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Evening at Dorneywood

Alan Rusbridger, 22 June 1989

The Whitelaw Memoirs 
by William Whitelaw.
Aurum, 280 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 1 85410 028 9
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... and CS gas. Shortly afterwards Manchester erupted once again. The Home Secretary at the time was William Whitelaw. He did what politicians tend to do in such circumstances: dropped in for a series of flying visits. In Liverpool the Chief Constable insisted that the visitor did not leave the official car, for fear of sparking off yet another riot. As ...
Whatever Happened to the Tories: The Conservatives since 1945 
by Ian Gilmour and Mark Garnett.
Fourth Estate, 448 pp., £25, October 1997, 1 85702 475 3
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... after the defeat in October 1974. Had he done so, he would almost certainly have been succeeded by William Whitelaw and not You Know Who. A combination of Mrs Thatcher, seemingly untrammelled trade-unionism and the débâcle of the 1974-79 Labour Government more or less finished off One-Nation Toryism – though its death was lingering rather than ...

At the Carlton Club

Andrew O’Hagan: Maggie, Denis and Mandy, 2 January 2020

... the man off for a gin and tonic. That was his style. I liked teasing him about being the model for William Boot in Scoop, and he admitted, when I pushed him, that he may indeed have taken a few too many suitcases to Addis Ababa in 1936. ‘Evelyn overdid it,’ he said. ‘Overdoing it was rather his thing.’We sat upstairs under a huge portrait of ...

Short Cuts

David Renton: Swinging the Baton, 4 August 2022

... argue that the pivotal moment was in January 1983, when the Conservative home secretary William Whitelaw introduced the Public Order Manual of Tactical Options and Related Matters, a classified handbook drawn up by the Home Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers, which permitted the use of ‘military-style tactics’ against ...


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

... won. Her first Home Secretary was none other than that emollient and ‘much loved’ old softy, William Whitelaw. ‘Every prime minister needs a Willie,’ Margaret Thatcher humourlessly declared, and the nation and much of the press proved her right by deceiving themselves over many years that his ‘decency’ and ‘integrity’ were acting as a ...

Her way of helping me

Hugo Young, 6 December 1990

Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... by a dose of old-fashioned condescension. He once did what he thought was a scorching job on William Whitelaw, but chanced to run across him shortly after in White’s Club. The columnist confesses to being horrified. Presumably he would never attack a man he knew he was lunching with next week. But Whitelaw soon ...

What Philosophers Dream Of

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Bernard Williams, 2 July 2015

Essays and Reviews 1959-2002 
by Bernard Williams.
Princeton, 435 pp., £24.95, January 2014, 978 0 691 15985 0
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... appeared in 1979, six months into Thatcher’s new government, and although her home secretary, William Whitelaw, was sympathetic, many on the Conservative benches were not. The Obscene Publications Act remains and in subsequent legislation has in some ways been extended. But the report did result in the revision of film classification and the grounds ...

Great Tradition

D.G. Wright, 20 October 1983

Hooligan: A History of Respectable Fears 
by Geoffrey Pearson.
Macmillan, 243 pp., £15, July 1983, 0 333 23399 9
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... R.A. Butler was assailed by the ‘hang ’em flog ’em’ lobby in much the same way as was William Whitelaw twenty years afterwards. In the Fifties there were many who joined Tory outriders like the British Medical Association in complaining about lack of parental control, the leniency of the law and an over-abundance of sex and ...

An Enemy Within

Paul Foot, 23 April 1987

Molehunt: The Full Story of the Soviet Mole in MI5 
by Nigel West.
Weidenfeld, 208 pp., £10.95, March 1987, 0 297 79150 8
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... Sheldon persuaded a slightly hesitant Prime Minister and Home Secretary (the ever-persuadable William Whitelaw) that there was no need to prosecute the book under the Official Secrets Act, although it was brim-full of official secrets. The Government’s law officers were not even consulted. Mrs Thatcher formally cleared Sir Roger Hollis. And the ...

Preconditions for an Irish Peace

Garret FitzGerald, 8 November 1979

... after the subsequent decision of the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr William Whitelaw, to invite the leaders of the IRA to meet him in London: a serious mistake by a British political leader who otherwise distinguished himself in this most exacting portfolio, and came nearer to solving the Irish problem at Sunningdale in ...

The Killing of Blair Peach

David Renton, 22 May 2014

... a memorandum placed on record in the House of Commons library in June 1979 by the home secretary, William Whitelaw, which stated that at approximately 8 p.m., it was necessary to deal with a large group of youths near Alexandra Avenue. The throwing of missiles increased and it was necessary for police to use protective shields. It was at this time that ...
... Jackson Pollock, the cancer Barnett Newman. In Tory politics, Boris Johnson would be a blood clot; William Whitelaw, if anyone remembers him, the cancer. In Dublin, Malahide is a blood clot, Monkstown the cancer. In Europe, Macron is a blood clot, Merkel the cancer. In other words, instead of battling cancer I was becoming foolishly respectful of it. Like ...

The Darth Vader Option

Colin Kidd: The Tories, 24 January 2013

The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change 
by Tim Bale.
Oxford, 372 pp., £55, September 2012, 978 0 19 923437 0
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The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 471 pp., £14.99, January 2011, 978 0 7456 4858 3
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Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 
by Richard Hayton.
Manchester, 166 pp., £60, September 2012, 978 0 7190 8316 7
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... from 1965 to 1975, was still able to count on the loyalty of his most likely successor, Willie Whitelaw. While Whitelaw waited, Margaret Thatcher struck, and had built up considerable momentum by the time Whitelaw could bring himself to act. However, the successful assassin was herself ...

The Party in Government

Conor Gearty, 9 March 1995

... the Falklands invasion but he allowed himself to be persuaded by Mrs Thatcher to stay in office. William Whitelaw has written that he wanted to resign as Home Secretary after an intruder had entered the Queen’s bedroom in Buckingham Palace, but that Mrs Thatcher would not let him. Jim Prior unsuccessfully tried to resign as Northern Ireland Secretary ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... Wilson met with IRA leaders in Dublin, and the next year the Northern Ireland Minister, Willie Whitelaw, made similar contacts. This utterly shocked opinion in every officers’ mess in Ulster – and in MI5, who took over intelligence operations there from MI6 in 1973. Exactly like the French Army before it in Algeria, these key circles within the British ...

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