The Secret Diaries of Sir Michael Barber, Eagle Eye

The Secret Diaries of Sir Michael Barber

Great news from my new academic home, King’s College, London.
Sir Michael Barber (pictured), the directing mind behind public service reform in the second term of the Blair government, has agreed to publish his diaries as part of a PhD thesis to be written by one of our stars, Michelle Clement.
Sir Michael, head of the Prime [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 15 January 2015 at 2:40 pm

Iraq’s WMD and the Test of Reasonableness, Eagle Eye

Iraq’s WMD and the Test of Reasonableness

Cross-post by Mugwump.
This 9,000-word article looks at why intelligence services around the world were so sure that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in 2003. I re-post it here because it is an impressive piece of work, bringing together evidence from a wide range of sources.
Photo of soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 8 July 2014 at 1:48 pm

Denis Healey’s son: “My father would have made a rubbish PM”, Eagle Eye

Denis Healey’s son: “My father would have made a rubbish PM”

Denis Healey – Classic Virgo
Guest post by Tim Healey (pictured right
A recent article in The Independent on Sunday (30 June 2013) itemises my father, Denis Healey, as number nine in its list of ‘The Best Prime Ministers We Never Had’.
Not so. I think my father would have made a rubbish prime minister. He [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 23 June 2014 at 9:00 pm

Footballing History, Eagle Eye

Footballing History

There is a nice line in Jim Murphy’s book, The 10 Football Matches That Changed The World … and the One That Didn’t (that was the Christmas game in no-man’s land in 1914) about Tony Blair.
Murphy, now shadow International Development Secretary, tells the story of Blair’s visit to John Burton’s house in Sedgefield, the last [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Wednesday, 11 June 2014 at 10:47 am

John Smith, 20 years on, Eagle Eye

John Smith, 20 years on

I won’t resume the debate about how Labour would have fared if John Smith, who died 20 years ago today, had lived. John McTernan pays tribute here, and Ian Bell also had a fine eulogy last week.
But McTernan’s article did pose one question that stands for the whole. The question is whether Smith would have [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Monday, 12 May 2014 at 12:17 pm

League table of Prime Ministers, Eagle Eye

League table of Prime Ministers

ComRes carried out a poll of prime ministers since 1964 for The Independent on Sunday last weekend, using a simple “favourable or unfavourable view” question. The last time we did this, in February last year, we asked the question a different way, asking people to rate prime ministers as better or worse than David Cameron.
Last [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Wednesday, 16 April 2014 at 2:26 pm

The Cult of Tony Benn, Eagle Eye

The Cult of Tony Benn

Once again, David Hayes has wrought his magic. He writes beautifully and thoughtfully about British politics for an Australian website, Inside Story. Now he has turned his attention to Tony Benn. His response to the challenge is a bit like that of the audience at the typical Benn revival meeting that he describes at the [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 8 April 2014 at 2:53 pm

Roy Jenkins: “Second-Class Mind”, Eagle Eye

Roy Jenkins: “Second-Class Mind”

One more thing from the last chapter of John Campbell’s wonderful biography of Roy Jenkins. My special interest in it is in its charting of Jenkins’ growing disenchantment with his protégé, which is entirely to Tony Blair’s credit.
I particularly enjoyed Campbell’s account of Jenkins’ description of Blair’s “second-class mind”.
Just because I could, I dug out [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 1 April 2014 at 4:53 pm

In Praise of John Campbell III: More Joy of Footnotes, Eagle Eye

In Praise of John Campbell III: More Joy of Footnotes

At this rate I could blog about John Campbell’s biography of Roy Jenkins every day. Indeed, I could do a daily commentary just about the footnotes, a special interest of mine.
There is a lovely bit about Jenkins’ book about Gladstone, which was published in 1995. This is a play within a play: Jenkins’ biographer commenting [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 30 March 2014 at 9:45 pm

In Praise of John Campbell, part II, Eagle Eye

In Praise of John Campbell, part II

One of the loveliest things about John Campbell’s style as a biographer is his use of footnotes. I have only dipped into his biography of Roy Jenkins (yesterday I got as far as the back cover), but immediately found this gem, on page 740. It is in the last chapter, about The Great Pooh-Bah’s* afterlife, [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Saturday, 29 March 2014 at 6:24 pm

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