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Law and Class

Francis Bennion

1 May 1980
Respectable Rebels 
edited by Roger King.
Hodder, 200 pp., £10.95, October 1979, 0 340 23164 5
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The Judge 
by Patrick Devlin.
Oxford, 207 pp., £7.50, September 1979, 0 19 215949 6
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Human Rights 
edited by F.E. Dowrick.
Saxon House, 223 pp., £9.70, July 1979, 0 566 00281 7
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In on the Act 
by Sir Harold Kent.
Macmillan, 273 pp., £8.95, September 1979, 0 333 27120 3
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Law, Justice and Social Policy 
by Rosalind Brooke.
Croom Helm, 136 pp., £7.95, October 1979, 0 85664 636 9
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Inequality, Crime and Public Policy 
by John Braithwaite.
Routledge, 332 pp., £10.75, November 1979, 0 7100 0323 4
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... that if human rights are not law they are ineffective; and if they are law their detail should be democratically enacted. Devlin the law-dispenser shows glimpses of English upper-middle-class hubris: SirHaroldKent the law-maker revels in it. One aspect is his disdain for what another law-maker (otherwise draftsman) known to me used to call ‘tinted gentlemen’. Devlin says it is even-handed ...

Shoulder-Shrugging

Julian Critchley

11 December 1997
Dear Bill: Bill Deedes Reports 
by W.F. Deedes.
Macmillan, 396 pp., £20, October 1997, 0 333 71386 9
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... the House, he struck a newcomer as the ideal backbencher. He was intelligent (for a Tory, that is), enjoyed an excess of charm, and was a moderate in a party that was beginning to lose patience with Harold Macmillan. I thought him the most influential of Tory backbenchers, more so than Major Morrison, the bucolic chairman of the 1922 Committee, or buffoons like Gerald Nabarro. After the ‘Night of the ...

Even Uglier

Terry Eagleton: Music Hall

20 December 2012
My Old Man: A Personal History of Music Hall 
by John Major.
Harper, 363 pp., £20, September 2012, 978 0 00 745013 8
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... music-hall style of speaking’, while his son greatly admired the music-hall comic Dan Leno and would sing his songs with what this book enigmatically describes as ‘teddy bear gestures’. Harold Macmillan could do a superb impersonation of the languid patrician he actually was, while Harold Wilson could imitate his true identity as a bluff, plain-speaking Yorkshireman to perfection. David ...

Scoop after Scoop

Ian Jack: Chapman Pincher’s Scoops

4 June 2014
Dangerous to Know: A Life 
by Chapman Pincher.
Biteback, 386 pp., £20, February 2014, 978 1 84954 651 5
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... the information was true ‘and especially if it was exclusive’ he was happy to be used at any time. He denies any particular bias against Labour governments, and is sorry to have fallen out with Harold Wilson (who later expressed sadness that he hadn’t known Pincher was a fellow Yorkshireman, telling him: ‘It would have made a difference, you know’). But while it may be true that he needled ...

Plonking

Ferdinand Mount: Edward Heath

22 July 2010
Edward Heath 
by Philip Ziegler.
Harper, 654 pp., £25, June 2010, 978 0 00 724740 0
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... been as obscure as the hurt allegedly suffered by Henry James, since nobody so far has convincingly explained it. Ted’s father and grandfather were convivial, easygoing men, rooted in their native Kent, fond of a drink and ready to pinch any passing bottom. On his 80th birthday, Heath père, who had started life as a carpenter and later done pretty well as a builder in Broadstairs, was asked if he ...
13 May 1999
... lurid past in amnesiac tourist brochures. Clap sores revamped as beauty spots. PR operatives delight in being both economical and spendthrift with the truth. Acceptable glories – the knighting of Sir Francis Drake and Sir Francis Chichester, visits by Samuel Pepys, location work for the latest Jane Austen or for Harrison Ford (more bombs) in Patriot Games – are trumpeted, while the dark history ...

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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... loveable Brummie accent sound sinister, at least until Peaky Blinders came along? In my experience, nobody, not even Oswald Mosley or Richard Nixon, was capable of radiating such unease in company. Harold Macmillan couldn’t stand having Powell opposite him in cabinet looking ‘like Savonarola eyeing one of the more disreputable popes’. So he relocated Enoch way down the table where he couldn’t ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: What I did in 2012

3 January 2013
... almost airy. We’re directed into one of the emptier rooms where HMQ is due to pass through but are then pounced on by some young man who asks if he may introduce the (slightly bewildered) Duke of Kent. We have an awkward few minutes but the day is saved by Clive Swift, whose son Joe has just won a medal at Chelsea. HRH knows about Chelsea and so brightens considerably. Meanwhile lurking by the ...
22 July 1993
Edward Heath: A Biography 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 876 pp., £20, July 1993, 0 224 02482 5
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... decencies were only just maintained. But, with whatever personal misgivings, he recognised Eden as his legitimate successor, just as Eden later forced a smile of approval when Macmillan took over. Sir Alec Douglas-Home, a pocket-sized Balfour, emulated him both in deferring to the Party’s wish for change at the top and in serving under his successor. That successor was Edward Heath, the first ...

The Person in the Phone Booth

David Trotter: Phone Booths

28 January 2010
... a little bit sick at the sight and smell of it. The disgust is the recognition. But what exactly is being recognised? Of course, better things do happen in phone booths, at least in fiction. Clark Kent and Dr Who regularly disappear into booths maintained to high standards of hygiene in order to pick up where they left off as extra-terrestrials. The time-travelling booth that launched Bill and Ted ...

You better not tell me you forgot

Terry Castle: How to Spot Members of the Tribe

27 September 2012
All We Know: Three Lives 
by Lisa Cohen.
Farrar Straus, 429 pp., £22.50, July 2012, 978 0 374 17649 5
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... in the 1940s and 1950s and Elizabeth David’s ‘postwar education of the English palate’.) Garland became fairly well-to-do along the way: the owner of houses in South Kensington and Shoreham in Kent, both of them graced with art and furnishings by glamorous friends like Marie Laurencin, Eileen Gray and E. McKnight Kauffer. She cultivated a soigné personal style to match – one glowingly caught ...

Memoirs of a Pet Lamb

David Sylvester: A Memoir

5 July 2001
... joined Oswald Mosley’s New Party. There’s a photograph of a weekend gathering at Mosley’s country house in which he is seated on the lawn as one of an assorted company, including John Strachey, Harold Nicolson, Peter Howard and Professor Joad, of prospective Parliamentary candidates. Three years later, when Mosley was starting to move towards Fascism, there were some letters, which are extant, in ...

The Tower

Andrew O’Hagan

7 June 2018
... the building or by operators on the phone. Stratford had been overwhelmed by calls: there were more than eight hundred from inside or around the tower that night; some of the calls were diverted to Kent and others as far as Newcastle. The nature of the fire response operation changed very rapidly: soon it was no longer a matter of extinguishing a localised fire so much as a question of mounting ...

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