Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Always check your sources...

With the creation of a raft of new Ministers for the (English) Regions, it is becoming fairly clear that Bailiff Brown is determined to review (and revise) the basis of the current intra-UK financial allocations to the devolved administrations. Just how he goes about this is unclear, although it is likely to be based on a UK-wide ‘needs assessment’ exercise. Despite the fact that we know from past experience that this type of computation is bedevilled by methodological difficulties, even those with no political axe to grind are coming to regard Barnett’s demise as inevitable – e.g. see here.

Developing a successor to Barnett will require clear thinking concerning the economic and the politics involved – the type of approach that is hardly apparent in this astonishing rant by President Bruce in today’s Herald. Have the Liberal Democrats lost their collective marbles entirely? But my favourite bit in the piece is the quote attributed to (right wing historian) Arthur Herman by a smug President Bruce where Herman opines:

"By surrendering her sovereignty the first time in 1707, Scotland gained more than she lost. She has to be careful that, in trying to reclaim that sovereignty, she does not reverse that process."

This the same Arthur Herman whose book on Joseph McCarthy published in 2000 was somewhat critically reviewed by Ellen Schrecker in the following terms:

"For the work under review, the European historian Arthur Herman did not gain access to any important new archives or uncover any new aspects of McCarthy's past. On the contrary, his research is perfunctory, to say the least. With a few excursions into some Army files and oral history interviews, he relies almost entirely on the standard published sources. There is nothing new here-and more (I assume) sloppy factual errors than a reputable piece of scholarship should contain...But, sloppiness is hardly a cardinal sin. Far more unsettling is Herman's misuse of his sources...Rather than scholarship (or at least adequate scholarship), this volume seems to be an exhaustive attempt to rehabilitate the reputation of "America's Most Hated Senator," as the book's subtitle describes him."
Ouch...Read the remainder of the review here. Quite - let's just switch "McCarthy" with "Union"...RRR would suggest that President Bruce checks out the credibility of his sources before citing them as self-evident truth. As EH Carr said, if you want to understand history first you have to understand the historian!


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