Things Can Only Get Better, the Remix

Posted on by Zoe Guttenplan

Will Hutton has written another eminently readable and hugely ambitious book about the state we’re in. It is true that some of his assertions about Britain’s miserable condition and the high cost of leaving the European Union don’t really stand up, and that many of his proposals for financial, corporate and social reform are unlikely […]

Labouring the Point

Posted on by Zoe Guttenplan

The first Red Queen was Lewis Carroll’s. She was irrational and unpredictable, characteristics widely attributed by men to women. When the broadcaster Michael Cockerell conferred the title on Barbara Castle in his brilliant BBC television profile of her in 1995, it was not meant entirely as a compliment. Castle, however, always saw it as one […]

London Calling

Posted on by Zoe Guttenplan

The five central figures in this book – Jeremy Corbyn, Ken Livingstone, Diane Abbott, John McDonnell and Tony Benn – are finished. Corbyn, Livingstone and Abbott have been thrown out of, or suspended from, the Labour Party. McDonnell is still a member but will never again sit on the front bench. Tony Benn’s fate was […]

At Least He Seems Likely to Win a Second Term

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

By any measure, the American and British political and journalistic establishments are growing more and more intertwined every year. Andrew Sullivan, one of the large fraternity of American-based British journalists, recently wrote, for example, that Blairism is not merely influenced by late Clintonism: ‘It is late Clintonism.’ He is right. Both have adopted the rightwing […]

Discretion, C’est Tout

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Political wives and husbands do not have an enviable lot, and Prime Ministers’ consorts are no exception. Theirs is a thankless task – whether they forget their own identity and faithfully support their spouse as the other half, or try and retain a semblance of independence by doing their own thing. Either way it’s a […]

Love Nest

Posted on by David Gelber

The words ‘Now a Major TV Series’ might profitably have been emblazoned across the cover of John Biffen’s new book. Now the cameras are at Westminster and the goings on there are brought to our screens with the frequency that schedulers usually reserve for Coronation Street or Neighbours, those unversed in the esoteric habits of […]

Seer On A Seesaw

Posted on by David Gelber

From his first article published in the Spectator in 1941 when he was still an undergraduate, to his death last year, Peter Utley lived and wrote by the principles of Toryism. The wisdom of the past, the importance of existing social institutions, of prejudice and the instincts of the ‘amateur’ over the intellectualism of academics. […]

Woman with Feelings

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

‘Writing is payment for the chance to look and learn’, says Martha Gellhorn in this collection of journalism from five decades. She is best known for her work as war correspondent in the thirties, but these peace-time articles show the same determination to be at history’s front-line, in whatever country it is set. They are […]

Sod the Expense

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Are ambulancemen a kind of helmetless fireman – because they answer 999 calls? Or are they a kind of car-borne nurse – because they get the sick to hospital? The shadowy answer to this question took the ambulancemen off into an overtime ban in mid-September. They said they were firemen by another name. Kenneth Clarke […]

The Left Quick March

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

For two such different books, one by a single author concentrating on the future, the other a collection of many voices assessing and reminiscing about the past, there are unexpected points of contact and mutual illuminations. With contrasting degrees of scepticism and self-assurance, A Future for Socialism and Out of Apathy reflect a sustained argument […]

Star in the East

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

These ‘essays on the fate of Central Europe’ could not have been published at a better moment. They place in context what is happening today and give the reader the background to judge all that is likely to happen over the next months and years. Timothy Garton Ash’s The Uses of Adversity is a collection […]

No Love, No Desire

Posted on by David Gelber

Europe, it has been said, is a bore. The government of Europe bores absolutely. Not the least of the virtues of Larry Siedentop’s Democracy in Europe is that it serves to undermine this generalisation, rescuing as it does some of the key issues of our time from the arid grip of the politicians and the […]

Going Down the Drain

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

In Europe, Europe Hans Magnus Enzensberger, renowned poet, essayist, journalist and dramatist, has turned his hand to a type of protracted travel-writing. His pen-portraits avoid the ‘great powers’ of Europe, dwelling instead on the satellite countries and giving an impression of a lumpen Occidental under-class which strikes a resounding note of discord with the ‘white-heat’ […]

How all the Isms Became Wasms

Posted on by David Gelber

A little over two years ago on a cold Sunday morning I stood with a group of journalists at a gap in the Berlin Wall and watched thousands of East Germans file through to the West for the first time in their lives. I clearly remember our conversation that morning. Everyone agreed that communism in […]

Life in a State of Anarchy

Posted on by David Gelber

Since 1945, there have been about 150 conflicts of all kinds; perhaps 20 million people have perished in them, not to speak of the maimed, the bereaved and millions of refugees. In this grim catalogue of mayhem, the Lebanon occupies a unique place. It used to do so, in the troubled Middle East, as an […]

Burke and Ayer Strike Again

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

One of the most comforting facts about the tempestuous life of Thomas Paine is that he didn’t do anything of any significance until he was nearly 40. If there hadn’t been a series of revolutions and threatened revolutions in the last quarter of the 18th century, no one would ever have heard of Thomas Paine. […]

Seeing Politics as a Sexual Exercise

Posted on by David Gelber

Leo Abse has done it again. At eighty-three, the Freudian ex-MP to whom we owe the reform of the laws relating to divorce, homosexuality, suicide and children’s rights has produced a book that is brilliant, disturbing and entertaining, at times bewildering, but always stimulating. His opening is characteristically provocative, informing us in detail of how, […]

Is Clinton Frightening the Innocents?

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It’s tempting to think of Thompson in the past tense. Along with his alma mater, Rolling Stone magazine, he was a counter–cultural babe. Seeing him still knocking around is akin to coming across an old–time sage with tales to tell from another time. Certainly, Thompson’s patented ‘Gonzo Journalism’ style – which set up the reporter […]

A Beacon on the Port Bow

Posted on by Tom Fleming

Governments of the left need radical vision in order to succeed. Dick Crossman has made a good case that the post-war Labour administration was rejected by the electorate when, having done what it set out to do, it had no clear aim in view. The recent Labour government’s major success with inflation was achieved by […]

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RLF - March