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Dirty Money

Paul Foot, 17 December 1992

A Full Service Bank: How BCCI stole millions around the world 
by James Ring Adams and Douglas Frantz.
Simon and Schuster, 381 pp., £16.99, April 1992, 0 671 71133 4
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Bankrupt: The BCCI Fraud 
by Nick Kochan and Bob Whittington.
Gollancz, 234 pp., £4.99, November 1991, 0 575 05279 1
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The BCCI Affair: A Report to The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 
by Senators John Kerry and Hank Brown.
US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 800 pp., September 1992
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Inquiry into the Supervision of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International 
by Lord Justice Bingham.
HMSO, 218 pp., £19.30, October 1992, 0 10 219893 4
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... favourite place of business, his favourite famous friend, solid, dependable former prime minister James Callaghan, who developed for the cranky banker what he called ‘a warm personal regard’ – and his favourite regulator, the Bank of England. Abedi used to complain to his progressive friends that the Bank of England would never let BCCI into its ...

He’s Bad, She’s Mad

Mary Hannity: HMP Holloway, 9 May 2019

Bad Girls: The Rebels and Renegades of Holloway Prison 
by Caitlin Davies.
John Murray, 373 pp., £10.99, February 2019, 978 1 4736 4776 3
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... On 26 September​ 1849 the lord mayor of London, Sir James Duke, laid the foundation stone for the new City House of Correction at Holloway. The land had been intended for use as a burial ground for victims of the recent cholera epidemic, but the epidemic had subsided, and the anticipated dead had not arrived. ‘May God preserve the City of London/And make this place a terror to evil-doers,’ the foundation stone read ...

Dream Ticket

Peter Shore, 6 October 1983

The Diary of Hugh Gaitskell 1945-1956 
by Philip Williams.
Cape, 720 pp., £25, September 1983, 0 224 01911 2
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... one moment very good and sensible, at another moment totally lacking in judgment’. James Callaghan ‘causes me a bit of concern ... he is a most talented Parliamentarian and a man of very considerable charm, but he seems to me to have absolutely no philosophical basis. You never know what he is going to say.’ Of Edith ...

Ross McKibbin on the summer of discontent

Ross McKibbin, 17 August 1989

... with panic; it was then that the ‘siege economy’, the ‘East European state’, and James Callaghan as the Janos Kadar of the West, emerged as incontestable facts. It was then that we discovered that Britain was ungovernable – or worse, that Britain was being governed, but by the Trade Unions. Furthermore, the Unions were not (so the ...

Draining the Think Tank

Martin Pugh, 24 November 1988

British Social Trends since 1900: A Guide to the Changing Social Structure of Britain 
edited by A.H. Halsey.
Macmillan, 650 pp., £45, October 1988, 0 333 34521 5
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Inside the Think Tank: Advising the Cabinet 1971-1983 
by Tessa Blackstone and William Plowden.
Heinemann, 258 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 9780434074907
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Lobbying: An Insider’s Guide to the Parliamentary Process 
by Alf Dubs.
Pluto, 228 pp., £12.50, October 1988, 0 7453 0137 1
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... from his predecessor, found some constructive work for it to do. For the Think Tank members, James Callaghan emerges as the premier for whom it was easiest to work because he never pretended to know all the answers, and positively welcomed a variety of advice. A similiar attitude had been essential to the success of Lloyd George’s secretariat. His ...

Nanny knows best

Michael Stewart, 4 June 1987

by Michael Leapman.
Unwin Hyman, 217 pp., £11.95, May 1987, 0 04 440006 3
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The Thatcher Years: A Decade of Revolution in British Politics 
by John Cole.
BBC, 216 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 0 563 20572 5
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Thatcherism and British Politics: The End of Consensus? 
by Dennis Kavanagh.
Oxford, 334 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 19 827522 6
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The New Right: The Counter-Revolution in Political, Social and Economic Thought 
by David Green.
Wheatsheaf, 238 pp., £22.50, March 1987, 0 7450 0127 0
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... the Labour Party’s – and Kinnock’s – problem was vividly illustrated by what happened when James Callaghan resigned the leadership late in 1980. At that point the new machinery for electing the leader – designed to outweigh the traditionally right-wing bias of the Parliamentary Labour Party – had not yet been established, and the election was ...

Wharton the Wise

D.A.N. Jones, 4 April 1985

The Missing Will 
by Michael Wharton.
Hogarth, 216 pp., £10.95, November 1984, 0 7011 2666 3
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... Thomson, the future BBC producer, and Denis Hills, the African explorer, destined to be rescued by James Callaghan from the clutches of Idi Amin. Michael Wharton spent much of his term-time practising West Riding Knife Throwing with his mates, or drinking in the magical St Ebbes quarter (recently flattened by commercial interests), playing dominoes with ...

When three is one

Paul Seabright, 20 September 1984

Motivated Irrationality 
by David Pears.
Oxford, 258 pp., £14.95, March 1984, 0 19 824662 5
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... Then what of blatant contradictions: ‘God is Three and God is One’? Or the speech I remember James Callaghan making when he was prime minister, in which he called for special attention to be given to the lowest paid, and to the maintenance of differentials? In religious language especially, self-contradiction has often been thought a positive ...

Digging up the Ancestors

R.W. Johnson, 14 November 1996

Hugh Gaitskell 
by Brian Brivati.
Cohen, 492 pp., £25, September 1996, 1 86066 073 8
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... should be bad: he despised the very notion of the ‘long term’. Nobody tries to make a case for James Callaghan, Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock as candidates for the pantheon and some of the devotion to the late John Smith derives, no doubt, from a desperate endeavour to find a leader of note somewhere. Hence this book. ‘Hugh Gaitskell was the ...

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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... Maudling, Heath’s rival for the Conservative leadership in 1965? Would you buy the life of James Callaghan now, if he hadn’t cashed in long ago? Did you then, for that matter? The stately progress of the Heath oeuvre reveals a certain chutzpah in an author evidently quite confident that people will still care about his life-chronicle. But that ...


Bernard Porter: The Falklands War, 20 October 2005

The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Vol. I: The Origins of the Falklands War 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Routledge, 253 pp., £35, June 2005, 0 7146 5206 7
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The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Vol. II: War and Diplomacy 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Routledge, 849 pp., £49.95, June 2005, 0 7146 5207 5
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... probably the best one can say for Britain’s foot-dragging. It was the way to get shot of what James Callaghan called this ‘poisoned chalice’ with least fuss. It depended, however, on Argentina’s patience. In 1982 that finally snapped. Confused, perhaps, by the FCO’s subtle diplomacy; sharing the British military’s assessment of the ...

The Antagoniser’s Agoniser

Peter Clarke: Keith Joseph, 19 July 2001

Keith Joseph 
by Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett.
Acumen, 488 pp., £28, March 2001, 9781902683034
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... Mail as potentially ‘the Tory Jack Kennedy’. He was on the progressive wing of his Party. James Callaghan evidently thought that the best way to score against him in the Commons was to play this up: ‘The Right Hon. Gentleman is not fully a Socialist yet, but he is coming along.’ In his retrospective mood of repentance, Joseph played it ...

Short Cuts

Tom Crewe: Ed Balls, 22 September 2016

... as foreign secretary under Edward Heath. These are the lucky ones. A different fate awaited Jim Callaghan, who drifted into a burdensome obscurity after losing the 1979 election and resigning as Labour leader the following year. There is a sad letter from him in the LRB archive, responding in 1991 to a piece by Ross McKibbin praising his and Harold ...

Boarder or Day Boy?

Bernard Porter: Secrecy in Britain, 15 July 1999

The Culture of Secrecy in Britain 1832-1998 
by David Vincent.
Oxford, 364 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 19 820307 1
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... Despite ambitious promises, they never delivered. Most of them seemed to think it did not matter. James Callaghan, for example, believed that all the fuss about open government and the like was something got up by the chattering classes, and of no interest at all to his working-class constituents, who had more important matters on their minds. He may ...

An Element of Unfairness

Ross McKibbin: The Great Education Disaster, 3 July 2008

... were the subject of constant press attack, and these criticisms were given some respectability by James Callaghan, now prime minister, who announced in a speech in Oxford in 1976 that in his view teacher training, the curriculum, classroom practice and (by extension) the comprehensives themselves were fair game. Even more unsympathetic to the ...

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