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Licence to kill

Paul Foot, 10 February 1994

Spider’s Web: Bush, Saddam, Thatcher and the Decade of Deceit 
by Alan Friedman.
Faber, 455 pp., £17.50, November 1993, 0 571 17002 1
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The Unlikely Spy 
by Paul Henderson.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £16.99, September 1993, 0 7475 1597 2
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... started by Reagan and carried on even more enthusiastically by Bush and his Secretary of State, Baker, all through the years when neutrality was the official US policy. The Bush-Baker enterprise was a disaster. The tilt to Iraq so encouraged the dictator that he invaded Kuwait, threatening vital cheap oil supplies to the ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Unbelievable Blair, 10 July 2003

... and the joke monsters like Hamilton, but the day-in, day-out ignominy of being ruled by men like Kenneth Baker 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 about ‘three letters which send a chill down the ...

England and Other Women

Edna Longley, 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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... that Thomas has given some hostages to the propagandist ‘discourse of Englishness’ (as when Kenneth Baker, 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 Thomas and England’ (in The Art of 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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... to the Holocaust are very close to home. Who would do such things? Some would do them to animals: Kenneth Baker (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 things to human beings? Any of the above who made a ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... through the Eighties. In 1988, the Prime Minister is telling him that Howe is a blancmange, Kenneth Baker 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 friend. By this time, his own days at the Express ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Admirer

Ian Aitken, 21 November 1991

Time to declare 
by David Owen.
Joseph, 822 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 7181 3514 8
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... bridled. This pressure has apparently continued since Mrs T’s departure, including lunches with Kenneth Baker, 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 inability of the Tories to promise Owen and his two ...

A British Bundesrat?

Colin Kidd: Scotland and the Constitution, 16 April 2014

... Union: The UK as a Federation, published last year; while Conservatives at Westminster, including Kenneth Baker, 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 post-devolutionary wrinkles in the British political ...

The Common Law and the Constitution

Stephen Sedley, 8 May 1997

... all amenable to justice’ – and the jury found accordingly. And when a later Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker, 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 vindication of the rule of law held ...

Porndecahedron

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’m talking to.’ That’s more or less how people get to the House of Holes – a sexual spa resort, offering expensive bespoke treatments, located in a parallel dimension ...

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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... classic texts was what the Right wanted. To everyone’s surprise, however, the then minister, Kenneth Baker, 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, the examination which is taken by all ...

The Return of History

Raphael Samuel, 14 June 1990

... to the personal enthusiasm of successive Conservative ministers of education, Keith Joseph, Kenneth Baker 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 to the devastating consequences of abandoning ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Where I was in 1993, 16 December 1993

... the family have to be taken away to a place of safety; the boy is later released. The ludicrous Mr Kenneth Baker 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 Court, to jeer as the vans carrying the two ...

Schadenfreude

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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... Michael Portillo and Peter Lilley and a strange breed of suburban Brylcreem boys – John Moore, Kenneth Baker, 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 recent memoirs ...

On the Titanic

Rosemary Hill: ‘Ocean Liners’ at the V&A, 24 May 2018

... 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-edge functionalism while resisting on the other ‘the ...

Customising Biography

Iain Sinclair, 22 February 1996

Blake 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 399 pp., £20, September 1995, 1 85619 278 4
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol I: Jerusalem 
editor David Bindman, edited by Morton D. Paley.
Tate Gallery, 304 pp., £48, August 1991, 1 85437 066 9
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. II: Songs of Innocence and Experience 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Andrew Lincoln.
Tate Gallery, 210 pp., £39.50, August 1991, 1 85437 068 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol III: The Early Illuminated Books 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Morris Eaves, Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 288 pp., £48, August 1993, 1 85437 119 3
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. IV: The Continental Prophecies: America, Europe, The Song of Los 
editor David Bindman, edited by D.W. Dörbecker.
Tate Gallery, 368 pp., £50, May 1995, 1 85437 154 1
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. V: Milton, a Poem 
series editor David Bindman, edited by Robert Essick and Joseph Viscomi.
Tate Gallery, 224 pp., £48, November 1993, 1 85437 121 5
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Collected Edition of William Blake’s Illuminated Books: Vol. VI: The Urizen Books 
 editor David Bindman, edited by David Worrall.
Tate Gallery, 232 pp., £39.50, May 1995, 9781854371553
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... induction into the Matter of Britain. It’s not easy to read the third part among the weird Kenneth Baker anthology that is Poets’ Corner. Dylan Thomas summoned alongside Henry James. A sampler of dubious quotations. A head of Blake with gaping Bedlam sockets instead of eyes. The Tate no longer has its Blake watercolours in glass cases under felt ...

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