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The opinions expressed on this page are mine alone. Any similarities to the views of my employer are completely coincidental.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Nick Cohen on PPE

In this week's Spectator Nick Cohen manages to make a bit of an ass of himself in a misguided attack on Oxford's PPE degree.  I'm not a great fan of PPE myself but not because of its far ranging content, but because of the way it & most other Oxford humanities and social science degrees are taught ie via the ubiquitous tute. 

In the course of his diatribe Cohen manages to say  that St Anthony's is Oxford's postgraduate college for the study of politics rather than an Oxford college for the study of politics. I think Nuffield might have something to say about that.

More seriously he seems to have a rather tenuous grasp of political history. I quote: "Career politicians with no interests outside politics have always existed, as the lives of Pitt the Younger, Lloyd George and Asquith show." I know nothing about Pitt the Younger so I'll have to defer to his superior knowledge there, but he couldn't be more wrong about Lloyd George and Asquith both of whom, coming from relatively humble backgrounds, had to make their own way in the world.

Lloyd George made a career for himself outside of politics as a solicitor, a profession he pursued even when he was in Parliament, though to be fair his brother did more than his fair share of keeping the family business going. LG also, as is well known, was extremely active in other sorts of extra-parliamentry and indeed extra-marital affairs.

Asquith was a practicing barrister, a classical scholar with a 1st from Balliol (the only classics first Balliol produced in his year) and an intellectual snob of the first order. In fact the chief complaint of his adversaries and of his own party is that he often gave the impression, even when premier, of regarding politics as a hobby that interfered with the real business of enjoying life. Like LG he was also not averse to a little extra-parliamentary business.

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