It is perhaps one of the oddities of the British political tradition that it is often best revealed by foreigners. Voltaire and Montesquieu in the 18th century had a large part in England’s reputation as a notably free society, but it could be argued that the Irishman Edmund Burke should be recognised as the major ‘foreign’ contributor to our political self-understanding. He could express what the English were about better than any native. In doing so, Burke made a lasting contribution to the development of modern democracy.
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With just a few days to go until the first issue of the new decade, does anyone recognise the stern figure on our February cover?
'Fiona Shaw, in Jonathan Miller’s production, is the best shrew I have seen. She starts off in a mustard yellow dress with a mustard sharp tongue.'
From the archive, Kate Kellaway on a 1988 production of 'The Taming of the Shrew'.
'He was not a revolutionary at all of course. He was only marginally a socialist. His tradition was rooted in the Liberal aristocracy, and his politics were entirely bounded by Parliament.'
From the archive, Paul Foot on Tony Benn's diaries.