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Redheads in Normandy

R.W. Johnson: The 1997 election, 22 January 1998

The British General Election of 1997 
by David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh.
Macmillan, 343 pp., £17.50, November 1997, 0 333 64776 9
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Labour's Landslide 
by Andrew Geddes and Jonathan Tonge.
Manchester, 211 pp., £40, December 1997, 0 7190 5159 2
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Britain Votes 1997 
edited by Pippa Norris and Neil Gavin.
Oxford, 253 pp., £12.99, January 1998, 9780199223220
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Collapse of Stout Party: The Decline and Fall of the Tories 
by Julian Crtitchley and Morrison Halcrow.
Gollancz, 288 pp., £20, November 1997, 0 575 06277 0
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Les Election Legislatives, 25 Mai-1er Juin 1997: Le president desavoue 
Le Monde, 146 pp., frs 45, June 1998Show More
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... to confirm that the economy was not the master issue which moved the electorate. The Norris and Gavin volume contains a great deal more equally detailed but essentially short-term analysis. There is, for example, a tremendous fascination in these election books with the question of how well the polls did in predicting the result. This has as much bearing on ...

Fine Women

Neil Rennie, 6 July 1989

The Pacific since Magellan. Vol. III: Paradise Found and Lost 
by O.H.K. Spate.
Routledge, 410 pp., £40, January 1989, 0 415 02565 6
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Captain Bligh: The Man and his Mutinies 
by Gavin Kennedy.
Duckworth, 321 pp., £14.95, April 1989, 0 7156 2231 5
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The Sublime Savage: James Macpherson and the Poems of Ossian 
by Fiona Stafford.
Edinburgh, 208 pp., £22.50, November 1988, 0 85224 569 6
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... that ‘AFRICA’S dark sons’ in the West Indies thought the breadfruit not worth the trouble. Gavin Kennedy, in Captain Bligh: The Man and his Mutinies, also dismisses speculation about homosexuality and has rather more pages to spare for narration and explanation. Most people today would surely agree that the causes of the mutiny two hundred years ago ...


Zoë Heller: Ronald Reagan, 2 March 2000

Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan 
by Edmund Morris.
HarperCollins, 874 pp., £24.99, October 1999, 0 00 217709 9
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... side in the Army’s First Motion Picture Unit) he gets another job working for Reagan’s brother Neil at an ad agency. And so the ludicrous felicities of chance continue. Now, sharper readers will immediately detect that this clunky stratagem does not provide an answer to the question of how to penetrate Reagan’s impenetrable fatuousness – the question ...

Short Cuts

Chris Mullin: Corbyn the ‘Collaborator’, 8 March 2018

... clambering onto the bandwagon. First out of the traps was the brash young defence secretary, Gavin Williamson. The Sun’s report, he said, shows why Corbyn cannot be trusted: ‘Time and time again he has sided with those who want to destroy everything that is great about this country.’ On 18 February the story moved up a gear. The Telegraph led with ...


W.G. Runciman: Reflections on Tawney, 4 August 1988

... it? Can one really imagine him siding with Eric Heffer against Bryan Gould, or Ron Todd against Gavin Laird? However little he liked to contemplate the rapacious pursuit of private profit by industrialists pretending that money spent on the social services ought instead to be left in their own pockets, Tawney had equally little liking for bureaucratic ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... have seen a mass defection of MPs to the SDP. As it was, Benn’s failure paved the way for Neil Kinnock’s purge of the Militant Left, as well as the crucial policy switch from renationalisation of key industries to ‘social ownership’. By the time Benn contested the leadership in 1988, he was a spent force. Voted off the NEC in 1993, he could only ...

Gaelic Gloom

Colm Tóibín: Brian Moore, 10 August 2000

Brian Moore: The Chameleon Novelist 
by Denis Sampson.
Marino, 344 pp., IR£20, October 1998, 1 86023 078 4
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... Ice-Cream, which he described as his most autobiographical novel, Moore dramatised the gap between Gavin’s idealism (and failure to study for exams) in the early years of the war and his family’s conservatism. Gavin’s mother thinks that General Franco is a saint and Gavin’s father ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... for questions’ controversy also later accounted for two senior ministers, Tim Smith and Neil Hamilton, who had to leave their posts at the Northern Ireland Office and the Department of Trade respectively. The paradox behind this extraordinary succession of resignations is that none of them has been for what traditional constitutional law would ...

Failed Vocation

James Butler: The Corbyn Project, 3 December 2020

Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour under Corbyn 
by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire.
Bodley Head, 376 pp., £18.99, September, 978 1 84792 645 6
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This Land: The Story of a Movement 
by Owen Jones.
Allen Lane, 336 pp., £20, September, 978 0 241 47094 7
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... from the leader’s office’s ill-fated attempts to engineer a Corbynite Glastonbury, to Gavin Shuker’s tortured comparison of his decision to leave the Labour Party to the Project Gemini spaceflight programme, to every appearance by the ‘glutinous’ Chuka Umunna. There is a darker side to this: both books describe the way the PLP’s regular ...

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