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Lunchtime No News

Paul Foot, 27 June 1991

Kill the messenger 
by Bernard Ingham.
HarperCollins, 408 pp., £17.50, May 1991, 0 00 215944 9
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... Ingham’s book is to be believed, during the crisis about the Westland helicopter company, Leon Brittan, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, allowed his head of information, Collette Bowe, to read out to the Press Association a letter from the Solicitor-General to the selfsame Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Heseltine). Neither the ...


Hugo Young, 24 March 1994

Europe: The Europe We Need 
by Leon Brittan.
Hamish Hamilton, 248 pp., £17.99, March 1994, 0 241 00249 4
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... to, did not always do everything to resist. Given this recent history, the reader who picks up Sir Leon Brittan’s book is in for a startling experience. Sir Leon is, after all, a Conservative politician. Perhaps he has ambitions to return to Parliament – although as the EU’s Gatt negotiator and foreign trade ...

Westland Ho

Paul Foot, 6 February 1986

... Government. Early in October, in letters between the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Leon Brittan, and Sir John Cuckney, Brittan made it plain that he supported some kind of initiative from the European defence industries, so that, at the very least, the Westland board would have a choice of courses. These ...


Conor Gearty: Various Forms of Sleaze, 24 November 1994

... Patrick Nicholls. Leaving aside the proper ‘constitutional’ resignations of Lord Carrington, Leon Brittan and Michael Heseltine, and the not so proper ministerial non-resignations that cannot be mentioned for fear of the libel laws, we can still see that the rotten-apple theory of ministerial misdemeanours breaks down, since the whole barrel is ...


John Kenneth Galbraith, 6 March 1986

by Roy Jenkins.
Collins, 220 pp., £12.95, February 1986, 0 00 217584 3
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... talent for inspired public misbehaviour. Not since Profumo has there been anyone (certainly not Mr Leon Brittan) of sufficiently eloquent misfeasance or public default to justify a really interesting book. From this depressing background there now emerges Roy Jenkins. As a contrast he is nothing short of spectacular. In Birmingham, long in Whitehall, then ...

Root Books

Julie Davidson, 7 November 1985

Henry Root’s A-Z of Women 
by William Donaldson.
Weidenfeld, 180 pp., £7.95, July 1985, 0 297 78593 1
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... Norman Norman, to place an advertisement in the Daily Telegraph inviting contributions to the ‘Leon Brittan Fighting Fund’ gets this reply from the Telegraph’s worldly-wise classified advertisement department: ‘Thank you for your letter of 5th July together with Treasury Notes £20. Before we can insert your proposed advertisement we will ...


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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... positions to catch flak intended for Thatcher herself. If they got wounded in the operation – as Leon Brittan did over Westland – they would be discarded with a cutting remark about their being clumsy or accident-prone. The important thing at every point was that Mrs Thatcher herself should never be seen to have been wrong about anything. Indeed, she ...

Jacob and Esau

Giles Merritt, 24 November 1988

Upwardly Mobile 
by Norman Tebbit.
Weidenfeld, 280 pp., £14.95, October 1988, 0 297 79427 2
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Reflect on things past: The Memoirs of Lord Carrington 
Collins, 406 pp., £17.50, October 1988, 9780002176675Show More
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... Bench spokesman on employment, that he ‘managed to miss or muddle every important point’. Of Leon Brittan: ‘the Westland affair might not have been his undoing’ if he had adopted Tebbit’s own practice of minuting his meetings as Secretary of State for Trade and Industry with an agreed aide-mémoire. Of Lord Cockfield, when he was Trade ...


Michael Stewart: Staggeringly Complacent, 6 June 1985

... was difficult to discern. This unease is enhanced when a Home Secretary as relatively hard-line as Leon Brittan is shouted down, as he was recently at the annual conference of the Police Federation; and when one’s own and one’s friends’ children come back from perfectly peaceful demonstrations in Grosvenor Square with vivid accounts of specific ...

Stalker & Co

Damian Grant, 20 November 1986

... words, is with the DPP and probably won’t be made public. The primum mobile was the visit of Leon Brittan to the Manchester University Students’ Union on Friday 1 March 1985, in response to an invitation from the University Conservative Society. What happened on this evening was that a gathering of some five hundred University students, turning ...


Peter Clarke: True or False?, 16 August 1990

... vendettas, coming undone so messily in public, which marked the process by which Sir Leon Brittan ultimately became one of those ‘unelected reject politicians’ of whom Ridley now warns? What was it all about? The short answer which sufficed at the time was that it was a storm in a teacup. The short answer which has stood the test of time ...


Michael Neve, 20 October 1983

by Timothy Leary.
Heinemann, 397 pp., £9.95, October 1983, 0 434 40975 8
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Freud and Cocaine 
by E.M. Thornton.
Blond and Briggs, 340 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 85634 139 8
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Right-Wing Women: The Politics of Domesticated Females 
by Andrea Dworkin.
Women’s Press, 254 pp., £4.95, June 1983, 0 7043 3907 2
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Hidden Selves: Between Theory and Practice in Psychoanalysis 
by Masud Khan.
Hogarth, 204 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 7012 0547 4
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... But there are worse people than Celtic loonies who believe life can be fun on acid, and if Leon Brittan hadn’t foolishly kept Leary out again, he could have stayed with me. The perils of believing in ‘the message’, or in the power of a single substance, occupy E.M. Thornton and Andrea Dworkin. Thornton’s bizarre, monomaniacal thesis is ...


Christopher Hitchens: Keywords, 13 September 1990

... always think I can tell when someone is joking and when he is not. Lord Denning’s remarks about Leon Brittan (‘Look him up. I think you’ll find he is a German Jew, telling us what to do with our English laws’) don’t strike me as a put-on. Nor was he goaded into making them. In Kingsley Amis’s My Enemy’s Enemy there is a brilliantly-drawn ...


Norman Buchan: In Defence of the Word, 1 October 1987

... Lives, on Northern Ireland. The Government sought to ban it. The BBC resisted. The Home Secretary, Leon Brittan, was forced to intervene publicly, applying a power that had virtually atrophied from lack of use. This caused a strike at the BBC, and outrage both at home and abroad. It did immense damage to the most important international asset we have ...
A Matter of Justice: The Legal System in Ferment 
by Michael Zander.
Tauris, 323 pp., £16.50, February 1988, 1 85043 040 3
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The Coercive State: The Decline of Democracy in Britain 
by Paddy Hillyard and Janie Percy-Smith.
Fontana, 352 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 00 637083 7
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... critique. Anyone encountering the latter’s use of the adjective ‘liberal’ to describe Leon Brittan is likely to suspect that Zander’s relativities are lopsided. (A.P. Herbert would have likened it to the 13th chime of the clock – not only suspect in itself but casting doubt on everything that has preceded it.) And a look at Hillyard’s ...

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