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Make enemies and influence people

Ross McKibbin: Why Vote Labour?, 20 July 2000

... like the universities but has evinced no other signs of wanting to endanger the status quo. John Prescott appears a broken reed – but could benefit from the spending review. Margaret Beckett, the minister most responsible for Parliamentary reform, has been an almost complete failure. The David Blunkett of Sheffield Council days is scarcely ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown, 2 November 2006

... him almost painfully eager not to fall into this trap. Not for Brown the ghastly contortions of John Prescott, happy to scourge the Tories for their failings as husbands and fathers in the dog days of the Major administration, but equally happy to try it on himself when a comely employee fell his way. Yet this sort of hypocrisy doesn’t seem to bother ...

What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... of his expenses claims. Now he discovers that there is an article by one of his predecessors, John Major, which attacks him in highly personal terms. He decides he must ring the Telegraph’s editor to put the record straight. He has to do this on a train to Bradford, where he is due to unveil a memorial in honour of a local police officer, Sharon ...

Vindicated!

David Edgar: The Angry Brigade, 16 December 2004

The Angry Brigade: The Cause and the Case 
by Gordon Carr.
ChristieBooks, 168 pp., £34, July 2003, 1 873976 21 6
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Granny Made Me an Anarchist 
by Stuart Christie.
Scribner, 423 pp., £10.99, September 2004, 0 7432 5918 1
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... called the Angry Brigade, the language of whose communiqués (identified by a stamp made from a John Bull printing set) led the Met Bomb Squad to Ian Purdie and Jake Prescott (the former a left-wing activist, previously convicted for throwing a petrol bomb at the Ulster Office during a demonstration; the latter a ...

Preacher on a Tank

David Runciman: Blair Drills Down, 7 October 2010

A Journey 
by Tony Blair.
Hutchinson, 718 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 09 192555 0
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... too dangerous to proceed, and shelves it. Instead, he agrees to a catastrophic deal, brokered by John Prescott, which commits him to handing over to Brown before the end of his second term, on the condition that Brown gives him his full support in the interim. As even Blair acknowledges, this was a terrible mistake. The agreement made no sense, because ...

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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... merely how the game sometimes has to be played.The means they ultimately chose was to rally around John Major as the person best placed to stop Heseltine. Thatcher reluctantly came to accept this and therefore to accept the ostensible reasons they gave for her stepping aside. Very soon she would regret having fallen for it. Yet it had been clear for some time ...

What’s the point of HS2?

Christian Wolmar, 17 April 2014

... had been the chairman of Eurotunnel, was appointed to run the Strategic Rail Authority, created by John Prescott in 1999 to give direction to the privatised industry. Morton commissioned a report from Atkins and Ernst & Young to assess whether there was a need for such a line. By the time they reported in 2003, Morton – who was too outspoken to occupy ...

Mandelson’s Pleasure Dome

Iain Sinclair, 2 October 1997

... dark grey suits (no pinstripes), blue plastic helmets, heavy-duty wellies and – apart from John Prescott – full zip millennial grins. Showcased by a long-focus lens that tactfully blurs the background of industrial dereliction. Britain is Working. Handson management. Optimism. Good humour. That stuff. A cross between a hobbled moon walk and Neil ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 17 July 2014

... individual cases, including those involving three cabinet ministers, Blunkett, Charles Clarke and John Prescott. Edis told the court that while their papers were busy hacking to find evidence of other people’s affairs – in January 2003 the Sun ran a story calling Andy Gilchrist, then leading the Fire Brigade Union in a series of strikes against the ...

After George W. Bush, the Deluge

Murray Sayle: Back to the Carboniferous, 21 June 2001

Draft Report of the 17th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Nairobi, 4-6 April 2001 
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Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability 
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The Collapse of the Kyoto Protocol and the Struggle to Slow Global Warming 
by David Victor.
Princeton, 192 pp., £12.95, April 2001, 0 691 08870 5
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Managing the Planet: The Politics of the New Millennium 
by Norman Moss.
Earthscan, 232 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 1 85383 644 3
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... Blair said, ‘we fail our children, because the consequences will be felt in their lifetime.’ John Prescott arrived in person to stiff-arm any opposition; other political heavies followed. Clinton lobbied Argentina and Brazil by phone. The troubling reservation of the US Senate apart, climate control looked uncontroversial. Moss and Victor both have ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution, 18 December 2014

The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... First Family might constitute an offence against the ethos of the republic. Although only John F. Kennedy held the presidency, there were several attempts to restore the family to the office. JFK’s brother Robert was assassinated after his victory in the California Democratic primary in 1968. The immediate chances of a third brother, Senator Edward ...

‘My God was bigger than his’

Colin Kidd: The Republicans, 4 November 2004

The Right Nation: Why America Is Different 
by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.
Allen Lane, 450 pp., £14.99, August 2004, 0 7139 9738 9
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Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet 
by James Mann.
Penguin, 448 pp., $16, September 2004, 0 14 303489 8
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Nixon’s Shadow: The History of an Image 
by David Greenberg.
Norton, 496 pp., £9.99, November 2004, 0 393 32616 0
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America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism 
by Anatol Lieven.
HarperCollins, 274 pp., £18.99, October 2004, 0 00 716456 4
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... also provoke a degree of puzzlement, as much on the right as on the left. In The Right Nation, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, two centre-right journalists who work on the Economist, ask why only 54 per cent of voters earning over $100,000 a year voted for Bush in 2000. Why does the party of big business, deregulation and tax-cutting engender less ...

Fie On’t!

James Buchan, 23 March 1995

The Oxford Book of Money 
edited by Kevin Jackson.
Oxford, 479 pp., £17.99, February 1995, 0 19 214200 3
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... the fatal precision of the physical sciences. This second period draws to a close with the fall of John Law and the great financial collapses in Paris, London and the Dutch cities in 1720-1. On 29 August 1728, Montesquieu visits the Scots financier in Venice and, on the evidence of the shorthand notes in the posthumously published Voyages, does not understand ...

What did Cook want?

Jon Lawrence: Both ‘on message’ and off, 19 February 2004

The Point of Departure 
by Robin Cook.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £20, October 2003, 0 7432 5255 1
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... Assembly and the London mayoral contest were notable examples. Well before the 2001 election, John Kampfner described Cook as an isolated figure forced to recognise both that he would never succeed Blair as party leader, and that he had been decisively out-manoeuvred by his long-term political rival Gordon Brown.* Strongly influenced by the media furore ...

Not to Be Read without Shuddering

Adam Smyth: The Atheist’s Bible, 20 February 2014

The Atheist’s Bible: The Most Dangerous Book That Never Existed 
by Georges Minois, translated by Lys Ann Weiss.
Chicago, 249 pp., £21, October 2012, 978 0 226 53029 1
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... The iterative wit of the phantom bibliography is at work in the best-known early English example: John Donne’s Catalogus librorum aulicorum incomparabilium et non vendibilium, or The Courtier’s Library of Rare Books Not for Sale. Unpublished until 1650, Donne wrote the text between about 1603 and 1611, and it proved popular in manuscript with his coterie ...

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