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24 October 1991
Power, Competition and the State. Vol. II: Threats to the Post-War Settlement, Britain, 1961-1974, Vol. III: The End of the Post-War Era, Britain since 1974 
by Keith Middlemas.
Macmillan, 480 pp., £50, March 1990, 0 333 41413 6
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Labour’s Economic Policies, 1974-1979 
edited by Michael Artis and David Cobham.
Manchester, 310 pp., £40, June 1991, 0 7190 2264 9
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... is impossible and that this is historically demonstrated by the disasters of the Wilson and Callaghan governments from 1964 on. This is a powerful argument because it has only to be insinuated, not made explicit; it needs merely to reinforce what are already a number of conventional wisdoms. It will be the Conservatives’ trump. What has been ...
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 ...

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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... plots against him within the Labour Party, particularly when he thought they emanated from James Callaghan, and he knew that George Brown, his old leadership rival, had attempted to enlist MI5 support against him and some of those who were close to him. Callaghan, who is sometimes said to have used the Labour Party ...

Credibility Brown

Christopher Hitchens

17 August 1989
Where there is greed: Margaret Thatcher and the Betrayal of Britain’s Future 
by Gordon Brown.
Mainstream, 182 pp., £4.95, May 1989, 1 85158 233 9
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CounterBlasts No 3: A Rational Advance for the Labour Party 
by John Lloyd.
Chatto, 57 pp., £2.99, June 1989, 0 7011 3519 0
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... spoke of a ‘credibility gap’ rather than give awful utterance to the thought that the Johnson Administration was systematically lying. To restore its ‘credibility’, that Administration was urged, not to stop lying, but to improve its public presentation. At some stage in the lesson learned from that injunction, the era of post-modern politics ...

Diary

William Rodgers: Party Conference Jamboree

25 October 1990
... But the Conference proceedings remain the set-piece around which the jamboree revolves. As Lord Callaghan took his place on the platform to hear Neil Kinnock, he will have recalled with a shudder the 51st Annual Conference of the Labour Party, held just up the coast at Morecambe in 1952. The young Jim Callaghan spoke ...

Up the Garden Path

R.W. Johnson: Michael Foot

26 April 2007
Michael Foot: A Life 
by Kenneth O. Morgan.
Harper, 568 pp., £25, March 2007, 978 0 00 717826 1
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... He has written a long list of books about Wales, the Labour Party, Lloyd George, Wales, Jim Callaghan, Wales, the Labour Party, and just occasionally, to spice things up, about the Labour Party and Wales. He is not just fascinated by this little world but sentimental about it. Take Michael Foot’s marriage to Jill Craigie. Although Craigie wasn’t ...

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 ...
21 April 1983
Back from the Brink: An Apocalyptic Experience 
by Michael Edwardes.
Collins, 301 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 00 217074 4
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... goods nobody wanted at prices nobody could afford. That was the image which precipitated Callaghan’s downfall. Yet it was under Labour that Edwardes was appointed to create Slim-Line Leyland. All Eric Varley wanted to know was that Edwardes was not tarred with the Apartheid brush. Once that was settled Varley – and ...
5 November 1981
Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... a sadistic buffoon and could never have been tolerated even by the long-suffering Labour Party. John Wheatley was the intellectual and organising genius behind the Clydesiders, but you have only to watch the surviving newsreels to see why Maxton had to be the leader of that group, and you only have to study Maxton’s confused utterances to see how he could ...
22 February 1990
Against the Tide: Diaries 1973-1976 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 512 pp., £20, October 1989, 0 09 173775 3
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... Industrialists, bankers, rich Tories of every description felt that the day of doom was nigh. John Davies, Secretary of State for Industry in the Tory Government and a former Director-General of the CBI, called his children round the hearth to tell them this was the last Christmas of its kind they would be enjoying together. Tony Benn, his planning ...

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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... and write about it. There seem to be two positions: a modest one, a way of liking opera, as Frank Johnson does, on the quiet, without shouting about it, and an orgiastic one, where one is cosmically-life-affirmingly-overwhelmed by it, as Bernard Levin is. What we are talking about when we talk about opera becomes an intriguing moral moment. People who talk ...

Conservatives

Neal Ascherson

6 November 1980
The Meaning of Conservatism 
by Roger Scruton.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £12, 0 333 37635 8
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Counting Our Blessings 
by Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Secker, 348 pp., £7.95, September 1980, 9780436294013
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Peregrinations 
by Peregrine Worsthorne.
Weidenfeld, 277 pp., £9.95, October 1980, 0 297 77807 2
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... It’s only a few years ago since Mr Callaghan started presenting Labour as the British National Party. Labour, we were given to understand, was the party of patriotic unity, of social cohesion, of organic harmony between interests and classes. The Tories, on the other hand, were supposed to be ‘divisive’. It was they who were setting bewildered sections of the loyal yeomanry against each other, inciting the banker against the worker tearing apart the seamless, woad-dyed robe of Ancient British tribal solidarity ...
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 ...
2 March 2000
Juneteenth 
by Ralph Ellison, edited by John Callaghan.
Hamish Hamilton, 368 pp., £16.99, December 1999, 0 241 14084 6
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... over for the last forty years of his life and failed to finish. When his literary executor John Callahan appended some of these jottings to the end of ‘Juneteenth’, the ‘novel’ he extracted from two thousand manuscript pages, he gave Ellison the last word: the final note reproaches the editor from beyond the grave, along with the readers ...

Britain’s Juntas

Arthur Gavshon

19 September 1985
The Disappeared: Voices from a Secret War 
by John Simpson and Jana Bennett.
Robson, 416 pp., £12.95, June 1985, 0 86051 292 4
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... hard at work in August 1980 when the immaculate Cecil Parkinson visited Videla in Buenos Aires. As John Simpson and Jana Bennett of the British Broadcasting Corporation relate in their excellently-researched but somewhat inhibited book, the one-time Secretary for Trade and Industry had brought two messages for leaders of the Junta. The first was that Britain ...

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