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Every club in the bag

Michael Howard, 10 September 1992

The Chiefs: The Story of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff 
by Bill Jackson and Dwin Bramall.
Brassey, 508 pp., £29.95, April 1992, 0 08 040370 0
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... an overriding priority and abolished National Service; and a quartet of a century after that, when John Nott wrote off ‘out of area’ commitments, and slashed back the Navy on the eve of the Falklands affair. But the greatest civilian despot of them all was Winston Churchill, who, having observed the disastrous fumblings of the First World War at first ...

Falklands Retrospect

Hugo Young, 17 August 1989

The Little Platoon: Diplomacy and the Falklands Dispute 
by Michael Charlton.
Blackwell, 230 pp., £14.95, June 1989, 0 631 16564 9
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... player not to contribute to Michael Charlton’s study, let it get buried. The Defence Secretary, John Nott, here speaks for the collective. ‘The Falkland Islands did not interest me,’ he tells Charlton. ‘I don’t think I would have really spent a lot of time mugging up my brief on matters surrounding the Falklands. I did not consider it to be of ...

A Falklands Polemic

Tam Dalyell, 20 May 1982

... leaders were being hounded for instant comment. Crucially, Labour’s Defence Spokesman, John Silkin, went onto the important World at One radio programme, and seemed to commit the Opposition to a belligerent reaction. Uncharacteristically, I leapt to my telephone to ask what was going on, and was calmed down by Anne Carleton, his long-term personal ...
Carrington: A Life and a Policy 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Dent, 182 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 460 04691 8
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Thatcher: The First Term 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 240 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 370 30602 3
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Viva Britannia: Mrs Thatcher’s Britain 
by Paolo Filo della Torre.
Sidgwick, 101 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 283 99143 7
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... the casualty of the Falklands War, although if blame is to be allocated, I would place it on Sir John Nott, the Secretary of State for Defence, whose policy of running down the Royal Navy (with Mrs Thatcher’s support) gave the Junta the signal it sought to embark on a bit of smash and grab. I was on the platform at the sensational meeting of the ...


Susan Pedersen, 6 October 2011

Structures and Transformations in Modern British History 
edited by David Feldman and Jon Lawrence.
Cambridge, 331 pp., £50, January 2011, 978 0 521 51882 6
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The Peculiarities of Liberal Modernity in Imperial Britain 
edited by Simon Gunn and James Vernon.
California, 271 pp., £20.95, May 2011, 978 0 9845909 5 7
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Classes, Cultures and Politics: Essays on British History for Ross McKibbin 
edited by Clare Griffiths, John Nott and William Whyte.
Oxford, 320 pp., £65, April 2011, 978 0 19 957988 4
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... 1950s, and splendid articles on why London taxi-drivers became natural recruits to Thatcherism (by John Davis) and on how neoliberal interests and institutions successfully targeted trade unionists as the enemy within (by Ben Jackson). None of the essays has much truck with grand theory; their authors are no more likely to cite the contributors to the Joyce ...


Clive James, 20 May 1982

... do is watch it And hope that this time our side doesn’t botch it. The Secretary of Defence, John Nott, Has made a whopping balls-up in the House. The Foreign Secretary’s on the spot, Loudly accused of being short of nous. The top gun-boat exponent of the lot, A prancing lion where once crouched a mouse, Is Michael Foot, who now speaks for the ...

What’s it all for?

Mary Kaldor, 15 August 1991

Statement on the Defence Estimates: Britain’s Defence for the Nineties 
HMSO, 157 pp., £8, July 1991, 0 10 115592 1Show More
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... since the abandonment of an East of Suez role in the Sixties. The last such attempt was made by John Nott just before the Falklands War. 5. Out-of-area capabilities. The White Paper emphasises the need to retain a ‘national capability to deal with contingencies outside the Nato area’, such as the Gulf War. It describes the deployment of troops in ...

Grieve not, but try again

N.A.M. Rodger: Submarines, 22 September 2016

The Silent Deep: The Royal Navy Submarine Service since 1945 
by Peter Hennessy and James Jinks.
Allen Lane, 823 pp., £12.99, June 2016, 978 1 84614 580 3
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... missiles would make both merchant ships and surface warships dangerously vulnerable. (John Nott, for one, was persuaded.) The Americans assumed that the Russians were aiming for a great fleet battle – what other purpose could a large navy have? – but a battle fought largely by submarines and aircraft. Only later did it become clear that ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... the Liberal Party of Herbert Asquith. Further schisms followed. The Liberal Nationals, under Sir John Simon, joined the National Government of 1931 and continued for the next thirty years co-operating closely with the Conservatives. Under the Woolton-Teviot Agreement of 1947 the Liberal Nationals changed their name, confusingly, to the National Liberals, and ...


Bernard Porter: The Falklands War, 20 October 2005

The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Vol. I: The Origins of the Falklands War 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Routledge, 253 pp., £35, June 2005, 0 7146 5206 7
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The Official History of the Falklands Campaign. Vol. II: War and Diplomacy 
by Lawrence Freedman.
Routledge, 849 pp., £49.95, June 2005, 0 7146 5207 5
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... so much to the Americans). Even ‘poor old Notters’ (Alan Clark on the defence secretary John Nott) comes out of it quite well. This is a highly empathetic account of the British campaign, but Freedman doesn’t pretend otherwise. ‘It has expressly not been my task,’ he writes at the start of the second volume, ‘to highlight the failures ...

Gosh, what am I like?

Rosemary Hill: The Revenge Memoir, 17 December 2020

Friends and Enemies: A Memoir 
by Barbara Amiel.
Constable, 592 pp., £25, October 2020, 978 1 4721 3421 9
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Diary of an MP’s Wife: Inside and Outside Power 
by Sasha Swire.
Little, Brown, 544 pp., £20, September 2020, 978 1 4087 1341 9
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... the White House said, to lobbying by the powerful and unlikely duo of Henry Kissinger and Elton John. Nonetheless Amiel remains furious at the way she and Black have been treated and is intent on establishing his innocence on all counts. Her memoir is a bookend to his, A Matter of Principle, published in 2011, in which he praises her ‘constancy, resolve ...

Thom Gunn in New York

Michael Nott, 22 October 2020

... Gunn had ‘3/4 decided to give up universities after my year at Berkeley’, as he wrote to John Lehmann, ‘and go to New York … Christ knows what I will do, but I’ll find something. I’m no longer interested in educating people – if I ever was.’ Gunn in fact taught at Berkeley until 1966, when he gave up tenure, and then returned in 1973 as a ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... as a way of allowing honourable men to stay in office without appearing to want to do so. John Nott offered his resignation after the Falklands invasion but he allowed himself to be persuaded by Mrs Thatcher to stay in office. William Whitelaw has written that he wanted to resign as Home Secretary after an intruder had entered the Queen’s ...


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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... Gear, were the only ones among her critics who got her remotely right. They included Chris Patten, John Patten, William Waldegrave and Tristan Garel-Jones, and were soon to be joined by John Major. In the pamphlet they used as an epigraph a line from Macmillan: ‘We have at least the most important thing of all at the head ...

By San Carlos Water

Neal Ascherson, 18 November 1982

Authors take sides on the Falklands 
edited by Cecil Woolf and Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 900821 63 9
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The Falklands War: The Full Story 
by the Sunday Times ‘Insight’ Team.
Deutsch and Sphere, 276 pp., £2.50, October 1982, 0 233 97515 2
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The Winter War: The Falklands 
by Patrick Bishop and John Witherow.
Quartet, 153 pp., £2.95, September 1982, 0 7043 3424 0
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Iron Britannia: Why Parliament waged its Falklands war 
by Anthony Barnett.
Allison and Busby, 160 pp., £2.95, November 1982, 0 85031 494 1
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Falklands/Malvinas: Whose Crisis? 
by Martin Honeywell.
Latin American Bureau, 135 pp., £1.95, September 1982, 0 906156 15 7
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Los Chicos de la Guerra 
by Daniel Kon.
Editorial Galerna, Buenos Aires, August 1982
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A Message from the Falklands: The Life and Gallant Death of David Tinker, Lieut RN 
compiled by Hugh Tinker.
Junction, 224 pp., £3.50, November 1982, 0 86245 102 7
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... wrongs. The place was ours, and we went and took it back.’ In The Winter War, Patrick Bishop and John Witherow (who went with the Task Force for the Observer and the Times) conclude: The war had everything in its favour. It was neat and tidy. It had a simple motive and a simple response … No war is to be wished for, but if they have to be fought, this was ...

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