Arts & Humanities Classics History

Did racism exist in the ancient world?

This long-read article was written by upper sixth former Sebastian Norris.

Estimated read time of introduction: 1 minute

Estimated read time of essay: 11 minutes


Setting aside preconceptions and a modern, judgemental approach is difficult when discussing racism in the ancient world, due to the pertinence of the issue in our society. However, it is also easy to justify ancient attitudes by the argument that racism as we know it has only existed in more modern times. Therefore, to avoid getting involved in debate about how to define racism, I am regarding racism as the belief that one’s race is superior in some way to others, as such beliefs are at the very heart of racial discrimination.

In order to discuss the question in some depth, I am only considering the ancient Greeks, as their beliefs and prejudices have been so influential, especially since they were formative for the Romans’ views and therefore endured for a long time. However, it is also important to consider the difference between racism and xenophobia, as despite the common use of the word racism describing hate crimes or speech, it is fundamentally the ideology of superiority of a race, whereas xenophobia is the fear or hatred of foreigners.

Within these parameters, clearly some form of racism did exist in the ancient world, as the ancient Greeks had a strong sense of superiority over non-Greeks, seen both in their attitude towards foreigners, for whom they had a collective term (‘βαρβαροι’) to signify that they were not Greek, and in how they saw themselves, that is, as a pure race descended from the Earth itself, giving them a sense of superiority over other races.

To view Seb’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography

What does the future hold for town centres?

This long-read article was written by lower-sixth former Ollie Robinson, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to his full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

In order to try and predict a future for the high street, this report will cover its current state and look at whether or not it’ll be able to adapt. In order to survive, the high street will need to reinvent itself, moving its focus on its social aspects. 

Firstly, why is the high street declining? There are three main reasons: 

  1. The high street faces steep competition. Online shopping as well as large out of town stores have been taking customers away from the high street due to their superior convenience and price. 
  1. Poor infrastructure of town centres has been affecting the high street, in the sense of there being not enough parking and expensive public transport, making shopping at the high street even less convenient. 
  1. The high cost of running a physical store means it’s hard for stores to compete with alternatives such as online shopping pricewise. 

All these factors are putting more financial pressure on high street stores, causing many of them to shut. 

So how can the high street tackle its competition? Firstly, the high street could try to match the online stores in price and convenience. This has been attempted by large chain companies through integrating technology with the high street but even their sales have been diminishing. Small high street stores that are already under a lot of financial pressure couldn’t compete with online stores, with any attempt being too expensive. 

Physical stores can’t match their competition. However, there are ways the high street can still compete: 

Firstly, the existence of service stores such as hairdressers may ensure some future for the high street, as we need these stores and need them to be physical. 

Secondly, the social aspects of the high street and face to face interaction is another way the high street can’t be matched by online shopping. The high street’s shift towards social features is a way it can survive and is something that’s already happening. Coffee shops, gyms and pubs (all social stores) have been growing despite the high street’s decline. Similarly, experience-based stores such as theatres stand out as another aspect of the high street that can’t be replicated online. 

One case study is Bristol. In 2008, the shopping centre Cabot Circus was opened in the town. Additionally, more investment was put into the nightlife venues of Bristol’s high street. These are both examples of emphasising social aspects of the high street and these changes were incredibly successful for Bristol’s high street.  

In conclusion, the high street is facing difficulties. Emphasising the social aspects of the high street has been shown to work in strengthening it. The future of the high street could depend on the level of intervention the government is willing to put into facilitating these changes, although the fact that these changes are happening naturally suggests there is a future for the high street as a social hub. 

To read Ollie’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Psychology

In living colour: how colour has impacted the advertisement industry.

This long-read article was written by lower-sixth former Alejandro Scholfield-Pérez, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. . The following provides a short abstract to his full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 10 minutes

Colour is a fundamental asset to the metaphorical toolbox of mankind. Approximately 30 million years ago during the Oligocene epoch, the structure of the eye evolved to accommodate simple depictions of colour. Colour would become pivotal to the development of the human eye, an acute sensory organ used primarily to detect prey. Presently, whilst colour is still an important aspect of our vision regarding our survivability, it is far more commonly exploited in the realms of advertising.  

In my FTRP, I dissect the underlying factors contributing to the success of colour implementation in marketing and how chroma and value; which determine a colour’s features, are used to elicit impulses and responses to posters, advertisements and even government campaigns. Throughout this dissertation, I will be assessing the current information present on the effect of colour on brand recognition and critique it in order to discern its impact on the marketing industry. 

In order to achieve a sound understanding of the makeup of colour, I had to research a plethora of articles, magazines and most importantly – consulting my art teachers. Throughout the process of writing this FTRP, I gained a solid foundation in regard to the effect of colour on our everyday lives, and its effect on brand recognition and advertisements which allowed me to properly critique the information that I later researched through scholarly articles.  

My process of writing this dissertation; become one of several hours of work. My goal was to try and relay all the information necessary in a concise, understandable manner to allow for the formation of informed discussion and conversation around the nature surrounding the effectiveness of advertisements. A topic that I believe to be extremely important in the 21st century – where information and influence has become the new global currency.  

To view Alejandro’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography Law & Politics

USA vs New Zealand: To what extent do their national flags represent their population?

This long-read article was written by lower-sixth former Matthew Kassir, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to his full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: < 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

For centuries, flags have formed a major part of our national identity, a symbol for which we belong to and believe in. As times changes, so do nations, and this report looks at two topical, yet different flags, namely those of the United States and New Zealand; assessing to what extent these flags still accurately represent their population, and whether a change is due?

Arguably, The Star-Spangled Banner is one of the most compelling symbols of national pride in this world, with the rich history it entails, and its projected message of ‘the American dream’; the post-colonial flag, historically, has been synonymous with the strong patriotism of its citizens. However, as we see more controversies shroud the nation every year, in relation to racial and ethnic equality, Americans demand change – a change so drastic that a new symbol of their nation is vital? 

On the other hand, this report examines the flag of New Zealand, looking closely at the referendum in 2016, and how even though all roads led change for the pre-colonial symbol, 56% of voters decided this outdated and possibly discriminative flag should still represent their national identity. Whether that be due to respect for their fallen soldiers, or even the economic cost of changing it, the report will ask why the flag has not changed, and if it realistically ever should?

To view Matthew’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities Classics

Do ancient historians tell us more about myth than real events?

This long-read article was written by lower-sixth former Mattie Sutton. The following provides a short abstract to his full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: < 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 7 minutes

We’ve all heard of Greek and Roman myths – The Cyclops, Icarus, etc. – they’re one of the most appealing parts of Classics. Another area full of interest is Ancient History, home to defining battles, decisions and speeches that are still studied today. However, sometimes these areas collide, meaning Ancient History isn’t always like the “History” of today. This naturally leads to the question, how useful is Ancient History? Does it tell us more about myth or real events?

In this short essay we’ll examine four titans of historical world: Herodotus, Thucydides, Polybius and Livy. We’ll examine what they wrote and why they wrote it, examining how much myth was used, and to what effect. Overall however, we’ll see that it’s not as easy as it first seems to separate myth from fact, and actually myth had its own role to play in Ancient History.

To view Mattie’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities Economics Geography Lower School Social Sciences

Have receiving countries benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative?

This long-read article was written by second former Gavin Sivakumaran.

Estimated read time: 8 minutes

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a $1,300,000,000 plan which was initiated by Xi Jinping, the President of China in 2013. Various nations in Africa, Asia and Europe are interconnected with China through land and oceanic networks like highways, seaports and railroads. More than 65 have signed up to the Initiative, to strengthen globalisation across the world, develop economies and infrastructure in countries that are struggling, and open world trade. In this essay, I will judge whether the receiving countries have benefited from China’s Belt and Road Initiative economically and socially. I will look at the projects that have happened in the country, how successful they were and how much debt the country has to China. I will also conclude whether countries have benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative. 

In 2010, China had partially moved out of the manufacturing sector, so it experienced a growth decline. So, the Government thought that investing in other countries could create a lot of money because if the country grows very quickly and pays back loans and interest to China, China could earn a lot of money. However, many critics of the BRI state that China is using the BRI to increase leverage over LICs countries and making them depend on China for their development, leading to China becoming the next global superpower. 

Sri Lanka is one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Hambantota Port, a maritime port, was built by China Harbour Engineering Company and with Chinese loans. It was built because more than 23,000 ships pass Hambantota (a district in Sri Lanka), so it would be a good location to load, dock and refuel ships, and would hopefully generate a lot of money. As the port incurred heavy losses, making debt repayment difficult, in 2016 the newly-elected government, led by Ranil Wickremesinghe, decided to privatise an 80% stake of the port and give it to China Merchants Port Holdings Co. for $1.1 billion on a 99-year lease, to raise foreign exchange. The port was built by Chinese people and the shipping workers who work there are mainly Chinese people. The Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport is another example of an infrastructure project that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Although Sri Lanka was able to pay for the airport, it had a low number of flights, so it has been dubbed as ‘The World’s Emptiest Airport.’ In addition to this, China has built many factories, highways and power plants in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has not been able to pay back for all of these. As of 2020, there is still an ongoing project called Colombo International Financial Centre better known as Port City Colombo, which will be an environmentally sustainable SEZ (Special Economic Zone), costing $15 billion and is what the Sri Lankan Government believes will generate enough money to pay off all Sri Lanka’s debt and attract top international investors. Most of the construction workers that are working on this project are Chinese but China promises that the SEZ (Special Economic Zone) will create 80,000 new jobs when completed for Sri Lankans. In Sri Lanka, the economic gains from the BRI are less obvious since most of the projects have been given back to China or have not received their full potential; they can be described as a ‘white elephant,’ which means a non-valuable object which its owner cannot easily dispose of. Additionally, social gains are also not obvious because most of the people building the infrastructure in Sri Lanka are Chinese and they also dominate the number of people who work in these projects after construction (shipping workers etc.). Therefore, the BRI has not been beneficial in Sri Lanka. 

Maldives is also one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Under the Presidency of Abdullah Yameen, Maldives undertook many China-funded projects. This includes the expansion of their only airport, the construction of several resorts and the construction of the China Maldives Friendship Bridge, which is a bridge that interconnects the island of the capital of Maldives, Malé with the island in which Velana International Airport (Maldives’s only airport) is located. This bridge brought economic and social benefits to the Maldives. Before the bridge was constructed, travellers would have to travel by boat to reach the capital. This bridge allowed taxi drivers in Malé to pick up fares from Velana International Airport. Also, the building of several resorts has created jobs for the locals in the Maldives. In 2018, Maldives owed $600m directly to China (which they have borrowed for housing, the expansion of the airport and the construction of bridges) and was liable for another $935m of guaranteed loans (which they have borrowed for power infrastructure, building resorts and road infrastructure). Altogether, debt to China amounted to one-third of their GDP in 2019. This shows that the Maldives has not benefited economically. Socially, jobs have been created from resorts built by China and taxi drivers have been able to earn more because they can now pick up fares from Velana Airport. Consequently, the BRI has been quite beneficial to the Maldives. 

Pakistan is another country that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In 2013, CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) was introduced by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to further enhance connectivity between the two countries. China and Pakistan are such good friends that during Xi Jinping’s visit to Pakistan, he stated ‘This will be my first trip to Pakistan, but I feel as if I am going to visit the home of my brother.’ CPEC projects that have already built and that are still being built include several hydropower projects, a railway linking the cities of Karachi and Peshawar, a freight railway linking Kunming and Karachi, Gwadar Port, Gwadar Port City (which includes a coal plant and hospital) and Gwadar International Airport. Most of the people who are building these projects are Chinese workers. $17 billion was owed to China by Pakistan by 2020 (6.25% of GDP that year). In Gwadar, China’s promises of better infrastructure and job creation have not materialised. Most of the people who work in Gwadar Port are Chinese and most Pakistanis living in Gwadar fear that once the Gwadar Port project is finished, they won’t be able to work there, because they think that Chinese workers will be brought to work there. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has raised the expatriate population, which has grown from 20,000 in 2013 to 60,000 in 2018. Also, the Pakistanis in Gwadar cannot continue fishing (the main economic activity in Gwadar) because land reclamation cuts their access to the sea. In 2020, China built a joint naval and air force base in Pakistan. Economic benefits are not apparent because Pakistan has huge sums of debt to China. Furthermore, social gains are less obvious because the people of Gwadar cannot continue their jobs of fishing due to land reclamation for Gwadar Port and they fear that the jobs created by CPEC will be taken by the Chinese expatriate population entering the country. Therefore, the BRI has not benefited Pakistan. 

Kazakhstan is another country that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). With the help of China, Kazakhstan has built a multimillion-dollar land port, special economic zone and town with the help of China. All of this was built near the most landlocked, remote place on Earth called the Eurasian Point of Inaccessibility. Kazakhstan and China chose this area to lure manufacturers to the area that might want to take advantage of an overland shipping route to Europe, establishing Kazakhstan as a logistics and manufacturing hub. The infrastructure projects that China has built in Kazakhstan are on the border between the two countries, next to the Xinjiang Province in China. The land port (Khorgos Land Port) is the largest land port in the world. Once the port was built it didn’t attract many clients. Recently, there has been a steady increase, due to heavy subsidies given by the Chinese Government to companies that use the route. Additionally, less cargo has come back from Europe due to the trade imbalance. Looking at how ambitious the Kazakhstan and Chinese Governments were about the project, their predictions have been very higher than reality. Khorgos Land Port had 160,000 TEU of cargo going through the port in 2019. To put that into perspective, Shanghai, the world’s busiest port, had 43.3 million TEU of cargo going through the port in 2019. That is roughly 270 times Khorgos’s amount. Economic gains in Kazakhstan are quite clear because there has been an increase in clients using the Khorgos port. Consequently, the BRI has been quite beneficial to Kazakhstan. 

UK is one of the countries that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Yiwu-London freight train was launched in January 2017. As of 2018, the network had expanded to cover 48 Chinese cities and 42 European destinations, delivering goods between China and Europe. This railway line has not only boosted China – UK trade but has also increased China-Europe. Figures show that nearly 3000 trains between January and April 2020, carrying roughly 262,000 TEU. Economic gains in the UK are very clear due to the increase in trade from the BRI. Therefore, the BRI has benefited the UK. 

Djibouti is another country that is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Data shows that in 2020, Djibouti’s debt to China accounted for more than 70% of its GDP. China has constructed two airports in Djibouti, extended Doraleh Port and built a naval base. There have been concerns that China will turn many of the ports constructed across the Indian Ocean into naval bases, to increase its military presence across the world and control the Indian Ocean shipping route. Economic gains in Djibouti are less obvious since debt to China accounts for more than 70% of their GDP. And although Djibouti’s Government agreed to build a naval base for China, this may begin a “String of Pearls” and will affect other countries across the Indian Ocean. Consequently, the BRI has not benefited Djibouti. 

In conclusion, receiving countries have not benefited from the BRI. Many countries have had to sell back projects to China or are in large debt to them. China is using what is referred to as debt-trap diplomacy (where a powerful lending country brings a borrowing country into a debt-trap and increases its leverage over it) to try and become the global superpower. Furthermore, China believes that by creating a network of dependencies across Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, China will be able to have more influence around the globe (This is known as Infrastructure Imperialism or Infrastructure Diplomacy). The String of Pearls theory, which predicts that China is trying to establish a string of naval bases in the Indian Ocean that will allow it to station ships and guard shipping routes that move through the region (the Indian Ocean is the home to one of the largest shipping routes in the world that interconnect Africa and the Middle East with South East Asia), is likely to become true. 

Arts & Humanities Geography Independent Learning Assignment

The New Cold War – Rising Tensions in the Arctic Circle

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Cameron Philp, and a finalist for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 45 minutes

Unlike the Antarctic and many other parts of the world, the Arctic is a region of unclear territories, rapid change and emerging economic and strategic importance. The Arctic Circle is the northernmost line of latitude on the globe and consists of a deep ocean covered by a drifting expanse of frozen seawater. This ice cap is the major feature of the area and it expands in winter as the sea freezes and reduces in size in the summer as the ice melts. Iceland, Denmark (through Greenland), Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Canada and the United States are the eight ‘Arctic States’ that are located within the Arctic Circle. Approximately 4 million people live and work in the Arctic.

The extent of the Arctic ice cap has been decreasing significantly in the past few decades due to increasing average global temperatures. This rise in average temperature of the Earth’s climate is known as global warming and the Arctic is warming at a rate of almost twice the global average. Global warming is caused by many factors including the release of heat-trapping gases, such as carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels in power stations, that leads to a greater ‘greenhouse effect’. The ‘greenhouse effect’ is the warming that happens when certain gases in the atmosphere let light in and out but trap heat. Since the Industrial Revolution, the actions of humankind have had an increasingly damaging impact on the planet’s natural environment through an enhanced greenhouse effect. This has led the Arctic ice sheet to melt significantly and continues to at a terrifying rate due to increasing average temperatures. The last three winters in the Arctic have been 6ºC warmer than the average for the region and between 1982 and 2012, Arctic sea ice coverage decreased by over 40% from 8.3 to 4.7 million square kilometres. At the current receding rate, an ice-free Arctic is very likely in the next century and ice-free summers within the next few decades. This has many negative consequences. However, the decreasing ice coverage has meant resources previously inaccessible or too expensive to access are becoming available and commercially viable for exploitation.

To view Cameron’s full article, follow this link below.

FTRP Performing Arts

Tonally Confused

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Ronan Lenane, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 1 minute
Estimated read time of essay: 45-60 minutes

In this piece I wrote a 60-minute comedy TV pilot for the Fifth Form Independent Research Project. 

The pilot is written in the style of an anthology, following four central characters whos paths all cross by the end of episode one, after a series of bizarre and interconnected events. The pilot takes cues from shows like ‘Between two ferns’, ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ and ‘What We Do in the Shadows’. 

As part of my preparation for this project, I read books on screenwriting and listened to interviews with accomplished screenwriters such as Aaron Sorkin. In addition to this, I investigated classical approaches to drama- such as Aristotle’s Poetics. My research for the content of each section of the pilot consisted largely of watching movies and TV that were thematically or tonally similar to the scenes I was writing. For example, for the Noire section I rewatched films like Chinatown and Sunset Boulevard, taking note of the genre conventions and key stylistic effects in order to imitate them.  

I wrote this Pilot due to a personal interest in creative writing, specifically for Film and TV, and thought it would be an interesting challenge to attempt during quarantine. 

To view Ronan’s full script and documentation of process, follow this links below.

Arts & Humanities Independent Learning Assignment Music

The Twelve Note Conspiracy: Exploring Methods of Comparison Between Various Equal Divisions of the Octave

This essay was written by upper-sixth former Stan Lawrence, and was the winner of the Arts category for the 2020 Independent Learning Assignment. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 4 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 18 minutes

For the last few hundred years, Western music has mainly used a system called 12 tone equal temperament. This means it has 12 equally spaced tones before it reaches the same pitch as the first again, an octave up. This system is ingrained in our musical culture and isn’t often questioned, at least in mainstream music. However, some musicians maintain that there isn’t any particular reason why this status quo should be continued. The microtonal composer Harry Partch even goes as far as to say that 12EDO (Equal Division of the Octave) is a “musical conspiracy.” 

When I started thinking about what to do for my ILA, I realised that there were uncountable EDOs – you can split an octave into however many divisions you want – so I wanted a method of comparison to work out which EDOs I might like to compose with. In my full project, I compared different EDOs in three different ways: to see how close each EDO is to a tuning system that exists in nature (to create a temperament); a mathematical approach which attempted to work out whether each EDO would be useful or unusual for a composer; and finally, a more qualitative approach. I rejected the first two approaches for being a suitable way to compare them. I abandoned the first because it assumes sovereignty of natural scales built on the harmonic series, so therefore seems to commit the naturalistic fallacy. Then I rejected the second approach as the main reason for using different EDOs is to find new sounds – so I agree with the ancient Greek philosopher Aristoxenus when he wrote “Intervals should be judged by the ear alone, not by arithmetical relations.” 

So, I decided the third qualitative method was the most suitable for comparison of EDOs. For this method I decided I would do an arrangement of the same piece (a very famous Mozart Sonata) in different EDOs then try and describe and compare the overall sound of each arrangement. However, if there were more than 12 divisions in the EDO the arrangement would have to be variations on a themeThis was because as if I simply chose the notes that were closest to the original melody in our familiar 12-tone system then this wouldn’t be using all the notes in that EDO and so wouldn’t get an overall sense of the sound of that EDO. 

All these recordings are on my Soundcloud – – there is a playlist called the 12 Note Conspiracy with these (and a few more that I mentioned in my full project): 

  • 7EDO: this sounds most similar to Mozart’s original composition as it has the same number of notes as a major (not chromatic) scale. But it is noticeably “out of tune.” 
  • 19EDO – this is a noticeably busier version than the 7EDO as I had to put more ornaments and reharmonisations (when one changes the original harmony of a piece) in to cover all 19 notes.  
  • 23EDO – this is further away from 12EDO (the normal system) than 19EDO so has quite an other-worldly feel (also known as xenharmony) 


As the arrangements were specifically variations on a theme (as this gets past the problem of not using that EDO to its fullest extent), this means that I couldn’t say exactly how the EDOs are different. But comparing my three arrangements to the original 12EDO version, it is clear for me that they all have different moods – in general terms I can say that 19EDO has a richer sound than the transparent sound of 23EDO. However, it is hard to put my finger on exactly how to describe them (and therefore compare them effectively) as they all seem so alien and piercingly out of tune for someone like me, who has been entrenched in 12EDO my whole life. It may be hard to break out of unconsciously hearing things in relation to 12EDO therefore a comparison of different EDOs may be predicated on a lifetime of listening to alternative EDOs and Xenharmony.  

Furthermore, when I made the arrangements of the Mozart Sonata I was effectively squeezing a 12-tone piece with 12-tone harmony into non-12 tone systems. Therefore, while EDOs can to a certain extent accommodate normative harmony, this can be hardly said to be using these systems to their fullest extent – arguably having new harmonies is one of the biggest advantages of these systems. 

However, having said that, I do feel like I have learnt what the overarching sound of a few different EDOs is, albeit in very vague terms. Importantly, I think I have learnt which EDOs I might like to compose with out of the ones I compared – and as this was my primary aim, I think it was a moderate success. I wrote a composition in 19EDO called Stars in the Sea (also on Soundcloud), which sums up what I have learnt about the sort of sounds that can be made in this particular EDO. It was quite an eye-opening experience to compose in a system that barely fits at all with my understanding of harmony. I find it incredibly fascinating and inspiring that there are whole other systems of music that have barely been explored – the possibilities are endless!  

To view Stan’s full article, follow this link below.

Arts & Humanities FTRP Geography Law & Politics Social Sciences

Why did the UK withdraw from Singapore and Malaysia and what were the consequences for the region?

This essay was written by lower-sixth former Alexander Downey, and shortlisted for the 2020 Fifth Form Transitional Research Project. The following provides a short abstract to the full essay, which can be found at the bottom.

Estimated read time of abstract: 2 minutes
Estimated read time of essay: 12 minutes

When Harold Wilson took over as Prime Minister in 1964 from Alec Douglas-Home, he inherited a country riddled with financial difficulties. Macmillan’s supposed “Age of Affluence” left a remarkable balance of payments deficit of £400 million. The economic downturn was the trigger for calls for a review and a change in the way money was being spent and invested in foreign affairs and the military when the number of Brits at home who needed financial support grew.

Ever since the end of the Second World War Britain’s influence on the world stage had been in decline along with her empire. This led to Wilson taking the decision to continue with the post-war consensus idea of focusing on becoming a political power in Europe and adapting a role there rather than a worldwide role. Part of this meant reducing military commitments around the world, the term “East of Suez” was coined to refer to all British military bases and territories in the Eastern hemisphere, this included Malaysia and Singapore.

This region had a rather unique political situation due to the unique way in which Malaysia and Singapore were linked as well as Malaysia’s internal divisions. Following the decision to give independence to Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and Borneo forming the Federation of Malaysia, the internal politics of this new country were chaotic to say the least. The Malaysian-Chinese population were discriminated against by the Islamophilic regime leading to violent protests, Britain then feared they would be drawn into a Vietnam style conflict, especially when Singapore separated itself from the Federation forming its own sovereign state. The political tensions along with Britain’s changing international role were important factors in the decision to withdraw from Malaysia and Singapore. 

However, one can argue that the role of pressure groups in the UK were more important as they emphasised Britain’s changing role and the dangerous political atmosphere of the region at the time. Whilst the importance of the pressure groups is often overlooked, the main point they pushed was the economic situation and the cost of having military bases in the Eastern hemisphere, Wilson was aware of this, so the importance of the pressure groups was much less than the economic situation at home at the time. The consequences for the region have been, in the long run, intrinsically positive. Malaysia’s economy in particular initially suffered an economic downturn but both countries are now amongst the most powerful Southeast Asian economies and continue to grow. 

To view Alexander’s full article, follow this link below.