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From Old Adam to New Eve

Peter Pulzer, 6 June 1985

The Conservative Party from Peel to Thatcher 
by Robert Blake.
Methuen/Fontana, 401 pp., £19.95, May 1985, 0 413 58140 3
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Westminster Blues 
by Julian Critchley.
Hamish Hamilton, 134 pp., £7.95, May 1985, 0 241 11387 3
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... Younger Pitt and Charles James Fox, or with the battle over Parliamentary Reform in the 1830s – Lord Blake prefers the second of these – it is evident that the two parties arose simultaneously. They have not shown equal powers of survival. Whiggery has long disappeared, though 20th-century Conservatives have included a few Whiggish eccentrics. The ...

Jew d’Esprit

Dan Jacobson, 6 May 1982

Disraeli’s Grand Tour: Benjamin Disraeli and the Holy Land 1830-31 
by Robert Blake.
Weidenfeld, 141 pp., £8.95, January 1982, 0 297 77910 9
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... had he reversed the order of his verbs, and written what he had acted – as his model and idol, Lord Byron, can be said to have done – he would never have become Prime Minister, the Earl of Beaconsfield, and confidant of the Queen. In poem after poem Byron had revealed the histrionic self-doubt and sense of evil which had goaded him from one extravagant ...

World’s Greatest Statesman

Edward Luttwak, 11 March 1993

Churchill: The End of Glory 
by John Charmley.
Hodder, 648 pp., £30, January 1993, 9780340487952
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Churchill: A Major New Assessment of his Life in Peace and War 
edited by Robert Blake and Wm Roger Louis.
Oxford, 517 pp., £19.95, February 1993, 0 19 820317 9
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... many, though the genuinely anguished cries of true devotees can also be heard above the din. When Lord Moran published his take-the-temperature-and-tell memoirs in 1966, not only breaching doctor-patient confidentiality but also revealing that WWW2 was sometimes ill as well as often tipsy, not to say smashed (things, to be sure, entirely unexpected of a ...

Finding a role

Peter Pulzer, 5 September 1985

The Decline of Power: 1915-1964 
by Robert Blake.
Granada, 462 pp., £18, June 1985, 0 246 10753 7
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... through calls for tariff reform and conscription, and the ‘national efficiency’ propaganda of Lord Milner, Sir Henry Wilson and the National Review. Similarly, in the 1960s, the withdrawal from East of Suez was the last stage of a process of decolonisation and retrenchment that was as much the work of Churchill and Macmillan as of Attlee and Wilson. Yet ...

Jews on horseback

Peter Clarke, 10 May 1990

Disraeli 
by John Vincent.
Oxford, 127 pp., £4.95, March 1990, 0 19 287681 3
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... No, what scotched the Disraelian legend as serious history was the standard biography by Robert Blake in 1966. Lord Blake possesses unimpeachable credentials as the eminent chronicler of the evolution of the Conservative Party. But he maintains also irreproachable standards as an academic historian, and these made ...

The Tories’ Death-Wish

Kenneth O. Morgan, 15 May 1980

Tariff Reform in British Politics 
by Alan Sykes.
Oxford, 352 pp., £16, December 1979, 0 19 822483 4
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... of the party in a cause that was politically so calamitous.’ These perceptive words by Lord Blake, the foremost historian of the Conservative Party, aptly sum up the handling of the issues of protective tariffs and imperial preference by the Conservative or Unionist Party between 1903 and 1914. These Edwardian years were dominated by the ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: Birthdays and Centenaries, 5 May 1983

... at the LSE by some of my younger friends: The party was graced by the presence of Michael Foot and Lord Blake. Soon afterwards Robert Blake struck me off his visiting-list because I had opposed the witch-hunt at the British Academy against Anthony Blunt. I am glad to record that ...

Douglas Hurd’s Tamworth Manifesto

Douglas Hurd, 17 March 1988

... penal laws, who created our modern budgetary system. Above all, it was Peel who, in the words of Lord Blake, created a ‘libertarian fiscal policy which would in the end bring increased affluence to every class in society and thus relax the tensions which in the hungry 1830s and 40s threatened revolution in Britain’. Disraeli was the dreamer and the ...

They never married

Ian Hamilton, 10 May 1990

The Dictionary of National Biography: 1981-1985 
edited by Lord Blake and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 518 pp., £40, March 1990, 0 19 865210 0
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... On the dust-jacket of the latest supplement to the Dictionary of National Biography there are photographs of David Niven, Diana Dors, Eric Morecambe, John Betjeman and William Walton. Dors has a leering ‘Come up and read me sometime’ expression on her face and Niven wears his yacht-club greeter’s smile. Morecambe seems to be laughing at one of his own jokes ...

Time to think again

Michael Neve, 3 March 1988

Benjamin Disraeli: Letters 1838-1841 
edited by M.G Wiebe, J.B. Conacher, John Matthews and M.S. Millar.
Toronto, 458 pp., £40, March 1987, 0 8020 5736 5
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Salisbury: The Man and his Policies 
edited by Lord Blake and Hugh Cecil.
Macmillan, 298 pp., £29.50, May 1987, 0 333 36876 2
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... nervous, fifty-cigarettes-a-day daughter Gwendolen, also her father’s biographer, entitled ‘Lord Salisbury in Private Life’, the political a priori of the refurbished Tory intellectual can be revealed. The third Marquis’s contribution to the politics of the future was a loathing for the mass of the human race, and especially for their political ...
We and They, Civic and Despotic Cultures 
by Robert Conquest.
Temple Smith, 252 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 0 85117 184 2
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The Recovery of Freedom 
by Paul Johnson.
Blackwell, 232 pp., £8.50, August 1980, 0 631 12562 0
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... terrorism, put the trade unions in their proper place and preserve the value of the currency. Lord Hailsham, a traditional Conservative, suggested in The Dilemma of Democracy (1978) that the public ‘wants stronger government but much less of it’. This seems to me profoundly true, and government can only be strong if it does less. Strength is what is ...

Whinny Moor

Blake Morrison, 2 April 1987

... disbelieving, at my plimsolls, frayed and holy with a flapping sole. He was a rep for Peter Lord, he said, nodding behind him at the bootful of boots. ‘Ah’ve worked in shoes near alf a century an sin all t’flippin lot go reet down’ill.’ Then he asked who I was. ‘Morrison, eh, a name for up ere. I knew thi father well an t’ole surgery in ...

Born of the age we live in

John Lanchester, 6 December 1990

Stick it up your punter! The Rise and Fall of the ‘Sun’ 
by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie.
Heinemann, 372 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 434 12624 1
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All played out: The True Story of Italia ’90 
by Pete Davies.
Heinemann, 471 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 434 17908 6
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Gazza! A Biography 
by Robin McGibbon.
Penguin, 204 pp., £3.99, October 1990, 9780140148688
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... an interview with a 21-year-old woman who had had 789 lovers. ‘Prince Philip, Mary Whitehouse, Lord Hailsham and Brigid Brophy were all quoted on what they thought about the subject.’ The only sex-related subject not permitted in the paper was homosexuality. Murdoch was against it: ‘Do you really think the readers are interested in poofters?’ The ...

His Little Game

Andrew Boyle, 27 July 1989

The Blake Escape: How we freed George Blake – and why 
by Michael Randle and Pat Pottle.
Harrap, 298 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 245 54781 9
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... Blake’s father was Albert Behar, whose Sephardic Jewish family cut him off with less than the proverbial shilling because of his marriage to a Dutch Christian woman called Catherine Beijdedvellen. Behar Senior then became a British citizen, having served in the French Foreign Legion and the British Army. On his death in 1936 – a bad period not only in England but throughout Europe – he left a widow and the young George in somewhat reduced circumstances ...

The Hooks of her Gipsy Dresses

Nicholas Penny, 1 September 1988

Picasso: Creator and Destroyer 
by Arianna Stassinopoulos Huffington.
Weidenfeld, 559 pp., £16, June 1988, 0 02 977935 9
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... If so, they are in respectable company. Paul Johnson (described in this paper some years ago by Lord Blake as the greatest living British journalist) has declared in the Spectator that he found the book ‘morbidly compulsive from start to finish’. It starts in a world that is now very remote. Huffington evokes Belle Epoque Paris as it would have ...

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