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Not My Fault

John​ Lanchester: New Labour’s Terrible Memoirs

17 July 2008
Speaking for Myself: The Autobiography 
by Cherie Blair.
Little, Brown, 421 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 4087 0098 3
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Prezza, My Story: Pulling No Punches 
by John Prescott, with Hunter Davies.
Headline, 405 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 0 7553 1775 2
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A Question of Honour: Inside New Labour and the True Story of the Cash for Peerages Scandal 
by Michael Levy.
Simon and Schuster, 310 pp., £18.99, May 2008, 978 1 84737 315 1
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... Your Majesty.’ To make it worse, the public image of any public figure is firmly set by a few early gestures and is very hard to shift: Cherie’s wonky non-smile and crazed lust for cash, Prescott’s voter-punching and malapropisms. They can’t help but feel that such things shouldn’t be allowed entirely to sum them up. They want to get their own version out there. It’s understandable ...

Short Cuts

John​ Sturrock: Blair’s Convictions

24 May 2007
... we’d become gloomily used to in the leaden or fragmented speech patterns that pass as standard among the political elite. Blair’s fluency was sufficiently striking to make me wonder whether, when JohnPrescott eventually lumbered into view, he hadn’t been elevated against all the odds into high office simply in order to enhance his leader’s elocutionary merits by some desperate and close-to ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: John​ Humphrys

22 September 2005
... It doesn’t take much to make John Humphrys angry. On the basis of his most recent book, Lost for Words: The Mangling and Manipulating of the English Language (Hodder, £7.99), it would seem that there isn’t much that makes him ...


Paul Foot: The Labour Party’s vacillation over rail privatisation

28 October 1999
... to the future of the industry. This understanding of their own power led to the formation among Labour’s transport spokespeople of the Crystal Clear Faction. Their leader was big bluff burly JohnPrescott, the man who doesn’t mince words. He told Labour’s Conference in 1993: ‘Let me make it crystal clear that any privatisation of the railway system that does take place will, on the arrival of a ...

Mr Straight and Mr Good

Paul Foot: Gordon Brown

19 February 1998
Gordon Brown: The Biography 
by Paul Routledge.
Simon and Schuster, 358 pp., £17.99, February 1998, 0 684 81954 6
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... members of the Tribune Group sidling up to Roy Hattersley in 1988 and assuring him of their support in the race for Labour’s deputy leadership against the candidate supported by the Tribune Group, JohnPrescott? Right again. Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. In The Candidate, the great American film about political compromise starring Robert Redford, a young welfare lawyer is persuaded against his ...
25 April 1991
... adversarial system functions – after a fashion. Depending on the effectiveness or otherwise of Front Bench spokesmen, there is some kind of scrutiny of government performance – as, for example, JohnPrescott has recently shown in transport, and Robin Cook in health. When both Front Benches are agreed on central issues, meaningful debate is difficult, bordering on the unachievable. Worse still ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The vexed issue of Labour Party funding

19 October 2006
... organisation called Save the Labour Party forced HQ to confess to a figure of 208,000: half as many members as there had been when Blair won the 1997 election, and nowhere near the million members JohnPrescott used to boast of as being the party’s achievable goal. People are leaving Labour in droves. To anyone outside the present administration the explanation is simple: New Labour lies, and is ...

Our Guy

John​ Barnie: Blair’s Style

20 January 2011
... surprising in the work of such a friend of the United States. The exception is his use of the word ‘guy’ for blokes of whom he approves. Bill Clinton is ‘a great guy’, as is the Taoiseach John Bruton. Andrew Smith is ‘a nice guy’, and so is Guy Verhofstadt; Andrew Adonis is ‘a thoroughly nice guy’. John Hutton is also ‘a thoroughly nice guy’, while the footmen at Balmoral are ...

After Smith

Ross McKibbin

9 June 1994
... Like many others I have been puzzled by the reaction to John Smith’s death. It was reported as though it were at least that of a prime minister, and his funeral was, as the BBC noted, in effect a state funeral. The decision of both the BBC and ITV to double ...

Into the Second Term

R.W. Johnson: New Labour

5 April 2001
Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour 
by Andrew Rawnsley.
Hamish Hamilton, 434 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 241 14029 3
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Mandelson and the Making of New Labour 
by Donald Macintyre.
HarperCollins, 638 pp., £6.99, September 2000, 0 00 653062 1
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Mo Mowlam: The Biography 
by Julia Langdon.
Little, Brown, 324 pp., £16.99, September 2000, 0 316 85304 6
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Ann Widdecombe: Right from the Beginning 
by Nicholas Kochan.
Politico’s, 302 pp., September 2000, 1 902301 55 2
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The Paymaster: Geoffrey Robinson, Maxwell and New Labour 
by Tom Bower.
Simon and Schuster, 272 pp., £17.99, March 2001, 0 7432 0689 4
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The Future of Politics 
by Charles Kennedy.
HarperCollins, 235 pp., £17.99, September 2000, 0 00 710131 7
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... call between Blair, Campbell, Brown, Balls, Mandelson and Whelan dealt with the crisis. No one thought it odd that the real inner cabinet not only did not include the Deputy Prime Minister, JohnPrescott, but comprised four spinners and only two responsible ministers. As Rawnsley points out, the curious thing about Blair is that, however much he wants to reject ideology, he is also endlessly eager to ...

More ‘out’ than ‘on’

Glen Newey: Chris Mullin’s Diaries

27 August 2009
A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin 
by Chris Mullin.
Profile, 590 pp., £20, March 2009, 978 1 84668 223 0
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... accepts again. He quits as chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee and joins what is baggily known as the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR): in effect, the Ministry for JohnPrescott, whose amour-propre demands a duly sprawling apanage. Mullin goes to Fenwick’s at his wife’s insistence, and buys three new suits. Early in 2001 he moves to International Development ...

Yes, we have no greater authority

Dan Hawthorn: The constraints facing the new administration for London

13 April 2000
... be in finding answers to these problems? Or at least in helping us come to terms with the fact that they can’t be solved? Proposing the reform of London’s local government in the Commons, JohnPrescott expressed Labour’s desire to make the city’s administration ‘more open, more accountable and more inclusive ... It is about modernising the government of the capital, and giving power to the ...
5 June 1997
...  and party rules requiring him to use it. Although the Labour leader has not shown himself to be squeamish about dispensing with such footling restrictions, left-of-centre figures such as Cook, JohnPrescott, Margaret Beckett and Chris Smith have been allowed to surround themselves with like-minded ministers. The man who has replaced the Blairite factotum Stephen Byers, for example, in charge of ...

Here we go

Peter Clarke

21 October 1993
... So far the Nineties have given us the politics of bewilderment. It all began with John Major becoming Prime Minister, to his own apparent bewilderment, in November 1990; since when his performance has, by general consent, become increasingly bewildering. The Labour Party was bewildered ...
4 April 1985
The Right to Know: The Inside Story of the ‘Belgrano’ Affair 
by Clive Ponting.
Sphere, 214 pp., £2.50, March 1985, 0 7221 6944 2
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... the privilege of having proper and fruitful conversations with the Dame (Evelyn Sharp), the late Sir James Waddell and others. Equally, as members of the Labour Delegation to the European Parliament, JohnPrescott and I were ‘educated in the ways of Upper Whitehall’ by Sir Thomas Brimelow, the former PUS at the Foreign Office, who became a Labour Peer and a British representative at Strasbourg ...

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