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How did they get away with it?

Bernard Porter: Britain’s Atrocities in Kenya, 3 March 2005

Histories of the Hanged: Britain’s Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire 
by David Anderson.
Weidenfeld, 406 pp., £20, January 2005, 0 297 84719 8
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Britain’s Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya 
by Caroline Elkins.
Cape, 475 pp., £20, January 2005, 9780224073639
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... colony had more than its fair share of coverage in this period, both in Parliament (spearheaded by Barbara Castle, ‘that castellated bitch’, as a Kenyan attorney-general called her) and in the left-wing press. Castle and the others were helped by a stream of testimony from whistle-blowers in Kenya itself, which ...

Quiet Sinners

Bernard Porter: Imperial Spooks, 21 March 2013

Empire of Secrets: British Intelligence, the Cold War and the Twilight of Empire 
by Calder Walton.
Harper, 411 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 00 745796 0
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... We also learn here that it wasn’t only nationalists who were spied on by MI5, but British MPs. (Barbara Castle had her luggage spirited away when she visited Cyprus in 1958. It was called a ‘black bag op’.) In Palestine, SIS placed limpet mines on (Jewish) refugee ships, and may then have forged documents blaming the mines on the Arabs or the ...

Christopher Hitchens states a prosecution case

Christopher Hitchens, 25 October 1990

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power 
by Anthony Howard.
Cape, 361 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 0 224 02592 9
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... the inner editorial meetings the most exploded ex-ministers of Labour’s sentimental ‘Left’ (Barbara Castle) and the most sinister of its unsentimental ‘Right’ (Lord Chalfont, who, unbelievably, was appointed foreign editor). This guaranteed the identification of the paper with a stultified Westminster and a discredited government. Casting about ...

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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... last stab at the problem with his attempt to reform the trade unions along the lines proposed by Barbara Castle in her famous White Paper In Place of Strife. His defeat at the hands of the trade-union movement was a turning-point of far greater significance than the humiliating, forced devaluation of the previous year. For the result was a shift in the ...

Dingy Quadrilaterals

Ian Gilmour: The Profumo Case, 19 October 2006

Bringing the House Down: A Family Memoir 
by David Profumo.
Murray, 291 pp., £20, September 2006, 0 7195 6608 8
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... judgment, Redmayne said ‘no’. Late at night on 22-23 March, George Wigg, Richard Crossman and Barbara Castle used parliamentary privilege to repeat rumours that the war secretary had had an affair with Christine Keeler, a girl who had at the same time been involved with Captain Ivanov, an attaché at the Soviet Embassy, and that he had interfered ...

Longing for Mao

Hugo Young: Edward Heath, 26 November 1998

The Curse of My Life: My Autobiography 
by Edward Heath.
Hodder, 767 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 340 70852 2
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... minister has kept diaries to equal the extraordinary raw material supplied by Richard Crossman, Barbara Castle and Tony Benn for the delectation of students of government. The best explanation for this party discrepancy I have hit on is that whereas all people of the right enter politics to exercise power, at least some people of the left are as ...

The Welfare State Intelligentsia

R.E. Pahl, 17 June 1982

Inner-City Poverty in Paris and London 
by Peter Willmott and Charles Madge.
Routledge, 146 pp., £8.50, August 1981, 0 7100 0819 8
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The Inner City in Context 
edited by Peter Hall.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 435 35718 2
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New Perspectives in Urban Change and Conflict 
edited by Michael Harloe.
Heinemann, 265 pp., £15, December 1981, 9780435824044
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The Politics of Poverty 
by David Donnison.
Martin Robertson, 239 pp., £9.95, December 1981, 0 85520 481 8
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The Politics of Poverty 
by Susanne MacGregor.
Longman, 193 pp., £2.95, November 1981, 0 582 29524 6
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... of the book, which is written in a racy style much like that of the Sunday Supplement memoirs of Barbara Castle, who gave him his job at the Supplementary Benefits Commission and whom he much admires. Donnison clearly found the world of ameliorist intellectual politics enormous fun. He is the archetype of the interventionist academic. He has sat on a ...

Scoutmaster General

Peter Clarke, 24 September 1992

Tony Benn 
by Jad Adams.
Macmillan, 576 pp., £20, July 1992, 0 333 52558 2
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The End of an Era: Diaries, 1980-1990 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 704 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 09 174857 7
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... of making lightly-veiled attacks on his colleagues in the name of the party outside. One old ally, Barbara Castle, was now ‘getting a bit sick of his clear determination to strike attitudes publicly whenever he can’. Benn was plainly no longer the good scout when Wilson could rebuke him openly: ‘You will have seen in the Cabinet today the ...

Shock Cities

Susan Pedersen: The Fate of Social Democracy, 2 January 2020

Thatcher’s Progress: From Social Democracy to Market Liberalism through an English New Town 
by Guy Ortolano.
Cambridge, 301 pp., £29.99, June 2019, 978 1 108 48266 0
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Me, Me, Me? The Search for Community in Postwar England 
by Jon Lawrence.
Oxford, 327 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 0 19 877953 7
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... core constituency, working men. Lawrence records one shipyard worker producing a picture of Barbara Castle, the charismatic minister behind Labour’s plan for industrial relations reform (anathema to these workers), saying he ‘would like to get her in the dock, do her and drown her’ – a comment that captures perfectly, if terribly, the ...

Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media, 22 April 2010

Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... a figure as his literary namesake. When James was succeeded by Bernard Ingham, who had worked for Barbara Castle, presentation certainly hotted up. Ingham gave a robust account of his new mistress’s views, stamped on the latest rumours with his trademark dismissal, ‘bunkum and balderdash’, and did not hesitate to pass on news that this or that ...

Enemies of Promise

Angus Calder, 2 March 1989

Breach of Promise: Labour in Power 1964-1970 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 433 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12683 5
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James Maxton 
by Gordon Brown.
Fontana, 336 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 00 637255 4
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Forward! Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988 
edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian Wood.
Polygon, 184 pp., £19.50, January 1989, 0 7486 6001 1
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... by a conservative Old Etonian with no experience in industry. Some Cabinet members – Crosland, Castle, Benn – retained elements of socialist vision and occasionally mentioned principles. Even George Brown was not entirely incapable of gut reactions in the Movement’s tradition. In January 1968, the Cabinet, discussing a package of cuts, was ‘split ...


R.W. Johnson, 2 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... as having exhibited ‘the highest degree of moral courage’, while Callaghan, even as he sacks Barbara Castle, speaks of her ‘courage and great intelligence’. Harris finds this sort of bogus generosity deeply noble, as if some of us actually take it for real. ‘Where such generosity was, in all conscience, impossible,’ adds Squire ...

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew, 21 May 2020

Insurgent Empire: Anticolonial Resistance and British Dissent 
by Priyamvada Gopal.
Verso, 607 pp., £25, June 2019, 978 1 78478 412 6
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... assistance from London. Along with his parliamentary colleagues Leslie Hale, Arthur Creech Jones, Barbara Castle and Aneurin Bevan, Brockway consistently raised the crisis in Kenya in the Commons, earning himself the nickname ‘the Member for Africa’. In 1962 he presented a petition to Parliament ‘on behalf of 158,642 citizens of the Protectorate ...

No Peep of Protest

Barbara Newman: Medieval Marriage, 19 July 2018

Conduct Becoming: Good Wives and Husbands in the Later Middle Ages 
by Glenn Burger.
Pennsylvania, 262 pp., £50, September 2017, 978 0 8122 4960 6
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... his debts. Lady Reason comes to his rescue, advising him to follow the path of Diligence to the Castle of Riches, all the while spurning the well-spoken Fraud and avoiding the way of Covetousness. So the husband journeys on, guided by a kindly married couple called Good-Heart and Good-Desire, until they reach a ...

All Together Now

John Lloyd: The British Trade Union, 19 October 2000

British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. I: The Postwar Compromise, 1945-64 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 335 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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British Trade Unions and Industrial Politics. Vol. II: The High Tide of Trade Unionism, 1964-79 
edited by John McIlroy and Nina Fishman et al.
Ashgate, 389 pp., £35, January 2000, 0 7546 0018 1
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The TUC: From the General Strike to New Unionism 
by Robert Taylor.
Palgrave, 299 pp., £45, September 2000, 0 333 93066 5
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... of 1 June 1969 at Chequers which brought together Wilson, his First (and Employment) Secretary Barbara Castle, Jack Jones of the Transport Workers, Hugh Scanlon of the Engineers and Vic Feather, the recently elected TUC General Secretary. The hours of argument circled round the Government’s need – political as much as economic – for legally ...

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