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A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin [Paperback]

Chris Mullin
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
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Book Description

14 Jan 2010

'It is said that failed politicians make the best diarists. In which case I am in with a chance.' Chris Mullin

Chris Mullin has been a Labour MP for twenty years, and despite his refusal to toe the party line - on issues like 90 days detention, for example - he has held several prominent posts. To the apoplexy of the whips, he was for a time the only person appointed to government who voted against the Iraq War. He also chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee and was a member of the Parliamentary Committee, giving him direct access to the court of Tony Blair.

Irreverent, wry and candid, Mullin's keen sense of the ridiculous allows him to give a far clearer insight into the workings of Government than other, more overtly successful politicians. He offers humorous and incisive takes on all aspects of political life: from the build-up to Iraq, to the scandalous sums of tax-payers' money spent on ministerial cars he didn't want to use. His critically acclaimed diary will entertain and amuse far beyond the political classes.

Frequently Bought Together

A View From The Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin + Decline & Fall: Diaries 2005-2010 (Mullin Diaires 2) + A Walk-On Part: Diaries 1994-1999 (Mullin Diaires 3)
Price For All Three: 21.20

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; 1st Edition 1st Printing edition (14 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846682304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846682308
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (92 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 18,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Mullin has been the Labour MP for Sunderland South since 1987. He chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee and served in three departments. He is the author of the bestselling novel A Very British Coup, re-published by Serpent's Tail, which was turned into an award-winning television series.

Product Description


The sharpest and most revealing political diaries since Alan Clark's. (Simon Hoggart Guardian)

Chris Mullin's diaries deserve to become the central text for understanding the Blair years (Peter Riddell The Times)

At the moment my favourite Labour MP is Chris Mullin, partly because I enormously enjoyed A View From The Foothills (William Hague Independent)

Book Description

'The most wickedly indiscreet and elegant political memoirs since Alan Clark' Mail on Sunday

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
117 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! 19 Mar 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have to admit that my heart sank a little when this book arrived from Amazon, it's got a rather dull front cover and at 600 pages is something of a brick. Nevertheless, I had read a couple of good reviews in the papers so I thought I would give it a go...and three hours later I was still reading it. It's a truly engrossing account of ministerial life on the lowest rung of the ladder, Mullins upon being promoted to junior minister for transport and environment sets himself just three goals for the duration of his tenure: an end to night flights, greater regulation of leylandi hedges and cancelling his ministerial car. Two years later on leaving his post he reflects that he has failed on the first two counts, and merely reduced the ministerial bill (from 700 to 400 per week) for the third. In the intervening months he catalogues with almost daily despair his lack of any policy influence and how he is slowly ground down by the civil service machine.

There is a real gearchange in the diary after he returns to the back benches after tendering his resignation. It is clear that he finds a new enthusiasm once he escapes from the stifling Whitehall centralised control structures designed to ensure that everyone remains "on message", where every interview and TV appearance has to be approved and prepped to mirror exactly the party line. Now just a humble MP he finds himself with much greater influence through his select committee work.

The second part of the diary therefore progresses much more like a conventional political memoir. We get to hear at first hand government reaction to 911, the political infighting between Gordon and Tony, the divisions over first Afghanistan and then Iraq, the inside reactions to the scandals, the media hysteria, the sackings, the election triumphs.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good man in a bad job 25 April 2011
By SidneyD
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this volume after first reading his later "Decline and Fall" 2005-10 diaries. Mullin is a leftie, and I am not, but he comes across as a decent human being, conscientiously looking after his constituents in underprivileged Sunderland and trying to help unpopular people like destitute African illegal immigrants. He joins Tony Blair's government in a lowly position and is almost laughably ineffective, other than making some changes in the car-pooling rules. He admires Blair for his plausible Houdini-like ability to get out of jams - although he consistently opposes the war in Iraq. Eventually he has a post in African affairs which suits him, but junior ministers do not stay in one place long or even retain office and he lost his. The diaries are wrily amusing and well written and I would rank them with Chips Channon's or Alan Clark's.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not "One of Us", more "Diary of a Nobody" 17 May 2009
By Petrolhead VINE VOICE
A finely written diary, long in pages but short in reading time, which reveals more than Chris Mullin probably meant to about Tony Blair's New Labour government. Mullin is do-gooder of the old school and a bit of a grumpy old bloke, but very honest with it. His diary is an amazing through-his-eyes view of the end of the beginning, and the beginning of the end, of New Labour.

What's so amazing about it is that it's not an "insider account". Even though Mullin was a senior MP and a junior minister, he was not walking the corridors of power. Indeed, he seems to have been barely more informed than the average newspaper reader. His attempts to read the political tea-leaves and foresee what might happen - when Tony Blair might stand down, for example - are complete guesswork and frequently way off the mark. He seems to have been rather naive and he had absolutely no power. In fact, it reminded me of school, with Mullin and his friends excluded from (and fascinated by) a gang of cool kids they long to join. But good on him for telling it so honestly. This is not an airbrushed version of history.

Mullin might perhaps admit to being an idealist, although he has moments of misanthropy that are nice to see in a left-wing MP. He moans amusingly to his diary about the meaningless speeches he is asked to give and the media-handling, messages and photo-ops demanded by New Labour's spin doctors. A valiant fight, but in vain: he can do nothing about it.

I'm sure he would call himself a man of principle. Yet when it came to the ultimate test - over the final vote on going to war in Iraq, he wavered and very nearly went with Blair. Although Mullin eventually stuck to his guns, he was almost lured to support the case for war and one of his closest allies did cave in. Why?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Good Man in Westminster 16 Mar 2010
The most readable, honest and funny political diaries I have read. An insight into the Blair years in which the latter is gently mocked but comes out of it better than might be expected (and I started with an anti-Blair prejudice). Mullin is good at self deprecation and takes no sides, other than to be very suspicious all along of Brown. But this book is not just about British politics. Other walk on parts are played by people as diverse as the Dalai Lama, the splendid Edna Adan of Somaliland, various people who found themselves falling foul of our immigration and assylum laws and practice, and not least, his family. He comes over as a very humane, decent, observant and believable source.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Revealing and frank diary entries
I can't believe its taken me this long to read it. Learnt a lot about the inner workings of the Labour Party. Very interested in hearing about run up to Iraq war.
Published 2 months ago by mary-anne gear
5.0 out of 5 stars What happened To Chris Mullin
Brilliant, read this on holiday and found it riveting. Chris M was wasted on the back benches, in fact he was wasted on politics.
Published 3 months ago by Hf Froggatt
4.0 out of 5 stars What Labour got up to
Written with dry wit and insider knowledge this is an account from the perspective of one of the lower ranks in the government hierarchy. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Fasinating insight into the world of politics.
A very readable book, lifting the lid on the workings of The House. You can tell that Chris Mullin was a journalist and one of the hardest working MP's in The House.
Published 5 months ago by D J Smart
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Full of humour and honest insight about life in Government.

Gets on his high horse from time to time about pet hates and you could drive a bus through some of his... Read more
Published 6 months ago by The Partick Potter
5.0 out of 5 stars Potent political memories
I bought this for my husband and he is completely immersed in this entertaining, witty and informative autobiography - highly recommended.
Published 7 months ago by Alice
5.0 out of 5 stars Westminster politiking as we should understand.
It is interesting and he expresses himself to my liking. What is happening in the our name and at our expense.
Published 8 months ago by Brian Wakeley
5.0 out of 5 stars present
bought as a present so have not read it personally but friend who received it loved it said it was an excellent read. Read more
Published 10 months ago by clairevince
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book
If you have any interest whatsoever in this type of book I defy you not to have Chris Mullin's diaries right at the top of your favourites list. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Peter Anderson
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating and often entertaining
Having read many of the diaries and autobigraphies of the leading figures of the last governement, I wasn't sure what to expect of this rather different view. Read more
Published 11 months ago by markr
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