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Scoutmaster General

Peter Clarke, 24 September 1992

Tony Benn 
by Jad Adams.
Macmillan, 576 pp., £20, July 1992, 0 333 52558 2
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The End of an Era: Diaries, 1980-1990 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 704 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 09 174857 7
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... at 40 Grosvenor Road, Westminster, next door to Sidney and Beatrice Webb. With his elder brother Michael, Anthony went to the local school (Westminster), and he grew up thinking that he might work locally too, just like his dad. Lady Stansgate gives another insight on the boys’ upbringing: ‘They used to pretend they were workmen called Bill and Jim ...
... to bring back the 1960s, this is at any rate not so deeply atavistic as the other parties. Under Michael Foot, Labour would clearly like to bring back the 1940s, and the author of that meretricious tract Guilty Men is for ever trying to speak for England and to tell the Prime Minister that she must, in the name of God, go. The Tories, meanwhile, have openly ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Da 5 Bloods’, 2 July 2020

... The warriors are Paul (Delroy Lindo), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr) and Otis (Clarke Peters). Paul’s son David (Jonathan Majors) has belatedly joined them. They have been trekking through the jungle for a day or two and (with the exception of David) aren’t as young as they were. Tempers fray, the men pick on each other’s weaknesses ...

A Damned Good Investment

Paul Foot, 25 February 1993

Studded with Diamonds and Paved with Gold: Miners, Mining Companies and Human Rights in South Africa 
by Laurie Flynn.
Bloomsbury, 358 pp., £20, September 1992, 0 7475 1155 1
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... as the result of outright negligence by the owners. In 1967 nine miners were killed in a fire at Michael colliery in Scotland. The detailed inquiry which followed blamed the deaths on the poisonous fumes from polyurethane foam which had lined the roofs and walls underground. The National Coal Board promptly banned polyurethane foam from its pits, and sent ...

Inside the system

Paul Foot, 7 December 1989

... or torture. At the Appeal, however, there was a mass of new evidence. Former Constable Tom Clarke said he had seen guns being pointed at the prisoners in Queen’s Road Police Station, Birmingham. He said that a dog had been used to threaten one of the men in the cells; and that the men were bruised and cut before they were taken to prison. All this ...

One’s Self-Washed Drawers

Rosemary Hill: Ida John, 29 June 2017

The Good Bohemian: The Letters of Ida John 
edited by Rebecca John and Michael Holroyd.
Bloomsbury, 352 pp., £25, May 2017, 978 1 4088 7362 5
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... to keep a tight rein on her three daughters. Adaline’s moral code was worked out in what Michael Holroyd in his introduction memorably terms the ‘moral gymnasium’ of the last Victorian decades. He characterises it, too harshly, as a culture of ‘conceit and condemnation … complacency and fear of change’, but it was a period when conventions ...

Jews on horseback

Peter Clarke, 10 May 1990

Disraeli 
by John Vincent.
Oxford, 127 pp., £4.95, March 1990, 0 19 287681 3
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... achieved over the last quarter-century with little thanks to his ostensible political opponents. Michael Foot and his dog Dizzy can stand as a tableau testifying to the magnanimity (or credulity) with which the old magic is perpetuated among political romantics of all persuasions. No, what scotched the Disraelian legend as serious history was the standard ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Is it just me?, 1 December 2005

... serious agreement with Mark Steyn on the threat of the Muslim hordes; guffawing at Jeremy Clarke on stupid nurses – and would dismiss anyone who disagreed with them as either deluded or a politically correct killjoy. To their credit, Lowe and McArthur don’t have an entry on ‘political correctness’, though it features in what they have to say ...

A Skeleton My Cat

Norma Clarke: ‘Poor Goldsmith’, 21 February 2019

The Letters of Oliver Goldsmith 
edited by Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £64.99, July 2018, 978 1 107 09353 9
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... necessary to consider his Irishness, but the editors of this new edition of Goldsmith’s letters, Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy, urge its importance, and they are surely right. Some of the ideas that persistently recur in Goldsmith’s work – opposition to imperialism, scepticism about English notions of liberty – seem to be manifestations of ...

Just what are those teeth for?

Ian Hamilton, 24 April 1997

... learn that several of Vidal’s hours here have been spent discussing Montaigne (so he said) with Michael Foot. Sadly, when Vidal showed up on one of Newsnight’s election panels, Jeremy Paxman failed to cut him down to size. In fact, he didn’t even try. Vidal was allowed to preen himself at leisure. Next to him, the two British panellists – Lord Archer ...

The Luck of the Tories

Ross McKibbin: The Debt to Kinnock, 7 March 2002

Kinnock: The Biography 
by Martin Westlake.
Little, Brown, 768 pp., £25, October 2001, 0 316 84871 9
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... since Labour began electing ‘leaders’) never to have held a ministerial post – being PPS to Michael Foot for a year does not count. He is the only British party leader to have been an EU Commissioner – and is likely to remain so. As a result his record in ‘government’ is hard to judge, since what the Commissioners do (unless it is thought to be ...

Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March 2020, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... The diversity has continued: later members have included ostensible one-nation Tories – Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Ian Gilmour – but also Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley. The politics of the Tory left were actually advanced in various factional groupings and dining clubs, such as Nick’s Diner, the Lollards ...

Bitov’s Secrets

Michael Glenny, 18 October 1984

... than in most Western countries; his translations include, for instance, two SF novels by Arthur C. Clarke. Even more valuable than his cash earnings, however, were the attendant perks of the job. Apart from the right to buy scarce or otherwise unobtainable goods in special shops open only to the Party’s nomenklatura appointees, the privileges that would have ...

Sweetly Terminal

Edward Pearce, 5 August 1993

Diaries 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 421 pp., £20, June 1993, 0 297 81352 8
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... my friends, I mean my close friends. Then he made matters worse by saying he had had a talk with Michael (Heseltine). ‘He is formidable.’ ‘He’, pause, ‘is’, pause, ‘formidable’. I got him back to the station at four thirty, smelling powerfully of brandy. Seeing I was a bit dejected, Bruce said he would plug me with John Major and David ...

Seeing it all

Peter Clarke, 12 October 1989

The Time of My life 
by Denis Healey.
Joseph, 512 pp., £17.95, October 1989, 0 7181 3114 2
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... but unsuccessful; they left him roundly defeated for the leadership but narrowly elected as Michael Foot’s deputy by the end of 1981. ‘I felt myself compelled to agree with Michael in public on all issues at all times,’ Healey admits. It was hardly a happy position; and a less robust and pragmatic man might have ...

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