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Paul Foot: Two Views of John Stalker, 3 March 1988

... biggest provincial Police Force in Britain – Greater Manchester – was called in to command it. John Stalker was an excellent choice. Nothing in his life had distinguished him as a subversive. It is true that his father had been a Labour man, and an admirer of the Daily Herald, but he himself had not shown any such dangerous symptoms. He was a highly ...

The Future of John Barth

Michael Irwin, 5 June 1980

by John Barth.
Secker, 772 pp., £7.95, May 1980, 0 436 03674 6
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The Left-Handed Woman 
by Peter Handke, translated by Ralph Manheim.
Eyre Methuen, 94 pp., £4.95, April 1980, 0 413 45890 3
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Passion Play 
by Jerzy Kosinski.
Joseph, 271 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 7181 1913 4
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... Offering a critical account of John Barth’s new book within the confines of a periodical review is like trying to haul a whale on board a fishing smack. For the sake of brevity, even my formal description of the work must be brutally oversimplified. It is an epistolary novel, divided into seven sections, one for every ‘letter’ of the title ...
Once a Jolly Bagman: Memoirs 
by Alistair McAlpine.
Weidenfeld, 269 pp., £20, March 1997, 9780297817376
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... racist and sexist prejudices, crowning them with a volley of insults against his former beloved John Major. Evans’s outburst coincided with one from Lord Tebbit, another former MP who made a fortune from privatisation – in his case by joining the board of British Telecom, which as Secretary of State for Industry he had privatised. Tebbit’s target was ...

Keeping Quiet on Child Abusers

Paul Foot, 4 July 1996

The Kincora Scandal: Political Cover-Up and Intrigue in Northern Ireland 
by Chris Moore.
Marine, 240 pp., £6.99, June 1996, 1 86023 029 6
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... Clwyd County Council (now disbanded) and conducted by a high-powered team of three experts led by John Jillings, a former director of social services in Derbyshire. That inquiry concluded that ‘appalling’ sexual abuse went on for years in homes throughout the area. Jillings’s report was so devastating that Michael Beloff, a QC who specialises in ...

Something for Theresa May to think about

John Barrell: The Bow Street Runners, 7 June 2012

The First English Detectives: The Bow Street Runners and the Policing of London, 1750-1840 
by J.M. Beattie.
Oxford, 272 pp., £65, February 2012, 978 0 19 969516 4
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... that nice Susannah York. Fielding died in 1754 and was succeeded at Bow Street by his half-brother John: ‘blind John’ as he had been since the age of 19, ‘Sir John’ as he became in 1761, after successfully agitating to be knighted so as to increase the prestige of his office. The ...


Paul Foot, 19 April 1990

War without Honour 
by Fred Holroyd and Nick Bainbridge.
Medium, 184 pp., £6.95, November 1989, 1 872398 00 6
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... called Robert Nairac gave Holroyd a Polaroid photograph of the dead body of an IRA leader called John Green. Nairac, later to be shot himself, told Holroyd he had taken the picture after personally shooting Green. Nairac said that he and two Protestant terrorists had crossed the border in order to shoot Green. Much more horrific (since the victims had ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover, 22 February 2001

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... negotiating with yet more big corporations for the privatisation of yet more prisons; ‘bluff John’ Prescott, the authentic voice of proletarian Old Labour, who made it ‘crystal clear’ to the 1993 Labour Party Conference that a Labour Government would renationalise the railways if the Tories privatised them, and promised, for instance, that the ...

Medes and Persians

Paul Foot: The Government’s Favourite Accountants, 2 November 2000

... The PAC report came out in November 1993, but the Wessex scandal had already been exposed by John Denham, the recently elected Labour MP for Southampton Itchen and former Friends of the Earth activist. In March 1993, Denham complained that the Health Secretary Tony Newton had disclosed a list of consultants paid by the Wessex Regional Health Authority ...

Wigs and Tories

Paul Foot, 18 September 1997

Trial of Strength: The Battle Between Ministers and Judges over Who Makes the Law 
by Joshua Rozenberg.
Richard Cohen, 241 pp., £17.99, April 1997, 1 86066 094 0
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The Politics of the Judiciary 
by J.A.G. Griffith.
Fontana, 376 pp., £8.99, September 1997, 0 00 686381 7
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... the latter-day champion of ‘fundamental freedoms’ Mr Justice Laws curtail in his long stint as John Laws QC, the Thatcher Government’s chief court lawyer? Joshua Rozenberg’s not entirely original view is that elected politicians should make the laws and judges should administer them. He advises the two sides to stop attacking each other: politicians ...

Travels on the left

Paul Foot, 2 December 1993

John Strachey: An Intellectual Biography 
by Noel Thompson.
Macmillan, 288 pp., £27.50, May 1993, 0 333 51154 9
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John Strachey 
by Michael Newman.
Manchester, 208 pp., £12.99, September 1989, 9780719021749
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... for Aston, Birmingham issued the following leaflet: £5 Reward! DESPERATE TORIES WILD LIE. Mr John Strachey writes: ‘It has come to my notice that Tory canvassers are making the outrageous statement that I am a foreigner. This is a most serious allegation which the Aston Tory Party, utterly beaten in political argument, has fallen back upon as a last ...
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... prosecution, never existed. The four men, three arms-dealers called Michael Aspin, Eric Matson and John Taylor and a Lloyds underwriter called William Harper, were tried at the Old Bailey in early 1988. Aspin, Harper and Matson were found guilty and sent to prison – Aspin is still inside. Taylor was acquitted. Aspin, who was cast as the ringleader, pleaded ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown, 19 February 1998

Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... in the race for Labour’s deputy leadership against the candidate supported by the Tribune Group, John Prescott? Right again. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. In The Candidate, the great American film about political compromise starring Robert Redford, a young welfare lawyer is persuaded against his instinct to go into politics to change the world. He starts by ...

Westland Ho

Paul Foot, 6 February 1986

... victim would go to the wall. In the summer, the Bank of England tried a last rescue operation. Sir John Cuckney, a ‘trouble-shooter’ from the City, was ‘put in’ as chairman to try to sort out the mess. He discovered before too long that there was an alternative to bankruptcy and receivership. The vast American conglomerate United Technologies, and its ...

I jolly well would have

Paul Foot, 20 August 1992

Claire clairmont and the Shelleys 
by Robert Gittings and Jo Manton.
Oxford, 281 pp., £20, April 1992, 0 19 818594 4
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Mab’s Daughters 
by Judith Chernaik.
Pan, 229 pp., £5.99, July 1992, 0 330 32379 2
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... suffered grievously from their detractors, but far worse from their worshippers. The awful Jane St John, who married Shelley’s son and established for her dead father-in-law a ghastly shrine at Bascombe, solved the ‘Claire problem’ by writing her out of the record. This almost permanent friend, sister and companion of Shelley and Mary during their eight ...

Six Poems

John Burnside, 4 April 1996

... snails and all this summer long in this wide heat there’s something butter-slick and webbed of foot suspended in the shadows of your vine: each soft meniscus waiting for a rain that never comes; figments of water, drinking through their skin, and stealing a little blue to mimic ...

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