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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how it would be
This is a fantastic DVD . Magnificently acted ( A fitting tribute to Ray McAnally ) As someone who was involved in the political scene of that time I found the characters frighteningly real. A great political thriller and superb read. The political analysis is spot on. Would give it six stars if I could
Published on 14 Dec. 2010 by the drumer

versus
48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be Warned
This is not a follow up to Chris Mullin's book 'A Very British Coup' - this IS Chris Mullin's book 'A Very British Coup' under a new title because of a TV tie-in. A new version of the TV series is being shown under a new title and so the book is retitled too. Amazon do not make this clear (I wonder if they even realise it) but if, like me, you have the original DO NOT...
Published on 6 Nov. 2012 by Paulinderwick


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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars how it would be, 14 Dec. 2010
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This is a fantastic DVD . Magnificently acted ( A fitting tribute to Ray McAnally ) As someone who was involved in the political scene of that time I found the characters frighteningly real. A great political thriller and superb read. The political analysis is spot on. Would give it six stars if I could
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Exciting after 20 years, 10 Mar. 2009
By 
I. Young "youngian" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Expecting this to be an interesting historical piece (even in the 80s a lot of the source material was based on the experience of leftist governments in the 70s) there was so much to enjoy that is as relevant as ever. The reference early on to jailing city bankers who had messed up the economy raised a smile. The compliant pro-American free market Labour politicians, who plotted against Perkins we know only too well. Harry Perkins is still the British left's Jed Bartlett, the best fictional leader we never had
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More prophesy than entertainment?, 2 April 2005
By 
Andy V (Essex, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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A Very British Coup is one of the landmark political dramas. Gripping from the outset. The election of a truly left-wing government and Prime Minister, who are intent on driving through their left-wing (and popular) agenda, scares the establishment into increasingly desperate machinations to discredit the elected representatives and regain control. What makes this drama so compulsive is the plausibility. I have an uneasy feeling that the situation this film portrays is more prophesy than entertainment.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Radical New Labour, 18 Oct. 2001
By 
Mr. P. N. Jelley (London) - See all my reviews
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Based on a 1970s novel this TV movie shows the son of a steelwoker Harry Perkins as Britain's first Radical, Pro-Communist, Labour Prime Minister. He has to deal with party factions, difficult unions and media moghals as well as a conspiracy of government officals and secret agents who seek his downfall. A very British coup, no blood, no revolution, just constant pressure and obstruction to force his resignation. Slickly made with excellent acting from Ray McAnally as the blunt spoken Perkins who is more devious than he seems. I remember this well from Thatcherite '88 when a socialist goverment was truly in the realms of fiction.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Who really choses our Government?, 14 Nov. 2004
By 
Francisco (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
From what I gather from the interview on the DVD, the book was written at a time when politics was polarised and the different parties had very little in the way of common ground. Like "Yes, Minister" it takes the idea that the Civil Service has its own policies and agenda and runs with it.
The story is that a Socialist Labour Party is elected. That automatically puts the party on the wrong side of the press (especially a barely-disguised Murdoch like figure), the "Establishment" and, with their nuclear disarmament policy, the US.
As other reviewers have commented, the plot is that the above 3 disaffected parties launch their own, clandestine, campaign to unseat the current Prime Minister.
The film asks whether the electorate chooses the Goverment or the Establisment chooses the electorate. The film is plausible and is, consequently, scary.
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48 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Be Warned, 6 Nov. 2012
This review is from: Secret State (Paperback)
This is not a follow up to Chris Mullin's book 'A Very British Coup' - this IS Chris Mullin's book 'A Very British Coup' under a new title because of a TV tie-in. A new version of the TV series is being shown under a new title and so the book is retitled too. Amazon do not make this clear (I wonder if they even realise it) but if, like me, you have the original DO NOT buy this book. If you do NOT have the original and you remember the 70's and the dark rumours concerning Harold Wilson and the secret service of the day then you will enjoy this I am sure.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Political Thriller Still Relevant Today, 3 Sept. 2010
By 
Mr. C. Hallam (Exeter, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Very British Coup (Paperback)
"Although published in 1982 at a time when Labour were still struggling to combat the fledgling SDP let alone defeat Margaret Thatcher's Tory Party, A Very British Coup remains one of the classic British political thrillers of the late 20th Century. One does not have to share Mullin's leftist political perspective to agree with the central tenet of his argument that it is fundamentally undemocratic for a government to be thrown off course by oppositionist forces in society, be they in the media, secret services or military. The novel visualises the aftermath of a surprise Labour election landslide - a remote prospect in 1982 - led by socialist former Sheffield steelworker Harry Perkins (not Harry Mullins as the Amazon synopsis bizarrely states at the moment). Slowly but surely the reader is able to observe the government's ultimately fatal undermining by malevolent reactionary forces beyond its control. 'A Very British Coup' indeed. Mullin - now better known as the Labour MP who helped lead the campaign to free the Birmingham Six - seems to be implying at times that this story has already happened - that working class hero Perkins is in fact Harold Wilson who gave way unexpectedly to a more conservative successor (Jim Callaghan) in 1976. Although never as left wing as Perkins is (Perkins' Government favours withdrawing from NATO and full nuclear disarmament), Wilson was, of course, harassed by elements in MI5 during his time of office and the two even have similar names. Even ignoring this, the book is still a powerful warning against complacency on the Left and is at times surprisingly prescient: Perkins' party defeats a coalition government ran by the Tories and SDP, for example, a set up not a million miles away from the situation in 2010. Political junkies should relish this regardless of their own ideologies once they have adapted themselves to the novel's pre-Falklands War perspective."
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A frightening glimpse of how the Establishment retains its power, 31 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: Secret State (Kindle Edition)
I found this a very enjoyable and engaging novel. I was also intrigued to see how prophetic it was in many ways. It was written in 1982, some three years into Mrs Thatcher's first term in office, and is set in the year or so following a general election in 1989 at which the Labour party secured an unexpected landslide victory.
As the novel opens we are given the reactions of various Establishment stalwarts, including press barons, bankers, industrialists and several Civil Service mandarins, all of whom are appalled at the prospect of a genuinely socialist government assuming power. While they seethe with rage and fear we learn something of Perkins's background.
As a young man Harry Perkins had followed his father into employment in a Sheffield steel mill. Once there he became involved in the trade union movement and quickly rose through the local ranks. Spotted as a potential high flier he was awarded a union scholarship to Ruskin College in Oxford, and continued his rapid progress through the part machinery until he was selected as an MP for his home town. Following a spell as an energetic and diligent back bencher he enters what is clearly the Wilson/Callaghan Government of 1974 to 1979 (though neither of those two leaders is specifically named), eventually rising to Cabinet level with responsibility for maintaining the national grid. In this capacity, despite obstructions posed by officials in his own department, he awards a contract for a nuclear power station to British Industrial Fuels, and they duly build an installation by.
When the Conservatives return to power under Mrs Thatcher following ntheir own landslide victory in 1979 Perkins surprises everyone (perhaps including himself) by eventually becoming leader of the Labour Party. An election is called in 1989
Perkins certainly has a radical suite of policies and is eager to commence the withdrawal of the UK from NATO and the dismantling of the nuclear arsenal. He also threatens to dissolve the prevailing newspaper monopolies. As we have already read, the Establishment is appalled, and starts to fight back using its own range of weapons. Sir George Fison owns many of the most popular press titles and uses his papers to mount a concerted effort to undermine the new administration. Meanwhile the military Chiefs of Staff mobilise their own machinery, undertaking almost treasonous activities with Western Allies to circumvent the Government's planned reductions. The various Whitehall Permanent Secretaries work together to confound the administrative process wherever possible. These mandarins are steely, ruthless characters - very far from the popular perception of Sir Humphrey, but with all of his determination to have their own way.
The author, Chris Mullin, would subsequently become a Labour MP and would even serve in Government himself, though at the time that he wrote this novel he was an investigative journalist fighting high profile alleged miscarriages of justice. However, his understanding of the Whitehall machinery is very clear, and he paints a very plausible picture of the relationship between Ministers and senior officials. The novel is always entirely credible, and often very humorous.
The novel is also rather alarming as it displays the relative ease with which the combined forces of the banks, the press and senior officialdom can confound the aims of government, regardless of the size of the electoral mandate. One thinks of the persistent rumours, fuelled by memoirs from the likes of Peter Wright, of concerted campaigns by the intelligence community to undermine the Wilson government in the 1970s.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Crafted, 27 Nov. 2011
By 
Mr W. Griffiths (Swansea, Wales, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Very British Coup [DVD] (DVD)
A Very British Coup [DVD]This is a wonderful film, well acted, with a few delightful twists and turns. The music of Mozart, and particularly that of his Great Mass in C, is superbly atmospheric. Ray McAnally play the sort of Prime Minister that many dream of - his honesty and integrity make him a most unlikely politician as he goes into battle against the public school establishment. To anyone left of centre in their politics this is great entertainment, and a nightmare to those on the right. To those on both sides I would say -'come on guys, it's only a TV drama!'
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fun "What If" Read., 13 Nov. 2010
This review is from: A Very British Coup (Paperback)
Back in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s there was more genuine difference between the political parties. Labour had a sizeable "hard left" membership that, while never gaining control of the party, could help shape policy. Even those from the left that took leadership roles in the party (Harold Wilson for example) seem to take a couple of step to the right once they had the position.

I suspect that part of the reason that in real life the left was broken was because of the press. Comments (in the popular media) that suggested that anyone with half a brain would emigrate if the Labour Party won didn't help.

This book imagines what might happen if a populist left wing MP (Harry Perkins) had become leader of the party, and then leader of the country. It also dreams that he doesn't make a "Wilsonian charge to the centre ground of British politics" after his election.

In response to his election as Prime Minister (the book starts as Perkins makes his way to London after the election), the Secret Service, the Press and the moderate elements of his own party (all of whom are accustomed to watching the left fizzle about like loons for a while, but never getting elected), decide to see if they can bring him down.

Some people have called this a fictional imagining of what might have happened to Labour politicians of yore. Others seem to see parallels to today's Labour Party. Maybe it has, maybe it hasn't got those parallels. I just call it a fun read. It rattles along quickly, is easy to get into, and is generally a fun read. Don't expect anything too deep and meaningful. If you go along for the ride, you'll enjoy it.
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A Very British Coup
A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin (Paperback - 14 Jan. 2010)
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