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Another excellent romp around Westminster from Michael Dobbs
on 30 September 2015
Tom Goodfellowe emerges throughout this novel as that rare thing in the public perception, an MP who is driven by his conscience.
We first meet him cycling to The House where he has been summoned on a three line whip to support the Government in a series of parliamentary votes. The majority is slim, and members have been either cajoled or threatened to ensure they turn out. Goodfellowe is now a backbencher but not long before he had been a Minister, and had been tipped for a golden future. Following a combination of personal tragedy and crass misjudgement he had lost his way, his ministerial post and his driving licence.
For various reasons Goodfellowe finds himself missing several of the votes that evening, being summoned on a mission of mercy to help a young Chinese woman, one of his neighbours, who has been arrested as a consequence of a rather farcical series of events. The events following on from Goodfellowe's intervention will prove to be cataclysmic, and Goodfellowe will find his path crossing that of Frederick Corsa, press magnate and would-be power broker.
Dobbs knows his parliamentary turf very well, having been an adviser to both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, and he portrays the Machiavellian dealings of party whips with the same verve that he brought to his famous 'House of Cards' novels. Although this both was written almost twenty years ago, it has a searing topicality, dealing with issues of press intrusion in private life, MPs' expenses and outside interests and over-zealous lobbying.