Opinion Articles

H&P encourages historians to use their expertise to shed light on issues of the day. If you are interested in submitting an opinion piece for publication, please see our editorial guidelines. We currently have 322 Opinion Articles listed by date and they are all freely searchable by theme, author or keyword.

The self-reflective turn in historical writing and the demise of identity history

This paper briefly considers some of the issues addressed in Stefan Berger’s new book, History and Identity. How Historical Theory Shapes Historical Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.

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Taking Back Control of the Prosecution Process

Understandable frustration at a huge backlog in cases awaiting trial has led Chief Constables to demand that the charging process is taken back into the hands of police. History suggests, however, that this might not in itself provide solutions that ensure consistency and serve the public interest.

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Anger as Home Secretary ditches key review recommendations, failing Windrush scandal survivors and campaigners

Dr Eve Hayes de Kalaf argues that the recent announcement by the Home Office that it is dropping three of the 30 recommendations proposed by Wendy Williams in her government-commissioned review of the Windrush Scandal suggests a disregard for those whose lives were turned upside down by the actions of the authorities and an unwillingness to learn lessons from recent history.

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A Historical Model for Clean Renewable Energy? The Proto-Industrial Revolution of the 16th Century in the Veneto.

During the sixteenth century, the Venetian Republic encouraged technical innovations as a means of boosting economic growth. Hydraulic power was in widespread use across a range of industries, leaving material traces in the landscape. Can these early modern technologies show us how to harness water-power as clean renewable source of energy for manufacturing today?

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Is ‘Social Value 2032’ assured? Possible lessons from angry Edwardian shopkeepers for the Social Value Act’s future

2022 saw the 10th anniversary of the Public Services Act (sometimes referred to as the Social Value Act) which obliged public authorities to consider how they might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of an area when awarding contracts. While the objective of enshrining 'social value' in law is commendable, the early twentieth-century experience of the British Co-operative Movement (the Co-op), which also sought to promote broader social benefits, suggests that the project might create unintended consequences including a politicised movement of opposition.

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‘Very brave, Minister’, Sir Humphrey Appleby

Commentators were drawing comparisons with the 1972 dash for growth even before Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng stood up to deliver his ‘fiscal event’ on 23 September. In March 1972 his Conservative predecessor Anthony Barber injected an estimated 2 per cent of additional demand into the economy, primarily by raising income tax thresholds. History has not been kind to the Heath/Barber boom.

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How Seriously Should We Take Universal Basic Income?

Is universal basic income (UBI) a policy idea whose time has come? Recent historical scholarship now enables us to comprehend the twentieth-century evolution of this and similar ideas. UBI is intriguing in having vociferous backers drawn both from the libertarian right—such as, notably, Milton Friedman in the form of his negative income tax proposal—but also from the emancipation-embracing left—such as Michel Foucault and Phillipe Van Parijs. In this article, scepticism is expressed about whether UBI can seriously help to address issues of inequality, as opposed to preventing the poverty that liberal market economies tend insistently to generate.

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How to be an Island: A Long-View Look at Britain’s Borders and National Identity

As Britain negotiates the issue of its national borders in the post-Brexit era, its sense of national identity and place in the world continues to be shaped by a seductive but at the same time ambivolent and contradictory island imaginary, one that has been shaped over centuries.

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How Elizabethan law once protected the poor from the high cost of living – and led to unrivalled economic prosperity

In the closing years of Elizabeth I’s reign, England saw the emergence of arguably the world’s first effective welfare state. Laws were established which successfully protected people from rises in food prices. More than 400 years later, in the closing years of Elizabeth II’s reign, the UK once again faces perilous spikes in living costs. Perhaps today’s government could learn something from its legislative ancestors.

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Devolution and its discontents

The Conservative government insists that modifying the Northern Ireland Protocol will entice the Democratic Unionist Party back into Stormont and restore the devolved Assembly. But the current crisis highlights deeper unionist disillusionment with power-sharing.

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H&P is based at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, University of London.

We are the only project in the UK providing access to an international network of more than 500 historians with a broad range of expertise. H&P offers a range of resources for historians, policy makers and journalists.

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