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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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... perspective of daily politics that makes one wonder whether the gap between the Tory Party of Margaret Thatcher and that of Harold Macmillan is greater than the gap between Macmillan and the third Marquess of Salisbury? We shall probably not know until she has gone whether Mrs ...

The other side have got one

Ian Gilmour: Lady Thatcher’s Latest, 6 June 2002

Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the 20th Century 
by E.H.H. Green.
Oxford, 309 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 19 820593 7
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Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 486 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 00 710752 8
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... Cabinet stood against inflation’. Green shows that to be nonsense. The Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, and the rest of the Cabinet were all worried about the impact of inflation. The Cabinet’s disagreement with the Treasury team, he believes, was not over inflation or spending cuts but ‘over questions of degree and timing’. Similarly, to see the ...
Carrington: A Life and a Policy 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Dent, 182 pp., £10.95, October 1985, 0 460 04691 8
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Thatcher: The First Term 
by Patrick Cosgrave.
Bodley Head, 240 pp., £9.95, June 1985, 0 370 30602 3
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Viva Britannia: Mrs Thatcher’s Britain 
by Paolo Filo della Torre.
Sidgwick, 101 pp., £9.95, October 1985, 0 283 99143 7
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... who has been within and without the Conservative Party for many years. He has played Boswell to Margaret Thatcher’s Johnson, having come in from the cold, as it were, of the Heath years. He has now written a book about Peter Carrington, who resigned, of course, as Foreign Minister after the Argentines invaded the Falklands in April 1982. The book may ...

Short Cuts

Danny Dorling: Life Expectancy, 16 November 2017

... the Clean Air Act was passed, four years after the Great Smog caused excess deaths that Harold Macmillan tried to blame on influenza. By 1971 life expectancy for women was 75 and for men 69. Three years more each, achieved in twenty years. In the 1970s the rate of improvement in life expectancy accelerated again. Social progress in that much maligned ...

Hauteur

Ian Gilmour: Britain and Europe, 10 December 1998

This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair 
by Hugo Young.
Macmillan, 558 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 333 57992 5
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... Eisenhower’s explicit rejection of a ‘special’ relationship, was understandable. Harold Macmillan had no such excuse. Dismayed by Churchill’s change of front on Europe when he became prime minister, Macmillan had almost resigned from the Cabinet in 1952. Yet although, after the Suez débâcle, Eisenhower, Dulles ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories, 24 January 2013

The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... worse, a non-Etonian intellectual – succeeding to the Tory leadership. In early 1957 Harold Macmillan grabbed the premiership from Butler, who had acted as caretaker while Eden, his nerves shattered by the Suez humiliation, convalesced in Jamaica. The diffident and humane Butler felt unable to assassinate the characters of his rivals or to seize the ...

Why we go to war

Ferdinand Mount, 6 June 2019

... we have seen, he later boasted that he was doing just that. So it really isn’t surprising that Margaret MacMillan should conclude in The War That Ended Peace (2013) that ‘the evidence is simply not there to support’ the idea ‘that Europe’s tensions were the product of economic rivalry’. To adapt the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, they ...

‘Spurious’ is the word we want

Ian Gilmour, 28 November 1996

Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher 
by George Urban.
Tauris, 206 pp., £19.95, September 1996, 1 86064 084 2
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... This book tells how the author fell in and out of love with Margaret Thatcher. Although George Urban found her ‘an attractive lady’, with ‘the movements, the legs and walk of a young woman’, his love affair was wholly ideological. Urban, who is or was on the extreme right, was attracted by ‘the great spirit that animated her policies in many areas’; and he greatly admired her ‘galvanisation of the British people at a time of accelerating decline’; yet it was her attitude to foreign policy which chiefly excited his passion ...

Miz Peggy

Penelope Gilliatt, 15 September 1983

The Road to Tara: The Life of Margaret Mitchell 
by Anne Edwards.
Hodder, 369 pp., £9.95, July 1983, 0 340 32348 5
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... From Anne Edwards’s biography of Margaret Mitchell, we know that Peggy Mitchell had ‘sailor-blue eyes’. We also know that she stood four feet eight, which is mighty small for the militant author of Gone with the Wind. At this size she mounted, or climbed up a ladder to, a large horse. Wheeling him (fervently: her whole life was led in adverbs) and crying ‘Look at me!’ to the South in general, she fell off ...

Memories of Eden

Keith Kyle, 13 September 1990

... disappointed, he would note, with a tinge of envy, the degree of political support enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher, with Neil Kinnock and Gerald Kaufman endorsing her every move. In normal times issues of international law are seen as a recondite speciality: in moments of stress they turn out to be of crucial importance. In 1956 the British knew from the ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... 1950s and early 1960s Never Had It So Good. This neatly illustrates the drawback of decaditis: Macmillan’s speech at Bedford football ground on 20 July 1957 points forward as well as back. Having It So Good is the second volume in a history of postwar Britain: the first volume, Never Again, a history of 1945-51 or the ‘short postwar’, was published ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... of the Cabinet had in turn told him that they had ‘tried unsuccessfully to get a leg over’ Margaret Thatcher. He not only recites the well-known story of Harold Macmillan’s cuckolding by Robert Boothby but indulges himself in fascinated gossip about who then got Sara ...

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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... On leaving that job in 1959, Lord Carrington receives at sea a ciphered signal from Harold Macmillan. ‘Will you become First Lord of the Admiralty Query Come straight home.’ For Tebbit, things did not go so smoothly (which may be one reason why resentment against privilege and mollycoddling is a recurring theme). Money worries were a constant ...

Real Thing

John Naughton, 24 November 1988

Live from Number 10: The Inside Story of Prime Ministers and Television 
by Michael Cockerell.
Faber, 352 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 0 571 14757 7
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... Reith: ‘One cannot,’ he said, ‘be impartial between the fire and the fire brigade.’ Harold Macmillan is widely credited with being a TV ‘natural’. Mr Cockerell’s account makes him out to be anything but that. Huw Weldon observed after his first broadcast as prime minister that the script ‘could not be spoken by one human being to another ...

‘I was a more man’

Keith Kyle, 12 October 1989

Keith Joseph: A Single Mind 
by Morrison Halcrow.
Macmillan, 205 pp., £14.95, September 1989, 0 333 49016 9
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... brightest hopes for the future. When he and Sir Edward Boyle were brought into the Cabinet by Macmillan on ‘the Night of the Long Knives’, it was with a flourish – the old showman’s theatrical salute to youth and brains. Joseph, as Minister of Housing and Local Government with a background in the construction industry, became the booster of the ...

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