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My Life with Harold Wilson

Peter Jenkins, 20 December 1979

Final Term: The Labour Government 1974-76 
by Harold Wilson.
Weidenfeld/Joseph, 322 pp., £8.95
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... from within. Wilson claims in his book to have been thoroughly vindicated in rejecting the Heath terms but not the Common Market, and in his subsequent U-turn over the referendum. He quotes with great satisfaction an editorial from the Times which said that in the referendum he found the answer, ‘perhaps the only answer, to the problem of getting ...

Diary

Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... campaigned in the 1959 Election on the slogan: ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ 7. Edward Heath gave his word to ‘cut rising prices at a stroke’. 8. Shirley Williams joined Arthur Scargill on a mass picket at Grunwicks. 9. James Callaghan said: ‘Crisis? What crisis?’ 10. An experienced cabinet minister said in an interview: ‘I’m not ...

Oh God, can we face it?

Daniel Finn: ‘The BBC’s Irish Troubles’, 19 May 2016

The BBC’s ‘Irish Troubles’: Television, Conflict and Northern Ireland 
by Robert Savage.
Manchester, 298 pp., £70, May 2015, 978 0 7190 8733 2
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... that would address nationalist grievances, especially in the field of policing, eased after Heath replaced Wilson in 1970. The emergence of the Provisional IRA, which put itself forward as a defender of the Catholic ghettos before launching its first attacks on British soldiers in the spring of 1971, led government ministers in London and Belfast to ...

So much was expected

R.W. Johnson, 3 December 1992

Harold Wilson 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 811 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 00 215189 8
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Harold Wilson 
by Austen Morgan.
Pluto, 625 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 7453 0635 7
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... Opie, who played the key role of assistant to Keynes at Bretton Woods, examined both Wilson and Heath in economics in their Oxford Finals and, by chance, kept his notes, which he once showed to me. Heath he thought uninspired, a good solid Second, a man of immense sturdiness and yeoman rectitude. Of Wilson he noted that ...

Is this successful management?

R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989

One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... a while to come. Some things were new to me. I hadn’t known that as Minister for Education under Heath, Mrs Thatcher had fought to preserve the Open University, or that she regretted her measure to abolish free milk in schools (characteristically blaming the Civil Service for her mistake), or that she had fought against the idea of abolishing the rates when ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... instance, Burns Singer, one of the most original poets of the Fifties, or David Wright and John Heath-Stubbs. All three were friends of Graham, and their inclusion might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson, whose 1948 Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (reprinted by Polygon in 1990) falls on ...

Buggering on

Paul Addison, 21 July 1983

Winston Churchill: Companion Vol. V, Part III, The Coming of War 1936-1939 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1684 pp., £75, October 1982, 0 434 29188 9
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Finest Hour: Winston Churchill, 1939-1941 
by Martin Gilbert.
Heinemann, 1308 pp., £15.95, June 1983, 0 434 29187 0
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Churchill 1874-1915 
by Ted Morgan.
Cape, 571 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 224 02044 7
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The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932 
by William Manchester.
Michael Joseph, 973 pp., £14.95, June 1983, 0 7181 2275 5
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... possibly even the end of a nation.’ But what era feels more remote today than that of Wilson and Heath, the great modernisers for whom modernity failed to arrive? In spirit at least, Churchill has outlived them, taking his place again in British politics as one of the household gods of Mrs Thatcher. Once more his legend influences the future. There is more ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... stood eagerly in the prow as if waiting to strike land.On Any Questions on Radio 4 tonight are Roy Hattersley and Edward Heath, Janet Cohen and Jonathon Porritt. Neither Heath nor Hattersley is a particular favourite of mine but because no one on the panel is extreme in their ...

Centrepoint

Dick Taverne, 21 February 1980

Memoirs 
by Jo Grimond.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £7.95, October 1980, 0 434 30600 2
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... Labour Opposition was divided and moving steadily to the Left. However, the unexpected defeat of Heath in his battle with the unions, in an election which even Wilson expected the Tories to win, saved the Labour Party from the kind of trauma which it is suffering today. Heath’s attempt to salvage something from defeat by ...

What can be done

Leo Pliatzky, 2 August 1984

Government and the Governed 
by Douglas Wass.
Routledge, 120 pp., £8.95, April 1984, 0 7102 0312 8
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... every year. BBC Television has, each year, a single Dimbleby Lecture. It was one of these which Roy Jenkins used to put forward the ideas which led to the creation of the Social Democratic Party and the SDP-Liberal Alliance. One cannot imagine his lecture being spread over six broadcasts. The effect of doing so would have been to reduce, not enhance, the ...

Homage to Wilson and Callaghan

Ross McKibbin, 24 October 1991

Power, Competition and the State. Vol. II: Threats to the Post-War Settlement, Britain, 1961-1974, Vol. III: The End of the Post-War Era, Britain since 1974 
by Keith Middlemas.
Macmillan, 480 pp., £50, March 1990, 0 333 41413 6
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Labour’s Economic Policies, 1974-1979 
edited by Michael Artis and David Cobham.
Manchester, 310 pp., £40, June 1991, 0 7190 2264 9
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... that the Labour leadership wishes to attend: on the contrary – as Mrs Thatcher did with the Heath government – they seem either to pretend that the Wilson and Callaghan governments did not exist or that they were mistakes for which the Party must endlessly atone. This received view need not go uncontested. In the first place, we have had 12 years of ...

Fear and Loathing in Limehouse

Richard Holme, 3 September 1987

Campaign! The Selling of the Prime Minister 
by Rodney Tyler.
Grafton, 251 pp., £6.95, July 1987, 0 246 13277 9
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Battle for Power 
by Des Wilson.
Sphere, 326 pp., £4.99, July 1987, 0 7221 9074 3
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David Owen: Personally Speaking 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 248 pp., £12.95, September 1987, 0 297 79206 7
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... disclosing an observation made at an Alliance strategy meeting in 1985 – was well expressed by Roy Jenkins, who said that with the British electoral system a hung Parliament might be a statistical outcome, but that it could not be a political objective. The second was that the strategy immediately invited the question: ‘With whom would the Alliance ...

Two Giant Brothers

Amit Chaudhuri: Tagore’s Modernism, 20 April 2006

Selected Poems 
by Rabindranath Tagore, edited by Sukanta Chaudhuri.
Oxford India, 449 pp., £23.99, April 2004, 0 19 566867 7
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... of the Upanishads, a text that his father’s friend, the scholar, reformer and thinker Rammohun Roy, had translated into English in the early 19th century, and which Anquetil-Duperron, too, had played his part in bringing to the world’s attention. The Upanishads became, for both Roy and Debendranath Tagore, a prism ...

This Sporting Life

R.W. Johnson, 8 December 1994

Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... be humane and generous. He helped found the One Nation group to propagate his views, bringing in Heath, Maudling and Powell, but he was not destined to be on the backbenches for long. In a debate on the NHS he rose to take on the speaker all Tories feared most, Aneurin Bevan. A few months later, Churchill made him Minister of Health. Macleod was so shaken ...

What’s going on?

Peter Jenkins, 21 November 1985

How Britain votes 
by Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice.
Pergamon, 251 pp., £15.50, September 1985, 0 08 031859 2
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Partnership of Principle 
by Roy Jenkins.
Secker in association with the Radical Centre, 169 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 436 22100 4
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The Strange Rebirth of Liberal Britain 
by Ian Bradley.
Chatto, 259 pp., £11.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2670 1
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Report from the Select Committee on Overseas Trade, House of Lords 
HMSO, 96 pp., £6.30, October 1985, 0 10 496285 2Show More
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... the future of the Labour Party as an electoral force. Nevertheless, it is useful to be reminded by Roy Jenkins in the preface to a collection of his essays and speeches that he broke with Labour ‘not because I feared it could not be elected, but because, with its new policies, I did not want it to be elected’. In the 1979 Dimbleby Lecture, here ...

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