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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

David Owen nearly endorsed Labour in 2005, Eagle Eye

David Owen nearly endorsed Labour in 2005

Still talking of David Owen, who endorsed Ed Miliband’s Labour Party reforms at the weekend, I’m told that he was prepared to come out for the Labour Party in the 2005 election, but wasn’t taken up on it.
I understand that, towards the end of the campaign, Labour were looking for ways to “check” the Liberal [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Tuesday, 4 March 2014 at 11:17 am

Blair’s gone, Lord Owen, it’s safe to come back now, Eagle Eye

Blair’s gone, Lord Owen, it’s safe to come back now

Talking of David Owen, how uplifting it was to see him back in the gateway to the Labour fold. (He’s not actually rejoining the party, he told BBC radio today, because he is too old to submit to the authority of the party whip, but he has donated “more than” £7,500.)
As I say in The [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Sunday, 2 March 2014 at 5:49 pm

Men of Secrets V, Eagle Eye

Men of Secrets V

We come now to the interview with Lord O’Donnell in the series of interviews with Cabinet Secretaries past and present on the website put together by the Mile End Group for 10 Downing Street.

By | Eagle Eye | Saturday, 8 February 2014 at 10:06 pm

A Government Exhausted, Eagle Eye

A Government Exhausted

I have just caught up with this fine study of Labour backbench dissent under Gordon Brown, by Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart (subscription). It describes a government and parliamentary party in a state of advanced psychological and political decay.
I remember being puzzled as a pupil by the explanation we were given at O-level for Clement [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 6 February 2014 at 1:37 pm

The Science of Delivery, Eagle Eye

The Science of Delivery

The thing that foreign leaders most want to talk to Tony Blair about is his Delivery Unit. Many governments and local governments are using what it learned about how to improve public services, especially education, with advice from Sir Michael Barber (pictured), who was head of the Delivery Unit 2001-05.
Barber’s most ambitious project is in Punjab, [...]

By | Eagle Eye | Thursday, 30 January 2014 at 8:07 pm

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