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After Hillhead

David Marquand

15 April 1982
... Whatever else it may or may not have been, Hillhead was unquestionably a personal triumph for Roy Jenkins. The crowds which packed the silent, thoughtful meetings were drawn by him. The old ladies who switched tremulously and belatedly from the Tories switched to him. The clever-silly London journalists who explained why the SDP bubble was going to burst made their jokes at his expense ...
25 April 1991
The Progressive Dilemma: From Lloyd George to Kinnock 
by David Marquand.
Heinemann, 248 pp., £20, January 1991, 0 434 45094 4
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... This book contains reflections on both history and theory, and is written with David Marquand’s usual elegance and intelligence. Its 19 essays concern themes familiar to readers of his biography of Ramsay MacDonald and his distinguished study, The Unprincipled Society: how can we devise for modern Britain an appropriate ‘social democratic’ theory of social action, and how can we construct a ‘progressive’ coalition which might give it adequate electoral support ...

Party Man

David Marquand

1 July 1982
Tony Crosland 
by Susan Crosland.
Cape, 448 pp., £10.95, June 1982, 9780224017879
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... clandestine meetings in his room in the House, where an ill-assorted group – Christopher Price, David Owen, John Mackintosh, Jack Ashley and myself – drank whisky and talked devaluation. When devaluation finally came, I hoped he would become Chancellor of the Exchequer. When he did not, I hoped – incredible as it seems in retrospect – that he would ...
7 May 1981
The Socialist Agenda 
edited by David Lipsey.
Cape, 242 pp., £7.95, January 1981, 0 224 01886 8
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The Future of Socialism 
by Anthony Crosland.
Cape, 368 pp., £8.95, January 1981, 0 224 01888 4
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Politics is for people 
by Shirley Williams.
Allen Lane/Penguin, 230 pp., £8.50, April 1981, 0 7139 1423 8
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... in the history of British socialism – into a kind of icon, ‘In The Future of Socialism,’ David Lipsey writes in the first substantial essay in the book, ‘Crosland had erected a towering castle. The rest of his life was devoted to defending it against all comers.’ There is an element of truth in that, but to the extent that it is true it points to ...
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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... 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 face of government activity of all sorts. Realists who ...

Anti-Hedonism

David Marquand

20 September 1984
Politics and the Pursuit of Happiness: An Inquiry into the Involvement of Human Beings in the Politics of Industrial Society 
by Ghita Ionescu.
Longman, 248 pp., £16.50, September 1984, 0 582 29549 1
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... For neo-liberals and neo-socialists, the deepening crisis with which this and other advanced industrial societies have been grappling since the early Seventies is essentially economic – a matter of insufficient competition, or inadequate investment, or lax monetary management, or deflationary fiscal policies, to be put right by the appropriate bag of economic tricks ...

Remaking the Centre

David Marquand

3 July 1980
Annals of an Abiding Liberal 
by John Kenneth Galbraith.
Deutsch, 388 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 233 97209 9
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... For more than a generation, what Europeans call social democracy and what Americans call liberalism has been the dominant political creed of the North Atlantic world. Its achievements have been enormous. As Ralf Dahrendorf points out in his important and persuasive pamphlet, ‘After Social Democracy’,* ‘it has turned the empty promise of freedom of contract into effective citizenship rights; the welfare state lies at the heart of social democratic politics ...
21 August 1980
The Secret Constitution 
by Brian Sedgemore.
Hodder, 256 pp., £7.95, July 1980, 0 340 24649 9
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The Civil Servants 
by Peter Kellner and Lord Crowther-Hunt.
Macdonald/Jane’s, 352 pp., £9.95, July 1980, 0 354 04487 7
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... The Civil Service attracts so much foolish, ignorant and malicious criticism that the unprejudiced observer is apt to assume, on the principle that mine enemy’s enemy is my friend, that nothing much can be wrong with it. After all, an institution which manages to upset Mr Tony Benn, Lady Falkender, Mr Michael Meacher, Mr Joe Haines, the editor of the Spectator and the sub-editors of the Daily Express cannot be all bad; and from there it is a small step to conclude that it must be all, or nearly all, good ...

Downhill

David Marquand

19 September 1985
Years of Recovery: British Economic Policy 1945-51 
by Alec Cairncross.
Methuen, 527 pp., £35, April 1985, 0 416 37920 6
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The Politics of Recession 
by R.W. Johnson.
Macmillan, 275 pp., £20, January 1985, 0 333 36786 3
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The Labour Government 1974-79: Political Aims and Economic Reality 
by Martin Holmes.
Macmillan, 206 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 333 36735 9
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New Jerusalems: The Labour Party and the Economics of Democratic Socialism 
by Elizabeth Durbin and Roy Hattersley.
Routledge, 341 pp., £16.95, March 1985, 9780710096500
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... As late as 1951, the British economy was the strongest in Western Europe. Only the wartime neutrals, Sweden and Switzerland, surpassed us in income per head. In his magisterial new history of the economic policies of the post-war Labour Government, Sir Alec Cairncross shows that our industrial production was larger than that of France and Germany combined ...
18 February 1982
The People and the Party System: The Referendum and Electoral Reform in British Politics 
by Vernon Bogdanor.
Cambridge, 285 pp., £20, September 1981, 9780521242073
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... The ‘Attlee consensus’, under the aegis of which the welfare state was consolidated and the mixed economy established, has been in ruins for some years now, but it is still too soon to tell whether a new consensus will replace it, or, if so, what the shape of that new consensus will be. The neo-liberal and neo-Marxist models offered by the Thatcherite Right and Bennite Left respectively are patently archaic and barren ...
1 October 1981
Breaking the Mould 
by Ian Bradley.
Martin Robertson, 172 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 85520 469 9
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... Evan Luard’s Socialism Without the State, John Horam’s calls for ‘market socialism’ and David Owen’s evocation of the co-operative, decentralist element in the British socialist tradition exemplified a widespread mood, with which the old Right of the Labour Party had no more in common than had the Left. It was not as new a mood as he seems to ...

Gloomy Pageant

Jeremy Harding: Britain Comma Now

30 July 2014
Mammon’s Kingdom: An Essay on Britain, Now 
by David Marquand.
Allen Lane, 288 pp., £20, May 2014, 978 1 84614 672 5
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... when you set out to look the present in the eye but can’t quite bear the thought? Much of David Marquand’s powerful essay about ‘Britain, now’ is an elegy for a lost past, unsullied by ‘masterless capitalism’, a sad story of the light growing dim, good running to bad, the public realm hollowed out by vested interests, greed and ...

Putting it on

David Marquand

12 September 1991
A Life at the Centre 
by Roy Jenkins.
Macmillan, 600 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 333 55164 8
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... My favourite memory of Roy Jenkins dates from a golden July evening during the Warrington by-election. He is standing in the front garden of a council house, deep in conversation with an elderly Labour housewife, for whose support he is canvassing. Stooping slightly, and with a courtly gravitas that would not have seemed out of place at a European Summit, he is explaining why the ‘fluctooations’ which have characterised British economic policy for the last ten years have done so much damage to our international credit ...
5 July 1984
Controlling the Economic Future: Policy Dilemmas in a Shrinking World 
by Michael Stewart.
Harvester, 192 pp., £18.95, November 1983, 0 7108 0182 3
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In Defence of the Mixed Economy 
by Andrew Shonfield, edited by Zuzanna Shonfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 19 215359 5
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The Welfare State in Crisis: Social Thought and Social Change 
by Ramesh Mishra.
Harvester, 208 pp., £15.95, December 1983, 0 7108 0240 4
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... As the name they gave their subject implied, the great political economists of the 19th century knew that the economy cannot be studied fruitfully in isolation from the polity. The notion that there is, or should be, a distinct and autonomous discipline of ‘economics’, whose practitioners are solely concerned with economic relationships, and for whom the corresponding political relationships are professionally irrelevant, would have seemed to them absurd, even shocking ...

Nemesis

David Marquand

22 January 1981
Change and Fortune 
by Douglas Jay.
Hutchinson, 515 pp., £16, June 1980, 0 09 139530 5
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Life and Labour 
by Michael Stewart.
Sidgwick, 288 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 0 283 98686 7
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... After a decade of decline, the old, Fabian right of the Labour Party is now so chastened that it is hard to remember that it was once the dominant tradition in British left-wing politics. These two volumes of autobiography bring back its great days: in doing so, they also throw a good deal of unintentional light on the reasons for its fall. Michael Stewart and Douglas Jay were both awarded Firsts at Oxford in the Twenties, entered Labour politics in the Thirties, held junior office in the Attlee Government in the Forties, supported Gaitskell in the battles of the Fifties and were appointed to Wilson’s Cabinet in the Sixties ...

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