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Real Thing

John Naughton

24 November 1988
Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... television’ had consisted of panel shows rendered anodyne by the Fourteen Day Rule, stupefying party political broadcasts (begun in 1951) and the odd ministerial broadcast of the kind pioneered by Anthony Eden. Mr Cockerell’s treatment of his subject is strictly chronological. He starts with Earliest Times and finishes at the Present Day. Well, not quite the present, for the closing chapter takes us ...

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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... In Modern British politics, Edward Heath is the Old Man of the Sea. Not quite as ancient as Methuselah, he has been around for five active decades which sometimes seem like a century. The ocean was what famously passed for his recreational ...
21 November 1985
How Britain votes 
by Anthony Heath, Roger Jowell and John Curtice.
Pergamon, 251 pp., £15.50, September 1985, 0 08 031859 2
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Partnership of Principle 
by Roy Jenkins.
Secker in association with the Radical Centre, 169 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 436 22100 4
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The Strange Rebirth of Liberal Britain 
by Ian Bradley.
Chatto, 259 pp., £11.95, September 1985, 0 7011 2670 1
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Report from the Select Committee on Overseas Trade, House of Lords 
HMSO, 96 pp., £6.30, October 1985, 0 10 496285 2Show More
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... Accompanied by a growing pile of political books, I spent most of September and half of October travelling from pillar to post and from party conference to party conference – from Blackpool to Torquay to Dundee to Bournemouth and back to where we began in Blackpool. For years now I have set out on this dismal pilgrimage filled with hope and health and holiday sun, only to return filled with alcohol ...

Plonking

Ferdinand Mount: Edward Heath

22 July 2010
Edward Heath 
by Philip Ziegler.
Harper, 654 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 0 00 724740 0
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... determination to hoodwink me that I found it necessary to place on my desk a notice saying: REMEMBER, IN SPITE OF EVERYTHING, HE WAS A GREAT MAN.’ At the end of his authorised biography of Edward Heath, Ziegler writes: ‘He was a great man, but his blemishes, though far less considerable, were quite as conspicuous as his virtues, and it is too often by his blemishes that he is remembered.’ In ...

Permissiveness

Paul Addison

23 January 1986
The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... Poverty could be abolished, inequalities reduced and industry modernised. Six years of disappointment followed, but the faith held good. In 1970 it was replenished from an unusual source when Heath succeeded Wilson. Though caricatured at first as a reactionary (‘Selsdon Man’), Heath was a more principled social democrat than his predecessor. Wilson saw the expediency of the Common Market ...
21 January 1988
The Failure of the Eden Government 
by Richard Lamb.
Sidgwick, 340 pp., £16.95, October 1987, 0 283 99534 3
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... sight, The Failure of the Eden Government suggests the beginning of a new series to be continued with The Failure of the Macmillan Government, The Failure of the Wilson Government, The Failure of the Heath Government and so forth. As the 30-year rule uncovers the frailties of each in turn of a not particularly glorious row of administrations, opportunities will accumulate. Besides its fairly average ...
4 February 1988
... of Canterbury’s resignation was simultaneously demanded by two right-wing newspapers (the Mail and the Telegraph). Here again, though, nature totally outstripped art. Could any mere novelist – Anthony Trollope, Hugh Walpole, even Ernest Raymond – conceivably have come up with a plot in which a highly-regarded, if disappointed, Oxford don first mixes an explosive cocktail to be drunk by his own ...
16 April 1998
Whatever Happened to the Tories: The Conservatives since 1945 
by Ian Gilmour and Mark Garnett.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £25, October 1997, 1 85702 475 3
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... relations legislation proposed by the Wilson Government in In Place of Strife; and the third was their failure in the same period to devise an effective anti-inflationary policy – which left the Heath Government terribly exposed. Gilmour concedes that it made mistakes (a number of its policies were inherently inflationary and it tried to do too much), but argues that its most serious was excessive ...
25 October 1990
No Other Choice 
by George Blake.
Cape, 288 pp., £12.99, September 1990, 0 224 03067 1
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Inside Intelligence 
by Anthony​ Cavendish.
Collins, 181 pp., £12.95, October 1990, 9780002157421
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... Here are two more spy books from authors who worked long ago for British Intelligence. George Blake was very left-wing, and is now slightly less so. Anthony Cavendish has always been very right-wing. Both authors write of their profound respect for one of their former bosses, George K. Young. Young, who died recently, was deputy head of MI6 until he ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot

2 March 1989
The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... old aircraft to the Russians, were more than once sabotaged by MI5. The young intelligence heroes of the time had mostly been in active service in colonial wars, notably in Palestine. Harry Wharton, Anthony Cavendish, Maurice Oldfield, the arch-racialist George Kennedy Young – all these were in MI5 or MI6 either during or after the war. All of them shared the deeply reactionary ideas which had ...
26 November 1987
Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony​ Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... than when British commentators contemplate the successes and failures of the post-war British polity. To celebrate the launching of the Institute of Contemporary British History, Peter Hennessy and Anthony Sheldon have edited an engaging collection of essays on post-war British governments, starting with Paul Addison on the wartime background to Attlee’s success, and ending with some surprisingly ...

The Unsolved Mystery of the Money Tree

Anthony​ Howard: Jeremy Thorpe

19 August 1999
In My Own Time: Reminiscences of a Liberal Leader 
by Jeremy Thorpe.
Politico’s, 234 pp., £18, April 1999, 1 902301 21 8
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... campaigns of 1974. Given the constant fear he must have been under – the whispering had already started on the doorsteps of North Devon – his was a truly bravura performance which, if Ted Heath had got his way, could conceivably have ended up with his being appointed to some job in a coalition government (though, if this account is to be believed, not apparently to the Home Office, where he ...

Lunch

Jon Halliday

2 June 1983
In the Service of the Peacock Throne: The Diaries of the Shah’s Last Ambassador to London 
by Parviz Radji.
Hamish Hamilton, 343 pp., £12.50, April 1983, 0 241 10960 4
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... complaint about this.) Radji decides to leave Private Eye alone, but works away assiduously on Amnesty and the BBC, without much success, in spite of offers of help from local volunteers like Edward Heath. At one point Radji even fantasises about blowing up the BBC transmitter on Masirah Island, off Oman, which carries the World Service to Iran. Radji’s account is an unintended tribute to two often ...
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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... polite to anyone not yet quite dead. Qui trop embrasse, mal étreint. His tribute to the organisational genius of Lord Woolton and Sir Michael Fraser is diminished by the extravagant encomia for Anthony Barber and Cecil Parkinson. We cannot yet write the history of post-Thatcherite Britain, but perhaps it is not too soon to start summarising the characteristics of its prehistory (roughly 55 BC to ...

Diary

Peter Clarke: True or False?

16 August 1990
... Bevin said of the Labour Party’s relations with the Soviet Union: ‘Left can speak to Left.’ 4. Nye Bevan called Hugh Gaitskell ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. 5. Rab Butler said: ‘Sir Anthony Eden is the best prime minister we have.’ 6. Harold Macmillan campaigned in the 1959 Election on the slogan: ‘You’ve never had it so good.’ 7. Edward Heath gave his word to ‘cut rising ...

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