Oliver Kamm

Jump to navigation Jump to search

Oliver Kamm
Kamm in January 2015
Born Oliver George Kamm
February 1963 (age 55)
Nationality British
Alma mater New College, Oxford
Birkbeck College
Occupation Journalist
Years active 2008–present
Employer The Times
Parent(s) Antony Kamm (father)
Anthea Bell (mother)
Relatives Adrian Bell (grandfather)
Martin Bell (uncle)

Oliver George Kamm (born February 1963) is a British journalist and writer who is a leader writer and columnist for The Times.

Early life and career

Kamm is the son of translator Anthea Bell and publisher Antony Kamm.[1] Kamm is the grandson of Adrian Bell and nephew of Martin Bell. He studied PPE at New College, Oxford[2] and Birkbeck College, University of London.[citation needed]

Kamm started his career working in the City of London as an economist and investment strategist.[3]


Kamm joined the Times staff in 2008.[4] He has also contributed to The Jewish Chronicle, for which he writes regularly,[5] Prospect magazine,[6] and The Guardian.[7]


Domestic politics

Kamm has been a consistent supporter of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the foreign policies of his government,[8] predominantly identifying with the liberal interventionism of New Labour. Kamm wrote a short book, Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy (2005), which puts forward the case for an anti-totalitarian, interventionist and neoconservative foreign policy from a left-wing perspective, stating that "A politics that fails to place national security first cannot serve progressive ends."[9]

2005 saw the re-election of Blair as Prime Minister. Although generally supportive of the Labour Party in 2005, Kamm stated that he could not support Celia Barlow, the Labour candidate in his local constituency, Hove, because of her opposition to Blair's foreign policies with regard to the ongoing war in Iraq. Instead, he stated that he would vote for the Conservative candidate, Nicholas Boles, who supported the Iraq war.[10]

In 2006, he was a signatory to the Euston Manifesto, arguing for a reorientation of the left around what its creators termed 'anti-totalitarian' principles. He favourably commented on Peter Beinart's The Good Fight: Why Liberals—and Only Liberals—Can Win the War on Terror and Make America Great Again, which has similar themes to Kamm's own book, arguing that the left should look to the policies of Clement Attlee and Harry S. Truman in the early days of the Cold War as a model for response to Islamism and totalitarianism.[11] According to John Lloyd in 2005, in Anti-totalitarianism, Kamm views Blair's policies "as the expression of true social-democratic values".[12]

Despite believing the Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown was unsuited for office, Kamm voted for the party at the 2010 general election.[13] In September 2011, Kamm wrote in the New Statesman that he supports the Euro and admonishes Labour's recent criticisms of it: "Monetary union is not the cause of the crisis. Done properly, it may help insulate member states from disruptive volatility in the international capital markets".[14] He criticised Ed Miliband's stand on immigration before the 2015 general election, finding the Labour leader's position decidedly illiberal.[13] He believes current controls are far too tight, that immigration is economically beneficial, and such arguments against incomers are based on the Lump of labour fallacy.[13]

Under its leader since 2015, Jeremy Corbyn, Kamm believes the Labour Party has become a "thuggish organisation".[15] Via email, he told Liam Hoare writing for Forward magazine in September 2015, that "the left has incorporated the attitudes of the nativist far-right. Corbyn’s alliances with reactionary, misogynistic, theocratic, and anti-Semitic movements bear out what we’ve said".[16]

Kamm voted for his local Labour MP, Meg Hillier, at the 2017 general election because Hillier is a non-Corbynite who voted in parliament against the UK's implementation of Article 50 beginning the process of British withdrawal from the European Union.[17]

Foreign policy and other issues

Kamm supported the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and asserted that "the world is a safer place for the influence" George W. Bush had during his presidency.[18] Although critical of George W. Bush linking Saddam, Iran and North Korea in a combined "axis of evil".[18]

Because of Kamm's position on war and terrorism, the commentator Peter Wilby asserted that while he claims "to be left-wing" Kamm" holds "no discernible left-wing views".[19] Kamm rejects this criticism, saying that he "claim[s] to be left-wing, for the straightforward reason that it's true". He elaborates on his support for left-wing policies such as economic redistribution, progressive taxation and a welfare state. He also supports legal abortion and gay marriage.[20] When interviewed by politics academic Norman Geras in 2003, he said that he wrote to "express a militant liberalism that I feel ought to be part of public debate but which isn't often articulated, or at least not where I can find it, in the communications media that I read or listen to" and that he felt that "the crucial distinction in politics is not between Left and Right, as I had once tribally thought, but between the defenders and the enemies of an open society."[21] Kamm wrote that former Prime Minister James Callaghan's "greatest single achievement" was to "destroy socialism as a serious proposition in British politics."[22] In 2008, he supported the rendition of suspected terrorists.[23]

Regarding the bombing of Dresden, he has asserted that the bombing of the city "was not a crime. It was a terrible act in a just and necessary war."[24]

Other publications Kamm has contributed to include The Jewish Chronicle,[5] Prospect magazine,[6] and The Guardian.[7] In Prospect in February 2016, he wrote that he had resigned from the Frontline Club after founder Vaughan Smith had given refuge to Julian Assange at the club. Kamm wrote that "Smith’s statement in defence of his decision tellingly made not a single reference to the women Assange is alleged to have attacked."[25]


Kamm has written two books. In his Anti-Totaliatarianism book, he argues that military intervention against totalitarian regimes to support democratic values in other countries, can be expression of left wing values; he supports the 2003 invasion of Iraq under this rubric and seemed to be focusing his argument against foreign policies stances based narrowly on the national interest that are typical of the traditional right.[26] On his book on usage, he argues against linguistic prescription and in favor of linguistic description and clear, vigorous writing.[27]

  • Kamm, Oliver (2005). Anti-totalitarianism: The Left-wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy. Social Affairs Unit. ISBN 978-1780227955. 
  • Kamm, Oliver (2015). Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage. Phoenix. ISBN 978-1780227955. 


  1. ^ Armitstead, Claire (16 November 2013). "Anthea Bell: 'It's all about finding the tone of voice in the original. You have to be quite free'". the Guardian. 
  2. ^ "Things I Wished I'd Known Before I Went to Oxbridge". Oxford Royale Summer Schools. 2 April 2012. 
  3. ^ "Oliver Kamm profile". Intelligence Squared. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  4. ^ "Oliver Kamm - the 2010 Blogger Prize Long List". Orwell Foundation. Retrieved 1 June 2018. 
  5. ^ a b "Oliver Kamm". thejc.com. The Jewish Chronicle. 
  6. ^ a b "Articles by Oliver Kamm". prospectmagazine.co.uk. Prospect. 
  7. ^ a b "Oliver Kamm". theguardian.com. The Guardian. .
  8. ^ Lloyd, John (12 December 2005). "The case for freedom". New Statesman. Retrieved 6 May 2018. 
  9. ^ Kamm, Oliver (7 November 2005). "Time for the Left to be brave again". The Times. Retrieved 23 June 2018. 
  10. ^ Kamm, Oliver (2 May 2005). "Help, I'm a pro war leftie". The Times. Retrieved 23 June 2018. (Subscription required (help)). 
  11. ^ Kamm, Oliver (7 November 2005). "Time for the Left to be brave again". The Times. Retrieved 23 June 2018. (Subscription required (help)). 
  12. ^ Lloyd, John (12 December 2005). "The case for freedom". New Statesman. Retrieved 6 May 2018. 
  13. ^ a b c Kamm, Oliver (10 March 2013). "Why Ed Miliband is wrong on immigration". The Times. 
  14. ^ Kamm, Oliver (29 September 2011). "This is no time to give up on the euro". New Statesman. 
  15. ^ Kamm, Oliver (18 January 2018). "Corbyn's Labour: reactionary, nativist and thuggish". CapX. Retrieved 6 May 2018. 
  16. ^ Hoare, Liam (13 September 2015). "Why Jeremy Corbyn Scares British Jews So Much". Forward. Retrieved 6 May 2018. 
  17. ^ Rentoul, John (22 April 2017). "The fight to succeed Jeremy Corbyn has already begun – and the Blairites could be defeated again". The Independent. 
  18. ^ a b Kamm, Oliver (17 June 2008). "Bush made the world a safer place". The Guardian. 
  19. ^ Wilby, Peter (24 April 2006). "The Media Column". New Statesman. Retrieved 17 February 2017. 
  20. ^ Kamm, Oliver (20 April 2006). "Staggering". Oliver Kamm. 
  21. ^ Geras, Norman (21 November 2003). "The normblog profile 9: Oliver Kamm". normblog. 
  22. ^ Kamm,, Oliver (30 March 2005). "James Callaghan". Oliver Kamm. 
  23. ^ Kamm, Oliver (11 March 2008). "Ordinary rendition". The Guardian. 
  24. ^ Kamm, Oliver (18 March 2010). "The bombing of Dresden cannot be used to diminish the holocaust". The Times. Retrieved 23 June 2018. (Subscription required (help)). 
  25. ^ Kamm, Oliver (February 2016). "Why Julian Assange should be arrested the moment he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy". Prospect. Retrieved 5 February 2016. 
  26. ^ Marsh, Nicholas (2006). "Review of Anti-Totalitarianism: The Left-Wing Case for a Neoconservative Foreign Policy". Journal of Peace Research. 43 (5): 637–637. JSTOR 27640397. 
  27. ^ Cohen, Nick (7 March 2015). "If 'incorrect' English is what's widely understood, how can it be wrong?". The Spectator. 

External links