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John Lanchester: Unbelievable Blair

10 July 2003
... human and political ghastliness of the Party which ruled us for 18 years. I don’t just mean Thatcher and the joke monsters like Hamilton, but the day-in, day-out ignominy of being ruled by men like KennethBaker and Norman Fowler, John Wakeham and Michael Howard; of turning on your TV to see Michael Heseltine in a combat jacket, or Ann Widdecombe waving a pair of handcuffs, or Michael Portillo talking ...
21 November 1991
Time to declare 
by David Owen.
Joseph, 822 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 7181 3514 8
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... his mind between the wilderness and joining the Tory Party. To her credit, Debbie is recorded to have bridled. This pressure has apparently continued since Mrs T’s departure, including lunches with KennethBaker, dinner parties at Tristan Garel-Jones’s with the likes of Douglas Hurd, and a proper nosh-up with the brown sauce man in person – Mr Major. But everything has so far foundered on the ...


John Yandell: English Lessons

19 June 1986
... For Londoners, 8 May marked the opportunity to participate in the direct election of a local education authority: the result, an overwhelming endorsement of existing ILEA policies, should provide KennethBaker with plenty to think about. And for thousands of students there is, as always at this time of year, the pressure of public examinations. This tangled web of issues can be looked at through the ...
5 May 1988
Under Storm’s Wing 
by Helen Thomas and Myfanwy Thomas.
Carcanet, 318 pp., £14.95, February 1988, 0 85635 733 2
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... of vast circumferences circling round the minute neighbouring points of home’. Nevertheless, he feels that Thomas has given some hostages to the propagandist ‘discourse of Englishness’ (as when KennethBaker, introducing his anthology of English History in Verse, pronounces that ‘the two glories of this country are the English landscape and English literature’). Robert Wells’s essay ‘Edward ...

One and Only

Malcolm Bull

23 February 1995
The Holocaust in Historical Context. Vol. I: The Holocaust and Mass Death before the Modern Age 
by Steven Katz.
Oxford, 702 pp., £40, July 1994, 0 19 507220 0
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... by Hitler himself. It does have unpleasant consequences, however. It suggests that the parallels to the Holocaust are very close to home. Who would do such things? Some would do them to animals: KennethBaker (with his legislation against dangerous dogs), all those cheerful researchers in the biomedical sciences and the people from the council’s pest control department. But who would do such ...
6 December 1990
Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... Margaret told her minion, ‘because I want to do this. He is a friend.’ So these encounters continued through the Eighties. In 1988, the Prime Minister is telling him that Howe is a blancmange, KennethBaker is wet, Nigel Lawson wants to go and make money but is being kept in post at her request, and John Major is her most likely successor. Perhaps more to the point, she had a message for her good ...

A British Bundesrat?

Colin Kidd: Scotland and the Constitution

16 April 2014
... from David Melding, the Conservative deputy presiding officer of the Welsh Assembly, in The Reformed Union: The UK as a Federation, published last year; while Conservatives at Westminster, including KennethBaker, Malcolm Rifkind and members of the so-called Democracy Taskforce set up by the Tories in opposition and headed by Ken Clarke, have over the past decade proposed various means of ironing out ...


Christopher Tayler: Nicholson Baker

3 November 2011
House of Holes 
by Nicholson Baker.
Simon and Schuster, 262 pp., £14.99, August 2011, 978 0 85720 659 6
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... Sometimes,’ a woman says during phone sex in Vox, Nicholson Baker’s first foray into smut, ‘I think with the telephone that if I concentrate enough I could pour myself into it and I’d be turned into a mist and I would rematerialise in the room of the person I ...

On the Titanic

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ocean Liners’ at the V&A

24 May 2018
... The more surprising items include an Art Deco Torah ark from the Queen Mary, looking like a sideboard in the throes of a spiritual crisis, and the blue and gold Madonna of the Atlantic, by Kenneth Shoesmith, which was wheeled into the first-class drawing room on Sundays for Catholic mass. The Queen Mary was perhaps the most stylish of the British liners. Cunard, wary on the one hand of cutting ...

Nationalising English

Patrick Parrinder

28 January 1993
The Great Betrayal: Memoirs of a Life in Education 
by Brian Cox.
Chapmans, 386 pp., £17.99, September 1992, 1 85592 605 9
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... in their discussions, not a straitjacket’, but a straitjacket of traditional grammar and prescribed classic texts was what the Right wanted. To everyone’s surprise, however, the then minister, KennethBaker, hid his distaste for the Cox Report, and even Mrs Thatcher demanded only minor amendments. It was left to their successors to overturn it. The first sign of trouble to come was over the GCSE ...
14 June 1990
... in the first place from above and as a result of pressure from traditionalists. It owes something to the personal enthusiasm of successive Conservative ministers of education, Keith Joseph, KennethBaker and now, it seems (though he is regrettably attached to the idea of famous names and dates), John MacGregor. It owes rather more perhaps to the HMIs, who in a series of reports have drawn attention ...


R.W. Johnson

2 December 1993
The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... Jean-Marie Le Pen to the Tory Conference. The clients include other Conservative ideologues such as Michael Portillo and Peter Lilley and a strange breed of suburban Brylcreem boys – John Moore, KennethBaker, Jeffrey Archer and, pre-eminently, Cecil Parkinson. What they have in common is a dreadful smarminess, a smoothly blatant insincerity which apparently nothing can puncture – Baker’s own ...


Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993

16 December 1993
... is taken in for questioning and crowds gather outside the house, jeering and hurling stones, so that the family have to be taken away to a place of safety; the boy is later released. The ludicrous Mr KennethBaker blames the Church, and in particular the Bishop of Liverpool, David Sheppard, probably because he’s the only socialist in sight. 22 February. A large crowd gathers outside Bootle Magistrates ...
8 May 1997
... told the jury: ‘The law makes no difference between great and petty officers. Thank God, they are all amenable to justice’ – and the jury found accordingly. And when a later Home Secretary, KennethBaker, ignored a court order requiring him to bring back a Zairean asylum-seeker whom his department had deported while the man was seeking the protection of the courts, the House of Lords in a major ...


John Bayley

9 September 1993
The Life of Ian Fleming 
by Donald McCormick.
Peter Owen, 231 pp., £18.50, July 1993, 0 7206 0888 0
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... in order to satisfy private dreams. Conan Doyle started to invent Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes while waiting dejectedly for custom in his own surgery. Not only do cases or patients turn up at the Baker Street sitting-room with dramatic regularity, but each presents its own fascinating problem, which only the fantasy couple are competent to solve. What bored doctor could ask for more? Yet sometimes ...

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