Tag Archive | "1950s"

“Reggie” Featured on Fivebooks.com

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“Reggie” Featured on Fivebooks.com

Posted on 04 August 2010 by admin

This is a biography that takes you right into the heart of 1950s Conservatism in the same way that Robert Caro’s life of Lyndon Johnson takes you right into the Senate of the same period

Executive Editor of The Times, Daniel Finkenstein, praises Lewis Baston’s Reggie: The Life of Reginald Maudling on prestigious review site Fivebooks.com.

Your next book is very British.

I have deliberately chosen to be a bit arcane with my third book: Reggie by Lewis Baston. If you want to realise how conservative movements all over the world are exceptionalist in the same way that Republicans believe in American exceptionalism, then nothing could be better than reading histories of obscure British politicians. This is a book about Reginald Maudling, who was a very senior politician, singularly undynamic – so much so that when punched by a Member of Parliament over Bloody Sunday [the shooting in Northern Ireland of protesters by members of the British forces] because he was Home Secretary at the time, somebody shouted, ‘My God! She’s woken him up!’

This is a biography that takes you right into the heart of 1950s Conservatism in the same way that Robert Caro’s life of Lyndon Johnson takes you right into the Senate of the same period – it is very difficult to do if you live in another country but very important to understanding something as nationally individualist as conservatism.

Maudling was twice a contender for leader of the Party, once in a very serious way, and he lost because really, although he was thought to be the finest politician, he was thought to be too lazy. He then ran to seed, and ended up having to resign because of his relationship with a corrupt architect called John Poulson. And I think that Lewis Baston makes it pretty clear that Maudling’s business relationships were corrupt, I suppose in the way that Caro does with Johnson as well.

Maudling therefore emerges as a bit of a wasted talent. But, on the other hand, he does reflect the kind of solid centre of Conservatism that wouldn’t be familiar to an American audience in the way that Margaret Thatcher is. It was the Conservatism that preceded her, the equivalent of Eisenhower conservatism. I also recommend it as a wonderful book of British history and it’s very well-written.

When Jim Callaghan, later the Labour Prime Minister, took over from him as Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1964, Maudling, as he was leaving, popped his head around the door and said, ‘Sorry to have left it all in such a mess, old cock.’ And Callaghan thought he meant his office, but he meant the national finances.

Buy Reggie from the Lewis Baston Amazon Bookshop here

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Breaking the southern mould (8 November 2006)

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Breaking the southern mould (8 November 2006)

Posted on 08 November 2006 by admin

For the first time since the early 1950s the majority party in the House of Representatives will be the minority party in the south.

The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives elected in 2006 will be a historic turning point. For the first time since the early 1950s the majority party in the House will be the minority party in the south.

In the five deep south states (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina) the Republicans still dominate with 23 seats to 12 Democrats and two still counting razor’s-edge margins. No seats went from Republican to Democrat, and the two toss-up seats were both defended by Democrat incumbents in Georgia. Taking the south and border states up to Virginia and Missouri, the Republicans still lead 79 to 50, not counting the two Georgia undecided seats. The Democrats have only gained five seats in the extended region, and two of them in rather special circumstances (in TX-22 and FL-16 discredited Republican incumbents Tom DeLay and Mark Foley stayed on the ballot despite being replaced as candidates). There were clear gains only in a heavily Democrat-leaning Florida district (expatriated north-easterners) and one each in Kentucky and North Carolina.

The bulk of the Democrats’ gains came in the north-east, where the results in some seats were startling – the party swept both New Hampshire seats, including NH-1 where they had mounted only the most rudimentary campaign. Pennsylvania may well contribute more net gains than the whole of the south. In the process – and some results are still agonisingly close – they have knocked out many of the endangered species that is the Republican moderate, such as Nancy Johnson in Connecticut and Jim Leach – apparently – in Iowa.

The 2006 revolution may be the Democrats’ answer to the 1994 election, which completed the south’s Republican realignment. Many of the surviving Republicans in the north-east are defending very narrow majorities and their incumbents may decide to call it a day now that the party is in the minority – opening up more seats for the Democrats in 2008 just as happened in reverse in the south in 1994-96. As in Presidential elections, two solid blocs of Democrat blue in the north-east and Republican red in the south will face each other. The contested areas will be elsewhere, in the Mountain west, the south-west and the upper mid-west.

2006 may therefore be the beginning of the end of the American political world’s obeisance to the south, which after all is only one region among several in the country. It is now, in general, loyal to any Republican no matter how extreme or unsatisfactory (even in borderland Virginia, George Allen is in recount territory for the Senate seat). I have never understood why “Massachusetts liberal” seems to be an acceptable term of abuse while “Texas conservative” (which to me summons up an image of cronyism, arrogance and being bought by big business interests) is not. If the new House (and the still-to-be decided Senate) owe the south no favours, that really will be a radical change in the way politics is done.


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