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Whatever it Takes: The Real Story of Gordon Brown and New Labour Paperback – 16 Sep 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (16 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007320329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007320325
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.1 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 345,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

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.
DAVID AARONOVITCH

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.
JOHN KAMPFNER

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By ziggy_fan TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Politicsfiend on 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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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ms JC Davis on 3 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Scarlett M on 13 Nov. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 11 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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