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About the book
  • Published: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407020471
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 576

Downing Street Diary Volume Two

With James Callaghan in No. 10




The second volume of Bernard Donoughue's fascinating politcial diaries

The first volume of Bernard Donoughue’s Downing Street Diary was described by Charles Moore in the Daily Telegraph as ‘the best account of Harold Wlson’s last days’; ‘the sheer scale and detail are fascinating’ wrote Peter Riddell in the TLS. This second volume covers the three years, 1976-79, when Donoughue was Senior Policy Advisor to James Callaghan.

At first Callaghan quickly established dominance over his cabinet and restored calm after the plots and scandals of the later Wilson years. His incomes policy reduced inflation and, in the teeth of opposition from the left wing, he negotiated the notorious IMF loan at the expense of eliminating some of Labour’s most cherished dreams. By 1978, Callaghan, a politician of great patriotism and decency, seemed to have succeeded in steering Britain into calmer waters. But then the storm broke. Trade union militants brushed aside their mediocre leaders and launched a ferocious attack on Callaghan’s pay policy, driving up inflation and demonstrating the government’s impotence. In the diaries we see the prime minister and the government paralysed as the ‘Winter of Discontent’ began to bite and politics took to the streets.

As Labour drifted to inevitable defeat in the 1979 election we see Callaghan fighting honourably. From the smoke of battle there emerges a striking new leader: Margaret Thatcher. The diaries describe vividly both the decline and final collapse of ‘old’ Labour and how Mrs Thatcher took the opportunity to launch her crusade to dismantle trade union power and much of the British public sector.

Besides James Callaghan the chief figures in this volume of Lord Donoughue’s diaries are Roy Jenkins, Denis Healey, Tony Crosland, Michael Foot, Shirley Williams, David Owen and Tony Benn.

  • Pub date: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407020471
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 576

About the Author

Bernard Donoughue

Lord Donoughue of Ashton was born in 1934 and educated at Northampton Grammar School, Oxford and Harvard. He worked on the editorial staff of The Economist, Sunday Times, Sunday Telegraph and The Times, and taught at the London School of Economics from 1963 to 1974, when he moved to 10 Downing Street as Senior Policy Adviser to Harold Wilson and then to James Callaghan. After working in the City, he served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food between 1997 and 1999. His previous books include British Politics and the American Revolution (1964), Herbert Morrison: Portrait of a Politician (1973, with George Jones), Prime Minister (1987) and The Heat of the Kitchen (2003). He lives in London and Berkshire.

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Praise for Downing Street Diary Volume Two

“Donoughue's diaries of his time as political advisor to Jim Callaghan are proving gripping reading”

The Times

“Superb book... historians will plunder the Donughue diaries to gain an understanding of one of the great turning points in modern British history. But this book also has a huge contemporary resonance. It is very accessible to the general reader an I cannot recommend it highly enough”

Daily Mail

“An admirable and important contribution to British history ... A copy of Donoughue's fascinating book should be sent to every minister in office”

Roy Hattersley, Observer

“As an inside account of the collective political nervous breakdown suffered by the Labour movement in the late Seventies, these diaries have no equal”

Daily Telegraph

“Bernard Donoughue's superb Downing Street diaries”

Matthew D'Ancona, Sunday Telegraph

“An absorbing political thriller written by someone on the inside track”

Brian MacArthur, Daily Telegraph

“These diaries...convey a fresh and vivid sense of the tensions and strains of this period”

Literary Review


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