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Prime Minister Portillo: and Other Things That Never Happened [Paperback]

Duncan Brack , Iain Dale
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Politico's Publishing Ltd (18 Oct 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842751115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842751114
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 930,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Dale is one of Britain's leading political commentators and bloggers and a presenter on LBC Radio. He is contributing editor for GQ Magazine, writes for the Daily Telegraph, and pens a fortnightly diary for the Eastern Daily Press. He was the chief anchor of Britain's first political internet TV channel, 18 Doughty Street.com and is now the publisher of the monthly magazine, TOTAL POLITICS. He is also managing director of Biteback Publishing.

Iain also writes for The Spectator, the New Statesman, the House Magazine and Parliamentary Monitor, as well as contributing weekly to The Guardian's CommentIsFree. He is a newspaper reviewer for both Sky News and the BBC News Channel and appears on regularly on Today and Newsnight.

'Very few indeed are better informed than Iain Dale - his style may be easygoing and humorous but his mind is like a meat-cleaver' - Andrew Marr

Iain is Britain's leading political blogger with more than 130,000 individual readers each month. Iain is a widely respected and accomplished broadcaster, political commentator and raconteur.

Iain stood as a Conservative candidate at the last election and was Chief of Staff to the Rt Hon David Davis MP in the 2005 Conservative Party leadership election. He is a former political lobbyist, financial journalist and publisher and was the founder of Politico's Bookstore. He is the creator and host of the theatre production A Night With Ann Widdecombe, which tours provincial theatres all round the country. He is Director of the Conservative History Group and co-director of the Campaign for Fixed Term Parliaments. Iain is also a vocal proponent of an English Parliament.

Iain is an accomplished public speaker, and has just been signed up by the Specialist Speakers
speakers agency. He is much in demand for both set-piece speeches on current affairs, as well as humorous after dinner speeches.

He is a former financial journalist with Lloyds List, and was a political lobbyist before setting up his own political bookselling and publishing company, Politico's, in the late 1990s. He was a presenter of Radio 5 Live's Sunday Service programme alongside Fi Glover and Charlie Whelan from 2000 to 2004, and presented 5 Live's 2001 election night documentary Counting Chickens. He has also appeared on Radio 4's Any Questions.

The following are among his programme credits: Any Questions,Andrew Marr Show, Newsnight, Breakfast with Frost, Today Programme, Simon Mayo Show, Question Time Extra, 5 Live Breakfast, 5 Live Drive, Victoria Derbyshire, the Jon Gaunt Show, The Panel (Irish equivalent of Have I Got News for You), Steve Wright Show, The Sandy Toksvig LBC Show, Between the Lines (Press TV), News at Ten and the Iain Dale Show on PlayRadioUK. He presented 17 hours of radio coverage of the 2009 local and European elections.

Iain has written or edited more than twenty books including Margaret Thatcher: A Tribute in Words & Pictures, the Little Book of Boris, 500 of the Most Acerbic, Witty & Erudite Things Ever Said About Politics.

Product Description


The grand passage of political history is steered by a combination of events great and small, assessing how matters might have turned out under different circumstances is one of the most intriguing - and entertaining - historical exercises. What if Lenin's train had crashed on the way to the Finland Station? If Lee Harvey Oswald had missed, would JFK have become one of the greatest US Presidents, or one of the worst? What if John Smith had not died suddenly in 1994? In this book a collection of distinguished commentators consider how things might have been otherwise. Among them are Sir Bernard Ingham, who ponders the consequences of Margaret Thatcher's resignation over the Westland crisis; John Charmley, who asks, 'What if Lord Halifax had become Prime Minister in 1940 instead of Churchill?'; and Anne Perkins, who wonders how the history of the Labour Party would have unfolded had Aneurin Bevan outlived Hugh Gaitskell.

Diverting and thought-provoking as they can be, counterfactuals also have a serious historical purpose, for close examination of what did not happen serves to test interpretations of what actually did happen, and provides a prism through which the great events can be viewed. It is not only Michael Portillo who is left to ponder what might have been ...

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By Marshall Lord TOP 100 REVIEWER
"Prime Minister Portillo" is a collection of 21 essays each of which postulates one change to 20th century political history between 1918 and 1997, and looks at how a different sequence of events might have followed. Twenty of them look at British political history: the exception, written by the Conservative MP Simon Burns, asked "What if Lee Harvey Oswald had missed?" (e.g. failed to kill Kennedy.)

Counterfactual history is a rapidly growing market. Both "alternative history" fiction such as most of the work of Harry Turtledove, and slightly more serious analysis of what might have happened, such as Cowley's "What If" or Niall Ferguson's "Virtual History" have been very popular.

Most works of counterfactual history have concentrated on what might have happened if wars had gone differently. "Prime Minister Portillo and other things which never happened" and the sequels, "President Gore...: and Other Things That Never Happened" and "Prime Minister Boris... And Other Things That Never Happened" are unusual in that they concentrate on political decisions or elections which might have gone differently.

The contributors cover an eclectic range of political views and backgrounds, from academics to MPs and senior public servants such as Sir Bernard Ingham who used to be Margaret Thatcher's press secretary. Some of the essays are extremely serious, others have more than a dash of humour or whimsy. Almost all are thought provoking.
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