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Ian Campbell Ross: ‘provincial genius’, 23 October 2003

Hermsprong; or Man as He Is Not 
by Robert Bage, edited by Pamela Perkins.
Broadview, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2002, 1 55111 279 5
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... he married at the age of 23. Initially he worked it alone, then with his close friend William Hutton, the future historian of Birmingham. In 1765, Bage expanded his activities, investing in ironworks as part of a consortium that included Erasmus Darwin. When the ironworks failed in 1779, at a personal loss of £1500, ‘the result filled him with ...

After the May Day Flood

Seumas Milne, 5 June 1997

... Croslandite Labour Right and the more fashionable partisans of stakeholding, championed by Will Hutton. Responding to Blair’s insistence that rights be balanced by responsibilities in his latest stake-holding testament, The State to Come,* Hutton identifies the tendency for obligations to be urged on the poor (to search ...

At the British Museum

Peter Campbell: London 1753, 25 September 2003

... month’s papers showed the lucky few holding up numbered tickets to the public gallery at the Hutton Inquiry. Two hundred and fifty years ago it was numbered tickets to Westminster Hall that were in demand: two Jacobite earls and a lord were on trial there. Graphics are not what they were – no swirl of copperplate ...

Choke Point

Patrick Cockburn: In Dover, 7 November 2019

... it reaches the sea that the valley opens out, with the giant docks to the left and right. Philip Hutton, an architectural historian, thinks Dover’s layout makes it look like ‘a hammerhead shark’: that long tapering stretch inland, and then the massively spread-out head of the port areas facing the sea. It’s a town that invites this sort of ...

Short Cuts

Peter Geoghegan: On Greensill, 6 May 2021

... when they both worked in the City. (Heywood, who died in 2018, left the civil service after the Hutton Inquiry into David Kelly’s death, but returned when Gordon Brown became prime minister in 2007.) Cameron appointed Greensill, who had left Citigroup to start his own firm, as an adviser. He was given a desk in the Cabinet Office and a secure Number Ten ...

Non-Stick Nationalists

Colin Kidd: Scotland’s Law, 24 September 2015

Constitutional Law of Scotland 
by Alan Page.
W. Green, 334 pp., £95, June 2015, 978 0 414 01456 5
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... Court’s jurisdiction. Irritated, the SNP set up a further review group under the chairmanship of Lord McCluskey. Alas, that group endorsed the views of the first panel. In the interim Alex Salmond, then the first minister, and his secretary for justice, Kenny MacAskill, had engaged in highly personal attacks on the UK Supreme Court and its members, prompting ...


Ferdinand Mount: British Weeping, 17 December 2015

Weeping Britannia: Portrait of a Nation in Tears 
by Thomas Dixon.
Oxford, 438 pp., £25, September 2015, 978 0 19 967605 7
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... suspicion of public tears, especially when shed by a notorious tough nut, such as Oliver Cromwell, Lord Eldon, Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher. The Protector was repeatedly denounced for his ostentatious pretences of piety and feeling: he was ‘fluent in his tears’, endowed with ‘spungy eyes and a supple conscience’. In The Masque of ...

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson, 2 April 2020

The State of Secrecy: Spies and the Media in Britain 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
I.B. Tauris, 352 pp., £20, March 2019, 978 1 78831 218 9
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... to Iraq’) and the devastating Scott Inquiry which that trial provoked. He followed the Hutton Inquiry into the government scientist David Kelly’s suicide and the ‘sexed-up’ intelligence dossier on Saddam Hussein’s mythical weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq War. He dissected the grotesquely delayed Chilcot Report, which described ...

Sharks’ Teeth

Steven Mithen: How old is the Earth?, 30 July 2015

Earth’s Deep History: How It Was Discovered and Why It Matters 
by Martin Rudwick.
Chicago, 360 pp., £21, October 2014, 978 0 226 20393 5
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... significance of comet strikes on Earth’s development. In the 17th century, Descartes and James Hutton supported the idea of a steady-state system, or at least that the Earth goes through regular patterns of change such that its future state can be predicted, while others – such as Jean-André Deluc, who first introduced the term ...


Chris Mullin: A report from Westminster, 25 June 2009

... Today’s tabloids are particularly vicious. Not for them magnanimity in victory. ‘Arise Lord Gorbals’, the front page of the Mail sneers over a story focusing on the size of the Speaker’s pension. 21 May. Sure enough, having disposed of the Speaker, the Tory media have launched a campaign for a snap election – exactly as Frank Dobson ...


W.G. Runciman: Exit Blair, 24 May 2007

... who are no more the choice of the people than the bishops are. He decided to abolish the office of lord chancellor before even a pretence of consultation without its occurring to him that it wasn’t constitutionally possible to do this by simply announcing it from the Downing Street sofa. Criminal justice bills followed one another in a manner that has ...

The BBC on the Rack

James Butler, 19 March 2020

... used it often, usually attributing it to Wheldon, most startlingly in his evidence to the Hutton Inquiry concerning Andrew Gilligan’s reporting on the Today programme of the Blair government’s ‘sexed-up’ Iraq dossier.The phrase is useful because it expresses something of the BBC’s relationship – in the minds of its senior staff at least ...

Betting big, winning small

David Runciman: Blair’s Gambles, 20 May 2004

... much for too little, and very nearly lost everything. It left him with a huge amount riding on the Hutton Report, which appeared the next day. Here, however, Blair could be pretty confident that his luck would hold. He knew, as we all know now, that Lord Hutton’s wheel was tilted heavily the government’s way. It was ...

What are we telling the nation?

David Edgar: Thoughts about the BBC, 7 July 2005

Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC 
by Georgina Born.
Vintage, 352 pp., £10.99, August 2005, 0 09 942893 8
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Building Public Value: Renewing the BBC for a Digital World 
BBC, 135 pp.Show More
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... people want to watch something on BBC4, they seem to be able to find it – lending support to Lord Burns’s idea of a top-sliceable licence fee, in which the public service product of all existing terrestrial channels is met by licence fee money, divided up by a regulator. (Burns was an independent adviser on the Charter Review.) For the group that ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1999, 20 January 2000

... of British Paintings in the National Gallery is her dissection of the hunting gear worn by Lord Ribblesdale in Sargent’s famous portrait. Though he seems the epitome of high fashion, in this as in much else he isn’t typical and certainly isn’t wearing what the well-dressed Master of Foxhounds might have chosen but an assemblage of favourite ...

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