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Betty Boothroyd Autobiography
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 28 December 2008
As a young woman, Betty Boothroyd flirted briefly with a stage career before returning to her first love: politics. Forty years later she achieved a curious kind of stardom when she became the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons.

The only child of working class parents, Betty paints a vivid picture of her childhood in the Yorkshire mill town of Dewsbury. Limited educational opportunities meant that she had to set about earning her keep from the day she left school. From this unpromising background, Betty forged a career based on hard work, quick-wittedness and a gift for making friends with people from every walk of life.

Much of the book is taken up by a fascinating and acutely observed insider's view of Parliament (Betty was an MP's secretary long before she became an MP) and the British Labour Party from the 1950s to the beginning of the 21st century. Whilst her heart was in domestic politics, the internationally-minded Boothroyd travelled widely, including a spell working for the Kennedy campaign in the early 1960s.

Crucially, however, it's about parliamentary democracy: how it works and why it matters.

Passionate, plain-speaking and good-humoured, Betty Boothroyd writes as she has lived: at a breathless pace with occasional breaks for a cup of tea or a gin and tonic. This is a highly readable and thoroughly honest account of a life in politics (and how much fun it all was).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2002
Betty Boothroyd describes her life, starting as a child in a working-class home in Yorkshire, progressing to a brief but much-publicised spell with the Tiller Girls dancing troupe; becoming after a long struggle a Labour MP, and finally her election as the first woman Speaker of the House of Commons. I enjoyed this book, and would rate it next to Ted Heath's autobiography in that genre. I'm really put off by political autobiographies which the authors use to justify their past record, or settle old scores. Betty does neither. Instead, she gives a lively account of life climbing the political pole, and a refreshing insight into Westminster, from the unusual vantage-point of the Speaker's chair. Her vision of the role of Parliament in controlling the governing party of the day, and holding it accountable, is inspiring. She is an instinctive, energetic politician, not a theoretician, but her warmth and heartfelt insights are nonetheless inspiring. She does keep the reader somewhat at arm's length from her personal life, which is probably prudent in today's senationalist society.This is a fairly easy read, but an enjoyable one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2009
As someone in her 50s, I found the political memories in this book very interesting, as I also remember quite a few of the events and people. It was interesting also to read some of Madam Speaker's "insider" information. However, my enjoyment of the book was somewhat diminished as I found the style of writing in very short sentences made the text very disjointed and not comfortable to read.
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A MONTHLY CHOICE FOR OUR READING GROUP. ENTERTAINING AND INTERESTING. A LIFE OF A REMARKABLE WOMAN WHO WORKED HER WAY UP IN THE POLITICAL WORLD FROM FACTORY GIRL TO SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. NON PARTISAN IN HER OUTLOOK AS SPEAKER WHILE REMAINING A STAUNCH SUPPORTER OF THE LABOUR PARTY, SHE UNDERSTOOD THE WORKINGS OF PARLIAMENT, MET THE MOST IMPORTANT LEADERS IN THE WORLD OF POLITICS, MADE FRIENDS WITH THE PRESS AND MEDIA BUT DID NOT SUFFER FOOLS. HER STRONG CHARACTER IN THE DAYS WHEN WOMEN HAD TO FIGHT THEIR CORNER PLUS THE SUPPORT OF HER MOTHER ENSURED HER SUCCESS.
A GOOD READ.
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on 25 March 2014
Betty Boothroyd is quite remarkable: her story and zest for life are unique. This was a welcome gift to a nonogenarian who enjoys surveying the passage of life and course of history.
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on 6 April 2015
It was an interesting read.
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on 22 April 2015
As extpected
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 23 December 2009
I was really sad having read this book - I used to love BB a strong labour woman - everything I admire but she is no Mo Mowlam. When I was reading I began to dislike Betty more and more . The whole feel of the book is big headed and spiteful - it feels as if it was written not to entertain and inform but to show that she was right on all occations . There are parts that I would love to have heard more about and there is definately some interesting behind the scenes info but overall a huge disapointment . Lots of globe trotting at the tax payers expense though - clear why MPs expenses were not reformed during her speakership!
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