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Diary

Peter Clarke: Labour’s Return, 28 June 1990

... Walworth Road to discover the name of a game which was already familiar to Daniel O’Connell and William Ewart Gladstone, even if the apparatchiks’ own discovery of the name of the rose had to await the advent of the cordless telephone. They now speak of having provided suitable ‘packaging’ for a new and improved ‘product’. Marketing claims of this ...

Looking away

Michael Wood, 18 May 1989

First Light 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Hamish Hamilton, 328 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 241 12498 0
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The Chymical Wedding 
by Lindsay Clarke.
Cape, 542 pp., £12.95, April 1989, 0 224 02537 6
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The Northern Lights 
by Howard Norman.
Faber, 236 pp., £4.99, April 1989, 0 571 15474 3
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... borrows a few tics from Dickens, strays at times (unintentionally, I think) into the territory of William Golding and Iris Murdoch – but it does go in for resurrection in a big way. It digs up the past in all directions. The major strand of the plot concerns an archaeological site in Dorset, the excavation of a tumulus thought to be about 4500 years old, or ...

The Ballad of Andy and Rebekah

Martin Hickman: The Phone Hackers, 17 July 2014

... of the News of the World, then edited by Coulson, intercepted the voicemail messages of Princes William and Harry. Goodman was arrested, and the police found 15 confidential palace phone books at his house in Putney. They also found five thousand names mentioned in 11,000 pages of handwritten notes at the home and in the office of Glenn Mulcaire, the ...

Burrinchini’s Spectre

Peter Clarke, 19 January 1984

That Noble Science of Politics: A Study in 19th-Century Intellectual History 
by Stefan Collini, Donald Winch and John Burrow.
Cambridge, 385 pp., £25, November 1983, 9780521257626
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... established Church,’ we are reminded, ‘Malthus was as much the successor to Abraham Tucker and William Palcy as to Adam Smith, and as much the contemporary of someone like Bishop Sumner, who did so much to make his doctrines acceptable in Anglican circles, as of his friend Ricardo.’ Macaulay, on the other hand, is to be visualised, as he so often ...

Two-Faced

Peter Clarke, 21 September 1995

LSE: A History of the London School of Economics and Political Science 
by Ralf Dahrendorf.
Oxford, 584 pp., £25, May 1995, 0 19 820240 7
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... history of the LSE’s foundation by Sir Sydney Caine, or to what Dahrendorf calls ‘William Beveridge’s intriguing London School of Economics and Its Problems’ – some would point also to the celebratory history by Beveridge’s fellow intriguer, Jessy Mair, later Lady Beveridge. What this ex-director has pulled off, however, cannot be ...

Hoylake

Peter Clarke, 30 March 1989

Selwyn Lloyd 
by D.K. Thorpe.
Cape, 516 pp., £18, February 1989, 0 224 02828 6
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... When he was in the Army the problem was looked after. When he became a Tory MP his Army friend William Aitken offered to put him up temporarily in his flat, where Lloyd stayed for the next five years. Marriage turned out to be a brief and unsatisfactory interlude. The many ministerial jobs which Lloyd successively held came with accommodation thrown ...

Up the avenue

Peter Clarke, 11 June 1992

Election Rides 
by Edward Pearce.
Faber, 198 pp., £5.99, April 1992, 0 571 16657 1
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... Press Association. No sound-bite was more factitious than this, only shorter. When the People’s William went on the stump, he was well aware that he was speaking not only to the thousands who attended his meetings – yes, even in Sheffield – but to the millions who only read about them. Professional football was catching on as a spectator sport in much ...

Short Cuts

Francis FitzGibbon: Human Rights à la Carte, 23 October 2014

... reports that showed his plans were unviable). He may have thought that the removal of Kenneth Clarke, Dominic Grieve and (perhaps) William Hague from the cabinet left the field clear for his long promised assault on human rights law. Instead, he lost any respectable cover for the Conservative Party’s sinister and ...

Balfour’s Ghost

Peter Clarke, 20 March 1997

Why Vote Conservative? 
by David Willetts.
Penguin, 108 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026304 7
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Why Vote Liberal Democrat? 
by William Wallace.
Penguin, 120 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026303 9
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Why Vote Labour? 
by Tony Wright.
Penguin, 111 pp., £3.99, February 1997, 0 14 026397 7
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... wants to go back in a political time-machine to 1979. True, in Why Vote Liberal Democrat?, William Wallace openly opposes the privatisation of Railtrack and favours phasing out mortgage interest tax relief. But, interestingly enough, both these arguments can be defended on the sort of impeccably 19th-century liberal principles that Thatcherites often ...

The Antagoniser’s Agoniser

Peter Clarke: Keith Joseph, 19 July 2001

Keith Joseph 
by Andrew Denham and Mark Garnett.
Acumen, 488 pp., £28, March 2001, 9781902683034
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... At the general election Tony Blair explicitly claimed to be moving beyond Thatcherism and William Hague implicitly claimed to be moving back to it. During the campaign it was difficult to be sure what image best captured the brooding presence of the eponymous Lady. If she appeared to the Tory faithful as a painfully nostalgic evocation of the glory ...

Human Wishes

Irvin Ehrenpreis, 20 December 1984

Samuel Johnson 
by Walter Jackson Bate.
Hogarth, 646 pp., £6.95, July 1984, 0 7012 0562 8
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A Preliminary Handlist of Copies of Books Associated with Dr Samuel Johnson 
by J.D. Fleeman.
Oxford Bibliographical Society, 101 pp., £5, March 1984, 0 901420 41 7
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Samuel Johnson 1709-84: A Bicentenary Exhibition 
edited by K.K. Yung.
Arts Council/Herbert Press, 144 pp., £9.95, July 1984, 9780906969458
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Samuel Johnson 
by Donald Greene.
Oxford, 872 pp., £15, June 1984, 9780192541796
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... says Johnson,‘that the means by which it must be attained, are obvious and evident.’ Samuel Clarke (1675-1729), whose views Johnson often accepted, said it was as absurd to mistake plain right and wrong as it would be ‘for a man in arithmetical matters, ignorantly to believe that twice two is not equal to four.’ The other principle to make us balk ...

God’s Endurance

Peter Clarke, 30 November 1995

Gladstone 
by Roy Jenkins.
Macmillan, 698 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 333 60216 1
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... with France, but in a roaring populist style which anticipates his emergence as ‘the People’s William’: Now, I make an appeal to the friends of the poor man. There is a time which comes to all of us – the time, I mean, of sickness – when wine becomes a common necessity. What kind of wine is administered to the poor man in this country? We have got ...

Scoutmaster General

Peter Clarke, 24 September 1992

Tony Benn 
by Jad Adams.
Macmillan, 576 pp., £20, July 1992, 0 333 52558 2
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The End of an Era: Diaries, 1980-1990 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 704 pp., £25, September 1992, 0 09 174857 7
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... He had inherited a family tradition of populist politics suffused with unabashed religiosity. William Wedgwood Benn had started as a Congregationalist and a Liberal: at 28 the youngest MP in the 1906 Parliament (whereas his own father had had to wait for a seat until he was 42). ‘Now Anthony has been chosen at the age of 25, so the family seems to be ...

Squeamish

Peter Clarke: Lloyd George versus Haig, 3 April 2003

Lloyd George: War Leader 
by John Grigg.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, October 2002, 9780713993431
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... Kitchener, handicapped Lloyd George throughout. He had to work with a Chief of Staff, Sir William Robertson, who enjoyed a plenitude of power inherited from Kitchener. With Robertson’s support, Haig was virtually irreplaceable as Commander-in-Chief, whatever Lloyd George’s view. For the one point on which displaced Asquithian ex-ministers ...

A Skeleton My Cat

Norma Clarke: ‘Poor Goldsmith’, 21 February 2019

The Letters of Oliver Goldsmith 
edited by Michael Griffin and David O’Shaughnessy.
Cambridge, 232 pp., £64.99, July 2018, 978 1 107 09353 9
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... his brother Henry. An unusually didactic letter to Henry in 1759 about the upbringing of his son William (the one family member Goldsmith did actively help in London) is filled with precepts taken from the recently completed Enquiry into the Present State of Polite Learning in Europe and foreshadows much that would appear in The Citizen of the World. That ...

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