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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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... Don’t be put off by the title, since it’s only a laboured allusion to Cobbett’s Rural Rides, lacking the alliterative euphony of the original. What EdwardPearce of the Guardian offers is a record of his 19 days on the road during the General Election, visiting as many constituencies, each time in the company of a particular candidate, of varying party. There ...

Shoy-Hoys

Paul Foot: The not-so-great Reform Act

6 May 2004
Reform! The Fight for the 1832 Reform Act 
by Edward Pearce.
Cape, 343 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 224 06199 2
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... of England are very quiet if they are left alone.’ The argument had nothing to do with democracy. It was about property, and how best those who had it could keep it safe from those who hadn’t. EdwardPearce was an eloquent and observant parliamentary commentator for the Daily Telegraph and the Guardian. He delighted and, to his credit, often infuriated his readers with his sardonic wit and ...

Scrapbook

Edward Pearce

26 July 1990
A Sparrow’s Flight: Memoirs 
by Lord Hailsham.
Collins, 463 pp., £17.50, July 1990, 0 00 215545 1
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... for that uncomplicated scoundrel is foolish. The Hogg view of his Tory colleagues may not be backed by much detail, but we get the message. Maudling was a lightweight, Macleod a first-rater, Edward Boyle is rightly adored, Margaret Thatcher did right by Quintin and so, despite differences, should be seen as a good thing. There are aperçus, however, despite the concern not to let noses poking ...

Hooting

Edward Pearce

22 October 1992
Beaverbrook 
by Anne Chisholm and Michael Davie.
Hutchinson, 589 pp., £20, October 1992, 0 09 173549 1
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... Ontario. Before his 32nd birthday in 1911, Max Aitken’s flair had brought him a knighthood to add to membership of the Westminster Parliament, friendship with Bonar Law, the key Tory backbencher Edward Goulding, and the Imperial moralist/moraliser Rudyard Kipling, as well as sundry millions of pounds. The money had come fast, very fast from Halifax, St John and Montreal. Starting in a financier’s ...

Class Traitor

Edward Pearce

11 June 1992
Maverick: The Life of a Union Rebel 
by Eric Hammond.
Weidenfeld, 214 pp., £16.99, March 1992, 0 297 81200 9
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... Bull,” I thought as I put the letter down on my desk. “You’re scared witless, Brenda.” ’ The style and address of Eric Hammond is unmistakable. He is here declining to be scared by a letter from Brenda Dean, ‘the pleasant woman at the helm of SOGAT’, trying to frighten him over EEPTU relations with Eddie Shah and Today. Hammond would eventually be expelled from the TUC and has ...

Labour’s Beachmaster

Peter Clarke: Jenkins, Healey, Crosland

23 January 2003
Denis Healey: A Life in Our Times 
by Edward Pearce.
Little, Brown, 634 pp., £28, June 2002, 0 316 85894 3
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Friends and Rivals: Crosland, Jenkins and Healey 
by Giles Radice.
Little, Brown, 376 pp., £20, September 2002, 0 316 85547 2
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... zeal for self-promotion was more diligent. Nobody who had the gifts to write such a self-revealing book could be expected to have the guile to become prime minister. What, then, is there left for EdwardPearce to say? His biography is a handsome and informative study, benefiting from the co-operation of its subject, notably by means of unique access to the diary which Healey kept from the age of 16 ...

The Man in White

Edward Pearce

11 October 1990
The Golden Warrior: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia 
by Lawrence James.
Weidenfeld, 404 pp., £19.50, August 1990, 0 297 81087 1
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... than at the bureaucratic arm’s length favoured by the Mother of the Free. Everybody coveted and cozened: European and Arab, Foreign Office and Beduin feudatory, regular and irregular. Above all, Edward Lawrence was every bit as manipulative as any Foreign Office mandarin doing a deal with the French over Syria. Nothing illustrates this better than his treatment, coolly set out by Mr James, of ...

Rabbit Resartus

Edward Pearce

8 November 1990
Rabbit at Rest 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 505 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 233 98622 7
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... The thought did occur during the Eighties that it wouldn’t do to leave Rabbit Angstrom – Toyota dealer, wife-swapper, gone-to-seed athlete, conservative, citizen of Brewer, Pennsylvania, ex-working man, Scandinavian American and emblematic mess – just where he was after a mere three books. Indeed, although Rabbit, at the end of what is now a tetralogy, looks sick to the terminal rim, I would ...

Sweetly Terminal

Edward Pearce

5 August 1993
Diaries 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 421 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 297 81352 8
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... What’s all this?’ ‘It’s the new line to take!’ ‘How do you mean, “new”?’ ‘There’s just been’ (plainly a lie, since she wouldn’t look at me) ‘a telegram from Number 10.’ I was cornered. The little Portuguese (for the whole of my time as Minister for Trade, I am going to find myself at every international conference where the participating countries are identified in ...

Spurning at the High

Edward Pearce: A poet of Chartism

6 November 2003
Ernest Jones, Chartism and the Romance of Politics 1819-69 
by Miles Taylor.
Oxford, 290 pp., £45, January 2003, 0 19 820729 8
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... Will became an ardent public man, working well in those times when reforms were begun with a young hopefulness of immediate good which has been much checked in our days, and getting at last returned to Parliament by a constituency who paid his expenses. Middlemarch The ‘hopefulness’ being ‘much checked in our days’ speaks the caution of 1867 as against the enthusiasm of 1832. But Ernest Jones ...
7 February 1991
... it started, threw up its hands at the first sound of gunfire, and declared that the ‘cause’ of the war party was ‘just’. Like the politicians against the war, the writers against the war – EdwardPearce in the Guardian, John Diamond in the Mirror, John Pilger wherever anyone prints what he writes – have to be winkled out from the chauvinist mass. How to explain the mood which swept ...

Diary

J.P. Stern: This great wall has fallen down

7 December 1989
... thousands. For the present, at all events, their goal is political liberty within the bounds of a welfare state of the Western European dispensation. ‘If modern Germany has a historic patron,’ EdwardPearce wrote recently, ‘it is not Marx, nor Bismarck, nor the Frederick the Great celebrated by East Germans’ –or at least by the party hacks who were dictating Kulturpolitik as relentlessly as ...

Diary

Ronan Bennett: The IRA Ceasefire

22 September 1994
... of stability existed; the IRA were a bunch of mindless psychopaths; Gerry Adams was a cunning and devious liar. What about the man at the centre of the ceasefire – the man whom Guardian columnist EdwardPearce describes as ‘a corporate assassin’ with ‘more to answer for than John Wayne Gacy, executed in the US for a couple of score killings ... a coffin-filler strategically deciding to desist ...
23 May 1991
A Question of Leadership: Gladstone to Thatcher 
by Peter Clarke.
Hamish Hamilton, 334 pp., £17.99, April 1991, 0 241 13005 0
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The Quiet Rise of John Major 
by Edward Pearce.
Weidenfeld, 177 pp., £14.99, April 1991, 0 297 81208 4
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... by family and connections before 1945, since then largely by ‘an upwardly mobile Oxbridge meritocracy recruited through provincial grammar schools’. This question supplies the chief interest of EdwardPearce’s biography of John Major, a book sympathetic to its subject which – except at the end – lacks the author’s admirable blend of fun and savage indignation. John Major is a prime ...

Diary

Karl Miller: On Doubles

2 May 1985
... that was rarely distinguishable from consent, and the same was true of most of the press. I was interested to come across a recent report in which the Parliamentary sketch writer of the Telegraph, EdwardPearce, was quoted as putting a view of the war which would at the time have been called cuckoo: ‘What precisely did we get out of the Falklands war except a warm glow, the experience of feeling ...

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