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Between Victoria and Vauxhall

John Lanchester: The Election, 1 June 2017

... didn’t. The building was rejected by the planning inspector, but the rejection was overruled by John Prescott, then ‘first secretary of state’, on the basis that it was part of an existing ‘cluster’ of tall buildings. That wasn’t true, but the relevant authorities set about making it true in retrospect, by giving planning permission to a ...

Ponting bites back

Tam Dalyell, 4 April 1985

The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... James Waddell and others. Equally, as members of the Labour Delegation to the European Parliament, John Prescott and I were ‘educated in the ways of Upper Whitehall’ by Sir Thomas Brimelow, the former PUS at the Foreign Office, who became a Labour Peer and a British representative at Strasbourg. But it is no surprise to me that in over twenty years as ...

Thanks to the Fels-Naptha Soap King

Miles Taylor: George Lansbury, 22 May 2003

George Lansbury: At the Heart of Old Labour 
by John Shepherd.
Oxford, 407 pp., £35, September 2002, 0 19 820164 8
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... their families to the coast. The inspiration behind the scheme was George Lansbury, the subject of John Shepherd’s biography, a book as meticulous as it is generous. It is nonetheless timely: just as the prison service has brown-filled this pleasant site, so, too, New Labour has trampled on the radical socialism of which Lansbury was one of the finest ...

Blood Boiling

Paul Foot: Corporate takeover, 22 February 2001

Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain 
by George Monbiot.
Macmillan, 430 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 333 90164 9
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No Logo 
by Naomi Klein.
Flamingo, 501 pp., £8.99, January 2001, 0 00 653040 0
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... negotiating with yet more big corporations for the privatisation of yet more prisons; ‘bluff JohnPrescott, the authentic voice of proletarian Old Labour, who made it ‘crystal clear’ to the 1993 Labour Party Conference that a Labour Government would renationalise the railways if the Tories privatised them, and ...

Leave me alone

Terry Eagleton: Terry Eagleton joins the Yeomen, 30 April 2009

What Price Liberty? How Freedom Was Won and Is Being Lost 
by Ben Wilson.
Faber, 480 pp., £14.99, June 2009, 978 0 571 23594 0
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... of the high-minded Germans, but liberty as the right to be cussedly, bloody-mindedly oneself. ‘John is John,’ as Tony Blair wryly murmured of John Prescott when he punched a demonstrator, suggests something of this tautological quality. This brand of liberty is not in principle ...

Why the Tories Lost

Ross McKibbin, 3 July 1997

... with more than 50 per cent of the votes cast in their constituencies, 44 (including Tony Blair and John Prescott) were elected with over 70 per cent, and two with over 80 per cent. By contrast, only 14 Conservatives won more than 50 per cent of the votes cast. The most successful Conservative, John Major in ...

Run to the hills

James Meek: Rainspotting, 22 May 2003

by Brian Cathcart.
Granta, 100 pp., £5.99, September 2002, 1 86207 534 4
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... feel there is no nobility to our rain, no dignity, no beauty, none of the honour of extremity. In John Mortimer’s novel Paradise Postponed, a woman living in the country calls the doctor in a state of agitation. He arrives and asks what’s wrong. ‘That,’ she said, pointing out of the window. ‘It’s so quiet and green and it’s always ...

How to dislodge a leader who doesn’t want to go

Ross McKibbin: Where are the Backbenchers?, 8 July 2004

... proof against their leader’s displeasure. With the exception of Gordon Brown, and possibly John Prescott, no member of the present cabinet has such standing. Ministers have no power bases within the party or the country and are largely unknown to the electorate. They owe their places in the cabinet almost entirely to their relationship with ...


Eric Hobsbawm: An Assembly of Ghosts, 21 April 2005

... for the CIA’s Polish operations at the time, is unimpressed.) Walesa has the air of a Polish John Prescott, only bigger. He has not carried the last 25 years as well as the other Poles. What is even stranger, I find myself in an assembly of political ghosts. Leaving aside the Chinese, who avoid public discussions, a surprising number of those who ...

My Millbank

Seumas Milne, 18 April 1996

The Blair Revolution: Can New Labour Deliver? 
by Peter Mandelson and Roger Liddle.
Faber, 274 pp., £7.99, February 1996, 0 571 17818 9
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... such a position is lost neither on his enemies nor on Mandelson, who tasted internal exile under John Smith and did not relish it. Belatedly weary of his Cardinal Richelieu reputation and riled by taunts that he is a hollow man without personal beliefs, the response has been a 100,000-word credo to show he can be a real politician like his ...


R.W. Johnson: Major Wins the Losership, 3 August 1995

... of things like that. The upheavals in the Tory Party show a different face of the same reality. John Major’s leadership has been under almost intolerable stress ever since the collapse of British EMS membership in late 1992. The better the economy did thereafter – and not since the Fifties have we experienced such a protracted period of high growth and ...

A Grand and Disastrous Deceit

Philippe Sands: The Chilcot Report, 28 July 2016

The Report of the Iraq Inquiry 
by John Chilcot.
HMSO, 12 vols, 6275 pp., £767, 1 4741 3331 2
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... The Iraq Inquiry​ , chaired by Sir John Chilcot and composed of five privy councillors, finally published its report on the morning of 6 July, seven years and 21 days after it was established by Gordon Brown with a remit to ‘look at the run-up to the conflict, the conflict itself and the reconstruction, so that we can learn lessons ...

Corbyn’s Progress

Tariq Ali, 3 March 2016

... Labour MP disagree with that? What they really hated was his questioning of the private sector. John Prescott had been allowed to pledge the renationalisation of the railways at the 1996 Labour Party Conference, but after Blair’s victory the following year the subject was never raised again. Until now. When I asked him when he first realised he might ...
A Slight and Delicate Creature: The Memoirs of Margaret Cook 
Weidenfeld, 307 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 297 84293 5Show More
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... of Robin’s unconcealed antipathy.’ Cook’s other antipathies are noted, against Bob Cryer, John Prescott and Roy Hattersley: ‘Try as I may, I cannot remember what the agony was all about.’ His failed ambitions are mulled over. After John Smith’s death he considered his options and decided he did not have ...


W.G. Runciman: Dining Out, 4 June 1998

... schoolboy could be the next prime minister doesn’t cross either of our minds. On the other hand, John Birt is suitably impressed when I tell him that I actually met the great Lord Reith on the day of his extraordinary speech in the House of Lords likening commercial broadcasting to the Black Death. It was as if I’d said to the present Chief of me Defence ...

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