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What Blair Threw Away

Ross McKibbin: Feckless, Irresponsible and Back in Power, 19 May 2005

... might be a recognition of that fact. If, however, his resignation is simply to make way for David Davis, then nothing has been learned. The Conservatives would do well to think harder next time: the old xenophobic parochialism which once did so well for them has weakened as the Conservative working class has disappeared. This culture’s disarray can be ...

Little England

Patrick Wright: The view through a bus window, 7 September 2006

Great British Bus Journeys: Travels through Unfamous Places 
by David McKie.
Atlantic, 359 pp., £16.99, March 2006, 1 84354 132 7
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... tradition of Tory thinking about public transport. It was in the same genre as the rumour – even David McKie has been unable to turn up a precise source – that Margaret Thatcher once remarked that anyone who rode a bus after reaching the age of 26 was a failure. It also reminded me of a story Ken Livingstone liked to recite when he was leader of the ...

Queen Croesus

David Cannadine, 13 February 1992

Royal Fortune: Tax, Money and the Monarchy 
by Phillip Hall.
Bloomsbury, 294 pp., £18.99, February 1992, 0 7475 1133 0
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... at the private papers of many of the figures most closely involved, such as Lloyd George and Ramsay MacDonald, and by combing the available official documents, Hall has managed to put together the first serious financial history of the monarchy in the modern period. Inevitably, there are parts of his account which are sketchy and speculative, his broader ...

Keynesian International

David Marquand, 5 July 1984

Controlling the Economic Future: Policy Dilemmas in a Shrinking World 
by Michael Stewart.
Harvester, 192 pp., £18.95, November 1983, 0 7108 0182 3
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In Defence of the Mixed Economy 
by Andrew Shonfield, edited by Zuzanna Shonfield.
Oxford, 231 pp., £15, February 1984, 0 19 215359 5
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The Welfare State in Crisis: Social Thought and Social Change 
by Ramesh Mishra.
Harvester, 208 pp., £15.95, December 1983, 0 7108 0240 4
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... of the past. And so, for a time, it proved. But, as we have now discovered, only for a time. For Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden in 1931, read Callaghan, Carter and Mitterrand in our own day. National economic sovereignty is once again an illusion. The huge, unprecedented growth in world trade which was one of the main engines of the long boom of the ...


David Cannadine, 21 March 1985

Elgar, the Man 
by Michael De-la-Noy.
Allen Lane/Viking, 340 pp., £12.95, September 1984, 0 7139 1532 3
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Edward Elgar: A Creative Life 
by Jerrold Northrop Moore.
Oxford, 841 pp., £35, June 1984, 0 19 315447 1
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Spirit of England: Edward Elgar in his World 
by Jerrold Northrop Moore.
Heinemann, 175 pp., £10.95, February 1984, 0 434 47541 6
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The Elgar-Atkins Friendship 
by E. Wulstan Atkins.
David and Charles, 510 pp., £15, April 1984, 0 7153 8583 6
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... potency. In London, Elgar shuffled from club to club, but he resigned from the Athenaeum when Ramsay MacDonald was elected; and in the country he shuffled from house to house, accompanied by his devoted dogs and dogged devotees. He recorded his works for the gramophone, but at the concert halls the public stayed away in droves. They wanted Façade, not ...

Modest House in the Judengasse

C.H. Sisson, 5 July 1984

Random Variables 
by Lord Rothschild.
Collins, 238 pp., £12.50, May 1984, 0 00 217334 4
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... about the lepidoptera. The second is an anecdote about Professor Stanley Gardiner and Inspector David of the Cambridge Police. The third records a moment in 1944 when Rothschild just happened to be the senior British officer in Paris and had a delicate passage with the Préfet and our ambassador Duff Cooper about the latter’s relations with Madame Louise ...

Progressive Agenda

John Brewer, 18 March 1982

The Watercolours and Drawings of Thomas Bewick and his Workshop Apprentices 
by Iain Bain.
Gordon Fraser, 233 pp., £125, July 1981, 0 86092 057 7
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... for his rural descriptions, praises Bacon and Locke, refers to the poetry of Thomas Gray, Allen Ramsay and Oliver Goldsmith, casually mentions that he does not need to read David Hume on miracles, and obliquely compares his own work with that of Milton? There is a paradox here: the more Bewick strove to establish his ...

Cowboy Coups

Phillip Knightley, 10 October 1991

Smear! Wilson and the Secret State 
by Stephen Dorrill and Robin Ramsay.
Fourth Estate, 502 pp., £20, August 1991, 9781872180687
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... and MI5 they will remain a threat to any Labour government and thus a threat to democracy. As David Cornwell – the spy writer John le Carré, who was in the security forces himself – said in the Independent earlier this year, if a Labour government were to win the next election, ‘the secret services would be cuddling up with the Conservative Party ...


W.G. Runciman: On Trade-Unionism, 5 May 1988

... Government. All this may be familiar and even obvious. But it is not seen as quite so obvious by David Marquand, whose newly-published The Unprincipled Society* tells the history of 20th-century Britain in terms of the rise and fall of a ‘Keynesian’ consensus in which, for a few short, happy years, the unions collaborated with everybody else in seeking ...


Ian Aitken: Party Fairy-Tales, 22 March 1990

... of the Victorian Liberal Party, many of whose members were much nearer to Mrs Thatcher than to David Lloyd George. But it is the Labour Party, and specifically its left wing, which suffers most severely from myths about a golden past now lost in the mists of time. Even quite well-read Labour politicians are prone to the belief that This Great Movement of ...
The Struggle for Civil Liberties: Political Freedom and the Rule of Law in Britain 1914-1945 
by K.D. Ewing and C.A. Gearty.
Oxford, 451 pp., £50, February 2000, 0 19 825665 5
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... reproof. Governments and police were virtually unfettered. As early as 1926, the Labour leader Ramsay MacDonald complained about what he saw as ‘this extraordinary drift’ towards ‘a police state’. Traditionally educated lawyers will no doubt smile at this, but Ewing and Gearty don’t. In Northern Ireland, under a bigoted Ascendancy of which ...

Happy Bunnies

John Pemble: Cousin Marriage, 25 February 2010

Incest and Influence: The Private Life of Bourgeois England 
by Adam Kuper.
Harvard, 296 pp., £20.95, November 2009, 978 0 674 03589 8
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... Kuper zooms in for a closer look, he selects areas already well investigated. If you’ve read David Newsome, Annan himself, Michael Holroyd and Hermione Lee on the Wilberforces, Leslie Stephen, Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf, you’re likely to know what’s coming before you’ve turned the page – and there’s a limit to the appeal even of Clapham ...

End of the Century

John Sutherland, 13 October 1988

Worlds Apart 
by David Holbrook.
Hale, 205 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 9780709033639
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Story of My Life 
by Jay McInerney.
Bloomsbury, 188 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 7475 0180 7
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Forgotten Life 
by Brian Aldiss.
Gollancz, 284 pp., £11.95, September 1988, 0 575 04369 5
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Incline Our hearts 
by A.N. Wilson.
Hamish Hamilton, 250 pp., £11.95, August 1988, 0 241 12256 2
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... It would be interesting to place Jay McInerney and David Holbrook as neighbours at E.M. Forster’s imaginary table. Both novelists are fascinated by decadence – that much they have in common. But their diagnoses and anatomies of the decadent condition are quite different; worlds apart, to use Holbrook’s dominant image ...


Tom Paulin: The Belfast agreement, 18 June 1998

... day I remember how precarious the talks had been. Reading an article in the Daily Telegraph where David Trimble concludes his argument for a Yes vote by saying ‘we must have confidence in ourselves to face the future, not use the troubles of the past as a comfort blanket,’ I wonder how many Unionists will follow his advice. The vote will be Yes, but he ...

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