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2 July 1981
The National Front 
by Nigel Fielding.
Routledge, 252 pp., £12.50, January 1981, 0 7100 0559 8
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Left, Right: The March of Political Extremism in Britain 
by John Tomlinson.
Calder, 152 pp., £4.95, March 1981, 0 7145 3855 8
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... Britain in recent years should have been a breeding ground for parties of the ultra-Right. A country humbled by the loss of its imperial role, by its industrial decline compared to other major – and minor – powers, and by the failure of the nostrums prescribed by alternating governments, meets most of the textbook requirements for the growth of extremism. Some profess to see in the monetarist takeover ...

Problems for the SDP

David Butler

1 October 1981
... experimental rats, trapped in the laboratory of those mad scientists, Dr Thatcher and Dr Benn. After the Dimbleby Lecture, Liberals argued that all Roy Jenkins had to do was to join their party. But David Steel rightly perceived a vast extra reservoir of strength for the centre that could be tapped by a new party, with none of the historic baggage of the Liberals, appealing both to Labour’s ...
21 July 1983
Governing without a Majority 
by David Butler.
Collins, 156 pp., £4.95, May 1983, 9780002170710
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Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution 
by Vernon Bogdanor.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £18.50, May 1983, 0 521 25524 4
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Decade of Dealignment 
by Bo Särlvik, Ivor Crewe, Neil Day and Robert MacDermid.
Cambridge, 393 pp., £27.50, June 1983, 0 521 22674 0
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... But for Britain’s antediluvian electoral system the House of Commons would now comprise around 160 Alliance, 180 Labour and 280 Conservative MPs – and the new books by DavidButler and Vernon Bogdanor would have vanished beneath a stampede of eager buyers. As things are, though the distorted election results have robbed them of some of their topicality, they will be very widely ...

Redheads in Normandy

R.W. Johnson: The 1997 election

22 January 1998
The British General Election of 1997 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 343 pp., £17.50, November 1997, 0 333 64776 9
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Labour's Landslide 
by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge.
Manchester, 211 pp., £40, December 1997, 0 7190 5159 2
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Britain Votes 1997 
edited by Pippa Norris and Neil Gavin.
Oxford, 253 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 9780199223220
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Collapse of Stout Party: The Decline and Fall of the Tories 
by Julian Crtitchley and Morrison Halcrow.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £20, November 1997, 0 575 06277 0
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Les Election Legislatives, 25 Mai-1er Juin 1997: Le president desavoue 
Le Monde, 146 pp., frs 45, June 1998Show More
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... of the ‘feel-good’ factor, it was an astonishing result. It was in 1945, that other great Labour landslide year, that the first Nuffield election study appeared, with the hand of a young DavidButler already apparent. It was, sadly, a jejune and disappointing volume which explains very little of the last great realigning election of modern times. Since then Butler has taken an increasingly ...

Off-Screen Drama

Richard Mayne

5 March 1981
European Elections and British Politics 
by David Butler.
Longman, 208 pp., £9.95, February 1981, 0 582 29528 9
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Political Change in Europe: The Left and the Future of the Atlantic Alliance 
edited by Douglas Eden.
Blackwell, 163 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 631 12525 6
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... Hundreds of millions of pounds are at stake. The rank-and-file defy the mighty. Law confronts power. Three Governments risk being taken to court. All this is part of the story unfolded by Davids Butler and Marquand in their masterly and absorbing analysis. In 1979, preparing the European Community’s budget for the following year, the Brussels Commission tried to curb the outlay on farm support ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Reflections on Tawney

4 August 1988
... back in the end, might it not be a very long time before this one does? To help us towards an informed and dispassionate answer, we now have the Nuffield volume on last year’s election.† in which DavidButler and Dennis Kavanagh recount the ebb and flow of battle in that relentlessly detailed and studiously prosaic style which has characterised the Nuffield studies from the beginning; and there is ...

2000 AD

Anne Sofer

2 August 1984
The British General Election of 1983 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 388 pp., £25, May 1984, 0 333 34578 9
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Militant 
by Michael Crick.
Faber, 242 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13256 1
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... Livingstone in his current role as defender of democracy will survive his transformation into guerrilla leader on the barricades (that production to open in London next spring) is very doubtful. The Butler and Kavanagh book has no cheerier message for the Labour Party. It traces how opinion in the British electorate – in particular on nationalisation and the trade unions – has been shifting over a ...
8 December 1994
Years of Hope: Diaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... was shared by others, notably Lord Hailsham, and some of the most interesting entries reveal Benn’s relationships with sundry Tory leaders who were interested in the House of Lords question. R.A. Butler was particularly forthcoming, his personal sympathy and obvious liking for Benn rather tempered by the understandable hope that any re-arrangement of the law regarding succession to the peerage ...

Diary

Kathleen Burk: Election Diary

23 April 1992
... the Mail on Sunday, the Sunday People and the Sunday Express left me feeling distinctly queasy. More enjoyably, I settled in front of a neighbour’s television with a bottle of his wine to watch David Dimbleby interview all three of the main party leaders. It was illuminating. Kinnock hardly seemed the same man as the one on Today in Parliament: he was in control both of himself and of the ...

Upside Down, Inside Out

Colin Kidd: The 1975 Referendum

25 October 2018
Yes to Europe! The 1975 Referendum and Seventies Britain 
by Robert Saunders.
Cambridge, 509 pp., £24.99, March 2018, 978 1 108 42535 3
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... referendum in Scotland, prudence, self-interest and the ministrations of Project Fear kept the Scottish electorate from succumbing to the over-optimistic prospectus presented by the SNP. Surely, David Cameron reckoned, the same formula would work again a mere two years later in the UK-wide Brexit referendum. After all, there was also the reassuring story of the UK’s first Euro-referendum in 1975 ...

Rational Switch

Vernon Bogdanor

17 June 1982
Democracy at the Polls: A Comparative Study of Competitive National Elections 
edited by David Butler, Howard Penniman and Austin Ranney.
American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, 367 pp., £5.75, March 1982, 0 8447 3403 9
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... It was R. B. McCallum who invented the word ‘psephology’ to describe the study of elections. Yet in 1955 he wrote of the act of voting as the last haven of free choice in an increasingly bureaucratised society, an ultimate redoubt to be defended at all costs against the assault of the social sciences. ‘The secrecy of the ballot, the pencilled cross in the secluded polling booth’, was, he said ...
26 November 1987
Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David​ Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... war, while announcing the imminent arrival of the freedom, justice and self-fulfilment preached by the idealists. What do these ancient arguments have to do with the world of Ruling Performance, with David Pannick’s reflections on the English judiciary, or with Vernon Bogdanor’s Encyclopedia of Political Institutions? For one thing, they cast light on the hopes and fears most of us entertain in the ...

Howl, Howl, Howl!

Ruth Bernard Yeazell: Fanny Kemble

22 May 2008
Fanny Kemble: A Performed Life 
by Deirdre David.
Pennsylvania, 347 pp., £26, June 2007, 978 0 8122 4023 8
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... marriage when she began a second career reading Shakespeare’s plays before enthusiastic audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Dressed in a carefully chosen series of gowns – by Deirdre David’s report, the wardrobe consisted of black or red velvet for the tragedies, white or pastel satin for the comedies, and dark green or blue brocade for the history plays – and with no props other ...

Up the avenue

Peter Clarke

11 June 1992
Election Rides 
by Edward Pearce.
Faber, 198 pp., £5.99, April 1992, 0 571 16657 1
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... a runner so recently’, can be dismissed. On 6 April, the Mail on Sunday provides a comic spectacle when, with its own poll showing a 6 per cent Labour lead, it leads the front page instead with David Owen’s long-expected endorsement of the Tories. Ha, ha. He quips: ‘And indeed David Owen may have found a last role as hired mute at a Conservative funeral.’ But whose was the last laugh ...

Insolence

Blair Worden

7 March 1985
Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance 
by David​ Norbrook.
Routledge, 345 pp., £15.95, October 1984, 0 7100 9778 6
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Restoration Theatre Production 
by Jocelyn Powell.
Routledge, 226 pp., £19.95, November 1984, 0 7100 9321 7
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Theatre and Crisis: 1632-1642 
by Martin Butler.
Cambridge, 340 pp., £25, August 1984, 0 521 24632 6
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The Court Masque 
edited by David​ Lindley.
Manchester, 196 pp., £22.50, August 1984, 0 7190 0961 8
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Ben Jonson, Dramatist 
by Anne Barton.
Cambridge, 370 pp., £30, July 1984, 0 521 25883 9
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... Greville, Milton: all those men wrote about public events; some of them wrote to influence their course; and none of them would have understood the modern relocation of politics below imagination. David Norbrook’s Poetry and Politics in Renaissance England is a protest against the devaluation of political verse, and especially of radical political verse. Where Dr Johnson could deplore Milton’s ...

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