Political biography

The party’s finally over for Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage was never even an MP, but Michael Crick argues convincingly that he is one of the top five most significant politicians of the past half century. Without him we might still be in the EU. All political careers supposedly end in failure, but maybe his didn’t. As with Boris Johnson (whom he resembles in many ways), Farage’s bluff, bonhomous public image is misleading. He is far more ruthless than he appears. Many of those close to him believe that his air crash on polling day in 2010 changed his personality. He was in a two-seater plane towing a banner saying ‘Vote Ukip’ when the banner wrapped itself round

R.B. Haldane: a great public servant, much maligned

This is a strange but valuable book. The author is a private equity magnate, whose fascination for Richard Burdon Haldane dates back to his childhood. In his acknowledgments he admits he lacked the expertise to write a proper book about his hero, and so enlisted the help of a young scholar, Richard McLauchlan, credited on the title page (but not on the front cover) as having written the book in collaboration with him. The research has been done superlatively. The bibliographies for each chapter are extensive, and some interesting archival material is deployed, such as the diary of Haldane’s sister, to whom he was devoted. And the premise upon which

It was Bevin, not Bevan, who was the real national treasure

On a family holiday almost 40 years ago I visited Winsford, the village on the edge of Exmoor where Ernest Bevin was born (and Boris Johnson was raised). Having read the first book in Alan Bullock’s scholarly three-volume biography, I’d become a convinced Bevinite (not to be confused with the followers of Nye Bevan, his near namesake and bête noire). As it was the centenary of Bevin’s birth I expected to find some kind of commemoration, but there was nothing apart from a faded plaque on the cottage he was born in. I asked the woman serving in the Post Office opposite if I’d missed anything, but she’d never heard