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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
The trials and tribulations of being an MP are well explained. The tyranny of the Whips Office, the power of the Executive, and the whole Messianic delusion, and economy with truth, that took the country to War three times under Blair, are recounted. The repercussion of restriction on civil liberty, and the struggle of MPs to oppose the draconian legislation intended to safeguard us against ill defined enemies makes the book well worth reading. Bob Marshall-Andrews witty style made reading the book a pleasure.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 27 June 2011
I was at first suspicious of T Blair, but that turned very quickly to a hatred. There were so many pointers, that I despaired that the rest of the electorate refused to see, that he was elected a second time filled me with despair, The third time, was beyond belief, and I seriously considered emigration. So hearing of Bob's book, I was drawn immediately to reading it.

To have what in effect were strong suspicions confirmed by an insider, reinforced my faith in my own sanity, and has made me ponder further the nature of the electorate [but that's another issue].

The book is both light and easy to read, yet probing, in a way that most [ex]politicians only attempt in order to advance their own reputations. A tragic indictment of our political system, but very particularly of the Blair years.

A must read for anyone who like me was suspicious of that administration. But an essential read for those who supported it!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 December 2011
As an adult barely three years younger than BMA, with a decent education, a career encompassing City and the arts and brought up in a committed Socialist family I thought I understood a bit about politics and the ruling classes. This book opened my eyes. Despite an innate cynicism brought about in part by having met quite a few politicians, and a vague suspicion that Tony Blair was changing things in a serious and none-too-positive way, I had little idea about what actually goes on in that coterie of MPs, Peers, Civil Servants, the Press. A fascinating read, simultaneously depressing and reassuring. I hope that there still are some good guys out there, now that one of their ringleaders has left!
His first novel, A Palace of Wisdom was pretty damn good so I've just ordered his second one, A Man Without Guilt. Write some more, Bob!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2011
This book called to mind some of the best after-dinner speeches and sermons I have heard: humorous, ever ready with a telling quip, but ultimately serious and thoughtful. As the book goes on, the author becomes more passionate about his beliefs, and especially the belief that Tony Blair was a man of no repute. There are a few rather over-extended anecdotes, but generally this is a memoir that 'tells it like it was' for a professional dissident in the Parliaments of 1997, 2001 and 2005. I found it a riveting read, not least because it is short enough to have a real impact (unlike the memoirs of Lord Mandelson, a person for whom this author has a very particular dislike).

Unfortunately the author has not been well served by his publisher. The copy-editing is very unreliable. To quote just one example, there is reference to somebody called 'Faulkner'. This turns out to be Blair's well-known crony Charlie, Lord Falconer, the name used when he reappears later. There are unnecessary repetitions and grammatical solecisms. A pity, because anyone who can refer to 'New Labour's high moral tone and total lack of principle' is clearly someone who can write.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2011
Bob Marshall-Andrews moved from advocacy in court as a barrister, a QC, to being a member of the `awkward squad' in Parliament. He had a long association with the Labour Party prior to becoming an MP and felt he was moving from the sharp end of coping with the effects of legislation to be able to shape it in future to better effect. It is difficult to ascertain from this book whether, when he finally left Parliament, whether his successes in that area were more or as much as he'd hoped for.

As an MP swept into the Commons on the wave of populist Blair's New Labour he rapidly found himself questioning not only the policies of New Labour but the integrity of their leading proponents. It's salutary to learn the bemusement of millions of the public unable to elicit facts as to why this country was being embroiled in war after war was shared by B. M-A and his colleagues in a place, and of the governing party, where one would expect such information to be on tap. Oddly enough, Labour MP's took longer than the public to suspect the veracity of the messianic calls to arms emanating from Downing Street. Reading how events developed in the Commons it is clear sceptical Labour MP's found it difficult to set aside incredulity their leader was an opportunistic carpetbagger with a God complex. The general public was far more cynical and had fewer illusions.

Bob Marshall-Andrews writes with great style making for an eminently readable page turner, something unusual in political memoirs. However, despite the amusing anecdotes and forensic examination of the matters the author was involved in by page 120 anyone who thought Parliament should be a bastion of justice, honesty and integrity will have felt their heart break.

At this stage it is already a trenchant indictment of the 'Mother of Parliaments'. The pettiness, the trade offs between placemen; the deliberate sleight of hand to obtain a result not entirely honourable and certainly not in the best interests of the public and with New Labour pulling the strings, the deliberate erosion of liberty in favour of control.

It is regarding the latter Bob Marshall-Andrews chose his battlegrounds and from his account was mostly successful; certainly the identity card debacle hit the barricades due to his and his friends interventions. How this was achieved is a microcosm of the time absorbing plotting necessary to subvert this encroachment on freedom in the UK. This book makes it very apparent Westminster and the then Downing Street breathed the same air as Machiavelli described almost five hundred years ago. What price progress!

For anyone interested in the politics and personality cults of the Blair and Brown era this is required reading. The flair and humour with which it has been written makes the effort, if often not the content, painless.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2011
An interesting book, but Marshall-Andrews comes across as somewhat smug and insufferably pleased with himself. He quotes himself on numerous occasions and I couldnt help but think of the fictional Alan Patridge book of anecdotes where Alan always ends each story be saying that he came off best.

He is very perceptive of Blair's messianic tendency but at the same time seems somewhat blind to Brown's many faults, and too much time is spent congratulating himself on many convivial lunches and fine wine consumption sessions with his friends in London's media and legal glitterati.

Still a modern political autobiography that doesnt overstay its welcome is rare and the chapters are generally short and to the point - the ones on the threat to trial by jury being the best.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 December 2011
It is easy to weigh the good or ill done by governments, the fun lies in reviewing what they might have done. It's plain from Off Message that the Blair/Brown governments wanted to do so much more in relation to civil liberties, sadly not for the benefit of suspected persons. That the government was halted, if for no better reason than that it was all too much trouble, reflects well on those that held the executive to account and occasionally held them up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 October 2011
As one would expect from an experienced member of the Bar this is an extremely well-written, logically argued and lucid account of the Blair/ Brown years. It is briliantly iconoclastic and at the same time wittily entertaining. But the whole thing is underpinned by a serious message about the extent to which our civil liberties have been undermined in the last 15 years.
Essential reading for all who care about these matters!
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on 18 September 2012
I am interested in politics but am somewhat to the right of Mr Marshall-Andrews and thought I might find myself disagreeing with him on most topics. Wrong! He was one of the 1997 New Labour Parliamentary intake but he soon found himself out of step with the whips and, increasingly, the party itself. As an eminent lawyer at the Criminal Bar, Mr M-A knows more than most that our freedoms were hard fought and need to be vigorously defended but he did not expect that the people he would be fighting against in defending our rights would be his own party. This book serves as a useful reminder that the Labour Government from 1997-2010 was one of the most repressive in history and it was only because of the vigilance and high principles of people like Bob Marshall Andrews that we still have some of the freedoms given to us by Magna Carta. Good for you, Bob.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 19 July 2011
This is a great read; very amusing, well written and shockingly insightful! At last, some honesty on what went on in the corridors of power under New Labour! Highly recommended!
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