Echoes of the past: Toppling statues of Colston and Lenin

Dr Uilleam Blacker, Lecturer in Comparative Culture of Eastern Europe at UCL, examines the historical precedents for toppling statues of controversial figures. Feature image: Luke Fowler (@lu_fowler on Instagram) Watching the toppling of Bristol’s Edward Colston monument, I was struck by echoes of the fate of another dubious statue: Kyiv’s Lenin monument. The Bolshevik leader was pulled down in 2013 amid anti-government protests sparked first by … Continue reading Echoes of the past: Toppling statues of Colston and Lenin

Stray thoughts on British electoral politics and the Jews

Michael Berkowitz reflects on the role of antisemitism and issues concerning Jews in the ongoing election, and on how the history of Jews in Britain might guide the perplexed. 

Britain’s politics has to some extent engaged various Jewish questions even when there was no official Jewish community between 1290 and the mid-seventeenth century. This electoral season has been unusual for the degree to which issues concerning Jews, and antisemitism in particular, have played a significant part in the political discourse.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg’s alarming cry of “Illuminati”

Michael Berkowitz, Historian at UCL, argues that during Parliament’s No Deal Brexit debate this week, Jacob Rees-Mogg has used a little-noted but unequivocally antisemitic trope. Few seem to have noticed an expressly antisemitic sentiment articulated by Jacob Rees-Mogg in the vociferous Brexit debate during the evening of Tuesday, 3 September 2019. As a historian of antisemitism who has published on the stereotype of “Jewish criminality” used … Continue reading Jacob Rees-Mogg’s alarming cry of “Illuminati”

British exceptionalism is an intellectual trap

Helene von Bismarck warns Britons and Europeans against adopting the exceptionalist narrative of British history from the Brexiters. The assumption that the United Kingdom has always been too different from the rest of the EU to make a success of its membership is based on a superficial reading not just of British, but of European history. What are non-British observers of British politics to make … Continue reading British exceptionalism is an intellectual trap

Worth asking: Is there an antisemitic tinge to the attacks on Speaker John Bercow?

Michael Berkowitz, Historian at UCL, questions whether the toxicity of the Brexit debate has not gone one step too far when it comes to the Speaker of the House John Bercow. With antisemitism resurging strongly in the politics in Europe, it is a question worth asking and a crucial problem to tackle.  On 18 March 2019, Speaker of the House John Bercow caused a sensation by disallowing … Continue reading Worth asking: Is there an antisemitic tinge to the attacks on Speaker John Bercow?