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Lunchtime No News

Paul Foot, 27 June 1991

Kill the messenger 
by Bernard Ingham.
HarperCollins, 408 pp., £17.50, May 1991, 0 00 215944 9
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... relevant document and delivered it in an anonymous envelope to the Guardian newspaper. In 1986, if Bernard Ingham’s book is to be believed, during the crisis about the Westland helicopter company, Leon Brittan, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, allowed his head of information, Collette Bowe, to read out to the Press Association a letter from ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... Street. Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Levin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts’. The conversational scheme was simple (I think it had evolved from a once-famous letter to ...


Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... The ‘misunderstandings’ over Westlands were attributed to those civil servants such as Mr Bernard Ingham and Mr Charles Powell whom Mrs Thatcher sees many times each day. Isn’t this something we should be concerned about? Three decades after Crichel Down, however, all the House of Commons and the country seem to do is to shrug its collective ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: On Bullshit, 17 April 2003

... too, as we duck the bullshit, is the appearance of a new book (the second he’s written) by Sir Bernard Ingham, who was Mrs Thatcher’s chief press secretary at the time of the Falklands War in 1982. His first book was called Kill the Messenger, a title rich in ‘poor me’ implications; this one is called The Wages of Spin (John ...

Labour Blues

Ross McKibbin, 11 February 1993

Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Inside Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party 
by Richard Heffernan and Mike Marqusee.
Verso, 344 pp., £9.95, November 1992, 0 86091 351 1
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... the machinations of Peter Mandelson ... whose regime and methods can be rivalled only by that of Bernard Ingham’ etc. In fact, although Heffernan and Marqusee have written the book in an ‘openly partisan spirit’ (we ‘have an indictment to make and we make no apologies for pursuing it single-mindedly’) its tone is usually less intemperate than ...

Mirror Images

Christopher Andrew, 3 April 1986

World of Secrets: The Uses and Limits of Intelligence 
by Walter Laqueur.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £25, November 1985, 0 297 78745 4
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... unavowable, in Britain. At the height of the Westland saga the Prime Minister’s press secretary, Bernard Ingham, found time to denounce publicly those journalists who had dared to print the name of the head of MI6, Christopher Curwen. The heads of the CIA and the KGB, William Casey and Victor Chebrikov, are of course public figures. But that, as Mr ...

The Lady in the Back Seat

Thomas Jones: Robert Harris’s Alternative Realities, 15 November 2007

The Ghost 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 310 pp., £18.99, October 2007, 978 0 09 179626 6
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... recently retired former prime minister. The secretarial sidekick to the powerful, from Tiro to Bernard Ingham, is a role Harris has long been interested in; few people are better placed to ponder the question of how this particular man came to occupy that position of power: ‘Who was he,’ the narrator of The Ghost asks himself, ‘this ...

Celestial Blue

Matthew Coady, 5 July 1984

Sources Close to the Prime Minister: Inside the Hidden World of the News Manipulators 
by Michael Cockerell and David Walker.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £9.95, June 1984, 0 333 34842 7
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... fantasy of the sort devised to underpin the plot of a thriller. A typical response is that of Mr Bernard Ingham, who, as Downing Street’s Press Secretary, must rank as the source closest to Mrs Thatcher. ‘I only wish,’ he has said, ‘I was as sophisticated, as devilishly clever and Machiavellian as some make out. Not even a combination of ...


Simon Hoggart, 24 April 1997

Michael Heseltine: A Biography 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 241 13691 1
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... position. This is why – after Sir Geoffrey Howe’s devastating resignation speech – she had Bernard Ingham tell Heseltine, in effect, to put up or shut up. That was a mistake: she had overestimated her strength (one problem with being a party leader, and especially a prime minister, is that you have no one to point out your weaknesses). But ...

Why did it end so badly?

Ross McKibbin: Thatcher, 18 March 2004

Margaret Thatcher. Vol. II: The Iron Lady 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 913 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 224 06156 9
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... one of the most reckless. There was an increasing reliance on court favourites – particularly Bernard Ingham and Charles Powell, the man Campbell describes as the real deputy prime minister. 7. Campbell is interesting on Thatcher’s attitude to local government and here he attempts some psychological history. He makes the point that Thatcher loathed ...

You Know Who You Are

Colin Kidd: About Last Year, 25 January 2018

Fall Out: A Year Of Political Mayhem 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 559 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 0 00 826438 3
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... and the lines have become increasingly blurred since the era of Thatcher’s courtiers Bernard Ingham and Charles Powell (both, harmlessly at first glance, career civil servants), and then of Blair’s media manager, the former Mirror journalist Alastair Campbell, who was given special executive powers to command civil servants by an order of ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... been true of a tiny band of civil servants like Charles Powell, her foreign affairs secretary, and Bernard Ingham, her press officer, and a handful of personal familiars like David Wolfson and Tim Bell, it is hard to think of a single Cabinet politician, perhaps excepting the ever-supplicant Joseph, who did not eventually find themselves, after a period ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... nice’). It is worth recalling, too, that Margaret Thatcher’s press hound, Bernard Ingham, cut his political teeth at Benn’s side in the Department of Energy in the Wilson-Callaghan Government. Despite being sidelined by New Labour, rarely a week went by when Benn did not pop up on one news programme or another. As late as June ...

Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media, 22 April 2010

Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... and was as grave and imposing a figure as his literary namesake. When James was succeeded by Bernard Ingham, who had worked for Barbara Castle, presentation certainly hotted up. Ingham gave a robust account of his new mistress’s views, stamped on the latest rumours with his trademark dismissal, ‘bunkum and ...

The Thing

Alan Ryan, 9 October 1986

Whitehall: Tragedy and Farce 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 256 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 241 11835 2
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On the Record. Surveillance, Computers and Privacy: The Inside Story 
by Duncan Campbell and Steve Connor.
Joseph, 347 pp., £12.95, May 1986, 0 7181 2575 4
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... conditions of the 600,000 on whom the intelligentsia do not cast their gaze than by sacking Bernard Ingham and forcing Mrs Thatcher to reveal the names and composition of all cabinet committees. For, on the ground, government services are in a shocking state. It’s a debatable question whether the claimants turning up to a hideous DHSS office to ...

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