September 08, 2017 15:01
John le Carré’s new book A Legacy of Spies, published this week, reintroduces his most celebrated character, and indeed one of the most iconic characters in the history of espionage fiction, George Smiley.
Le Carré revealed shortly before the Iraq War that the model for Smiley was the author and MI5 officer John Bingham, the 7th Baron Clanmorris. The Man Who Was George Smiley, Michael Jago’s brilliant account of Bingham’s life is not just the story of a perfect spy, it is also of a writer whose thrillers transcended the genre, exploring the emotions behind the darkest human behaviour.
As an intelligence officer the bespectacled Bingham had a deep influence on Le Carré, then a junior colleague in MI5. Like Smiley, Bingham was an expert interrogator. His understanding of the human psyche, demonstrated so brilliantly in his seventeen novels, persuaded his subjects to give up the intelligence they were holding deep inside.
He took part in many of MI5’s greatest wartime and Cold War operations, from the Double Cross operation that ensured the success of D-Day, through the tracking of Soviet spies in Cold War Britain to the monitoring of Lord Lucan and others planning a right-wing coup in the 1970s. As Le Carré said, ‘Nobody who knew John and the work he was doing could have missed the description of Smiley in my first novel.’
Buy the paperback edition here at special price £5.99
September 04, 2017 14:19
LIFE INSIDE KIM JONG UN'S NORTH KOREA - THE WORLD'S MOST SECRETIVE NATION
When JP Floru tags along with three friends running the marathon in Pyongyang, little could have prepared him for what he witnessed.
Shown by two minders what the regime wants them to see during their nine-day trip, the group is astounded when witnessing people bowing to their leaders' statues; being told not to take photos of the leaders' feet; and hearing the hushed reverence with which people recite the history invented by the regime to keep itself in power.
Often, the group did not understand what they were seeing: from the empty five-lane motorway to the missing fifth floor of their Yanggakdo Hotel on an island in the Pudong River; many answers only came through extensive research of the few sources that exist about this hermit country.
Shocking and scary, The Sun Tyrant uncovers the oddities and tragedies at the heart of the world's most secretive regime, and shows what happens when a population is reduced to near-slavery in the twenty-first century.
THE SUN TYRANT: A NIGHTMARE CALLED NORTH KOREA
by J.P. FLORU. Buy it here with 30% off RRP
August 29, 2017 14:49
Geoffrey Alderman, The Jewish Chronicle
The Honorary Jew
By Robert Philpot
Biteback Publishing, £20
I grew up in an inner-London, working-class household that was both Orthodox Jewish and rabidly socialist. The idea that any family member might support the Conservative party would have seemed frankly absurd. In my family’s imagination, the typical Tory was middle-class, well-to-do, church-going and certainly of an antisemitic inclination.
Maggie Thatcher changed all that. By the time of the 1983 general election, both my parents were voting Tory and Maggie Thatcher was their heroine. My mother was convinced that the Tory leader must have had, in however nebulous a sense, Jewish roots.
Genealogically speaking, of course, the Iron Lady had none. Margaret Thatcher (née Roberts) was a Grantham grocer’s daughter, schooled in a Methodist environment. But it was precisely this milieu — which encouraged hard work and self-help — that drew her to the Jewish people, a journey no doubt helped by the fact that, in 1938, her parents had taken it upon themselves to give board and lodging to Edith Muhlbauer, a teenage Jewish refugee from Austria and almost certainly the first Jew that the young Margaret had ever met.
But the journey was never going to be straightforward. As Robert Philpot reminds us in his meticulously researched monograph, some of her early private letters reveal elements of the parlour antisemitism for which mid-20th-century Toryism was rightly infamous. In one, she appears to have felt no shame in referring to a woman who “looked a Jewess… [with] the typical long nose.” But the journey was made, aided and abetted by a small Jewish circle whose influence on her outlook and on her political judgment can hardly be overstated: principally Keith Joseph, Alfred Sherman and Immanuel Jakobovits.
Philpot is at his best in chronicling this remarkable coalition, using material now available from the Thatcher archive. At its centre were Sherman, who had fought for the Communists in the Spanish Civil War but who ended up as Keith Joseph’s speech-writer, and another free-marketeer with East-End Jewish roots, Arthur Seldon (born Abraham Margolis), adviser to the Institute of Economic Affairs.
It was through the IEA and its alumni that Thatcher was introduced to the “Chicago School” of neo-liberal political economy (also, incidentally, built on Jewish foundations: its leading advocate had, after all, been Milton Friedman). But scarcely less important as a mentor was Chief Rabbi Jakobovits, whom Thatcher deliberately put into the House of Lords to counter incessant complaining from the bishops of the Church of England.
How much of all this reflected genuine philosemitism on Thatcher’s part? At the time it was said that Thatcher, the MP for Finchley, simply knew where her political bread was buttered. But Philpot leaves us in no doubt: she was indeed an honorary Jew.
Geoffrey Alderman is a historian and columnist
August 22, 2017 14:00
Iain Dale, MD of Biteback Publishing, has acquired world rights to Winning Here by former Chief Executive and Director of Campaigns & Elections for the Liberal Democrats, Lord Rennard.
Chris Rennard’s long relationship with the Liberals, and later the Liberal Democrats, began when a compassionate Liberal candidate helped his disabled mother receive her widowed mother allowance. By his twenties, Rennard was the most successful election campaigner his party has ever known.
He helped the Liberal Party win power in Liverpool in the 1970s and campaigned for Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins in famous by-elections which helped the Liberal SDP Alliance to compete for power before its acrimonious collapse in the late ‘80s. He was then responsible for a series of spectacular by-election victories that rescued his party’s fortunes and he oversaw a huge increase in the party’s number of MPs and elected representatives. Liberal leaders Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg would all rely on him as the party grew to the peak of its success.
This volume of memoirs spans his first thirty years in politics (to 2006) and includes the highs and lows of his party during the leaderships of Paddy Ashdown (including his hopes for coalition with Tony Blair) and Charles Kennedy (including the latter’s enforced resignation after publicly revealing his problem with alcohol).
Iain Dale said: ‘There will never be a better insider account of a political party. Winning Here is a record that shows how election campaigns are really fought and won and how party leaders change and parties develop.’
Winning Here will be published in January 2018 and supported by a major publicity campaign.
August 14, 2017 11:09
Nigel Farage: The Movie snapped up by Hollywood as studio set to sign £60m deal
The Daily Telegraph
13 AUGUST 2017
Coming to a television set near you: Farage the movie.
A major Hollywood studio is poised to sign a deal with Nigel Farage and Arron Banks to make a £60million, six-part film of Mr Banks’ best-selling diary of the referendum campaign The Bad Boys of Brexit.
The script is nearly finished and shooting will start in the New Year. The series will air in April, once the deal is signed next month at a meeting in Los Angeles.
The story is told from the point of view of Gerry Gunster, a US pollster who advised the Leave.EU campaign, and tells how Mr Farage and Mr Banks won against the odds and ended up campaigning for Donald Trump's successful campaign in the US presidential election.
One source said Mr Gunster will be portrayed as a “respected US expert being employed to control these British lunatics in the referendum.
“It naturally descends into farce - but they win against all odds - he is then horrified that the British lunatics are sent to help a US TV reality star fight for the presidency.
“The farce continues and - guess what - they win and suddenly they are catapulted into the alternative White House to change the world, what could possibly go wrong!”
Casting takes place this Autumn for the £60million series. Mr Farage and Mr Banks are expected to be executive producers, as well as LBC radio presenter Iain Dale who published the book.
Mr Dale, who will sign the deal with Mr Banks and his aide Andy Wigmore in the US next month, told The Telegraph: "Having conquered Europe it seems The Bad Boys of Brexit are about to woo Hollywood.
"The main question is whether Danny DeVito is available to play Arron Banks. I just hope the writers can capture the humour and chaos displayed in the book."
The Bad Boys of Brexit detailed how Mr Banks, his key aide Andy Wigmore and Mr Gunster worked closely with Mr Farage, persuading him to take part in the famous Battle of the Thames when a flotilla of pro-Leave fishing boats was assailed by one carrying singer Bob Geldof a week before the vote in June last year.
Other less successful ventures include a failed BBop concert which would have featured see members of 1980s pop band Bucks Fizz and an Elvis impersonator.
American Oscar winner Kevin Spacey or Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberatch have been previously tipped to play Mr Farage.
However the former UK Independence Party leader was coy about who coy about him when challenged by The Daily Telegraph, saying: “I am hoping if they do make the film, I think I should play me. I am really good at being me.
“It will be about Brexit and the start of the revolution of 2016, how Brexit stunned the establishment and led to directly to the victory of Donald J Trump.”
Amazon, the online bookseller, describes the book as an “honest, uncensored and highly entertaining diary of the campaign that changed the course of history”.
It adds: “From a David Brent-style office on an industrial estate in the south-west, Banks masterminded an extraordinary social media campaign against the tyrannies of Brussels that became a mass movement for Brexit.
“He tore up the political rule book, sinking £8 million of his personal fortune into a madcap campaign targeting ordinary voters up and down the country.
“His anti-establishment crusade upset everyone from Victoria Beckham to NASA and left MPs open-mouthed.
“When his rabble-rousing antics landed him in hot water, he simply redoubled his efforts to wind up the targets.
“Lurching from comedy to crisis (often several times a day), he found himself in the glare of the media spotlight, fending off daily bollockings from Nigel Farage and po-faced MPs.”