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Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin [Hardcover]

Damian McBride
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
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Book Description

24 Sep 2013
From 1999 to 2009, Damian McBride worked at the heart of the Treasury and No10, becoming one of the most controversial political figures of the last decade, before a notorious scandal propelled him onto the front pages and out of Downing Street. In Power Trip he writes candidly about his experiences at the heart of government, and provides the first genuine insider's account of Gordon Brown's time as Chancellor and Prime Minister. He reveals the personal feuds, political plots, and media manipulation which lay at New Labour's core, and provides a fascinating, funny, and at times shocking account of how government really works. His own journey from naive civil servant to disgraced spindoctor is also laid bare with brutal honesty. Power Trip is a riveting memoir and an eye-opening expose of politics in Britain.

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Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin + In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government + 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback Publishing; First Edition edition (24 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849545960
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849545969
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (83 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


It is being billed as the must-read political book of the year. --The Independent

[A] captivating account... It is unlikely that his account will change many minds about this greatly flawed politician, but its self-lacerating candour and humour deserve a wide audience. It is both a memoir and a manual, one that will serve historians, students of the craft of politics and if they take the trouble to read it those Conservatives who are even now working on how to get David Cameron back to Downing Street in 2015. It is the essential political book of the year... There are anecdotes galore involving nudity, vast amounts of alcohol, and dirty tricks. His memoir will be read first for the elegant and lightly told vignettes. McBride can write, which makes it a pleasure to read... So much of this invaluable book is true. --Benedict Brogan, The Telegraph

The first thing to say is that I think the book is structured very well... It is an excellent read and for a political geek like me there was enough behind the scenes colour and filling in the gaps for episodes that I recall seeing unfold from the outside to keep me glued to it for the 2 days (on and off) it took me to read it... I would certainly recommend this book to anyone interested in politics and/or the processes that go on behind the scenes. I suspect that all the main movers and shakers of all parties will have it on their reading lists, and that's if they haven't already read it. In the world of Westminster there is almost no bigger compliment for political memoirs. It shows you once mattered and Damian McBride certainly did. --Mark Thompson

Although there is no shortage of New Labour memoirs, what gives this book a ghastly fascination is that it is the first no-holds-barred account of life at Brown's court... It is well written, generous to friend and foe alike and the author's undoubted boastfulness is tempered by heavy doses of self-deprecation. --Chris Mullin, The Observer

It is pacy and McBride writes with a nice turn of phrase. As a glimpse into the Brown bunker it offers much. --Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

About the Author

Damian McBride is Head of Media and PR for CAFOD. Previously he was Head of Communications at the Treasury and was a special adviser to Gordon Brown.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brutally honest - but also hopelessly blind 28 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Very little background to his childhood, parents and so forth. Which is just as well, as no one really cares about that. McBride launches straight into his Westminster story from the first page. Well written, pacey, it bounds along. I'd like to say that I was shocked by the duplicity, the mind-numbing venality and the literally months spent back biting each other that seemed de rigueur for New Labour (if not all politics and politicians). Sadly the book just confirms your worst suspicions and has few jaw dropping moments.

To his immense credit McBride is corruscantingly honest about his darker side and his decline into the mire, although he is perhaps a bit too keen to blame this on prolonged time spent in Westminster, rather than just a lack of a moral compass.

He is also totally blind to the darker side of Gordon Brown, well documented elsewhere. Whether or not one feels Gordon Brown had any competencies at all, it surely beggars belief that McBride cannot see that this "great man" was surely a penny short of a pound if he let himself be guided by the likes of McBride. This begs the question the author singularly fails to ask, namely "What kind of man would knowingly employ someone like me?"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Reading Damien McBride's 'Power Trip' reminds me of the Alan Jay Lerner song, '"How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?". The content and tone of McBride's book is one of selective memory and self-serving apologies which smack of insincerity and hypocrisy. For him, Gordon Brown, a son of the manse with a foul mouth, though not as foul as McBride himself, was a hero let down by inadequate colleagues. That Brown had no fundamental grasp of the economic reality which led to the crisis of 2008 appears to escape his myopic view of a failed Chancellor who became a failed Prime Minister. He blames others, Alistair Darling, for example, for the failure of Brown to save the world. Ed Balls, joint architect of the deficit disaster, comes up smelling of roses although this is only as a result of the manure spread by McBride's poisonous pen.

McBride was the epitome of the corruption at the heart of the British political system, corruption which expanded under Alistair Campbell and McBride. It's ironic that the latter, even when admitting some errors, shifts responsibility by saying others were worse. Yet McBride does not appreciate that providing special briefings for the political editor of GMTV, who later became a Labour MP, was a form of political corruption in an open society. So too was his strategy of lying-without-lying and while he claims Brown did not know what he was up to it's obvious from his reference to the 'unspoken word' between them that Brown closed his eyes to the obvious. Brown was a weak leader and employing McBride was a sign of his weakness, the more so since there were several opportunities to sack him which Brown botched. McBride was not a journalist, his genuine communication skills were poor and his appointment political.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of Interesting and Depressing 1 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It is an interesting and honest book which gives a real insight into politics behind the scenes. To be honest, despite their abhorrence of the book, I thought that it made Miliband, Balls and Brown three dimensional and a bit more human than I had previously thought. But inevitably it shows the dark and dirty world of politics and it wasn't half depressing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power Trip: A Decade of Policy,Plots and Spin 1 Jan 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I found this book to be a real page turner. It's such a shame that our political system needs people like Damian but it clearly did/does. I also found ,that despite Damians well documented exit from politics ,that he has nothing but praise and loyalty to his former employer it's very refreshing. sometimes the book is written in a whirlwind kind of way throwing in political events here and there, but that only helps you want to find out how it's going to play out.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Mark Pack TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Many British journalists are so keen to have a good story to run, they are easily bought off and distracted by government spin doctors who can get them to ditch an unwanted story as long as the spin doctor has a better story to offer up as journalistic payment. That is the basic story of Damian McBride's book.

Even allowing for the usual pattern of people talking up their own achievements in their memoirs, and even allowing for the fact that people on all sides - in Labour and out of Labour, in the press and in parties, have labelled him as a one-off talent (frequently with accompanying derogatory adjective) - it is still a far less flattering portrait of the state of British journalism than you would guess from the reviews of his book written by political journalists. Those reviews neither attack the book for unfairly smearing their profession nor admit embarrassment at the state of their profession, but rather have pretty much all just ignored what he has to say about them.

Whether or not you find the critical picture painted in McBride's book an accurate account of the state of British political journalism, the fact that the profession has reacted with a collective 'meh, nothing to see here', suggests he does raise issues that some would rather not face up to.

In amongst his frequent accounts of how he saved the day for Labour politicians, McBride ironically offers up a defence of those journalists he has just told us he so frequently manipulated. They were all under great pressure to run stories, so if he had a ready supply of good stories for them, is it any wonder they were often willing to go along with his suggestions about what stories to ditch in order to get a good story handed out by him all neatly packaged and in good time for their deadlines?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I really loved this book - full of insights into the working ...
I really loved this book - full of insights into the working of government, of the press, of the 2 Eds. Loved the writing style too...A must read if you are interested in politics
Published 5 days ago by Alter mondialist
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic reading. The real lowdown.
Published 6 days ago by dryad
5.0 out of 5 stars One I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in what makes...
An intriguing insight into the Brown/Blair years. One I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in what makes our politicians tick and what goes on behind the scenes.
Published 8 days ago by Claire Louise Hunt
4.0 out of 5 stars A Surprisingly Sympathetic Figure...
Surprisingly, given the reputation of the author, one of the most credible, first hand accounts of the inner workings of the relationship between media and politicians I have read. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Mr E P Nixon
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book. See Gordon Brown in a new light ...
Fantastic book. See Gordon Brown in a new light and not the one that has been portrayed by the tory press. They make me want to vomit.
Published 10 days ago by ann dorothy carr
5.0 out of 5 stars Frank, honest and open.
Frank, honest and open. I cant help but wonder how well Ed Miliband would be doing if he had McBride working for him today.
Published 27 days ago by @mrgarethm
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
My husband and I both enjoyed this book, I like the style of the writer
Published 1 month ago by Clarissa
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly Fine
I really never thought I could read anything which made me like the 2 Eds - & even Gordon. Either McBride is a PR-man par excellence, or he sheds a more sympathetic light on these... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Brian Hanson
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
After all the publicity and hooh-hah, I was expecting much, much, more.
It revealed nothing I did not know and I strongly suspect Mr McBride kept the real goodies unsaid.
Published 2 months ago by Alexander McKay
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure political gossip
If you like your politics with a big slice of "Dallas" style drama, this is the book for you. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Paul McGrory
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