Robin Harris (author)

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Robin Harris helding lecture in Danube Institute

Dr Robin Harris (born 22 June 1952) is a British author and journalist. He has written for The Daily Telegraph and Prospect. He attained his undergraduate degree and doctorate in modern history from Exeter College, Oxford University.

Biography[edit]

Harris was Director of the Conservative Research Department from 1985-88 and a member of the Prime Minister's Policy Unit from 1989-90. He helped draft the Conservative Party manifesto for the 1987 general election.

It was initially thought that Margaret Thatcher's record in government should be recorded by Harris and John O'Sullivan in a political biography covering her premiership titled Undefeated.[1]

Thatcher hired Harris to write most of her memoir The Downing Street Years. In that memoir Thatcher wrote that Harris was "My indispensable sherpa in the enterprise of writing this book" and that "Without his advice and help at every stage, I doubt that we could have reached the summit".[2] Harris also helped Thatcher write her book Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World and has written the biography Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher.

Harris courted controversy when he wrote a pamphlet (A Tale of Two Chileans) in 1999 defending General Pinochet's coup d'état against the Marxist President of Chile Salvador Allende. In an interview with fellow journalist Andy Beckett in 2000 Harris said: "It was a polarising thing. I was on the Right, and I thought it was a bloody good thing it had happened".[3] In Harris' view, Pinochet was kidnapped and unjustly treated by the Blair government.[4]

In March 2006 he attacked Conservative leader David Cameron in an article for Prospect for what he sees as Cameron's repositioning of the party to the Left. He favourably compared Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown to Thatcher and claimed both are "immensely able, a workaholic, driven by values from a Protestant upbringing" but that in an election against Brown, Cameron "may look unprincipled and insubstantial".[5]

Andrew Roberts, in a 2007 review, characterised as a "fluent, intelligent and engaging book" Harris' biography of Talleyrand.[6]

Harris was interviewed at length by Nick Higham upon publication of his book The Conservatives - A History when part of the Conservative party appeared to be in rebellion over David Cameron's delay of a referendum on the European Union.[7]

In August 2013, he wrote in defence of the Syriac Christian community, condemning the West's leadership over the "persecution leading to elimination" of that group.[8]

On Yugoslavia[edit]

Harris has strong views about the conflicts seen after the breakup of Yugoslavia. He was interviewed in 2006 upon the release of his book Dubrovnik: A History by a Croatian newspaper and spoke in part about his charge that the ICTY Hague Tribunal trial of Ante Gotovina by Carla Del Ponte was politically motivated and that if Gotovina was convicted, it would mean that Croatian soldiers liberated their country in an illegal action.

Harris was critical of policy failure by the government of John Major, who, he said, made a mistake because they did not take the initiative, and the Foreign Office allowed the continuation of his old policy, which meant cooperation with the Belgrade regime, which was made up of communists and Serbs. It was laziness, and the biggest mistake of British politics.[4]

Harris became interested in 1991 with the Yugoslav wars.[9] He believes Operation Storm was a legitimate operation to free Croatian territory.[9] Harris wrote in February 2006 an article in the American Spectator in which he vehemently attacked the Hague Tribunal and the indictment against Ante Gotovina.[4]

For a time around 2010, he was a member of the board of the Croatian Center for the Renewal of Culture.[9] Harris has praised controversial wartime Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac, who Harris claims fought against two forms of totalitarianism, fascism and communism.[9]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Alan Watkins, A Conservative Coup: The Fall of Margaret Thatcher (Duckworth, 1992), p. 209.
  2. ^ Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (HarperCollins, 1993), p. xiii.
  3. ^ Andy Beckett, Pinochet in Piccadilly: Britain and Chile's hidden history (Faber and Faber, 2002), p. 179.
  4. ^ a b c "Dubrovnik viđen iz Downing Streeta", nacional.hr, 25 September 2006.(Croatian)
  5. ^ Robin Harris, 'Spoiling the party', Prospect, March 2006.
  6. ^ "One of history's greatest, most repugnant, figures", telegraph.co.uk, 25 February 2007.
  7. ^ "Meet the Author: Robin Harris", bbc.com, 11 November 2011.
  8. ^ "Whoever wins in Syria, its Christians will lose", spectator.co.uk, 31 August 2013.
  9. ^ a b c d "Dr. Robin Harris: Oluja je savršeno legitimna akcija", laudato.hr, 3 August 2012.(Croatian)

Publications[edit]

  • The Conservative Community: The Roots of Thatcherism - and its Future (Centre for Policy Studies, 1989).
  • A Tale of Two Chileans - Pinochet and Allende (Chilean Supporters Abroad, 1999).
  • Dubrovnik: A History (Saqi, London 2003). As paperback 2006, ISBN 978-0-86356-959-3.
  • Beyond Friendship: The Future of Anglo-American Relations (Heritage Foundation, 2006)
  • Talleyrand: Betrayer And Saviour Of France (2007)
  • The Conservatives - A History (Bantam Press, 2011).
  • Not for Turning: The Life of Margaret Thatcher (Bantam, 2013) ISBN 978-0593058916

External links[edit]