Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Strange Case of 'Dr' John Reid's PhD

John Reid loves to be called 'Dr Reid'. Call him Mister and his eyes seem to twitch. He has, after all, got a doctorate so has every right to be called 'Dr'. However, no one ever seems to have traced a copy of his PhD thesis, which I am told was on the economy of a Nigerian warrior king. I always thought PhDs were publicly available for others to use as reference sources, but it seems that Reid's work of wisdom has been classified as 'closed'. I wonder why this would be. In the words of the late Sir John Junor, 'shouldn't we be told?' All information to the usual email address please!

UPDATE: It's interesting to note that Dr Gordon Brown is also entitled to be called Dr, having also got a PhD (I don't know what in), but he positively doesn't like being called Dr Brown. Man of the people, you see.

UPDATE 10.37 My correspondent Jeremy Brier reveals from a trawl through Stirling University's website that Reid's doctorate is titled Warrior aristocrats in crisis: the political effects of the transition from the slave trade to palm oil commerce in the nineteenth century Kingdom of Dahomey. Blimey, he really does deserve it then! Now, has anybody actually seen a copy or can anybody procure it? I think it deserves a review...

UPDATE 11.03 I'm not sure what I have started here! A correspondent tells me that Gordon Brown used his 'Dr' title when he first stood for Parliament in 1983, signing his election address 'Dr Gordon Brown'.

UPDATE: 11.34 David Taylor in the Comments denies Dr John likes being called Doctor. Another eminent correspondent points me to Page 2 of The Times T2 this morning. I quote: "He likes to be called Dr Reid and is senstitive to any hint of snobbery or being patronised by metrpolitan media types for his Glaswegian accent".

45 comments:

Rick said...

I thought his PhD was on the Slasve Trade in Dahomey......


btw what about Dr Gordon Brown ?

Jeremy Brier said...

I hate to find myself potentially bolstering John Reid's credibility (although if it encourages him to stand against Brown and provoke civil war in the Labour Party then, brilliant!) but a search of the Stirling University website does in fact reveal a phD by the name of "Warrior aristocrats in crisis: the political effects of the transition from the slave trade to palm oil commerce in the nineteenth century Kingdom of Dahomey / John Reid."

(Link: http://libcat.stir.ac.uk/search/areid%2C+john/areid+john/1%2C20%2C38%2CB/frameset&FF=areid+john+1947&2%2C%2C2)

Michael Oakshott said...

Sorry Iain but I won't be supporting this one.
1. I am not interested in his Ph.D
2. He is the best chance we have of stopping the Dour One being PM.
From what I have seen of Reid, he would make a better PM than Dave.

Paul Linford said...

He is the best chance we have of stopping the Dour One being PM.

You're wrong, Michael. Reid would get very little support among Labour MPs and the unions in a leadership contest. If you want a candidate with a powerbase in the party capable of stopping Brown, you need to get behind Alan Johnson.

Anonymous said...

Gordon used to be known as "Dr Gordon Brown" - check out his 1983 campaign in Edinburgh South for instance

wonkotsane said...

Use one Scot to stop another Scot ruling England? Great choice. Wouldn't it be nice to have a PM that's actually accountable to the majority rather than the minority?

David Taylor said...

Iain, I am sorry but you are wrong. John Reid does not "love" being called Dr. Reid.

In fact, when he was Health Secretary, he went out of his way to stress how he wasn't a medical doctor, and made it clear to everyone that he didn't want to be referred to as "Dr Reid".

Anonymous said...

Generally, only two or three copies are made of theses: one for the supervisor, one for the external examiner and one for the student.This may have changed with the advent of word processing and cheap laser printing but back in Mr Reid's day he would almost certainly have had to use a typewriter and then have it expensively copied.

You could try Stirling university library, on the off chance they have a copy (not sure if they demand a copy of each phd awarded for their archives). Or, ask Dr Reid himself. I'm sure someone in the Home Office can operate a photocopier.....

Larry said...

John Reid loves to be called 'Dr Reid'. Call him Mister and his eyes seem to twitch.
It's not only his eyes, Iain. It's his neck, his head and his entire upper body that goes into spasms. And that's just when he's reading his horoscope.

OJ said...

Brown's PhD, I seem to remember, was on Labour history in Scotland, and I think was the basis of his later book on Maxton. There was a piece in the Sun last year when Starkey had a go at him...

Yep, here we go. From The Sun's Whip Column, Oct 2005:

Chancellor Gordon Brown's reputation for formidable intelligence has taken a knock from waspish historian Dr David Starkey. The Tudor history expert, who is a prolific author and broadcaster, says of Brown, who has a history PhD from Edinburgh: "Everybody goes on about Gordon Brown being intelligent. I'm one of the few people who's actually read the only book he's written. It's about the Scottish Labour history. It's rubbish, it's badly written, it's badly organised and the argument is rubbish." Just for good measure, the Cambridge-educated Starkey adds: "He's a pompous stereotype and like most stereotypes, it's true". Ooh er, missus.

Of course, the etiquette involved with academic PhDs vs. medical doctors has long history of contentious discussion. It used to be that all PhDs were called Dr., and for physicians the Dr. was honourary. Now it's pretty much the other way around. Unless you're in an academic environment, if you go round calling yourself Dr., be prepared to either know which hospital you work at, or have a good line for why you're not a medical doctor. To be fair, I'd say that government is probably an appropriate environment to be called Dr. if you have a PhD. But that doesn't mean you have to be sniffy about it.

One final point - there are many MPs, and ex MPs, who have doctorates . Dr Chris Smith, anyone? (I believe his was on 19th century poetry, tho' probably mistaken.)

OJ said...

OK, a quick trawl of the databases reveals that in 1982, a G. Brown submitted a thesis at Edinburgh entitled "The Labour Party and political change in Scotland, 1918-1929: the politics of five elections." Sounds fascinating, I'm sure.

NuLabour said...

Why not offer John Reid and Gordon Brown a signed copy each of "The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze", in return for autographed copies of their theses ?

Ken said...

David, the only reason he dropped the "Doctor" when he was Health Secretary was because he realised that he would look a pompous t--t if he insisted on the title when he wasn't a medical doctor. Especially as Dr Liam Fox was then Shadow Health Sec.

Ironic, therefore, that Reid has more claim to the title than Fox, having actually got a doctorate (medical doctors take a second degree and are given Dr as a courtesy title).

Brown's PhD was in economic history.

ihavenoname said...

Private Eye seem to have beaten you to this one Iain. They have a very interesting piece on the good Dr in their HP Sauce bit. Of far more interest is his friendship with Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Bring on the war crimes tribunals!

Poverty Is Thrift said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tom said...

Page 8 of this week's Private Eye refers to Dr. Reid's thesis as being 'a Marxist treatise on the economic history of West Africa'.

They also point out that he might have some awkward questions to answer as PM if Radovan Karadzic is ever hauled before the beak.

Dr Lee Rotherham said...

That's Dr Radovan to you.

One is reminded of the words of wisdom of that great man, Dr Evil: "I didn't spend five years in frickin Evil Medical College to be called Mr Evil".

Anonymous said...

I agree with Paul Linford. The better Stop Brown candidate would be Alan Johnson. If not him, Hilary Benn. As a Labour Party activist with reservations about Brown (his ill-informed grandstanding over the Laura Spence case, his penchant for complexity in tax credits and the Tube PPP, the ruinous raid on pension funds, plus his social quirks), I'd nonetheless rather eat my own sh*t than vote for John 'friend of Karadzic' Reid.

It's not just Reid's disgusting behaviour during the Bosnian war which concerns me, but also his behaviour towards Elizabeth Filkin and her inquiry. See the current Eye for more.

Ed said...

I can't find a copy of it online but it does appear to be pretty popular, quite a few theses have cited it.

Bob Piper said...

Mengele was a Dr... and Harold Shipman... and even that useless little shit Liam Fox who bombed out in the Cameron-fest (that's enough doctors -ed). I'm interested in the Johnson for Leader campaign, if only because my postie knows him well from their union days, and even attended his wedding. It would be nice to think that my postie was mates with the PM.

dynamite said...

"Useless little shit" is an excessively generous way of referring to Liam Fox.

Poverty Is Thrift said...

lets not forget that liam fox likes to hint that he shagged natalie imbruglia , Ii know women are less shallow than men, Bbut Ii cant see her stooping that low.

Splashitallover said...

Strange how those people who love Alan Johnson omit the fact that he's dropped the ball on the one issue he's had to deal with - public sector pensions. He's totally untried, untested. A good senior minister in a Brown Cabinet, that's the best he can hope for - or maybe deputy leader. But Prime Minister, succeeding Blair, in the next twelve months, dealing with all the international issues that the job entails? Not a hope.

See-U-Jimmy said...

"He likes to be called Dr Reid and is senstitive to any hint of snobbery or being patronised by metrpolitan media types for his Glaswegian accent"

Speaking personally, I find that dropping back into Glaswegian is quite a good way of getting respect from metropolitan types - e.g. queue jumping metropolitan types respond quite well to a suitably snarled "Hey yoo, there's a queue, y'know, pal..." :-)

Anonymous said...

john redwood is also a doctor, but doesn't use the title in his political life.
i actually quite like john reid. he is one of the few competent ministers and an incredibly decent character. i just can't see him as prime minister though.
was there not some story about how the army bigwigs initially didn't want him as defence secretary due to his communist background?

Bishop Gardiner said...

Physicians don't take a second degree in the UK, and 'doctor' is a purely courtesy title. Whereas for some bizarre reason there is a degree of perceived pretension in politicians who actually are doctors (i.e. of philosophy) (Gordon Brown, John Reid, John Redwood, David Lidington) using the style to which they are fully entitled. Of course, Steve Webb calls himself "Professor Webb", doesn't he? Upping the ante, there.

Chrisco said...

'Warrior aristocrats in crisis: the political effects of the transition from the slave trade to palm oil commerce in the nineteenth century kingdom of Dahomey'

Reid, J., 1986, A9q
Ph.D., Stirling, 37-2328

Abstract: "Political control in 19th-century Dahomey was vested in a warrior aristocracy. The Atlantic slave trade reinforced the traditional pattern of control, mainly through the aristocracy's domination of the annual raid, the main method of procuring slave captives. The slave raid was a major means whereby the surplus labour of the Dahomean population was mobilised to the differential benefit of the aristocracy. Moreover, the aristocracy's control of the `production' process of slave exports facilitated their virtual monopoly of imported Western goods. Such imports played an important economic role, but also played a vital political role as means of social control (fire-arms), and as highly prestigious luxury goods useful in attracting followers and maintaining social status. The production of palm oil and the associated trade was much less easily controlled by the warrior aristocracy, and incompatible with the inherited ideology and ethos of the warrior class. The diffuse nature of its production and trade increasingly undermined the material basis of the aristocracy's political power. Throughout the period of economic transition, from circa 1830 - 1890, the history of Dahomey can be viewed largely in terms of the aristocracy's varying responses to these changing economic conditions. Initially, the potential effects of the new commerce were not obvious, and it was treated with toleration by the aristocracy. Subsequently, as a direct result of the decline in slave exports it was officially condoned and encouraged by the monarch with a view to fiscal revenue. However, direct participation in agricultural production for the export sector was still, by the late 1840s, limited by the new trade's economic inadequacy and the constraining influence of the warrior ethos. Between 1849 and 1852 severe disruption to the slave trade, military defeat and British naval coercion prompted the Dahomean aristocracy to embark on a half decade of economic and political adaptation. The failure of this strategy was marked by a reversion to traditional practice and a re-assertion of the warrior ideology from the late 1850s. By the 1870s the essential incompatibility of the new economic trends and the inherited pattern of political power was obvious and led to internal division and, eventually, to open hostility to the new trade. The contradiction between the established pattern of political power and the nature of the new, legitimate commerce was a primary factor in prompting the military intervention of the Western powers and the eventual downfall of the independent Dahomean monarchy."

Chrisco said...

No such thing as a 'closed thesis' Iain. If you are a member of an academic library, or go to the British Library you can get a copy on inter-library loan.

Not that you'd really want to...

malcolm said...

I notice Bob Piper that you have neglected to sign the petition to ask the digusting wife of our corrupt PM to apologise for her behaviour.Why?Do you approve of it?

Anonymous said...

Further to Larry's point, John Reid's funky chicken-esque neck twitch is strongly reminiscent of Fulton Mackay in Porridge - role model perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I remember Francis Wheen said, praying in aid the examples of Dr Kissinger and Dr Paisley, that people who insist on being called Doctor might as well have 'This man is dangerous' stencilled on their foreheads.

Is this new Wednesday paper, First, the one Wheen, Glover et al have been aiming to launch?

Croydonian said...

Putting on my liberal hat (small 'l'), I think the Doctor deserves credit for combining high academic achievement with distinct abilities in the black arts of dirty politics and what appears to be more than a nodding acquantaince with what it means to be at least a semi-normal human being.

Which could not really be said of the other names we've been discussing here.

Bob Piper said...

Malcolm... Let's just say I couldn't give two tosses about it. it's just froth for the chattering classes to get excited about.

Anonymous said...

Bob Piper,'I couldn't give two tosses about it',That says more about you than than anything else.

Chrisco said...

To be fair, 'Dr.' Paisley's doctorate from Bob Jones University is an honorary one, and from an institution that is not even accredited (not to mention the fact it had a ban on inter-racial dating until 2000).

Anyone who has an honourary degree and calls themself 'Dr.' is clearly a little unhinged.

To be fair to Kissinger, he did go straight into the job from academia, so there was a continuity, much like Dr. Conoleeza Rice, and no-one could say she is dangerous...

Pulsar said...

Malcolm-interesting point!
Perhaps it was postman Pat Johnson who paid the £400!

Croydonian said...

An interesting definition of the chattering classes that extends to callers to radio phone-ins, eh?

torylady said...

Iain, I take it that from Poverty is Thrift comment at 12:58 you don't expect any Africans to be reading your page...

You really should draw the line somewhere if you're moderating comments.

Iain Dale said...

Tory Lady, I have now removed the comment. Thanks for alerting me to it.

Anonymous said...

Doctor means a different thing in a presbyterian church - a church theologian I think. Not that I know all that much about Calvin's view of church government. Perhaps Cranmer can enlighten us?

Neil Craig said...

From the abstract Reid's thesis looks like some actual original research into a subject on which I, for one, am entirely ignortant. I can also see why somebody interested in economics & the effects of law & different paradgims on the development of society could want to study this.

By comparison Brown's on the Labour party in Scotland sounds a doddle.

Fear Mor said...

I attended Stirling University in the 1970s and they didn't offer a Ph.D degree. They offered instead something called the D.Univ (Doctor of the University).

Beachhutman said...

Oddly, I was talking about this over coffee this morning
with the Wrinklie one

Tim said...

Can you not simply go and read/scan it?
http://tinyurl.com/rdccm


Or... you could ask people who list in in their Bibliography if they have a copy?

Dr Adrian Vranch said...

On the subject of doctor titles and snobbery, I had an interesting experience when buying a naff lampshade in Salcombe 20 years ago. Handing over my credit card to pay prompted the proprieter (a very plummy Home Counties sort with Essex girl aspirations) to exclaim "Your not a bleedin' doctor" and imply that I had nicked the card. My response "Yes I bleedin' am..." seemed to do the trick and the transaction was completed to everyone's satisfaction.