It is hard to think of a more divisive figure in British politics than Margaret Thatcher — at least since the days of the predecessor whom she most admired, the early 19th-century prime minister Lord Liverpool.
The high point of Liverpool’s term (1812 to 1827) was the victory over Napoleon at Waterloo; its low point was quickly dubbed Peterloo, the occasion on which British soldiers used their sabers and muskets to disperse workers rallying for better wages, labor conditions and suffrage at St. Peter’s Fields in Manchester in 1819.
Mrs. Thatcher’s 11-year tenure had much in common with Liverpool’s, both in its length and its attitudes toward organized labor.… Seguir leyendo »
Intellectuals in Britain have always regarded Rupert Murdoch with suspicion. His rise to prominence on the media scene in the 1980s coincided with a brutal yearlong lockout of newspaper workers, aimed at breaking the traditional hold of their labor unions. In the dominant position he subsequently gained, with four major newspapers and a large stake in television, he began to exercise significant influence over the political scene, and even greater influence on the down-market end of the press.
One anomalous feature of British journalism is its long history of scurrilous, muckraking weekly scandal-sheets, the tabloids or “gutter press,” which since the Victorian era have delighted blue-collar readers with stories of murders and sexual misconduct.… Seguir leyendo »
Should the law still seek and prosecute people for crimes committed a long time ago? Let us first clarify one thing about the case of Roman Polanski: the film director was convicted of a crime, and skipped the jurisdiction before he could be made to pay the penalty for it. His is not a case where it is still moot whether he committed a crime or not: he pleaded guilty. Nor therefore is it a case where a “statute of limitations” might apply, that is, a statute saying that a prosecution can only be brought against a person within a certain period after a crime occurred.… Seguir leyendo »
It is a common presumption that if people know a lot, they must be intelligent. Anyone who can reel off capital cities or count to 10 in several languages – or, in the case of a two-year-old girl heralded in newspapers this week, tell an apple from a banana early enough – is counted a bright spark. And often enough intelligence, a good memory and a well-informed mind go together because intelligence prompts curiosity, curiosity results in knowledge, and memory keeps the knowledge available.
But there is no automatic connection between knowledge and intelligence. There are plenty of very bright people who do not know the world’s capitals and cannot count in other languages, because they have never had a chance to learn them.… Seguir leyendo »
Controversy always follows those who suggest that terminally ill or incurably suffering people should be allowed to ask for and receive help to die if they so wish. The same set of arguments is standardly urged in opposition: that life is sacred, that legalising physician-assisted suicide would lead to abuses, that a majority of the medical profession do not approve of legalising voluntary euthanasia.
These arguments so far carry the day with our legislators, even though polling shows now, and has done so consistently for many years, that more than 80 per cent of the public want physician-assisted suicide to be available to them as an option if they should find themselves in circumstances where their lives have become unbearable without hope of remedy.… Seguir leyendo »