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After the Battle

Matthew Coady

26 November 1987
by Tam Dalyell.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12170 1
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One Man’s Judgement: An Autobiography 
by Lord Wheatley.
Butterworth, 230 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 406 10019 5
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Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party 
by John Silkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £13.95, September 1987, 9780241121719
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Heseltine: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Julian Critchley.
Deutsch, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 233 98001 6
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... rank as a Front Bench spokesman (on science) than he was dismissed by Michael Foot, then Labour leader, because of his opposition to the despatch of the Falklands task force. Much of the anger in JohnSilkin’s posthumously published book is directed against Anthony Wedgwood Benn. Labour’s internal wars of the late Seventies are refought here, culminating in the 1981 election for the Party’s ...

Keeping Left

Edmund Dell

2 October 1980
The Castle Diaries 
by Barbara Castle.
Weidenfeld, 778 pp., £14.95, September 1980, 0 297 77420 4
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... nicest people in Cabinet, one was the other woman and the other was the right-wing figure of Harold Lever. Apart from myself, two other victims of Barbara’s midnight spleen are Roy Hattersley and JohnSilkin. JohnSilkin, a ‘failure’ at the Department of the Environment, is forgiven in a footnote because of his ‘success’ at the Ministry of Agriculture. Perhaps for once she is too generous ...
20 May 1982
... military aggression in the Falklands – otherwise known as the re-integration of the Malvin-as – Opposition leaders were being hounded for instant comment. Crucially, Labour’s Defence Spokesman, JohnSilkin, 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 ...


Christopher Reid

15 May 1980
by Octavio Paz, Jacques Roubaud, Edoardo Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson.
Penguin, 95 pp., £1.95, November 1979, 0 14 042268 4
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Kites in Spring 
by John​ Hewitt.
Blackstaff, 63 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 0 85640 206 0
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The Island Normal 
by Brian Jones.
Carcanet, 91 pp., £2.95, February 1980, 9780856353406
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New Poetry 5 
edited by Peter Redgrove and Jon Silkin.
Hutchinson, 163 pp., £4.95, November 1979, 0 09 139570 4
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... é and Robert Lowell have all tested its strength beyond what some might consider legitimate extremes – and yet it cannot be denied that a sense of the traditional form is essential to their work. John Hewitt’s book, Kites in Spring, containing his reminiscences of a Belfast boyhood, consists of more than a hundred sonnets, but these are disappointingly unadventurous in their scope and could ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... of poets who challenge received opinions, particularly about the Forties and Fifties. We won’t find, for instance, Burns Singer, one of the most original poets of the Fifties, or David Wright and John Heath-Stubbs. All three were friends of Graham, and their inclusion might have helped the Forties and Fifties out of their New Apocalypse v. Movement stand-off. Hamish Henderson, whose 1948 Elegies ...

Long March

Martin Pugh

2 June 1983
Renewal: Labour’s Britain in the 1980s 
by Shadow Cabinet, edited by Gerald Kaufman.
Penguin, 201 pp., £2.50, April 1983, 0 14 052351 0
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Socialism in a Cold Climate 
edited by John​ Griffith.
Allen and Unwin, 230 pp., £2.95, April 1983, 9780043350508
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Liberal Party Politics 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Oxford, 302 pp., £17.50, April 1983, 0 19 827465 3
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... voter find here any indication of a policy for the Falkland Islands in the 1980s. At least some of the omissions might have been rectified, for there are 20 contributors, of whom Mr Heffer and Mr Silkin are consigned to non-topics while Mr Foot writes only a short introduction. One wonders what exactly the Shadow Cabinet were hoping to achieve. Perhaps simply to consolidate the relatively recent ...
6 March 2014
... The committee advised that the attorney-general’s functions should be split between a non-political legal adviser and a government minister. Nothing has been done to act on the advice. In 1977 John Gouriet and his Freedom Association tried to obtain an injunction to stop the Union of Post Office Workers boycotting mail destined for South Africa. Gouriet’s lawyers recognised that he had no ...
22 August 1996
The Dictionary of National Biography 1986-1990 
edited by C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 607 pp., £50, June 1996, 0 19 865212 7
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... like buffoon, quack, martyr, poisoner, pretender, pedestrian, visitor of the monasteries, betrayer of the ‘gunpowder plot’ and literary impostor (a category not yet extinct). In the latest volume John Stone-house appears as politician and confidence trickster, but Harold Philby is dubbed Soviet agent rather than traitor and Klaus Fuchs gets by as theoretical physicist. Other less controversial ...


Patrick Wright: The Cult of Tyneham

24 November 1988
... kindly.’ The Attlee Government acknowledged the existence of ‘Churchill’s pledge’, as it quickly came to be known. But the Cold War changed everything, and at a public enquiry in 1948 Lewis Silkin, Minister of Town and Country Planning, announced that the Government had no choice but to declare the evacuation permanent. Mr Ralph Bond, who had formed and commanded the Tyneham Home Guard among ...

Subduing the jury

E.P. Thompson

4 December 1986
... for me to be able to dispense with rehearsing the details. There was never any question of the three defendants (the journalists, Crispin Aubrey and Duncan Campbell, and the former signals corporal, John Berry) meditating passing any information to ‘the enemy’ – except (an important qualification) insofar as the British Security Services have always regarded the British public as the enemy. The ...

Come and Stay

Arnold Rattenbury

27 November 1997
England and the Octopus 
by Clough Williams-Ellis.
CPRE, 220 pp., £10.95, December 1996, 0 946044 50 3
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Clough Williams-Ellis: RIBA Drawings Monograph No 2 
by Richard Haslam.
Academy, 112 pp., £24.95, March 1996, 1 85490 430 2
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Clough Williams-Ellis: The Architect of Portmeirion 
by Jonah Jones.
Seren, 204 pp., £9.95, December 1996, 1 85411 166 3
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... plus her agents get it by simple majority over Clough, whose happy knack for confusing date and person – and on top of that, in his nineties – was notorious. In time another friend, Sam (Lord) Silkin would appoint him chairman of the first of the postwar New Town Corporations at Stevenage, and a spate of homes for heroes, visionary, William Morris-like speeches and broadcasts poured out of Plas ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson

14 January 2002
... amount of bile into the editorials, but they didn’t really connect with the rest – which consisted of the usual morose adolescent parables and things like that. The first issue had a foreword by John Wain, the novelist, who had just appeared then and was very famous. I wrote to him to ask if there was some message he could send to youthful aspirants and he did. It was rather good, about half a ...

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