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22 June 1989
The Whitelaw​ Memoirs 
by William Whitelaw.
Aurum, 280 pp., £14.95, May 1989, 1 85410 028 9
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... Wolverhampton and Hull were reduced to rubble and glass. In July, Liverpool lit up in a haze of flame and CS gas. Shortly afterwards Manchester erupted once again. The Home Secretary at the time was WilliamWhitelaw. 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 ...
16 April 1998
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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... Heath did, however, make one bad mistake (the fourth): he failed to resign the leadership after the defeat in October 1974. Had he done so, he would almost certainly have been succeeded by WilliamWhitelaw 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 ...

At the Carlton Club

Andrew O’Hagan: Maggie, Denis and Mandy

22 December 2019
... showing up all chatty at the grass huts in Lokichogio and asking for the chief, before taking 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 ...

Diary

Conor Gearty: Reasons for Loathing Michael Howard

31 October 1996
... in Brixton, Orgreave, Wapping and the other battlegrounds where this modern civil war was fought and won. Her first Home Secretary was none other than that emollient and ‘much loved’ old softy, WilliamWhitelaw. ‘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 ...
6 December 1990
Listening for a Midnight Tram: Memoirs 
by John Junor.
Chapmans, 341 pp., £15.95, October 1990, 9781855925014
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... relationship with a journalist who also happens to be an editor. Junor himself could be easily disarmed by a dose of old-fashioned condescension. He once did what he thought was a scorching job on WilliamWhitelaw, 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 ...

What Philosophers Dream Of

Geoffrey Hawthorn: Bernard Williams

1 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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... participants were harmed simply suppressed. The committee’s report, which Williams himself drafted, appeared in 1979, six months into Thatcher’s new government, and although her home secretary, WilliamWhitelaw, 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 ...
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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... permissiveness, hooliganism and Teddy Boys. At the Conservative Party Conference of 1958 the ‘soft’ R.A. Butler was assailed by the ‘hang ’em flog ’em’ lobby in much the same way as was WilliamWhitelaw 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 ...
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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... whipped up a nice anti-Communist froth. It did not demand a public inquiry. MI5 were delighted. Bernard Sheldon persuaded a slightly hesitant Prime Minister and Home Secretary (the ever-persuadable WilliamWhitelaw) 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 ...

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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... leader had been weakened by three general election defeats out of four attempts, Ted Heath, party leader 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 to be toppled in ...
21 May 2014
... despite surgery, died just after midnight. The​ earliest official report on Peach’s death was a memorandum placed on record in the House of Commons library in June 1979 by the home secretary, WilliamWhitelaw, 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 ...
8 November 1979
... Opposition may have inhibited the full expression of this resentment. It was, however, made very plain after the subsequent decision of the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mr WilliamWhitelaw, 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 ...
9 March 1995
... men to stay in office without appearing to want to do so. John Nott offered his resignation after the Falklands invasion but he allowed himself to be persuaded by Mrs Thatcher to stay in office. WilliamWhitelaw 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 ...
18 April 2019
... coming in many guises, dependable, sly, fully memorable. In painting, the blood clots would be Jackson Pollock, the cancer Barnett Newman. In Tory politics, Boris Johnson would be a blood clot; WilliamWhitelaw, 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 ...

Strew the path with flowers

Bernard Porter: Cannabis and empire

4 March 2004
Cannabis Britannica: Empire, Trade and Prohibition 1800-1928 
by James Mills.
Oxford, 239 pp., £25, September 2003, 0 19 924938 5
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... tobacco, which were the West’s equivalent drugs. (Several critics of Oriental drug use cautioned against any British feeling of superiority in this regard. ‘Where is such habitual temperance?’ Whitelaw Ainslie asked in 1835. ‘In England? No!’) Despite this, cannabis had a fearsome reputation, equal to that of opium. William Caine, an 1890s abolitionist MP quoted by James Mills, claimed it was ...
8 December 1994
Colonising the Body: State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in 19th-Century India 
by David Arnold.
California, 354 pp., £40, September 1993, 0 520 08124 2
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Public Health in British India: Anglo-Indian Preventive Medicine 1815-1914 
by Mark Harrison.
Cambridge, 324 pp., £19.95, March 1994, 0 521 44127 7
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... not afford to ignore the possibility that the tropics hid other such ‘magic bullets’, or that indigenous physicians were hoarding medical lore more advanced than the West’s. In the 1780s, Sir William Jones, the great Sanskrit scholar, had included medical remedies among some of the very earliest translations he made from the ancient Indian classics. Over the following decades, large numbers of ...

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