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North Sea Fortune

Chris Patten, 5 November 1981

British Industry and the North Sea: State Intervention in a Developing Industrial Sector 
by Michael Jenkin.
Macmillan, 251 pp., £20, May 1981, 0 333 25606 9
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... that is) has turned into tenners. What a triumph for supply-side economics! The trouble, as Michael Jenkin tells us, is that there have not been enough Steve Buxtons hovering over the rigs in the North Sea. And in the absence of a sufficient number of home-grown entrepreneurs, ministers and civil servants have felt obliged to see if they could ...

London Lefties

Paul Foot, 17 September 1987

If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it 
by Ken Livingstone.
Collins, 367 pp., £12, August 1987, 0 00 217770 6
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A Taste of Power: The Politics of Local Economics 
edited by Maureen Mackintosh and Hilary Wainwright.
Verso, 441 pp., £22.95, July 1987, 0 86091 174 8
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... transport frontbenchers in the Commons, up-and-coming young hopefuls called Margaret Thatcher and Michael Heseltine, welcomed the transfer, and specifically stated that this would enable the Council, if it felt like it, to hold transport fares down with a subsidy from the rates. Labour won back the GLC in 1973, but lost it to the Tories in 1977, when the new ...

Captain’s Log

John Torode, 21 April 1983

Back from the Brink: An Apocalyptic Experience 
by Michael Edwardes.
Collins, 301 pp., £9.95, March 1983, 0 00 217074 4
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... Diminutive but perfectly formed’ was the phrase coined by Private Eye to describe Sir Michael Edwardes. It stuck because it caught the mechanical, wind-up, less-than-life quality of the man who ‘turned British Leyland round’ To me he was always a character out of Thunderbirds, the television series in which assorted automata glide round the globe, programmed to mouth platitudes and do down the much more human baddies ...

A Revision of Expectations

Richard Horton: Notes on the NHS, 2 July 1998

The National Health Service: A Political History 
by Charles Webster.
Oxford, 233 pp., £9.99, April 1998, 0 19 289296 7
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... that, in return, doctors would support the NHS. Bevan agreed, and an amending Act was drawn up. Michael Foot, in his recently republished biography of Bevan, concludes that ‘the Minister and the president of the Royal College of Physicians established an accord.’ It was an accord that split the profession (the BMA accused the College of ...

How to Grow a Weetabix

James Meek: Farms and Farmers, 16 June 2016

... food if we drop tariffs on agricultural imports from Africa, Australasia and the Americas, as Michael Gove wants to do, and it gets even better. Just not for farmers. The spectre haunting the British farmyard is that the EU debate will turn public attention to what’s happening down on the farm, whatever the referendum result. There is, after ...

Do your homework

David Runciman: What’s Wrong with Theresa May, 16 March 2017

Theresa May: The Enigmatic Prime Minister 
by Rosa Prince.
Biteback, 402 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 1 78590 145 4
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... disastrous tenure as leader was brought to an end a year later, she was moved on by his successor, Michael Howard, who restored her to the ranks of heavy-lifters rather than heavy-hitters by making her shadow secretary of state for transport and the environment. In 2004 two members of the intake of 2001, Cameron and George Osborne, joined her in the shadow ...

The Strange Death of Municipal England

Tom Crewe: Assault on Local Government, 15 December 2016

... impose monetarist discipline and liberate the economy from its social democratic baggage. Patrick Jenkin, then the minister responsible for local government, prefigured Eric Pickles: ‘We have a duty to protect ratepayers from blatant exploitation. We have a duty to ensure that all parts of the public sector work within national economic policies.’ The ...

Love that Bird

Francis Spufford: Supersonic, 6 June 2002

... great British stability, and infused by a changing but always recognisable British identity. When Michael Powell in A Canterbury Tale had shown a hawk rising from a pilgrim’s hand and turning into a Spitfire, it had seemed natural. When English Electric developed the RAF’s new jet interceptor, the Lightning – tested by Roly Beamont – it had seemed to ...

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