Brian Brivati

From Powerbase
Jump to: navigation, search

Brian Brivati has been director of the John Smith Memorial Trust since January 2008.[1]

From the Battle of Ideas biography:[2]

Professor Brian Brivati is Professor of Contemporary History at Kingston University and runs the Human Rights degrees at BA and MA level. He has published extensive work on contemporary British politics, with an emphasis on the political history of the British Labour party. His research and teaching has recently extended to comparative work on genocide and human rights. He speaks regularly for the Holocaust Education Trust and is a member of the Board of the Wiener Library. His articles have appeared in The Times, Financial Times, Independent on Sunday, Observer, New Statesman, Progress, Fabian Review, Contemporary Record, History Today and Parliamentary Brief, and he maintains a blog in the Guardian. He is a regular broadcaster on politics for radio and television. In 2007 he was a member of the Foreign Policy Centre/Channel 4 Iraq Commission.

Gaitskell biography

Brivati's biography of Hugh Gaitskell was criticised by Tom Easton for under-playing Gaitskell's covert American links.

in a footnote on Gaitskell's efforts to expel Aneurin Bevan from the party in 1955, Williams records Gaitskell's apparent concern that Godson was becoming too deeply involved in the party's internal affairs.
This unsourced observation has intrigued many since it appeared in 1983, but it has failed to stir the curiosity of Gaitskell's latest biographer, Brian Brivati. Not only does the footnote not rate a mention, but the anti-Bevan plotting at the Hotel Russell to which it relates is described without Godson's participation.
This is not an isolated omission. In the context of his times - highly organised, well-resourced 'anti-communism' by the British and American states - we should expect something substantial on the network of which Gaitskell was the leading British public figure and the activities of the circle around the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) in which he was a prominent participant. On the former, on which there is now a good deal of published material, we find scarcely anything in Brivati.[3]

Arnold Goodman biography

Brivati wrote a biography of Lord Goodman, a prominent solicitor who had been accused of embezzling funds from one of his clients, Lord Portman. Reviewers were divided about the way Brivati dealt with this.

The former Cabinet Secretary Robin Butler wrote:

In January 1999, when the newspapers were carrying stories that Lord Goodman and his solicitors' firm had misappropriated Portman Trust money, Brian Brivati wrote an article for The THES suggesting that there might be some fire behind the smoke. Many of Goodman's friends who believed that he would not have been reckless enough to mishandle a client's money, even if he had been disposed to do so, feared that Brivati's book, then in the final stages of preparation, would be a hatchet job...
...Overall, Brivati gives the impression of a man who started with a conclusion and found, inconveniently, that the evidence did not support it.[4]

Harold Wilson's former press secretary Joe Haines wrote:

Goodman could be a kind and generous man, so lax in his billing that he often didn't charge at all. The Friends of Arnold, especially in the arts world, are still numerous and cherish his memory. However, they don't include the Portman family, who accused him of stealing millions from a trust fund. Brivati persuasively clears Goodman of that charge, but Paul Foot, who originally made it, is a meticulous researcher, and I still cannot grasp why, if the accusation was totally unfounded, Goodman's old firm, Goodman Derrick, should have paid Lord Portman half a million pounds not to pursue his writ.[5]

The Evening Standard claimed that Brivati was leant on to remove revelations from the book:

"There is a lot of opposition from various establishment figures who knew Lord Goodman," Brivati tells me nervously. "They wanted a Victorian biography. But Goodman wanted public life without public accountability, and that's my central criticism. There are things I have left out of the book because they push the boundaries of privacy. I can only discuss what will appear in the book. Goodbye."[6]

This may have been related to Goodman's relationships with a number of powerful women:

A controversial new biography was supposed to reveal intimate details of Arnold Goodman's relationships with Jenny Lee, Nye Bevan's widow, Ann Fleming, wife of the creator of James Bond, and Lady Avon, widow of Sir Anthony Eden, the Tory prime minister.
However, pressure from "friends of Arnold", who was one of Britain's most influential men from the 1960s into the 1980s, has meant Brian Brivati, the author, has had to cut out certain references to Goodman's sexual interests.[7]

The End of Decline

In September 2007, Brivati published The End of Decline: Blair and Brown in Power, which had a simple thesis:

It is that the government of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown are responsible for the ending of decline in Britain. They owe Thatcher a great debt, but it is they, rather than Thatcher, who have made Britain the first among equals in Europe. They have helped to create a renaissance in British art and culture, and also in sport, culminating in the awarding of the 2012 Olympic Games to London.
In short, Britain has cured itself of the so-called 'British disease' and has become much more comfortable, imaginative and successful: it is now a country which is envied rather than pitied; in growth, no longer in decline. Despite many problems in the welfare state, the polarisation on the Iraq War and suicide bomb attacks, Britain is now confident in three vital areas: political economy, culture and our role in the world. We have confidence in our institutions, celebrate our culture and hold our head high.[8]
Brivati thinks our political class has been "obsessed by" problems that are "largely irrelevant to the lived experience of the British people in the first decade of the 21st century". He is referring to the status of the pound, the future of Britain as a union and defence of the unwritten constitution.[9]


References, Resources and Contact


Comment is Free listing:


  1. BB Profile, John Smith Memorial Trust, accessed 12 May 2008.
  2. Battle of Ideas 2007 festival biography, (Accessed 3 September 2007)
  3. Hugh Gaitskell, reviewed by Tom Easton, Lobster issue 32, December 1996.
  4. Private Acts in a Public Theatre, Robin Butler, Times Higher Educational Supplement, 18 August 2000.
  5. Lord Fixit, by Joe Haines, New Statesman, 18 October 1999.
  6. Goodman Secrets kept under wraps, p12, The Evening Standard, 20 August 1999.
  7. Mother fixations of Lord Goodman, by Richard Brooks, Sunday Times, 22 August 1999.
  8. The End of Decline by Dr Brian Brivati, Politico's, accessed 12 May 2008.
  9. Reality bumps while the vision bounces, by Kenneth Minogue, Times Higher Education, 21 December 2007.
  10. Advisory Council:Policy Council members, HJS website, undated, accessed 5 November 2014
  11. signatory
  12. Team Project Associates, accessed 24 October 2014