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Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... it follows that the enemy of Michael Howard is my hero. So awful was Howard’s long reign at the Home Office that many liberals sought democratic relief from the most blatantly undemocratic section of the establishment: the judiciary. It was the strange sound of Law Lords denouncing Howard’s preposterous insistence that ‘prison works’ and the ...

Not bloody likely

Paul Foot, 26 March 1992

Bloody Sunday in Derry: What really happened 
by Eamonn McCann, Maureen Shiels and Bridie Hannigan.
Brandon, 254 pp., £5.99, January 1992, 0 86322 139 4
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... If today,’ writes Eamonn McCann, ‘the Lord Chief Justice were appointed as a one-person tribunal to inquire into a major political problem affecting Ireland, there would be a rattle of empty laughter throughout the land.’ That, he says, is a ‘measure of how far the British judiciary has fallen in esteem over the last twenty years ...

Where will the judges sit?

Stephen Sedley: What will happen to the Law Lords?, 16 September 1999

The House of Lords: Its Parliamentary and Judicial Roles 
edited by Brice Dickson and Paul Carmichael.
Hart, 258 pp., £30, December 1998, 1 84113 020 6
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Constitutional Futures: A History of the Next Ten Years 
edited by Robert Hazell.
Oxford, 263 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 0 19 829801 3
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The Law and Parliament 
edited by Dawn Olivier and Gavin Drewry.
Butterworth, 219 pp., £15.95, September 1998, 0 406 98092 6
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Crown Powers: Subject and Citizens 
by Christopher Vincenzi.
Pinter, 343 pp., £47.50, April 1998, 1 85567 454 8
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... force, in 1876, a further Act was pushed through, against the advice of both the Liberal reformer Lord Selborne and the Conservative reformer Lord Cairns, restoring the Lords’ nationwide appellate jurisdiction (apart from criminal appeals from Scotland) and creating the office of ...

That sh—te Creech

James Buchan: The Scottish Enlightenment, 5 April 2007

The Enlightenment and the Book: Scottish Authors and Their Publishers in 18th-Century Britain, Ireland and America 
by Richard Sher.
Chicago, 815 pp., £25.50, February 2007, 978 0 226 75252 5
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... in London, while keeping up a crapulous small-arms fight against the literary magistrates at home.We also learn that the decline in Scottishliterature for half a generation after Adam Smith’s death in 1790 – ‘nothing in the way of literature is going on here,’ William Smellie claimed – had less to do with the Edinburgh sedition trials than with ...

Opprobrious Epithets

Katrina Navickas: The Peterloo Massacre, 20 December 2018

Peterloo: The Story of the Manchester Massacre 
by Jacqueline Riding.
Head of Zeus, 386 pp., £25, October 2018, 978 1 78669 583 3
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... however, were still mostly produced in the traditional way by handloom weavers, working at home or in small workshops in the towns and villages surrounding Manchester, which the French industrialist Léon Faucher described as the ‘industrious spider, placed at the centre of a web’. Though they were at the forefront of the industrial ...

Finding a role

Peter Pulzer, 5 September 1985

The Decline of Power: 1915-1964 
by Robert Blake.
Granada, 462 pp., £18, June 1985, 0 246 10753 7
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... through calls for tariff reform and conscription, and the ‘national efficiency’ propaganda of Lord Milner, Sir Henry Wilson and the National Review. Similarly, in the 1960s, the withdrawal from East of Suez was the last stage of a process of decolonisation and retrenchment that was as much the work of Churchill and Macmillan as of Attlee and Wilson. Yet ...

Like Unruly Children in a Citizenship Class

John Barrell: A hero for Howard, 21 April 2005

The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for a Free Press 
by Ben Wilson.
Faber, 455 pp., £16.99, April 2005, 0 571 22470 9
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... three years later moved the family to London. After a brief formal education Hone was educated at home by his father, a solicitor’s clerk, who designed him for the same occupation. In his early teens he was a convinced anti-Jacobin; an enthusiastic loyalist song, a very good one, that he wrote aged 13 earned a letter of commendation from the Society for the ...

Hooked Trout

Geoffrey Best: Appeasement please, 2 June 2005

Making Friends with Hitler: Lord Londonderry and Britain’s Road to War 
by Ian Kershaw.
Allen Lane, 488 pp., £20, October 2004, 0 7139 9717 6
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... his trouble that he had too high an estimation of himself. He could never forget his descent from Lord Castlereagh, the great foreign secretary of the post-Napoleonic years and the exemplary peacemaker at Vienna in 1814. His case was exactly the opposite of Hilaire Belloc’s fictional peer, whose ducal grand-sire berated him: ‘We had intended you to ...

From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... Younger Pitt and Charles James Fox, or with the battle over Parliamentary Reform in the 1830s – Lord Blake prefers the second of these – it is evident that the two parties arose simultaneously. They have not shown equal powers of survival. Whiggery has long disappeared, though 20th-century Conservatives have included a few Whiggish eccentrics. The Liberal ...

Under the Soles of His Feet

Stephen Alford: Henry’s Wars, 4 April 2019

The English People at War in the Age of Henry VIII 
by Steven Gunn.
Oxford, 297 pp., £35, January 2018, 978 0 19 880286 0
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... Hiram, saying: thou knowest how that David my father could not build an house unto the name of the Lord his God, for the wars which were about him on every side, until the Lord put them under the soles of his feet. But now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is ...

The company he keeps

C.H. Sisson, 6 August 1981

Experiences of an Optimist 
by John Redcliffe-Maud.
Hamish Hamilton, 199 pp., £10.95, July 1981, 0 241 10569 2
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... process of disintegration would certainly have been more rapid and more painful than it has been. Lord Redcliffe-Maud possesses, in an outstanding degree, the qualities necessary for success in this field and his success has indeed been such as might well induce a certain optimism, even in a more cynical character. Cynicism is not one of ...

Resistance to Torpor

Stephen Sedley: The Rule of Law, 28 July 2016

Entick v. Carrington: 250 Years of the Rule of Law 
edited by Adam Tomkins and Paul Scott.
Hart, 276 pp., £55, September 2015, 978 1 84946 558 8
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... withering issue, number 45. The new prime minister, George Grenville, and his secretary of state, Lord Halifax, decided it was time to put a stop to this constant assault on government policy. Advised by the Treasury solicitor that number 45 constituted a seditious libel, Halifax signed a warrant authorising the King’s Messengers to arrest – without ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... The leading figure here is Kenneth Baker, who perfected a theory about why he should slay as Home Secretary despite the succession of calamities that surrounded him, until he was eventually jettisoned by the Prime Minister after the 1992 election. Holding steadfastly to the view that policy was all that he was responsible for, and that culpability for ...

History of a Dog’s Dinner

Keith Ewing and Conor Gearty, 6 February 1997

... case in which the King’s Secretary issued a warrant authorising two messengers to enter the home of John Entick and search for seditious papers. There was neither common law nor statutory authority for this action, which Entick successfully challenged in the courts, recovering damages from the hapless messengers (said to be ‘as much responsible as ...

Judges and Ministers

Anthony Lester, 18 April 1996

... by ministers. These attacks have been concerted, populist and unfair. They have been led by the Home Secretary, Michael Howard (a frequent and bad loser in the courts), and the Chairman of his Party, Brian Mawhinney, who has urged Tory hangers and floggers to write in and complain about lenient sentencing on the part of judges, and has put out as party ...

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