History Today Subscription Offer

Insiders and Outsiders

John Miller considers 20th-century political insiders and outsiders through the eyes of today's historians on radio.

Mosley was authoritarian but I don't think he was intrinsically more authoritarian than many other political leaders. I wouldn't have thought he was more authoritarian than Margaret Thatcher who was perfectly able to stay within a conventional political system. (Robert Skidelsky)

If Dalton had been Foreign Secretary a lot of things would have been different, I think, after 1945. It's an interesting example of the way in which a very momentary decision of an almost casual kind can change the way in which a nation's development or indeed international developments can continue for a subsequent period of years. (Ben Pimlott)

The biographers of Oswald Mosley and Hugh Dalton were my first two interviewees for the new Radio 4 series of 'Conversations with Historians', currently being broadcast by the BBC. Once again producer John Knight and I were delighted that all our first six choices agreed to take part. This time they seemed to fall naturally into complementary pairings by subject-matter and approach – Arthur Schlesinger Jnr. and Stephen Ambrose as biographers of Democratic and Republican presidents respectively; David Cannadine and Linda Colley analysing different aspects of what has formed the character of the British nation; and Ben Pimlott and Lord Skidelsky on some of the most controversial and influential figures of the British political scene in this century.

The latter two were recorded within a week of each other and, although I had necessarily prepared for each encounter separately, their joint interest in the same period of study meant that their reflective paths crossed in a most illuminating way. Each programme stands as a self- contained entity, but those listeners who make a point of hearing both will gain more than a double insight into what, and who, shaped those mistaken policies of the post- First World War period, which produced such economic misery and diplomatic disaster.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email digital@historytoday.com if you have any problems.



Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week