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27 June 1991
Kill the messenger 
by Bernard Ingham.
HarperCollins, 408 pp., £17.50, May 1991, 0 00 215944 9
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... Secretary of State’s plans to head off a demonstration against Cruise missiles that she copied the relevant document and delivered it in an anonymous envelope to the Guardian newspaper. In 1986, if BernardIngham’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 ...

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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... Thatcher’s adviser and biographer, took me to a Friday luncheon at the old Bertorelli’s in Charlotte 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 ...


Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News

18 September 1986
... her as Dugdale’s were from him, but as close as Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman were to Richard Nixon. The ‘misunderstandings’ over Westlands were attributed to those civil servants such as Mr BernardIngham 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 ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: On Bullshit

17 April 2003
... perhaps held without charge in an annexe to the offshore prison facilities at Guantanamo Bay. Timely, too, as we duck the bullshit, is the appearance of a new book (the second he’s written) by Sir BernardIngham, 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 ...

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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... a new careerist clique to install itself in every part of the Labour machine’. The authors ‘expose the machinations of Peter Mandelson ... whose regime and methods can be rivalled only by that of BernardIngham’ 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 ...

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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...  he has no name, and not much of a life – has been hired to write the autobiography of Britain’s recently retired former prime minister. The secretarial sidekick to the powerful, from Tiro to BernardIngham, 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 ...

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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... official and their main customers. Such goings-on would be unthinkable, or at the very least unavowable, in Britain. At the height of the Westland saga the Prime Minister’s press secretary, BernardIngham, 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 ...

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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... and governed have always bristled at its airing. They have reacted as if confronted by some paranoid fantasy of the sort devised to underpin the plot of a thriller. A typical response is that of Mr BernardIngham, 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 ...
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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... her’ is an anonymous quote – one of too many – that the author endorses. While this may have been true of a tiny band of civil servants like Charles Powell, her foreign affairs secretary, and BernardIngham, 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 ...


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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... Thatcher assumed that, as had happened the year before, she would easily see off any challenge to her position. This is why – after Sir Geoffrey Howe’s devastating resignation speech – she had BernardIngham 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 ...
8 May 1997
Between Facts and Norms 
by Jürgen Habermas, translated by William Rehg.
Polity, 631 pp., £45, July 1996, 0 7456 1229 6
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... the body politic by practitioners of ‘spin’. Were this the best of all possible worlds, we would doubtless be blessed by their absence: but we live in a world containing Peter Mandelson and Sir BernardIngham. This sobering thought is not banished by wishfully thinking of the Internet as a cybernetic samizdat, where the citizenry of orbis tertius partake of free discursive interchange: the problem ...

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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... might well ask themselves if more would not be done for the welfare of Britain by sorting out the working conditions of the 600,000 on whom the intelligentsia do not cast their gaze than by sacking BernardIngham 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 ...

Lawson’s Case

Peter Clarke

28 January 1993
The View from No 11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical 
by Nigel Lawson.
Bantam, 1119 pp., £20, November 1992, 0 593 02218 1
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... have been in the driving seat. Lawson writes of her ‘pathological hostility to Germany and the Germans which in the end came to dominate her view of the European Community.’ Her press secretary, BernardIngham, is blamed for encouraging in her ‘a truculent chauvinism, which was originally a caricature of her views but eventually became almost indistinguishable from her own as she started to live ...

Lying abroad

Fred Halliday

21 July 1994
by Henry Kissinger.
Simon and Schuster, 912 pp., £25, May 1994, 9780671659912
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True Brits: Inside the Foreign Office 
by Ruth Dudley Edwards.
BBC, 256 pp., £16.99, April 1994, 0 563 36955 8
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Mandarin: The Diaries of Nicholas Henderson 
by Nicholas Henderson.
Weidenfeld, 517 pp., £20, May 1994, 0 297 81433 8
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... myself in conversation with a Soviet diplomat who expressed admiration for the effortless way in which the British state handled its affairs (particular awe being expressed at the news management of BernardIngham). In reply it was only possible to offer some historical perspective: ‘You must understand that while you have only been in power since 1917, they have been there since 1066.’ For Henry ...

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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... alike in the 1970s, he still had time for Rupert Murdoch (‘a bright newspaper man’) and Bill Deedes (‘frightfully nice’). It is worth recalling, too, that Margaret Thatcher’s press hound, BernardIngham, 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 ...

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