Culture / History / Politics

The Best of Lion & Unicorn

Having reached our 300th post, we thought it might be useful for new readers to have an introduction to what we’ve been writing about. So here are the top twenty posts from our archives…


1. Diane Abbott – A press portrait of the 1980s trail-blazer, who spent the New Labour years languishing on the This Week sofa, but re-emerged to become shadow home secretary under Jeremy Corbyn. This is how she has been portrayed in the media.


2. Theresa May – Another press portrait, this one was written when May was still home secretary, and when David Cameron looked like – to coin a phrase – a strong and stable prime minister. We always thought she was destined for bigger things.


3. John McDonnell – Completing a trio of press portraits, this account of Jeremy Corbyn’s right-hand man is the only such piece that has attracted a factual correction from its subject. Nice to see that the shadow chancellor reads his reviews.


4. Michael Gove – Before he was elected to Parliament, Gove was an actor, a TV presenter and a columnist with attitude; these are the Early Years.


5. Owen Jones – Time was when he was the bright young hope of left thinking, the author of the excellent Chavs and a columnist who had something to say; this piece marks the point at which Jones turned himself into little more than a Corbyn propagandist.


6. Denis Healey – One of the great political heroes here at Lion & Unicorn House, Denis Healey died in 2015 at the age of 98 – and Dan Atkinson mourned his passing with a scurrilous tale of the former chancellor assaulting a skinhead heckler.


7. Uncle Bill – If you weren’t a child of the British Army on the Rhine, you’ve probably never heard of him; but Alwyn Turner was and has. The popularity of this memorial to a neglected broadcaster suggests that perhaps Bill Mitchell hasn’t been entirely forgotten. Indeed he’s now got his very own Wikipedia entry, due – at least in part – to this piece.


8. Princess Diana – Twenty years on from her death in 1997, she’s still catnip for the press; this piece remembered how she was treated by the media at the time.


9. David Davis – Another press portrait, this time of the man charged with negotiating Brexit. May the good Lord preserve us.


10. The fallout from Bexit – The month that followed the referendum vote in 2016 was an extraordinary time. This day-by-day account covered everything from the ascension of May and the attempted anti-Corbyn coup through to the England football team’s heroic humiliation at the feet of Iceland.


11. Owen Smith – He was the implausible standard-bearer of Labour moderates when he challenged Corbyn for the leadership in 2017 – which prompted Roger Hermiston to remember the man he knew.


12. Corbynmania – As Jeremy Corbyn’s irresistible rise took him to the cusp of winning the leadership, Sam Harrison looked at how this extraordinary thing had come to pass.


13. Tom Watson – Again from the series of press portraits, this is the man who was elected Labour’s deputy leader on the same day that Corbyn got the big job.


14. The National Union of Ex-Servicemen – The story of the radical organization that struck fear into the establishment in the aftermath of the First World War.


15. Britpop – We ran a series of posts celebrating some of the lesser travelled byways of 1990s Britpop, and this piece by Alex Sarll – featuring Kingmaker, Telstarr, Elcka and Echobelly – proved the most popular.


16. Preachy TV – Is British television drama losing sight of entertainment in pursuit of propaganda? Yes.


17. Darkest Hour – It’s not just television that’s letting dramatic licence get out of hand; the cinema seems intent on recasting history in the light of modern concerns.


18. Journalist politicians – There seem to be a lot of hacks masquerading as politicos these days, but – as Paul Saffer explains – there always were.


19. James Callaghan – Was the man who succeeded Harold Wilson as Labour leader and prime minister really a latter-day Emperor Claudius?


20. Harry Pollitt – The strange story of how Britain’s best-known communist was kidnapped in 1925.


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