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MI5, the Cold War, and the Rule of Law

MI5 and Russian interference, now and then

On 21 July 2020, the UK parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee published its long-delayed report on “the Russian threat to the UK.” Although heavily redacted, the report was wide-ranging and dealt with a number of issues, including the threat to democracy, highlighting concerns about potential Russian interference in the Scottish referendum in 2014, the EU […]

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The best of a decade on the OUPblog

Wednesday, 22 July 2015, marks the tenth anniversary of the OUPblog. In one decade our authors, staff, and friends have contributed over 8,000 blog posts, from articles and opinion pieces to Q&As in writing and on video, from quizzes and polls to podcasts and playlists, from infographics and slideshows to maps and timelines. Anatoly Liberman alone has written over 490 articles on etymology. Sorting through the finest writing and the most intriguing topics over the years seems a rather impossible task.

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The English question: a Burkean response?

The prospective award of substantial new powers to the Scottish Parliament, which is currently being debated by the Smith Commission, has engendered a growing unease about the constitutional position of many different parts of the UK. This issue is causing concern in Wales, still reeling at the rushed and unfortunate decision to rule the Barnett formula […]

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Learning to love democracy: A note to William Hague

British politics is currently located in the eye of a constitutional storm. The Scottish independence referendum shook the political system and William Hague has been tasked with somehow re-connecting the pieces of a constitutional jigsaw that – if we are honest – have not fitted together for some time. I have written an open letter, encouraging the Leader of the House to think the unthinkable and to put ‘the demos’ back into democracy when thinking about how to breath new life into politics.

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Can Cameron capture women’s votes?

After the Scottish Independence Referendum, the journalist Cathy Newman wrote of the irony that Cameron – the man with the much reported ‘problem’ with women – in part owes his job to the female electorate in Scotland.

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The poetics and politics of rap music in the UK

Looking at current events in the UK, one can conclude that the Kingdom is far from united. While media outlets such as the BBC and newspapers tell a particular story of the situation, I have found that there is a missing voice in these discourses which shed an important light on these contexts. The British rapper, or MC.

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Britain votes…again: three crucial questions

Last month, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Britain would hold a general election on 8 June. The election raises three crucial questions. First, why did the Prime Minister call an election now? Under British law, she could have remained in office without facing the voters until 2020 and, in fact, had promised on multiple occasions that she would not call early elections.

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What would Margaret Oliphant have said about Trump and Brexit?

What would Margaret Oliphant (1828–1897), one of the most prolific of commentators on nineteenth-century society (98 novels; 50 or more short stories; 25 works of non-fiction, and over 300 essays) have made of the politics and social mores influencing events today? In particular how would she have reacted to the identity politics behind the plea for a hard Brexit, the current referendum stand-off between England and Scotland, and the triumph of Trump in the US presidential election?

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The Honourable Members should resign

On 16 March, less than nine months after the public voted to leave the European Union (EU) in a hotly contested referendum, Britain enacted a law authorizing the government to begin the process of negotiating “Brexit,”— Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. Although there was much talk of “Bregret” following the referendum, recent polling suggests that British attitudes have not changed much since June.

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In or out of Britain?: the big question for Scotland

The 2014 Independence referendum was an important moment in British constitutional history. With the Scottish Parliament’s decision to ask for a second vote, it also provides useful lessons for the future. The referendum of 2014 divided Scotland into two camps, a division that has now become the principal dividing line in the nation’s politics. Yet it has not created a social or ethnic divide such as we see in Northern Ireland.

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After Brexit: the English question surfaces?

“Will the Prime Minister provide a commitment today that no part of the great repeal bill will be subject to English votes for English laws?” This seemingly technical query – will have reminded Theresa May that, amidst the turmoil and drama of the current political moment, a powerful English question is now salient in British politics. But these questions of parliamentary procedure and tactics are really the tip of the iceberg.

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Nationalism and Brexit

Was the vote for “Brexit” an expression of nationalism? It depends what we mean by nationalism and what kind of nationalism is involved. I define nationalism as the belief that national identity provides the focus of political loyalty and is best expressed and secured through independence, usually a sovereign nation-state. . Nationalism consists of ideas, politics (movements, parties), or sentiments (beliefs, attitudes).

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The overwhelming case against Brexit

On 23 June, British voters will go to the polls to decide whether the UK should remain in the European Union (EU) or leave it in a maneuver the press has termed “Brexit.” As of late April, public opinion polls showed the “remain” and “exit” sides running neck– and — neck, with a large share of the electorate still undecided. The economic arguments for remaining in the EU are overwhelming. The fact that the polls are so close suggests that a substantial portion of the British electorate is being guided not by economic arguments, but by blind commitment to ideology.

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Parliamentary procedure

On May 7, British voters will head to the polls to elect a new Parliament. If mid-April forecasts are correct, the formation of a government will be a bit more complicated than in elections past. The results of those elections will have important ramifications for the conduct of economic policy in both Britain and the European Union. For most of the last two centuries, British governments have been formed by one of the two major political parties of the time.

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