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Hello, Fred

David Marquand

21 March 1985
Hugh Dalton 
by Ben Pimlott.
Cape, 731 pp., £25, March 1985, 0 224 02100 1
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... Hugh Dalton was a Member of Parliament for 35 years, a minister for 12, a Front-Bencher for 30 and a member of the Labour Party National Executive for 25. In the Thirties, as Ben Pimlott shows in this absorbing, perceptive and sometimes moving biography, he played a central part (after Bevin, the central part) in dragging the Labour Party out of the semi-pacifist isolationism of the Twenties into a grudging acceptance of re-armament and, when necessary, the use of force ...
26 November 1987
Out of the Wilderness: Diaries 1963-67 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 592 pp., £14.95, October 1987, 0 09 170660 2
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... and continence, prayed the youthful Augustine, but do not give it yet. Perhaps the young Tony Benn, slithering up the greasy poll, made similar entreaties. For this, his fascinating first volume of diaries, is the story of an attractive, vital, boundlessly energetic young man having the egocentric time of his life without a thought for the morrow, except ...

Sixtysomethings

Paul Addison

11 May 1995
True Blues: The Politics of Conservative Party Membership 
by Paul Whiteley, Patrick Seyd and Jeremy Richardson.
Oxford, 303 pp., £35, October 1994, 0 19 827786 5
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Frustrate Their Knavish Tricks: Writings on Biography, History and Politics 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 417 pp., £20, August 1994, 9780002554954
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... scope for compromise between them. Prominent among the sceptics is the historian and biographer Ben Pimlott, whose Frustrate Their Knavish Tricks is a selection from his prolific writings as an essayist and reviewer. It is not unusual in Britain for a historian to win fame and fortune as a biographer: Pimlott’s ...
30 August 1990
The Alternative: Politics for a Change 
edited by Ben Pimlott, Anthony Wright and Tony Flower.
W.H. Allen, 260 pp., £14.95, July 1990, 9781852271688
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... to be a right-wing ideological hegemony. The contributors to Samizdat, whose founding editor, Ben Pimlott, is one of the editors of this book, were adherents of the Labour Party, the old Alliance, the Communist Party and of no party at all. Many of the contributors still are these things, though some, like Michael Young, have returned to the Labour ...

Über-Tony

Ben Pimlott: Anthony Crosland

3 September 1998
Crosland’s Future: Opportunity and Outcome 
by David Reisman.
Macmillan, 237 pp., £47.50, October 1997, 0 333 65963 5
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... Hugh Dalton observed that no good book ever got written between division bells. Crosland may have benefited from an enforced sabbatical. The Future of Socialism is not an academic study, however. The energy it conveys comes from the sense of its author as somebody recently bloodied in battle, waiting for the next push. Nor should Crosland be seen as a don ...

Darling Clem

Paul Addison

17 April 1986
Clement Attlee 
by Trevor Burridge.
Cape, 401 pp., £20, January 1986, 0 224 02318 7
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The Second World War Diary of Hugh Dalton 1940-1945 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape in association with the London School of Economics, 913 pp., £40, February 1986, 9780224020657
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Loyalists and Loners 
by Michael Foot.
Collins, 315 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 00 217583 5
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... the shell. That we are now in possession of the real Dr Dalton is due entirely to the labours of Ben Pimlott, whose superlative biography was published last year. Dalton was a compulsive diarist who started a journal in 1916 and carried on until 1960. Dr Pimlott has been editing it in two volumes, the first of which ...

Bus Lane Strategy

Tristram Hunt: London Governments

31 October 2002
Governing London 
by Ben Pimlott and Nirmala Rao.
Oxford, 208 pp., £15.99, May 2002, 0 19 924492 8
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... a Parliamentary Under Secretary around crumbling city ‘no-go areas’ in the hope of some beneficence from Whitehall departments. And he wouldn’t get any money until he’d suffered the further indignity of signing a Public Service Agreement committing him to do exactly as Treasury civil servants dictated. The relationship between central and local ...
3 December 1992
Harold Wilson 
by Ben Pimlott.
HarperCollins, 811 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 00 215189 8
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Harold Wilson 
by Austen Morgan.
Pluto, 625 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 7453 0635 7
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... came to prefer her second name, Mary) was somewhat bemused, particularly since Harold, already, in Pimlott’s words, ‘cheerful, boastful, absurdly sure of himself and confidently planning the future’, went on to tell Gladys that he intended to become an MP and, ultimately, prime minister. For these were things he had more or less been promising himself ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI

27 April 2000
Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... Attached as the British have been to their monarchy (even when disliking individual incumbents), they have been curiously reluctant to admit that the institution has any effective powers. At some point, the argument goes, British kings and queens threw off the mantle of political authority and became constitutional figure-heads, leaving politics to the politicians ...

Diary

Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks

26 January 1995
... about the income which sustained the first seven years of her administration, but the fact that Ben Pimlott, Philip Ziegler and Austen Morgan, three heavyweight biographers of Harold Wilson, under whose premiership the petroleum exploitation and taxation regime was set up, fail to mention it. In Scotland, up until the Eighties, we had contrived an ...

Greatness

Arthur Marwick

21 October 1982
Attlee 
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 630 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 297 77993 1
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... controversial that is not bona fide needed for the war.’ He had to conciliate Conservative backbenchers, reassure Labour, mediate between Labour and Conservative ministers and even between quarrelling Labour ministers, and manage Churchill’s political and personal idiosyncrasies. These were enormous burdens, borne largely in private; in the public eye he ...

A future which works

Michael Ignatieff

30 December 1982
Trade Unions in British Politics 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Longman, 302 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 582 49184 3
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Trade Unions: The Logic of Collective Action 
by Colin Crouch.
Fontana, 251 pp., £2.50, August 1982, 9780006358732
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Work and Politics: The Division of Labour in Industry 
by Charles Sabel.
Cambridge, 304 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 521 23002 0
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Strikes and the Government, 1893-1981 
by Eric Wigham.
Macmillan, 248 pp., £20, February 1982, 0 333 32302 5
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Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience, 1964-1979 
by Dennis Barnes.
Heinemann Educational, 242 pp., £6.50, February 1982, 0 435 83046 5
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The Assembly Line 
by Robert Linhart, translated by Margaret Crosland.
Calder, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 9780714537429
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... consciousness all along. Three of the works under review – Barry Hindess’s essay in the Pimlott and Cook volume, and the books by Sabel and Crouch – are valuable simply for their critique of the ways in which both Marxist and mainstream sociologies of work condescend to workers’ capacity to know and defend their own interests. Crouch sets out to ...
7 May 1987
Nye Bevan and the Mirage of British Socialism 
by John Campbell.
Weidenfeld, 430 pp., £15.95, March 1987, 0 297 78998 8
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The Political Diary of Hugh Dalton: 1918-40, 1945-60 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Cape, 752 pp., £40, January 1987, 0 224 01912 0
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... extraordinary propensity to shoot itself in the foot, when Aneurin Bevan was still an unknown backbencher and Gaitskell a university lecturer. As the latest instalment of Ben Pimlott’s magisterial edition of Hugh Dalton’s diaries reminds us, the current leadership’s dismay at the vagaries of the ‘loony ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam

20 November 2008
... by the prime minister, his reaction could be very violent indeed.’ As Clive Ponting and Ben Pimlott have demonstrated, Britain’s defence policy east of Suez and its economic policies were both adjusted as a result of US financial pressure; yet Dean reckoned that support for the US in Vietnam was more important to the president. In June ...
19 February 1987
The Market for Glory: Fleet Street Ownership in the 20th Century 
by Simon Jenkins.
Faber, 247 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 571 14627 9
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The End of the Street 
by Linda Melvern.
Methuen, 276 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 413 14640 5
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... by the arrival of the Sun and the Daily Star. But, until recently, the rules of the game (to be bent, broken and ignored) and the ferocity of the play remained the same. Roy Thomson, benign among proprietors, has come and gone, picking up a peerage in the process. So has Victor Matthews, moving from building-site to Fleet ...

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