Crossman: The Pursuit of Power by Anthony Howard - review by Francis Wheen

Francis Wheen

Dirty Dick Pikeman

Crossman: The Pursuit of Power


Jonathan Cape 362pp £15.95 order from our bookshop

Here are the opening words of Anthony Howard's introduction to the condensed version of The Crossman Diaries, published in 1979:

'Dick Crossman was one of those meteors that occasionally lighten the British political firmament ... who fleetingly bring a glow to the normally grey and dingy skies of British politics.'

And here are the opening words of the blurb on his new biography:

'Occasionally a meteor streaks across the normally dingy skies of British politics. Richard Cross was just"such a light in the political firmament.'

Full marks for environmentally-friendly recycling, anyway.

But meteors soon disappear. As Howard admits in his introduction, few reputations fade more quickly than those of politicians. While they are alive and sitting on the front bench, they are quoted, photographed and generally treated as most important persons: Peter Jenkins buys them lunch at the Garrick; Newsnight begs

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