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What’s going on?

Peter Jenkins, 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, tobacco fumes and hot air ...

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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... 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 only to the last General Election. Earliest times in ...
... 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 Church, on being taxed with it denies all responsibility ...

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 hinterland, and the jacket of his autobiography shows an open, smiling face which could be that of a tweedy amateur sea-dog, weather-beaten and gimlet-eyed, and is, at a guess, at least ten years behind the corpulent, irritable landlubber who now rolls with some difficulty round the House of Commons ...

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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... 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 the case of Mountbatten, we were to understand, it was the ...

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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... 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, but his mentality was ...

Protocols of Sèvres

Keith Kyle, 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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... 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 quota of what might be called ordinary failures – failure ...

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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... 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 would have been responsible for the Metropolitan ...
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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... 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 statesmanship. ...

So what if he was

Paul Foot, 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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... 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 joined the merchant bankers Kleinwort Benson in 1961. One of ...

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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... 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 traditionally inspired the secret service. This, of ...

Institutions

Alan Ryan, 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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... 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 detached reflections on Mrs Thatcher from the pen of John ...

I used to work for them myself

David Leigh, 4 August 1983

British Intelligence and Covert Action: Africa, the Middle East and Europe since 1945 
by Jonathan Bloch, Patrick Fitzgerald and Philip Agee.
Junction, 284 pp., £5.95, May 1983, 0 86245 113 2
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Through the Looking-Glass: British Foreign Policy in an Age of Illusions 
by Anthony Verrier.
Cape, 400 pp., £12.50, February 1983, 0 224 01979 1
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... recent years there have been sporadic disclosures of how MI6 really works, especially since Edward Heath made the foolish mistake of ordering MI6 into Britain’s own Irish backyard, where its methods were easy to watch. What Bloch and Fitzgerald have done is draw together all the threads of what has become privately and more or less publicly known in the last ...

Trollopiad

John Sutherland, 9 January 1992

The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Manchester, 528 pp., £29.95, July 1990, 0 472 10102 1
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Anthony Trollope: A Victorian in his World 
by Richard Mullen.
Duckworth, 767 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 7156 2293 5
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Trollope: A Biography 
by N. John Hall.
Oxford, 581 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 19 812627 1
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... years); the bullying; the loneliness; the being branded as a dunce – all combined to bring young Anthony to the brink of suicide. Mullen and Hall go along with Trollope’s version of his schooldays (Mullen less so than Hall, perhaps). But Super disagrees radically. Despite what Trollope himself declares, he insists that in 1834 ‘the young man who ...

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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... 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 1979). Lord Blake’s categories are a mainstream ...

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