After the election: beware the politics of generationalism

At the beginning of May, then Labour leader Ed ‘Moses’ Miliband unveiled six General Election pledges inscribed on a giant stone tablet. ‘These six pledges are now carved in stone, and they are carved in stone because they won’t be abandoned after the General Election’, Miliband intoned, six days before his party was swept away by […]

Schooling goes back to the future

‘A young person loiters vaguely by your door. His mum wants him to check his targets again, so you go over his last report for the third time. He seems satisfied with your explanation and conveys himself back to maths. When you asked him if he enjoyed maths he said he was doing better this […]

‘Edge of Eternity’: before freedom was feared

For anyone who has devoured the first two novels in Ken Follett’s ‘Century Trilogy’, the publication of Edge of Eternity last month comes as an eagerly awaited treat. Follett’s journey through this tumultuous period took us through the First and Second World Wars (Fall of Giants, Winter of the World), and now brings us to the Sixties – […]

Let’s lay off the Baby Boomers

The world doesn’t need another book eviscerating the Baby Boomers. Fortunately, the American satirist PJ O’Rourke has written something less boring instead. O’Rourke’s account of ‘The Baby Boom’ begins promisingly with the preface, ‘to a book attempting to capture the spirit of a generation of God’s favourite spoiled brats’. ‘Herein is a ballad of the […]

What do young people in Britain really think about abortion?

Polls can tell us something about attitudes, and statistics can tell is something about behaviour. But they can’t tell us everything we want to know. We know that young people have abortions. In 2013, there were 127,000 abortions to women under the age of 30, out of a total of 185,000 for all women in […]

What’s the problem with older mothers?

This Q&A reviews the scientific and medical debates about later motherhood, seeking a balance between understanding the biological barriers to having babies in later life, and the lived reality – that many women do have healthy pregnancies in their late thirties. It situates this discussion in its wider social context, and indicates the policy implications […]

‘Pro-family’ politicians: a threat to the family

One of the great myths of British politics is that those who champion a liberal approach to abortion and divorce are ‘anti-family’, while those who wish to deny people the ability to have abortions and leave failed relationships are ‘pro-family’. To begin with, it is a myth in historical terms. Arguments that women should be […]

The politics of childbirth

In her new book Bumpology, the British science journalist Linda Geddes aims to ‘investigate the truth behind the old wives’ tales, alarming newspaper headlines and government guidelines’ that frame a woman’s pregnancy in the twenty-first century. Though her research led her to question the orthodoxy on drinking alcohol in pregnancy and exclusive breastfeeding, what ‘most […]

The ‘generation war’ over abortion rights

A generation war seems to have erupted in the US pro-choice movement. A front-page feature article in Time magazine, published in the 14 January edition, began with the bold statement: ‘Abortion-rights activists won an epic victory in Roe v Wade. They’ve been losing ever since’. The author, Kate Pickert, sees the famous US Supreme Court ruling […]

From the freewheelin’ Sixties to the fearmongerin’ Noughties

Arthur Marwick’s history of the Sixties, first published in 1998, is one of those books that you just want to have on your shelf. Covering every cultural development from the rise of the mini-skirt to the birth of hippy culture, from sex and urban planning to art, film and literature, it’s a fascinating romp through […]

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