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Dear Mohamed

Paul Foot, 20 February 1997

Sleaze: The Corruption of Parliament 
by David Leigh and Ed Vulliamy.
Fourth Estate, 263 pp., £9.99, January 1997, 1 85702 694 2
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... an elaborate trap. Using actors pretending to be businessmen, the programme-makers approached Sir Michael Grylls, long-standing Tory MP for North-West Surrey, and introduced themselves as agents for a firm which wanted to smuggle art treasures out of Russia. As a cover for their enterprise, they explained, they wanted to buy a government agency, preferably ...

Snobs v. Herbivores

Colin Kidd: Non-Vanilla One-Nation Conservatism, 7 May 2020

Remaking One Nation: The Future of Conservatism 
by Nick Timothy.
Polity, 275 pp., £20, March 2020, 978 1 5095 3917 8
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... has continued: later members have included ostensible one-nation Tories – Kenneth Clarke, Michael Heseltine, Ian Gilmour – but also Keith Joseph and Nicholas Ridley. The politics of the Tory left were actually advanced in various factional groupings and dining clubs, such as Nick’s Diner, the Lollards and the Tory Reform Group.The ...


Alan Bennett: What I did in 1995, 4 January 1996

... were the only reality – not that one could believe them either. 16 January. Listening to Michael Heseltine justifying the £ 475,000 of Mr Brown, the chairman of British Gas, I remember Joe Fitton. During the war Dad was a warden in the ARP, his companion on patrol a neighbour, Joe Fitton. Somebody aroused Joe’s ire (a persistent failure to ...

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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... feeling, they wept. Then, last night, the final twist occurred. The tribe fell upon her assailant, Michael Heseltine, and slew him, too.’ But the mere exclusion of Heseltine from the leadership seemed insufficient atonement for the unnatural enormity of matricide. Within the Tory tribe there was to be no healing, no ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone, 2 January 2020

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... of a leadership election among Conservative MPs in which she secured more votes than her rival Michael Heseltine but not quite enough to prevent the contest going to a second round. At that point her cabinet collectively turned against her and let her know that she needed to step down for their sake. They couched it as a plea to save the party from ...

Fear in Those Blue Eyes

David Runciman: Thatcher in Her Bubble, 3 December 2015

Margaret Thatcher: The 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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... but not by the thought of the poll tax. It happened to be the same cabinet meeting which Michael Heseltine had stormed out of, to tell the waiting press that he was resigning from the government over the Westland issue. That was the big story, for politicians and journalists alike. The poll tax became an afterthought. The press didn’t pursue ...


Tam Dalyell: Yesterday’s News, 18 September 1986

... interests of shareholders, to correct so-called ‘material inaccuracies’ in a letter written by Michael Heseltine to Lloyd’s Merchant Bank. This apparently had to be done quickly in order to be in the hands of Sir John Cuckney before his press conference on 6 January. The Select Committee, however, takes a different view: ‘Since the information was ...

Easter Island Revisited

Tam Dalyell, 27 June 1991

A Green History of the World 
by Clive Ponting.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 352 pp., £16.95, May 1991, 1 85619 050 1
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... of asking ministers questions arising from the document, handed it to the Defence Secretary, Michael Heseltine, and his department. Let no one kid themselves that, in our system, Select Committees of the House of Commons with an in-built Government majority will perform the same investigatory functions as the Committees of Congress. On really ...
Sleaze: Politicians, Private Interests and Public Reaction 
edited by F.F. Ridley and Alan Doig.
Oxford, 222 pp., £10.99, April 1996, 0 19 922273 8
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Changing Trains: The Autobiography of Steven Norris 
Hutchinson, 273 pp., £16.99, October 1996, 0 09 180212 1Show More
The Quango Debate 
edited by F.F. Ridley and David Wilson.
Oxford, 188 pp., £10.99, September 1995, 9780199222384
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... was a tape-recorded conversation between Hamilton and the First Secretary to the Treasury, Michael Heseltine, in which Hamilton denied any ‘financial relationship’ with Ian Greer. Greer knew he had paid, and realised his fellow plaintive would be exposed in court as a liar. He told Hamilton he wanted to fight the case separately, with a new ...

A Different Sort of Tory

Ronald Stevens: Max Hastings, 12 December 2002

Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers 
by Max Hastings.
Macmillan, 398 pp., £20, October 2002, 0 333 90837 6
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... of Lord Hartwell, who inherited the business on the death of his father, Lord Camrose, in 1954. As Michael Berry he served a long apprenticeship on newspapers in Aberdeen, Glasgow, Manchester and London before joining the Army in 1939. His verdict on himself after this experience was that he was a better sub-editor than a writer, and he demonstrated the truth ...

Every club in the bag

Michael Howard, 10 September 1992

The Chiefs: The Story of the United Kingdom Chiefs of Staff 
by Bill Jackson and Dwin Bramall.
Brassey, 508 pp., £29.95, April 1992, 0 08 040370 0
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... turned to Zuckerman and to the young men in the PUS’s secretariat: figures like Frank Cooper and Michael Quinlan, who were themselves to become powerful Permanent Secretaries in the course of time. Financial stringency meant that the high-spending Services once more had to turn their fire on one another, and the Navy and the RAF battled, with a desperation ...

Staying in power

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 7 January 1988

Mrs Thatcher’s Revolution: The Ending of the Socialist Era 
by Peter Jenkins.
Cape, 411 pp., £12.95, November 1988, 0 224 02516 3
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De-Industrialisation and Foreign Trade 
by R.E. Rowthorn and J.R. Wells.
Cambridge, 422 pp., £40, November 1988, 0 521 26360 3
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... the morning before facing the House, agreed that she might be finished. (A colleague had dismissed Michael Heseltine as ‘the sort of chap who has to buy his own furniture’. But Heseltine has money. And his hair. On his angry exit through Number 10, he stopped in the lavatory to arrange it, before emerging a free and ...

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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... to tell the difference between them. Clark’s quip (although it wasn’t really his) about how Michael Heseltine had to buy his own furniture was widely cited as the nadir of bona fide toffdom. But was Alan Clark himself a toff? His family millions had been amassed by his great-grandfather, a Paisley textiles merchant. Newish money, then, but older ...

Family History

Miles Taylor: Tony Benn, 25 September 2003

Free at Last: Diaries 1991-2001 
by Tony Benn.
Hutchinson, 738 pp., £25, October 2002, 0 09 179352 1
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Free Radical: New Century Essays 
by Tony Benn.
Continuum, 246 pp., £9.95, May 2003, 9780826465962
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... a hair’s breadth of becoming deputy leader of the Party. Opinions differ, but a Party led by Michael Foot and Benn would probably have seen a mass defection of MPs to the SDP. As it was, Benn’s failure paved the way for Neil Kinnock’s purge of the Militant Left, as well as the crucial policy switch from renationalisation of key industries to ...

Heart of Darkness

Christopher Hitchens, 28 June 1990

Not Many Dead: Journal of a Year in Fleet Street 
by Nicholas Garland.
Hutchinson, 299 pp., £16.95, April 1990, 0 09 174449 0
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A Slight Case of Libel: Meacher v. Trelford and Others 
by Alan Watkins.
Duckworth, 241 pp., £14.95, June 1990, 0 7156 2334 6
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... general and President Reagan in particular. Entry for 18 April 1986, Not Many Dead The success of Michael Moore’s film about Roger Smith and General Motors has aroused an envious spirit of emulation in my breast. ‘Conrad and Me’, a script which I hone and burnish in slack moments, has the following points of mild interest. In the summer of 1985, I wrote ...

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