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Brown and Friends

David Runciman, 3 January 2008

... Gordon Brown, like all prime ministers, like all politicians, like all of us really, is over-reliant on the advice of a small group of people he thinks he can trust. In Browns case, these tend to be men who once worked as juniors in his office, having been hand-picked at a very young age ...

Walter Scott’s Post-War Europe

Marilyn Butler, 7 February 1980

Walter Scott and the Historical Imagination 
by David Brown.
Routledge, 239 pp., £9.75, August 1980, 0 7100 0301 3
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... a Jacobite. The literary academic, especially since the appearance in English of Georg Lukacs’s Historical Novel in 1962, has seen him as an intellectual of quite a different cast: the first novelist to represent the historical process, the first portrayer of society in terms that Adam Smith might and Karl Marx did approve. ...

Triumph of the Termites

Tom Nairn: Gordon Brown, 8 April 2010

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Viking, 802 pp., £25, March 2010, 978 0 670 91851 5
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What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown?: How the Dream Job Turned Sour 
edited by Colin Hughes.
Guardian, 294 pp., £8.99, January 2010, 978 0 85265 219 0
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Broonland: The Last Days of Gordon Brown 
by Christopher Harvie.
Verso, 206 pp., £8.99, February 2010, 978 1 84467 439 8
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... covers. A sad, thoughtfully dithering photo of the prime minister fronts What Went Wrong, Gordon Brown? The cover of Christopher Harvie’s book features a cartoon from the Independent: an apocalyptic lightning flash strikes and anoints David Cameron, while ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Climate Change, 5 April 2007

... the last issue, climate change has made one of its periodic appearances in the headlines, with David Cameron and Gordon Brown each making announcements about what he will do when in office. This amounts to a green beauty contest, with the public in the position of the pen-sucking judges. Cameron first. The Tory leader ...

At Tate Britain

John Barrell: Late Turner, 18 December 2014

... of Jones? Would he recover? How long would it take? ‘Snow Storm – Steam-boat off a Harbour’s Mouth’ (c.1842) ‘The Blue Rigi, Sunrise’ (1842) ‘Rain, Steam and Speed – the Great Western Railway’ (1844) ‘Norham Castle’ (1845)PreviousNext Not long, as it turned out. Over the next four days, wrecked as he was, he managed to write another ...

Short Cuts

David Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around, 9 October 2013

... Dominic Lawson, writing in the Mail, thinks the way to understand Damian McBride’s relationship to Gordon Brown is by analogy with the Third Reich. McBride didn’t need to take direct orders from his boss because he already understood the violence that Brown wished on his enemies ...

At the David Parr House

Eleanor Birne: There are two histories here, 7 November 2019

... Inn (a Victorian joke: ‘do drop in’) and you barely notice Number 186. A two-storey artisan’s cottage, just as ordinary from the outside as the rest, it is open – two days a week at least – as the David Parr House, after its one-time owner. The narrow hallway is dark; your eyes have to adjust to the dimness. A ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher Hitchens, 17 August 1989

Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... elections since then, and having seen Conservatism reinstated to an extent unguessed-at, Labour’s leadership is now agreed on at least one big thing, which is that the battle of image, perception and credibility is what counts. Take Mr Hattersley, writing about the European election results in the Independent for 22 June. He went straight into it, even ...

Preacher on a Tank

David Runciman: Blair Drills Down, 7 October 2010

A Journey 
by Tony Blair.
Hutchinson, 718 pp., £25, September 2010, 978 0 09 192555 0
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... a date), ‘meandering through the bookcases’, and pulls down a volume of Neville Chamberlain’s diaries, which includes an account of his meeting with Hitler at Berchtesgaden prior to the Munich conference in 1938. Blair is struck by how unfairly history has treated Chamberlain. ‘We are taught that Chamberlain was a dupe; a fool, taken in by ...

Look…

David Runciman: How the coalition was formed, 16 December 2010

22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... up a coalition of losers. The reason for going with the losers is that they need more propping up, so it should be possible to screw bigger concessions from them. The more tenuous the coalition, the greater the opportunities for extortion. Propriety and embarrassment v. power and blackmail – which is it to be? Well, this is politics, ...

Brown Goo like Marmite

Neal Ascherson: Memories of the Fog, 8 October 2015

London Fog: The Biography 
by Christine Corton.
Harvard, 408 pp., £22.95, November 2015, 978 0 674 08835 1
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... main threat to London lungs. The ‘London Particular’, the ‘pea-souper’ that was the city’s brand for so many centuries, has not been seen since, and – logically, scientifically – should never be seen again. But then, that’s what they thought before 1962.Christine ...

Don’t blame him

Peter Brown: Constantine, 22 April 2015

Constantine the Emperor 
by David Potter.
Oxford, 368 pp., £25, February 2013, 978 0 19 975586 8
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... Milan. Over the 17 centuries since then, theologians, historians and even novelists, including Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code, have claimed that a change for the worse in the quality of Christianity (the kind of change an earlier age would have ascribed to supra-natural agents like the Devil or the Antichrist) can be personified in this rather flashy Roman ...

Liars, Hypocrites and Crybabies

David Runciman: Blair v. Brown, 2 November 2006

... Gordon pretended that he still had a lot of time for Tony, on hearing which Cherie said that’s a lie, but being overheard herself had to deny she’d said any such thing, though the next day Tony more or less admitted that her denial wasn’t to be trusted either, before going on to pretend that he still admired Gordon too, and then pledging himself to ...

Six hands at an open door

David Trotter, 21 March 1991

Intertextual Dynamics within the Literary Group: Joyce, Lewis, Pound and Eliot 
by Dennis Brown.
Macmillan, 230 pp., £35, November 1990, 9780333516461
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An Immodest Violet: The Life of Violet Hunt 
by Joan Hardwick.
Deutsch, 205 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 233 98639 1
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... Dennis Brown concludes his celebration of Anglo-American Modernism with an account of Ezra Pound’s death on 30 October 1972. ‘That year I ended an obituary of Pound in a Canadian student newspaper: Pound is now dead and no poet remains of his stature. But poetry is “NEWS that stays NEWS” ...

McTeague’s Tooth

David Trotter: Good Fetishism, 20 November 2003

A Sense of Things: The Object Matter of American Literature 
by Bill Brown.
Chicago, 245 pp., £22.50, April 2003, 0 226 07628 8
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... three of their hats, one cap, and two shoes that were not fellows.’ It seems that Crusoe’s narrative cannot encompass a state of mind which, having neither a past nor a future, is not strictly narratable. The gestures and motions are not recognisably the product of the man he once was, and they do not prefigure the man he will become (the one they ...

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