chapter  2
21 Pages

Advising the un-advisable

The Number 10 Private Office and the Suez Crisis
ByKevin Ruane

From the standpoint of history it is a matter of considerable regret that Eden lacked a Downing Street insider-chronicler. Alongside the priority of constructing his government, Eden set about staffing his Private Office. Macmillan proved far readier than Eden to seek the views of all his officials, employing them in a manner akin to national security advisers in the American system and developing the Private Office into a policy think tank, but it was Bishop whom he singled out for his 'exceptional brilliance'. In December 1956, Norman Brook commissioned an internal history of the Suez affair based on the documentation available in the Number 10 Private Office. Millard's side of Suez is clearly of great interest, but apart from Bishop's occasional interjections the Prime Minister's Private Office team rarely operated as foreign policy advisers in any formal sense. Eden 'laid them on his Private Secretary' and the diary thus became 'a sort of prophylactic'.