The Myth of the Strong Leader

Archie Brown promises an argumentative book and he does not disappoint. The case he presents is clear: so-called ‘strong leaders’ generally prove ineffective. This is because ‘strong’ typically means an inability to accept collective decision-making. However, despite historical experience, a substantial body of contemporary opinion, including of serious political commentators, persists in equating ‘strong’ leadership with effective leadership.Read more »
More articles by Michael Rowe

Scotland's Referendum: Home Rule All Round?

William Gladstone
William Gladstone

As an historian, you can sometimes feel that history is repeating itself without it being aware of it. Watching politicians and commentators anatomise the impact of Scotland's referendum, I was struck by the realisation that we are (seemingly unknowingly) grappling with issues that were discussed long before the phrase 'West Lothian Question' was coined.

In 1886, Prime Minister William Gladstone proposed the restoration of an Irish parliament, separate from but subordinate to Westminster. His actions unleashed a debate far more acrimonious than the one we have just experienced, with one of the main bones of contention being the right of Irish MPs to sit and vote in the House of Commons. Gladstonian Home Rule came to define a political generation; will Cameron's devolution do the same?

More articles by Naomi Lloyd-Jones
Published in
Published in History Today

A History of British Prime Ministers

This is an omnibus edition of Leonard’s previous three books on 18th, 19th and 20th century premiers, plus new chapters on Blair, Brown and Cameron. It contains detailed chapters on all 53 prime ministers from Robert Walpole to the present. All the entries are informative, well composed and succinct. The less well-known premiers are not neglected by comparison with the leading figures. The main focus is on politics but attention is also paid to the private life and personal character of the prime ministers.Read more »
More articles by Roland Quinault

Richard Wagner: A Life in Music

In 1923 Richard Wagner’s son, Siegfried, appealed to Bayreuth Festival audiences to refrain from responding to Hans Sachs’ paean to ‘holy German art’ at the close of The Mastersingers of Nuremberg by singing the German national anthem. ‘Art is what matters here!’, he declared, lest increasingly boorish far-right political voices scare away Jewish patrons.Read more »
More articles by Mark Berry