What is a “turnip-ghost”? A post for Hallowe’en

There is a great phrase, used by the historian A.J.P. Taylor in 1946: “Probably Bismarck genuinely believed in the turnip-ghost which he conjured up”. Here Taylor is describing Bismarck’s response to the small social democratic movement of the 1880s in Germany. But what hits the spot is that the description conveys both Bismarck’s exaggerated reaction and the … Read more

Michael Gove “picks a fight” over the MoJ’s Saudi contract bid: the background

The overnight news was dramatic: the Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, has “picked a fight” in Cabinet. And the subject of this political spat? It would appear that it is the commercial bid by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to assist the prison service of Saudi Arabia, something I have been blogging about … Read more

“Exclusive” – the Home Office has a MoU with Saudi Arabia about which it is keeping quiet.

In researching around the Ministry of Justice’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudis, I came across a curious piece of information. (ADD, 3rd October 2015: A “Memorandum of Understanding” is a formal agreement, but usually one that is not intended to be contractual binding.) According to a 2015 Foreign and Commonwealth Office report, the Home Office signed a … Read more

The MoJ-Saudi Memorandum of Understanding – a timeline

This is a timeline of (most of the) information in the public domain about the UK Ministry of Justice’s “Memorandum of Understanding” with the Saudi Arabian government, signed on 11 September 2014. 12 November 2013 The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee publishes a detailed report on the UK’s relations with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.  It … Read more