Welcome to the written world of RDN. I am a complicated conservative, and a bit hippy and arty round the edges. I am currently working on poems, a memoir and a one-man show. Over all that is an increasing interest in the idea of spirituality. More »

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Brexit and Scotland

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Politics & campaigns on 27 June 2016. No comments.

The EU referendum has had very odd implications for Scotland. I was no fan of Scottish independence, but I can’t say the break-up of the UK struck me as very worrying from an English, let alone an English Tory, point of view. Now though, one can easily see a rational Scot of any political stripe thinking that if it came to leaving the EU or the UK, maybe it’s the UK that Scots need less. More »

Unexpected upsides of Brexit

Posted by RDN under Politics & campaigns on 27 June 2016. 2 comments.

I didn’t have the courage to vote for it, but Brexit will probably have marvellous upsides, and especially after a bumpy patch. Here are three “factions” who will probably have to re-adjust their thinking, in a good way, because of Brexit. More »

The Referendum meta-debate

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / Politics & campaigns on 22 June 2016. No comments.

The EU Referendum debate is widely thought to have been information-light and anger-heavy. This is true enough, but in ways which might surprise. Here is a sketch of how the argument might be analysed. I am afraid it is a little personal, at least in the first para or two. More »

Jo Cox’s legacy to democracy

Posted by RDN under Mind & body / Politics & campaigns on 18 June 2016. No comments.

Amongst all the things which Jo Cox achieved and represented in life, in death she may produce a further great service. It would be a fitting memorial or tribute to this remarkable person that we start to reverse the cynicism with which the electorate, media and entertainment industry regard politicians. More »

BHS and capitalism’s moral compass

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / On TV & Radio / RDN's media outings on 15 June 2016. One comment.

The BHS and Sports Direct sagas have raised the question: is UK capitalism in a uniquely scuzzy phase? I am inclined to say that it isn’t but that anyway capitalism has many forms ranging from the decent to the near-criminal; from the paternalist to the devil-may-care.  The problem for society is how to regulate the intolerably bad bits without killing the vigour some quite dodgy chancers (none of those invoved in the sagas in question have been proved to be so) bring to the economic table. More »

The End is Nigh (not, probably): BBC TBQ

Posted by RDN under Economic affairs / Mind & body / Politics & campaigns / RDN's media outings on 12 June 2016. 2 comments.

The BBC’s The Big Questions asked a panel of “experts”, and its audience, whether “the end is nigh”. I responded that it almost certainly is not. Indeed, I said, things are going rather well and humans don’t need huge reforms of their psyche – but many long for better politics and economics to come their way.

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The Battle of Jutland – getting the history right

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / Mind & body / On TV & Radio on 9 June 2016. 3 comments.

This is an account of some issues surrounding the historiography of the Battle Jutland, including a critique of a BBC documentary on this enormous naval engagement. It refers especially to two important written sources dated 1921 (and 1986) and 1998. More »

Poem: Sir Percy “Hobo” Hobart, a 3-parter (audio version)

Posted by RDN under Military Covenant / RDN's poems on 18 May 2016. No comments.

These are recordings of my reading of three linked poems on the British Army WW2 General, Sir Percy Hobart . They were written to be spoken. The work is, I hope, in the rather straightforward narrative tradition of English poetry. It is certainly not high-flown poetry. But I hope people will feel that it certainly isn’t prose either. The Trilogy is in text form in the RDN site’s Poems category.

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“Scrap the BBC!” (2016) on BBC radio

Posted by RDN under National Media Trust / On TV & Radio / RDN's media outings on 17 May 2016. No comments.

This month saw the publication of the 2016 government White Paper on the BBC which as part of the 2016 Charter renewal process, will set the purposes, funding and governance of the state broadcaster for eleven years.

I was wheeled out on Radio 5 Live and a couple of BBC Radio Scotland shows to defend my view that the BBC ought to be got rid of. Almost all the arguments I used in my book, “Scrap the BBC!”: Ten years to set broadacsters free in 2007 seem germane now. The book’s main fault was in supposing that by now, 2016, we would be further ahead in freeing ourselves of fear of losing the BBC. Indeed, the White Paper is at the very most merely a small step toward a reduced, let alone an abolished BBC.

In one matter, the appetite to be rid of the flat, 12-month licence fee, I have better evidence than I did in 2007. It is an area, see below, in which I have a bit of a beef with Steve Hewlett, the country’s leading media guru. More »

The Classics and modernity (#1)

Posted by RDN under Mind & body on 26 April 2016. No comments.

This is a pair of essays on the theme of the Classics and their continuing influence. It’s in two parts: #1 The Classics and Us (the reverberations of the Classical world on our civilisation) and #2 The Classics and Me (the reverberations of the Classical world on me much more personally). So this is #1… More »

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