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Living with Monsters

Ferdinand Mount: PMs v. the Media, 22 April 2010

Where Power Lies: Prime Ministers v. the Media 
by Lance Price.
Simon & Schuster, 498 pp., £20, February 2010, 978 1 84737 253 6
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... William ‘Bronco Bill’ Sutherland, had a reputation every bit as evil as that of Alastair Campbell or Gordon Brown’s frightful pair, Charlie Whelan and Damian ‘McPoison’ McBride. Nor was it always the PM’s press spokesmen who dripped the poison. At the time of Suez, Eden’s spokesman, William Clark, was ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style, 20 January 2011

... low, actually.’ One of the lads, he has no problem with testicles. As soon as he met Alastair Campbell, he knew that he had ‘clanking great balls’. He admires Rupert Murdoch for the same reason: ‘He was an outsider, and he had balls.’ He also admires women who might be said to have balls, like Kate Garvey, his diary secretary: ‘She ran the diary ...

I have no books to consult

Stephen Sedley: Lord Mansfield, 22 January 2015

Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason 
by Norman Poser.
McGill-Queen’s, 532 pp., £24.99, September 2013, 978 0 7735 4183 2
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... Holliday, wrote his not always reliable memoir shortly after Mansfield’s death. Then came Lord Campbell, himself a chief justice, whose biographies of his predecessors became known as one of the new terrors of death, and whose Life of Mansfield contains at least one palpable fabrication. In the 20th century two scholars, Edmund Heward and ...

Delivering the Leadership

Nick Cohen: Get Mandy, 4 March 1999

Mandy: The Authorised Biography of Peter Mandelson 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 302 pp., £17.99, January 1999, 9780684851754
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... of Mandelson is a consequence of his trade unionism and his friendship with Charlie Whelan, Gordon Brown’s former press officer. The Chancellor might appear to outsiders as the willing servant of a free-market consensus which has cracked in those parts of the world – roughly one-third – currently in recession and worse, but to Routledge and others ...

Plonking

Ferdinand Mount: Edward Heath, 22 July 2010

Edward Heath 
by Philip Ziegler.
Harper, 654 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 0 00 724740 0
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... book, but I cannot believe that its subject would have liked it any better than he cared for John Campbell’s 1993 biography, Heath’s own copy of which is scrawled with angry marginalia – ‘Nonsense!’, ‘No!’ and ‘Wrong!’ Campbell’s book was less alluring in style, more detailed in its accounts of ...

To hell with the lyrics

Peter Campbell, 25 March 1993

The Collected Writings of Robert Motherwell 
edited by Stephanie Terenzio.
Oxford, 325 pp., £35, April 1993, 0 19 507700 8
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... In her essay ‘Good Boys and Dead Girls’ Mary Gordon identifies the ‘American innocent’. She tracks him – young, restless and bad news for women – through the novels of Faulkner, Dreiser and Updike. ‘All that matters is that his heart must be pure, and he must move forward to the quest which for so many male American writers is the most crucial one: the search for the unfettered self ...

Ineffectuals

Peter Campbell, 19 April 1990

The World of Nagaraj 
by R.K. Narayan.
Heinemann, 186 pp., £12.95, March 1990, 0 434 49617 0
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The Great World 
by David Malouf.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, April 1990, 0 7011 3415 1
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The Shoe 
by Gordon Legge.
Polygon, 181 pp., £7.95, December 1989, 0 7486 6080 1
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Trying to grow 
by Firdaus Kanga.
Bloomsbury, 242 pp., £13.95, February 1990, 0 7475 0549 7
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... of people who have, literally, very little to say for themselves. On the other hand, you stay with Gordon Legge’s young, mainly unemployed Scots for their conversation. Even Archie, who doesn’t talk much, can think in his own words rather than the narrator’s. The action is desultory: a trip to Glasgow and a pub brawl are climaxes. For the most part, the ...

Tea-Leafing

Duncan Campbell, 19 October 1995

The Autobiography of a Thief 
by Bruce Reynolds.
Bantam, 320 pp., £15.99, April 1995, 0 593 03779 0
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... Charlie Wilson, the sort of father you see by the hundred in France on Sunday outings ... [Gordon] Goody, nerves of steel and the wolfish handsomeness of the pack leader ... The events were so vividly in the minds of the actors that they remember, like Henry V at Agincourt, what feats they did that day.’ Never mind Agincourt, note the ‘little ...

Deliverology

David Runciman: Blair Hawks His Wares, 31 March 2016

Broken Vows: Tony Blair – The Tragedy of Power 
by Tom Bower.
Faber, 688 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 0 571 31420 1
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... might come next. Blair felt he was really getting things done at the point when his struggle with Gordon Brown was over. But it wasn’t because he had worked out how to deal with an obstructive rival; it was because he had ultimately been defeated by him. He was liberated by having little left to lose. Obama has been increasingly willing to assert his ...

What Blair Threw Away

Ross McKibbin: Feckless, Irresponsible and Back in Power, 19 May 2005

... Or in those seats with a high-minded middle class? Perhaps Oona King, Barbara Roche and Anne Campbell could ask him. (Indeed Oona King could ask herself what she thought was going to happen.) The prime minister’s self-indulgence should not be rewarded by another long spell in Downing Street. That is not the only thing to be said against his ...

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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... desperation. Britain’s Labour Party, which had spurned at least three opportunities to replace Gordon Brown with someone more palatable, smelled of exhaustion. Laws describes the various meetings that took place in the days following the election between the Lib Dem negotiating team and its Labour counterparts, to see if they could thrash out a deal. On ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... Howard Davies is appointed chairman-designate of ‘SuperSIB’ (or, as it is later christened by Gordon Brown, the Financial Services Authority), as much to his surprise as everyone else’s. He had been on his way to South America in his capacity as deputy governor of the Bank of England, having just been involved in that same capacity in seeking a ...

Not My Fault

John Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs, 17 July 2008

Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... lot. So far we have had diaries from two of its central figures, David Blunkett and Alastair Campbell, and from a spin-doctor hanger-on (Lance Price); a memoir by its most senior diplomat, the former ambassador to Washington Sir Christopher Meyer; and now memoirs by the former prime minister’s wife, his deputy and his bagman. The granddaddy of them ...

The New Lloyd’s

Peter Campbell, 24 July 1986

Richard Rogers 
by Bryan Appleyard.
Faber, 271 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 571 13976 0
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A Concrete Atlantis 
by Reyner Banham.
MIT, 265 pp., £16.50, June 1986, 0 262 02244 3
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William Richard Lethaby 
by Godfrey Rubens.
Architectural Press, 320 pp., £30, April 1986, 0 85139 350 0
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... but a plan which would allow business to go on while building proceeded. At the suggestion of Gordon Graham, then president of the RIBA, Lloyd’s put up money for what was in effect a limited competition – not for a design so much as for a plan of campaign. Although Lloyd’s themselves suggested a couple of names, the profession (in the form of the ...

Francis and Vanessa

Peter Campbell, 15 March 1984

Francis Bacon 
by Michel Leiris, translated by John Weightman.
Phaidon, 271 pp., £50, September 1983, 0 7148 2218 3
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Vanessa Bell 
by Frances Spalding.
Weidenfeld, 399 pp., £12.95, August 1983, 0 297 78162 6
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The Omega Workshops 
by Judith Collins.
Secker, 310 pp., £15.95, January 1984, 0 436 10562 4
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The Omega Workshops 1913-1919: Decorative Arts of Bloomsbury 
Crafts Council, 96 pp., £6.95, March 1984, 0 903798 72 7Show More
The Omega Workshops: Alliance and Enmity in English Art 1911-1920 
Anthony d’Offay Gallery, 80 pp., £4.95, February 1984, 0 947564 00 4Show More
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... understood by today’s style-hungry young as the tribal uses of African masks were in Fitzroy and Gordon Squares, while the Omega pieces themselves begin to merge with others which derived motives from Cubism and early abstraction. Omega becomes a kind of rustic Art Deco, and, as time passes, an Omega screen of 1913, and the Queen Mary interiors of twenty ...

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