Edward heath

Why were 80,000 Asians suddenly expelled from Uganda in 1972?

The mantelpieces of many an Asian family in Leicester and London, it is said, sport two framed photographs. One is of Idi Amin, the African dictator who expelled them from Uganda; the other is of Edward Heath, the prime minister who allowed them in. ‘This double gratitude,’ writes Lucy Fulford, ‘says thanks for throwing us out and thanks for taking us in.’ Asians filled teddy bears with jewellery and baked diamonds into snacks taken aboard their last flights out If the expulsion from ‘the Pearl of Africa’ of 80,000 Asians was the most traumatic experience of their lives, many also retro-actively recognise it as the best thing that ever happened.

How Britain was misled over Europe for 60 years

Just as one is inclined to believe Carlyle’s point that the history of the world is but the biography of great men, so Christopher Tugendhat, in this level-headed account, is right to conclude that the history of the Conservative party in the past 60 or 70 years has been deeply affected by the biography of the movement for the European Union. And it would have shocked Carlyle that a great woman – Margaret Thatcher – played a central part and, according to Tugendhat, altered the course of the party’s relationship with Europe. She was certainly central to the debate, not least because rather too many Conservatives felt she had died

Letters | 4 August 2016

Remain calm Sir: I am sorry that the redoubtable Martha Lane Fox is still angry at the exaggerations made by the Leave campaign (Letters, 30 July). I expect that the 17 million people who voted to leave are also still pretty angry at the exaggerated claims of Remainers. House price crashes, everyone £4,500 a year worse off, a revenge budget and even a third world war. And of course, the threats from elite corporatists. Vested interests, perhaps? It’s interesting to see how many of the big corporations that  threatened Armageddon prior to the vote are now voting with their money to stay. The investment adviser Tim Price says he has

Letters | 28 July 2016

Better Europeans Sir: There are many reasons why a majority of people in the UK voted to leave the European Union. Among them was certainly not a wish to be inhospitable and uncooperative with our fellow Europeans (Leading article, 23 July). Now it is even more important that EU nationals in Britain should have their status respected and not be used as a bargaining point in future relations with Brussels. Nor should we forget the considerable contribution that so many of them make to our national wellbeing. Furthermore, what about the two million or so UK nationals living and settled in many parts of Europe? Are they to be ignored

The rise and fall of Sony

Here is a Japanese fairy tale for Christmas. An allegory of insight, opportunism and a fall from favour. It is 1945. Japan is devastated and disgraced, but two bright young men, Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka, the first a salesman, the second an engineer, have a plan to turn toxic ashes into precious metal. They have discovered a curious typewritten document published by the Civil Information and Education division of the US Occupation Forces. It is called ‘999 Uses for a Tape-Recorder’. In those days, people needed to be told these things. Inspired, they form a company called TTK and Ibuka writes in its Purposes of Incorporation that it will

Where will David Cameron end up in the history of Conservative Prime Ministers?

At a large Tory breakfast meeting that David Cameron spoke to recently, the tables were named after all of the Conservative premiers of the past: the good, the bad and Ted Heath. So there were the Lord Salisbury, Harold Macmillan and Margaret Thatcher tables, for example. (I was delighted to be on the Winston Churchill table; the people on the Neville Chamberlain one looked suitably ill-favoured.) As Cameron — who was sat at the David Cameron table, appropriately enough — looked around the huge room that morning, he could be forgiven for wondering where he will wind up in the pantheon of past premiers. For as Cameron nears his tenth

A hero of our time

I have met Dr Kissinger, properly, only three times. First, in Cairo, in 1980, when, as a junior diplomat escorting Edward Heath, I had to secure for an almost desperate former British prime minister a meeting with the former US secretary of state, also in town. Once with Kissinger, Heath promptly subsided into a deep slumber. I had the alarming experience of trying to keep the conversation going. The other occasions were more recent, but almost as scary. My hostess at the ‘secret’ (but much publicised) transatlantic talkfests which Kissinger (92 this year) still attends twice summoned me to sit beside the great man at dinner. On each occasion I

Tacitus on Edward Heath

The press and police have been condemned for the way they fall on mere rumour and plaster it across the headlines, Sir Edward Heath’s ‘paedophilia’ being the latest example. The Roman historian Tacitus (c. ad 56–118) well understood the phenomenon. ‘Rumour is not always wrong; it is sometimes correct,’ Tacitus asserts, well aware that the occasional accurate rumour reinforced the potential credibility of the many false ones; and he understood why they played such a part in the world of the emperors, ‘where men’s throats were slit with a whisper’ (Juvenal). His historical point was the contrast between the freedom of information that he believed Romans enjoyed under the republic,


There was a time when my husband, who often addresses the television, would habitually react to Edward Heath’s appearance on the screen with the greeting ‘Hello, sailor.’ Last week, though, the man who was Sir Edward’s principal private secretary during his time as prime minister, Robert Armstrong, now Lord Armstrong, commented on the posthumous accusations against him. ‘You usually detect some sense of sexuality when you are friends or work closely with them,’ he said of political colleagues. ‘I think he was completely asexual.’ Asexual is an anomalous word, combining a Greek prefix, signifying negation or privation, with an adjective derived from Latin. The word, when it came into use

Barometer | 20 August 2015

No sex, please Several friends of the late Sir Edward Heath asserted that he could not be guilty of sexually assaulting children because he was asexual. How many adults do not experience sexual attraction? — A 2004 study by Anthony F. Bogaert, of Brock University, Ontario, Canada, analysed responses to a British questionnaire ten years earlier. Of 18,000 respondents, 195, or just over 1%, had agreed with the statement ‘I have never felt sexually attracted to anyone at all’. — A 1983 study by a student at the University of Michigan classified 5% of males and 10% of females as asexual. Unaccountable spending The EU declined to offer a breakdown

Could the Tory right do a Corbyn?

If the Labour leadership has taught us anything it is that, as Kent Brockman once observed, democracy simply doesn’t work.  The people’s party has asked the people, and the people are going to drive them off a cliff. One or two journalists have speculated about whether the Tory Right could ever do something similar. To some extent it’s a moot point because the set-up of the Conservative leadership election favours the moderates, by allowing only two candidates to go forward to the membership for voting. But imagine, say, a situation in which three Tory wets of the Kenneth Clarke or Heseltine ilk were running for the member’s votes against a

Why I don’t believe that Ted Heath was gay

The moment Edward Heath sat down in the first class seat next to me on the flight from Scotland to London, shook my hand and said ‘Jonathan, it is a pleasure to meet you’ I determined to flirt with him in order to find out whether the rumours that he was gay were true. I was in my thirties and famous. An undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, I had been lucky, in 1965, to write and sing Everyone’s Gone To The Moon, which sold just under 5 million copies. That same month in that same year Heath had been elected leader of the Conservative Party. I’ve been fortunate, in my life,

Ted talk

There was a grim inevitability that the name Edward Heath would one day be trawled up in connection with allegations of sexual abuse of children. As one of our few unmarried prime ministers, Heath always attracted speculation about his sexuality. The public image of a private man wedded to his career, content to spend his spare time playing music and sailing, has long given way to a presumption that he must have been a repressed homosexual. Because of our national obsession with paedophilia, this in turn has all too easily morphed into the suspicion that he had a sexual interest in underage boys. Anyone who tells the police that they

Charles Moore

The Spectator’s Notes | 6 August 2015

As someone who has rarely written a sentence in praise of the late Sir Edward Heath, I hope I can escape charges of ‘cover-up’: I don’t believe the accusations against him. Even the word ‘accusations’ is an exaggeration, actually, since the story so far seems to be Chinese whispers with nothing amounting to evidence, put out by the frightened police. When this fashion for airing unsupported claims of child abuse has finally run its course, we shall be collectively ashamed of it, and people like Tom Watson MP will be seen for the McCarthys they are. (This is true, by the way, even if some of the things Mr Watson alleges

Who would have thought that about Ted Heath? Well…

In another blow for freedom and the protection of the vulnerable, Conservative MP Mark Spencer has suggested that anti-terror legislation should be used to punish teachers who hold ‘old-fashioned’ views about homosexuality and perhaps divest themselves of these views to their pupils. I assume this could mean simply reading out bits of the Bible — that pungent little verse in Leviticus, perhaps, with its reference to ‘detestable acts’. Or maybe he would be OK reading out bits from Leviticus if he then made it clear that the Levite priests, and God Himself, were totally wrong on this issue and that homosexuality is absolutely lovely. But never mind the Levites. These

Political memorabilia

My first reaction on hearing of Margaret Thatcher’s death in 2013 was: ‘Great — now my autograph from her will go up in value.’ This wasn’t callous. It was a simple application of demand and supply. As a child of the 1980s I had learned my lesson well. The Lady wouldn’t have objected to me viewing her signature as a pension plan. Indeed, it’s what she would have wanted. How many Caribbean villas, then, should I be thinking of buying? Because this is no ordinary autograph. I asked Mrs T. (as she then still was) to write out ‘There is no such thing as society’ and sign it. She embellished

The art of political biography remains in intensive care if Giles Radice’s latest book is anything to go by, says Simon Heffer

With the odd exception — I think principally of Charles Moore’s life of Margaret Thatcher — the genre of political biography has known hard times lately. There are few faster routes to the remainder shop, other, of course, than the political memoir, most of which I presume are now written to create a tax loss for their publishers. This decline is not down to poor scholarship, but, I suspect, to the general distaste so many literate and inquiring people feel for politicians. Reading accounts of the New Labour years in particular is rather like touring an abattoir before the cleaners have been in. So those who want to write about

Escape from Omnishambleshire: the case for the old county boundaries

[audioplayer src=”http://traffic.libsyn.com/spectator/TheViewFrom22_23_Oct_2014_v4.mp3″ title=”James Forsyth, Matthew Engel and Tom Holland discuss counties” startat=785] Listen [/audioplayer]Just over 35 years ago, in August 1979, Christopher Booker wrote a cri de coeur in The Spectator calling for the return of England’s ancient counties and the repeal of the 1972 Local Government Act, under which most of them had been either merged, mauled, mangled or murdered. It drew a large and almost wholly supportive response from figures as distinguished as Professor Richard Cobb (‘Booker has rendered us all a ray of hope’) and Michael Wharton, a.k.a. the Telegraph columnist Peter Simple: ‘What strange beings, in what strange offices, on what strange drawing-boards, worked out these

You can’t spin yourself into authenticity – as Ed Miliband is finding out

For a politician to draw attention to his own deficiencies is a desperate attempt to curry favour with the electorate that has been tried before with dismal consequences. The most famous case is that of the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith who, at his 2002 party conference, addressed the problem of his dullness as a political performer by saying that no one should ‘underestimate the determination of a quiet man’. One result was that Labour backbenchers would raise a finger to their lips and say ‘shush’ whenever this croaky-voiced man was speaking in the House of Commons. He tried to sound tougher at the next year’s Conservative conference by

The ‘semi-detached’ member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet

John Biffen was mentally ill. This is the outstanding revelation of Semi-Detached, a memoir which has been assembled from his diaries and from the autobiographical writings which he completed before his death in 2007. During the mid-1960s he tried psychotherapy, which he described as ‘lugubrious’, ‘painful’ and ‘not a cure’. He got far better treatment from a Harley Street specialist, Peter Dally, who regulated his lithium doses with blood tests and improved his health to the point where he felt able to join the shadow cabinet in 1976. He served as Trade Secretary under Mrs Thatcher and later as Leader of the House. Biffen loved gossip. He reports a lunch