Candidate Profile

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EXPERTISE
Extraordinary Lives & Famous People
History - General
Politics & Current Affairs
PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE WITH:
BIOGRAPHY
Andrew is an experienced cruise ship lecturer with a particular interest in our world today and social, cultural and political change since the First World War. Audiences have invariably commented on the warmth, humour, clarity and accessibility of his presentations as well as his fluent, engaging and entertaining style.

Andrew taught in Grammar Schools for over 40 years and is the author of a best-selling book on Contemporary British Politics. Drawing on his experience of over 22 years as Headmaster of Westcliff High School for Boys, he recently published a further volume on Education and the Pursuit of Values: A Headmaster’s Reflections. He now works as a freelance lecturer on cruise ships and around the country and as a consultant.

Andrew likes to give his audiences insights into the times through which they have lived and he has a sharp eye for detail and anecdote seen, not least, in his bringing to life of four sensational episodes from the 1960s and 1970s. He paints vivid, incisive and compelling portraits of the personalities at home and abroad who have shaped today’s world and looks as well at the huge social changes which have taken place in our lifetimes: in the family; housing, day-to-day living, consumerism, multiculturalism, permissiveness and popular culture.

Audiences require no prior knowledge to find these presentations both moving and unforgettable. He also explores major current themes such as Brexit; Donald Trump; Putin’s Russia; How should we lead our lives?; Post Truth and the wealth of the baby boomers.

There are opportunities here to sit back, reflect, reminisce, remember, laugh and see our own times more clearly.
TALKS
TALKS OFFERED BY ANDREW BAKER: MODERN HISTORY AND POLITICS, CURRENT AFFAIRS AND EXTRAORDINARY LIVES

A. FOUR SENSATIONAL EPISODES FROM THE 1960s AND 1970s

1. The Lady Chatterley Trial 1960: Why did DH Lawrence’s novel become a celebrated court case; who gave evidence; what does the outcome anticipate about the later upheavals of the 1960s?

2. A Cliveden Weekend: in July 1961, John Profumo, a minister in Harold Macmillan’s Government, was invited to a weekend party at Lord Astor’s country estate. The consequences for himself, his Party, his Government and many others at that fateful weekend, went far beyond anything he imagined.

3. Enoch Powell’s Rivers of Blood Speech 50 years on: Powell’s speech in Birmingham on 20 April 1968 was one of the most famous delivered by a British politician in the post-war years. What kind of man was Powell; what did he say; why did he speak as he did; how can his speech be seen today?

4. The Politician, the stable boy and the Establishment: Jeremy Thorpe, a rising political star became leader of the Liberal Party in 1967. But a past relationship threatened to destroy his career; this is a story of personal ambition, loyalty among friends, blackmail, establishment partisanship and one of the most celebrated Old Bailey trials of the century.

B. EXTRAORDINARY LIVES

1. Winston the man: Winston Churchill is remembered as the man who won the war. This vivid portrait considers both his formidable and decisive leadership but it also explores the kind of man was; his early life, his marriage; friendships; enthusiasms; beliefs, moods and, not least, his stature as a human being.

2. Margaret Thatcher: An intimate portrait of probably the most instinctive and influential politician of the post-war years. This lecture explores how her early life shaped her attitudes; the importance of her marriage; her style as a leader; her belief in ‘good’ and ‘evil’; her courage and resolution and her absolute conviction that she needed to be the architect of a revolution.

3. Archbishop Derek Worlock and Bishop David Sheppard were, respectively, Catholic and Anglican church leaders in Liverpool from the mid-1970s for 20 years. The city lived through the Toxteth riots of 1981 and the Hillsborough disaster, 1989. This is an intensely moving story of the good their partnership yielded.

4. Lord Jenkins of Hillhead was a man of many parts who is often seen as one of the best Prime Ministers we never had. He was a major figure in radical politics for over 50 years, a prolific writer and an unrepentant bon viveur. This lecture offers a vivid and compelling portrait of a man of warmth, principle and integrity.

5. Aung San Suu Kyi: Without fear, and at enormous personal cost, Suu Kyi devoted her life to the struggle for liberty in her own country, Burma. How did she wage that struggle; what did she believe and what has she achieved; has the episode over the Rohingya refugees shifted the balance of judgement upon her?

6. Rabbi Hugo Gryn a Jew, born in Czechoslovakia, was deported to Auschwitz concentration camp with others in his family in 1944. They died; he survived. This lecture considers his reaction to that experience; the conclusions he drew and his intense humility, humanity and spirituality. It is an uplifting story.

7. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a giant of 20th century Russian life and literature and a human being on a scale not commonly met. He spent eight years in a Soviet labour camp and gave us an unforgettable portrayal of that experience. This lecture paints a complex and intensely private man whose life speaks to us all
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8. Understanding Adolf Hitler: What manner of man was he; what did he believe and why; what circumstances in Germany after 1919 made him possible; what were his characteristics as a leader; how did he craft his appeal to the German people; how did he bring a civilised nation to barbarism?

C. HISTORY: BRITAIN

1. When the lights went out: the First World War was unlike any other. This lecture paints a vivid portrait of those years; the euphoria at its outbreak; the reality and horror of life in the trenches; the conduct of the war and, not least, the war as a catalyst for social change. It will move you to tears.

2. The Slump: Britain between the two World Wars was, for many, a cold, cruel and unattractive place. This lecture looks at the poverty and unemployment of the 1930s and at its acceptance but it also considers regional variations and attitudes which fed into the mood of the 1940s - never again!

3. Not much gratitude here. Why was Mr Churchill, so widely regarded as the architect of our victory over Hitler, so decisively rejected in the 1945 General Election? Was the result a surprise or might it have been anticipated? Did the war change our social and political agendas and, if so, how?

4. ‘And a little mouse shall lead them’. How, despite his lack of charisma, did Clement Attlee’s post-war Labour Government shape a new direction for British Politics; what challenges did he face; what was his style as a leader and why did Attlee’s agenda come to form a new cross-party consensus?

5. The Last Edwardian? An intimate portrait of Harold Macmillan; the actor/manager as Prime Minister. How did the self-image he cultivated become an integral part of his appeal? Was he out of touch or did he understand very well the adjustments needed given Britain’s changed post-war circumstances?

6. The Years of Crisis and Uncertainty. Did Britain have a crisis of governability between 1964 and 1979? What lay at the root of the instability of those years; why was there a sustained anxiety over the power of the trade unions and how far were the difficulties a function of failure in political leadership?

7. Maggie: The Iron Lady. How did Margaret Thatcher challenge the post-war consensus; how did her origins help shape her instincts, beliefs and style; what role did fortune play in her success; what did she achieve; whom did she offend; why was her fall so abrupt and dramatic and did her legacy prove enduring?

8. ‘Well, who would have thought it?’ John Major: The Unexpected Prime Minister. How did the boy from Brixton rise to the leadership of his Party; what personal qualities did he bring to the role; why were his years in power fraught with conflict and do his achievements at home and abroad deserve wider recognition?

9. TB/GB: the rivals. How did Tony Blair and Gordon Brown shape New Labour’s vision; did the way in which they worked together in Government promote or inhibit New Labour’s agenda; why was their personal relationship so acrimonious and why was Brown’s behaviour tolerated? How did their vision crumble?

10. Call me Dave: David Cameron was a victim of an EU Referendum he need not have called. Why did he do it and why did Remain not win the day? Beyond that, what kind of society did he want to build; did he manage to define a post-Thatcher role for the Conservative Party and how will he be remembered?

11. No turning back: how we have changed (1): the pace of social change since 1945 has been astonishing. This lecture looks at the upheavals in social class; race and immigration; marriage and families; housing; occupations and day-to-day living. It paints a vivid pastiche of the times through which we have lived.

12. How we have changed (2): brings the focus on social change in the post-war years to matters such as the growth of leisure, consumerism, the death of deference, popular culture and the permissive society. Has this made us a more equal and ‘civilised’ society and are we now a more cohesive community?

13. Who is the greatest of our post-war Prime Ministers? These frequently anecdotal and highly amusing character portraits can help us understand how the different occupants of No 10 have played the role. What are the essential qualities and characteristics of a great Prime Minister and what kind of rank order can we build?


E. CULTURE, POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS

1. Brexit in a broader context: How did circumstance, age, education, geography, culture and identity shape voters' choices? 23 June 2016 will probably be seen in retrospect as a watershed in our national life. But who were the Brexiteers and what pivotal issues shaped the outcome of the referendum?

2.Donald Trump: Can you believe it? America's 45th President is like no other: showman, entertainer, tweeter and unfailingly economical with the truth. Here is a vivid portrait of the man: his past, his style, his ruthlessness, his ego, his connections. Be afraid; be very afraid.
3.‘Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’ (Winston Churchill). Under President Putin, the West’s relationship with Russia is again of concern. How can an understanding of Russian history enable us better to understand Russia and Putin today? Has hope of genuine reform been eliminated?
4. How should we lead our lives? Canadian psychologist, Jordan Peterson, became an international megastar when his book, 12 Rules for Life, was published a few months ago. What is he saying and can his message relate to our own lives?

5. What does it mean to speak of ‘Post Truth’ today? Our experience of both Trump and Brexit has focused attention on the gap between rhetoric and reality in political exchange and that, in turn, has brought public disenchantment and distrust. How has this happened? How widespread is it? What can be done?

6. Wealth in Britain Today: too much for the baby boomers? How are the different forms of wealth in Britain today divided between the generations; how has today’s differentiated pattern arisen and has the inter-generational contract been broken? Does it matter and if it does what might be done about it?

7. Understanding British Values. Not too long ago, to speak of British Values would be to invite a charge of cultural imperialism. Within the context of 9/11, 7/7 and ISIS we have moved on. This presentation explores distinctive and enduring British values in defining a consensus which might enjoy widespread support.
CRUISE HISTORY / EXPERIENCE
With Fred Olsen in a cruise across the Atlantic to the Caribbean in December 2016. I offered six presentations on aspects of post-war British culture, society and politics and this related very closely to the experience of those on the cruise. The lectures were engaging and entertaining as well as instructive. They were exceptionally popular with guests commenting on their fluency and clarity. Numbers increased on each occasion with vigorous conversation continuing after the lectures in the ship's lounges.
In August 2017, I gave three presentations on a Fred Olsen (Braemar) cruise to Belgium and Holland on Brexit; Too much for the Baby Boomers? and No Turning Back: the pace of change in Britain since 1945. All the lectures attracted large audiences giving positive feedback
In April 2018, I give four presentations on a Fred Olsen (Boudicca) cruise to the German waterways. My subjects were 'The Lady Chatterley Trial 1960'; 'Enoch Powell's Rivers of blood speech 50 years on'; 'Understanding Adolf Hitler' and 'Are we living in a Post Truth world?'. Audiences were full and enthusiastic and many enjoyed continuing a vigorous conversation in the bars thereafter.
RECENT PAST CRUISES COMPLETED
The following recent Cruise History has been recorded for this candidate.
SHIP REF CRUISE DESCRIPTION NIGHTS SAILING FROM DEPARTURE DATE
Braemar M1720 Waterways of Belgium & Holland 7 Southampton Sunday, August 13, 2017
Braemar M1630A Canary Islands to the Caribbean 14 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands Thursday, December 8, 2016