Thursday, 29 April 2010

Paul Burstow TODAY

Paul Burstow, the Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam will be answering questions today in the library at 1.15. All are welcome! Please let us know how you think he gets on, plus your opinions on tonight's third leadership debate - here are 12 things to watch out for...

PS: Has anyone watched Dermot O'Leary's political interviews on BBC3? What did you think of them?

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

John Guy

John Guy's website has been mentioned before on Nonsuch HP. It includes this article on historians' views on Elizabeth and politics which is particularly useful for Year 13s gathering interpretations. There are also notes on Elizabeth and religion, the mid-tudor crisis and the role of faction amongst others.

Year 12s will find useful articles on Henry VII's reputation and foreign policy plus the significance of Wolsey, his domestic and foreign policies, and his fall.

Brown and the "Bigoted" Woman

Gordon Brown has made the classic mistake today of forgetting to turn his microphone off after a difficult public encounter in Rochdale. Clearly frustrated, he described her as a "bigoted woman" but his comments were quickly out in the open. You can hear his comments and pretty painful public apology on the BBC site here, while the Guardian live blog gives a fascinating insight into how a "gaffe" story can turn into a media frenzy. Scroll down until you get to 12.56.

PS: Fast forward to about four minutes on the video above to hear the end of the conversation and Brown's unfortunate comments.
PPS: Nick Robinson's comments on the incident are here

The Death of Elizabeth I

Here is an excellent discussion of how Robert Cecil handled the succession of James I as Elizabeth I's reign slowly came to an end. The In Our Time programme covers plenty of other historical topics, often with contributions from leading historians and academics. If you come across any that are particularly interesting, let us know.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

How representative will the election be?

Interesting article here from the Guardian exploring how well minorities are represented within Parliament, and whether the election will do anything to change this. There are currently 15 MPs from ethnic minorities (13 are Labour MPs) but things may well improve after May 6. The Conservatives for example have 44 candidates from ethnic minorities, and up to 10 of them may be in winnable seats. What are your thoughts?

Science and Maps

There is plenty of good history on TV at the moment. Tonight BBC2 begins showing its flagship programme "The Story of Science", ambitiously showing the history of science. The notes on the website state that it is "a tale of courage and of fear, of hope and disaster, of persistence and success", interweaving "great forces of history – revolutions, voyages of discovery and artistic movements – with practical, ingenious inventions and the dogged determination of experimenters and scientists". Tonight's episode focuses in particular on the growing realisation that the earth rotated around the sun, and not vice versa, and the impact of this on society, religion and culture.

Meanwhile BBC4 is showing several programmes about the impact of maps on history and their utility as sources for the period they represent. "Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession" examines maps from the Ancient World to Google Earth, and shows how they were used as tools to project political power and propaganda, such as the Romans' maps of the newest parts of the Empire that they had conquered. Meanwhile the "Beauty of Maps" does exactly what it says on the tin, looking in wonder at particular maps and examining some of their secrets. It has a special website where you can examine some of these for yourself.

If you watch any of these programmes, please post a review either as a comment below or in an email to us. We would love to hear what you think, or if you have any other recommendations.

Blitz Street

Channel Four's Blitz Street attempts to recreate what is must have been like to experience being bombed during World War 2. They have recreated some typical 1940s houses on an army base and have then subjected them to various bombs to see what the explosions must have been like. The explosions are of course very impressive but even more interesting are the eye witness testimonies from people (often children at the time) who experienced being bombed. The programme is on Mondays and you can watch episodes on YouTube here.

PS: If you only have 5 minutes - go to minute 36 of the first episode!
PPS: Here is the Telegraph's review of the programme.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Mock Election News

Here is a copy of this weeks "Mock Election News" with information about the latest opinion polls and last week's speakers visits (click on the image to see it in a larger size). A clearer version can be downloaded here. The blog post articles for Philippa Stroud and Peter Hickson have also been updated with reviews from Nonsuch HP's reporters.

Trouble for Orlando Figes

Orlando Figes, the noted Russian historian, has confessed to writing anonymous reviews on that praised his own work and criticised that of his fellow historians. Rachel Polonsky's book "Magic Lantern" was described as "hard to follow" and Robert Service's "Comrades" was considered "awful". Figes' "The Whisperers" was considered "a fascinating book...(that) leaves the reader humbled, awed and uplifted." Initially Figes denied making the comments, threatening to take legal action, and then suggestions were made that his wife had written them. Figes has now taken full responsibility for his "foolish errors" but it would seem that the reputation of this distinguished historian is now in tatters. Further comment about Figes' significance can be found here from Robert Service and other historians and here from our friends at Politics Etc.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Key Election Words

Here is a really interesting graphic showing the most common words from the 3 main parties' manifestos in each election from 1945-2010. In 1945 one of the most common words is "must" emphasizing the obligations people and parties felt they had as the Second World War came to an end. "Industry" and "War" are also mentioned far more frequently than they would today. In 2010 the key words seem to be "people", "families" and "care", showing the change of emphasis in political priorities.

St George and St Edmund

Happy St George's Day! For hundreds of years, 23 April has been a day to wave St George's crosses and celebrate all things English. However, he has not always been the patron saint of England. Until the 14th Century, this part was played by St Edmund, the King of East Anglia who defended his country and his church against the Viking invasion and died as a martyr, shot by Viking arrows "as if he were a hedgehog". Edmund's heroic death quickly led to his canonisation and his adoption as a patron saint, but King Edward III brought St George to prominence when he established the order of the Garter, as knights from the crusades brought back stories of this warrior saint, even though he never set foot in England...

Recently a campaign by Radio Suffolk tried to reestablish Edmund as the patron saint of England, and even wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, but sadly their request was rejected.

PS: If you are interested, St Edmund's day is 20 November!

Green Party candidate

Peter Hickson, the Green Party's Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton & Cheam, will be answering your questions in the library today at 1.15pm. Here is the Green Party's website which you can look up to help you ask questions and here is more information about Peter Hickson. See you there!

UPDATE: Here is a review from Nonsuch HP's reporter CM on Mr Hickson's visit:
Peter Hickson, the Green Party Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, visited Nonsuch today to answer questions from students. These included the prospect of electoral reform, the recent televised leaders’ debates and, once again, the grammar school question. Naturally, the environment was a topic of discussion, although it was interesting to hear Green Party views on issues other than the environment, for example the Trident missiles. Here is a link to a summary of the Green Party manifesto, including the NHS and the banking system.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Bad Press for Clegg

Nick Clegg has racked up an impressive array of bad headlines this morning, with the Daily Mail's "Nazi Slur" being particularly ferocious. Is this a coordinated attempt to take the shine of the Lib Dems' surprising poll performance before the next leadership debate tonight, or just a demonstration of the increased interest people have in Clegg's party, including possible weaknesses?

PS: Here are The Telegraph and The Sun's stories.

PPS: Here is Twitter's view on Clegg's crticisms and here are 9 things to watch out for in tonights TV debate. Please add your comments below on how you think it went.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

BBC Radio visits Nonsuch Park

The BBC's PM radio programme visited Nonsuch Park yesterday, with an analysis of the impact of Nick Clegg's debate performance on the local campaign. It includes interviews with David Cameron (the hairdresser in Cheam!) and various Sutton residents. Click here to listen to the programme and go forward 21 minutes.

Philippa Stroud and Iain Duncan Smith Visit TODAY

Philippa Stroud, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton & Cheam is coming in to school today. She will be answering any questions you may have about Conservative party policy, local issues or her personally, in the Library at 1.15pm. All welcome, bring your lunch and lots of questions!

Iain Duncan Smith MP - the ex-Conservative party leader (2001-3) - is accompanying her. He is Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice where Philippa is Executive Director and MP for Chingford and Wood Green in Essex. Please welcome him and ask him any questions as well. Here is his website and a recent article about his interest in social justice here.

UPDATE: Sadly Ian Duncan-Smith was too busy in his constituency to come - we hope that he will be able to visit Nonsuch in the future and share his views. Here is a review of Mrs Stroud's visit from Nonsuch HP's reporter CM:

On Tuesday 20th March Philippa Stroud, the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Sutton and Cheam, visited Nonsuch again. Philippa answered questions on a wide range of issues, from economic policies to the prospect of a hung parliament to gay rights. Of course, Nonsuch’s favourite question (‘what’s your opinion on grammar schools?’) was answered very tactfully, joking that we might ‘mob’ her if she answered unfavourably. We’re not that bad!
Overall it was a very interesting hour, with a fantastic turnout. We look forward to listening to what Kathy Allen, the Labour Candidate, and Paul Burstow, current Lib Dem MP, have to say on similar issues when they visit on Tuesday 27th and Thursday 29th respectively.

Monday, 19 April 2010


The Icelandic volcano continues to cause problems across Europe, although at least it is not on the scale of the disruption of 1783, when volcano ash destroyed crops and created food shortages which may have contributed to the French Revolution, as this article suggests.

For those students still stuck abroad, particularly with important exams coming up, please check the relevant section of Fronter for information and practice questions, and contact us via the school or here for further advice.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cockerell on TV election debates

A great HP programme from Michael Cockerell here on BBC iplayer. He looks at the TV election debates in the USA and compares them to the debate on having an election debate in the UK. Some fascinating behind the scenes footage from the American presidential campaigns, including the most recent between Obama and McCain, and insight into why up till now there have not been any election debates between the leaders in the UK. Original footage and analysis of the 1960 election debate and a particularly candid interview with George Bush Sr are highlights!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

New Senate battle over the next Justice?

John Paul Stevens's resignation at the age of 90 (well almost) is a double edged sword for Obama. In one way it is good news as it gives him a chance to appoint a new one, one of the most important appointments he will make. However, it means that he has to choose carefully; too liberal and he will have a significant fight on with the Senate just before the November mid-terms, too conservative and he may not subscribe to Obama's liberal philosophy once on the court. John Paul Stevens himself is an example of the danger of the latter as he was a liberal appointed by a Republican President, Gerald Ford, in 1975. Whatever the decision, the events over the next few months will be useful examples. See here for the Times article and here for the Washington Post special on his resignation.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Election fever

Gordon Brown has called it at last for the 6th of May. Some fantastic sites to browse on the Internet and lots of great information. Channel 4 has done some interesting comparison on the differences between the parties and on the possible effects of Facebook on the election, see here. The BBC have a very comprehensive site as usual with a very handy comparison between the parties on constitutional reform and civil liberties here and a swingometer. The Times has a great map here on which you can look up each constituency and which party the Times think it will go to - take note, they think Sutton & Cheam will go to the Conservatives. There are probably a wealth of excellent websites, so do recommend any you have found that could be helpful.

Monday, 5 April 2010

1994 v 2010

An interesting article here from Time looking at the key differences and similarities between the USA mid-term elections of 1994 and 2010. A great way to discover more about 1994 and start predicting what might happen for Obama in 2010. What do you think?