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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 10:57 GMT
Walden on politics

Brian Walden
Brian Walden presented 'Weekend World' from 1977 to 1986

Brian Walden is one of the most distinguished broadcasters in politics.

He is best know for presenting 'Weekend World' and 'Walden' on London Weekend Television. But before his career in journalism he had served as a Labour MP for over twelve years.

Brian Walden has presented several Sunday Supplement series for The Westminster Hour exploring key events in government, political resignations and rivalries at the centre of power.

A Long Time In Politics

In October 2005, Brian Walden looked back at historic events in British politics.

Harold Wilson
Harold Wilson: 'a week is a long time in politics'

As Harold Wilson once said 'a week is a long time in politics' and the speeches made at the 2005 Conservative Conference by David Davis and David Cameron proved him right again. But that wasn't the first time that fortunes had suddenly changed in a Conservative leadership contest.

In Part One of 'A Long Time In Politics' Brian Walden took us back to 1975 when Edward Heath got the shock of his life.

It was a frenzied week in July 1993 when Conservative rebels were trying to destroy the Maastricht Treaty and possibly with it John Major's government.

In Part Two, Brian Walden talked to key players from all sides of that great drama. One participant ruefully described his own part in events as one of the greatest regrets of his political career.

When Harold Wilson coined the phrase 'a week is a long time in politics' he couldn't have known that in the summer of 1970 it would take less than a week for his world to be turned upside down. In Part Three, Britain Walden looks back at those events.

Walden Reminisces

In October 2004, Brian Walden reflected on the three decades he was involved at the centre of politics.

In Part One, he reminisced about his first election as a Midlands MP in 1964 and the many debates he had about immigration with fellow Midlands MP Enoch Powell.

In Part Two, Brian Walden questioned why he had become a Labour MP and how he urged his party to drop Clause Four two decades before Tony Blair's election as leader.

In Part Three, he reflected on the 1980s - a decade that was dominated by one woman - Margaret Thatcher.

I Can No Longer Remain....

Sir Geoffrey Howe's letter
Sir Geoffrey Howe's letter - but the real blows were to follow.

In February 2004, Brian Walden looked back at some of the most dramatic political resignations of the last half century. In 'I Can No Longer Remain.... ' he talked to some of those who quit - to find out what made them take that step - and to those who watched the drama unfold at close quarters.

In Part One, Brian Walden remembered the events surrounding the resignation in 1954 of Sir Thomas Dugdale, the Minister of Agriculture in Churchill's Tory government. Long held up as a classic example of an honourable ministerial resignation, the reality was rather more complicated.

In Part Two, he turned his attention to the departure from the Thatcher Government in 1990 of Sir Geoffrey Howe, the deputy Prime Minister and former Foreign Secretary. And he explained how the man once derided as a 'dead sheep' inflicted a fatal blow on Margaret Thatcher.

In Part Three, Brian Walden reported on the unusual and unexpected departure of Labour's Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, who resigned in 2002. She admitted that she was not 'up to the job'.

In Part Four, he talked to the controversial former Conservative health minister Edwina Currie, who resigned from the Thatcher government over her comments about the safety of eggs.

Not While I'm Alive, He Ain't

Some of the most enjoyable phrases in the dictionary of political quotations are the acerbic put-downs of one politician by another. It is said that when suggested that his cabinet colleague and deadly rival Herbert Morrison was "his own worst enemy", the great wartime and post-war Labour minister Ernest Bevin, retorted "Not while I'm alive, he ain't!"

In two series for The Westminster Hour, bearing the name of Bevin's supposed comment, Brian Walden examined the intense and often destructive rivalries of leading politicians.

The first series was broadcast in the Spring of 2002. Walden dissected the Labour relationships between Bevin and Morrison and Harold Wilson and George Brown in the sixties, as well as the friction between Steel and Owen in the Alliance in the eighties and Margaret Thatcher and her Chancellor, Nigel Lawson.

In Part One, Brian Walden looked at the conflict between two giants of Attlee's post-war government - Ernest Bevin and Herbert Morrison - and explained the title of the series. Peter Mandelson, Morrison's grandson, is interviewed, along with the late Barbara Castle and Denis Healey.

In Part Two, he reported on the conflict between Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson and the man who wanted his job, the mercurial cabinet minister George Brown. Castle, Healey, SDP founder William Rodgers and Brown's brother Ron provide their insights.

In Part Three, Brian Walden turns his attentions to the 1980s and the story of the two Davids at the top of the Alliance, which promised in vain to break the mould of British politics. David Owen took over the leadership of the new Social Democratic Party from Roy Jenkins, while David Steel told his Liberal activists to go back to their constituencies and prepare for government.

In Part Four, he examines how the relationship between Margaret Thatcher and her once-favoured Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, disintegrated until Lawson walked out on her. Sir Alan Walters, Mrs Thatcher's economic adviser provides his analysis, together with Norman Lamont, Sir Charles Powell and Andrew Tyrie.

The second series was broadcast in the Autumn of 2003. Brian Walden turned his attention to the Tory rivalries between Macmillan and Butler and Heath and Powell and two within Labour ranks, between Roy Jenkins and Anthony Crosland and Hugh Gaitskell and Aneurin Bevan.

In Part One, Brian Walden looked at two stars of Labour's modernising tendency, Anthony Crosland and Roy Jenkins. Interviewees: Susan Crosland, Giles Radice, Roy Hattersley, William Rodgers, David Lipsey.

In Part Two he remembered the tension and outright hostility between Edward Heath and Enoch Powell in the Conservative Party. Heath had sacked Powell from the shadow cabinet in 1968 after his 'rivers of blood' speech, only for Powell to turn on his former leader as he tried to hold on to power in the 1974 general election. Interviewees: author Robert Shepherd, author and journalist Simon Heffer, broadcaster Nicholas Jones, John Biffen.

In Part Three, Brian Walden looked back to the relationship between the PM who was - and the PM who wasn't: Tory Harold Macmillan and the man tipped for the top who missed out - Rab Butler. Interviewees: William Rees-Mogg, Mollie Butler, Lord Carrington, James Prior.

In Part Four, he looked at the two Labour figures whose rivalry dominated the party in opposition for a decade - Hugh Gaitskell, who replaced Clement Attlee as leader in 1955, and the former health minister, Aneurin Bevan. The two represented very different wings of the Labour Party. Interviewees: author Brian Brivati, journalist Geoffrey Goodman, Neil Kinnock, William Rodgers.


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