman said...

Mr. Marshall; i thought that you would be too credible, too committed to your readers and students, too respected in the world of minor political blogging, to the bypass actually writing real articles rather than talking about Patrick Stewart and telling us to read someone else's blog! But, I will retract my comment if you have spent your time marking the essays and tests instead...?