Showing posts from May, 2013

Beware What You Tweet

Somehow, Sally Bercow managed to secure upwards of 56,000 followers on twitter.  Which made her inadvisable tweet about Lord McAlpine all the more - well, inadvisable.  Lord Tugendhat's ruling appeared today, and he ruled against Bercow and in favour of McAlpine, that the tweet was indeed defamatory.

There can't have been much doubt on the part of anyone who read it that Mrs. Bercow wasn't in fact simply stating a trend and asking a question about it.  "Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *innocent face*" asks us to believe something more; it was a would-be cunning way out of being accused of suggesting that McAlpine was a paedophile - the nature of the untrue twitter rumours based on a poorly sourced Newsnight film - by indulging in a bit of nudge-nudge wink-wink gossip.  As such, the ruling is to be welcomed.  If it dissuades Mrs. Bercow from tweeting in future it has probably served a further purpose too.  Her fame is mysterious, and despite frequent denials seems…

Cameron's Losing Battle Against Tory Puritanism

With Tory cabinet ministers - led by the ubiquitous Mr. Gove - scrambling over each other to assure their party of their out and out Euro-scepticism, it is tempting to wonder what all the fuss over UKIP is about.  Apart from a matter of timing, it seems they are all united on a referendum approach.  But, of course, there is more to it than this.

UKIP is not just a repository for those who are anti-European.  Indeed, Europe is merely the hook on which to hang a whole panoply of other concerns, making UKIP essentially a protest party.  For disillusioned Conservatives in particular UKIP offers an unrepentant leader in Nigel Farage, who contrasts nicely with the rather more nuanced Mr. Cameron.  Tory members - both grassroots and a significant number of backbench MPs - are not happy in coalition, hate the thought of Tory moderation and dislike the grey shades that come with compromise.  In their black and white - or blue and red - world, there is much virtue in Tory puritanism and Mr. Ca…

The Problem With Michael Gove

It's a great pity Michael Gove can't just become history rather than being able to prounounce upon it.  If he were one of those tedious old bores who keeps telling you how much better things were in the old days then one could safely nod sagely and expect to escape within about half an hour or so.  Sadly, Mr. Gove can't be escaped from very easily, and his unformed views on history teaching matter because he is the Education Secretary, the man who can dictate what we teachers do if he so chooses.  And it appears he does so choose.

Michael Gove has no expertise or experience in teaching, and as an English graduate he sports no more historical acumen than the interested amateur.  The interested history amateur is, of course, not to be sniffed at.  The great virtue of history is that it can and should be read, savoured and enjoyed by all.  Mr. Gove, unfortunately, believes that he has a mission to restore a form of history recitation to schools that used to be quite popular …