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Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... with the New Labour tide: Edward and David Miliband, sons of his old friend Ralph; Charles Clarke, son of Benn’s former Permanent Secretary, and so on. Some of the most poignant moments come when the Millbank machine tries to whip in its oldest member, reducing him in May 1999 to writing ‘fuck’ for the first time in a diary entry, and inducing ...

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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... and others. Geoffrey Hill, Dannie Abse, Denise Levertov, Peter Red-grove, U.A. Fanthorpe, Gillian Clarke, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Elaine Feinstein are all variously represented, opening out the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties as a time of diversity and imaginative enterprise. One poet who appears in neither book, and who surely exemplifies not only the ...

Perfect Companions

C.K. Stead, 8 June 1995

Christina Stead: A Biography 
by Hazel Rowley.
Secker, 646 pp., £12.99, January 1995, 0 436 20298 0
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... CS: We know how it was formed and this very gloomy background which is expressed by Marcus Clarke in For the Term of his Natural Life, you know that, everybody knows that ...? INT.: Yes. CS: ... forms a background, or did then, the background to an Australian’s thoughts. So she was able to see her Australian roots as making it easy for her to ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone, 2 January 2020

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... when it came to the primary political battle of her life, which was to defeat socialism. When Simon Jenkins, then the editor of the Times, went to interview Thatcher at Chequers in the run-up to the leadership contest, he saw a copy of Heseltine’s latest book on the coffee table, stuffed with post-it notes. She told him she had been marking up what she ...

It’s already happened

James Meek: The NHS Goes Private, 22 September 2011

... the screws. The first attempt to introduce market competition into the NHS was made by Kenneth Clarke in 1990, in the dying months of Thatcher’s rule. The ‘internal market’ was rushed in, ignoring the views of the medical profession. It didn’t work. Tony Blair’s first health minister, Frank Dobson, read its funeral rites when Labour came to power ...

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