Jews on horseback

Peter Clarke

  • Disraeli by John Vincent
    Oxford, 127 pp, £4.95, March 1990, ISBN 0 19 287681 3

He remains one of the great outsiders and rogues in British politics: a man who lived down his earlier reputation as a radical to bring his biting sarcasm to the service of the Tories, always able to command an appreciative audience, albeit one with greater relish for his wit than respect for his political judgment. So much for John Vincent, the brilliant author of The Formation of the Liberal Party who became the populist professor of the Thatcherite tabloid press. Whatever else he has lost in the process, it is not his ironic sense of humour, and in appraising one of Disraeli’s early bellelettrist fables, Vincent is nicely deadpan in quoting Jupiter’s comment on Apollo’s career as an editor: ‘for my part I should only be too happy to extinguish the Sun and every other newspaper were it only in my power.’

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