Global Britons: Understanding the unique British communities in Brussels and Washington DC

avril 15th, 2021

This Foreign Policy Centre report focuses on two unusual but strategically important British communities overseas. It builds on the findings of 252 survey responses, interviews, a focus group and research to give a detailed summary of who the British communities in Brussels and Washington DC are, what their needs are and how the UK Government can better support them and other Britons around the world.

Keir Starmer – One Year In

avril 9th, 2021

By Matthew J.Goodwin <m.j.goodwin@kent.ac.uk>

Fri, 9 Apr at 09:00, 2021

[Some of this draws on recent talks at the Council on Foreign Relations, UK In a Changing Europe, Withers LLP and Atticus Communications.]

There are some leaders of the opposition who you always knew, in your heart of hearts, would never become Prime Minister. Michael Foot, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith are the more obvious examples. Keir Starmer might soon be another.
 
Starmer, in his defence, inherited a sinking ship. He was handed the lowest number of Labour seats since 1935, a bitterly divided party and a Labour brand that even today remains thoroughly discredited among a large swathe of the country. Many of these problems had been building for decades.
 
Labour’s fracture with the working class, its loss of credibility on crunch issues like the economy and growing dependency on social liberals who tend to congregate in the big cities and university towns where Labour no longer needs votes have all been a long time coming. This is why any recovery — if such a recovery is even possible — will be generational rather than cyclical. 
 
There is no doubt that Keir Starmer has made a good start. Over the past year, Labour has picked low-hanging fruit, winning back voters repelled by Corbyn. When Starmer took over his party was languishing on 28% and some 22-points behind the Conservatives; today, it is averaging 35% and trails by 8. But more recently this recovery has stalled, as can be seen in the chart below. Amid the successful rollout of the vaccines it is now the Conservatives who are pulling ahead. Of the last 50 polls, Boris Johnson and his party have led in 49.

[Refer Image 1 below]

 How much of Labour’s improvement is down to Starmer also remains unclear. While his supporters point to his strong leadership ratings relative to Corbyn, the fact remains that even today Starmer’s “net satisfaction” score still lags well behind Boris Johnson — while 33% of voters are satisfied with him, 42% are not. And when people are asked who would make the “best Prime Minister”, Boris Johnson still leads comfortably on 37%. His nearest rival is not Starmer but ‘Not Sure’. The Labour leader is trailing in third, ten points adrift from the man who has been in power for a year and is criticised by much of the media on a daily basis.
 
There are, of course, many who argue that Covid-19 dealt Starmer an unlucky hand. But critics might argue that it is precisely during moments of crisis, when the glare of attention is strongest, that leaders are made. It won’t be lost on Starmer’s team that it is precisely at the same time as the entire country has been sat at home, watching the news and paying attention to politics, that Starmer’s ratings have been falling. To put it simply, the more people have seen, the less impressed they have been.
 
Starmerites might respond that his ratings are better than Mr Corbyn’s. This is true but we should remember that Michael Howard’s ratings were better than Iain Duncan Smith’s. Yet In the end, neither saw power. And it appears that the British people can sense that, too. More than half of them told YouGov last week that they simply do not see Keir Starmer as a prime minister in waiting. This is a problem.
 
[Refer Image 2 below]
 

And even if you put the question of leadership to one side, there remains little evidence that Labour is dealing with the deep-rooted structural problems that will make it very impossible for the party to win the next election. To do so would require a swing close to what Tony Blair and New Labour achieved in 1997 – with a leader who is nowhere near as popular as Blair was and a party that is nowhere near as popular as it needs to be outside of London and the university towns. Here is one fact to keep in mind; Labour has not won the popular vote in England since 2001 yet it is in England where the party needs to make up most ground. Today, Labour leads by 16-points in London -which it already controls- but trails the Conservatives by 26-points across the rest of southern England. In other words, Labour is stacking votes where it does not need them while failing to win votes were it desperately needs them. The broader realignment of British politics is reflected in the fact that while Labour’s Sadiq Khan’s will enjoy an easy victory at the London mayoral election next month, Labour will simultaneously struggle to hold its historic blue-collar fiefdom of Hartlepool.
 
This reflects how Britain’s new political geography, the first-past-the-post system and earlier Labour leaders have made life harder than it ought to be for Starmer. Over the past two decades, the Left essentially walked into the casino of British politics and put all of its chips behind social liberals whose support is concentrated in liberal enclaves rather than spread across the country. The cost of this strategy was not only reflected in the collapse of the Red Wall but is also visible in the polls today. Ask the working class who should lead Britain and they give Boris Johnson a 19-point lead. Starmer might win a few more seats around London, but he should remember that there are many more Red Wall seats that could yet fall. The assault on the Red Wall might just be starting.

[Refer Image 3 below]

 This reflects a broader point. At the heart of recent political commentary has rested one big assumption – that once Brexit was over and done with life would return to the traditional “Left versus Right” fault line that governed politics during the twentieth century. We would get back to debating the economic issues that play to Labour’s strengths and that would clear the path for the party to repair its relationship with workers and return to power.

But I was never convinced. For a start, this narrative completely ignores the extent to which the Conservatives have now also leaned left on the economy, variously promising to “level-up” the most regionally imbalanced nation in the industrialised world while moving institutions, civil servants and banks into northern England. This stuff matters -it will give the Conservatives a strong narrative at the next election.

The assumption that we are returning to the old world also underplays the extent to which cultural debates remain prominent in national life — as reflected in our intensifying debates over ‘cancel culture’, freedom of speech, the Royal Family and racism in British society. Boris Johnson is still holding a much more ‘aligned’ electorate than Starmer -while close to 70 per cent of Britain’s Leavers are with the Conservatives only 50 per cent of Remainers are with Labour. Put another way, Labour has still not fixed one of the big problems that ultimately cost it the election in 2019 -its far more fragmented electorate.

These problems are also being reinforced by the cultural isolation of many Labour MPs and activists, who as much research has shown hold a very different outlook on these issues than the average person. They are far more convinced that racism is endemic in British society, are far more focused on tackling historic injustices and are, put simply, far more socially liberal. There is nothing wrong with these views. It is just that they are often very far apart from the worldview of the average person. Every day that progressive activists are in the media screaming about racist Britain is, ultimately, a good day for Boris Johnson. As Ronald Reagan reminded Jimmy Carter, nobody wants to be told over and over again what is wrong with their country and people.
 
Put all of this together and you begin to see why it will be extremely difficult if not impossible for Starmer to chart a path to Number 10 Downing Street. While he might have steadied the ship, many (big) holes remain clearly visible and water is still gushing out – Labour’s broken bond with the working-class, its lack of economic competency in the eyes of voters, the cultural isolation of its MPs from the average voter and radical left activists who are cheered on in seats that Labour already holds but alienate people in seats that Labour actually needs to win. In year two, these are the areas where Starmer will need to act. Unless he does, he might find himself going down in the history books as the Labour Party’s Michael Howard -the man who brought stability but ultimately failed to win power.

Best wishes
Matt Goodwin

Twitter – Website – SpeakingCopyright © *2019* *Matthew Goodwin*, All rights reserved.

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mars 23rd, 2021

Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) – The Union & Constitution : BCiP response

https://www.dropbox.com/s/b254g5syv4v7gpx/CPF%2021-1%20Response%20-%20Response%20of%20BCiP%2021.3.21%20%281%29.pdf?dl=0

Season’s Greetings from Erika Angelidi

décembre 25th, 2020

My season’s greetings to all readers of this blog and a Happy New Year full of health and happiness.

I wish this New Year 2021 to be also full of positive developments for the UK!

Erika Angelidi, Conservatives Abroad Representative in Athens, Greece

What a Biden Presidency could mean for the Special Relationship

novembre 4th, 2020

If the opinion polls are to be believed, November 3rd should bring about a landslide victory for Vice-President Joe Biden, sweeping him to power and removing President Trump after just one term in the White House.

What could this mean for the ‘Special Relationship?’

If the mainstream media are to be believed, removing Trump from the oval office will strip Prime Minister Johnson of a natural ally across the pond; all but destroying a potential free trade agreement between the US and the UK once the Withdrawal Agreement ends later this year.

President Trump has been outspoken in his support for the UK and ‘Brexit,’ whereas Biden and the Democrats have a very pro-EU agenda. Indeed, Joe Biden as a catholic is very proud of his Irish ancestry. 

Boris Johnson’s recent move to amend the Withdrawal Agreement did not go down well with Biden and the Democrats. Biden himself cited the Good Friday agreement in his tweet on the subject and Nancy Pelosi stated that there was ‘no chance of the House passing a trade deal if the Good Friday Agreement was undermined!’

It is therefore feasible that a Biden administration would be openly hostile to Britain regarding Brexit and less willing to help Britain flourish once it leaves the EU. Indeed, a new trade negotiator would be appointed, and this process could delay UK/US talks by months.

The UK Ambassador to the US, Sir Christopher Meyer, stated that Prime Minister Johnson’s actions regarding the Withdrawal Agreement were, ‘profoundly clumsy and stupid. It immediately ignited the Irish American lobby in Washington, which is second in power to the pro-Israeli lobby.’ Furthermore, ‘…The Democrats think Boris (Johnson) is a pea from the same pod as Trump!’

As such, in the eyes of many Democrats, the British version of Trump is as poisonous as Trump himself.

It would be unfair to say that Trump and Johnson have always seen eye to eye. There have areas of foreign policy disagreement between the two administrations concerning the Iran Nuclear Deal, the UK reluctance to sideline Huawei in the creation of Britain’s 5G network, as well as disagreements concerning the Paris climate change agreement.

Furthermore, many Democrats believe Britain lacks any global clout when it comes to tackling challenges such as China and Russia.

All of this negative rhetoric would make it seem that a Biden Presidency is not what the British government would prefer. 

However, Biden is not anti-Britain as many would have you believe. He backed Britain over the Falkland Islands, when President Reagan did not. His heritage is not solely Irish either. His father’s family come from Sussex.

Additionally, what has not been considered so much by mainstream analysis is firstly Britain’s support and respect for NATO. Whilst President Trump had to create waves amongst fellow NATO members who he felt were not pulling their weight when it came to respecting their NATO commitments, the US has always had a natural and powerful military ally in the United Kingdom. 

Finally, the UK is the single largest investor in the United States, with British companies having invested $560 billion in the US, accounting for 15% of all foreign direct investment, and the US is the largest investor into the UK.

With all this taken into account, it is likely that US/UK relationships will remain pretty much unchanged as a consequence of a Biden election win, resembling perhaps previous UK/US relationships when there was a Democrat administration.

However, with 24 hours to go, there is still all to play for and it is not over for President Trump just yet. Could we be waking up on November 4th to another shock? Well, 2020 has been a peculiar year, so don’t bet against it just yet.

Andrew Crawford. 2nd November 2020.

Source material:

1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/10/14/biden-victory-would-disastrous-boris/

2. https://www.theguardian.com/p/f8cxv/stw

3. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8878655/DOMINIC-LAWSON-Joe-Biden-not-anti-British.html4. https://www.uschamber.com/international/europe/us-uk-business-council/us-uk-trade-and-investment-ties

The Realignment of British Politics – by Matthew Goodwin

juin 29th, 2020
The Conservative Party is no longer the party of the rich while the Labour Party is no longer the party of the poor.

That is the central finding of my new report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, released last week.

As I said in a talk this week, there is no doubt that Boris Johnson is a prime minister under pressure.

Public disapproval of his government is drifting upwards.

Public confidence in the economy has collapsed.

Johnson’s approval ratings have shed more than 20 points in just two months.

MPs are openly complaining about the workings of his government.

And, for the first time, when voters are asked who they think would make the ‘best Prime Minister’, Labour’s Keir Starmer is now in first place.

In fact, as I write this Starmer is enjoying the highest rating for any opposition leader since Tony Blair was transforming Labour into New Labour in 1995 and (What’s the Story) Morning Glory was topping the charts.

But look beneath the surface of British politics and far more profound changes are taking place -changes that will ultimately determine not only what happens at the next election but, potentially, many elections after what.

Britain is in a state of realignment. 

As I shown with Professor Oliver Heath, things are now happening in Britain which have simply never happened before.

The Conservative Party is more popular with people on low incomes than it is with people on high incomes.

Labour, the party that was founded to speak for struggling workers, is now just as popular with the wealthy as it is among people on low incomes.

Both of Britain’s two main parties have inverted their traditional support base.

This is, put simply, remarkable. 

As recently as 2017, Labour still led the Conservatives among people on lower incomes -as it has always done.

But at the general election six months ago Boris Johnson and his party overturned this unwritten rule.

The Conservatives established a striking 15-point lead over Labour among one of Labour’s core groups. This is the first time in Britain’s recorded history that the Conservatives outpolled Labour among low-income voters.

Remarkably, the Conservatives are more popular among people on low incomes than among people on high incomes.


Much of this new support for Boris Johnson has come direct from Labour, which is why Johnson was able to tear down Labour’s Red Wall.

Six months ago, Labour lost nearly one in three of its low-income voters who had turned out to vote Labour in 2017. 

Meanwhile, Johnson and his party hoovered up votes from working-class people, pensioners and people who left school after taking their GCSE’s, at sixteen or seventeen, while they lost ground in areas that contain large numbers of young voters, graduates and people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Johnson has been winning over the small towns and industrial heartlands but he has also been losing the cities, university towns and highly diverse areas; of Labour’s 50 strongest results in December nearly half (22) came in London while highly diverse and/or young urban areas such as Bradford, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield hosted many of the others.

And these shifts are reflected in the polls today.

Ask Brits who would make the best leader and Starmer leads Johnson by a striking 44-points among Remainers, 24-points among 18-34-year-olds, 19-points among Londoners, 12-points among people who live in cities and 3-points among middle-class professionals.

But Johnson leads Starmer by 46-points among Leavers, 19-points among pensioners, 10-points among the working-class, 6-points in non-London southern England, 5-points among voters who live in seats that Labour has lost since 2005, 5-points in rural areas and 2-points in towns.

What these numbers reflect is how broader winds are sweeping through Britain’s political system and pushing it into a state of realignment.

Why is this happening?

As we show in the report, the reality is that lots of people who live on average or lower than average incomes are ‘cross-pressured’ -they lean to the left on the economy, favouring more redistribution, but lean to the right on culture, supporting Brexit and the reform of migration. 

These voters want power sent down to the regions, not up to London and the big cities. And, by the way, they wanted a much tougher reply to the unilateral tearing down of statues. 

They do not fit neatly onto the traditional map of British politics.

Johnson tapped into this by leaning left through promises to deliver more infrastructure and help the ‘left behind’ while promising to deliver Brexit and change immigration rules.

Labour, in contrast, went in the other direction. As we show in the report, Labour’s drift to support a second referendum on Brexit damaged the party among these low-income voters who noticed the shift.

This handed Johnson the keys to the Red Wall.

Most of those who switched to him were strongly pro-Brexit and wanted to see their decision carried through and implemented by their representatives.

Johnson also had another in-built advantage – more than 60 per cent of constituencies had favoured Leave at the 2016 referendum. So long as Johnson’s strategy was focused on consolidating the Leave side he had a major advantage.

This was further underlined by the failure of Remainers to find unity, being split between Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens.

So, where do we go from here?

Johnson needs to tread carefully, for obvious reasons.

Many of the same people who switched over to him six months ago also come from those groups that have been hit the hardest by the double crisis that Johnson has struggled to manage -the Covid-19 health crisis and the accompanying economic crisis.

There is not yet much evidence that they are jumping ship.

Perhaps they are willing to give Johnson benefit of the doubt until the end of the Brexit transition period. Either way, it is not hard to see how things could start to go very wrong for the incumbent prime minister.

Immigration numbers are still high and there is also no guarantee that amid a major economic crisis these voters will continue to prioritise their values over their wallets. Nothing focuses minds like lost jobs and rising debt.

Keir Starmer has challenges, too.

Winning adulation in London and the university towns -or ‘Remainia’- is fine. But Labour already holds much of this territory.

To return to power, and given the SNP’s dominance in Scotland, Starmer also needs to make serious progress in non-London England -where lots of voters are instinctively socially conservative and wary of the new turn toward identity politics.

It is worth remembering that the Labour Party has not won the popular vote in England since 2001. Let me say that again – by the time of the next election Labour will not have won the popular vote in England for more than twenty years.

So, there are also huge challenges for Starmer’s team.

Blair managed to crack this nut by promising to be ‘tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime’ -he hoovered up the professional middle-classes while giving the more instinctively socially conservative working-class a message that resonated.

But that was also before the values-ridden debates of today -with debates over migration, Brexit, gender, statues, the legacy of empire and who-knows-what-is-next shooting up the agenda.

Starmer will need to find his own way of navigating our values divide. But find a way he must if he is serious about winning the next election.

So, is Britain’s realignment temporary or permanent? Can Boris Johnson retain his support in the Red Wall? Or can Labour repair their relationship with these low-income, blue-collar and cross-pressured voters? 

Only time will tell.

And for Johnson, especially, the clock is ticking … 


Matthew Goodwin – Twitter – Website – Speaking

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Copyright © *2019* *Matthew J. Goodwin*, All rights reserved.

The Black Lives Matter Movement & Racism

juin 12th, 2020

The death of black male George Floyd on May 25th at the hands of a white male police officer, Derek Chauvin, in the United States has led to worldwide protests about police brutality and apparent systemic racism against Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups (BAME) in Western civilization.

This is because, of course, as the Left would tell you, in the US they have ‘White Supremist’ Donald Trump as their president and in Britain the fault lies with ‘Mr Brexit’ and ‘Chief Gammon’ himself, Boris Johnson and his army of little Englanders – the Conservatives who are in power.

All of this despite the fact that Mr Chauvin has been arrested and charged with second and third-degree murder.

Consequently however, it seems that all white people are guilty of unconscious bias against the BAME community; a result of their ingrained ‘white privilege.’

This simplistic narrative has, of course, been dreamt up by an ever delusional Left that still hasn’t learned how to console itself over Brexit, and Donald Trump’s and Boris Johnson’s election victories. It further demonstrates an ever-increasing chasm between their neo-Marxist ideology and the people they purport to represent. In fact the whole #BlackLivesMatter movement is making idiots out of many people.

The Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, and his deputy took to their knee in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement, tweeting “We kneel with those opposing anti-Black racism.” Why kneel? We used to stand up to injustice and cruelty and stand alongside people in our battles.

We’ve also seen white people being chained up like slaves whilst wearing “So sorry” T-shirts and being marched through the streets by black people on some sort of slave parade. Additionally, graffiti was sprayed on to Winston Churchill’s statue in London, claiming ‘Churchill was a racist’; the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, even tweeted, ‘The sad truth is that much of our wealth was derived from the slave trade…’

All of this completely ignoring the history of the slave trade, and the fact that it was in the Christian West that slavery was first outlawed.

It is fair to say, though, that racism does exist in western civilization. However, it simply is not systemic and it is not always directed from the white majority towards the non-white minority. It is a far more complex issue.

Sadly, we still have antisemitism, and there has been an increase in Sinophobia as a result of Covid-19. There is also very clear anti-white racism.

Yes, in the ever gracious virtue signaling of the Left, they can’t see the irony of their own creed. For it is the Left that promotes the terms ‘white supremacy’ and ‘white privilege’, fundamentally highlighting that it is being white that is the problem.

This is racism, plain and simple.

Furthermore, last year the term ‘gammon’ was used to describe white, middle-aged men. So now not only are the Left racist, they are ageist as well.

If this is inclusion, please allow me to be excused.

On occasion it’s important to try to understand this lunacy; to see if it stands up to scrutiny and logic.

What is ‘white privilege’ one may ask? Is it a privilege to be born in white skin as opposed to non-white? Does being white mean that one can access the labour market more easily? Given the anti-discrimination laws in the UK, these arguments defy logic.

One further argument goes that being white means that one hasn’t had to cope with regular racial harassment or had to overcome additional challenges in society. Therefore, as a white person, one can’t sympathize with these kinds of difficulties a non-white person has had to grapple with and overcome.

However, saying that a white person can’t empathise with the issues of a non-white person is like saying they can’t be human. It’s no different than saying Sadiq Khan couldn’t empathise with Steve Jobs when he was dying of cancer. Or a Prime Minister couldn’t empathise with a school teacher. Or a Human Rights lawyer couldn’t empathise with a drugs dealer.

Coupled with this is the negative effect the rhetoric could have on non-white people, discouraging them from believing that they can achieve great things if they set their mind to it and work hard. Why would they want to try, if they are taught from a young age that the cards are systemically stacked against them? Despite the fact that this ignores the numerous occasions when black people, or people of any race for that matter, have come from a poor background in the western world and made a success of their lives.

No. The ideas of ‘while privilege’ and ‘white supremacy’ are a leftwing mantra slightly adapted from terminology employed by Karl Marx who basically portrayed bourgeois bosses as slave keepers over workers. The new terminology has been deliberately constructed to create the same divisions in society with a supposedly utopian vision of the future as its goal.

Society is not always fair. We are taught this from a young age and all religions teach it in a similar way. But society is not fundamentally cruel even though modern mantras portray it as such. The slogans of ‘white supremacy’ and ‘white privilege’ spread envy and hate. History taught us where this ends at least twice in the last century with the Nazi concentration camps and the Soviet gulags.

If we stopped this identity politics and had real deep and meaningful conversations about the problems our society face we would go a long way towards finding greater harmony in an often difficult world.

The statue of former British prime minister Winston Churchill is seen defaced, with the words (Churchill) « was a racist » written on it’s base in Parliament Square, central London after a demonstration outside the US Embassy, on June 7, 2020, organised to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis. – Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality. (Photo by ISABEL INFANTES / AFP)

Andrew Crawford

The Stationers’ Company – more on the role of tradition and ceremony, plus the ‘wicked bible’ and copyright.

juin 11th, 2020

The Cakes and Ale ceremony is an annual event, a luncheon that takes place at the Stationers’ Hall preceded by a Bidding Prayer and Sermon at St Pauls Cathedral every Shrove Tuesday following the bequest made in 1612 of John Norton, Alderman of London, Master of the Stationers’ Company.  Stationers file out of the Hall after coffee at 10.45, the Master, Clerk and  the Court Assistants first, followed by the Liverymen then the Freemen, for the short walk along Ave Maria Lane, across Paternoster Square under the watchful eye  of  a modern (Elizabeth Frink, 1975) bronze statue with the same title of Paternoster, but also known as shepherd with a flock of sheep, and down the steps to the crypt of the Cathedral, past the tombs of the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Lord ‘Horatio’ Nelson, into the Chapel of St Faith-under St Paul’s. Organ music by William Byrd 1543-1623 welcomes the arriving congregation to commemorate John Norton commencing at 11.15, the Bidding this year given by the Dean of St Paul’s and the Sermon by the Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields. At 12.15 the procession emerges from the crypt led by the Court dressed in their livery attracting a crowd of on-lookers and on their return this pious assembly with guests enjoy a buffet lunch with pancakes and cakes for dessert (more wine than ale), preceded as always by  a witty version of grace by the Company’s Clerk, William Alden. The Clerk, rather like a CEO, is responsible for the day to day running of Stationers’ that includes the organising of fundraising including charities, participating in and organising the many committees and renting out the Hall for drinks parties, events, lunches and dinners. Aloft as a central feature of the ceiling is a spread eagle and horn in gold and blue, symbols of St John the Evangelist looking down on the Cakes and Ale party, this symbol often appearing of the Saint as it was the bird which could fly highest therefore closest to heaven. At the southern end of the hall, carved in white and gold on the dark oak of the minstrels gallery, are open tomes of the King James’ Bible, reminding us that it was at Stationers Hall that this sacred work was translated by William Tyndale from Latin and edited and read out loud here by the Translating Committee.

In 1608 the Master of Stationers, Robert Barker who was also the King’s printer and therefore tasked with printing the King James Bible, left out ‘not’ from the seventh commandment, “thou shalt not commit adultery”, was fined £2000 and never recovered his health nor fortune, dying in the debtors prison. Copies of the ‘wicked bible ‘ were seized and burned in the Hall’s courtyard also the former churchyard  of St Martin-within-Ludgate, on the site of which now stands a 200 year old plain tree, renowned for its resilience to London pollution of which there was plenty with the burning of coal fires. It not only survived the decades of smoke from coal burning but also the fire and shrapnel of the Blitz, as did Wren’s St Martin’s church and the Hall. It is said that eleven copies of the wicked bible survived and that the Hoho (Chinese Fenghuang) bird carved out on the fireplace provented the destruction of the Hall.

It was on account of the development of printing to publishing that it was considered necessary to protect society against abuses of the press, and this was enforced by ordinances and Acts of Parliament  that also protected authors and publishers against infringement of their rights. The Licensing Act of 1662 was the successor to the Star Chamber decree of 1637 that forbade the publication of books without a licence and these protectionist clauses suited the trade and the Company with a requirement of a copy of every book to be deposited at Stationers’ Hall. The first law relating to copyright was the Copyright Act of Queen Anne of 1710, where infringements could be brought only for titles which had been entered in the Register of the Stationers Company, hence the term ‘entered at Stationers’ Hall’ is synonymous with copyright. It followed that penalties could be incurred by the printer on those books that were deposited, however canny printers only paid to register when they sought copyright protection, so little revenue for the Stationers. One loophole was only to register the first volume of say a series of 12, whilst learned works from universities were not entered because of the procedure and cost. Best sellers were protected and paid for since they would be more likely to attract piratical publication and contributed considerably to the fortunes of the English Stock, a company set up under James 1 that gave the Company a monopoly over certain types of publications in addition to the powerful printing privileges it had acquired through the 1557 Charter granted by Queen Mary. Shakespeare, Marlowe and others appear in the records.

Order and clarity came in 1836 and in 1838 with the international Copyright Act that gave protection to foreign works and British authors published in foreign countries, provided that their works were registered at Stationers’ Hall and one copy sent to the British Museum. The main use of the registry was a means of transferring copyright from author to publisher or publisher to publisher through a simple form of assignment at negligible cost. The proceedings improved after a Commission and the appointment of the Greenhills, London booksellers with a tradition of being Stationers, father George succeeded by son Joseph, a dynasty that lasted from 1797 to 1883. Joseph Greenhill also looked after the purchasing of the wine with an informal team of juniors for ‘blind tastings’ and only he knew which wines were kept and from whom.  His stock last recorded in dozens was, 410 of port, 32 of Madeira, 11 of claret, 15 of Moselle, 110 of sherry and two of champagne. On his demise he was succeeded by a Wine Committee.

In our next edition we shall read about the British tradition for almanacs and astrological predictions that produced annual revenue for the Stationers.

Rafael Pittman

The faux outrage about Sir Keir Starmer’s wealth strikes a new low in British politics.

mai 22nd, 2020

The social media fallout and faux outrage this weekend after the revelation in the Mail on Sunday that the leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, owns land valued at around £10million strikes a new low in British politics.

Firstly, it continues to show how low and cheap both the Left and Right in British politics will stoop to score points against each other; but more importantly it demonstrates how the Right, supposedly totally against identity politics, are quite capable of using it when the situation suits them.

The story, in summary, is brief. In 1996 Sir Keir Starmer, whilst working as a human rights lawyer, bought a field behind his parents’ house so that his now late mother could care for rescue donkeys. Once she completely lost her ability to walk she was still able to watch the donkeys from her home. The land is now valued at around £10 million.

The ‘outrage’ generated from this revelation is that supposedly Sir Keir cannot be seen as a man of the people because he has wealth far in excess of the ordinary working person. His London home is also valued at around £1 million.

The British Right have jumped immediately on this bandwagon, trying to show that supposedly the Labour Party has totally lost touch with their original working-class roots; now only standing for the wishes of the middle-class, university educated, Guardian-reading intelligentsia.

All of this, of course, is complete drivel.

It also shows the shortest, most selective memory on record on the Right – that just six short months ago working class people flocked to the ballot boxes in their millions to vote for Eton and Oxford educated, multi-millionaire Boris Johnson.

What this should say to the Right, and Left, is something we have known all along. The British people want to aspire and they want their leaders to harness an environment that will allow them to do that – responsibly, collectively and individually. Margaret Thatcher knew this, as did Tony Blair, as did David Cameron and as does Boris Johnson. Working people do not buy into this grievance led identity politics. It’s distasteful as well as divisive.

The fact that Sir Keir, of humble origins, went to a grammar school; became a Human Rights barrister; the Director of Public Prosecutions; Knighted and now leader of the Labour Party, purchasing land along the way for his disabled mother, is enough to show every person what hard work can achieve in the UK.

What the Right would be better to focus on is what a Sir Keir led Labour Party would do if they were to regain the levers of power. A cursory glance at the pledges he made in the leadership contest show that whilst Sir Keir might identify as ‘soft-left’, the Labour Party clearly is not. As long as this remains the case it would be a catastrophe for the country were they to regain power.

Andrew Crawford.

BCiP Member

“We’ll meet again”: Michael Barker recalls the Victory Parade of 8 June 1946

mai 11th, 2020

After spending the war with my grandparents in South Wales, we were now based in Sydenham temporarily while my father was building a house in Ashtead in Surrey for his family. He had returned from signals service on the aircraft carrier Indomitable in many oceans around the world. Now resuming his career as a timber broker in the City, he had arranged for my younger brother and me to view the Victory Parade on 8 June 1946 from offices opposite St Paul’s cathedral.

We observed the parade with its cavalcade of the mechanised transport column, smartly marching soldiers and indeed 750 Land Girls.

True, we did not get to join the huge crowds around the Mall, but it was a memorable event nevertheless for a youngster.

Only latterly did I discover that the brave Poles were excluded thanks to a cowardly lefty deference to the Soviets. My RC mother would greet the displaced Poles, unable to return to their homeland, and treat them to tea in John Cobb’s department store.

Also I later discovered, when I led one of my early annual city trips for BCiP to Reims, that it was in Eisenhower’s atmospheric HQ, its walls lined with large scale maps, that he actually received the German surrender on 7 May 1945.