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Erratic Star

Michael Foot

11 May 1995
Moral Desperado: A Life of Thomas Carlyle 
by Simon Heffer.
Orion, 420 pp., £20, March 1995, 0 297 81564 4
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... with Mill, in which most observers would have favoured Mill. Something deep in Mill’s outlook offended Toryism, old or new, whereas something deep in Carlyle’s has been potent enough to persuade SimonHeffer to follow in the footsteps of his Peter-house mentor, Maurice Cowling, and see whether Carlyle can be given the final accolade. It seems a pretty tall order, even though, as every schoolchild ...

A prince, too, can do his bit

K.D. Reynolds: King Edward VII and George VI

27 April 2000
Power and Place: The Political Consequences of King Edward VII 
by Simon Heffer.
Weidenfeld, 342 pp., £20, August 1998, 9780297842200
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A Spirit Undaunted: The Political Role of George VI 
by Robert Rhodes James.
Little, Brown, 368 pp., £22.50, November 1998, 0 316 64765 9
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... Crown and Parliament necessarily mean a decline in the power of the throne? There are those who assert that the monarchy is, and has been for more than a century, politically impotent and irrelevant. SimonHeffer and the late Robert Rhodes James have thought differently, and rightly so. Recent indignation over the ‘co-option’ of royal events by Tony Blair highlights the uses to which politicians ...

Squealing

Ian Buruma

13 May 1993
Gower: The Autobiography 
by David Gower and Martin Johnson.
Collins Willow, 256 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 00 218413 3
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... of Albion will come together in Victory. Gower will return this year to make a century against the Australians, and Gooch will escort him off the field, brawny arm wrapped around delicate shoulder. SimonHeffer, in the Evening Standard, wrote a more ill-tempered piece, in which he deplored the fact that Mr M. Atherton (Manchester Grammar and Cambridge) was frozen out of Gooch, G.’s secondary-modern ...

What’s the big idea?

Jonathan Parry: The Origins of Our Decline

30 November 2017
The Age of Decadence: Britain 1880 to 1914 
by Simon Heffer.
Random House, 912 pp., £30, September 2017, 978 1 84794 742 0
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... SimonHeffer​ has had an idea. He has had them before, but he has fattened this one up into a book of enormous proportions. Huge quantities of factual narrative have been injected into it, in the hope of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Boycotting Bristol

20 March 2003
... school with some of them – drifting and squandering their way through university and out the other side, with or without a degree to show for it (and a very nice time most of them had of it, too). SimonHeffer in the Daily Mail took up his predictable cudgel on behalf of the beleaguered privileged classes. The head of the university funding council, however, has said that Bristol’s admissions ...

Wedded to the Absolute

Ferdinand Mount: Enoch Powell

26 September 2019
Enoch Powell: Politics and Ideas in Modern Britain 
by Paul Corthorn.
Oxford, 233 pp., £20, August, 978 0 19 874714 7
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... in Oxford recently, but about an old lady in London: ‘Almost every circumstantial detail was the same.’ A miasma of doubt hung over the tale for another forty years until smart detective work by Simon Burgess for a Radio 4 documentary revealed that the widow did exist and that one of her friends had written to Powell about her. Her name was Drucilla Cotterill, and she had been teased by the ...

Black Electricities

John Sutherland

30 October 1997
The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. Vol. XXV: January-December 1850 
edited by Clyde de L. Ryals and K.J. Fielding.
Duke, 364 pp., £52, September 1997, 0 8223 1986 1
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Reminiscences 
by Thomas Carlyle, edited by K.J. Fielding and Ian Campbell.
Oxford, 481 pp., £7.99, September 1997, 0 19 281748 5
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... Mosquito raids. This is not an endorsement which brings a prophet honour in his own country. But Carlyle’s reputation was sunk long before the Nazis took him along to their Götterdämmerung. SimonHeffer gives a useful account of the ‘long and damaging fall from the pedestal’ in the first chapter of his 1995 Life of Carlyle. The extent of that fall can also be gauged in the acres of cheap ...

Dazed and Confused

Paul Laity: Are the English human?

28 November 2002
Patriots: National Identity in Britain 1940-2000 
by Richard Weight.
Macmillan, 866 pp., £25, May 2002, 0 333 73462 9
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Pariah: Misfortunes of the British Kingdom 
by Tom Nairn.
Verso, 176 pp., £13, September 2002, 1 85984 657 2
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Identity of England 
by Robert Colls.
Oxford, 422 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 19 924519 3
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Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Chatto, 518 pp., £25, October 2002, 1 85619 716 6
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... since Linda Colley influentially explained that Britons were the product of particular historical conditions – conditions which have now disappeared. We have had the woe-is-England vapourings of SimonHeffer and the rushed observations of Andrew Marr. An academic industry has flourished. Now both Weight and Robert Colls have written requiems for the old Britishness which are also ruminations on a ...

Sagest of Usurpers

Ian Gilmour: Cromwell since Cromwell

21 March 2002
Roundhead Reputations: The English Civil Wars and the Passions of Posterity 
by Blair Worden.
Allen Lane, 387 pp., £20, November 2001, 9780713996036
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... of Parliament in Westminster, since he despised the ‘eternal babblement’ of parliaments. He also disliked ‘the babble of toleration’. Carlyle was writing what his most recent biographer, SimonHeffer, called an allegory of England. Much of that allegory would not have been wholly congenial to most of his readers, who did not regard parliaments or toleration as mere ‘babblements ...

Now to Stride into the Sunlight

Ian Jack: The Brexiters

14 June 2017
What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit 
by Daniel Hannan.
Head of Zeus, 298 pp., £9.99, November 2016, 978 1 78669 193 4
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The Bad Boys of Brexit: Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign 
by Arron Banks.
Biteback, 354 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 1 78590 205 5
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All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class 
by Tim Shipman.
William Collins, 688 pp., £9.99, June 2017, 978 0 00 821517 0
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... not a victim of it, is his talent for petty indiscretion. For example, journalists who’d been especially helpful to Leave.EU were each sent a Fortnum’s hamper for Christmas. He names the names: SimonHeffer of the Daily Mail, Andrew Pierce of the Daily Mail, Christopher Hope at the Daily Telegraph and Caroline Wheeler at the Sunday Express. He even quotes Heffer’s thank-you note: he found the ...

Diary

Frank Field: Reading Kilroy-Silk’s Diary

6 November 1986
... on its exploration the reader ought to prepare himself for two shocks. First, there are yet more disclosures about the operations of Militant in Merseyside. In his new book on Labour’s future Eric Heffer misses the significance of these operations.2 Merseyside has appalling problems, and Eric summarises admirably the extent of the deprivation, and the extent to which the current government’s ...

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