.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Conference season

As the party political conferences come upon us so too does the optimum time for the publication of books about politics. All those activists dying to spend a little money to find out more about the people who run their party is too big a temptation for publishers to resist.

Let's face it, if you are committed enough to spend hundreds of pounds of your own money to go to a political conference then the chances are that you are also somebody who reads avidly about politics. I write from experience here.

However, contrary to popular belief the must-buy book this season will not be the Nick Clegg biography (irony alert) but Alistair Darling's memoirs. The Guardian explains why. They say that the former chancellor's book reportedly charts the breakdown in his relationship with Gordon Brown, and accuses the former PM of trying to undermine him at the Treasury.

This is very much in line with the narrative in Andrew Rawnsley's book, 'The End of the Party', which I have just finished reading:

Back from the Brink: 1,000 days at No 11, charts the breakdown of his relationship with Brown and accuses the former prime minister of attempting to undermine him at the Treasury, according to Labour Uncut, a Labour-supporting website which claims to have seen the book ahead of publication.

The book also reportedly describes the Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, as "amazingly stubborn and exasperating" as Darling lays bare tensions at the top of government and the Bank of England during the 2008 financial crisis.

Darling apparently confirms, as was widely rumoured at the time, that Brown did indeed try to sack him in 2009 and offer him another role in cabinet.

But the chancellor refused, making clear he would rather walk out of government than do any other job. His calculation that the beleaguered premier's weak leadership could ill afford to lose a chancellor turned out to be right, and Darling stayed put.

Darling describes Brown as having an increasingly "brutal and volcanic" demeanour, mistrusting his chancellor to the extent that he repeatedly tried to place his own aides in the Treasury ministerial team to report back on what the chancellor was doing.

He is reported to single out Ed Balls, now shadow chancellor, and former business minister Shriti Vadera who, as key allies of the former prime minister, were running what amounted to a parallel Treasury operation within government at the time.

What I found interesting about Rawnsley's book was that it was not just Ed Balls, of the current shadow cabinet, who came out of it in a bad light. Ed Miliband was a key Brown ally and was very much involved in many of the plots hatched by the Chancellor and his coterie that so undermined the Blair Government. The book should be required reading by anybody who is thinking of voting for the current Labour leader to be Prime Minister.

Will Alistair Darling's book acquire the same status? It certainly seems so.
Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?