10 June 2006

The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze

The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze - Click for details and orders at Amazon.co.ukThis book has a fascinating provenance. In April this year New Labour were being hit by scandal after scandal. Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Culture, was caught up in dubious financial deals with her husband David Mills; peerages were being offered in return for secret loans to the Labour Party; cannabis was found at the home of the defence secretary John Reid; and of course Deputy Prime Minister John Precott was unmasked as an adulterer who used his government offices for sex trysts.

In this febrile atmosphere, two political bloggers came up with the idea of publishing a book containing all the scandals which had occurred under New labour - going back as far as Bernie Ecclestone's 1997 donation of £1 million to escape the ban on tobacco advertising for his Formula One car racing business. Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes knew all the stories, but wanted to get something into the bookshops whilst the heat was on.

They both run blogs which attract lots of well informed gossip and comment - so they invited their readers to submit contributions. And they did. The results were proof read and printed in double-quick time, and the book appeared three weeks after it had been conceived.

But political bloggers measure events by minutes and hours, not days and weeks - so the book was being discussed even whilst it was in preparation. In fact it also had the distinction of being one of the few books ever to be reviewed before it was actually written, let alone printed.

The results are a chastening reminder of the sleaze and corruption in government during the last ten years. Do you remember Geoffrey Robinson's dodgy loan of £373,00 to Peter Mandelson, made at a time when Mandelson's department, the DTI, was investigating irregularities in Robinson's business affairs. It eventually cost both of them their jobs.

Or Lord Irvine's redecoration of his apartments at taxpayers' expense to the tune of £650,000 - with wallpaper at £300 a roll? The attack on the World Trade Centre was called "A good day to bury bad news" by special advisor to Stephen Byers.

Tony Blair launched a war against Iraq based on the mistaken assumption that they possessed weapons of mass destruction. Then there were the dodgy dossiers - not just one but two - which contained the lie about WMD being unleashed within 45 minutes by Saddam Hussein. This in turn led to the death of Dr David Kelly

The list of evasiveness, graft, and lies goes on and one - and it gets worse and more frequent as it approaches the present. This is why pundits are talking now of a 'bunker mentality' inside Number Ten.

The book also might have an unusual future. It sold out its first print run within a few days. But the way new Labour are going, there will surely be need for an updated second edition to cope with all the New Sleaze. Anyway, booksellers at Amazon have done a little stockpiling, so you should be in luck.

Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes (eds), The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze, Tunbridge Wells, Kent: Politico's Media, 2006, pp.176, ISBN 1904734162

Click for details and orders at Amazon.comClick for details and orders at Amazon.co.uk



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Ian said...

I may have to buy a copy. My only problem with it is that Tony's cronies are no worse than the previous Conservative bunch. I'd hate to see Dave the greenwasher get in because we forgot how bad his gang are when given power.

Frankly the only politicians I'd trust to run the country (a cross party selection of the green and forthright) aren't going to get any power because they're too honest. We're all doomed unless they start throwing these people in prison for their many crimes.

Roy said...

I agree Ian. Going back to the Tories is not a solution I would welcome.

That's why I support a venture such as the Little Sleaze book, because it publicises the wrongdoings of people who brought shame to many of their colleagues and corrupted a worthwhile cause.

It might just be possible to drive them out by broadcasting this self-seeking greed and arrogance, clearing the way for others to take their place.

And yes, I for one would not shed tears if some of them ended up behind bars - including Tony Blair for lying to the country and taking the country into a war which was not only prosecuted illegally, but has resulted in a disaster for all those involved in it.