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Dissecting the Body

Colm Tóibín: Ian McEwan, 26 April 2007

On Chesil Beach 
by Ian McEwan.
Cape, 166 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 224 08118 4
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... of his erection, ‘broomstick hard and pulsing’ right beside her. In the background is Harold Macmillan. It is 1962, after the end of the Chatterley ban but before the Beatles’ first LP. As the couple eat their supper, they can hear his voice on the radio in the hotel bar below. He is present in this novel much as ...

Longing for Mao

Hugo Young: Edward Heath, 26 November 1998

The Curse of My Life: My Autobiography 
by Edward Heath.
Hodder, 767 pp., £25, October 1998, 0 340 70852 2
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... himself two decades ago, as the face of the old, generous, socially concerned Conservatism that Margaret Thatcher destroyed and neither John Major nor William Hague has done anything to re-create. While most other believers in this brand of Toryism, not only from Heath’s generation but the next two, have slipped away, to the House of Lords and points ...

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 ...

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 ...
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 ...

‘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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

This Sporting Life

R.W. Johnson, 8 December 1994

Iain Macleod 
by Robert Shepherd.
Hutchinson, 608 pp., £25, November 1994, 0 09 178567 7
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... soundings – ‘Well, which is it to be, Wab or Hawold?’ – Macleod had seen enough to say: ‘Macmillan.’ Butler was desperately upset by his failure to secure the leadership – as he was to be again when Macmillan went. He naturally looked to Macleod to champion his cause and felt betrayed when Macleod’s continued ...

Tale from a Silver Age

Peter Clarke, 22 July 1993

Edward Heath: A Biography 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 876 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 224 02482 5
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... he recognised Eden as his legitimate successor, just as Eden later forced a smile of approval when Macmillan took over. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, a pocket-sized Balfour, emulated him both in deferring to the Party’s wish for change at the top and in serving under his successor. That successor was Edward Heath, the first leader to be elected under elaborate new ...

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 ...

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