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Whatever it Takes: The Real Story of Gordon Brown and New Labour [Paperback]

Steve Richards
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
Price: 14.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

16 Sep 2010

The definitive account of New Labour's rise and fall.

On 11 May 2010 Gordon Brown resigned as Prime Minister; it marked the end of thirteen dramatic years of Labour government. When he finally released his grip on power, many questions remained about the most intriguing and complex political figure of modern times and co-architect of New Labour. Leading commentator Steve Richards watched every step of the stormy political journey from 1992, when Brown became shadow chancellor, to the day he left Number Ten, and narrates it here for the first time.

Steve Richards has gained access to all levels of Westminster to explain this complex party and its leadership, reflecting on the outcome of the 2010 general election and what the fall of New Labour means for our nation’s political future.

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Whatever it Takes: The Real Story of Gordon Brown and New Labour + The End of the Party + Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labour
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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (16 Sep 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007320329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007320325
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 15.2 x 4.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 284,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Under New Labour there were two governments: one official, one largely hidden. The other government belonged to Gordon Brown. Now Steve Richards has created a unique biography of that administration – and a brilliant and understanding portrait of a huge political figure, his personal weaknesses and immense strengths. In so doing Richards, easily one of our best commentators, uncovers the unfashionable truth that politics sometimes matters as much as personalities.

This book has been a long time coming, but it's well worth the wait. Steve Richards is quite simply one of the best in the business. His mix of criticism and compassion has produced the most intelligent take yet on the strange world of Gordon Brown and New Labour.

About the Author

Steve Richards has been chief political commentator at the Independent since 2000, before which he was a BBC political correspondent and political editor of the New Statesman. He has also written for the Guardian, Observer, Evening Standard and the TLS. He presented Despatch Box on BBC 2 and The Sunday Programme on GMTV. He currently presents Week in Westminster on Radio 4 and is a regular guest on the Today programme, Newsnight and Question Time. In September he will be writing and presenting a major series on Gordon Brown for BBC Radio 4. He was named political journalist of the year in 2009 by the Political Studies Association.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 2 Jan 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Whether you are student of politics, a fan or not fan of Gordon Brown, or whether you just want to understand a period of British political history, with ramifications which have unfolded and some yet to unfold especially in the light of the new government, or any other reasons that spark your curiosity about this book, I would boldly say that this is compelling and essential reading.

Also, given that Steve Richards has had various contact and conversations with architects of New Labour, and the fact that this book covers events and analysis of them from around 1992 to the loss of the general election of 2010 and formation of a coalition government, and giving the reader a crucial recounting, insight into and analysis of events, personalities (Mr Brown especially) and their thoughts and actions, all make this book central to being able to understand not just what happened, some reasons and interpretations (fair and unbiased ones at that, in my opinion) but also central to appreciating the books that have been written by the various architects of the NL years, their fans and detractors too, with a much more enlightened mind.

It's an important bonus to the reader that Mr Richards also gives a quite in-depth retelling and insight into the days post-GE2010 and formation of coalition, which to me is a much more honest and less biased version than the book by, somewhat disgraced, David Laws on the subject. Laws' text is always going to be tinged with a sense of self and political interest by him, whether true or just perceived, that to me it is difficult to take seriously as unbiased.

There are so many other events covered in the book, be it aftermath of death of John Smith, the falling out between Mandelson/Blair and Brown, the global financial crisis, and so on, which together with the style of writing make "whatever it takes" compelling reading.

Enthusiastically recommended
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best analysis of Gordon Brown and New Labour 13 Nov 2010
This is a must-buy for anybody who wants to cut through the spin, hyperbole and justification of the many autobiographies (and biographies) of the New Labour years for a serious analysis of what happened and why. Steve Richards - columnist ofr the Independent - had been talking to Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and those around them since the birth of New Labour and charts the following 16 years in terms of policy and belief.

He compares the ideology-light Blair with the socially-committed but personally flawed Brown. Examining the two men and how they governed - both more terrified of criticism from the right than plaudits for actual achievements.

We see Gordon Brown as neither a hero nor the man who stopped the march of New Labour. Richards recalls the early days of the Brown-Blair partnership inder both Neil Kinnock and John Smith when the Scotsman we now recall as ham-fisted and unable to use the modern media could dance around his TV interviews as Labour's young star and future leader. When Blair takes the leadership, Brown buries himself in working up policies for government - already waiting for his turn at the top.

And so we have the years of the Blair government with Brown looking for poverty reduction strategies that the Daily Mail will not notice and Blair becoming increasingly market-oriented and playing for good headlines. Always in the background is the festering sore of Brown waiting impatiently to be leader.

After broken promises and attempted coups, Brown comes to power with a divided party and a public hungry for change from the spinning of New Labour. He can shine through floods, terrorist attacks and foot and mouth and his popularity soars.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Revelation 3 Nov 2010
At last a book on New Labour that tells me what really happened and examines fairly the motives that drove Blair and Brown. I have read virtually every book on the New Labour era. This one is the best as it challenges so many current assumptions and orthodoxies. Perhaps it is a bit too long, but it is worth reading to the very end as each pages sheds new light on such recent history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating and revelatory 16 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
As a firm supporter of Gordon Brown I was hoping for a book that would go some way to explain his character without being a hatchet job like Rawnsley's.
This is a balanced but sympathetic description of a good man who achieved much. At the same time Steve Richards takes us through the Blair Brown years giving readers a potted history of the era. He reminds readers of how wary the Labour leadership were of alienating what they saw as an essentially right-wing electorate. In the narrative we get a year by year, sometimes hour by hour exposition of the political manoeuvring, plotting, attempted coups as Brown tried to get his way and get his policies through.
The most telling sentence in the book is Richards' observation that if power is concentrated in the hands of a few people at the top of a party and those few people act in an undisciplined way, that is just as harmful to the public perception of the party as an undisciplined party would be. Blair and Brown emasculated the Labour party to avoid unsightly rows and then provided us with a soap opera with a cast of two.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding 11 Dec 2010
As one of those sad cases who devours all of the new current affairs books as they are published I have to say that this book is far and away the best I have come across on Gordon Brown in particular but also Tony Blair and the New Labour project in general. Richards brings to the task a depth of analysis and overall thoughtfulness which is far in excess of that achieved by other authors, leavening quite brutal criticism of the behaviour of Brown and his acolytes and of the policy outcomes of a number of their initiatives with insightful descriptions of the social and economic objectives he was seeking to achieve, frequently beneath the radar because of New Labour's paranoia about the likely media and electoral consequences should they ever be admitted. While by no means over-sympathetic to him, in policy terms Brown is painted as a giant alongside the shallowness of Blair and the pygmies who made up the New Labour Cabinet, leading to the inevitability of Brown taking over as PM despite the very obvious personal shortcomings which could only ever lead to his failure in that role. And given Labour's current virtually leaderless leadership post-Brown, can anyone imagine any of the alternatives to Brown in 07 being any more successful?

Written in an entirely accessible style. Very highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Boring beyond belief
What a waste of money!
You need to be as desparate as I was to read about this guy but talk about a dry read. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bannon
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent discourse on the Brown/Blair years
Excellent discourse on the Brown/Blair years. I guess everyone knew about GB's all consuming ambition but Steve Richards give us a brilliant in depth analysis which covers far more... Read more
Published 9 months ago by D avid C
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Story of Gordon Brown
Very readable, with details and inside stories not previously published. Shows why this talented man racked under the pressure of premiership.
Published 19 months ago by Thabo
5.0 out of 5 stars The Real Story of Gordon Brown.................
I'm sure I have done this before. Excellent writing style, very pacey read and very thoroughly researched and I would say iif you enjoyed Andrew Rawnsley's book on the subject,... Read more
Published 19 months ago by Gillian Coleman
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Little Hitlers
Gorrdon Brown: you either love him or hate him. I hated him, until I read this book. Then I began to understand this him. Read more
Published on 10 July 2012 by Honrus Publicus
4.0 out of 5 stars Whatever it takes
a well researched history of the man, as you would expect,in a sober style which makes you realise that very few of these polititians have any real sense of the fact that they are... Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2011 by LUCKY
5.0 out of 5 stars Hell, tha's a Gordon fer me, whatever
There's one side of a coin, and there's the other.
Richards plumbs down into the depths of the tectonic plates movements circa 2010,
with an insight and subtlety of grasp... Read more
Published on 24 Dec 2010 by Ladybeth
4.0 out of 5 stars The Second Man of New Labour!
Gordon Brown is a man who divides opinion. This is an account of his passion and desire to reach the very top of British politics.
Published on 26 Nov 2010 by mfsx7mh3
4.0 out of 5 stars Knowledge of Scottish geography needed-or more accurate research.
I mostly enjoyed this book- which made me feel rather more sympathetic to Gordon Brown than I had before. Read more
Published on 19 Nov 2010 by Dalgety
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling reading -- revelatory
I came to this book with the usual preconceptions about Brown and his entourage -- but I was gripped by a narrative which comes across as completely evenhanded and yes, revelatory. Read more
Published on 17 Nov 2010 by RebeccaM
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