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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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... and bullied into line. And when the situation required it they were ruthlessly pushed into advanced positions to catch flak intended for Thatcher herself. If they got wounded in the operation – as LeonBrittan 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 ...

He huffs and he puffs

John Upton: David Blunkett, the Lifers and the Judges

19 June 2003
... constitution: the judiciary and the executive. In passing, and most distastefully, it also shows the continuity between the policies of the grotesque Home Secretaries of the Thatcher years – Brittan, Waddington, Howard et al – and those of the nominally left-wing incumbent. As a crime, murder is rarely examined with dispassion, and it will come as no surprise to discover that it involves ...
20 April 1989
One of Us: A Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 570 pp., £16.95, April 1989, 0 333 34439 1
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... must have been symptomatic of what many Old Guard Tories felt. There was a record Jewish presence not only in Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet – including, at its peak, Joseph, Lawson, Young, Rifkind and Brittan – but among those on whom Mrs Thatcher leant for private advice: Joseph, Lawson, Alfred Sherman and the Saatchi brothers. Able young Jewish MPs (and there are now quite a few on the Tory benches ...

Crimewatch UK

John Upton: The Tabloids, the Judges and the Mob

21 September 2000
... mandatory life sentences. In passing sentence the trial judge did not specify the length of time they should serve, but recommended that they be kept in prison for ‘a very long time’. In 1985, LeonBrittan, then Home Secretary, decided, in the course of an administrative review, that a 30-year sentence was appropriate for Hindley’s part in the murders. She wasn’t told this. In 1987, she ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!

14 December 2000
Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... And when he actually gets to Parliament, he finds that ‘destiny’ is not a concept that means much to his up-struggling co-members. One by one, we find them written off: ‘Loathsome, oily LeonBrittan’, ‘the odious Heseltine’, ‘that prick John Patten . . . so ambitious that he squeaks when he walks’, ‘that lazy, greasy slob John Hunt’, ‘that toad John Major . . . who has always ...

Send the most stupid

Anand Menon: In defence of the European Commission

9 December 1999
... country on high-profile issues. Note the mixture of hilarity and horror that greeted French suggestions that a Frenchman should hold the competition policy portfolio in the new Prodi Commission. (And LeonBrittan needed no instructions from London to act as a champion of the free market.) Nationalist tendencies among Commissioners are encouraged by their political advisers (cabinet), most of whom tend ...

Pound Foolish

Kit McMahon

9 May 1996
Politics and the Pound: The Conservatives’ Struggle with Sterling 
by Philip Stephens.
Macmillan, 364 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 333 63296 6
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... culminated in a meeting in November in Number Ten attended by the Governor of the Bank of England, the Foreign Secretary (Howe), the Home Secretary (Whitelaw), the Trade and Industry Secretary (LeonBrittan), the Party Chairman (Tebbit), the Chief Whip (Wakeham) and the Leader of the House of Commons (Biffen). All except Biffen supported Lawson, but Thatcher refused to give way. Stephens says this was ...

Soul to Soul

Ian Buruma

19 February 1987
The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness 
by Peter Dale.
Croom Helm, 233 pp., £25, September 1987, 0 7099 0899 7
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... This, whatever some apologists may say, is not the same as ignorant American views of foreigners or Mrs Thatcher’s jingoistic talk about Victorian values. (These values can be shared by, say, LeonBrittan, even though his ancestors were hardly of ‘pure’ English stock.) The difference is precisely one of unquestioned and institutionalised racism: if Nakasone believes what he preaches, and ...


David Cannadine

27 July 1989
The Social Politics of Anglo-Jewry 1880-1920 
by Eugene Black.
Blackwell, 428 pp., £35, February 1989, 9780631164913
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The Persistence of Prejudice: Anti-Semitism in British Society during the Second World War 
by Tony Kushner.
Manchester, 257 pp., £29.95, March 1989, 0 7190 2896 5
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The Club: The Jews of Modern Britain 
by Stephen Brook.
Constable, 464 pp., £15.95, April 1989, 0 09 467340 3
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... This sounds a simple and straightforward question. But once again, the answers are vague and discouraging. The Marconi Scandal, the resignation of Hore Belisha from the War Office, and the attacks on LeonBrittan at the time of the Westland affair, to say nothing of the Fascist and National Front disturbances in the East End, suggest that there was and is more political anti-semitism in Britain than ...

One nation, two states

Richard J. Evans

21 December 1989
... forty years since 1949 have given West Germans the confidence that democracy can deliver prosperity and order. Reunification in any case would be unlikely to take the form recently suggested by Sir LeonBrittan – that is, a simple extension of West German institutions to the East. Given their apparent commitment to some form of socialism, the citizens of the GDR would probably want to retain a ...

Big Fish

Frank Kermode

9 September 1993
Tell Them I’m on my Way 
by Arnold Goodman.
Chapmans, 464 pp., £20, August 1993, 1 85592 636 9
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Not an Englishman: Conversations with Lord Goodman 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 237 pp., £17.99, August 1993, 1 85619 365 9
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... them, he deplores lawyers almost as much as he does mandarin civil servants. Lord Denning is a particular target. Selbourne, in one of his interviews, reminded Goodman of Denning’s description of LeonBrittan as a ‘German Jew’ interfering with ‘English law’. ‘Lord Denning,’ G. replied, ‘is an unfortunate example of a man who built up a reputation on sand.’ ‘That could be ...

That Man Griffith

John Griffith

25 October 1990
Lord Denning: A Biography 
by Edmund Heward.
Weidenfeld, 243 pp., £15, September 1990, 9780297811381
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... Winchester Three, with the result that their conviction was quashed. This was followed by the Spectator interview, with the suggestion that the Guildford Four might be guilty and the description of LeonBrittan as ‘a German Jew telling us what to do with our English law’. In 1955 Lord Chancellor Kilmuir said that judges should be kept insulated from the controversies of the day: ‘So long as ...


Thomas Jones: Alan Hollinghurst

6 May 2004
The Line of Beauty 
by Alan Hollinghurst.
Picador, 501 pp., £16.99, April 2004, 9780330483209
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... to know better. Part Two skips ahead to 1986. Leo is out of the picture. (As, indeed, is the unnamed home secretary the ambitious Tories at Toby’s party were so eager to ingratiate themselves with: LeonBrittan was shuffled to the DTI in 1985, and resigned from the government the following year over the Westland affair.) Nick is having a secret affair with Wani: it’s secret inasmuch as the people ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble

3 December 2015
Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. II: Everything She Wants 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 821 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 7139 9288 5
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... danger to the government was much more serious. Heseltine staked his career on the issue because he felt it touched on his personal authority as defence secretary. His main rival in this matter was LeonBrittan, newly arrived as secretary of state at the Department of Trade and Industry after his demotion from the Home Office. Brittan was feeling bruised; Heseltine was restless and looking for new ...
20 February 1997
... Sidney Clements, convicted in 1915 for the murder of his stepbrother, was released after two years of Borstal training. The flexible and rehabilitative approach came under pressure after the speech LeonBrittan made to the Conservative Party Conference in 1983, when he was Home Secretary. In Brittan’s view too many prisoners were getting out too early; and as a result of his reforms ...

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