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A.J.P. Taylor: Magdalen College Portraits

3 May 1984
... to Magdalen College, which, being taken up with the restoration of the college buildings, had no spare money to pay for a picture even if they had wanted to buy it. Now friends of mine, marshalled by ChrisCook, had raised enough to buy the picture of me and offer it to the college. Magdalen College had acquired few portraits of fellows particularly of recent years. I can recollect only one of C.S ...
12 October 1989
A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-88 
by Chris Cook.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £9.95, August 1989, 0 333 44884 7
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Against Goliath 
by David Steel.
Weidenfeld, 318 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 9780297796787
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Labour’s Decline and the Social Democrats’ Fall 
by Geoffrey Lee Williams and Alan Lee Williams.
Macmillan, 203 pp., £29.50, July 1989, 0 333 46541 5
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by Annette Penhaligon.
Bloomsbury, 262 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 7475 0501 2
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Citizens’ Britain: A Radical Agenda for the 1990s 
by Paddy Ashdown.
Fourth Estate, 159 pp., £5.95, September 1989, 1 872180 45 0
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... candidate for government, the Party had raised its share of the vote to 19.3 per cent and the number of its MPs to 14. It was clear that the death of Liberal England had been prematurely foretold. As ChrisCook reminds us in the latest edition of his History of the Liberal Party, it was Jo Grimond who turned round the depleted Liberal ranks and marched them towards the sound of gunfire. It seemed a ...


W.G. Runciman: On Trade-Unionism

5 May 1988
... only to rise again, in a series of cycles to which employers and governments alike have responded with the same wary pragmatism. It is, I agree, ‘startling’ (the word used by Alan Sked and ChrisCook in their Post-War Britain: A Political History) to find the Director-General of the CBI saying during the General Election campaign of 1974 that the 1971 Act had ‘sullied every relationship at ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough

21 October 2015
... in the Thatcher period; or that Evan Davis, the presenter of Newsnight, was part of the team at the Institute of Fiscal Studies that devised the poll tax; or that the policy editor of Newsnight, ChrisCook, used to be an adviser to David Willetts; or that Nick Robinson, shortly to replace James Naughtie on Today, was once president of the Oxford University Conservative Association. Doubtless most ...

Short Cuts

Chris​ Mullin: Anonymous and Abuse

19 November 2019
... up to the invasion of Iraq the Sun published what it called ‘A Traitors’ Dartboard’, inviting readers to ‘open fire’ on the political figures who opposed the war, prominent among them Robin Cook, Clare Short, Charles Kennedy and the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. The accompanying text read: ‘You can aim your own missiles at the cowards and traitors who opted to support Saddam Hussein ...

More ‘out’ than ‘on’

Glen Newey: Chris​ Mullin’s Diaries

27 August 2009
A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris​ Mullin 
by Chris​ Mullin.
Profile, 590 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 1 84668 223 0
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... the ditty is still good for shifting frocks, at least at 60°N. It’s a fair bet that Labour won’t revive it for the next election. Before he was elected Labour MP for Sunderland South in 1987, Chris Mullin was prominent in the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, as the editor of Tribune in the mid-1980s, and notably in the campaign to quash the Birmingham Six’s convictions. As he comments ...

For ever Walsall

Angus Calder

21 March 1985
Rural Life in England in the First World War 
by Pamela Horn.
Gill and Macmillan, 300 pp., £25, November 1984, 0 312 69604 3
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Britain in Our Century: Images and Controversies 
by Arthur Marwick.
Thames and Hudson, 224 pp., £12.95, November 1984, 9780500250914
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Labour and Society in Britain: 1918-1979 
by James Cronin.
Batsford, 248 pp., £8.95, August 1984, 0 7134 4395 2
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Women in England 1870-1950: Sexual Divisions and Social Change 
by Jane Lewis.
Wheatsheaf, 240 pp., £16.95, November 1984, 0 7108 0186 6
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... his familiar argument that ‘the coup de grâce to the view that Britain was so deeply divided, and so unstable, as to be on the brink of social disintegration, was given by John Stevenson and ChrisCook in The Slump.’ He immediately produces an ‘image’ – one of his book’s 149 illustrations – of the Jarrow Marchers. They look proud and determined. ‘But as the eye pans along to the ...
18 December 1986
Between the Woods and the Water 
by Patrick Leigh Fermor et al.
Murray, 248 pp., £13.95, October 1986, 0 7195 4264 2
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by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 301 pp., £10.95, September 1986, 0 00 272119 8
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The Grand Tour 
by Hunter Davies.
Hamish Hamilton, 224 pp., £14.95, September 1986, 0 241 11907 3
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... left.’ To be a traveller, you have to move about alone, eschew standard procedures, avoid the commonplace of maps, and hold yourself ready for adventure. The tourist class was invented by Thomas Cook when he assembled an excursion to the Paris Exposition in 1855. Tourists change their places in groups, live as comfortably as possible, take pleasure in gregariousness, obey injunctions, keep to the ...
5 June 1997
... by the little-known new Foreign Office minister, Doug Henderson, to sign up to the European Union’s Social Chapter, followed by the restoration of the Civil Service unions to GCHQ. Then came Robin Cook’s declaration in favour of a landmine ban – achieved by the simple, but effective, technique of failing to inform the Ministry of Defence in advance. Then there was the cancellation of the ...
28 October 1999
Living on Thin Air: The New Economy 
by Charles Leadbeater.
Viking, 244 pp., £17.99, July 1999, 0 670 87669 0
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... just another set text for corporate retreats: it is a business plan for the British political class. What distinguishes Leadbeater is not the quality of his thought but the eminence of his backers. Chris Patten describes the book as ‘intellectually fascinating ... a fund of insights’. A professor at Harvard Business School claims Leadbeater has found a Fourth Way – to confound those of us who ...

In the Sonora

Benjamin Kunkel: Roberto Bolaño

6 September 2007
The Savage Detectives 
by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Natasha Wimmer.
Picador, 577 pp., £16.99, July 2007, 978 0 330 44514 6
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Last Evenings on Earth 
by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris​ Andrews.
Harvill, 277 pp., £15.99, April 2007, 978 1 84343 181 7
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by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Chris​ Andrews.
New Directions, 184 pp., $21.95, January 2007, 978 0 8112 1664 7
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... in a labyrinth of crystal and mud … lost in the misery of your utopian dream, Father, lost in the variety of your voices and abysses, manic-depressives in the uncontainable room in Hell where you cook up your Jokes. But from the same passage it is equally clear, if it wasn’t already, that Bolaño’s piety is not to be distinguished from his irony. Is it a noble, properly quixotic folly to ...

Secretly Sublime

Iain Sinclair: The Great Ian Penman

19 March 1998
Vital Signs 
by Ian Penman.
Serpent’s Tail, 374 pp., £10.99, February 1998, 1 85242 523 7
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... Amis got Saul Bellow and Madonna’s anteroom, while Penman grafted the standard profiles with which all the amphetamine gunslingers proved their manhood: Jim Thompson, Harry Dean Stanton and Robin Cook (a.k.a. Derek Raymond). Penman was the writer who isn’t in the book, talking to people who are, or were, or ought to be. His patch was cinema arcana, curating the ‘sessions men’ as he calls ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out

4 June 1998
... through the front door Major Ash-down and his little platoon of MPs – shoulders squared, eyes front, chins thrust forward, as if on their way to a Royal Marine assault course. Next appears Robin Cook, who is led aside by Alastair Campbell and rehearsed in conspiratorial whispers about what he is to say to the reptiles waiting across the road. Cook, whom I’ve never met, gives me a quick ...

Heir to Blair

Christopher Tayler: Among the New Tories

26 April 2007
... He laughed. ‘When were you born?’ he said to one of his aides. ‘1980.’ ‘You see? And people will be voting in the next election who weren’t even born when Thatcher was in power.’ Chris Grayling, the shadow minister for transport, took a similar position on rail privatisation when he talked to me in January. ‘We just have to draw a line under it,’ he said, ‘and move on.’ He ...

Like a Manta Ray

Jenny Turner: The Entire History of Sex

21 October 2015
The Argonauts 
by Maggie Nelson.
Graywolf, 143 pp., £23, May 2015, 978 1 55597 707 8
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... And if, like me, you are not familiar with the queer and avant-garde art worlds of southern California, one joy of reading Nelson is getting introduced to them: Catherine Opie and A.L. Steiner, Chris Burden and Paul McCarthy, Ryan Trecartin and Mike Kelley, Nao Bustamante and William Pope.L. Nelson spends less time on work that, in her view, is stupid, arrogant or exploitative. Names that come up ...

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