I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Home Uncategorized Good Time Girls

Good Time Girls

Liam Hennessy
An English Affair: Sex, Class and Power in the Age of Profumo, by Richard Davenport-Hines, HarperPress, 416 pp, £20, ISBN: 978-0007435845 “Quiet calm deliberation disentangles ever knot” were the words Harold Macmillan pinned on the door of the Cabinet room in 10 Downing Street shortly after he became British prime minister on January 10th, 1957. That evening, the paper for Macmillan’s constituency in Sussex, the Brighton Evening Argus, led with two stories of concern to local people, the progress of the new south terminal building for Gatwick and the fate of local football team Brighton and Hove Albion. It merely noted Macmillan’s accession to the premiership on an inside page with the laconic headline “Local Man becomes Prime Minister”. Thus did the last of the great Edwardian actor managers of British politics arrive at the top of the greasy pole. Rather uncannily, Macmillan was also the last old Etonian to hold the position until the arrival of David Cameron and other members of the Bullingdon club all too recently. It would be fair to say that they would have had little in common. The “one nation” philosophy coined by Disraeli and promulgated actively by Macmillan has now been arrogated by Ed Miliband, the current leader of the British Labour Party. Moreover, this reviewer recalls a memorable Private Eye cover where the recently deceased Baroness Thatcher was posed sitting at the feet of an elderly Macmillan who, by then, had belatedly taken the title of Earl of Stockton. Stockton, which was a northeastern and largely working class area, had been Macmillan’s constituency in the 1930s when he was (as he always remained) an avowed Keynesian. The bubble caption attributed to Macmillan on the Private Eye cover read along the following lines: “It looks like that ghastly Thatcher person.” The exhortation to his fellow cabinet members to engage in quite calm deliberation in untangling policy knots could be seen in hindsight as a kind of ironic bookending of the start and end of his premiership. The Gordian knot that had been unravelling at the beginning of his time in 10 Downing Street was, of course, his predecessor Eden’s monumental mishandling of the Suez crisis. While that crisis was unfolding, Macmillan, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time, was an ardent supporter of intervention, that is, the invasion of the Suez Canal by Israeli, French and British troops. Crucially, the invasion was not supported by Eisenhower’s…

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