In 1930 George Arliss won an Academy Award for his starring role in the film ‘Disraeli’. The film’s interpretation of Disraeli offers an interesting insight into the way in which Prime Ministers were viewed in the early half of the 20th century.
As part of the Picturing Politics series hosted by the University of Nottingham's School of Politics and IR, I looked at what the film reveals about our changed attitudes towards political leaders.
The podcast can be heard here.
In November 2012 I participating in Radio 4’s The State of Welfare. This marked the 70th anniversary of the publication of the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Social Insurance and Allied Services – better known as the Beveridge Report, something that is generally regarded as laying the foundations of the post-war welfare state.
The State of Welfare took up most of Radio 4’s morning schedule and I helped kick if off - with
As part of the Picturing Politics series hosted by the University of Nottingham's School of Politics and IR I discussed the rise of the party leader and the influence party leaders now hold over their party’s fate.
I examined this phenomenon using the example of the 1997 Labour manifesto – which featured a close-up of Tony Blair’s face on its cover – and looked at the effect this focus on Blair had on the Labour Party. The podcast is available here.
George Arliss is a long forgotten figure. But in the 1930s he meant a lot to British movie audiences, so much in fact one poll made him the most popular film star of 1934, knocking Clark Gable into second place. Arliss was, however, an unlikely star – in his sixties, he had a stoop and bad teeth – but his screen persona clearly resonated with cinema audiences.
Thanks to the 1929 Hollywood movie Disraeli, Arliss was a transatlantic star. It won him an Oscar
Beneath the calm surface of British politics, lurking in the imaginations of some of our leading writers, terrible things have happened. In this Radio 4 Archive Hour documentary produced by Jane Ashley I examine these dystopian visions which have gripped creative and public imaginations in novels and dramas since the end of the second world war.
British democracy has come under threat time and again in fictions from 1984 to V for Vendetta, by way of Dr Who, The Prisoner, A Very British Coup, Edge of Darkness and others.
Britons have been oppressed by authoritarian governments, suffered alien subjugation, been
During the 1980s Benn was not alone on the left and centre-left in looking at Labour’s first majority administration through rose-tinted glasses. The more Margaret Thatcher dismantled a post-war ‘consensus’ largely cast in the image of Clement Attlee’s government, the better 1945 looked. Benn’s
When Harold Wilson sat down after a speech opening the 1963 Labour conference debate on science, he probably didn't realise he had just delivered one of post-war British politics' most cited pieces of rhetoric. He just wanted to win a general election.
Contemporaries hailed Wilson's invocation of the promise of "the scientific and technological revolution" and of the need for government to plan Britain's response to "the white heat of technological change" as outlining a new vision of socialism. Many historians have also subsequently praised the Labour leader's evocation of a spirit of optimism in a Britain emerging from austerity into
The general election of 1945 is one of the key turning points of modern British history. Labour won a thumping Commons majority and used it to introduce the welfare state, nationalise key industries and guarantee full employment. You have to have a heart of stone – or be an implacable Thatcherite – not to feel that there was something wonderful, heroic even, about that moment.
According to Ken Loach's documentary The Spirit of '45, an election held nearly 70 years ago remains relevant to a world in which the free market is triumphant. As he says: "It's time to put back on the agenda the importance of public ownership and public good, the value of working together collaboratively, not in competition." A key part of his argument is that as the British people once