Obama, History & Brexit

The President of the United States has suggested that the UK should remain in the EU because of a ‘post-colonial’ grudge. This nugget of insight has come from Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson.

Whether you have decided about the EU referendum, our national History is a key part of understanding the identities we create in forming our opinions. Thus, although i doubt the voracity of Messrs Johnson and Farrage statement, Obama having a grudge is a perfectly reasonable position for him to have. Likewise, if Mr Johnson wanted to invoke the great statesmen of our past, or even use Mr Obama’s campaign statements, he is doing a similar thing referencing a portion of his own historical experience to make a point.

However, if Obama truly held a grudge against the UK wouldn’t he encourage us to leave? With all of the economic uncertainty and the potential reduction in our world standing wouldn’t that be a worthy means of screwing the British as Mr Johnson presumes is the motivation, and one laudable bearing in mind the appalling way in which Empire’s tend to treat people who oppose it?

Obama’s statement on the EU is far from using his ancestry as a stick, and more a profound recognition that the world has moved on and changed. History shows us Empires rise, change and fall, but also that our institutions tend to evolve as well. America appears to be grappling with this same issue, following a long century of economic stability and strength, its reconciling the cost of its conflicts and its domestic institutions with the way the world has changed.

I doubt Mr Obama, whose stuggles to close Guantanamo Bay, is judging the British for the way it treated the Mau Mau rebellion, but if he did – he would be right (in my opinion) to do so.

Rather like the legacy of Guantanamo and the Mau Mau, this is an issue of recognising that the ability of nation states to project themselves on the world stage is undertaken through supra-national bodies.

It’s why Argentina and Spain are using the UN as a means to raise the colonial issues of the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar, and they have more reason than Mr Obama to propose Brexit. But it’s also the reason that these issues take longer to resolve, because no one nation has enough power to force its will on the others.

Far from a grudge, this is a friend warning his mate that he is about make a fool of himself at the party.




Facing the future with a sense of the past

When you are facing changes it becomes natural to think of the elements and items which have become familiar.

Strangely enough one of those things for me is the sense of being organised and well-planned. It’s a skill which doesn’t come naturally to me at all but one which i think i have acquired over time through my work.

As an undergraduate i coasted and was generally useless. At least once it led to me letting down colleagues on marked assignments and worse it undermined my standing generally meaning that my sense of not being listened too came to be truthful but because of my own arrogance.

Being older and wiser, I have to avoid this situation again.

Something which the world of work has taught me is that being organised isn’t simply getting stuff done on time; it’s an sense of what you are doing each day and over the long-term. In my most recent position I had a manager, whom i would say, got the best out of me. To put it bluntly he beat the edges off me and rebuilt my sense of how i approach each day at work. Going from a rough guess to a clear plan, is more losing the daily act of faith that you dont miss something rather than somehow betraying your character.

To do lists, blocking time out in calendar, and simply knowing when things are going to hit a crunch point are all obvious points. But the more I think and reflect, I have a tendency to plan without meaning too. Prior to this my approach to work was very much in the moment and i doubt that my studies (much like my career) allows for such a narrow view.

Its been a valuable lesson, looking to my long break before I start at Keele it would be easy to see it as essentially a long holiday. It isn’t, although it is a break, it is a break with the past and thus has to be forward-looking. I am already planning it, but not within an inch of insanity – I am realistic. But the realisation that i am prepared to do that fills me with confidence that i am not planning to fail.

Part of that stems from me deciding to invest in Microsoft Office & Outlook on my Mac. What has brought this betrayal? As much as I appreciate and love google and apple products, the work-inspired familiarity of office and outlook are worth the price i have paid. It’s no more than that, i feel in a better place with familiar bongs and tones of office and outlook shredding my core memory and halving my battery life. And, as i currently have the salary to pay for it, it doesnt feel prohibitive.

However, there is always the pertinent point that best intentions don’t always reflect the best outcomes. But if I mess this up, it wont be because i have been half-witted and badly organised.

The Economic History Society Conference, 2016

From a conference i had to miss but will definitely attend next year….

Dr Anne L. Murphy

Ec Hist Soc confBetter late than never, here are my thoughts on the 2016 Economic History Society conference held at Robinson College Cambridge on the weekend of 1-3 April 2016. This was the best attended of the Society’s conferences to date with over 300 delegates, nearly 50 New Researchers papers and over 100 Academic papers. There was an abundance of riches for scholars of the eighteenth-century. And the nine academic sessions and six new researcher sessions dedicated to financial history in some form this year attest to the continuing and welcome interest in the field in the wake of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

The EHS always begins on the Friday afternoon with the New Researchers sessions. For the past three years I have been Chair of the NR Prize Committee. This has been a welcome task because it has reminded me of the generosity of academics who give up their time to observe…

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And so it begins….

With only 71 working days left of the gainful employment i have had for the last ten years, i must confess that i am both excited and anxious that my decision has finally caught up with me.

To explain, at the ripe old age of 31 i have decided to abandon my career in local government and undertake a MRes at Keele University. I have always had a passion for History and over time this has evolved from the your classic, linear model of dates, battles and people into an obsession with economic history.

My partner, whom you will often read referenced, has been the driving force behind me in doing this, i honestly couldn’t have even started the process of thinking about this until she pushed me. To leave a well paid, strategic job in a good local authority at a time of massive public sector reform has both surprised me and filled me with the obvious trepidations that you would expect.

So why am i doing it? and what is this blog for?

On the first point, i am doing this because i should. If i didn’t i would always wonder if i should have and i would frankly be sad about it As my partner said, it won’t do me any harm to take a least a year out and test myself – it might even be the start of something new.

In terms of this blog, its purpose is ill-defined at present. I am by all thoughts an absent minded writer of a blog. My aim is to become a better writer over time, share my experience and some of my thoughts; beyond that i haven’t a clue about this and its purpose.