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... If you were a Kurd, perched on a mountain hillside, with ailing or dead parents, and suffering children, would you thank Mr Bush? I use his name generically for the British and Americans, and those Arabs who were swept along by us – initially, at any rate, against their better judgment – into a shooting war. The question is rhetorical. You would feel the kind of anger that the Jews felt as they risked their lives to get to Palestine on unseaworthy tubs zig-zagging towards Haifa in the late Forties ...
The Sinking of the ‘Belgrano’ 
by Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon.
Secker, 192 pp., £8.95, March 1984, 0 436 41332 9
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Our Falklands War 
edited by Geoffrey Underwood.
Maritime Books, 144 pp., £3.95, November 1983, 0 907771 08 4
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... I feel it is worth reproducing a Commons Question and Answer from Hansard of 5 March 1984: Mr Dalyell asked the Secretary of State for Defence why, on 16 January, his Department refused the request originally made on 26 June 1983 by Desmond Rice and Arthur Gavshon, and Messrs Secker and Warburg to interview Rear Admiral Sir John Woodward and Commander ...


Tam Dalyell: The Belgrano Affair, 7 February 1985

... drafts, as to how to ‘deal with’ the letter. On 19 March, says Mr Heseltine, ‘Tam Dalyell wrote to me, asking nine detailed questions’ – including questions relating to changes in the Belgrano’s course. These ‘led me to take a view that the whole question that arose in connection with the Belgrano had got to be subjected to ...


Tam Dalyell: Argentina in 1984, 6 September 1984

... Consider, for example, the following two Parliamentary Questions from 23 July this year:   Mr Dalyell: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of Argentine missile capability to put the Falklands Airport out of action.   Answer (Mr Stanley): It would not be in the public interest to disclose our assessments of Argentine ...

Getting it right

Tam Dalyell, 18 July 1985

The Ponting Affair 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
Cecil Woolf, 144 pp., £5.95, June 1985, 0 900821 74 4
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Who Killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Judith Cook.
New English Library, 182 pp., £1.95, June 1985, 0 450 05885 9
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... has been smothered by the great big yawn of the British public. Norton-Taylor is not and never was Tam Dalyell’s or anyone else’s tame journalist. On the contrary, he started by being sceptical of Dalyell, and Dalyell was hostile to Norton-Taylor (though he has yet to break his ...

Ponting bites back

Tam Dalyell, 4 April 1985

The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... the deputy counsel, were to reiterate in court, they were counsel for Mr Ponting and not Mr Dalyell. There were differences. For example, before the trial Mr Ponting said he did not share my contention that the Belgrano was sunk, above all else, to scupper the Peruvian peace plan. Now, he displays an open mind on the role of the Peruvian proposals, and ...

Shining Pink

Tam Dalyell, 23 May 1985

Death of a Rose-Grower: Who killed Hilda Murrell? 
by Graham Smith.
Cecil Woolf, 96 pp., £5.95, April 1985, 0 900821 76 0
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... Harlech Television interviewed lately a burglar from Shrewsbury who was just out of jail. The burglar was adamant that if the burgling fraternity at Shrewsbury had found out that one of their number had ‘done that old girl in’, they would have been on the phone to the Police straight away – no messing. Shrewsbury burglars do not do things like assaulting defenceless old women ...

For ever Falkland?

Tam Dalyell, 17 June 1982

... Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.’ I suggest that this is an appropriate motto, not of course for the unfortunate men of the Task Force, but for those who sent them to the South Atlantic. It characterises the whole operation – an operation, as I have tried to show in this journal,* which was conceived in an emotional spasm, by the injured pride of the House of Commons, on that hysterical Saturday morning, 3 April 1982 ...

Floreat Brixton

Tam Dalyell, 5 December 1985

An Eton Schoolboy’s Album 
by Mark Dixon.
Debrett, 118 pp., £10.95, November 1985, 0 905649 78 8
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... I didn’t learn much history at Eton, but one of the first things we were taught was that Henry VI founded Eton, his “College Roiall of oure Lady Eton”, in the year 1440.’ So says Mark Dixon in An Eton Schoolboy’s Album. He may or may not have learned much history, but somewhere along the line Dixon, who left Eton in 1980, has learned how to write in an entertaining and elegant way ...

Politician’s War

Tam Dalyell, 3 March 1983

The Battle for the Falklands 
by Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins.
Joseph, 384 pp., £10.95, February 1983, 0 7181 2228 3
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... In the opening paragraph of their important book on the Falklands War, Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins write: ‘So extraordinary an event was it that, even after men began to die, many of those taking part felt as if they had been swept away into fantasy, that the ships sinking and the guns firing round them had somehow escaped from a television screen in the living-room ...

Operation Big Ear

Tam Dalyell, 3 May 1984

The Unsinkable Aircraft-Carrier: American Military Power in Britain 
by Duncan Campbell.
Joseph, 351 pp., £12.95, April 1984, 0 7181 2289 5
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... This is the advice I shall give to those of my Parliamentary friends who have an interest in the American military presence in Britain, but who may have neither the time nor the inclination to read a 340-page book. ‘Go to the Oriel Room in the Commons Library, and having got the Unsinkable Aircraft-Carrier, turn to pages 76 and 77. There you will find a map of all the American bases and installations in Britain ...

Easter Island Revisited

Tam Dalyell, 27 June 1991

A Green History of the World 
by Clive Ponting.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 352 pp., £16.95, May 1991, 1 85619 050 1
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... In my 29 years as a Member of the House of Commons, I can recollect only one occasion when I have broken out in a cold sweat of anxiety. It was on a Saturday morning, at home, when I was shaving and listening to the 7 a.m. BBC Radio News. Headline Number One: a senior civil servant had been taken into custody for an alleged breach of the Official Secrets Act ...


Tam Dalyell: Questions for Mrs Thatcher, 23 July 1987

... I spent half the period of the General Election in my Linlithgow constituency and other Scottish seats, and half campaigning in some thirty English marginal seats. So much has been written on the North-South divide, and the fact that great cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow have no representative of the governing party, that I need not dwell on what is since 11 June familiar ground ...

A Falklands Polemic

Tam Dalyell, 20 May 1982

... Never underestimate the importance of fortuitous timing in the development of events. Governments and nations can get onto a motorway, and then find to their alarm that they are on a journey on which they never intended to travel, but from which there is no acceptable exit. We are faced with a shooting war in the South Atlantic that few British politicians thought could, should or would occur ...


Tam Dalyell: Nuclear Power after Chernobyl, 5 June 1986

... Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Those who, maybe understandably, conduct their civil nuclear affairs with an occasional under-injection of candour should not be too quick to condemn the secretiveness of Russia. With a timing that is perfect in its irony, it has emerged this spring, thanks to the 30-year rule, that in 1957 Harold Macmillan, then Prime Minister, took a decision that would have done credit to the most reticent of regimes ...

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