Robert Skidelsky
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Miscellaneous Speeches

The End of National Sovereignty? Kosovo and Blair’s ‘New Doctrine of the International Community’
Robert Skidelsky
Royal Institute of Civil Engineers | Monday, June 14, 1999

 
Now that NATO’s air war in Serbia has been successfully concluded, this is a good moment to step back from the headlines and attempt an interim reckoning.
 
 
In my experience, the fiercest disagreements on the war have concerned two questions: first, the scale of the humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Kosovo before the war started and which the war was designed to stop or prevent, and secondly, the effects of the war on international relations.
 
I will address both of these issues in my speech this evening. We have to remember, though, that this is an interim assessment. Many of the facts are not to hand. Some of them are still locked up in Serbia. And most of the history which this war will produce has not yet happened.
 
So we have to

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Constitutional Position of the Lords
Robert Skidelsky
Tuesday Club | Tuesday, March 30, 1999

 
The Conservative MP Andrew Tyrie wrote in The Times on 26 March that 'in the 21st century only a chamber backed by the legitimacy of the ballot box can hope to command the public consent required to fulfil a constitutional role'.
 
One of those well constructed sentences which public persons are wont to use, but which merit careful unpicking.
Notice first the rhetorical flourish 'in the 21st century'. In the past, perhaps, a chamber not backed by 'the legitimacy of the ballot box' might have 'commanded the requisite public consent, but not after 31 December 1999. At this moment the historical clock stops, the past is obliterated; we enter a new era at the stroke of midnight.
OK - just politician's rhetoric. Serious point. Past doesn’t

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Hipperholme Grammar School Speech Day
Robert Skidelsky
Hipperholme Grammar School | Tuesday, December 08, 1998

 
Mr Armitage, Headmaster, Ladies and Gentlemen.
 
It is a great honour to be the guest speaker at this Speech Day and Prize Giving on the occasion of the 350th anniversary of the founding of Hipperholme School.
 
I have to confess that when I received your Headmaster’s invitation the thought did cross my mind that Halifax was rather a long way from London. But I could not resist the terms in which Mr. Robinson’s invitation was couched, and with his permission, I want to quote one passage from his letter. It refers to the decision to go independent in 1985:
 
‘Looking back now’ he wrote, ‘it was the best thing that happened to us. We of course sacrificed a certain intake and had to go looking for it. but we gained immeasurably more in

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Should Britain Join the Euro?
Robert Skidelsky
Atlantic College Lecture | Friday, November 20, 1998

 
 
I have tried hard to find a humorous way of introducing this subject. I have failed. The Euro does not lend itself to jest. But at least I hope to talk clearly about it and avoid technicalities.
 
In about six weeks the first Euro notes and coins will become legal tender in eleven EU member states. They will circulate alongside existing national currencies at a fixed rate of exchange before becoming the sole means of payment in those countries in July 2002.
 
What will they look like? I don’t have any specimens to show you. Not much different I expect from the coins and notes you are all used to, only they will be called euros, not francs, deutschmarks or liras, and will carry uplifting European, rather than national, emblems.
 

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Wolfson History Prize
Robert Skidelsky
Tuesday, June 09, 1998

 
 
The greatest pleasure in serving on the jury for the Wolfson History Prize is the chance to read so many good books. The Prize was established by the Wolfson Foundation in 1972, at the personal instigation of Leonard Wolfson, to encourage historians 'to make accessible to the general reader as well as to their professional colleagues original historical writings of high quality'. In making their decisions Wolfson juries have been guided by the literary qualities as well as the originality of the works submitted. The first prize was won by Sir Michael Howard for his book Grand Strategy and though most of the prize winners have been academics, there have been notable exceptions such as Frances Donaldson, Alistair Horne, Antonia Fraser,

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