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Looking back at the rubble

David Simpson: War and the Built Environment, 25 May 2006

The Destruction of Memory: Architecture at War 
by Robert Bevan.
Reaktion, 240 pp., £19.95, January 2006, 1 86189 205 5
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... cleansing’, with its suggestion that nothing more than a routine housekeeping task is involved. Robert Bevan begins his book with an account of his childhood obsession with photographs and film footage of the destruction of Europe’s built heritage in World War Two, an obsession that ‘felt wrong’ in relation to the ‘greater evil’ also ...

At the Ashmolean

Peter Campbell: Lucien and Camille Pissarro, 3 February 2011

... and weather wasn’t naturalised here. Between the wars Pissarro was close to Charles Ginner, Robert Bevan, Sickert, Spencer Gore, painters well represented in the Ashmolean. There is a pleasing primness about them, a neatness, a care about getting the drawing right, that was just what Camille hoped Lucien would escape from. In 1947 Pissarro’s ...

Bevan’s Boy

John Campbell, 20 September 1984

The Making of Neil Kinnock 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 256 pp., £9.95, September 1984, 0 571 13266 9
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Neil Kinnock: The Path to Leadership 
by G.M.F. Drower.
Weidenfeld, 162 pp., £8.95, July 1984, 0 297 78467 6
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... claimed in Who’s Who to be the author of an anthology of the writings and sayings of Aneurin Bevan entitled What Nye said: each year the supposed publication date was authoritatively amended, although the book has never appeared. When asked about it by G.M.F. Drower, Kinnock prevaricated: It’s, er, in four cardboard boxes in the attic at the ...

Criminal Justice

Ronan Bennett, 24 June 1993

... of the Guildford Four are a politically heterogeneous bunch: at one end, Cardinal Basil Hume, Robert Kee, Merlyn Rees, Lord Scarman and the late Lord Devlin; at the other, rhetoric-ridden, far-left Trotskyist groupings. And in between the world and its dog. The only thing on which all are agreed – some with more knowledge of the facts than others – is ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2009, 7 January 2010

... we drop down into Kendal and the Abbot Hall gallery, where there is a touring exhibition of Robert Bevan pictures. The shows at Abbot Hall are just the right size, and never more than three or four rooms. The Bevans are shown alongside other Camden Town paintings, the best of which is a lovely, glowing, slightly abstract picture by Spencer ...

We’ve done awfully well

Karl Miller: The Late 1950s, 18 July 2013

Modernity Britain: Opening the Box, 1957-59 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 432 pp., £25, June 2013, 978 0 7475 8893 1
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... affairs. A not uncritical leftish feeling can be surmised for the romantic socialism of Aneurin Bevan, and for the romantic sociology of Michael Young and Raymond Williams, as the views of these three have been characterised. One of the best sayings culled for the new volume is drawn from Bevan, and is as good as the ...

Leading the Labour Party

Arthur Marwick, 5 November 1981

Michael Foot: A Portrait 
by Simon Hoggart and David Leigh.
Hodder, 216 pp., £8.95, September 1981, 0 340 27600 2
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... Labour prime minister. MacDonald was elected chairman and leader, as the press at the time, and Robert Mackenzie much later, stressed. MacDonald had the charisma, he had the contacts with the Left, and he profited from the general disenchantment with the war and those associated with it. That said, it is impossible to see the worthy Clynes as a ‘lost ...

Grand Old Man

Robert Blake, 1 May 1980

The Last Edwardian at No 10: An Impression of Harold Macmillan 
by George Hutchinson.
Quartet, 151 pp., £6.50, February 1980, 0 7043 2232 3
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... belonged to opposite parties. Nor does it resemble the hostility between Ernest Bevin and Aneurin Bevan, or between Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill, who represented conflicting attitudes within the same party. It is not obvious that Mr Macmillan and Mr Butler differed to any great extent on matters of policy. There were disagreements, but on style ...

Prince of Darkness

Ian Aitken, 28 January 1993

Rupert Murdoch 
by William Shawcross.
Chatto, 616 pp., £18.99, September 1992, 0 7011 8451 5
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... to be directed first to securing the leadership of the Labour Party for my hero, Aneurin Bevan. Thereafter, no effort was to be spared in achieving the election of a Labour government. To this end, I would want to talk to the leader-writers before they applied themselves to their typewriters each afternoon, and again after they had finished their ...

Questionably Virtuous

Stuart Middleton: Harold Wilson, 7 September 2016

Harold Wilson: The Unprincipled Prime Minister? Reappraising Harold Wilson 
edited by Andrew Crines and Kevin Hickson.
Biteback, 319 pp., £20, March 2016, 978 1 78590 031 0
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... America’s war in Korea partly by introducing charges for NHS dentures and spectacles. Aneurin Bevan resigned as health minister in protest; Wilson followed him the next day. The hostility between Gaitskellites and Bevanites would define much of Labour politics during the 1950s. Wilson’s resignation initially identified him with ...

A Very Bad Case

Michael Brock, 11 June 1992

Herbert Samuel: A Political Life 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Oxford, 427 pp., £45, January 1992, 0 19 822648 9
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... was ‘a desiccated calculating-machine’. These descriptions, by Lloyd George and Aneurin Bevan respectively, reveal little more than the effects of personal irritation on imaginative Welsh politicians. In his final chapter Professor Wasserstein draws attention to ‘a fundamental innocence’ and ‘supreme intellectual self-confidence’ as two ...

In Bloody Orkney

Robert Crawford: George Mackay Brown, 22 February 2007

George Mackay Brown: The Life 
by Maggie Fergusson.
Murray, 363 pp., £25, April 2006, 0 7195 5659 7
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The Collected Poems of George Mackay Brown 
edited by Brian Murray.
Murray, 547 pp., £18.99, October 2006, 0 7195 6884 6
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... in a language that was not their first. Native language matters more than native place. Robert Frost was a Californian who entrenched himself in New England. T.S. Eliot, for all his Russell Square papistry, came from St Louis. These poets grew to be associated with the territories they adopted and which adopted them. The idea that a place or ...

What is this Bernard?

Christopher Hitchens, 10 January 1991

Good and Faithful Servant: The Unauthorised Biography of Bernard Ingham 
by Robert Harris.
Faber, 202 pp., £14.99, December 1990, 0 571 16108 1
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... Here was a then-regular sodality, consisting at different times of Kingsley Amis, Bernard Levin, Robert Conquest, Anthony Powell, Russell Lewis and assorted others, and calling itself with heavy and definite self-mockery ‘Bertorelli’s Blackshirts’. The conversational scheme was simple (I think it had evolved from a once-famous letter to the Times ...

Goodness me

Mary-Kay Wilmers, 26 October 1989

Margaret, Daughter of Beatrice: A Politician’s Psycho-Biography of Margaret Thatcher 
by Leo Abse.
Cape, 288 pp., £13.95, September 1989, 0 224 02726 3
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... a place peculiarly populated by the emotionally unsound, was published fifteen years ago. Aneurin Bevan, Abse said there, was a Freudian case-study; Harold Wilson’s ‘seeming calmness’ a ‘regressive schizoid phenomenon’. The book undoubtedly scored a few (underhand) hits and Anthony Howard called it a ‘revolutionary’ work. In fact, Private Member ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... GIVE ME GOOD PIGEONS! – A very large number of Great Commoners Built like Nye Bevan or Gambetta. Strong, rather than prettily melodious, clear and confident, this is the voice of Dunn at his best, homing in on subject-matter that is both universal and domestic. Dunn’s book is far from alone in its attention to home. Charles Causley’s ...

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