By Shakespeare, Sebastian
New Statesman (1996) , Vol. 138, No. 4935
A Tory minister once said that being attacked by Roy Hattersley was like being assaulted by a bread and butter pudding. Bread and butter pudding is a bit infra dig for Hattersley who prefers the superior fare at the Garrick Club, but he was in his bread and butter element when he spoke at the launch of this year's Gladstone Bicentennial celebrations at the former premier's house in Carlton House Terrace. Hattersley declared that Britain's greatest premiers all had five qualities--"integrity, courage, determination, certainty and endurance".
The "Grand Old Man" (as the four-time Liberal prime minister William Gladstone was known) had them in spades, said Hattersley--as, of course, did Winston Churchill. However, Gladstone did not always endear himself to his monarch. Queen Victoria once complained: "He always addresses me as if I were a public meeting."
Hattersley went on to say that one of the reasons he was such a great admirer of Gladstone was that, unlike so many of today's politicians, he kept his word. "As I become older I become more and more admiring of politicians who stick to their principles," said the former Labour deputy leader.
However, he seemed less certain just how many of the "big five" qualities Gordon Brown possesses.
"Well, he certainly has courage," said Hatters, before heading off into the night.
And the other four? Time will tell.
Is Who's Who all it's cracked up to be? The latest edition, for 2009, contains a glaring omission. Danny Boyle, whose Slumdog Millionaire is tipped for ten Oscars, does not even warrant a mention in the authoritative guide to the Establishment- or the "sourcebook of information on people of influence and interest in all fields" as it styles itself. Whatever you think of Slumdog, there's no denying Boyle has had a distinguished career; his oeuvre includes arguably two of the best British films of the 1990s, Shallow Grave and Trainspotting.
Richard Fitzwilliam, a former editor of International Who's Who, has criticised the British edition for being very remiss when it comes to acknowledging successful names from the fields of film, pop music and fashion. Muhammad Ali and Robert De Niro were only included comparatively recently.
Its criteria for selection can also be baffling. Kate Moss is in but not Naomi Campbell. Why? When the novelist Adam Mars-Jones first entered Who's Who he listed his club as the London Apprentice. …