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Diary

R.W. Johnson: Kinnock must go, 10 December 1987

... suggesting that the best way ahead for the Conservatives would be to invade Suez or re-stage the Profumo Affair. If we attempt to do without the crutches of naivety or wishfulness we have to start with a number of simple truths. Almost certainly Labour cannot again win an election on its own. So some sort of Lib-Lab deal is the only hope. This means that all ...

Death in Belgravia

Rosemary Hill, 5 February 2015

A Different Class of Murder: The Story of Lord Lucan 
by Laura Thompson.
Head of Zeus, 422 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 1 78185 536 2
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... were getting more serious. In 1974 another Clermont habitué and founder of the SAS, Colonel David Stirling, formed GB75, a vigilante group to be mobilised in the event of civil unrest.Veronica Lucan was not only unhappy, she was mentally fragile and her relationship with her sister and brother-in-law volatile. After a spectacularly unhappy Christmas in ...

Superman Falls to Earth

Ferdinand Mount: Boris Johnson’s First Year, 2 July 2020

... January, they have been managed by a new Task Force Europe, led by Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, a burly, acerbic diplomat, one of the few in the Foreign Office who has always loathed the EU. Frost’s conversations with Michel Barnier have become openly bitter and recriminatory, in a way not seen before. Frost is backed up by contemptuous ...

What if he’d made it earlier?

David Runciman: LBJ, 5 July 2012

The Years of Lyndon Johnson, Vol. IV: The Passage of Power 
by Robert Caro.
Bodley Head, 712 pp., £30, June 2012, 978 1 84792 217 5
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... as part of a money, spies and call girls scandal that had uncomfortable echoes of the Profumo affair. On 22 November 1963, Johnson was in Texas as part of a long delayed fundraising trip with the president, which had given Kennedy a chance to see for himself how little clout Johnson now carried in his home state. On the same day in Washington, the ...

Mandelson’s Pleasure Dome

Iain Sinclair, 2 October 1997

... very name had the authentic whiff of disaster: like the South Sea Bubble, the Stavisky Affair, the Profumo Scandal. But on a much grander scale, gonzo hubris. They’d dragged time itself into the equation. The short-termism, the waste, the lack of vision, was so obvious. This well-protected rubble meadow sang of paradox: boasting of ecologic benefits while ...

Other People’s Mail

Bernard Porter: MI5, 19 November 2009

The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5 
by Christopher Andrew.
Allen Lane, 1032 pp., £30, October 2009, 978 0 7139 9885 6
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... most of it), which should be seen as cautionary rather than exemplary. Andrew is critical of Sir David Petrie, ‘one of the service’s most successful DGs’ (at the time of the Double-Cross System during the war), for claiming that ‘too much of a past that is now remote can help but little with useful lessons,’ but Petrie may have been right in this ...

Ruthless and Truthless

Ferdinand Mount: Rotten Government, 6 May 2021

The Assault on Truth: Boris Johnson, Donald Trump and the Emergence of a New Moral Barbarism 
by Peter Oborne.
Simon and Schuster, 192 pp., £12.99, February 2021, 978 1 3985 0100 3
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Political Advice: Past, Present and Future 
edited by Colin Kidd and Jacqueline Rose.
I.B. Tauris, 240 pp., £21.99, February 2021, 978 1 83860 120 1
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... letting slip a couple of Budget secrets to a reporter while on his way to deliver the speech; John Profumo in 1963 as secretary for war for lying about his affair with Christine Keeler; and Amber Rudd as home secretary in 2018 during the Windrush scandal for claiming to be ignorant of the government’s immigration targets, although the figures had been sent ...

Light Entertainment

Andrew O’Hagan: Our Paedophile Culture, 8 November 2012

... that surrounds discussions of sexual conduct, whether risky and deviant or not. When I spoke to David Attenborough he was amazed to hear that someone he knew might have been named by others as part of the scene surrounding Gamlin at All Souls Place. I don’t hesitate to believe him: he clearly knew nothing about it. Others saw much more than he did and can ...

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