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Great Christmas Treats for Someone: A View from the Foothills.

Posted by Jason O on Dec 24, 2010 in Books, British Politics |

A well-written glimpse behind the ministerial door.
A well-written glimpse behind the ministerial door.

I’m only a third the way through it, but I can already recommend Chris Mullin’s “A View from the Foothills” as well worth reading. Mullin, a British Labour MP, former minister and Birmingham Six campaigner, as well as writer of the excellent political thriller “A Very British Coup” has published his diaries from his time as a junior minister, and they’re an absolute treat for anyone interested in British politics, or indeed, how decisions are made in politics.

The book is peppered with little vignettes of Blair and others, but also underlines how much of modern politics and government is taken up with time wasting nonsense. The one depressing line running through the book is the sense of helplessness amongst even ministers about how to shape society in a better way. In particular, his picture of an entire underclass (experienced through his northern England constituency)  that is completely dependent on welfare funded by the rest of society whilst at the same time completely ungrateful about it is pretty grim. He also rails against the fact that sucessive governments, both Labour and Tory, have actually improved the living standards of the great majority, yet the prevailing culture is that everything is worse then it has ever been.

Funny, fascinating, touching, and easy to pick up and put down. Possibly the British political book of the year.

1 Comment

Daniel Sullivan
Feb 5, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Frank Field has a similar perspective to Mullin about the British underclass and welfare. That in my view was Blair’s biggest mistake (including Iraq) not to back Field over Harman when it came to reform in that area.


 

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