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How to put the politics back into Labour

Ross McKibbin: Origins of the Present Mess, 7 August 2003

... bargaining or which allow the Parliamentary Party to exercise any real control over the executive. Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer argued recently that the plotters in the Labour Party today have no plot – true enough – and that the only consequence of plotting would be to take the Labour Party ‘back to its rich history of back-stabbing’ its ...

Labour Vanishes

Ross McKibbin, 20 November 2014

... which it will, he will support British withdrawal in the 2017 referendum. The ennoblement of Andrew Green, the founder of the pressure group MigrationWatch, shows how far Cameron will go. It’s possible that by the end of 2017 the United Kingdom will, in effect, have disappeared and that Britain will have left the EU. What the Labour Party would or ...

Will We Care When Labour Loses?

Ross McKibbin: Gordon Brown’s Failures, 26 March 2009

... almost anywhere except China, the state can’t avoid elections, nor can any politician do what Andrew Mellon was reputed to have recommended in the 1930s – liquidate everything. We live, after all, in a democracy. To do nothing is politically impossible. To do something, however, requires a proper understanding of what went wrong. Here, much of the media ...

The Purser’s Tale

Frank Kermode, 5 April 1984

Home and Dry: Memoirs III 
by Roy Fuller.
London Magazine Editions, 165 pp., £8.95, February 1984, 0 904388 47 6
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... that he was long ago misled by the name of a Scottish team: but can it be that his publisher, Alan Ross, suffers the same inveterate delusion? Perhaps this is one of those tiny harmless in-jokes of which the author is so fond, and which contribute so much to one’s entertainment. This last volume is mostly concerned with the Navy, a service in which Fuller ...

Melinda and Sandy

Andrew O’Hagan: Oprah, 4 November 2010

Oprah: A Biography 
by Kitty Kelley.
Crown, 544 pp., £19.50, April 2010, 978 0 307 39486 6
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... Carr Esters said. ‘I stopped wanting to be white when I was ten years old and saw Diana Ross and the Supremes perform on the Ed Sullivan Show,’ Oprah claimed on one occasion. ‘I was too black-looking,’ she told a reporter when looking back on her struggle to get into television. ‘A lot of producers and directors were looking for light ...

Good Fibs

Andrew O’Hagan: Truman Capote, 2 April 1998

Truman Capote: In which Various Friends, Enemies, Acquaintances and Detractors Recall His Turbulent Career 
by George Plimpton.
Picador, 498 pp., £20, February 1998, 0 330 36871 0
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... on his first Monday in ballet pumps and a little black cape. ‘What is that?’ asked Harold Ross. The runner’s pencil-sharpening colleagues left the great editor none the wiser. ‘He was an absolutely gorgeous apparition,’ said Brendan Gill: fluttering, flitting up and down the corridors of the magazine. He was indeed tiny. He and Miss Terry, our ...

Memories are made of this

Patricia Beer, 16 December 1993

Aren’t We Due a Royalty Statement? 
by Giles Gordon.
Chatto, 352 pp., £16.99, August 1993, 0 7011 6022 5
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Yesterday Came Suddenly 
by Francis King.
Constable, 336 pp., £16.95, September 1993, 9780094722200
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Excursions in the Real World 
by William Trevor.
Hutchinson, 201 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 09 177086 6
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... who was to become Lord Archer’, and a little later tells us that he was employed to teach Prince Andrew to write grammatically, I am at a loss. I feel there must be a joke in there somewhere. Of course it is a perfectly acceptable ploy for a writer to be deliberately silly but I simply cannot decide whether or not this is what Giles Gordon is doing. When he ...

The Biggest Rockets

Alex Ross: Gustav Mahler, 24 August 2000

Gustav Mahler. Vol. III. Vienna: Triumph and Disillusion (1904 to 1907) 
by Henry-Louis de La Grange.
Oxford, 1024 pp., £35, February 1999, 9780193151604
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The Mahler Companion 
edited by Donald Mitchell and Andrew Nicholson.
Oxford, 652 pp., £50, May 1999, 0 19 816376 2
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... In thirty or forty years,’ Gustav Mahler is said to have said, ‘Beethoven’s symphonies will no longer be played in concerts. My symphonies will take their place.’ The line comes from a dubious source – an ageing critic – but it is not out of character. Mahler, the most generous of megalomaniacs, often prophesied great things for his music, and, to judge from the programmes of recent seasons, his roll-over-Beethoven fantasy is coming true ...

Dummy and Biffy

Noël Annan, 17 October 1985

Secret Service: The Making of the British Intelligence Community 
by Christopher Andrew.
Heinemann, 616 pp., £12.95, October 1985, 0 434 02110 5
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The Secret Generation 
by John Gardner.
Heinemann, 453 pp., £9.95, August 1985, 0 434 28250 2
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Two Thyrds 
by Bertie Denham.
Ross Anderson Publications, 292 pp., £7.95, September 1983, 0 86360 006 9
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The Ultimate Enemy: British Intelligence and Nazi Germany 1933-1939 
by Wesley Wark.
Tauris, 304 pp., £19.50, October 1985, 1 85043 014 4
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... art being Guy Liddell. The development of this intelligence community is the theme of Christopher Andrew’s book, which contains the first reliable narrative history of the secret services from Victorian days to the present. Needless to say, he has received no encouragement from Whitehall, and former members of MI5 have been warned not to talk to him. As he ...

The Cult of Celebrity

Jacqueline Rose, 20 August 1998

... forms of celebrity – sacred and secular. ‘Not only did she capture the spirit of the age,’ Andrew Morton writes on the last page of the most recent edition of his famous book, ‘but more than that the manner of her life and death formed part of a religious cycle of sin and redemption, a genuinely good and Christian woman who was martyred for our ...

The Whole Bustle

Siobhan Kilfeather, 9 January 1992

The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing 
edited by Seamus Deane.
Field Day Publications/Faber, 4044 pp., £150, November 1991, 0 946755 20 5
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... seen in an examination of two sections dealing with overtly political writings. Nicholas Canny and Andrew Carpenter introduce ‘The Early Planters: Spenser and his Contemporaries’ by reaffirming Spenser’s status as a great poet in the English tradition, and then by redescribing him as an ‘apologist’ for English rule in Ireland, someone whose writing ...

An Element of Unfairness

Ross McKibbin: The Great Education Disaster, 3 July 2008

... and independence from the LEAs, were a precedent, but it seems to have been the influence of Andrew Adonis on Blair that drove the academies forward. Adonis, who is now a minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and was previously in Blair’s Policy Unit, has no roots in the labour movement (which doubtless commended him to ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... of the Bank of England, having just been involved in that same capacity in seeking a successor to Andrew Large as chairman of SIB in its existing form, when Brown rang him up and put it to him. All very good news, both because we (the SIB board) had been trying without success to persuade the last government to give legislative time to reform the manifestly ...

Thin Ayrshire

Andrew O’Hagan, 25 May 1995

... frantic, and phoned Irvine police station. The report was taken by Inspector Reid and Sergeant Ross. They took a description, and initiated a search of the area. There was heavy earth-moving equipment in Bourtreehill that morning. There were workmen all over the place; culverts were being dug; pipes laid. This worried the police, and when the search for ...

Ghosts in the Palace

Tom Nairn, 24 April 1997

... Not only was there a republican majority, but the once loyal Scotsman was falling into the grip of Andrew Neil, one of the brashest anti-Royal voices in the Carlton debate. Most commentary about the programme was fearfully disapproving: crass, vulgar, ill-judged, a ‘tasteless screaming-match’ and so on. The Independent Television Commission later supported ...

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