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Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The life expectancy of a Roman emperor, 3 June 2004

... as get sacked, but it would be rash of the prime minister to wait for the electorate to sack him: Gordon Brown wouldn’t be the only disappointed person were Tony Blair to be succeeded by Michael Howard. Caracalla was succeeded by Macrinus, a co-conspirator of Martialis, the man who did the actual stabbing and was shortly afterwards caught and ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: On commemoration, 6 March 2008

... instruction, or grand guignol leisure destinations. If only it was this anxiety that had inspired Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, minister for ‘children’ etc, to propose government funding for sixth-formers to visit Auschwitz. In fact it was a decision taken on the rebound, after last year’s folk tale that the Holocaust was about to drop out of the ...

Short Cuts

Andrew O’Hagan: Voices from Beyond the Grave, 20 November 2008

... Arthur Conan Doyle, whom one expects to sound like Basil Rathbone. In actual fact he sounds like Gordon Brown. It’s somehow easy to forget that Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, and his voice, recorded in 1930, is here filled with lilting plangencies about the age of materialism and the fact that death is not the end. He was right about that, about ...

Success and James Maxton

Inigo Thomas, 3 January 2008

... Independent Labour Party MP, socialist, orator, Scotsman and the subject of a biography written by Gordon Brown twenty years ago – was not a successful leader, although some of his contemporaries in the 1920s thought he might become one. ‘Maxton was never a government minister,’ Brown wrote of his subject, ‘and ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... ministers leaving Parliament after a short interval (hours for Blair, five years for Major and Brown, with Cameron likely to follow suit) and party leaders quickly throwing in the towel after election defeats (Hague, Miliband, Clegg). The most recent generation of political leaders attained high office infinitely faster than their predecessors, serving no ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin, 9 June 1994

... with them at your peril. Certainly, Labour’s Scottish frontbenchers – Robin Cook (especially), Gordon Brown, Donald Dewar and, of course, John Smith himself – have a terse, combative Parliamentary style light-years from Mr Kinnock’s and this has earned them a grudging but general respect. Mr Smith was also thought (and plainly was) a thoroughly ...

Spookery, Skulduggery

David Runciman: Chris Mullin, 4 April 2019

The Friends of Harry Perkins 
by Chris Mullin.
Scribner, 185 pp., £12, March 2019, 978 1 4711 8248 8
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... remotely resembled him. By this point, Peter Mandelson was communications director, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were in Parliament and Neil Kinnock – scarred by having to defend unilateral disarmament in the 1987 general election – was on the long march to respectability and another defeat in 1992. That defeat didn’t breathe new life into the ...

Third Way, Old Hat

Ross McKibbin: Amnesia at the Top, 3 September 1998

... The departure of Frank Field, the enthusiastic reception by the Parliamentary Labour Party of Gordon Brown’s spending plans, together with the increasingly desperate attempts by the Government’s leading members, particularly the Prime Minister himself, to discover a Third Way, represent an important moment in the history of New Labour ...

A Bit of Ginger

Theo Tait: Gordon Burn, 5 June 2008

Born Yesterday: The News as a Novel 
by Gordon Burn.
Faber, 214 pp., £15.99, April 2008, 978 0 571 19729 3
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... Gordon Burn’s work takes place at a point where fact and fiction, public events and private lives, fame and death all meet. He began his career as a proponent of the non-fiction novel pioneered by Truman Capote and Norman Mailer; his first book, Somebody’s Husband, Somebody’s Son (1984), was a painstaking re-creation of the life of Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper ...

The Non-Scenic Route to the Place We’re Going Anyway

John Lanchester: The Belgian Solution, 8 September 2011

... difference being that they hadn’t admitted it yet. They still haven’t admitted it. A piece by Gordon Brown, in the always anti-European Herald Tribune, had a real edge of anger on this point. ‘I was present at the first meeting ever held of the eurozone heads of government in October 2008, in the immediate wake of the Lehman Brothers ...

This Way to the Ruin

David Runciman: The British Constitution, 7 February 2008

The British Constitution 
by Anthony King.
Oxford, 432 pp., £25, November 2007, 978 0 19 923232 1
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... criteria for deciding when scheming for party political advantage becomes ‘unconstitutional’. Gordon Brown would probably not be in the mess he currently is if the timing of elections was excluded from routine political calculation. When Brown flirted with calling an election last autumn, in order to take advantage ...

What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... lost his Midas touch.’ In October 2004, he carried the first of a long series of eulogies to Gordon Brown, then ‘odds-on to be prime minister before the end of 2008’. ‘The Brown transition,’ Goodhart wrote, ‘could help to realise the centre-left’s dream of governing Britain for a generation.’ What ...

The Way Things Are and How They Might Be

Tony Judt and Kristina Božič: An Interview, 25 March 2010

... who were most active in this choice were the most powerful people in Europe: Merkel, Sarkozy and Gordon Brown. With the new constitution of the EU two possibilities were opened. Because the executive power was largely dependent on how the representatives were chosen and who they were the executive power could be either very strong or very weak. We went ...

Not No Longer but Not Yet

Jenny Turner: Mark Fisher’s Ghosts, 9 May 2019

k-punk: The Collected and Unpublished Writings of Mark Fisher 
edited by Darren Ambrose.
Repeater, 817 pp., £25, November 2018, 978 1 912248 28 5
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... having a Wile E. Coyote moment: it was a year after the crash and nearly two since Northern Rock; Gordon Brown had been pushed to open the Chilcot Inquiry, established to investigate the behaviour of his predecessor in the run-up to the Iraq War; and the best-known Mark Fisher was Tony Blair’s former arts minister, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent ...

Pound Foolish

Kit McMahon, 9 May 1996

Politics and the Pound: The Conservatives’ Struggle with Sterling 
by Philip Stephens.
Macmillan, 364 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 333 63296 6
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... be required reading for anyone aspiring to be either Chancellor or Prime Minister. Let’s hope Gordon Brown and Tony Blair are studying it carefully. They can legitimately enjoy the more egregious mistakes made by the Tories since 1979, but they should be sparing with their scorn. They should remember the errors of previous administrations; and be ...

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