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A.J.P. Taylor: On Not Being Egocentric Enough, 4 August 1983

... had ceased to exist long ago. Not at all. Mrs Thatcher wants to create eight or nine more peers. Michael Foot, as a final gesture of leadership, wants to create 29. What can be the explanation of this extraordinary demand? Once upon a time the Leader of the Labour movement was solid against the House of Lords. Can you imagine Keir Hardie as a peer? When ...

The Partisan Coffee House

Nicholas Faith, 1 June 2017

... in the morning until midnight, it hosted meetings addressed not just by usual suspects such as Michael Foot, Barbara Castle, Kenneth Tynan, the publisher John Calder, Doris Lessing, Michael Redgrave and Wolf Mankowitz, but also such distinguished figures as William Empson. ‘Events’ were held in the basement ...


R.W. Johnson: Alan Taylor, Oxford Don, 8 May 1986

... a single taker for his doughty defence of Beaverbrook’s reputation, or for the proposition that Michael Foot would make a great prime minister. For many people mention of Alan’s name immediately brings to mind the great brouhaha over the Regius Chair in History. His friends, perhaps not entirely discouraged by Alan, have tended to treat this as a ...
The Socialist Agenda 
edited by David Lipsey.
Cape, 242 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 224 01886 8
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The Future of Socialism 
by Anthony Crosland.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 224 01888 4
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Politics is for people 
by Shirley Williams.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 230 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 7139 1423 8
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... the Party took up at Blackpool last October will not be changed in any fundamental way and that Michael Foot and Denis Healey will therefore have to fight the next election on a programme closer to the French Communist Party’s than to that of any other important working-class party in the Western world. Labour has been losing support since the early ...

Sunny Days

Michael Howard, 11 February 1993

Never Again: Britain 1945-51 
by Peter Hennessy.
Cape, 544 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 224 02768 9
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Churchill on the Home Front 1900-1955 
by Paul Addison.
Cape, 493 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 224 01428 5
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... to be ameliorated. Compassion played as large a part as calculation in determining his policies. Michael Foot stated disdainfully that Churchill ‘never had the foggiest idea of how the British people lived, how they earned their bread, how society functioned’; but it is questionable whether Mr Foot was any better ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: Tony and Jeremy, 20 April 2017

... theme, and it is not just Benn himself who is drawn to the flame. Eric Heffer, Audrey Wise, Michael Meacher, Ken Livingstone and others feature in earnest discussions about whether the time is right for another attempt to capture the flag and how the forces are assembled. The votes of the unions and the membership seem to allow the possibility that the ...

Tony and Caroline

Ben Pimlott, 26 November 1987

Out of the Wilderness: Diaries 1963-67 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 592 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 09 170660 2
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... we see the politics of the Sixties more from the point of view of Richard Crossman than, say, of Michael Stewart, the reason is that Crossman kept a diary and Stewart did not. Nevertheless, the possibility of publication is seldom the only reason for keeping a diary. Like any habit that becomes addictive, diary-writing has its effect on the life of the ...


Paul Foot, 2 March 1989

The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... They have a duty to the Queen.’ After Wilson’s resignation, the Director-General of MI5 Sir Michael Hanley told his assembled colleagues that if Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour Party (and thus became prime minister), ‘I and every other officer in the service would have to consider our ...

Crossman and Social Democracy

Peter Clarke, 16 April 1981

The Backbench Diaries of Richard Crossman 
edited by Janet Morgan.
Hamish Hamilton/Cape, 1136 pp., £15, March 1981, 0 241 10440 8
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... Crossman refuted these stereotypes rather in the manner that Samuel Johnson, by stubbing his foot against a rock, claimed to refute Berkeley: what was lost as a formal exercise was pure gain as an object lesson. For Crossman remained incorrigibly attached to the habits and training of an academic milieu without ever forgetting that it was as an ...

Carpetbagging in Bermondsey

Nicholas Murray, 19 August 1982

... prospective Parliamentary candidate, Peter Tatchell. The extraordinary renunciation of Tatchell by Michael Foot on the floor of the House of Commons last November was one of the most striking episodes in the recent progress of the Labour Party. Foot’s late laying down of arms in the War of Tatchell’s Candidacy ...

Making things happen

Ross McKibbin, 26 July 1990

Heroes and Villains: Selected Essays 
by R.W. Johnson.
Harvester, 347 pp., £25, July 1990, 9780745007359
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... fair game. We should also remember that the last Oxford-educated man to lead the Labour Party was Michael Foot and that its last Oxford-educated prime minister was Harold Wilson. About Wilson’s leadership people can differ – I think it was by no means as bad as many have argued – but Foot’s leadership, as ...
... in an era of multi-party democracy. Mrs Thatcher had been eighteen months in Downing Street, and Michael Foot had become the Labour leader three months before. Britain was being pulled apart by ideology and extremism. We would draw into politics people of talent and good will – the ‘political virgins’ – who were alienated by the dogmatism and ...

Raven’s Odyssey

D.A.N. Jones, 19 July 1984

by D.M. Thomas.
Gollancz, 312 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 0 575 03446 7
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First Among Equals 
by Jeffrey Archer.
Hodder, 446 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 340 35266 3
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Morning Star 
by Simon Raven.
Blond and Briggs, 264 pp., £8.95, June 1984, 9780856341380
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... necessary, since most of the politicians looked like T.S. Eliot and most of the poets looked like Michael Foot – with Mary Wilson as one of the exceptions. Although I warned the heroine of Mrs Wilson’s Diary that I was a journalist, she favoured me with her political opinions (sound, I thought, if unorthodox) and I changed the subject, asking if she ...

Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton, 24 April 1997

... learn that several of Vidal’s hours here have been spent discussing Montaigne (so he said) with Michael Foot. Sadly, when Vidal showed up on one of Newsnight’s election panels, Jeremy Paxman failed to cut him down to size. In fact, he didn’t even try. Vidal was allowed to preen himself at leisure. Next to him, the two British panellists – Lord ...

Tatchell’s Testament

Anne Sofer, 22 December 1983

The Battle for Bermondsey 
by Peter Tatchell.
Heretic Books, 170 pp., £7.95, October 1983, 0 946097 11 9
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... left-wing socialist council? But it is the issue of ‘extra-Parliamentary activity’ cited by Michael Foot at the time of his original repudiation of Tatchell’s candidature which is of particular interest to the political theorist. (At the time I subscribed to the theory that Foot, old dodderer that he was, had ...

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