Saturday, 1 August 2015

Bernard Crick Prize for Best Piece 2014

The Political Quarterly is delighted to announce Alan Finlayson worthy winner of the Bernard Crick Prize for Best Piece 2014 with his article 'Proving, Pleasing and Persuading? Rhetoric in Contemporary British Politics' (85, 4: 428-36).

The criteria from the judges were as followed:

  • The Orwell test: Was the article written in good, clear English?
  • The scholarship test: Was its knowledge base sound and well grounded?
  • The Alzheimer test: Could I remember its contents clearly several days after reading it?
  • The durability test: Is it likely to be read some years later, or was it just good current comment?
  • The originality test: Did it have something distinctly new to say?

Finlayson’s article ‘Proving, Pleasing and Persuading? Rhetoric in Contemporary British Politics’ (85, 4: 428-36) just had something special. From a highly classical starting point – Cicero’s ideas on the use of rhetoric – and two speeches by Conservative prime ministers – Balfour in 1903 and Cameron in 2013 – he constructed an extraordinary critique of contemporary British public life. At the heart of it was a discussion around the observation:

The greatest difference between contemporary British political culture and the presuppositions of a rhetorical polity is the absence from the former of a strong sense of the ‘common’ – of a people that could and should meaningfully and purposefully govern and judge itself….. [This] is the outcome of an intellectual and principled objection, on the part of our political elite, on ethical as well as empirical grounds, to a politics based on the common good. (page 434)

You can read the article free here