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Enemies of Promise

Angus Calder, 2 March 1989

Breach of Promise: Labour in Power 1964-1970 
by Clive Ponting.
Hamish Hamilton, 433 pp., £15.95, February 1989, 0 241 12683 5
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James Maxton 
by Gordon Brown.
Fontana, 336 pp., £4.95, February 1988, 0 00 637255 4
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Forward! Labour Politics in Scotland 1888-1988 
edited by Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie and Ian Wood.
Polygon, 184 pp., £19.50, January 1989, 0 7486 6001 1
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... pragmatic still dominates the political map of Strathclyde. Breach of Promise, the title of Clive Ponting’s study of Wilson’s governments of the Sixties, evokes, with its suggestion of sordid betrayal, a polarity which dominates structures of feeling within the Labour Movement. The shades of men like Maclean and Maxton whose failure in politics ...

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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... political control. On the contrary. She is now clear that after the jury’s verdict in the Clive Ponting case, Section Two of the Official Secrets Act is not the best instrument with which to impose silence on those involved in official decisions. Hence her decision now to extend the law of confidentiality. Despite the fact that she has been ...

Comparative Horrors

Timothy Garton Ash: Delatology, 19 March 1998

Accusatory Practices: Denunciation in Modern European History, 1789-1989 
edited by Sheila Fitzpatrick and Robert Gellately.
Chicago, 231 pp., $27.95, September 1997, 0 226 25273 6
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... about the authorities to fellow citizens. There is no comparison between Pavlik Morozov and Clive Ponting. Nor is a Sir Nigel, trundling up on the 8.40 from Oxford to testify to a Royal Commission (if there were still Royal Commissions), about to indulge in anything that can seriously be called ‘denunciation’. If the difference between Moscow ...

Sterling and Strings

Peter Davies: Harold Wilson and Vietnam, 20 November 2008

... was being “betrayed” by the prime minister, his reaction could be very violent indeed.’ As Clive Ponting and Ben Pimlott have demonstrated, Britain’s defence policy east of Suez and its economic policies were both adjusted as a result of US financial pressure; yet Dean reckoned that support for the US in Vietnam was more important to the ...

Secrets are like sex

Neal Ascherson, 2 April 2020

The State of Secrecy: Spies and the Media in Britain 
by Richard Norton-Taylor.
I.B. Tauris, 352 pp., £20, March 2019, 978 1 78831 218 9
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... Acts – is impressive. Some would call it a roll of honour. From recent years, it would include Clive Ponting, Cathy Massiter, Sarah Tisdall and Katharine Gun. Norton-Taylor seems to have known them all. Most of his best stories, however, came from the numerous civil servants, some of them very senior, who used a discreet journalist to reveal that ...

Boarder or Day Boy?

Bernard Porter: Secrecy in Britain, 15 July 1999

The Culture of Secrecy in Britain 1832-1998 
by David Vincent.
Oxford, 364 pp., £25, January 1999, 0 19 820307 1
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... of his secret powers over the Belgrano affair and against CND. In his case, the whistleblowers, Clive Ponting and Cathy Massiter, can be seen as representing the older, honourable order, protesting against ‘ungentlemanly’ subversion (by a man who had had to ‘buy his own furniture’) from the inside. In this way their unease was symptomatic of a ...
Who Framed Colin Wallace? 
by Paul Foot.
Macmillan, 306 pp., £12.95, May 1989, 0 333 47008 7
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... attempted destabilisation of Heath and Wilson was taken deadly seriously where it mattered most. Clive Ponting describes the atmosphere inside the Ministry of Defence after Wallace had been jailed: ‘There was never any suspicion that Wallace was making these stories up or that it was totally unfounded and very easy to rubbish. It was very much a ...

What Bill and What Rights?

Stephen Sedley, 5 June 1997

... to its interests? It is only if those two interests are the same thing (as the jury which tried Clive Ponting was directed they were) that the problem disappears. But to postulate this is to take the fundamental risk of substituting party for state. The Constitution the British bequeathed to India took no such risk: it made the office of ...

Our Flexible Friends

Conor Gearty, 18 April 1996

Scott Inquiry Report 
by Richard Scott.
HMSO, 2386 pp., £45, February 1996, 0 10 262796 7
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... celebrity status that was accorded the victims of earlier scandals such as Sarah Tisdall, Clive Ponting and John Stalker. Old bully that he is, Michael Heseltine has grabbed the crown of martyrdom from these still anonymous officials and emerges from the office of the Deputy Prime Minister from time to time to masquerade as a victim. The legacy ...

O Wyoming Whipporwill

Claire Harman: George Barker, 3 October 2002

The Chameleon Poet: A Life of George Barker 
by Robert Fraser.
Cape, 573 pp., £25, February 2002, 0 224 06242 5
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... time has done with disgusting frequency’. Three years later, Thomas parodied Barker as Albert Ponting, author of Claustrophosexannual: I, I, my own gauze phantom am, My head frothing under my arm, The buttocks of Venus for my huge davenport, I orgillous turn, burn, churn, As his rubbery bosom curds my perspiring arm – The gust of my ghost, I mean ...

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