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Punk Counterpunk

Bee Wilson, 20 November 2014

Vivienne Westwood 
by Vivienne Westwood and Ian Kelly.
Picador, 463 pp., £25, September 2014, 978 1 4472 5412 6
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... Some time​ in 1979, after the death of Sid Vicious and before the enthronement of Margaret Thatcher, Vivienne Westwood ‘lost interest’ in punk. She and her lover Malcolm McLaren had been at the heart of the British version: they had dreamed up much of the look, the attitude and the lyrics, though not the sound ...

The Rise and Fall of Thatcherism

Peter Clarke: Eight years after, 10 December 1998

... Can it be only eight years since Thatcher left 10 Downing Street? Since the tears were shed and the net curtains twitched? Historians of the Thatcher era in British politics are undoubtedly helped by the fact that it ended with both a bang and a whimper. The bang meant the precipitous termination of three notable political careers by 1990: that of Thatcher herself after the 20th century’s longest premiership; that of Geoffrey Howe, her lieutenant as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1979-83, during the period of the so-called ‘Thatcher experiment’; and that of Nigel Lawson, who succeeded him at the Treasury from 1983-89, during the period of the so-called ‘economic miracle ...

Prince and Pimp

Paul Foot, 1 January 1998

The Liar: The Fall of Jonathan Aitken 
by Luke Harding and David Leigh.
Penguin, 205 pp., £6.99, December 1997, 0 14 027290 9
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... the contrary, he was a consummate, able and independent-minded politician who had even stood up to Margaret Thatcher. He had campaigned in defiance of the Tory Whip against the laws enforcing official secrecy. He had stood trial under the hated Official Secrets Act. Almost everyone who met him liked him. He was witty, well-informed, attractive. When he ...

Thatcher, Thatcher, Thatcher

John Gray: The Tory Future, 22 April 2010

The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron 
by Tim Bale.
Polity, 446 pp., £25, January 2010, 978 0 7456 4857 6
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Back from the Brink: The Inside Story of the Tory Resurrection 
by Peter Snowdon.
Harper Press, 419 pp., £14.99, March 2010, 978 0 00 730725 8
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... treat the Conservatives’ return to office as a foregone conclusion: ‘just as was the case for Margaret Thatcher, Cameron will ultimately be judged and defined by what he does.’ A journalist who may be closer to events, Peter Snowdon ends his book on a more equivocal note: ‘If the last four and a half years have been testing for Cameron’s ...


R.W. Johnson, 2 December 1993

The Downing Street Years 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 914 pp., £25, October 1993, 0 00 255049 0
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... What Tory MPs really wanted,’ Margaret Thatcher writes of the Westland affair, ‘was leadership, frankness and a touch of humility, all of which I tried to provide.’ A great deal of indignant energy has fired the reviews of this book, many of them by Mrs Thatcher’s former Cabinet colleagues, largely because of the sheer outrageousness of those claims to frankness and humility ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble, 3 December 2015

Margaret ThatcherThe Authorised Biography Vol. II: Everything She Wants 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 821 pp., £30, October 2015, 978 0 7139 9288 5
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... Party is never happier than when Labour has a unilateral disarmer as its leader. In 1986 Margaret Thatcher arrived at her party’s annual conference in Bournemouth with a spring in her step, despite having endured months of bruising political infighting in the aftermath of the Westland affair. She promptly fell over a manhole cover and sprained ...


Patricia Lockwood: America is a baby, 3 December 2020

... physical terror; at worst, I felt like I was giving the wrong answer to the ‘Do you think Margaret Thatcher had girl power?’ question a hundred times in a row. Yes, we were impotent within our system. Yes, our gerrymandered congressional districts now resembled cumshots, and our hyper-partisan Supreme Court was drunkenly presided over by a guy ...

Memories of Eden

Keith Kyle, 13 September 1990

... disappointed, he would note, with a tinge of envy, the degree of political support enjoyed by Margaret Thatcher, with Neil Kinnock and Gerald Kaufman endorsing her every move. In normal times issues of international law are seen as a recondite speciality: in moments of stress they turn out to be of crucial importance. In 1956 the British knew from ...


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

... of recent years, the unlawful funding of the Pergau Dam in Malaysia, involved not him but Lady Thatcher and the saintly Douglas Hurd. It is also said that Michael Howard has demeaned his high office by using legislation to embarrass the Opposition. Much is made in this regard of such monstrosities as the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill and the new ...

Rubbishing the revolution

Hugo Young, 5 December 1991

Thatcher’s People 
by John Ranelagh.
HarperCollins, 324 pp., £15.99, September 1991, 0 00 215410 2
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Staying Power 
by Peter Walker.
Bloomsbury, 248 pp., £16.99, October 1991, 0 7475 1034 2
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... A year after the Great Fall, there is already a fin-de-siècle air about memoirs of the Thatcher era. It seems so long ago. The lady herself clutches on to a form of political existence more as a menace than a force. She rages, more in reported than direct speech, against developments in the European Community. She has a group of followers on the backbenches who continue to see her as a leader, and possibly as her successor’s nemesis, on this issue ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Basingstoke’s Paisleyite, 21 April 2005

... On 9 June 1983, my father took my elder sister and me to the village hall to vote against Margaret Thatcher. We were only small, so we went with him into the polling booth. He gave my sister the pencil and pointed to where she should draw the first line of a cross, then let me draw the second. All highly irregular, no doubt, though even if his ballot had been discounted it wouldn’t have made any difference: the new Conservative MP for Basingstoke, Andrew Hunter, would just have been elected with a majority of 12,451 rather than 12,450 ...

At the Carlton Club

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

... It’s​ a long story, but I once ended up at dinner with Margaret Thatcher. It was a warm evening in June 2003 and Bill Deedes, the illustrious former editor of the Telegraph, was celebrating his 90th birthday at the Carlton Club. I had got to know him a few years earlier, on a Unicef trip to Sudan, and we ended up spending time together, first in Kenya ...

Going Flat Out, National Front and All

Ian Hamilton: Watch your mouth!, 14 December 2000

Diaries: Into Politics 
by Alan Clark.
Weidenfeld, 389 pp., £20, October 2000, 0 297 64402 5
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The Assassin’s Cloak: An Anthology of the World’s Greatest Diarists 
edited by Irene Taylor and Alan Taylor.
Canongate, 684 pp., £25, November 2000, 0 86241 920 4
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The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt. Vol. III: From Major to Blair 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 823 pp., £25, November 2000, 9780333774069
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... lost large sums at Aspinalls – playing backgammon, not roulette. He was posher, by far, than Margaret Thatcher and most of the cowed arrivistes in her Cabinet. And, to cap it all, he’d written several books (both fiction and non-fiction). He had claims to be thought of as an intellectual. Who else, in ...

The other side have got one

Ian Gilmour: Lady Thatcher’s Latest, 6 June 2002

Ideologies of Conservatism: Conservative Political Ideas in the 20th Century 
by E.H.H. Green.
Oxford, 309 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 19 820593 7
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Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World 
by Margaret Thatcher.
HarperCollins, 486 pp., £25, April 2002, 0 00 710752 8
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... is no ‘direct link’ in economic ideas and policy between the events of 1958 and those in the Thatcher era. Despite what Green says, Margaret Thatcher was herself in no doubt that before her advent the Conservative Party lacked an ideology. ‘We must have an ideology,’ she declared in 1975. ‘The other side ...

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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... 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 the autumn of 1990 in a moment of group frenzy so bizarre that even Tory ...

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