Saturday, September 19, 2009

In Conversation With David Starkey

In the latest issue of Total Politics I have an IN CONVERSATION interview with David Starkey. He sure knows how to give good interview. You can read the full interview HERE, but here are a few extracts...

What do you think of politicians as public speakers?
Very few are any good at all. I can't really think of any current ones who are. I was never impressed with Blair. Cameron is all right.
Blair was quite a good platform speaker because he could act.
Yes, but if you are to be a really impressive public speaker, there's got to be content, and of course there never was. There was blather of common places. And also, I don't think with really good public speaking you should be too keen to please. Blair has a labrador quality.
Isn't that endemic in politics though?
It's endemic in current politics. I don't think Churchill fell over himself in his desire to please. I suppose what has really happened is that the idea of the major political speech as sustained exposition - explanation, policy - that has largely vanished, because most of them don't have any policies to explain. By no means are all the 'great' 19th century speeches really great, but some of them are.
Wasn't that because they had no other way of explaining things, whereas nowadays there are?
But how often are they used? How often is there any real exposition of policy at all? What's astonishing is that we have a Prime Minister who is supposed to be an intellectual - I've never seen any evidence of this, but we are told all the time that Brown was a brilliant student and briefly held a university position. I've never heard one word from him that suggests connected thought. If you look at the alleged 'great rescue' of the economy there are two ways you can explain it. One is that he was grounded in serious understanding of Keynesianism and all the rest of it, and the other is that Brown is doing what he's always done best which is throw money at things. And nothing he has said has persuaded me that it was anything other than the latter.
Is there a figure in Tudor history you would liken Gordon Brown to?
Gordon Brown actually reminds me more of a figure of modern literature. There is a real feeling of Kenneth Widermerpool about him from Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time. Widmerpool is the dreadful, plodding figure, who's only good sport at school is cross-country running. While all his brilliant, charming contemporaries bugger it up, Widmerpool rises! It seems to me that with Brown there is a complete sense of humour and charm bypass. There is that relentless bludgeoning quality with his alleged 'brilliant performances' as chancellor, the machine-gun fire of statistics that were always at least ten degrees from the point. But no charm, no wit.
Do you think we're now seeing the results of that type of education, where very few politicians seem to have any sort of historical knowledge or perspective at all?
That's absolutely right and it also goes along with a particular type of society - if you like the Californisation of the world. One of my American friends said many, many years ago - decades ago - that what you've got to understand in California is that with that blue sky and eternal sunshine and lonely beaches, the concept of the past can't exist. We're all Californians now! And I think a very interesting example was someone like Princess Diana - from the grandest, upper-crust English background - and yet her references, modes of behaviour, appearance and dress suggested she was born in Orange County. Didn't she think that Duran Duran were more or less the best thing since sliced bread?
And she was right! Couldn't you actually come up with a character from any age of whom you could say that about?
Well, the airhead isn't a new phenomenon. But what was still particularly interesting was what sort of fecundity she represented. And most of the young women on television it seems to me seem to belong in this kind of Orange County 'never never land'.
Talking of women in history, you've come in for some flak recently for your comments about the so-called feminisation of history.
I can't imagine why. It seemed to me such a sensible, gentle comment. If you have a large number of women historians, writing for a readership where a very large percentage are women, you will get a certain kind of editing and presentation of history. It was no more than that.
Couldn't you make the counter argument that men writing about history put a particular slant to it also?
Of course you can. That's precisely what I was saying: that certain sorts of things are put into the foreground like personal relationships, the role of the wives and so on - and I have after all written the defi nitive book on Henry and his wives - but certain other things are put into the background, like war and religion.
You also sparked controversy with your remarks on Question Time about Scotland being a "feeble little nation".
It was a joke! The question was did I think the English should treat St George's Day the same way the Scots and all the rest of them treat their saints' days - St Andrew, St Patrick and my answer was no. That would mean we would become a feeble little nation like them and we're showing every sign of doing just that. H.G. Wells has this wonderful phrase - "the English are the only nation without national dress". It is a glory that we don't have such a thing. If you want to be academic about it, there are two completely different patterns of nationalism in the British Isles - the Celtic nationalism of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, which is entirely typical nineteenth century European nationalism, an invention based on folklore, supposed authentic peasant cultures which are entirely fictional, national dress, national music and some goddamn awful national poet like Burns. English nationalism went through that phase under Henry VIII. But if you do really want me to go back to being abusive - I would say that Scotland's decisions with the Libyan bomber confi rms everything I said about them. If you want to see what happens when a country becomes 'little' - when you have a government that wouldn't make county councillors in England, and a Minister of Justice that is an underemployed solicitor - that's what you get. And I am not anti-Scottish, I love Scotland - my childhood holidays were there - apart from that fact it pissed with rain all the time. But Scotland's greatness took place not in medieval history when it was a catastrophe of a place, but in its long, long association with England and Britain. The transformation of Scotland from this deeply backward Presbyterian horror of the early 17th century - where you still hang a lad in the 1690s for denying the existence of the Devil - to this extraordinary 'Athens of the North' of the Scottish enlightenment, the amazing products of Glasgow University in the 18th century, is when Scotland looks out as part of a greater whole. What's happened of course is that Scotland is now looking in. It has become exactly like medieval Scotland - the clannishness, the introversion, chucking money at the Edinburgh Festival to make it 'more Scottish', that awful Parliament, the dreadful Parliament building. The self-indulgence of the whole thing, the complete sense of in-growing toenail; I mean Edinburgh has turned into a city where you can see its toes growing in.
What do you make of what this government has done to the constitution?
Catastrophic. One of the great problems is that when you have no written constitution, there is nothing that is actually entrenched. It's only respect for convention that holds you back, and Labour has a very bad record in this regard - going back to the Parliament Act - of forcing major constitutional change unilaterally. Always, of course, in the name of social justice and nice things like that. The situation that we find ourselves in now is that our structure of government is broken.
So what's the Starkey recipe for fixing it?
We need a version of the American constitution. When you think of all the silly fuss over the office of Lord Chancellor - when did a Lord Chancellor last do any serious harm? The alleged confusion of political and judicial functions. What's been so striking about a lot of Labour constitutional reform is that on the one hand it's done big things that it shouldn't have done, and it's also done little things that there was no need to do like fiddle around with the position of Lord Chancellor. The catastrophe is one body being both the executive and the legislative. It means that it does neither job very well. In particular our Parliament is useless as a legislature. It's why our legislation is so awful. It's why, of course, MPs have actually got no function. MPs now are, at best, overpaid social workers. What we need, I think, is something very much like the American model, and I would go the whole hog. I would have a directly elected Prime Minister. The emergence of somebody like Gordon Brown, who is so totally unsuited to the office and never actually been subject to the test of election, would be unthinkable in America, because from primaries onwards you are subject to this test. We should have something very much like the American cabinet, which is outside the legislature. We should have an elected Lords. The obvious basis for the Lords are the old counties. The catastrophe of the semi-abolition of the old counties under Heath was a catastrophe. Incidentally, there's only been one government that's as bad as this and that's Heath's. Heath and Joseph together were a catastrophe. Every single thing they touched turned to something brown. I would create a second chamber that has two members elected from each county.
You were quite rude about the Queen. What about Prince Charles, what's your view on him?
I wasn't rude about the Queen...
You called her a "provincial house wife".
Well that's right. It's what she is. And provincial house wives are not without virtue, my mother was one. They are not without virtue at all, and ...
Why were you happy to receive your CBE from a "provincial housewife"?
I didn't, I received it from the crown. [Laughs]. She's had the virtues of solidity, of good sense, of rugged determination to stick at the job, and she's had the vices of a complete lack of imagination, of style, of no interest in anything but horses and farming.
I learnt the other day that she's a supporter of my team, West Ham United.
Well there you are that's even more of a problem then isn't it [laughter]? Charles, you know, is almost the mirror image. I like the idea that somebody gets excited about things like architecture and the environment. Far too few people in Britain do. He's also got an extraordinarily impressive track record, which really is worth thinking about, in organisational terms. Think of things like The Prince's Trust. It's one of the few bodies in Britain that's got any kind of serious record in genuine rehabilitation, of genuinely getting the young out of this dreadful rut of three-generational unemployment - and as you know we now have some 20 per cent plus of the nation stuck in that rut. Anybody that can help [them] get out is a good thing. I mean, poor Prince Charles, he is in one sense profoundly conservative, but like me he's a child of the 60s. And you know he found himself, like Henry VIII, shipwrecked against concepts of marriage as a kind of public act, and the desire for private happiness - and he didn't have Henry VIII's available methods of solving the problem [laughs].
What do you think of Nick Clegg?
[Sighs] Do I think anything at all of Nick Clegg? Quite a good looking young man but I mean... There's a sort of 'who he' quality about him isn't there?
Going back to the Scotland, Wales issue, are you in favour of an English Parliament?
In the current arrangement you certainly need something like that. We probably need a genuinely federal system. I can see lots of reasons why, for historic nations that have come together as Britain did, this would actually be a rather good way of managing things. What I think is much more important, and I care about much more, would be a revival of local government. We've recently acquired a house in America in a little town on the Chesapeake called Chestertown. It's 4,500 people, it's a retirement community. I was entranced by the town. The core of it's 18th and 19th century - lovely and safe and handsome and a civilised community - but what strikes you about it is that it's like going back to my childhood in a rather bigger town, Kendal in Westmorland [now Cumbria] which was then 20,000 but is probably a bit bigger now.When I was a boy, Kendal had its own fire service, it had its own police force, it had its own mayor and council that were responsible for virtually everything that mattered. Chestertown still has. Now we have this ludicrous argument for the professionalisation of services but if you're in Kent, where I am, they're all 30 miles away. Ditto police. Four thousand five hundred people is twice the size of medieval York. London under Henry VIII was 50,000. Medieval York was capable of sustaining its guilds, contributing to the building of its cathedral, that vibrant civic life. Again one of the reasons for the kind of disease and sense of atrophy in national politics is that politics should build itself from the grass-roots up. The roots have withered because people genuinely don't control their own lives. It's absurd that the basic unit of government in London now is well over quarter of a million. Antony Jay published a book arguing that the natural human unit is about a legion or a regiment - it's about 1000 people. [He argues that] a group like that, where a high degree of common knowledge is possible, is the obvious unit. I think it's too small. Again you see what's so different about America is that the federal government can't change local government. Local government - the county, city structure - is an absolute given. It's embedded within the law. Look at the number of different arrangements that have been made for the performance of justice in the last 15 or 20 years. There's a complete disconnection between units of local government and how the judiciary works, whereas in America there are the courts at county level, the courts at state level, the courts at federal level, and there is a very close relationship between those areas and political boundaries. Again, look at the courthouse. We've spent all our time knocking wonderful Victorian courts down. In America the courthouse is nearly always one of the great centres of a town or township with an immense pride and history to it. Whereas we've gone in for perpetual deracinating change. I mean look at the National Health Service, the millions, billions, trillions that have been squandered on perpetual rejigging, rejigging, rejigging.
Oh come on, you know you're not allowed to criticise the NHS. You've almost committed anact of treason if you do that.
Bevan I think was basically deranged. Why should that particular set of arrangements become the definition of patriotism?
Particularly after 60 years.
It bears about as much relationship to modern Britain as, you know, the Christianity of the Bible does [laughter]. It's a joke, but we've touched on a very interesting point. With the loss of belief in real political institutions what you do is retain belief but it becomes a kind of mere sentimentalism. The most powerful force in English public life currently is an absolute sentimentalism. And the worst sort of sentimentalism is that which surrounds the National Health Service. It leads to a refusal to think seriously about things. Again the embrace of certain types of multiculturalism and whatever, they're forms of gross sentimentality. Refusal to analyse, refusal to look fairly and squarely at consequences.

Read the full interview HERE. You can subscribe to the print edition of Total Politics HERE.


Richard Allen said...

"The catastrophe of the semi-abolition of the old counties under Heath was a catastrophe."

Methinks a bit more proof reading was required.

Ross said...

David Starkey is always interesting even when he's wrong. He doesn't seem to do current affairs as much as he did back in the late 1990s when he was on the Moral Maze and had a radio show in what was then "Talk Radio".

Marian said...

As a Scot I find it amusing that David Starkey's simplistic thinking that that the Celtic nationalist movement "is entirely typical nineteenth century European nationalism, an invention based on folklore, supposed authentic peasant cultures which are entirely fictional, national dress, national music and some goddamn awful national poet like Burns."

This is clearly an opinion of someone with absolutely no clue to the fact that what Scots actually want is control over what goes on in their own nation rather than be ruled by a remote disinterested UK government based in a far distant corner of these islands.

Jeff said...

What do you think of Nick Clegg?
[Sighs] Do I think anything at all of Nick Clegg? Quite a good looking young man but I mean... There's a sort of 'who he' quality about him isn't there?

Mildly amusing with the sigh perhaps but I'm sorry, what a nob for the rest of that comment.

The leader of the 3rd largest democratic party in the UK trumps David Starkey (who is this guy anyway?) any day of the week.

Good choice of questions though, I'm not shooting the interviewer.

Paddy Briggs said...

"The emergence of somebody like Gordon Brown, who is so totally unsuited to the office and never actually been subject to the test of election, would be unthinkable in America, because from primaries onwards you are subject to this test.

Whatever Brown's failings are, and Starkey hugely overstates them, they pale into insignificance compared to George W Bush. Bush was far more unsuited to office than our GB and he, together with the also elected Cheney and the unelected Rumsfeld (and the rest) have damaged America and the world for a generation or more. America has a constitution, a Bill of Rights and all that jazz and yet they twice put in the Oval office the ineffable Dubya. And remember that the hideous Sarah Palin could have been a heartbeat from the presidency if a couple of percentage points in the 2008 election had swung away from Obama. If the Starkey lauded American system gives us Dubya and his venal crew then give me the British system any day - Gordon and all...

Ralph Hancock said...

I think I preferred David Starkey's performance on the YouTube clip pointed out by Guido yesterday.

Unsworth said...

@ Marian

Given that a 'UK Government' exists what is your position? That no Scots should be allowed to vote on, say, English or Welsh issues? How 'interested' are the Scots in these matters, after all? Should they be allowed to vote on English Law?

Does distance make any difference? What about the distance between Canberra and Perth, for example?

And isn't it a Scot who repeatedly refers to 'Britain' and 'British Jobs'? What does he mean by that, do you suppose?

If the Scots wish to have complete independence I would wholeheartedly support that move. Far better to have clarity and robust borders than to continue with the constant Hibernian Whinging about supposed inequalities.

Unsworth said...

@ Jeff

"The leader of the 3rd largest democratic party in the UK trumps David Starkey (who is this guy anyway?) any day of the week."

What does 'trumps' mean?

Out of frying pan and into the fire said...

Marian, you said:

"This is clearly an opinion of someone with absolutely no clue to the fact that what Scots actually want is control over what goes on in their own nation rather than be ruled by a remote disinterested UK government based in a far distant corner of these islands."

And being ruled from Brussels achieves this want/goal??

John MacLeod said...

Oh dear, Starkey really doesn't like Scotland, does he? But let's knock on the head this lie of a land of awful Presbyterian intolerance. I can't defend the Aitkenhead execution to which he alludes - no one can - but Scotland's record of religious tolerance is far better than Englands.

Only a handful of people were martyred during the Reformation (all but one Protestants): nothing happened here comparable to the hundreds burned to death under Mary I or the dozens under the blessed Elizabet, and the most generous estimate of the total put to death (on both sides) during the Reformation in Scotland is twenty-three. Compared to England, France, Germany or elsewhere in europe, that's an astonishingly low figure.

Scotland has the best record on treatment of the Jews of any European country. The bloodiest period of our history - the persecution of the Covenanters, from 1660 to 1988 - was at the direction of a London monarch trying to impose episcopal,Anglican-style church government - again, hundreds were killed and hundreds more tortured. And it was England, not Scotland, where men were still being hanged, drawn and quartered as recently as 1746; England where, as recently as the Second World War, the courts solemnly tried a witch; England which was three years behind Scotland in repealing Section 28.

'We are all aware of the Protestant martyrs in England under Queen Mary,' writes academic H J Paton, 'but if we visit the English College in Rome, we can see - or at least could see somke years ago - a large number of not very good pictures portraying the horrible tortures of the Roman Catholics under Queen Elizabeth. The English legend that insane intolerance is peculiarly characteristic of Scotland seems to find little support in the facts.' I'm afraid David Starkey simply doesn't know what he's talking about.

Philipa said...

I think I love David Starkey.

Well that's a vaccuous statement if ever there was one. What I mean is that he voices opinions and ideas that are close to my heart; that I passionately believe in. And he does so in such a delightful way.

dearieme said...

Starkey was good value, but he's wrong about Burns - no Shakespeare, but a pretty good poet all the same. As for the petty nationalism point, he's missed, I suspect, the aspect of it that is just anti-London resentment - well justified too, in my opinion. The problem for the non-London parts of England that share that resentment is that they have no natural method of expressing it. Or perhaps I'm being unfair - perhaps his point about over-centralisation is much the same point at root.

Bobby said...

The tories do not want devolution as they want all the power to be held in the south of England. That way they can make decisions that benefit the south.

Anonymous said...

Jeff said.

"The leader of the 3rd largest democratic party in the UK trumps David Starkey (who is this guy anyway?) any day of the week."

Nigel Farage, the leader of the 3rd largest democratic party in the UK based on votes in the most recent national poll for the EU parliament, rather agrees with David Starkey!!

I also think that Ukip may have more members than the LibDems, who are fading fast as all minority parties do!

ToryBanter said...

Starkey's ideal politician would be a great orator, some one who not afraid not to please the public. Who believes in localism and a written constitution. Who got a great knowledge and appreciation of history.

Does the name Daniel Hannan spring to mind?

Unknown said...

Marian (the jock) and we English would like YOU lot out of our Country as well please. Especially the ones running England and the drunk smelly ones that keep asking me for change in London at every cashpoint.

Anonymous said...

John Macleod points out that in "England where, as recently as the Second World War, the courts solemnly tried a witch;"

That is true, sir, a Scottish witch!

FireForce said...

Paddy Briggs at 10:45,
Compares brown & Bush.
Give me bush and day, and Cheney, (Cheney a friend of a friend)
at least in the U.S.A. both Bush & Cheney understood freedom of the individual, something so alien to brown, and labour.

Unknown said...

Bobby: And what is wrong with having the power in the south of England? We generate the wealth YOU lot in the north want it spent on Heroin, benefits and football.

How often do you see strikes in the south? They are always in shitholes like Liverpool or Manchester. Do you think all those migrants at Calais are looking to move to dumpholes like Liverpool for jobs? Of course not, well not unless they want to be drugs dealers I guess.

You people seem to think you are owed a living by the rest of us.

I'd like to see the south break away from the north, go join the Scots and the Welsh and see how you get on once the teat of southern English tax payers has been removed from your mouths.

Jeff said...



Bill Quango MP said...

Paddy Briggs makes a good point about the presidency, even if a little skewed.
Sarah Palin wasn't a heartbeat from the presidency because her TV appearances and the primaries exposed her weakness and ignorance.
she actually fell from grace during the race, not after.

Bush won because he promised a lot of easy answers. Blair did too. Obama didn't promise much, and hasn't been able to deliver much either, but, for an American, he is very radical.
In a presidential race Brown would lag behind, as would Heath. IDS and Clegg as would Major and probably the 1979 Maggie.
Vince would do better than expected, as would Hague, Harman,Ed Miliband and Howard, but they wouldn't win.
Wilson, Cameron and Blair would walk it.

Johnson and Balls wouldn't even get nominated.

Anonymous said...

'Blather of common places'

Should be commonplaces (meaning trite and lazy form of words)

Unsworth said...

@ Jeff

So what does a game of cards have to do with this discussion?

'Outranks'? How?

You're just expressing a personal preference or opinion. I'm asking for the rationale behind it.

Hamish said...

Very entertaining stuff, especially about the Scots.
Pity he is half-hearted about endorsing the obvious solution: independence for England.

Salmondnet said...

John Macleod:

Despite Ken Livingstone's best efforts London does not have Kings, so "a London Monarch" is an unashamedly tendentious description of two rulers from the (Scottish) Stuart dynasty.

saucepan said...

Excellent interview Iain. I always find Starkey's views interesting as, whether you agree with him or not, he's very forthright and doesn't cloak his words and meaning in PC 'double-speak'. Very refreshing nowadays.

Who is Nick Clegg BTW?


No Society said...

I am attracted by Davids eccentricity and share his small government ideals. But as a revered historian and on the subject of Scotland, John McLeod has exposed that Starkey's pomposity displays rather stark ignorance.Nonetheless another great post Mr.Dale, keep them coming.

Anonymous said...

Great to see David Starkey's interview. He sadly as Ross mentioned doesn't do as much current affairs as usual (in the 90's he did the Moral Maze on TV as well as radio, also Question Time, and his radio show on Talk Radio).

A lot of people seem to think that the local government reorganisation of the 1970s was a bad idea(Peter Hitchens of the Daily Mail does).

I am also find it interesting that he doesn't like Keith Joseph, but likes Margaret Thatcher. From his quote :"Heath and Joseph together were a catastrophe."

John MacLeod said...

Hi, Salmondnet. Charles II was born in England; he had a Danish granny, a French mother and a Portuguese wife. He never once visited Scotland during his reign, after the Restoration of 1660 - though his brother, later King James VII and II, did play some part north of the Border, on occasion supervising the torture of Presbyterian dissidents. (Grovelling apologies re my earlier posting for typing '1988' rather than '1688'.)The pair were about as Scottish as Harold Macmillan, their rule in Scotland was uniformly bad (and scarcely better in England, though at least they refrained there from the judicial murder of hundreds of their own subjects), and the atrocities of their consecutive reigns north of the Border - such as the two women drowned at the stake by the Solway Tide - were extensive and incontestable. In fact, the Stuarts ended up so detested in their ancestral land that, in 1746, more Scots actually fought against 'Bonnie Prince Charlie' at Culloden than for him. Might we leave the mythology to Starkey; and let him preen on the tolerance of a land that twice expelled its Jews, decreed as late as 1978 that no Roman Catholic could be Speaker or Lord Chancellor and still has the Pope annually burnt in effigy for a jolly jape - no, you read that right, and not at Larkhall, Lanarkshire; but Lewes, Sussex.

tory boys never grow up said...

Perhaps Mr Starkey, as a historian, might let us know which great constitutional reforms in this Country have been achieved on a bilateral and consensual basis - rather than using the unilateral approach that he criticises?

Anonymous said...

Plumb not Plum

Salmondnet said...

John Macleod: Tony Blair was born in Scotland, but most Scots still regard him as English. Charles and James were following in their (indubitably Scottish) grandfathers footsteps. The Wellingtonian theory of nationality applies and, even if it did not, it remains tendentious to refer to kings from a Scottish dynasty as "London" Monarchs.

Further, as I am sure you are aware, the reason for the wartime witchcraft trial was, ostensibly, fraud and, in practice, a real security issue. Questionable perhaps, but not really evidence of intolerance.

As to the Lewes bonfire, if I was a Roman Catholic, or part of any other minority, I would face the citizens of Lewes (or any English town) in preference to oh so tolerant Rangers fans, any day. Perhaps Starkey's views on Scottish intolerance are based as much on the present as the past.

Chris Goodman said...

The only "lesson" the history of the last 200 years teaches us is that the Left are stupidly and wickedly wrong about pretty much everything (and the greater their power the greater their destruction) but you do not have to read a history book to know that, just listen to a Leftist for more than five minutes.

Conservatism is essentially the attempt to moderate the destruction caused by Leftists.

I suspect that it is psychology ("malignant narcissism") which is the key to understanding Leftists, the key texts being Shakespeare not Freud.

An interest in history is driven by curiosity about what it is to be human, both in the sense of what we did, and what we have "inherited" - in both the good and bad sense of that word.

To have no interest or knowledge of history is to be an ignoramus, but if you read history in order to extract lessons from it then you might as well not bother.

Anonymous said...

"John Macleod points out that in "England where, as recently as the Second World War, the courts solemnly tried a witch;"

That is true, sir, a Scottish witch!"

and thw whole trial was stymied by W Churchill(English)

John, you really underplay the the persection of the Covenanters 1660 1688 which you say
" was at the direction of a London monarch trying to impose episcopal,Anglican-style church government - again, hundreds were killed and hundreds more tortured."

You are implying it was an English controlled plot on puir wee Scotland. The reality is it was home grown Scottish religious/political feuding of a particularly deadly and callous variety that took place long after this sort of thing had attenuated to mere non bloodletting political maneouvre in England. And it was emphatically a Scottish and not an English story.

Curiously,you also fail to mention the mob-fuelled jiudicial murder of Captain Thomas Green and three of his crew when they were hanged for trumped up charges( basically because the mob were inflamed agianst the English- shades of now!) on Leith sands on 11/04/1705,just outside Edinburgh. There were troops to hand to prevent it happening but the Scottish establishment who knew very well that what was happening was wrong, kept away from this legal lynching.

They don't talk about it to this day unless someone pursues the matter.

Simon Gardner said...

Very good interview. Thoroughly entertaining. And what a ghastly, ghastly man. You really brought that out.

@John MacLeod - I can see nothing at all wrong with burning the pope at the stake. Seems a thoroughly good idea.

Anonymous said...

Sensible thoughts about the NHS. Wonder if any Tories are listening...

They should be.

tory boys never grow up said...

"The only "lesson" the history of the last 200 years teaches us is that the Left are stupidly and wickedly wrong about pretty much everything"

Before you go spouting such garbage - perhaps you should go and look at the demands of the Chartists - all of which, part from one, have been met and are accepted as the norm in democracy. The only one that hasn't been met is the demand for annual parliments - although those arguing for fixed parliments are looking to go someway in that direction.

happyuk said...

I like this guy and his somewhat drastic way of thinking.

Dimoto said...

London is the capital and only world city in these islands.
Of course it sucks in most of the talent in these islands and lots from far beyond.
Of course the locals in most of the provinces resent this and carp about the "distant and remote rule from London".
There are vastly more talented Scots in London than in their region of origin. (and I'm excluding the mediocre Scottish Labour and media cabal from the talented London Scots, just in case you were wondering !)

Chris Goodman said...

The essence of the "Charter" was universal [male] suffrage without the qualification of property. This is Leftist to the extent that it gives Leftists an opportunity to increase the power of the State, but even somebody as immature as yourself “Tory Boys Never Grow Up” will be aware that the word “democratic” in a Leftist State has next to nothing to do with what the Chartists were advocating. To a Leftist democracy is a means to an end, the end being a State in which Leftists (such as yourself) can fully realise their pathetic little hatreds and their craving for power over others.

Bobby said...

Martin :
You steal the wealth, you do not generate it, because all decisions are made for you, as simple as that.
The South can always dip it's hand in to take some cash, and benefit from every decision, regardless of whether the decision was made for north or Ulster.
That is why you are wealthier than the rest, you dip[ your hand in to take money form every decision.

tory boys never grow up said...

Chris Goodman

So the Chartists weren't on the Left - can I suggest that you go and read a lttle history?

You are just employing a circular logic by which all evil is of the Left and and the Left are all evil, so surprise, surprise no argument will ever convince you otherwise - but perhaps you shhould give a little thought to those on the left such as Koestler and Orwell who made it very clear that ends could never justify the means.

Paul Donnelley said...

Judging by the fact that the ONLY team invited to the Palace is Arsenal I would respectfully suggest that Her Majesty is a Gooner.