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Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin Paperback – 28 Jul 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback; Revised Edition edition (28 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849547149
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849547147
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 3.6 x 13.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Praise for the hardback: The essential political book of the year.--Benedict Brogan, The Daily Telegraph

Current Affairs Book of the Year: This devastatingly forthright account of McBride's years as Gordon Brown's spin doctor and attack dog is the best book I have read all year. --Sian Griffiths, The Sunday Times

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. --Robert Shrimsley, Financial Times

50 shades of Labour skullduggery --Peter McKay, Daily Mail

I have always admired McBride's writing imagine Luca Brasi with a Cambridge degree and am not surprised that his memoirs are proving so gripping, given the material and his genuine talent as a stylist. --Matthew d'Ancona, The Telegraph

The Thick of It now looks tame. --Janet Street Porter, The Independent on Sunday

The most explosive and expletive laden - political book of the year. --Dan Hodges, The Telegraph

Power Trip is the political memoir of 2013: whatever your feelings about Gordon Brown's former spin doctor - McPoison - he has written a racy, lucid and very well-informed account of the last years of New Labour. -- Andrew Neather, Evening Standard

Reading Power Trip, one is both fascinated and appalled by McBride's brutal philosophy, self-deception and pride in twisting the truth. --Total Politics

Best Political Book of the Year --Toby Young, The Telegraph

The undisputed political book of the year. --Mark D'Arcy Booktalk

McBride can write, certainly. His account of his continuing adventures after the publication of the first edition of Power Trip is entertaining ... And McBride's honesty about his past misdeeds is disarming. --The Independent

It is utterly gripping. I found it enjoyable and appalling in almost equal measure. --Ruth Davidson, The Scotsman

The Thick of It now looks tame. --Janet Street Porter, The Independent on Sunday

The most explosive and expletive laden - political book of the year. --Dan Hodges, The Telegraph

Power Trip is the political memoir of 2013: whatever your feelings about Gordon Brown's former spin doctor - McPoison - he has written a racy, lucid and very well-informed account of the last years of New Labour. -- Andrew Neather, Evening Standard

Reading Power Trip, one is both fascinated and appalled by McBride's brutal philosophy, self-deception and pride in twisting the truth. --Total Politics

Best Political Book of the Year --Toby Young, The Telegraph

The undisputed political book of the year. --Mark D'Arcy Booktalk

About the Author

Damian McBride was born in North London in 1974, the youngest of four brothers. He was educated at Finchley Catholic High School and read history at Peterhouse, Cambridge. He joined HM Customs and Excise as a fast stream civil servant in 1996, and moved to the Treasury in 1999. In 2003, he became the Treasury's Head of Communications, reporting directly to Gordon Brown. After the 2005 election, he left the civil service to become the Chancellor's political adviser, a role he maintained when Brown became Prime Minister in 2007. He was sacked in April 2009 after emails from him emerged planning a smear campaign against senior Tory politicians. His proceeds from sales of this book will go to the Finchley Catholic High School fundraising appeal.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By angus young on 8 Sep 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Damien McBride writes well. In places very well. And therein lies the nub of the problem.

At face value, this is a confessional work by a repentant man who regrets the many sins he committed while close to the centre of power. McBride appears to be candid about his problems with alcohol, his failed relationships, his manipulation of national news, his use of half-truths and occasional inventions, his irresponsibility and lack of care for the individuals on the receiving end of his schemes, his flirtations with illegality, and yet...

...and yet I couldn't help thinking of that scene in the musical Guys and Dolls, when the gangsters are called to testify at the Salvation Army, feigning sincere contrition for the benefit of their leader, Sky Masterson, who won them in a dice game.

McBride would make an excellent Nicely Nicely Johnson. Whether he really has had a sobering revelation and has chosen to confess faithfully, or whether this is simply a Mea Culpa designed to exculpate other senior figures in the then Labour government for their parts in the dishonesty he describes, is left for the reader to decide.

It's a good book, but I've no idea how honest it really is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 12-dark_blue on 13 Oct 2014
Format: Paperback
Very enjoyable read, I found myself glued to this book which I found rare for a sort of political biography. Damien is a good writer and knows exactly what his audience wants, so no account of his formative years its straight from Uni where the excesses of his personality started to show to the Civil Service exams and the start of his career in Government. This leads us fairly quickly into the Treasury and the world of Brown and the two Ed's and his Press role where the dark arts are displayed in lots of detail and with apology. Damien unravels as he is moved into No.10 leading into his role and the fall out from the Red Rag affair.

Damien obviously feels very sorry for himself but large parts of this book read like a resume an almost pleading to the Party on how clever and essential he was, he apologies repeatedly for his behavior but also takes delight and pride in detailing his arts and how successful he was in practicing them.

I found it troubling that someone with such an obvious drink problem was allowed to move so close to power for so long but thoroughly enjoyed the structure, gusto and style of his book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By peter macnab on 20 Oct 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
McBride gets his mea culpas in regularly and it shouldn't be forgotten that this is a spin doctor at work. Having said that this account of his times as a Civil Servant and political aide is well written, comical at times, and informative. Like many others, it was mostly the dirty tricks and feuds that I wanted to read about. Surprisingly to me, his account of policy formation and process is probably the more enjoyable. He's got the not insignificant ability to make the more esoteric parts of VAT policy not only interesting but understandable. Power Trip is as good a political memoir as I've read in years, well worth reading.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Damian McBride spent a decade at the heart of Gordon Brown's caucus, during the latter years of his time as Chancellor and then through most of his tenure as Prime Minister. The prevailing public image is of someone who was Machiavellian, brutal, thuggish at times and, above all, someone whom it was best not to cross. This memoir does nothing to dispel that perception, and he puts his hand up to be guilty as charged for many of those accusations.

The book gives a fascinating insight into how 'Team Brown' operated, and the close relationship between Gordon Brown and 'the two Eds' (Balls and Miliband). Brown towers over every aspect of the story, and while it is by no means a hagiography, McBride seems at far greater pains to protect Brown's image than his own. He is also remarkably sanguine about the dirty tricks email fiasco that led to his own disgrace and departure from the Brown caucus.

I was intrigued to read an insider's account of events that I had followed so closely at the time they unfolded, and was left feeling that Downing Street must be an awfully difficult place for all who operate there, senior politicians, civil servants and advisers alike.

I also enjoyed reading about McBride's relationship with Balshen Izzet, his girlfriend throughout much of the period covered in the book, as I had briefly encountered her in my own work at what was then the Department for Children Schools and Families. [Ed Balls, when Secretary of State at that Department, participated in an outdoors 'cook off' with TV chef Phil Vickery on an arctic day at Covent Garden in December 2009 to promote his cookery book aimed at primary school children, and Balshen and I were the departmental officials in attendance.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Neutral VINE VOICE on 15 Mar 2014
Format: Hardcover
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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