John Booth

Diaries and Diarists

“The wretched of the earth are no longer remote, shadowy figures occasionally glimpsed in some TV documentary or in the bottom half of a new bulletin. They are here, in Europe, battering at our gates.”

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Words and deeds

Is this a man whose warnings about polarisation, populism and post-truth politics can be taken remotely seriously? A phrase from my youth came back to me on reading But What I Can Do?: “How can we hear what you’re saying when what you have done is deafening me?”

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Where does the money trail lead?

“If you wanted to be Tony’s Foreign Secretary Michael [Levy] was part of the package… He was an effective fund-raiser for the Labour Party, especially with the UK’s Jewish community. He had a home in Israel, as well as in London. Of Michael’s loyalty to Tony I was never in any doubt. But when Michael was given this position the Israelis must have thought they’d won the lottery.” – Jack Straw

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In memory of Arnhem 1944

“I died to save my children. People of the world, see that they shall not die.” Gravestone of Cpl Arthur James Jones, killed on the first day of Operation Market Garden, Arnhem, aged 24.

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The amazing Rose Reilly

As someone brought up to believe in exemplars rather than heroes it was a delight to spend an evening with Rose Reilly at Laura Martin’s fine production of Rose at the Perth Theatre. Looking fit enough still to be on the football pitch where in 1984 she was voted the world’s best female player, this genuine hero spoke after the one-woman show about the life that took her as a teenager from the...

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Ten Years Hard Labour

To be smeared and abused with impunity by Israel-supporting figures in politics and the media is part and parcel of the corruption and decadence that increasingly disfigures what is left of our democracy.

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Beryl and John: modest inspirers

To celebrate the lives of two inspirational figures in the same week has been a therapeutic diversion from the depressing spectacle of two Lilliputians vying to become British Prime Minister. One was my old schoolteacher and friend John Forster whose North Yorkshire funeral I attended last week. The other was world champion cyclist Beryl Burton who lived in the next block of flats to my Aunt...

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Grenfell, Gresford, God – and Myrtle

In the week when would-be Tory successors to Boris Johnson speak of the urgent need for integrity and truth telling, the Dean of Durham used his Cathedral platform at Saturday’s Miners’ Festival Service to put those qualities in powerful historical perspective. The ground for the sermon to the packed congregation by the Very Reverend Andrew Tremlett had been well prepared by the vibrant playing...

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Waking up to Priti Patel

Who is this character Prime Minister Boris Johnson entrusts with our safety as Home Secretary and with that of the very existence of the Australian founder of Wikileaks accused of espionage by the United States?

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Imran Khan and a matter of principle

Imran Khan, the ousted prime minister of Pakistan, is not someone whose tenure in office I know much about. Equally, my knowledge of the country extends little beyond awareness that its history has been of much turmoil and foreign intervention, and that many of its politicians have not died quietly in their beds. But I have worked with Imran and the impression I gained of the former captain of...

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