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Pound Foolish

Kit McMahon, 9 May 1996

Politics and the Pound: The Conservatives’ Struggle with Sterling 
by Philip Stephens.
Macmillan, 364 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 333 63296 6
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... of the turbulent economic events of the period provides a necessary sceptical gloss on the one Nigel Lawson gives in the thousand pages of his View from No 11. It draws on the testimony of many senior officials and other participants, who persuasively dispute Lawson’s view at many points and have not hitherto had ...

The Common Touch

Paul Foot, 10 November 1994

Hanson: A Biography 
by Alex Brummer and Roger Cowe.
Fourth Estate, 336 pp., £20, September 1994, 1 85702 189 4
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... Thatcher years, Hanson felt he was part of the Government. He demanded and got an interview with Nigel Lawson in which he offered to buy the BP shares the Government were selling – for six billion pounds. Lawson showed him the door, believing at least a little in his own rhetoric about a shareholders’ democracy. A ...

Why did it end so badly?

Ross McKibbin: Thatcher, 18 March 2004

Margaret Thatcher. Vol. II: The Iron Lady 
by John Campbell.
Cape, 913 pp., £25, October 2003, 0 224 06156 9
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... was suspicious of her colleagues, even the most loyal, like Howe, and her treatment of him and of Nigel Lawson was appalling; though it is easy to exaggerate the political differences between her and them. Nor should we be oversympathetic to Howe, one of the most obstinately wrong-headed of chancellors, or to ...

Conspire Slowly, Act Quickly

David Runciman: Thatcher Undone, 2 January 2020

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography Vol. III: Herself Alone 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 1072 pp., £35, October 2019, 978 0 241 32474 5
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... Street. She had over-promoted him to be foreign secretary and then, following the resignation of Nigel Lawson, quickly moved him to be chancellor, where he was more at home. Her hatred of Heseltine, who was the very last person she wanted to succeed her, had three primary causes. She was still hurt by his open treachery during the Westland affair in ...

Maggie’s Hobby

Nicholas Hiley, 11 December 1997

New cloak, Old dagger: How Britain’s Spies Came in from the Cold 
by Michael Smith.
Gollancz, 338 pp., £20, November 1996, 0 575 06150 2
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Intelligence Power in Peace and War 
by Michael Herman.
Cambridge, 436 pp., £50, October 1996, 0 521 56231 7
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UK Eyes Alpha 
by Mark Urban.
Faber, 320 pp., £16.99, September 1996, 0 571 17689 5
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... by the large number of SIS officers who retire at 55 to join merchant banks. In the words of ‘Nigel West’ (a.k.a. Rupert Allason, the former Tory MP), the postwar drift to the City ‘was ... sponsored by men such as George Young, the SIS Vice-Chief who joined Kleinwort Benson in 1961, and Frank Steele, a legendary figure from the Cold War who followed ...

Diary

Norman Buchan: In Defence of the Word, 1 October 1987

... spring, with its weakening of the veto. It was for this reason that the disavowals were so vague. Nigel Lawson employed the Treasury’s customary weasel words: ‘There is no present intention ...’ Mrs Thatcher was rather more specific: ‘If anyone tried to put Value Added Tax on children’s clothes and shoes, they would never, never, never get it ...

After the Battle

Matthew Coady, 26 November 1987

Misrule 
by Tam Dalyell.
Hamish Hamilton, 152 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12170 1
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One Man’s Judgement: An Autobiography 
by Lord Wheatley.
Butterworth, 230 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 406 10019 5
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Changing Battlefields: The Challenge to the Labour Party 
by John Silkin.
Hamish Hamilton, 226 pp., £13.95, September 1987, 9780241121719
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Heseltine: The Unauthorised Biography 
by Julian Critchley.
Deutsch, 198 pp., £9.95, September 1987, 0 233 98001 6
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... fear. About other possible contenders he is refreshingly frank. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, possessor of a ‘powerful intellect and a suitably bullying manner’, is just not well enough regarded. The good-natured Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe may be a man without enemies, but whether he would have enough friends to win a ...

Head over heart for Europe

Peter Pulzer, 21 March 1991

Ever Closer Union: Britain’s Destiny in Europe 
by Hugh Thomas.
Hutchinson, 96 pp., £7.99, January 1991, 0 09 174908 5
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The Challenge of Europe: Can Britain win? 
by Michael Heseltine.
Pan, 226 pp., £5.99, February 1991, 9780330314367
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... also the cause of her two most damaging Cabinet crises, the Westland affair and the resignation of Nigel Lawson; of her most ridiculous embarrassment, the Ridley affair; and of her one national electoral defeat, in the European elections of 1989. Perhaps if she had not insisted on inventing the poll tax, she might still be in Number Ten. But if so, she ...

Diary

W.G. Runciman: UK plc v. the Swedes, 22 November 1990

... invasion of Kuwait, the collapse of the Tokyo Stock Market, or even the extent of the cockup which Nigel Lawson et al turn out to have been making of the British economy. Just after the takeover had happened, I ran into Bob Gavron, the self-styled Thatcherite Socialist who heads the very successful St Ives printing group. He asked me what had really ...

Nostalgia for the Vestry

James Buchan: Thatcherism, 30 November 2006

Thatcher and Sons: A Revolution in Three Acts 
by Simon Jenkins.
Allen Lane, 375 pp., £20, October 2006, 0 7139 9595 5
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... spending departments could not be trusted with money. Jenkins believes the powerful Treasury of Nigel Lawson and Kenneth Clarke was made yet more so by the bargain struck by Blair and Brown in 1994 that promised Brown (at least, according to the Brownites) a sovereignty over domestic policy. Here Jenkins passes over what is still Brown’s masterstroke ...

On the Blower

Peter Clarke: The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt, 18 February 1999

The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt: Volume I 
edited by Sarah Curtis.
Macmillan, 748 pp., £25, November 1998, 0 333 74166 8
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... here to convict him of getting things wrong, though often in good company, as in an encounter with Nigel Lawson during the final, hubristic phase of his Chancellorship. ‘He is not fussed about the deficit,’ Wyatt wrote. ‘He thinks, as I do, that it will be likely to take care of itself.’ Wyatt enjoyed the reflected glory of the Thatcherite ...
... madonna of bother, into everlasting power.​Iain Sinclair, 27 February 1992 The picture which Nigel Lawson draws of Thatcher herself is a remarkable testimony to the manner in which her government’s grand strategy was determined. Increasingly, ideas were translated into policy via will, whim and pique. The advice of responsible ministers was ...

Shakespeares

David Norbrook, 18 July 1985

Political Shakespeare: New Essays in Cultural Materialism 
edited by Jonathan Dollimore and Alan Sinfield.
Manchester, 244 pp., £19.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1752 1
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Alternative Shakespeares 
edited by John Drakakis.
Methuen, 252 pp., £10.50, July 1985, 0 416 36850 6
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Shakespeare and Others 
by S. Schoenbaum.
Scolar, 285 pp., £25, May 1985, 0 85967 691 9
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Illustrations of the English Stage 1580-1642 
by R.A. Foakes.
Scolar, 180 pp., £35, February 1985, 0 85967 684 6
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Shakespeare: The ‘Lost Years’ 
by E.A.J. Honigmann.
Manchester, 172 pp., £17.50, April 1985, 0 7190 1743 2
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... of his transcendence tends to reinforce conservative political positions. If we are to believe Mr Nigel Lawson, Ulysses’ speech on Degree in Troilus and Cressida exercises a powerful influence on Conservative economic policy. One of the most influential of modern Shakespeare critics, G. Wilson Knight, gave his blessing to Britain’s campaign against ...

Nerds, Rabbits and a General Lack of Testosterone

R.W. Johnson: Major and Lamont, 9 December 1999

The Autobiography 
by John Major.
HarperCollins, 774 pp., £25, October 1999, 0 00 257004 1
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In Office 
by Norman Lamont.
Little, Brown, 567 pp., £20, October 1999, 0 316 64707 1
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... Norman Lamont, who served continuously at the Treasury from 1986 to 1993 – a period when first Lawson and then Major consistently argued for the ERM – tries hard to pretend that he was too busy dealing with the fairies at the bottom of the garden to notice any of it. He claims that when Britain entered the ERM he turned to a Treasury official and ...

Who Runs Britain?

Christopher Hitchens, 8 December 1994

The Enemy Within: MI5, Maxwell and the Scargill Affair 
by Seumas Milne.
Verso, 352 pp., £18.95, November 1994, 0 86091 461 5
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... and to ensure that all the arsenals and all the tactical designs were in place in advance. Nigel Lawson, who was later to cover himself with glory as Energy Secretary in this bannered campaign, wrote in his memoirs that preparation for it was ‘just like re-arming to face the threat of Hitler in the later Thirties’. That’s quite a jest, when ...

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