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Grantham Factor

Martin Pugh, 2 March 1989

Rotten Borough 
by Oliver Anderson.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £5.95, March 1989, 0 947795 83 9
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... and Wilson’s Huddersfield come to mind. Some deliberately distance themselves as Lloyd George did from Criccieth, while others consciously adopt a home in the manner of Harold Macmillan with Stockton-on-Tees. Yet others have behaved like President Bush, grabbing home-towns by the bushel in a slightly frenzied search for identity. But no ...

Funnies

Caroline Moorehead, 5 February 1981

Siege! Princes Gate 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Hamlyn, 131 pp., May 1980, 0 600 20337 9
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Siege: Six Days at the Iranian Embassy 
by George Brock.
Macmillan, 144 pp., £1.95, May 1980, 0 333 30951 0
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Who dares wins 
by Tony Geraghty.
Arms and Armour, 256 pp., £8.95, July 1980, 9780853684572
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... At 11.32 on a cold morning in London early last year six young men, who had been on a spending spree and had mailed 203 lb of women’s cocktail dresses, children’s toys and ties back to Baghdad, entered and took over the Iranian Embassy in Princes Gate. It was not immediately clear who they were or why they were there, but soon Scotland Yard learnt that behind the stuccoed facade overlooking Hyde Park there were 19 hostages, among them a British policeman ...

Did Lloyd George mean war?

Michael Brock, 26 November 1987

David Lloyd GeorgeA Political Life. The Architect of Change, 1863-1912 
by Bentley Brinkerhoff Gilbert.
Batsford, 546 pp., £25, April 1987, 0 7134 5558 6
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... facts. All his skills were needed here: during some seventeen years of ministerial life Lloyd George took a hand in five books about himself, and much distortion resulted. After the war, for instance, Ll.G. hoped that his long struggle against Naval expenditure had been forgotten. He recorded that in July 1908 he had told the German Ambassador of his ...

People’s Friend

Michael Brock, 27 September 1990

Lord Grey: 1764-1845 
by E.A. Smith.
Oxford, 338 pp., £37.50, March 1990, 9780198201632
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... in Grey’s career is the one which receives the least adequate treatment. The period between George IV’s death in 1830 and the passing of the Reform Act two years later occupies 24 of Dr Smith’s pages, by contrast with 133 of Trevelyan’s. No one could give an adequate account of the Reform struggle from the Prime Minister’s viewpoint within ...

A Very Bad Case

Michael Brock, 11 June 1992

Herbert Samuel: A Political Life 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Oxford, 427 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 19 822648 9
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... than Hugh Gaitskell was ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. These descriptions, by Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan respectively, reveal little more than the effects of personal irritation on imaginative Welsh politicians. In his final chapter Professor Wasserstein draws attention to ‘a fundamental innocence’ and ‘supreme intellectual ...

Ruthless Young Man

Michael Brock, 14 September 1989

Churchill: 1874-1922 
by Frederick Earl of Birkenhead, edited by Sir John Colville.
Harrap, 552 pp., £19.95, August 1989, 0 245 54779 7
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... from the middle of the First Boer War onwards’ adds a comic touch. Even more than Lloyd George, Churchill baffles the biographer. This is partly a matter of fatigue. The huge scale of his achievement and of the records about it are enough to wear out all but the most robust and indefatigable: but keeping right on to the end of the road is not the ...

Honest Graft

Michael Brock, 23 June 1988

Corruption in British Politics, 1895-1930 
by G.R. Searle.
Oxford, 448 pp., £19.50, November 1987, 0 19 822915 1
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... public decisions, even Dr Searle’s researches reveal very little. What is striking about Lloyd George’s Boer War charges against Joseph Chamberlain is how much Ll.G could make out of the exiguous materials at his command. A family as deeply embedded in Birmingham industry as the Chamberlains were bound to be involved in war contracting. Reginald McKenna ...

Easy-Going Procrastinators

Ferdinand Mount: Margot Asquith’s War, 8 January 2015

Margot Asquith’s Great War Diary 1914-16: The View from Downing Street 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock, selected by Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 566 pp., £30, June 2014, 978 0 19 822977 3
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Margot at War: Love And Betrayal In Downing Street, 1912-16 
by Anne de Courcy.
Weidenfeld, 376 pp., £20, November 2014, 978 0 297 86983 2
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The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush To War, 1914 
by Douglas Newton.
Verso, 386 pp., £20, July 2014, 978 1 78168 350 7
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... two and a half years from July 1914 to Asquith’s fall in December 1916 that Michael and Eleanor Brock have chosen to publish. Even within this period, they tell us, they have excluded most of her musings on her family, as well as lists of many of the guests she entertained so frenetically. On the other hand, the book is plumped out by the ...

Prime Ministers’ Pets

Robert Blake, 10 January 1983

Benjamin Disraeli Letters: Vol. I 1815-1834, Vol. II 1835-1837 
edited by J.A.W. Gunn, John Matthews, Donald Schurman and M.G. Wiebe.
Toronto, 482 pp., £37.50, June 1982, 0 8020 5523 0
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The Gladstone Diaries: with Cabinet Minutes and Prime Ministerial Correspondence, Vol. VII, January 1869-June 1871, Vol. VIII, July 1871-December 1874 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 641 pp., £35, September 1982, 0 19 822638 1
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Disraeli 
by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 297 78153 7
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Gladstone: Vol. I 1809-1865 
by Richard Shannon.
Hamish Hamilton, 580 pp., £18, November 1982, 0 241 10780 6
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H.H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 676 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 19 212200 2
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... I had pursued more energetically the quest for papers at Belvoir Castle (Lord John Manners and George Smythe), Weston Park (Lady Bradford and Lady Chesterfield) and Windsor Castle, where there apparently still exists a notable private correspondence with Queen Victoria alleged by Lord Esher in 1905 to have been destroyed by King Edward VII. Perhaps some of ...

War within wars

Paul Addison, 5 November 1992

War, Strategy and International Politics: Essays in Honour of Sir Michael Howard 
edited by Lawrence Freedman, Paul Hayes and Robert O’Neill.
Oxford, 322 pp., £35, July 1992, 0 19 822292 0
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... or adoption. Nor are we given much of a biographical portrait of Howard himself, though Michael Brock, who was at school with him, provides some important details, and Robert O’Neill pays tribute to his labours in the Oxford History Faculty. A festschrift often consists of a somewhat miscellaneous collection of bits and pieces. On this occasion the ...

No Man’s Mistress

Stephen Koss, 5 July 1984

Margot: A Life of the Countess of Oxford and Asquith 
by Daphne Bennett.
Gollancz, 442 pp., £12.95, May 1984, 0 575 03279 0
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... young and though fair, who can hold such a cargo/Of all the good qualities going as Margot?’ George Curzon, a Soulmate nearer her own age, was moved that same year to proclaim that, however ‘wide you may wander and far go ... you never will beat’ the wit of dear Margot. (‘Emma’, presumably, would have posed a dilemma for both of them.) Gladstone ...

Like a boll weevil to a cotton bud

A. Craig Copetas, 18 November 1993

New York Days 
by Willie Morris.
Little, Brown, 400 pp., £19.45, September 1993, 0 316 58421 5
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... to the future. We knew this was happening, too. We just didn’t want to believe pollster George Gallup’s 1968 statistics that found the political views of voters between the ages of 21 and 29 no different from the views of those aged 30 to 49. ‘A lot of this talk about this group’s being a maverick generation must be considered ...

Out of the blue

Mark Ford, 10 December 1987

Meeting the British 
by Paul Muldoon.
Faber, 53 pp., £9.95, May 1987, 0 571 14858 1
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Partingtime Hall 
by James Fenton and John Fuller.
Salamander, 69 pp., £7.50, April 1987, 0 948681 05 5
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Private Parts 
by Fiona Pitt-Kethley.
Chatto, 72 pp., £4.95, June 1987, 9780701132064
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Bright River Yonder 
by John Hartley Williams.
Bloodaxe, 87 pp., £4.95, April 1987, 1 85224 028 8
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... poetic persona, and is excellently deployed again in such poems as ‘The Coney’ and ‘Brock’, but the experimental nature of many of the others suggests he is in active pursuit of new ways of projecting himself without seeming to do so. There are all kinds of new types of poem in Meeting the British. ‘Ontario’ is in ...

Ten Typical Days in Trump’s America

Eliot Weinberger, 25 October 2018

... to repeal 76 environmental regulations, most of which were intended to help curb climate change.)*Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, echoes President Trump’s claim that, contrary to official estimates, ‘three thousand people did not die’ in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria last year. (Trump has maintained that only 64 people ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... Logan repeated the substance of this on 12 April 1990 to Detective Chief Superintendent Peter Brock, who was in operational charge of the Sharples team. Two weeks later, MacKeith set out the conditions he considered necessary for such an interview so as to safeguard the health of his patient. MacKeith requested that the interview be videoed, that it be ...

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