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George Ball on the Middle East

George Ball, 4 April 1991

... the need now was to halt ‘aggression’ as that term is employed in the United Nations Charter. This new purpose found expression in 12 far-reaching resolutions which the Security Council adopted in the following few weeks. The first confirmed that Iraq’s move against Kuwait had indeed constituted an ‘aggression’ – a finding which made ...

A Company of Merchants

Jamie Martin: The Bank of England, 24 January 2019

Till Time’s Last Sand: A History of the Bank of England, 1694-2013 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 879 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 1 4088 6856 0
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... The bank was instrumental in the rise of the modern British state and its global reach, but as David Kynaston shows in his official history, it has always had an uncertain relationship with the state, mediating awkwardly between the private imperatives of finance and the public demands of politics. When the bank was founded in 1694, its business was to ...
... manifesto that came to be known as the Limehouse Declaration. When Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, David Owen and I met together that morning, we were clear in our intention: in breaking the mould of contemporary politics, we would create a new radical centre, push the Labour Party into third place, change the electoral system and usher in an era of ...

Beware Kite-Flyers

Stephen Sedley: The British Constitution, 12 September 2013

The British Constitution: A Very Short Introduction 
by Martin Loughlin.
Oxford, 152 pp., £7.99, April 2013, 978 0 19 969769 4
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... interpenetration of these two constitutional functions. Take Magna Carta, successively lauded as a charter of English liberties, then dismissed as a carve-up between a tyrannical monarch and his predatory barons, now coming up for its 800th anniversary and due for another reappraisal. Martin Loughlin arguably gets it in one: ‘By establishing the principle ...

Advised by experts

David Worswick, 21 December 1989

The Economic Section, 1939-1961: A Study in Economic Advising 
by Alec Cairncross and Nita Watts.
Routledge, 372 pp., £40, May 1989, 0 415 03173 7
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The Robert Hall Diaries. Vol. I: 1947-1953 
edited by Alec Cairncross.
Unwin Hyman, 400 pp., £40, May 1989, 9780044452737
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... Union being worked out under the direction of Meade. As it turned out, the International Trade Charter was never ratified, what was left being the GATT, a machinery for negotiating the reduction of tariffs and other barriers to trade. Looking over the Section’s work on postwar Britain, one is struck by the amount of thought given to looking forward to ...

At Tate Britain

Frank Kermode: William Blake, 14 December 2000

... other in the complement of pages, page order, colour, and occasionally the wording’ – so says David Bindman in his introduction to William Blake: The Complete Illuminated Books (Thames and Hudson, 480 pp., £39.95, 30 October, 0 500 51014 8). Obviously not many such books could be printed, which accounts for their extreme rarity, but Blake thought his ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: Remote Killing, 24 September 2015

... a specialist team at RAF Waddington trained at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. Over the summer, David Cameron had suggested that he hoped the British air war against Isis could be extended from Iraq to Syria. But, he said, nothing would change – after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Iraq was the only permitted target – until Parliament was reconvened ...

The Right Stuff

Alan Ryan, 24 November 1994

The Principle of Duty 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 288 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 1 85619 474 4
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... David Selbourne’s The Principle of Duty is described on the dust-jacket as ‘the most comprehensive theory of civic society written in English since Locke’. ‘In English’ is wise: it excludes Montesquieu, Tocqueville, Durkheim, Hegel, Marx and Weber. The claim remains bizarre: Locke did not produce a theory of civil society, comprehensive or otherwise, but an account of our obligations to government or the state ...

Two Men in a Boat

Ian Aitken, 15 August 1991

John Major: The Making of the Prime Minister 
by Bruce Anderson.
Fourth Estate, 324 pp., £16.99, June 1991, 9781872180540
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‘My Style of Government’: The Thatcher Years 
by Nicholas Ridley.
Hutchinson, 275 pp., £16.99, July 1991, 0 09 175051 2
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... every few minutes the room would erupt with laughter, usually at some bleary-eyed sarcasm from David Davis. Francis Maude, laughing louder than anyone, would then restore everyone to order.’ On the other hand, Mr Anderson neatly decapitates a few enemies. One of them is the unfortunate David Shaw, MP for Dover, who is ...

Lines in the Sand

Keith Kyle, 7 February 1991

Saddam’s War: The Origins of the Kuwait Conflict and the International Response 
by John Bulloch and Harvey Morris.
Faber, 194 pp., £13.99, January 1991, 0 571 16387 4
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Unholy Babylon: The Secret History of Saddam’s War 
by Adel Darwish and Gregory Alexander.
Gollancz, 352 pp., £9.99, January 1991, 0 575 05054 3
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Cambridge International Document Series: Vol. 1 The Kuwait Crisis 
edited by E. Lauterpacht, C.J. Greenwood, Mark Weller and Daniel Bethlehem.
Grotius Publication, 330 pp., £35.17, January 1991, 0 949009 86 5
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Air Power and Colonial Control 
by David Omissi.
Manchester, 260 pp., £35, January 1990, 0 7190 2960 0
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... he emerged in 1987, under the strains of a war against Iran which he appeared to be losing, as a charter member of what the Jordanians were describing as ‘the great moderate centre’. The other members of this new alignment were Egypt, Jordan and the PLO; it was part of the shift in policy towards Israel which the Palestine National Council finally ...

Jailbreak from the Old Order

David Edgar: England’s Brexit, 26 April 2018

The Lure of Greatness: England’s Brexit and America’s Trump 
by Anthony Barnett.
Unbound, 393 pp., £8.99, August 2017, 978 1 78352 453 2
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... economic privation or cultural loss. In The Lure of Greatness, Anthony Barnett, the founder of Charter 88 and co-founder of Open Democracy, has identified a third: the constitution. Those who focus on the economic explanation, for Brexit as for the election of Donald Trump, point to the increasing disparity between rich and poor on both sides of the ...

Terms of Art

Conor Gearty: Human Rights Law, 11 March 2010

The Law of Human Rights 
by Richard Clayton and Hugh Tomlinson.
Oxford, 2443 pp., £295, March 2009, 978 0 19 926357 8
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Human Rights Law and Practice 
edited by Anthony Lester, David Pannick and Javan Herberg.
Lexis Nexis, 974 pp., £237, April 2009, 978 1 4057 3686 2
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Human Rights: Judicial Protection in the United Kingdom 
by Jack Beatson, Stephen Grosz, Tom Hickman, Rabinder Singh and Stephanie Palmer.
Sweet and Maxwell, 905 pp., £124, September 2008, 978 0 421 90250 3
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... reflect the traditional freedoms the people of this island are presumed to care about. The Tory charter would reaffirm the primacy of individual freedom and empower the individual to resist overweening state power. However popular in right-wing circles, such a dramatic reversal would inevitably raise a question which could in time become as intractable as ...


Kathleen Burk: Election Diary, 23 April 1992

... enjoyably, I settled in front of a neighbour’s television with a bottle of his wine to watch David Dimbleby interview all three of the main party leaders. It was illuminating. Kinnock hardly seemed the same man as the one on Today in Parliament: he was in control both of himself and of the interview. Paddy Ashdown likewise was very impressive, and Major ...

Frets and Knots

Anthony Grafton, 4 November 1993

A History of Cambridge University Press. Vol. I: Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge, 1534-1698 
by David McKitterick.
Cambridge, 500 pp., £65, October 1992, 0 521 30801 1
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... David McKitterick’s Printing and the Book Trade in Cambridge, 1534-1698 is the first of three projected volumes on the history of the book’s own publisher, the Cambridge University Press. Though the book stretches to 387 pages of text and almost another hundred pages of notes, it does not reach the point around 1700 when Richard Bentley reshaped the Press into a major player, as he tried to reshape Horace, Paradise Lost and Trinity College, where McKitterick is fellow and librarian ...

Boofy’s Bill

Alex Harvey, 18 September 1997

... reluctantly set up in 1954 by Lord Kilmuir in his previous incarnation as the Home Secretary Sir David Maxwell-Fyfe. He had assumed that the Report would silence those calling for reform and to that end appointed the ultra-respectable public school headmaster Sir John Wolfenden to chair it. When Wolfenden recommended that homosexual acts between consenting ...

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