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Chris Page

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The Rise of New Labour (Pocket essentials: Politics)
The Rise of New Labour (Pocket essentials: Politics)
by Robin Ramsay
Edition: Paperback

4 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 10 Mar. 2003
This book offers a little insight into the rise of the New Labour movement, but far too often Ramsay seems to be ranting and he never seperates his own, very strong, political views from the story he's telling. The story sweeps along at break-neck pace, sometimes too quickly for you to realise that there is precious little evidence for some of his more outrageous claims.
John Smith, it seems, was an MI6 agent (and MI6 are a tool of capitalist interests), the creation of the SDP was a CIA plot designed to cost Labour the 1983 election (perhaps they were involved, but the SDP got almost as many votes as Labour did so there must have been something in it!) and, perhaps most bizarrely, the rise of Tony Blair is attributed to the Israeli government, who saw the opportunity of putting a pro-Israeli at the head of British government. Those are the ones that have stuck in my mind, but there are others.
Ramsay's discussion of economics is simplistic and misleading; where in reality there is debate he starts from the assumption that his own views (that manufacturing is vital and needs protection through control of the exchange rate) are self-evidently correct, and that the present view that government should seek to control exchange rates through interest rates is dangerously insane. I have my own views but I wouldn't criticise Ramsay for reaching different conclusions from me. The problem is that he never bothers to go through the arguments and reach the conclusions; he just rants, and we hear one side of every story.
Finally, the book is pervaded with anti-Americanism. Ramsay at several points launches into diatribes on the failings of American foreign and domestic policy. Many would agree, but it's rather weak to do this, draw as many links as possible between New Labour and the USA as possible and then sit back and let the reader conclude that we're being led into a ruinous mimicry of the USA. He never offers as examples any policies that Labour has 'borrowed' from the USA and which he can show are leading us the same way.
This could have been an interesting look at one of the most important changes in domestic politics in a generation; the fall of socialism and the rise of the centre-left. Instead we get a incredulous lecture from an unreformed socialist who can't believe we've all been so stupid, and instead of engaging in a debate snipes at New Labour and presents some fairly incredible conspiracy stories.
Dangerous nonsense.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 7, 2010 8:40 PM GMT

The Princess Bride
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Resetting the balance., 22 July 2001
This review is from: The Princess Bride (Paperback)
I hate to dissent from all the enthusiastic reviews as The Princess Bride is a highly enjoyable book and an excellent film, but I disagree with claims that the book is superior (blasphemy, I know...). I saw the film first, and when I read the book I was hoping for that and more. I was a little dissapointed: to my mind the film took the best parts of the book and what it cut out was less funny and well judged. Also, while the literary device of Goldman-as-editor is interesting - and I admit it took me a while to work out it was only a literary device - I came to find it a bit tedious (largely it amounts to a running commentary) and even a little smug. The introductory chapter about his family, though, was very well done.
Don't go away thinking this is a bad book - the only reason I'm being critical is because so many others have so throughly expounded the book and film's many merits. I definitely recommend you try one - and once you do, you're bound to try the other...

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