Vernon Bogdanor

Vernon Bogdanor is professor of government at King’s College London.

Oxford should not accept money that is tainted by fascism

Dons and students at Oxford have in recent years been deeply exercised about Cecil Rhodes, who died 120 years ago. Some politically sensitive students removed a portrait of the Queen in the Magdalen graduate common room, and others even persuaded the geography department to remove a portrait of Theresa May. Yet they seem strangely silent

Europe’s Nato problem

There are four major power blocs in the world — the United States, Russia, China and the EU. Of these, only the EU does not provide for its own defence and security. Remarkably, nearly 75 years after the end of the second world war, Europe is still heavily dependent upon the United States for its

White, blue-collar, grey-haired rebels

In the 2010 general election, Ukip gained nearly a million votes — over 3 per cent — three times as many as the Greens, and nearly twice as many as the SNP. Unlike those parties, it won no seats, but its intervention almost certainly cost the Conservatives an overall majority at Westminster. The paradoxical consequence

The Spectator book review that brought down Macmillan’s government

[audioplayer src=”″ title=”Vernon Bogdanor discuss Iain Macleod’s ‘What Happened’ article” startat=1460] Listen [/audioplayer]Fifty years ago this week, a cover story in The Spectator helped to bring down a Conservative government. It was called ‘The Tory Leadership’ and was written by the editor, Iain Macleod, who had been a senior minister in Harold Macmillan’s government. Purporting

Still dancing around the problem

For at least 200 years, men have sought to create a world order that would ensure stability and eliminate threats to peace. But it is only in the 20th century that this ideal has been brought to fruition, first in the ill-fated League of Nations, established in 1919, which expired, almost unnoticed, after the outbreak

Not lions, but ostriches

Jeremy Paxman has written an excellent book, but it is not the book that he set out to write. His central argument is that, since the empire had a formative influence on modern India, it must also have had a formative influence on modern Britain. If it influenced the colonised, it must have influenced the

The Tories need a genuine liberal

Vernon Bogdanor says that David Cameron is the only Conservative who can read the nation’s mood and respond to it In the 1960s Harold Wilson sought to make Labour the natural party of government. Tony Blair seems to have succeeded in doing so. The Conservatives have now been in opposition for eight years, their longest

How do we get to Denmark?

Francis Fukuyama is rare amongst scholars in being unafraid to ask large questions. He first achieved fame, if not notoriety, by his thesis that, with the collapse of communism, we had reached the ‘end of history’. The rise of terrorism and the return of authoritarianism in parts of the Soviet empire led to this thesis

Yesterday’s heroes

The Labour peer and historian Kenneth Morgan is perhaps best known for his accounts of the Attlee government, Labour in Power, and the Lloyd George coalition, Consensus and Disunity, a work of considerable relevance for anyone seeking to understand the Cameron government. But his biographies of Callaghan and Foot have caused him to be labelled

Disunited from the start

Twice in the 20th century, men have sought to create a new world order. The League of Nations, conceived with high hopes as a result of the Treaty of Versailles, failed catastrophically. At the outbreak of the second world war, it was to be found solemnly engaged in the task of standardising European railway gauges.

Linking Oxford with the world

Cecil Rhodes hoped that the scholarships established through his will, would, by creating educational ties between the Empire and the Anglo-Saxon world, ‘render war impossible’. The scholars, he insisted, should not be weedy bookworms, but manly, robust types, Plato’s guardians, a society of the elect. The 20th century has not been kind to such ideals;

Strong family ties

Kathleen Burk, Professor of History at University College, London, has written a magisterial overview of Anglo/American relations from 1497, when John and Sebastian Cabot, in Hakluyt’s words, ‘discovered that land which no men before that time had attempted’, until the modern age. Old World, New World is a remarkable achievement, based as it is upon

Two cheers are quite enough

The 20th century saw the triumph of democracy; by its end, 140 out of the world’s 189 states held multi-party elections. Yet this triumph was greeted, not with enthusiasm, but with apathy and indifference. Democracy appeared to be valued more by the rulers, who had become its cheerleaders, than by the ruled, more by the

Adjustment and reappraisal

Having It So Good follows hard on the heels of Dominic Sandbrook’s Never Had It So Good, which appeared last year. Both are doorstoppers — over 600 pages long — and the reader groans as he picks them up. Soon, no doubt, literary editors will be asking reviewers to weigh books rather than write about

Prophet of doom and gloom

Those who can, do; but all too often they cannot resist pontificating as well. John Lukacs is a historian of Hungarian origins and conservative inclinations with a number of important if idiosyncratic books to his credit, including biographical studies of Churchill and Hitler. His aim in Democracy and Populism, however, is more far-reaching. He seeks