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British Social Attitudes: The 1987 Report 
edited by Roger Jowell, Sharon Witherspoon and Lindsay Brock.
Gower, 260 pp., £28.50, October 1987, 0 556 00740 9
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Educational Opportunity and Social Change in England 
by Michael Sanderson.
Faber, 164 pp., £3.95, September 1987, 9780571148769
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Wealth and Inequality in Britain 
by W.D. Rubinstein.
Faber, 167 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13924 8
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AProperty-Owning Democracy? Housing in Britain 
by M.J. Daunton.
Faber, 148 pp., £3.95, September 1987, 0 571 14615 5
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The Government of Space: Town Planning in Modern Society 
by Alison Ravetz.
Faber, 154 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 9780571145683
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... ownership and the growing share of British in come devoted to housing forms one of the themes of Martin Daunton’s incisive and cogent analysis of housing since the late 19th century. As always, the state has played the key part. For instead of subsidising people the state in Britain has chosen to subsidise types of property. In particular, it has ...

Grantham Factor

Martin Pugh, 2 March 1989

Rotten Borough 
by Oliver Anderson.
Fourth Estate, 320 pp., £5.95, March 1989, 0 947795 83 9
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... In a few short months Margaret Thatcher will chalk up her first decade as prime minister. The celebrations to which this occasion will give rise in the mass media are certain to focus attention once again upon the phenomenon of ‘Thatcherism’ and its supposed origins in the Prime Minister’s own childhood experience of life above the grocer’s shop in Grantham ...
Governing without a Majority 
by David Butler.
Collins, 156 pp., £4.95, May 1983, 9780002170710
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Multi-Party Politics and the Constitution 
by Vernon Bogdanor.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £18.50, May 1983, 0 521 25524 4
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Decade of Dealignment 
by Bo Särlvik, Ivor Crewe, Neil Day and Robert MacDermid.
Cambridge, 393 pp., £27.50, June 1983, 0 521 22674 0
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... But for Britain’s antediluvian electoral system the House of Commons would now comprise around 160 Alliance, 180 Labour and 280 Conservative MPs – and the new books by David Butler and Vernon Bogdanor would have vanished beneath a stampede of eager buyers. As things are, though the distorted election results have robbed them of some of their topicality, they will be very widely and minutely studied by politicians, students of politics and Her Majesty the Queen – or at least by her advisers ...

Draining the Think Tank

Martin Pugh, 24 November 1988

British Social Trends since 1900: A Guide to the Changing Social Structure of Britain 
edited by A.H. Halsey.
Macmillan, 650 pp., £45, October 1988, 0 333 34521 5
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Inside the Think Tank: Advising the Cabinet 1971-1983 
by Tessa Blackstone and William Plowden.
Heinemann, 258 pp., £14.95, September 1988, 9780434074907
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Lobbying: An Insider’s Guide to the Parliamentary Process 
by Alf Dubs.
Pluto, 228 pp., £12.50, October 1988, 0 7453 0137 1
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... It’s a strange thing,’ said Harold Macmillan after becoming Prime Minister, ‘that I have now got the biggest job I ever had, and less help in doing it than I have ever known.’ He referred, of course, to the absence of any significant department for the Prime Minister – the ‘hole in the centre of the system’, as Lord Hunt put it. That most premiers have managed to live with this situation is testament to the strength of the amateur tradition in British politics ...

Long March

Martin Pugh, 2 June 1983

Renewal: Labour’s Britain in the 1980s 
by Shadow Cabinet, edited by Gerald Kaufman.
Penguin, 201 pp., £2.50, April 1983, 0 14 052351 0
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Socialism in a Cold Climate 
edited by John Griffith.
Allen and Unwin, 230 pp., £2.95, April 1983, 9780043350508
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Liberal Party Politics 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Oxford, 302 pp., £17.50, April 1983, 0 19 827465 3
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... The trouble with timely books is that time is apt to run out rather suddenly for them. No doubt when the 20 members of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet planned the essays in Renewal they expected them to thicken the political debate during the six to nine months run-up to a general election. As it is, they have been overtaken by events: shortly we shall have the more clipped and precise promises of the real Manifesto instead of the discursive and sometimes cloudy compositions presented here ...

First past the post

Peter Clarke, 17 February 1983

The People of England 
by Maurice Ashley.
Weidenfeld, 240 pp., £11.50, October 1982, 0 297 78178 2
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A New History of England, 410-1975 
by L.C.B. Seaman.
Macmillan, 576 pp., £6.95, August 1982, 0 333 33415 9
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The Making of Modern British Politics, 1867-1939 
by Martin Pugh.
Blackwell, 337 pp., £19.50, May 1982, 0 631 12985 5
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... a number of monographs published during the 1970s. No cause for professional reproach here. What Martin Pugh has done, however, must be distinguished from this sort of enterprise. True, The Making of Modern British Politics is frankly aiming to make itself heard beyond the ranks of academic historians. But its wish is explicitly to take their current ...

A Babylonian Touch

Susan Pedersen: Weimar in Britain, 6 November 2008

‘We Danced All Night’: A Social History of Britain between the Wars 
by Martin Pugh.
Bodley Head, 495 pp., £20, July 2008, 978 0 224 07698 2
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... collapse and supine politics on which a revitalised postwar democracy resolutely turned its back. Martin Pugh will have none of this. Orwell’s text, he writes on the first page of ‘We Danced All Night’, was ‘more a piece of journalistic embellishment than the kind of sober account he was originally commissioned to write’, and the continued ...

Double-Barrelled Dolts

Ferdinand Mount: Mosley’s Lost Deposit, 6 July 2006

Blackshirt: Sir Oswald Mosley and British Fascism 
by Stephen Dorril.
Viking, 717 pp., £30, April 2006, 0 670 86999 6
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Hurrah for the Blackshirts! Fascists and Fascism between the Wars 
by Martin Pugh.
Pimlico, 387 pp., £8.99, March 2006, 1 84413 087 8
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... about the Slump and how to cure it, and, by extension, right about the Old Gang blocking his path? Martin Pugh’s publishers tell us breathlessly that ‘this book demonstrates for the first time how close Britain came to being a Fascist state in the interwar years.’ Is that a fact or just a pretty piece of hype? Does the limelight that Mosley ...

Beastliness

Harry Ricketts, 16 March 1989

Rudyard Kipling 
by Martin Seymour-Smith.
Macdonald, 373 pp., £16.95, February 1989, 0 356 15852 7
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... than others. Edel, for instance, is both meticulous and plausible. The same can hardly be said of Martin Seymour-Smith in his new critical biography of Kipling. In addition to being one of the most lopsided lives ever written – 23 chapters on the first forty years, only two chapters on the last thirty – this is also one of the most incorrigible in its ...

Diary

Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... 10 March. At 6:45 a.m. I set off by car service to Newark airport to catch the 10 a.m. Virgin/Continental flight to Gatwick. At this time of the morning the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence ...

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