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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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... British industrial scene and its sclerotic incapacity to adapt to technical and economic change. Jim Prior’s memoirs range widely – he was, however reluctantly, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland for three years, and he discusses the province’s horror at length – but if the theme of the book is ‘how decency lost out to ...

Soft Touches

Mary Goldring, 1 September 1983

DeLorean: The Rise and Fall of a Dream-Maker 
by Ivan Fallon and James Srodes.
Hamish Hamilton, 418 pp., £8.95, July 1983, 0 241 11087 4
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... a charmed life. Not until then did the Government, in the person of Northern Ireland Secretary Jim Prior, feel able to call his bluff. DeLorean was the son of an immigrant French millwright who qualified as an engineer but began his working life as an insurance salesman and a successful one – all his life he was to retain a salesman’s gift of the ...

Secret Meetings

Arthur Marwick, 20 May 1982

Battered Cherub 
by Joe Gormley.
Hamish Hamilton, 216 pp., £7.95, April 1982, 0 241 10754 7
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... that he not only won the vote but aroused cries of ballot-rigging from his Communist rival, Jim Hammond. Gormley immediately resigned, calling for a new ballot: an investigation exonerated him from any irregularities; and his election was confirmed by a substantial majority. Along the way, he managed, in a pub argument, to land a hefty punch in ...


Clive James, 18 March 1982

... I just find the car too dull, Attractive only to another gull. At any rate, the books are with Jim Prior, Who must decide if we should drop De Lorean And cut the loss or raise the ante higher. De Lorean’s first name should have been Dorian: That ageless face of the Playboy high-flyer Is decomposing like an ancient saurian. I think he’s guilty ...

Westland Ho

Paul Foot, 6 February 1986

... a most important delegation in his office. It consisted of Sir Arnold Weinstock and Mr James Prior MP. The former was managing director and the latter chairman of the biggest manufacturing company in Britain, GEC. Neither man was a favourite of the Prime Minister. The previous April, Weinstock had infuriated her with his evidence to the House of Lords ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... and repetitive, his book is littered with judgments that do not inspire confidence. To call Jim Prior a technocrat is perhaps to show how distant British politics is from any conception of technocracy. To describe Enoch Powell as ever having been ‘destined for the leadership of the Party’ misunderstands the very nature of post-war ...

On Spanking

Christopher Hitchens, 20 October 1994

AGuide to the Correction of Young Gentlemen or, The Successful Administration of Physical Discipline to Males, by Females 
by a Lady, with illustrations by a Former Pupil.
Delectus, 140 pp., £19.95, August 1994, 1 897767 05 6
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... I read of the humiliation of some over-mighty cabinet colleague – Geoffrey Howe, say, or Jim Prior or John Moore or Francis Pym – I could picture the scene only too well:I can do no better at this stage than describe my own punishment chamber, which I call the Lady Chapel.   This is not blasphemy on my part. It is a chapel to the Lady (the ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... to have been unduly fascinated by sexual speculation. He finds it worthwhile to tell us that Jim Prior told him that one or two other members of the Cabinet had in turn told him that they had ‘tried unsuccessfully to get a leg over’ Margaret Thatcher. He not only recites the well-known story of Harold Macmillan’s cuckolding by Robert Boothby ...

An Address to the Nation

Clive James, 17 December 1981

... to pack a wicker hamper And have a picnic down a disused mine, But still the odd factotum like Jim Prior At least seemed relatively a live wire. Now Prior’s gone and in comes a new broom Named Twitchit. Rabbit? Sorry, I mean Hobbit. His eyes like lasers penetrate the gloom. He takes the nation’s pulse like ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops, 5 June 2014

Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... involved in placing arms orders in the UK worth £800 million! On hearing that, another minister, Jim Prior, who had breezed into the room, cried: “We’ll give him a gong!”’ Reporter got his knighthood the following year, while Pincher’s reward comprised three bottles of champagne and a large tin of the best caviar sent every Christmas by the ...


David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... sending them flowers, showering them with concern – was recognisably the same person of whom Jim Prior complained to Hugo Young in 1981: ‘She hasn’t really got a friend left in the whole cabinet. One reason she has no friend is that she subjects everyone to the most emotionally exhausting arguments; the other is that she still interrupts ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... had entered the Queen’s bedroom in Buckingham Palace, but that Mrs Thatcher would not let him. Jim Prior unsuccessfully tried to resign as Northern Ireland Secretary after a mass break-out of Republican prisoners from the Maze prison, and Peter Brooke failed in a more recent attempt to leave the same office after he had sung a song on a television ...


Michael Church, 18 April 1985

Gypsy and Me: At Home and on the Road with Gypsy Rose Lee 
by Erik Lee Preminger.
Deutsch, 277 pp., £9.95, March 1985, 0 233 97736 8
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George Thomas, Mr Speaker: The Memoirs of Viscount Tonypandy 
Century, 242 pp., £9.95, February 1985, 0 7126 0706 4Show More
Toff down Pit 
by Kit Fraser.
Quartet, 129 pp., £8.95, January 1985, 0 7043 2513 6
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Menlove: The Life of John Menlove Edwards 
by Jim Perrin.
Gollancz, 347 pp., £14.95, February 1985, 0 575 03571 4
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... of all dates from long before the boy from the Rhondda made it to the Speaker’s chair, and shows Jim Callaghan dropping on his knees to pray with Thomas and then, having softened him up, requesting his support for the party leadership. True or false – and who cares? – this is just old-fashioned Parliamentary back-stabbing, and Viscount Tonypandy, with ...


Robert Irwin, 3 July 1997

by Jim Crace.
Viking, 243 pp., £16.99, June 1997, 0 670 85697 5
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... through patterns of imagery.’ ‘God help us,’ said Gunning-Forbes loudly. Reading Jim Crace’s Quarantine, I was powerfully reminded of Froulish’s projected stuck-in-a-lift novel. A lugubriously entertaining secondary character in John Wain’s wonderful picaresque fiction, Hurry on Down (1953), Froulish went on to present his restive ...


R.W. Johnson: Major Wins the Losership, 3 August 1995

... Party hadn’t cared about looks when it picked the flaccid Wilson, the much-creased figure of Jim Callaghan or the stooping, stick-waving Foot. A bit of deconstruction suggested this was all a blind, that Labour had just had a Welsh boyo and an Edinburgh lawyer as leaders, neither of whom had made it. That was quite enough Scots, Picts and people from the ...

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