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Diary

W.G. Runciman: Reflections on Tawney, 4 August 1988

... dispassionate answer, we now have the Nuffield volume on last year’s election.† in which David Butler and Dennis Kavanagh recount the ebb and flow of battle in that relentlessly detailed and studiously prosaic style which has characterised the Nuffield studies from the beginning; and there is precious little comfort in it for Neil Kinnock, even without the ...

Trollopiad

John Sutherland, 9 January 1992

The Chronicler of Barsetshire: A Life of Anthony Trollope 
by R.H. Super.
Manchester, 528 pp., £29.95, July 1990, 0 472 10102 1
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Anthony Trollope: A Victorian in his World 
by Richard Mullen.
Duckworth, 767 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 7156 2293 5
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Trollope: A Biography 
by N. John Hall.
Oxford, 581 pp., £25, October 1991, 0 19 812627 1
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... years); the bullying; the loneliness; the being branded as a dunce – all combined to bring young Anthony to the brink of suicide. Mullen and Hall go along with Trollope’s version of his schooldays (Mullen less so than Hall, perhaps). But Super disagrees radically. Despite what Trollope himself declares, he insists that in 1834 ‘the young man who ...

Hoylake

Peter Clarke, 30 March 1989

Selwyn Lloyd 
by D.K. Thorpe.
Cape, 516 pp., £18, February 1989, 0 224 02828 6
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... comes out particularly well and the best course is surely to acknowledge this, as in the life of Butler by Anthony Howard and that of Macmillan by Alistair Horne. The alternative strategy is that adopted by Rhodes James on Eden: to defend his hero on every conceivable count, from geopolitical insight (Eden alone discerned ...

Holding all the strings

Ian Gilmour, 27 July 1989

Macmillan. Vol. II: 1957-1986 
by Alistair Horne.
Macmillan, 741 pp., £18.95, June 1989, 0 333 49621 3
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... to Harold Macmillan. In July 1963, in a brilliant article in the Spectator (which I then owned), Anthony West, after depicting Senator McCarthy’s activities in America and exposing the potentialities for nonsense (still with us) in the concept of security risks, showed that it was ‘this game’ that Harold Wilson, George Wigg (‘that industrious garbage ...

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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... By the early 1950s the Tory Party seemed to require bloody renewal of this sort. Would Anthony Eden wield the knife against its leader, the elderly and infirm Winston Churchill? For Churchill, who was further debilitated by a stroke in 1953, was resolute on one subject: that he would not cede the premiership to Eden. At last, Eden became leader and ...

After Hartlepool

James Butler, 3 June 2021

... might actually solve the crises of housing or climate, merely his faith that such solutions exist. Anthony Crosland, to whom he gestures in the piece, was at least a master of detail. In his technological fixation Blair resembles no one in modern politics so much as Dominic Cummings, though Cummings understands that technology intensifies, rather than ...
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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... tactics within the Conservative Party. The first was the election of Home rather than Hailsham or Butler to the leadership in 1963: Home’s succession ‘dealt a near-fatal blow to One-Nation Toryism’. It did so because either Hailsham or Butler would have been more likely to defeat Wilson in 1964; a fourth consecutive ...

Wounding Nonsenses

E.S. Turner, 6 February 1997

The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh 
edited by Charlotte Mosley.
Hodder, 531 pp., £25, October 1996, 0 340 63804 4
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... cowardice’ to Lady Derby for not trying to strangle a crazed footman who murdered her butler and under-butter; seemingly, she was in no state to strangle anybody since, as the first to be attacked, she was already lying in a pool of blood. Other nonsenses are not worth puncturing, but inevitably many a lie must be left on its own wings to ...

Come along, Alcibiades

John Bayley, 25 January 1996

Terence Rattigan: A Biography 
by Geoffrey Wansell.
Fourth Estate, 428 pp., £20, October 1995, 1 85702 201 7
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... hard to avoid, is still an asset, just as it was in the days of matinées and tea-trays, with the butler coming to answer the phone as the curtain rises, but today’s familiar device is to cause a predictable bewilderment, to embarrass, disturb or offend. Fifty years ago, or even further back, the play had already become a highly specialised form of artistic ...

What’s Happening in the Engine-Room

Penelope Fitzgerald: Poor John Lehmann, 7 January 1999

John Lehmann: A Pagan Adventure 
by Adrian Wright.
Duckworth, 308 pp., £20, November 1998, 0 7156 2871 2
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... family home of Fieldhead on the Thames. It is an autumn or winter evening after tea, for James the butler has been in to draw the blinds and close the curtains, and my father is reading under a green-shaded lamp. He has said a good deal already – the little boy who wants to be like his father, the sheltered child who doesn’t need to know the time or even ...

The Stansgate Tapes

John Turner, 8 December 1994

Years of Hope: Diaries, Papers and Letters, 1940-62 
by Tony Benn, edited by Ruth Winstone.
Hutchinson, 442 pp., £25, September 1994, 0 09 178534 0
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... The Benn family were publishers (like the Macmillan family, though not quite as rich), and young Anthony (known at this point as James) grew up amid commercial and political affluence. He was sent to Westminster, where he was ‘miserable’, and which is recorded in these pages largely as a venue for scarlet fever and a host for the Air Training Corps. Much ...

In Praise of Middle Government

Ian Gilmour, 12 July 1990

Liberalisms. Essays in Political Philosophy 
by John Gray.
Routledge, 273 pp., £35, August 1989, 0 415 00744 5
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The Voice of Liberal Learning: Michael Oakeshott on Education 
edited by Timothy Fuller.
Yale, 169 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04344 9
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The Political Philosophy of Michael Oakeshott 
by Paul Franco.
Yale, 277 pp., £20, April 1990, 0 300 04686 3
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Conservatism 
by Ted Honderich.
Hamish Hamilton, 255 pp., £16.99, June 1990, 0 241 12999 0
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... Macmillan are included, but Honderich has apparently not read any of Macmillan’s books. R. A. Butler is a non-person to Honderich, and so is Iain Macleod. The most glaring exclusion of all, however, is that of Lord Hailsham. Honderich is aware of Hailsham’s existence since he makes a heavy joke about his trousers, which Honderich calls his ...

The Doctrine of Unripe Time

Ferdinand Mount: The Fifties, 16 November 2006

Having It So Good: Britain in the Fifties 
by Peter Hennessy.
Allen Lane, 740 pp., £30, October 2006, 0 7139 9571 8
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... Bill Haley and the Comets. We find, too, the trenchant comments of Richard Hoggart, A.H. Halsey, Anthony Sampson and Michael Young – the Four Evangelists of the 1950s to whom Hennessy dedicates his book. Their increasingly grumpy pronouncements on the ‘shiny barbarism of the new affluence’ pepper the pages of Having It So Good. Of the new milk ...

Rise and Fall of Radio Features

Marilyn Butler, 7 August 1980

Louis MacNeice in the BBC 
by Barbara Coulton.
Faber, 215 pp., £12.50, May 1980, 0 571 11537 3
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Best Radio Plays of 1979 
Eyre Methuen/BBC, 192 pp., £6.95, June 1980, 0 413 47130 6Show More
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... thought him ‘a dark horse’, withdrawn and laconic; the younger poet and apprentice producer, Anthony Thwaite, remembered sharing an office with MacNeice in the late Fifties, when he was drinking heavily, as a far from comfortable experience: Uncertain of your mood, after an hour Of a shared office going slowly sour With cigarettes and hangovers, the ...

Lord Vaizey sees the light

Geoffrey Hawthorn, 20 October 1983

In Breach of Promise 
by John Vaizey.
Weidenfeld, 150 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 297 78288 6
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... has no doubt at all. ‘They were the best.’ Hugh Gaitskell, Iain Macleod, Richard Titmuss, Anthony Crosland and Edward Boyle. They were all ‘clever, honest, admirable and honourable’. They were all, except Boyle, who was at school at the time, affected by the slump. They were all excited by the political changes and administrative advances of the ...

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