‘Honoured that you are writing my father’s biography’ the late Tony Benn, ‘...wonderfully written’ Hilary Benn

‘Sparkles with fascinating detail…a remarkable story of Liberal and Labour politics in the first half of the twentieth century.’ Michael Crick, Political Correspondent, Channel 4 News

‘Casts much light both on the evolution of British radicalism, and on the legacy which he bequeathed to his son, Tony. Professor Vernon Bogdanor, King's College, London

‘Brilliant biography…wonderful reading about the father and...discovering more about the son.’ Steve Richards of The Independent

‘Well-written and carefully researched, this fascinating biography brings to life a major figure in British political history…an excellent job of weaving together the strands of a complex life…as well as filling in the background of the Benn family’ Richard Doherty, military historian

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Death of John Bright

I have just attended the funeral service for John Bright. You may be thinking that I am taking a long time to get round to this post, as John Bright died in 1889. However, although not the original campaigner against the Corn Laws and collaborator with Richard Cobden, this John Bright, my neighbour, was a direct descendant of the 'original'.

The John Bright, whose funeral it was today, had inherited much of his eponymous ancestor's wit, oratory and brilliance. He studied Law at Oxford, served in the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy in the War and later became a judge. He was also a stalwart local member of the Liberal Party during its darkest days, remaining involved in local politics by delivering Focus newsletters until quite an advanced age. He was 86 when he died and he will be sorely missed as a local character, friend and neighbour.

The statue of the 'original' John Bright in the Birmingham Museum and Gallery bears a striking resemblance to his younger namesake.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

How will it end? - The case for a Caretaker Government before the next Election

On 29 May 2011 BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour considered how the current coalition government could be brought to a successful conclusion shortly before the next election, so that the parties can fight independently. I discussed the example of the 1945 Caretaker Government with Carolyn Quinn on the programme. You can hear the discussion here.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Lessons from past Coalitions

Since 1903 there have been 12 attempted or actual coalitions or alliances in Westminster politics. Eight of the twelve came to fruition. The Liberals/Liberal Democrats have been involved in all 12, the Conservatives in 8 and Labour in 7.

In general, the higher the purpose of the coalition, the greater its success. Those formed to prosecute a war generally succeeded. Those which sought to address an economic crisis were fairly successful, while those which sought to keep a party in power after losing an election, were not successful.

BBC Radio 4 Westminster Hour Discussion with Vernon Bogdanor on Coalitions

This link takes you to the podcast of my Westminster Hour discussion with Vernon Bogdanor about the historical aspect of Liberal-Conservative coalitions.

For a bit of background on the programme go here.