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Diary

Ian Hamilton: Poets Laureate, 7 January 1999

... on the front page of the Daily Mail and was promoted as part of that paper’s ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign. Of ‘Now and Then’, Bernard Levin rather tastelessly observed, years later, that it ‘made many regret their impulsive rejoicing at the death of his predecessor’. Even Day Lewis’s admiring editor and close friend, ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... it could be argued that the Aussies bring it on themselves, with their Barry McKenzies, their Ian Chappells, their self-parodying Foster ads, and so on. And there is the accent: for some reason more readily mimickable than any of our own regional twangs. Theories about the Australian accent are just as snooty as theories about Australia. Some say that it ...

Sexy Robots

Ian Patterson: ‘Machines Like Me’, 9 May 2019

Machines like Me 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 305 pp., £18.99, April 2019, 978 1 78733 166 2
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... a very short story by Diane Williams which came into my mind while I was reading Machines like Me, Ian McEwan’s 15th novel. It’s called ‘Machinery’ and it’s 104 words long. It ends: ‘For some idea of the full range of tools at his disposal, one would have to know what human longings are all about, a calm voice says calmly.’ McEwan has always been ...

At the Fitzwilliam

Ian Patterson: A tidying-up and a sorting-out, 11 August 2016

... of the world, widespread famine, crop disruption and civil unrest to Europe, dramatic sunsets to Britain and millennial thoughts to Byron, who ‘look’d up/With mad disquietude on the dull sky,/The pall of a past world … All earth was but one thought – and that was death.’ Nightmare visions of extinction and new forms of life, such as Byron’s and ...

Napoleon was wrong

Ian Gilmour, 24 June 1993

Capitalism, Culture and Decline in Britain 1750-1990 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Routledge, 182 pp., £25, April 1993, 0 415 03718 2
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British Multinational Banking 
by Geoffrey Jones.
Oxford, 511 pp., £48, March 1993, 0 19 820273 3
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Going for Broke: How Banking Mismanagement in the Eighties Lost Thousands of Billions of Pounds 
by Russell Taylor.
Simon and Schuster, 384 pp., £17.50, April 1993, 0 671 71128 8
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... Britain emerged from the war still unquestionably a great power, its Prime Ministers Churchill and Attlee considered the equals in negotiations for the post-war settlement, of America’s Presidents Roosevelt and Truman and Soviet dictator Stalin at the Yalta and Potsdam Conferences of 1945. By any rational and objective criteria ...

The other side have got one

Ian Gilmour: Lady Thatcher’s Latest, 6 June 2002

Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the 20th Century 
by E.H.H. Green.
Oxford, 309 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 19 820593 7
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Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 486 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 00 710752 8
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... Party was fundamentally different in its basic structure to . . . any other political party in Britain or elsewhere.’ I doubt that any such assumption is involved, but in any case Green seems unaware that Oakeshott came near to making it, saying after the war that there was ‘nothing whatever in common between British Conservatism and any of the ...

Not Many Dead

Linda Colley, 10 September 1992

Riot, Risings and Revolution: Governance and Violence in 18th-Century England 
by Ian Gilmour.
Hutchinson, 504 pp., £25, May 1992, 0 09 175330 9
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... Ian Gilmour is a distinguished and highly intelligent example of a once rare species: he is a Conservative with a cause. Unfortunately for him, however – and perhaps for the rest of us as well – his cause is no longer that of the political party he has always espoused. The son of a baronet, he was born into Toryism in much the same way as Anthony Trollope’s Duke of Omnium was born to Whig Liberalism, passing through Eton, to Balliol, to marriage with a daughter of the Duke of Buccleuch, to the Bar, to safe Conservative seats in rural Norfolk and Buckinghamshire, and then on to cabinet rank, first as Secretary of Defence under Heath, and then as Lord Privy Seal and Deputy Foreign Secretary ...

Little Mercians

Ian Gilmour: Why Kenneth Clarke should lead the Tories, 5 July 2001

... they either stayed bad or got worse. Nothing seemed to work. The quality of life declined, and Britain became increasingly like a Third World country. Foreign journalists were astonished by our huge reservoir of forbearance when faced with seemingly universal incompetence and perpetual failure. As calamity succeeded calamity, culminating in the outbreak of ...

Vote for the Beast!

Ian Gilmour: The Tory Leadership, 20 October 2005

... of the American aggression, the party would now be ideally placed to attack Blair for involving Britain in the Iraqi disaster. Duncan Smith soon proved so inadequate that in 2003 he had to be removed. The new system of electing a leader was far too damaging to be employed only two years before an election, and by a clever coup Michael Howard was installed ...

Loadsa Serious Money

Ian Taylor, 5 May 1988

Regulating the City: Competition, Scandal and Reform 
by Michael Clarke.
Open University, 288 pp., £25, May 1986, 9780335153817
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Regulating fraud: White-Collar Crime and the Criminal Process 
by Michael Levi.
Tavistock, 416 pp., £35, August 1987, 0 422 61160 3
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... States, and the extraordinary sums of money involved,1 were quickly followed by the prosecution in Britain of Michael Collier. Chairman of Morgan Grenfell, the largest securities firm in the City of London, for making an instantaneous profit of £15,000 on the purchase of shares in a company he knew was about to be taken over. A steady series of cases ...

The Way Forward

Ian Gilmour, 25 October 1990

The Economic Limits to Modern Politics 
edited by John Dunn.
Polity, 274 pp., £35, July 1990, 0 7456 0827 2
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... In Britain, oppositions do not win general elections; the economy occasionally wins one for them. To prevent it doing so, governments in the second half of a Parliament devote much of their energy to ensuring that on election day the voters will feel prosperous and the economy look healthy. Such a political and economic miracle entails much dumping of dogma and convictions ...

Lucky Brrm

John Sutherland, 12 March 1992

Brrm! Brrm! 
by Clive James.
Cape, 160 pp., £12.99, November 1991, 0 224 03226 7
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Saint Maybe 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 337 pp., £14.99, October 1991, 0 7011 3787 8
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Faustine 
by Emma Tennant.
Faber, 140 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571142637
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... primarily a West End and small screen entertainer with his largest viewing constituency in Britain. The same – but more – could be said of Clive James. James has earned himself reputations as a television host, reviewer, newspaper columnist, songwriter, ‘metropolitan critic’, versifier and novelist (Brrm! Brrm! is his third published title). He ...

Hauteur

Ian Gilmour: Britain and Europe, 10 December 1998

This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 333 57992 5
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... For most of the last half-century, Britain has had two options: to be a whole-hearted member of Europe or to be a satellite of the United States. In this field there has been no ‘third way’. Full-hearted co-operation with Europe does not mean and never has meant the end of the Atlantic Alliance. The great majority of the countries in the European Union have always been members of Nato ...

Eye-Popping

Ian Jackman: Killer SUVs, 7 October 2004

High and Mighty: SUVs, the World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way 
by Keith Bradsher.
PublicAffairs, 464 pp., $14, December 2003, 1 58648 203 3
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... is the clogged main artery from New York to the Hamptons. When my family went on holiday in Britain in the 1970s, taking to the M1 in our M-reg Mini, car-spotting was something I did to pass the time. Now, when I drive my family along the LIE in our Volvo, I still keep an eye out for the unusual. I was pleased to score a Maybach, the $300,000-plus ...

They like it there

Ian Aitken, 5 August 1993

Making Aristocracy Work: The Peerage and the Political System in Britain 1884-1914 
by Andrew Adonis.
Oxford, 311 pp., £35, May 1993, 0 19 820389 6
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The House of Lords at Work: A Study Based on the 1988-89 Session 
edited by Donald Shell and David Beamish.
Oxford, 420 pp., £45, March 1993, 0 19 827762 8
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... of the House of Lords that anyone who had a high opinion of its contribution to the governance of Britain should go and have a look at it. He clearly believed that the mere sight of the so-called Upper House at work would cure any tendency towards excessive reverence. He had sound reasons for this judgment, since the outstanding feature of the Victorian House ...

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