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Bye-Bye Buckingham England

August 31, 2021

I had been hoping to visit England in order to give lectures at University of Buckingham. Sir Anthony Seldon invited me to speak to the topic of Empire but the Covid-19 Pandemic intervened. Unlike the United States with a robust private higher education system, England’s universities are government owned and operated.

In the 1960s Michael Oakeshott and Margaret Thatcher, then a back-bencher in Parliament, decided enough was enough and set about to found an “independent”–private university.  That idea was realized and the University of Buckingham was the result.

I have fond memories of the year I attended LSE with Michael Oakeshott and researched my Ph.D. dissertation from a small room at the British Museum. That was fifty-five years ago and England has changed, if Theodore Dalrymple’s account in City Journal is representative.

He writes of the 20-mile drive he took to be vaccinated in Shropshire:

Along the entire route, garbage—which no one had tried to clear—disfigured the roadside. Mostly, the litter was the wrapping of refreshments or cans of soda that drivers or their passengers had consumed along the 20 miles. The beauty of the countryside gave them no pause before they disembarrassed themselves. The garbage glittered in the sunlight; discarded plastic bags hung from hedgerows or fluttered in the breeze from trees, like prayer flags in Buddhist countries.

Despite exceptions, the country seems increasingly maladministered. Sloppiness, indifference to appearances, and inefficiency are everywhere, combined with grotesque administrative bloating.

Shropshire is a two hour drive southeast to Buckingham through Wolverhampton and Birmingham passing Coventry and on to Buckingham. From there, if you were inclined to drive another 26 miles, you could be in Oxford.

With Anthony Seldon departed from Buckingham, I will not be able to report on garbage-strewn roads in Buckingham.

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