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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 BenPimlott 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 ...

Tony and Caroline

Ben Pimlott

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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... Give me chastity 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 to move onwards and upwards ...


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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... politics were always polarised between a socialist Left and a capitalist Right, with precious little scope for compromise between them. Prominent among the sceptics is the historian and biographer BenPimlott, 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 ...
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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... the mind’ – a kind of intellectual tactical voting – which would dispute what was widely perceived to be a right-wing ideological hegemony. The contributors to Samizdat, whose founding editor, BenPimlott, 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 ...


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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... Why is Tony Crosland one of the few Old Labour heroes that nobody mocks? Keir Hardie, G.D.H. Cole, Stafford Cripps, Gaitskell, even Nye Bevan, have become the subject of New Labour locker-room ribaldry. Yet to describe yourself as a ‘Crosland socialist’ still carries meaning. Maybe it is because of that sardonic smile, and an uneasy feeling that, if he were alive today, he would be doing the mocking ...

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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... a long time to reach a true appreciation of the passionate, neurotic and formidable creature inside the shell. That we are now in possession of the real Dr Dalton is due entirely to the labours of BenPimlott, 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 ...

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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... the provision of services would be left to individual local authorities. In 1963 the Greater London Council was formed. ‘While the LCC area had some continuing claim to reality as “London”,’ BenPimlott and Nirmala Rao write, ‘the Greater London area would be a constellation of competing communities. However, there was no longer a premium on the kind of identity of interest or community ...
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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... the pretty young typist he’d first seen playing tennis only three weeks before. Gladys (who later 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 ...

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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... attempts to cut him out of the political world. Rhodes James is at pains to assert that, given Churchill’s confidence in him and the peculiar demands of a nation at war, George VI was not what BenPimlott has called a ‘cypher-monarch’. Rhodes James’s brief as an apologist is fairly evident. There’s never any doubt that the Duke of Windsor was unfit for the position he abdicated; and no ...


Christopher Harvie: Cars and Cuckoo Clocks

26 January 1995
... directly relevant to the oil. This interpretative lacuna accounts not just for Mrs Thatcher’s amnesia about the income which sustained the first seven years of her administration, but the fact that BenPimlott, 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 ...


Arthur Marwick

21 October 1982
by Kenneth Harris.
Weidenfeld, 630 pp., £14.95, September 1982, 0 297 77993 1
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... historiographical controversy. Many years ago, Ralph Milliband, from the far left, suggested in Parliamentary Socialism that the Labour Party never really had been socialist; much more recently, BenPimlott, in Labour and the Left in the 1930s, has argued that attacks on Labour for abandoning its socialism are misplaced, since the original and basic purpose of the Party was simply to get working men ...

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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... own cause. Then, of course, Marxist sociology has to explain that they were secret bearers of revolutionary 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 ...
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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... coalition, with an 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 BenPimlott’s magisterial edition of Hugh Dalton’s diaries reminds us, the current leadership’s dismay at the vagaries of the ‘loony Left’ has plenty of precedents from earlier days. To take an example ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam

20 November 2008
... matters in intensely personal terms. If he were given cause to think that . . . he was being “betrayed” by the prime minister, his reaction could be very violent indeed.’ As Clive Ponting and BenPimlott 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 ...
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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... consequences, can only be appraised by reference to his earliest years. Anthony Clare, from his psychiatrist’s chair, would write a far more interesting profile than the average political editor. BenPimlott, in his brilliant biography of Hugh Dalton, caught the character of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer with great assurance. And, more recently, Robert Rhodes James discovered the roots of ...

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