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Labour and the Bouncers

Paul Foot, 4 June 1987

Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... Bernard Donoughue records something said by James Callaghan, then Prime Minister, just before the 1979 General Election, as the two men were driving home to Downing Street in the official Rover: You know there are times, perhaps once every thirty years, when there is a sea change in politics. It then does not matter what you say or what you do ...

1966 and all that

Michael Stewart, 20 December 1984

The Castle Diaries. Vol. II: 1964-70 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 848 pp., £20, October 1984, 0 297 78374 2
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... 1974 to 13 April 1976, the latter date being five days after her old enemy and new Prime Minister James Callaghan unceremoniously sacked her. Those two years and 104 days took over four hundred thousand words to chronicle – an average of around five hundred words a day; but since some days apparently only merited a few lines and others none at ...

Celestial Blue

Matthew Coady, 5 July 1984

Sources Close to the Prime Minister: Inside the Hidden World of the News Manipulators 
by Michael Cockerell and David Walker.
Macmillan, 255 pp., £9.95, June 1984, 0 333 34842 7
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... which it held for him. His relations with the Lobby ranged from love affair to stormy divorce. James Callaghan lacked Wilson’s flair as a political news editor but took a self-conscious pride in his acquired mastery of the trade’s little tricks. ‘You know the difference between leaking and briefing,’ he told a colleague. ‘Leaking is what you ...

State-Sponsored Counter-Terror

Karl Miller, 8 May 1986

Parliamentary Debates: Hansard, Vol. 95, No 94 
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... Sixth Fleet would have hit any more.’ Healey and Gilmour – and indeed Edward Heath and James Callaghan – may be thought to have spoken for those two-thirds of poll respondents who decided that Mrs Thatcher had been guilty of a brutal misjudgment: and for the many people who believe that she overrode a rational understanding on the use of ...

Opera Mundi

Michael Neve, 1 December 1983

Out of Order 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 256 pp., £7.95, October 1982, 0 86051 190 1
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Frank Johnson’s Election Year 
by Frank Johnson.
Robson, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1983, 0 86051 254 1
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Enthusiasms 
by Bernard Levin.
Cape, 264 pp., £8.95, November 1983, 0 224 02114 1
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Poem of the Year 
by Clive James.
Cape, 79 pp., £4.95, November 1983, 0 224 02961 4
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The Original Michael Frayn 
by Michael Frayn.
Salamander, 203 pp., £8.50, October 1983, 0 907540 32 5
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... the cruddy world of politics and sees hilarity in its tiny events. He knows his subjects (‘James Callaghan, the Harold Wilson of politics’). He knows that Mr Healey is clever, and will therefore lose the argument. And he reminds us that Mr Heseltine is ‘a blonde’. Johnson quotes his namesake, the good Doctor, on taking care to see ‘that ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... candidate, and he mobilised with almost unseemly haste to hold off the challenges of Brown and James Callaghan. For the next twenty months, Wilson was in his element: after de Gaulle vetoed Macmillan’s EEC application, Wilson greeted the Profumo affair and the accession of Alec Douglas-Home as though they were the unfolding of a strategic masterplan ...

Babylon

William Rodgers, 30 March 1989

European Diary 1977-1981 
by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 698 pp., £25, March 1989, 0 00 217976 8
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... to see the Home Secretary. Roy Jenkins rose from his chair and said: ‘Well, it’s all over, Callaghan is appointing Crosland.’ He nodded to a handwritten envelope addressed to the President of the French Republic. I knew that it contained a letter declaring his willingness to become President of the European community. We talked for a while, and I ...

The Road from Brighton Pier

William Rodgers, 26 October 1989

Livingstone’s Labour: A Programme for the Nineties 
by Ken Livingstone.
Unwin Hyman, 310 pp., £12.95, September 1989, 0 04 440346 1
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... disappearance of senior figures in local government has passed unremarked. In the Wilson and Callaghan Cabinets there were only two or three ministers who had served as local councillors and none who had led a Borough or County Council. Local government leaders received their knighthoods and occasionally went to the House of Lords. Secondary figures ...

Subversions

R.W. Johnson, 4 June 1987

Traitors: The Labyrinths of Treason 
by Chapman Pincher.
Sidgwick, 346 pp., £13.95, May 1987, 0 283 99379 0
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The Secrets of the Service: British Intelligence and Communist Subversion 1939-51 
by Anthony Glees.
Cape, 447 pp., £18, May 1987, 0 224 02252 0
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Freedom of Information – Freedom of the Individual? 
by Clive Ponting, John Ranelagh, Michael Zander and Simon Lee, edited by Julia Neuberger.
Macmillan, 110 pp., £4.95, May 1987, 0 333 44771 9
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... have to satisfy the demands of the all-powerful and long-serving head of CIA counter-intelligence, James Jesus Angleton, who has recently died. The undeniably brilliant Angleton was also at least half-crazy. He saw moles everywhere and had paralysed the CIA for years on end with his frenetic witch-hunting. (One CIA officer wrote a bitter report suggesting that ...

Sausages and Higher Things

Patrick Parrinder, 11 February 1993

The Porcupine 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 138 pp., £9.99, November 1992, 0 224 03618 1
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... from the fulsome speeches of welcome made by his opposite numbers on state visits, including James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher. His listeners’ ribald speculations as to just what Petkanov might have done to merit the bestowal by Queen Elizabeth II of the Order of the Bath are, so far as I can see, the only thing in The Porcupine to ...

Diary

Tam Dalyell: Questions for Mrs Thatcher, 23 July 1987

... on conquest.’ I believed, and still believe, Madame Tashibekova. As an MP who beseeched James Callaghan, Denis Healey and finally Harold Wilson not to send the troops – particularly the Scots regiments – into Northern Ireland in 1969, and and was told it was a matter ‘only of a few weeks’, I understand how the Russians may have ...

Diary

Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... at a stroke’. 8. Shirley Williams joined Arthur Scargill on a mass picket at Grunwicks. 9. James Callaghan said: ‘Crisis? What crisis?’ 10. An experienced cabinet minister said in an interview: ‘I’m not against giving up sovereignty in principle, but not to this lot. You might just as well give it to Adolf Hitler, frankly.’ Here are some ...

Believing in the Alliance

Keith Kyle, 19 November 1981

... sense to be taken as endorsing the immobilism they associate with some aspects of the Wilson and Callaghan administrations. That sentiment is also prominent in the minds of those who have been drafting policy documents and making conference speeches for the Social Democrats. It is to be seen, for instance, in the emphasis placed on freedom of ...

Permissiveness

Paul Addison, 23 January 1986

The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... the economy, curbing the social services, and controlling the trade unions, fell to Wilson and Callaghan. Anthony Crosland, the leading theorist of social democracy, served notice of a new order: ‘The party’s over.’ The headlines since then have been a record of almost unrelieved bad news for Labour. The destruction by Harold Wilson of Tony Benn’s ...

Britishmen

Tom Paulin, 5 November 1981

Too Long a Sacrifice: Life and Death in Northern Ireland since 1969 
by Jack Holland.
Columbus, 217 pp., £7.95, July 1981, 0 396 07934 2
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A History of Northern Ireland 
by Patrick Buckland.
Gill and Macmillan, 195 pp., £3.95, April 1981, 0 7171 1069 9
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... complete withdrawal of Britain out of the scene’ and his policy has recently been endorsed by James Callaghan. It is difficult to overestimate the significance of this argument: an argument which shows that one section of Loyalist opinion is breaking out of a backward-looking Britishness and beginning to formulate a truly Northern, non-sectarian ...

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