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All in the Family

Sylvia Lawson, 3 December 1992

Letters to Sartre 
by Simone de Beauvoir and Quintin Hoare.
Radius, 531 pp., £20, December 1991, 0 09 174774 0
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Witness to My Life: The Letters of Jean-Paul Sartre to Simone de Beauvior, 1926-1939 
edited by Simone de Beauvior, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee.
Hamish Hamilton, 448 pp., £20, November 1992, 9780241133361
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... Beauvoir biographies (Deirdre Bair – very much the best; Claude Francis and Fernande Gontier, Margaret Crosland). Check those against the crucial four volumes of Beauvoir’s memoirs, those translated as The Prime of Life, Force of Circumstance, All Said and Done and Adieux: A farewell to Sartre. Crosscheck against the documentary scripts, the ...

A future which works

Michael Ignatieff, 30 December 1982

Trade Unions in British Politics 
edited by Ben Pimlott.
Longman, 302 pp., £6.50, September 1982, 0 582 49184 3
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Trade Unions: The Logic of Collective Action 
by Colin Crouch.
Fontana, 251 pp., £2.50, August 1982, 9780006358732
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Work and Politics: The Division of Labour in Industry 
by Charles Sabel.
Cambridge, 304 pp., £17.50, September 1982, 0 521 23002 0
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Strikes and the Government, 1893-1981 
by Eric Wigham.
Macmillan, 248 pp., £20, February 1982, 0 333 32302 5
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Governments and Trade Unions: The British Experience, 1964-1979 
by Dennis Barnes.
Heinemann Educational, 242 pp., £6.50, February 1982, 0 435 83046 5
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The Assembly Line 
by Robert Linhart, translated by Margaret Crosland.
Calder, 160 pp., £3.95, September 1981, 9780714537429
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... It is not easy to make sense of the trade unions. ‘Suicidal’, ‘mindless’ and ‘atavistic’ are, to be sure, epithets of wilful incomprehension, but even those disposed to understand sometimes find it hard to comprehend union behaviour, workers’ interests and the uncertain fit between the two. The first obvious case which baffles even sympathetic onlookers arises when unions strike in apparent disregard of the apocalyptic economic facts in their industry ...

Über-Tony

Ben Pimlott: Anthony Crosland, 3 September 1998

Crosland’s Future: Opportunity and Outcome 
by David Reisman.
Macmillan, 237 pp., £47.50, October 1997, 0 333 65963 5
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... Why is Tony Crosland one of the few Old Labour heroes that nobody mocks? Keir Hardie, G.D.H. Cole, Stafford Cripps, Gaitskell, even Nye Bevan, have become the subject of New Labour locker-room ribaldry. Yet to describe yourself as a ‘Crosland socialist’ still carries meaning ...

Initiatives

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 15 November 1984

Social Scientist as Innovator 
by Michael Young.
Abt Books, 265 pp., $28, April 1984, 0 89011 593 1
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Revolution from Within: Co-operatives and Co-operation in British Industry 
by Michael Young and Marianne Rigge.
Weidenfeld, 188 pp., £12.95, July 1983, 0 297 78234 7
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Dilemmas of Liberal Democracies: Studies in Fred Hirsch’s ‘Social Limits to Growth’ 
edited by Adrian Ellis and Krishan Kumar.
Tavistock, 212 pp., £12.95, September 1983, 0 422 78460 5
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... college in 1981. There is the frequently flaunted economic fact that there is no future in Anthony Crosland’s sort of socialism because there is no firm future for the growth which – although less unequivocally than subsequent commentators have assumed – Crosland supposed adequate public spending to require. There have ...

My Millbank

Seumas Milne, 18 April 1996

The Blair Revolution: Can New Labour Deliver? 
by Peter Mandelson and Roger Liddle.
Faber, 274 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 571 17818 9
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... MP says gleefully. ‘It is a work of utter risibility. Mandelson wanted to be the new Anthony Crosland and has instead become a figure of ridicule.’ This is to underestimate not so much the literary merit, but the political seriousness of the New Labour ‘project’ delineated in the book. Despite the last-minute filleting of the text by the authors to ...

Having it both ways

Peter Clarke, 27 January 1994

A.J.P. Taylor: A Biography 
by Adam Sisman.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 468 pp., £18.99, January 1994, 1 85619 210 5
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A.J.P. Taylor: The Traitor within the Gates 
by Robert Cole.
Macmillan, 285 pp., £40, November 1993, 0 333 59273 5
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From Napoleon to the Second International: International Essays on the 19th Century 
by A.J.P. Taylor, edited by Chris Wrigley.
Hamish Hamilton, 426 pp., £25, November 1993, 0 241 13444 7
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... in such a position himself was, however, mocked by his subsequent marital experience. His own wife Margaret was to prove as susceptible as Connie. First it was one of Alan’s pupils at Oxford, Robert Kee, for whom Margaret fell – it was the outbreak of war – in a way that embarrassed both men but naturally hurt her ...

Heat-Seeking

Susan Pedersen: A.J.P. Taylor, 10 May 2007

A.J.P. Taylor: Radical Historian of Europe 
by Chris Wrigley.
Tauris, 439 pp., £25, August 2006, 1 86064 286 1
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... the site of his first (and only) spate of serious archival research and of his meeting with Margaret Adams, the well-to-do music student who would become his first wife. Ambition and strong recommendations won Taylor a teaching post at Manchester in 1930, where he wrote his first books on Continental diplomacy, began reviewing for the Guardian, played a ...

On the State of the Left

W.G. Runciman, 17 December 1981

The Forward March of Labour Halted? 
by Eric Hobsbawm, Ken Gill and Tony Benn.
Verso, 182 pp., £8.50, November 1981, 0 86091 041 5
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... has been a trahison des roturiers which has not only led to working-class votes being cast for Margaret Thatcher but might, even now, lead to their being switched to Roy Jenkins instead of Tony Benn. It is true that the record of an internal debate among the committed is not to be read as a prospectus for potential converts. But the cries of disappointment ...

Big Head

John Sutherland, 23 April 1987

Thackeray’s Universe: Shifting Worlds of Imagination and Reality 
by Catherine Peters.
Faber, 292 pp., £12.95, January 1987, 0 571 14711 9
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... nine years, taking its place alongside Anne Monsarrat’s Thackeray: Uneasy Victorian (1980) and Margaret Forster’s sprightly ‘autobiography’, Thackeray: Memoirs of a Victorian Gentleman (1978). (Rather meanly, Peters leaves both competitors out of her ‘Select Bibliography’.) All three are, self-confessedly, dwarfed by the late Gordon Ray’s ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... Bennite Left under New Labour underlines the point: stalwarts from the early 1980s – Tony Banks, Margaret Beckett, Jeremy Corbyn, Michael Meacher, Clare Short, Gavin Strang – have been given only walk-on roles in the Cabinet, while younger recruits to Benn’s Campaign Group, such as Paul Boateng and Dawn Primarolo, have not been allowed to speak in their ...

Permissiveness

Paul Addison, 23 January 1986

The Writing on the wall: Britain in the Seventies 
by Phillip Whitehead.
Joseph, 438 pp., £14.95, November 1985, 0 7181 2471 5
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... the social services, and controlling the trade unions, fell to Wilson and Callaghan. Anthony Crosland, the leading theorist of social democracy, served notice of a new order: ‘The party’s over.’ The headlines since then have been a record of almost unrelieved bad news for Labour. The destruction by Harold Wilson of Tony Benn’s industrial strategy ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 8 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... was that Wilson was a tricky fellow.’ The Gaitskellites’ leading theorist, Anthony Crosland, struggling to convince a journalist of Wilson’s shortcomings, was reduced to spluttering: ‘But the bloody man plays golf!’ While serious interest in the question posed by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson’s book – whether Wilson was ...

Rat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat-a-tat

David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... from the first volume of Charles Moore’s exhaustive and exhausting authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher, which takes the story up to the Falklands War in 1982. The person on display here is not more intelligent than her rivals, or more principled. She chops and changes as much as they do. But she is a lot more relentless: if anything, she keeps ...

You’re only interested in Hitler, not me

Susan Pedersen: Shirley Williams, 19 December 2013

Shirley Williams: The Biography 
by Mark Peel.
Biteback, 461 pp., £25, September 2013, 978 1 84954 604 1
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... conundrum. Why didn’t Williams achieve more politically? Why did the polarising, hectoring Margaret Thatcher, rather than the consensus-seeking, appealing Williams, become Britain’s first woman prime minister? This is a common question. Among left-leaning right-thinking Britons of a certain age, Williams is the embodiment of lost hopes and lost ...

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