Category Archives: History and Politics

Field of Shadows: review

From Brazil to Qatar, via Sochi, what price – and there, perhaps, is the crux of the matter – sport free from political interference, corruption and general distastefulness? Sport than can be enjoyed without guilt felt over the lives lost, … Continue reading

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Greenbacks and Green Tops: Sport, Politics and Society

As the commemoration of Nelson Mandela has monopolised the headlines, cricket reporters have sought tenuous links between Mandela and the game. Unfortunately, rugby has all the best tunes – the 1995 World Cup as national reconciliation – but South African … Continue reading

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Limited Vision: Alex Salmond’s Lack of Ambition

Alex Salmond’s White Paper, presenting the case for Scottish independence, has been infected with the malaise of British politics. His argument has become reductive and staid, a discussion of percentages, be they numbers of swing voters or packages of national … Continue reading

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Let Our Fame Be Great and The Last Man in Russia: review

On the surface, Sochi and Vorkuta have little in common except lying within Russia’s borders. Sochi is a Black Sea holiday resort, currently receiving billions of roubles in investment before the Winter Olympics is held there next year. Vorkuta is … Continue reading

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Return of a King: review

To say we have failed to learn from the past would be an understatement. As William Dalrymple demonstrates in his wonderful new book, Return of a King, British foreign policy, especially towards Central Asia and the Middle East, is making … Continue reading

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Should Britain stay in or leave the EU?

A piece on why we should should stay in the EU written this winter. So we may choose. To leave the European Union, with its farcical directives on food shapes and health and safety, its bureaucratic largesse and Byzantine legislature, … Continue reading

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Dollar Fellow Travellers

Another Zahir article, this time inspired by Gerard Depardieu claiming Russian citizenship and my dissertation on Sidney and Beatrice Webb visiting the USSR. Gerard Depardieu lumbered around the stage of a provincial Russian town, brandishing his new Russian passport, before … Continue reading

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Tony Judt Remembered

An article commemorating the fantastic historian Tony Judt, written last summer. For those of us missing the historian Tony Judt’s brilliant scholarship, this year has brought a fine treat. Judt died of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a form of motor … Continue reading

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Going Green

Another Zahir article, this time about the potential for the growth of the Green Party. It’s from Spring 2011, but, again, I still think it’s valid. One of the highlights of the 2010 General Election, often missed by commentators obsessed … Continue reading

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The Limits of Human Rights

I wrote this in November 2010 for The Zahir, the University of York’s culture magazine. It’s about the limitations of the idea of human rights and the dangers of applying them dogmatically. Some of the examples are dated, but their … Continue reading

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