Geoffrey Wheatcroft is the author of The Controversy of Zion, The Strange Death of Tory England, and Yo, Blair! (October 2016)


Tony Blair’s Eternal Shame: The Report

George W. Bush and Tony Blair at a joint press conference at Hillsborough Castle, near Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 2003

The Report of the Iraq Inquiry

by a Committee of Privy Counsellors chaired by Sir John Chilcot

Not the Chilcot Report

by Peter Oborne
The Chilcot report coyly says that “the widespread perception”—meaning the correct belief—that Downing Street distorted the intelligence about Saddam’s weaponry has left a “damaging legacy,” undermining trust and confidence in politicians. It is not fanciful to see the Brexit vote, the disruption of the Labour Party, and the rise of Donald Trump among those consequences, all part of the revulsion across the Western world against elites and establishments that were so discredited by Iraq. How could it have happened?

Churchill: Great and Mean

Winston Churchill and his daughter Sarah laying bricks at their house in Chartwell, Kent, September 1928

No More Champagne: Churchill and His Money

by David Lough

Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill

by Sonia Purnell
In 1930, Winston Churchill published My Early Life, which remains his most likable and authentic book. At its end he comes forward to September 1908 when, without mentioning Clementine Hozier by name or his proposing to her at his ancestral home of Blenheim Palace, his last line tells us in …

Walpole: The House & the Letters

Horace Walpole’s country house, Strawberry Hill, in the nineteenth century

Strawberry Hill and Horace Walpole: Essential Guide

by John Iddon

Strawberry Hill: Horace Walpole’s Gothic Castle

by Anna Chalcraft and Judith Viscardi
“It is a little play-thing-house,” Horace Walpole wrote to Henry Seymour Conway in June 1747, “and is the prettiest bauble you ever saw. It is set in enamelled meadows, with filigree hedges.” Six years later he was able to tell his friend Sir Horace Mann, the lifelong British resident in …

Britain: The Implosion

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meeting for the first time since the general election, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 15, 2015
In October 1951 the prime minister decided to call a general election. He wrote to the leader of the opposition informally (“My dear Churchill”) to let him know, before Parliament was dissolved, and polling day took place less than three weeks later. Clement Attlee was displeased by the outcome, with …


The Queen and the Camera

Count de Montizon: The Hippopotamus at the Zoological Gardens, Regent’s Park, 1852

Photography, and Queen Victoria’s interest in it, emerged into public light with the Great Exhibition of 1851, partly Prince Albert’s brainchild. Many of the astonishing six million people who visited the exhibition in Hyde Park saw photographs for the first time, a number of which can be seen at a new exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum and in the handsome accompanying book by Anne M. Lyden, both called “A Royal Passion: Queen Victoria and Photography.”

Downing Street Liars’ Club

One of the best traditions of English public life is the official inquiry, sometimes parliamentary, sometimes judicial. What gives inquiries their value isn’t the conclusions they come to, which can be perverse or distorted by partisanship, but the evidence they hear and place on record. And so with the Leveson inquiry into the press. Whatever recommendations Lord Justice Leveson eventually makes, we have been spellbound by the testimony he has heard. To add a certain amusement value, the last few weeks have been notable for utterly contradictory testimony from different witnesses, several of them present or former leaders of the country. Someone is being economical with the truth, or just lying.

The Truth About Murdoch

Rupert Murdoch, 1988

Along with the other media he has mastered, from tabloids to satellite television, Rupert Murdoch has recently taken to Twitter. On February 15, he tweeted, “To hell with politicians! When are we going to find some to tell the truth in any country? Don’t hold your breath.” His words remind us yet again that Murdoch is a man of iron nerve, not say brass neck, though they might also suggest a degree of delusion. Throughout his career, every time he has come near calamity, that gambler’s strong nerve has always somehow managed to rescue him. But the concatenation of scandal and disaster that has now engulfed his News International group—which owns the Sun and the now-defunct News of the World as well as the London Times and other papers—is of a different order.

Letting Murdoch in Through the Back Door

Rupert Murdoch

The real story is not Murdoch’s papers and the repulsive methods used by their reporters: it’s the force and blatancy of Murdoch’s political influence through those papers. Although responsibility for the appalling conduct of his papers ultimately rests with Murdoch, the blame for the way he has exercised so much indirect political power lies with those politicians who have for so long knelt before him. Cameron is the latest, and may yet prove the greatest casualty. But it must be said that not even Cameron was as cynical and unprincipled in his dealings with Murdoch as Tony Blair had been.


Summer 2016 Exhibitions

There’s much to be said for avoiding Mediterranean countries between May and October, but some attractions won’t wait until the more temperate autumn, notably exhibitions in Madrid, Rome and Venice, the latter two now in their last days.