To be continued.

I am very sorry to have been neglecting this blog for the last couple of months, I have some serious deadline issues.  I will be returning to this project, hopefully with my deadlines met, in mid-November.

There is of course so much more to say.  I will be looking at why Basil Fawlty’s Austin 1100 breaking down is not evidence of the state of the British car industry, and in general how fictional accounts can and cannot be used to substantiate a historical analysis.  The issue here is that Dominic is too willing to quote the opinions of others, and it seems to matter little whether it is a fictional hotelier or a right wing Grub Street journalist, that back up his own.  This is not historical evidence, it is merely being in company.

Another major issue is the pattern that builds up, for example with the demonisation of Tony Benn and 1970s academic radicalism presented as sheer lunacy.  This is history written from the standpoint of the victor, and the victory is Thatcher’s dominance of the 1980s.  For all Dominic’s protestations of even handedness, the book is ultimately predicated on the rightness of the Thatcher’s New Right project in correcting all the ills that Dominic outlines so graphically and so one-sidedly.

And, of course, I will be dealing with that all important plagiarism question.

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This blog is written by Matthew Cooper.
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2 Responses to To be continued.

  1. kenpat says:

    Just when I thought you’d been hidden away by Dominics minions. Looking forward to the followup.

  2. Thomas Street says:

    This is just a quick note to say that I spotted your quite exemplary review of Sandbrook’s ‘history’. I was further intrigued by the speed with which you were attacked, but more so by your staunch, well-argued rebuttals. History as written by the victor is very dicey to analyse properly; the vast majority of sheep agree, nod their heads, and point to the way things are now as evidence that the way things went before was right. Whig history at its very best. The positive reviews of Sandbrook’s text do just this. Even the arguments against your criticism- one suggesting that it didn’t matter if there were, potentially huge, inaccuracies (film industry) it was, and is, the broad sweep that matters. Which is frightening. In a 1984, double-speak, way; if you change the small facts, the bigger, more subjective ones follow suit: rather like deconstructing the most elaborate palace from the foundation up.

    This blog is the work of a good historian. Calmly presenting the continued way that Sandbrooks’s right-wing ideology interferes with his presentation, and understanding, of history as he bends, breaks, and moulds sources to fit his pre-suppositions – from his insistence on blaming state intervention for the boom/bust in the housing market (where stats, and govt. testimonials show that free market non-intervention was the cause), to the descriptive account of poor fragile, broken Wilson’s speech outside no. 10 which just happened to be almost entirely fictitious, even misrepresenting something available to see on film! Sadly this book, and TV series, (BBC I believe, so not the old lefties the Daily Mail suggest) has a legitimacy which many will take for fact without question – bravo the unions are useless (where is our living wage), bravo banking regulation is gone (double dip recession, savings are useless, govt. in debt as it shored up banks), bravo privatisation is always inherently better (my train tickets are too expensive, French govt. running our nuclear supply, gas/water/electric pricing complicated deliberately profit driven and too high, overseas call centres, there is no industry anymore). And while I’ve played with the duality of the average Mail reader there, I honestly believe that histories of such a biased, and flawed nature, are primarily written for people of this less-analytical bent to enjoy. Which is why finding your scholarly dismantling of this ‘history’ really cheered me up. As a centre-left kind of guy I can deal with, even if I dislike, all sorts of arguments that are accurate and factual, but a book written so disingenuously? That is another matter. History is subjective, up to a point, Sandbrook breaches the point with high explosives by ignoring contrary arguments, innaccurately presenting source-based information, and plain old getting things wrong. Some level of personal bias, while unwelcome, is to be expected in populist history but that does not excuse blatant misrepresentation to aggrandise a particular political philosophy.

    Before I write anymore I’ll stop, thank you, wish you luck with your PHD, and hope for your imminent return.

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