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What Is Great about Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra: Closing Time, 21 September 2017

The Retreat of Western Liberalism 
by Edward Luce.
Little, Brown, 240 pp., £16.99, May 2017, 978 1 4087 1041 8
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The Fate of the West: Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea 
by Bill Emmott.
Economist, 257 pp., £22, May 2017, 978 1 61039 780 3
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The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics 
by David Goodhart.
Hurst, 256 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 84904 799 9
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The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics 
by Mark Lilla.
Harper, 143 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 0 06 269743 1
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The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam 
by Douglas Murray.
Bloomsbury, 343 pp., £18.99, May 2017, 978 1 4729 4224 1
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... political calamities on the pampering of minorities. ‘Trump and his supporters,’ Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian after the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, ‘thrive on the venom of their liberal tormentors.’ Perhaps such back to front conclusions are inevitable if the centrist establishment stays silent about its own ...


Simon Hoggart, 24 April 1997

Michael Heseltine: A Biography 
by Michael Crick.
Hamish Hamilton, 496 pp., £20, February 1997, 0 241 13691 1
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... been insulted for their intellectual shortcomings. One (possibly apocryphal) story about Roy Jenkins illustrates the point. He’d been persuaded by a Welsh colleague to hobnob with some of the lads. ‘Buy ’em a drink, Roy. They’ll always remember your kindness and they’ll be flattered you sought them out.’ So ...

Serried Yuppiedromes

Owen Hatherley: What happened to London?, 21 August 2014

Guide to the Architecture of London 
by Edward Jones and Christopher Woodward.
Phoenix, 511 pp., £16.99, July 2013, 978 1 78022 493 0
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... in their judgment of modern architecture – compared with such contemporaries as Alice Coleman, Simon Jenkins or Charles Windsor they are positively nuanced, and they wrote presciently of the social and architectural success of Goldfinger’s Trellick Tower in the early 1980s – their book also reflects a view that ‘almost everyone believed in and ...


David Gascoyne: Notebook, New Year 1991, 25 January 1996

... talks. James Baker and Bush are determined to teach Saddam Hussein ‘a terrible lesson’. Alan Jenkins of TLS rang up at 7.15 p.m. to suggest I write article on two exhibitions in London next month: Man Ray photos at Barbican, Max Ernst at Tate. Thursday 10: Ron Stocker to lunch. Listened to ‘Schönberg in Hollywood’ on Radio 3. Wrote to thank ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone, 2 January 2020

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... when it came to the primary political battle of her life, which was to defeat socialism. When Simon Jenkins, then the editor of the Times, went to interview Thatcher at Chequers in the run-up to the leadership contest, he saw a copy of Heseltine’s latest book on the coffee table, stuffed with post-it notes. She told him she had been marking up what ...


Simon Schaffer, 6 April 1995

Sir Hans Sloane: Collector, Scientist, Antiquary, Founding Father of the British Museum 
edited by Arthur MacGregor.
British Museum, 308 pp., £50, November 1994, 0 7141 2085 5
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... a proper science with Linnaeus. In a brilliant essay on his attitude to Classical antiquities, Ian Jenkins records that ‘Sloane’s curiosity was of the blinder sort,’ and that ‘his was a half-hearted interest and his assemblage an unremarkable affair,’ while the editor himself acknowledges that Sloane’s interest in Egyptology, accompanied by ‘a ...


Conor Gearty: Reasons for Loathing Michael Howard, 31 October 1996

... demeaned by its occupant. Sixty years ago this month, the then Tory Home Secretary, Sir John Simon, chose to announce a new Public Order Bill in the course of an offensive and thoroughly partisan speech at Cleckheaton Town Hall which just happened to be delivered in the same week in which Labour’s annual conference was taking place. The effect of this ...

Parkinson Lobby

Alan Rusbridger, 17 November 1983

... meagre inches of pious editorial. Writing in the Guardian three days after the story broke, Peter Jenkins talked of ‘the practical question of what should be done about the Fleet Street heavy mob bivouacking in Hertfordshire and Wiltshire, the Prime Minister pursued wherever she goes not by lobby correspondents but by crime reporters’. That, indeed, was ...

Every Rusty Hint

Ian Sansom: Anthony Powell, 21 October 2004

Anthony Powell: A Life 
by Michael Barber.
Duckworth, 338 pp., £20, July 2004, 0 7156 3049 0
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... from Barber, who fancies himself as rather droll (he is the author also of a witty biography of Simon Raven), and his endearing, if sometimes rather vague sense of humour ambushes almost every insight. ‘Although a regular churchgoer,’ he writes, ‘Violet took a liberal attitude towards sex, the wilder shores of which intrigued her as much as her ...

Mrs Thatcher’s Admirer

Ian Aitken, 21 November 1991

Time to declare 
by David Owen.
Joseph, 822 pp., £20, September 1991, 0 7181 3514 8
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... to get rid of Wilson, but it was interrupted by a message to call at Number 10 immediately. The simon-pure doctor abandoned his knife, fork and napkin (not to mention Mr MacLennan) and made his way up Whitehall, where the man he was plotting to bring down proceeded to offer him the post of Minister for the Navy. He accepted. Dr Owen records that this was ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945, 1 April 1999

The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... Thomas’s, Larkin’s influence was huge; unlike Dylan Thomas’s, it persists in what Nigel Jenkins has memorably called ‘the routine shibboleths of subject-matter, imagist verisimilitude, experience-fixated “creative writing”, secular common sense and “unique voice” fetishism’. One thing the date-of-birth ordering of these anthologies ...

Coalition Monsters

Colin Kidd, 6 March 2014

In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government 
by Matthew D’Ancona.
Penguin, 414 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 670 91993 2
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... participate on both sides of the debate. The cross-party Britain in Europe campaign was led by Roy Jenkins, then Labour home secretary, and supported by moderate consensus Tories such as Whitelaw and Maudling, the former Liberal leader Jo Grimond and middle-of-the-road Labour politicians like Cledwyn Hughes. On the other side of the argument were the bogeymen ...


Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... almost Stalinist as no one wants to be the first to stop clapping. Coming out I find myself behind Simon Williams, who has been mentioned by his son as one of Ben’s closest friends and am cheered by the possibility that if Ben could play Ambrose, so could Simon – which happily he does. But ‘lovely Ben’ the ...


Paul Muldoon: Hiberno-English Shenanigans, 1 July 1999

... 10 March. At 6:45 a.m. I set off by car service to Newark airport to catch the 10 a.m. Virgin/Continental flight to Gatwick. At this time of the morning the New Jersey Turnpike is too busy altogether. This use of altogether, I’m reminded by Terence Patrick Dolan in A Dictionary of Hiberno-English, means ‘wholly, completely’ and may be compared to the Irish phrase ar fad, particularly in its positioning at the end of a sentence ...

Prime Ministers’ Pets

Robert Blake, 10 January 1983

Benjamin Disraeli Letters: Vol. I 1815-1834, Vol. II 1835-1837 
edited by J.A.W. Gunn, John Matthews, Donald Schurman and M.G. Wiebe.
Toronto, 482 pp., £37.50, June 1982, 0 8020 5523 0
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The Gladstone Diaries: with Cabinet Minutes and Prime Ministerial Correspondence, Vol. VII, January 1869-June 1871, Vol. VIII, July 1871-December 1874 
edited by H.C.G. Matthew.
Oxford, 641 pp., £35, September 1982, 0 19 822638 1
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by Sarah Bradford.
Weidenfeld, 432 pp., £14.95, October 1982, 0 297 78153 7
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Gladstone: Vol. I 1809-1865 
by Richard Shannon.
Hamish Hamilton, 580 pp., £18, November 1982, 0 241 10780 6
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H.H. Asquith: Letters to Venetia Stanley 
edited by Michael Brock and Eleanor Brock.
Oxford, 676 pp., £19.50, November 1982, 0 19 212200 2
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... letters were Randolph Churchill and Martin Gilbert in their multi-volume Churchill and Roy Jenkins in his Asquith (1964). Their versions were far more accurate than anything that had appeared before, but copyright remained a problem, for Lady Violet Bonham Carter (Baroness Asquith of Yarnbury) was still alive and was anxious – some would say ...

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