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Wartime

Alan Ryan, 6 November 1986

The Enemies Within: The Story of the Miners’ Strike 1984-5 
by Ian MacGregor and Rodney Tyler.
Collins, 384 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 00 217706 4
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A Balance of Power 
by Jim Prior.
Hamish Hamilton, 278 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 9780241119570
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... industrial and political system which had been unable to respond coherently to changed conditions. Ian MacGregor’s Boy’s Own Paper account of how he single-handedly felled Arthur Scargill in spite of back-stabbing, bad-mouthing and betrayal by colleagues, politicians, civil servants and journalists is a richly fantastic piece of work: none the ...

Ex-King Coal

Arthur Marwick, 31 March 1988

The History of the British Coal Industry. Vol. IV, 1913-1946: The Political Economy of Decline 
by Barry Supple.
Oxford, 733 pp., £50, December 1987, 9780198282945
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... of Sir Derek Ezra, supreme servant and subtle bureaucrat of consensus, and that of Sir Ian MacGregor, vieux terrible of confrontation. ‘There is either too much or too little.’ Not since 1913, in fact, have the figures seemed roughly right. Coal had been ancillary, rather than essential, to Britain’s early Industrial Revolution. Demand ...

Claiming victory

John Lloyd, 21 November 1985

The Miners’ Strike 
by Geoffrey Goodman.
Pluto, 213 pp., £4.50, September 1985, 0 7453 0073 1
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Strike: Thatcher, Scargill and the Miners 
by Peter Wilsher, Donald Macintyre and Michael Jones.
Deutsch, 284 pp., £9.95, September 1985, 0 233 97825 9
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... Siddall [the previous chairman of the National Coal Board], it was discreetly pointed out to MacGregor [the present chairman], had managed to achieve the same sort of result without any bothersome early warnings ... but although there was undoubtedly some dissent along these lines, it was pretty muted. ‘There was a spirit of MacGregorism abroad, and ...
Digging Deeper: Issues in the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Huw Beynon.
Verso, 252 pp., £3.95, March 1985, 0 86091 820 3
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Policing the Miners’ Strike 
edited by Bob Fine and Robert Millar.
Lawrence and Wishart, 243 pp., £4.95, March 1985, 0 85315 633 6
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The Strike: An Insider’s Story 
by Roy Ottey.
Sidgwick, 157 pp., £7.95, March 1985, 9780283992285
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Scargill and the Miners 
by Michael Crick.
Penguin, 172 pp., £2.95, March 1985, 0 14 052355 3
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The Great Strike: The Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 and its Lessons 
by Alex Callinicos and Mike Simons.
Socialist Worker, 256 pp., £3.95, April 1985, 0 905998 50 2
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... With no background, loyalties or long-term future in the NCB (or indeed even in Britain), Ian MacGregor typifies the abrasive commercialism of new-style public-sector management heads. (Ironically this Florida voter, with his anti-union reputation, admiration for Tory economics, and even greater private wealth than Thatcher, was brought to ...

The Miners’ Strike

Michael Stewart, 6 September 1984

... for thirty years or more. Thus it was that the hard-headed Scottish-American business tycoon Ian MacGregor was appointed to sort out British Steel, and sort it out he did: after a doomed 13-week strike, the men accepted new manning procedures which in plants such as Port Talbot raised productivity overnight by far more than had been achieved in a ...

The Sound of Thunder

Tom Nairn: The Miners’ Strike, 8 October 2009

Marching to the Fault Line: The 1984 Miners’ Strike and the Death of Industrial Britain 
by Francis Beckett and David Hencke.
Constable, 303 pp., £18.99, February 2009, 978 1 84901 025 2
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Shafted: The Media, the Miners’ Strike and the Aftermath 
edited by Granville Williams.
Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, 176 pp., £9.99, March 2009, 978 1 898240 05 1
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... eventually set up a separate union, the Union of Democratic Mineworkers. The Scottish-American Ian MacGregor, appointed head of the National Coal Board, was clear that ‘the key to the whole strike was Nottinghamshire and its 31,000 miners. If we could keep this vast and prosperous coalfield going, then I was convinced, however long it took, we could ...

He knew he was right

John Lloyd, 10 March 1994

Scargill: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
HarperCollins, 296 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 300 05365 7
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... which made picketing illegal, preparing the police and changing the guard at the NCB. Sir Ian MacGregor was the other reason this strike was unlike any other. The choice of MacGregor as chairman of the NCB was made by Nigel Lawson, Peter Walker’s predecessor. MacGregor was ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Universities

Peter Pulzer, 22 June 1989

... Lords amended the Education Reform Bill out of recognition last spring. He could now pretend to be Ian MacGregor to Diana Warwick’s Arthur Scargill. What he did was to withhold £67m earmarked for our last salary increase, even though all the conditions attached to that have been met. The mere triviality of the sum illustrates where universities stand ...

How Dirty Harry beat the Ringo Kid

Michael Rogin, 9 May 1996

John Wayne: American 
by Randy Roberts and James Olson.
Free Press, 738 pp., £17.99, March 1996, 0 02 923837 4
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... takes its title from this Congressional medal. Once you start to look for him, he’s everywhere. Ian MacGregor, the man who helped Thatcher crush the miners, is ‘John Wayne with a Scottish brogue and a pinstripe suit’. ‘Now we don’t want to see no John Wayne performances out here,’ a sergeant tells his platoon in Vietnam. We see ...
Sleaze: Politicians, Private Interests and Public Reaction 
edited by F.F. Ridley and Alan Doig.
Oxford, 222 pp., £10.99, April 1996, 0 19 922273 8
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Changing Trains: The Autobiography of Steven Norris 
Hutchinson, 273 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 0 09 180212 1Show More
The Quango Debate 
edited by F.F. Ridley and David Wilson.
Oxford, 188 pp., £10.99, September 1995, 9780199222384
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... the Tory Party. A huge flow of paper about Hamilton and his paymaster/co-plaintiff, the lobbyist Ian Greer, emerged for the first time. The decisive revelation was a tape-recorded conversation between Hamilton and the First Secretary to the Treasury, Michael Heseltine, in which Hamilton denied any ‘financial relationship’ with ...

The Satoshi Affair

Andrew O’Hagan, 30 June 2016

... he approached Matthews several times. By that time, Matthews had become friendly with Robert MacGregor, the founder and CEO of a Canada-based money-transfer firm called nTrust. Matthews encouraged MacGregor to come to Australia and assess Wright’s value as an investment opportunity. Wright had founded a number of ...

Is this successful management?

R.W. Johnson, 20 April 1989

One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... Labour sympathies made them oddities in the Tory camp, émigrés from Britain like Alan Walters, Ian MacGregor and Robert Conquest. Her Jewish Cabinet members were by definition marginal men within the Tory Party – which had the useful extra twist that they would be properly grateful for their preferment and in all likelihood would never become rivals ...

The Welfare State Intelligentsia

R.E. Pahl, 17 June 1982

Inner-City Poverty in Paris and London 
by Peter Willmott and Charles Madge.
Routledge, 146 pp., £8.50, August 1981, 0 7100 0819 8
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The Inner City in Context 
edited by Peter Hall.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £12.50, October 1981, 0 435 35718 2
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New Perspectives in Urban Change and Conflict 
edited by Michael Harloe.
Heinemann, 265 pp., £15, December 1981, 9780435824044
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The Politics of Poverty 
by David Donnison.
Martin Robertson, 239 pp., £9.95, December 1981, 0 85520 481 8
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The Politics of Poverty 
by Susanne MacGregor.
Longman, 193 pp., £2.95, November 1981, 0 582 29524 6
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... of the Supplementary Benefits Commission in The Politics of Poverty, and Susanne MacGregor provides the best of the bunch with her brilliantly incisive analysis of The Politics of Poverty in the welfare state. It is sad that she could not have read the preceding works, which bear directly on her theme. With these and other books ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble, 3 December 2015

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. II: Everything She Wants 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 821 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 7139 9288 5
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... about the battle-readiness of the National Coal Board and the flakiness of its imported chief, Ian MacGregor, she resisted the impulse to take charge. She allowed herself to be persuaded by her cabinet secretary, Robin Butler, that it was too dangerous for the prime minister’s office to appear to be setting the terms of the dispute. She remained ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... of this Rasputin, and what exactly did occur between Hobart House – at various stages even MacGregor wanted to settle – and 10 Downing Street. It is a tragedy that Geoffrey Kirk’s book telling the inside story of the strike will never be written and published. He was working on it when he was drowned in waters not far from Raasay in Skye, along ...

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