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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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... 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, and also explains the sudden lurches into over-intimacy ...

Short Cuts

John Sturrock: Blair’s Convictions, 24 May 2007

... the political elite. Blair’s fluency was sufficiently striking to make me wonder whether, when John Prescott 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-home contrast. But the effect of Blair’s delivery when ...


Paul Foot: The Labour Party’s vacillation over rail privatisation, 28 October 1999

... Labour’s transport spokespeople of the Crystal Clear Faction. Their leader was big bluff burly John Prescott, 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 Labour Government, be quickly and effectively ...

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 angrier than bad language. Not swearing – he likes swearing – but bad use of language ...

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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... in the race for Labour’s deputy leadership against the candidate supported by the Tribune Group, John Prescott? 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 instinct to go into politics to change the world. He starts ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The vexed issue of Labour Party funding, 19 October 2006

... members as there had been when Blair won the 1997 election, and nowhere near the million members John Prescott 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 craven, and has failed. To senior party figures and ...

Our Guy

John Barnie: Blair’s Style, 20 January 2011

... 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 ‘very nice ...

Yes, we have no greater authority

Dan Hawthorn: The constraints facing the new administration for London, 13 April 2000

... that they can’t be solved? Proposing the reform of London’s local government in the Commons, John Prescott 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 people of London.’ The city does need to ...
... Bench spokesmen, there is some kind of scrutiny of government performance – as, for example, John Prescott 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, it may be difficult to get a debate at all. It was a ...

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 the ordinary length of their evening news broadcasts on the day of his death could be put down to the social democratish inclinations of the programmers, but the speed with which the coverage had to be assembled suggests that it was more instinctive ...

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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... one thought it odd that the real inner cabinet not only did not include the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, 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 explain himself, to insist that there is a ...

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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... as the Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR): in effect, the Ministry for John Prescott, 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, only to get the heave-ho after Labour’s election win ...

After the May Day Flood

Seumas Milne, 5 June 1997

... squeamish about dispensing with such footling restrictions, left-of-centre figures such as Cook, John Prescott, 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 minimum wage and trade-union rights, is Ian McCartney ...

The Angry Men

Jean McNicol: Harriet Harman, 14 December 2017

A Woman’s Work 
by Harriet Harman.
Allen Lane, 405 pp., £20, February 2017, 978 0 241 27494 1
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The Women Who Shaped Politics 
by Sophy Ridge.
Coronet, 295 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 4736 3876 1
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... her speeches were greeted with jeers and she was called a ‘stupid cow’ by Tony Marlow, one of John Major’s Maastricht rebels (there’s a video of this on YouTube: Marlow looks very pleased with himself, especially when he manages to repeat the remark after the Speaker, Betty Boothroyd, asks him whether he’d used ‘unparliamentary language’). When ...

How to dislodge a leader who doesn’t want to go

Ross McKibbin: Where are the Backbenchers?, 8 July 2004

... proof against their leader’s displeasure. With the exception of Gordon Brown, and possibly John Prescott, no member of the present cabinet has such standing. Ministers have no power bases within the party or the country and are largely unknown to the electorate. They owe their places in the cabinet almost entirely to their relationship with ...

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