Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Sunday 17 October 2004

Highly amusing, but my 'amour propre' remains intact

There was an amusing outbreak of academic 'eye-scratching' reported in a BBC online article today as preview tapes and newspaper articles appeared ahead of a new television series on Channel4 by historian Dr David Starkey. Apart from seeing numerous trailers for the series on Channel4 in the past few days, I became most aware of some of Starkey's more trenchant remarks in an article in today's Sunday Telepgraph.

Now, as a Scot, whilst I might find some of what Starkey has to say difficult to hear, I would be hard put to fault his overall analysis. Of course, Starkey does specialise in making some pretty stark (keep those puns in check! - Ed.) comments which seem designed to shock. He also possesses one of those 'cut-glass' speaking voices which make the effect of his utterances all the more notable (ironic, really, given his own 'modest' origins, about which he is pleasingly open). I really do feel that people such as 'leading Scottish historian Neal Ascherson' (quoted in the BBC article I link to above) need to adopt a less defensive posture when responding to remarks such as those made by Dr Starkey. Incidentally, a couple of evenings ago Starkey was one of the guests on 'The Week in Politics' (Andrew Neil's late-Thursday vehicle on BBC2) and debunked in a few well-chosen words 'right-on' Labour MP Diane Abbott who has taken good care that her own child will not have to suffer the consequences of going to the local 'sink' comprehensive school, by sending the child to a private (aka 'public') school. Of course, this topic has been covered on the programme before, but as they were about to discuss education it seemed relevant. I like Diane Abbott a lot - her politics are not to my taste of course - but she is very amusing and does often talk quite a lot of sense (not on the war in Iraq, though!), and she is usually pretty voluble, but she quickly shut up when Starkey was so inelegant as to bring the matter up to expose the 'straw man' nature of Labour's education policies.

Personally I am looking forward to watching David Starkey's upcoming series, even if I may require to use my blood pressure monitor after each episode!

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