The story of how Britain rewarded four of its most illustrious battlefield commanders. This is the story of how Britain thanked four of the biggest names in her military history – Marlborough, Wellington, Haig and Montgomery.

How did Britain thank her greatest military commanders?  

> The United Nations has announced, with headline grabbing flair, that the world will welcome its seven billionth inhabitant on 31 October 2011. The prophetic accuracy is tempered by caveats that the date is merely a projection, based on current statistical assumptions.  Of course, nothing nearly as accurate can be achieved in a world of imperfect census data. United Nations officials have merely balanced guesses on […]

>Welcome to the world, number 7,000,000,000

> Two minutes after midnight on 12October 1999 a baby boy was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He was 3.55kg (8lbs),healthy and welcomed in to theworld by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan. The baby,Adnan Mević, was given such high profile attention after being selected by theUnited Nations Population Fund as thesymbolic sixbillionth person concurrently alive on Earth. Just twelve years later and theDay of […]

>Prophecies of doom – the warning echoes of Thomas Malthus

> In 1807 the Slave Trade Act was passed, makingthe slave trade illegal throughout the British Empire. The statutory manumissionof slaves within British possessions would follow in the Slavery Abolition Act 1833. The Royal Navy was the means by which the 1807 Actwas to be upheld, with British ships forming the bulk of the WestAfrica Squadron. This was officially a multi-national force, and ships fromPrussia, the […]

>International rescue

> This is a tale of two tables and a moral on lies, damnedlies and statistics. This morning’s Daily Chart in theEconomist features a table of government debt. Streaking ahead of the rest, thedubious distinction of topping this chart fell to Japan, with gross governmentdebt reaching 230% of GDP. The financial markets are swirling with speculationon an imminent Greek debt default, and the Hellenes labour under […]

>Dealing with debt

> Out of the five best performing education systems inthe world, four are in Asia. Out of the top ten, seven are in the Asia Pacificregion. The OECD collects data on reading, maths and science scores on astandardised basis. Top of the table is Shanghai, China, with top places foreach. They are followed by South Korea, Finland, Hong Kong and Singapore.  The top ten is completed […]

>Top of the class

> Westfield Stratford City has opened to a barrage ofpress attention, helped by large crowds, Nicole Scherzinger and a slow news day.It has been billed as Europe’s largest urban shopping centre, which seems anunusual caveat. What is an ‘urban’ shopping centre and does this descriptorsuggest that Stratford City is not Europe’s biggest shopping centre?  Stratford City has missed out on being the UK’slargest shopping centre, with […]

>Biggest of the big

> In terms of rank rottenness,Dunwich would vie with the fictional Dunny-on-the-Wold as the most rottenborough in the British Parliament. By the time of the Reform Act 1832, the bulkof the constituency was underwater, leaving only a tiny village of “44 housesand half a church” It was a very different Dunwichthat received its entitlement to two representatives in Parliament in 1298, andeven this was a shrunken, […]

>Under the waters

> Winston Churchill is best known as the war-time Prime Minister who led Britain through survival to victory. Whilst constituting the most celebrated period of his political life, the five years of his premiership in the 1940s represent only a fraction of his overall Parliamentary career. Churchill was a Member of Parliament for just under 64 years, between 1900 and 1922 and again from 1924 to his […]

>The extraordinary career of Mr Churchill

> The ‘Economics focus’ column in the Economist is not the first thing I turn to when my weekly copy arrives. Nestling at the back of the finance and economics section, it is quite rare that I ever read it at all. This week’s column (The celestial economy) drew my attention by presenting the graph above. Depicting the world’s top three countries by economic dominance, it […]

>The irresistible march of the dragon economy

> A special report on the future of jobs in this week’s Economist included a list of the world’s top ten employers. In 2010 the two largest employers in the world were the US Department of Defence (covering all branches of the American armed forces) and the Chinese Army, with 3.2m and 2.3m employees respectively. The list demonstrates a number of trends, including the rise of […]

>Millions on the payroll

> Gregorio Allegri’s ‘Miserere mei, Deus’ is one of the most devastatingly beautiful pieces of choral works ever composed. It is perhaps the best known example of late-Renaissance music, but, if the strictures of the Papacy had been followed, it would have been unknown outside of the confines of the Sistine Chapel. The piece was written sometime before 1638 and hadbecome so famous in the next […]

>The escape of the sound of heaven

> 6 June 1944 was D-Day.Operation Neptune saw the Allied forces of the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, NewZealand and Free France cross an unusually calm English Channel and begin theinvasion of Europe. The Normandy landings saw some of the most intense andbrutal fighting of the Second World War as over 150,000 Allied troopslanded across five beaches. Amidst the chaos and confusion, the death anddestruction there was […]

>Leading from the front

> Amidsta Scottish legislative programme consisting of 15 Bills, a single policy caughtthe media’s attention. Alex Salmond announced plans for the creationof a single Scottish police force and fire and emergency service. This wouldamalgamate today’s eight police forces and eight fire services into one nationalbody for each. Thepush for amalgamation is not peculiar to the SNP, to Scotland or to the currentclimate of budget constraints. The […]

>The urge to amalgamate

> On 12 September 2011 the final reportof the Independent Commission on Banking under Sir John Vickers will be issued.It is likely to recommend the ring fencing of the UK’s retail banks, and thusthe separation of the riskier investment banking operations. Whether this willbe accepted by the government has been castinto doubt amidst strong lobbying that it will impact on economic recoveryand Britain’s future growth prospects. […]

>Breaking up is so very hard to do

> The Financial Times and the Guardian have both published original statistical and cartographical work based on the Londonriots. TheFinancial Times has plotted the home addresses of 332 people charged withriot-related offences in London over the past month. These were then applied toa map with neighbourhoods shaded to represent one of five quintiles ofdeprivation (based on the Index of Multiple Deprivation). The researchreveals that two-thirds of […]

>Mapping the riots

> The English Civil War pitted fathers against sons,brothers against brothers in the bitter conflict between King and Parliament thatdivided the country. The enmity spread far beyond the borders of England. Althoughroutinely referred to as the English Civil War, its effects were felt inScotland, Ireland and England’s overseas colonies. Eventhe Channel Islands would succumb to intrigue and division. Jersey, the largestof the islands, remainedin the hands […]

>An island divided dividing islands

> An interesting graph on the front page of the Financial Times shows the turbulent history of Britain’s 20th century finances through the yields of UK Gilts. The graph serves to illustrate the relatively benign treatment of the UK’s current sovereign debt. Whilst Britain is hardly in the most robust fiscal condition it is being compared to the Eurozone and the USA. A decisive government decision to […]

>Gilty secret