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Hinduphobia

Posted December 16, 2016

History Today

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Hinduphobia History Today

 

 

 

Hebdo’s ancestry – Letter to The Times

Posted January 13, 2016

The Times

We need to consider how Charlie Hebdo came into being before discussing if it went too far, says Mihir Bose

Sir, The debate about whether Charlie Hebdo’s journalists went too far (letters, Jan 13) needs to consider how the magazine came into being. It got its present name after its predecessor, L’Hebdo Hara-Kiri, was banned by the French government in November 1970. This was because after the death of Charles de Gaulle in his village of Colombey, the magazine published a front cover which read: Ball Tragique A Colombey 1 Mort (Tragic Ball at Colombey, 1 Dead). After the ban the magazine renamed itself Charlie Hebdo, a title which was itself an impertinent reference to de Gaulle.

I am not for one moment arguing that Charlie Hebdo’s journalists should not have published what they did, but the ban on its previous incarnation reminds us that even in the land which gave us those wonderful ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity, sometimes governments feel that journalists go too far.

Mihir Bose

London W6

No One is Indispensable

Posted September 22, 2015

History Today

Mihir Bose challenges the perception of Winston Churchill as a demi-god who was essential to Britain’s war effort.

Aneurin Bevan (right) with the future prime minister Harold Wilson at the Labour party conference, September 1953.Aneurin Bevan (right) with the future prime minister Harold Wilson at the Labour party conference, September 1953.At the height of the Second World War, as Aneurin Bevan relentlessly criticised the strategy of Winston Churchill, his friend Archie Lush asked him in anguish: ‘Why do you keep attacking Churchill? What do you think happens if he goes?’ Bevan replied: ‘All right. Suppose he fell under a bus. What should we have to do? Send a postcard to Hitler giving in?’

Any criticism of Churchill as war leader is now seen as unpatriotic, if not heresy. This was vividly demonstrated during the events marking the 50th anniversary of his death, when the media joined hands in promoting the idea that during the war Churchill was a demi-god without whom this country could never have won. This has since been taken a notch further in Boris Johnson’s The Churchill Factor (2014), whose subtitle, How One Man Made History, sums up the book.

Churchill’s contemporaries would have found this incredible. Churchill did play a huge part in developing his own personality cult. His history of the Second World War enabled him to fulfil his desire to ‘justify myself before history’ and put him on a pedestal from where he could look down on his rivals. Yet his contemporaries were not afraid to chip away at it. Emanuel Shinwell described the first volume, The Gathering Storm, as a novel in which Churchill was the main character, while Michael Foot wrote that, while the book was ‘vastly more enjoyable and instructive than Hitler’s Mein Kampf’, when it came to ‘personal conceit and arrogance there is some likeness between the two’. Foot, who worshipped Bevan, was deliberately trying to provoke outrage but what all this demonstrates is that Churchill’s contemporaries were not prepared to accept his myth.

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Should it be necessary to be British to vote in the EU referendum?

Posted May 22, 2015

The Guardian

Scare stories about European ‘foreigners’ having a say in the outcome overlook the fact that many non-citizens can vote in UK elections already. Stranger still, no one – not even Ukip – seems to want to talk about it

The vote on Britain’s membership of the European Union may still be months away, but already the scare stories have started. One that is particularly revealing is the question about who should be allowed to vote in the in/out referendum. The Mail on Sunday reported Tory concerns that one million Europeans who are not UK passport holders could be allowed to cast their vote. Conservative MP Philip Davies told the paper that there was “massive concern that the referendum could be rigged to deliver a desired outcome. But it would be unjustifiable if EU nationals were allowed to take part in this vote”.

Such is the concern that Eurosceptic Tories have challenged David Lidington, the minister for Europe, to make sure these European foreigners are not allowed to vote. At present, EU citizens living in this country can vote in the local and European elections but not in the general election. Tory rebels want the referendum to be run under general election rules. What could be fairer?

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My review of Fight or Flight for History Today

Posted October 7, 2014

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