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Short Cuts

David Runciman: Narcissistic Kevins, 6 November 2014

... Then, having dumped him, the party found it needed him back, partly because he was its one proven winner, and partly because Kevin on the outside was just as poisonous as Kevin on the in (the drip-drip of self-serving innuendo never ceased). A seemingly contrite and humbled Rudd returned to the fold. It was too late: the party was now on a hiding to nothing ...

Blood Ba’th

David Gilmour, 2 February 1989

Asad: The Struggle for the Middle East 
by Patrick Seale.
Tauris, 552 pp., £19.95, October 1988, 1 85043 061 6
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... more chance of honourable retirement than a Syrian Ba’thist leader in the Sixties. The eventual winner of a fiendish series of coups and counter-coups between 1963 and 1970 was a very prudent, wholly unostentatious military figure. Hafiz al-Asad came from one of the less impoverished peasant families in a remote Alawite village consisting of a ...


David Runciman: The Tory State?, 8 September 2016

... official Labour candidate, Frank Dobson, finished a distant third. But the fact that the runaway winner was Ken Livingstone, who stood as an independent but was in effect the alternative Labour candidate (and became the official Labour candidate in 2004), shows the extent of the party’s hold on every aspect of British politics. One mark of a one-party ...

Short Cuts

Helen Thompson: West Ham Disunited, 26 April 2018

... the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) and West Ham, under the majority ownership of David Gold and David Sullivan, two businessmen who had made their money from pornography, agreed that the club would acquire a 99-year lease on the Olympic stadium. By then, West Ham had gone too far to retreat – not least in ...

At the Fondation Custodia

Julian Barnes: Wilhelm Eckersberg, 28 July 2016

... of the Prix de Rome. But official money was tight, and he was advised to wait for the previous winner to return before taking up the prize. So Rome (1813-16) was preceded by Paris (1810-13), where he spent a year ‘beneath the eye’ of Jacques-Louis David. Here he received the full stamp of French neoclassicism. But ...

Is this the end of the UK?

David Runciman: The End of the UK?, 27 May 2010

... of politicians in particular, that they were resolved to contrive a result in which nobody was the winner. Electoral politics resembles sport in many ways – the tribalism, the big build-up, the overwhelming focus on the result – but this election illustrated at least one way in which it is different: in politics when the final whistle blows it is possible ...

Didn’t they notice?

David Runciman: Offshore, 14 April 2011

Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World 
by Nicholas Shaxson.
Bodley Head, 329 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 1 84792 110 9
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Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer – and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class 
by Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson.
Simon and Schuster, 368 pp., £11.50, March 2011, 978 1 4165 8870 2
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... justice (who isn’t?). He is also, on some accounts, a victim: his unfortunate mentor at the LSE, David Held, has described the predicament the ostensibly reform-minded Saif found himself in after his father’s people had revolted as ‘the stuff of Shakespeare’, but that surely is letting everyone concerned off far too lightly. He may just be a ...

Warthog Dynamism

David Bromwich, 19 November 2020

... tie up lawsuits against his organisation as they go through the courts – until he emerged as the winner. Or, if the election result were delayed because the vote was too close to call, his followers should blame the Supreme Court: the very court to which he had lately added three justices to make a conservative majority. As it fell out, Trump panicked at ...
Intifada. The Palestinian Uprising: Israel’s Third Front 
by Ze’ev Schiff and Ehud Ya’ari.
Simon and Schuster, 352 pp., £14.95, May 1990, 0 671 67530 3
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Winner takes all: A Season in Israel 
by Stephen Brook.
Hamish Hamilton, 363 pp., £16.99, June 1990, 0 241 12635 5
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... but as heroic underdogs. They were shown on television being shot and beaten by Israeli soldiers. David the good guy was now a Palestinian, and nasty Goliath an Israeli. The women and the old joined in to support the uprising, and all were soon aware that the use of stones rather than guns was their strongest political card in the vital game to win the ...

Dear boy, I’d rather see you in your coffin

Jon Day: Paid to Race, 16 July 2020

To Hell and Back: An Autobiography 
by Niki Lauda.
Ebury, 314 pp., £16.99, February, 978 1 5291 0679 4
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A Race with Love and Death: The Story of Britain’s First Great Grand Prix Driver, Richard Seaman 
by Richard Williams.
Simon and Schuster, 388 pp., £20, March, 978 1 4711 7935 8
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... Roger Williamson was burned to death at Zandvoort in 1973, while his friend and fellow driver David Purley tried desperately to beat out the flames as millions of TV viewers watched, Lauda was asked by the press why he hadn’t stopped to help. ‘I’m paid to race,’ he said, ‘not to stop.’ The ‘formula’ of F1 refers to the various rules ...
... by – but to a frail old lady of 86, the widow of the former ANC leader and Nobel Peace Prize-winner, Chief Albert Luthuli. It was a master card to play, not merely because of the continuing public ambivalence towards Winnie, but because Chief Albert Luthuli still occupies a special place in the hearts of the predominantly Zulu crowd, irrespective of ...


Adam Shatz: Elections in Egypt, 19 July 2012

... or hope – that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces would try to pass Shafiq off as the winner. Until 24 June, when Morsi’s victory was announced by the electoral commission, nothing was certain, even whether the former president was alive or dead. As the train reached the station at Alexandria, my fixer, Magdy, got a call from his boss, a ...

Looking back

John Sutherland, 22 May 1980

by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... Byatt (The Virgin in the Garden) found a slightly earlier epicentre in the Coronation year, 1953. David Lodge’s new novel (How far can you go?) charts Catholic perplexity in the face of the permissive Sixties, Humanae Vitae and the abolition of National Service. Julian Barnes’s very much à la mode Metroland is divided into three sections: I ...

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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... process, the first portrayer of society in terms that Adam Smith might and Karl Marx did approve. David Brown makes the academic case admirably. He begins by modestly disclaiming originality: he is developing insights put forward by others in recent years, and only applying them more carefully to a selection of the major novels. This is a service which it ...

His Fucking Referendum

David Runciman: What Struck Cameron, 10 October 2019

For the Record 
by David Cameron.
William Collins, 732 pp., £25, September 2019, 978 0 00 823928 2
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... independence referendum, when he put his premiership on the line for another knife-edge, in/out, winner-take-all vote, and won. But the Brexit referendum was different and in refusing to acknowledge the differences he ended up losing everything. As far as I can see, two things went wrong. In one crucial respect, Cameron failed to follow the formula that ...

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