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Shoy-Hoys

Paul Foot: The not-so-great Reform Act

6 May 2004
Reform! The Fight for the 1832 Reform Act 
by Edward Pearce.
Cape, 343 pp., £20, November 2003, 0 224 06199 2
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... watched the shoy-hoy with their quick and piercing eyes and perceived that it never moves hand or foot, they totally disregard it, and are no more obstructed by it than if it were a post. Just so it is with these political shoy-hoys. Cobbett recognised that the Reform Bill was a distraction from the cause of universal suffrage. Plenty of other people saw ...
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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... level.’ The history of Consolidated Goldfields, incidentally, has been written for a fat fee by Paul Johnson, former editor of the New Statesman and later chief jester at the court of Margaret Thatcher. Laurie Flynn tells us that Johnson managed to complete his panegyric without a single interview with a migrant miner. Nor did he mention ‘the migrant ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown

19 February 1998
Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... for eradicating poverty is the redistribution of income and wealth from rich to poor.’ Paul Routledge patronises the young Brown: ‘As a panacea for all social ills this vision could hardly be faulted. As a political strategy it was lamentably deficient.’ Similarly, Gordon Brown now dismisses the policies set out in Red Paper and The Great ...
4 June 1987
Prime Minister: The Conduct of Policy under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan 
by Bernard Donoughue.
Cape, 198 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 224 02450 7
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Time and Chance 
by James Callaghan.
Collins, 584 pp., £15.95, April 1987, 0 00 216515 5
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... Bernard Donoughue records something said by James Callaghan, then Prime Minister, just before the 1979 General Election, as the two men were driving home to Downing Street in the official Rover: You know there are times, perhaps once every thirty years, when there is a sea change in politics. It then does not matter what you say or what you do. There is a shift in what the public wants and what it approves of ...
7 December 1989
... said of Garrington: ‘The kindest explanation is that his memory was playing him tricks.’ PC Paul Berry, a serving officer, said he had seen one of the men with a cut lip and a black eye. His evidence, said the judges, ‘does not help the appeal’. Two officers from Winson Green Prison at the time the men were admitted, Peter Bourne and Brian ...

Wilsonia

Paul Foot

2 March 1989
The Wilson Plot: The Intelligence Services and the Discrediting of a Prime Minister 
by David Leigh.
Heinemann, 271 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 434 41340 2
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A Price too High 
by Peter Rawlinson.
Weidenfeld, 284 pp., £16, March 1989, 0 297 79431 0
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... the Director-General of MI5 Sir Michael Hanley told his assembled colleagues that if Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour Party (and thus became prime minister), ‘I and every other officer in the service would have to consider our position.’ Every other officer in the service, Sir Michael could safely assume, would be likely to resign if a ...
26 July 1990
A Radical Lawyer in Victorian England: W.P. Roberts and the Struggle for Workers’ Rights 
by Raymond Challinor.
Tauris, 302 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 1 85043 150 7
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... the insidious ‘bond’ (a ‘contract’ in which the miners delivered themselves bound hand and foot to the owners). The victory made Roberts a hero in the miners’ communities. Even the magistrates were impressed: the arrival of the ‘miners’ attorney’ in his gig was enough to persuade one lot of magistrates to grant bail to imprisoned ...

Diary

Paul Foot: Two Views of John Stalker

3 March 1988
... In the autumn of 1982 three policemen in Northern Ireland were killed by a landmine planted by the IRA. At once, the Royal Ulster Constabulary plotted their revenge. Acting on information provided by one of their informers in the IRA – who has been paid many, many thousands of pounds – they identified five Republicans who were said to have been responsible for the landmine, and a hay shed which was, according to the informer, used by the IRA to hoard weapons ...
28 September 1989
The Godwins and the Shelleys: The Biography of a Family 
by William St Clair.
Faber, 572 pp., £20, June 1989, 0 571 15422 0
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... Don’t be deceived by title or subtitle. This is not the biography of a family and it is not about the Godwins and the Shelleys. Perhaps the publishers persuaded William St Clair against his better judgment to downgrade his hero in the title and to include the Shelleys, who are more famous. This rich, glorious book is, however, a biography of William Godwin – no more, no less ...
27 June 1991
Kill the messenger 
by Bernard Ingham.
HarperCollins, 408 pp., £17.50, May 1991, 0 00 215944 9
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... to beat all Thatcherites. He loves Nicholas Ridley and the Poll Tax, favours identity cards for football supporters, detests trade unions which behave like trade unions and not as satraps of the employers. He constantly rants against ‘NHS officials, teachers and all who would dip their hands into taxpayers’ pockets’. He was, he proudly tells ...
19 December 1991
Under Fire: An American Story 
by Oliver North and William Novak.
HarperCollins, 446 pp., £17.99, October 1991, 0 06 018334 9
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Terry Waite: Why was he kidnapped? 
by Gavin Hewitt.
Bloomsbury, 230 pp., £15.99, November 1991, 0 7475 0375 3
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... When did the Irangate scandal start? The official answer is late 1985. The Tower Commission report, a slovenly document which does not even boast an index, starts its story in that year. Col Oliver North, the man who, according to the received version, thought up the idea of selling arms to secure the release of American hostages in Beirut, tells us: ‘My own operational involvement began ...
7 February 1991
... The Sun (15 January) announces on its front page: THE SUN SPEAKS FOR EVERY MAN, WOMAN AND CHILD IN BRITAIN. This would normally be a joke, a fantastic flight of fancy to prove that editor Kelvin Mackenzie had at last gone mad. But when, the next morning, the Sun devotes its entire front page to the Union Jack with a good old British Tommy in its centre, and the rubric up above SUPPORT OUR BOYS AND PUT THIS FLAG IN YOUR WINDOW, thousands of people do so! The Sun has its best morning for years ...

Right as pie

Paul Foot

24 October 1991
Tom Mann, 1856-1941: The Challenges of Labour 
by Chushichi Tsuzuki.
Oxford, 288 pp., £35, July 1991, 0 19 820217 2
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... In Melbourne prison, Australia, in November 1906, Tom Mann, socialist agitator, aged 50, was visited by J. Ramsay MacDonald, newly-elected Labour MP for Leicester, aged 40. Nothing is recorded of what was said. Macdonald may have expressed his enthusiasm at the advance of the Labour Party. He had trebled his vote at Leicester, and the Party now had 29 MPs ...

They should wear masks

Paul Foot: Highway Robbery

7 January 1999
Stagecoach: A Classic Rags-to-Riches Tale from the Frontiers of Capitalism 
by Christian Wolmar.
Orion, 227 pp., £18.99, November 1998, 0 7528 1025 1
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... When I heard that Christian Wolmar was to write a book about the transport company Stagecoach I rejoiced that one of the great privatisation scandals of our time would at last be fully exposed. My hopes faded with the first sentence. ‘This book was written with the active co-operation of Stagecoach’s senior executives.’ After ‘initial doubts’, Stagecoach’s founder and driving force Brian Souter ‘gave his time for a series of lengthy interviews ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover

22 February 2001
Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... For an old Red like me, bowed down by years of Thatcher, Reagan, Clinton and Blair, these two books are full of exhilaration and hope. George Monbiot writes mainly about Britain in a terse investigative style that I had feared was out of date. Naomi Klein, based in Canada, ranges all over the world and writes infectiously with verve and passion. Again and again their themes converge ...

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