Dulwich Picture Gallery “Taking Liberties” Series 2016

In Spring 2016, History & Policy Director Dr. Andrew Blick and History & Policy Co-Founder Dr. Alastair Reid participated as speakers as part of Dulwich Picture Gallery’s Contextual Lecture Series 2016: Taking Liberties.

From Magna Carta to mass-surveillance, the Contextual Lectures Series was a wide-ranging examination of rights, freedoms and civil liberties. The series explored some of the most challenging issues facing the UK and the world today, from free speech to equal rights.

Dr. Andrew Blick, "The Future of the UK Constitution", April 19th 2016

In this talk, Dr. Andrew Blick used an historic perspective as a means of understanding the way we are governed today, and how we might be governed in future.  He considered a series of myths surrounding our constitution, and suggested alternative explanations. Finally, he discussed how these new understandings might help us to address present difficulties. Dr Blick concluded his presentation by engaging the audience in a debate as to whether or not we might one day adopt a written constitution and establish a federal United Kingdom?

Dr. Alastair Reid, "Trade Unions and the British Tradition of Pluralism", May 24th 2016

Dr Reid's presentation began by showing how British trade unions have a much longer history than most people are aware of, tracing their origins back to the medieval craft guilds which can be found at least as early as the fourteenth century. It then emphasised that when trade unions as such emerged in the seventeenth century, they were not based on any sense of class interest or opposition to the existing system. On the contrary, like the guilds, they were occupational organisations aiming to improve their members' situations within the status quo. In the final section he argued that the predominant state-socialist approach to the history of trade unions is therefore highly misleading, as well as subordinating the unions to a political agenda. A much more satisfactory approach is already available in pluralism, which both accepts a variety of organisations and values a variety of centres of power within society.


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