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Britain’s new Renaissance

By William Skidelsky  

Britain, we learned over the weekend, is on the verge of a “new Renaissance.” That is the view expressed by Sir Brian McMaster in a new arts policy review commissioned by culture secretary James Purnell. In an interview with the Guardian, Purnell endorsed McMaster’s assessment: “When Brian talks about the potential for a new Renaissance, I don’t think that’s an overstatement. It’s exactly true.”

Why do writers of policy reviews—and the ministers who commission them—feel the need to make such blatantly absurd claims? By doing so, they detract from—and to some extent discredit—the genuinely good aspects of their recommendations. McMaster’s…

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