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 324 Opinion Articles listed by date and they are all freely searchable by theme, author or keyword.

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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The Rwanda scheme and the uses and abuses of the Commonwealth

The British government's scheme to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda has been widely critised. But an element that has attracted surprisingly little attention is the Commonwealth context of the plan. Having only recently urged Rwanda to improve its human rights record in line with the Commonwealth Charter, the Johnson administration is now citing the fact that Rwanda is about to host the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting as evidence that the country is a safe destination for deportees.

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At “tipping point”: New report signals limited drive within the Home Office properly to address the Windrush scandal

 A much anticipated independent review published on the Windrush scandal last week found that the Home Office was still failing to learn properly from its past mistakes. This article argues that the government needs to overcome its selective amnesia and not only learn from but apologise for its treatment of the victims of the scandal and engage in a genuine process of reconciliation.

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Historical messages emerging from Ukraine: autocrats, information, and the cost of freedom

Although the invasion of Ukraine will evoke memories of the suffering imposed on its people by the regime of Joseph Stalin, in an age of smartphones Vladimir Putin lacks Stalin's ability to control the flow of information. Members of the Russian military know they are likely to be held to account, and that their actions in Ukraine will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

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A golden high wage future?

The Government may succeed in 'taking back control'. But its ability to combine this with a new economic model of high real wages and improved productivity, heralded in the Prime Minister's speech to the Conservative Party Conference last week, appears more doubtful.

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Loyalist rioting reframes the perennial question: who governs Northern Ireland?

Forged in crisis, Ulster unionism has been suspicious of British governments for more than a century. How the Johnson government responds to the recent unrest will help to determine what Loyalist leaders do next.

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The UK’s current ‘Chumocracy’ would have been all too familiar to our early modern forebears.

Current debates about cronyism and 'Chumocracy' suggest the world of the Reformation and Enlightenment - the Tudors and Stuarts - is more familiar than it might superficially appear.

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The Union Jack belongs to everyone, not just the government

An appropriate response to the government's recent updated guidance on the flying of the Union Jack would be for all of us to take control of the flag and not allow any political faction to set the agenda on its meaning and uses. 

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Back to the 1930s? After Brexit the UK arts sector is longing for links with countries in continental Europe.

The UK cultural sector’s experience of being cut off from continental Europe in terms of business opportunities and creative work as a result of Brexit, echoes discussions that took place in the 1930s.

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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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