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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great political insider account which raises serious questions about the state of journalism
Many British journalists are so keen to have a good story to run, they are easily bought off and distracted by government spin doctors who can get them to ditch an unwanted story as long as the spin doctor has a better story to offer up as journalistic payment. That is the basic story of Damian McBride's book.

Even allowing for the usual pattern of people...
Published 3 months ago by Mark Pack

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brutally honest - but also hopelessly blind
Very little background to his childhood, parents and so forth. Which is just as well, as no one really cares about that. McBride launches straight into his Westminster story from the first page. Well written, pacey, it bounds along. I'd like to say that I was shocked by the duplicity, the mind-numbing venality and the literally months spent back biting each other that...
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brutally honest - but also hopelessly blind, 28 Dec 2013
By 
Amazon Customer (Watford, England) - See all my reviews
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Very little background to his childhood, parents and so forth. Which is just as well, as no one really cares about that. McBride launches straight into his Westminster story from the first page. Well written, pacey, it bounds along. I'd like to say that I was shocked by the duplicity, the mind-numbing venality and the literally months spent back biting each other that seemed de rigueur for New Labour (if not all politics and politicians). Sadly the book just confirms your worst suspicions and has few jaw dropping moments.

To his immense credit McBride is corruscantingly honest about his darker side and his decline into the mire, although he is perhaps a bit too keen to blame this on prolonged time spent in Westminster, rather than just a lack of a moral compass.

He is also totally blind to the darker side of Gordon Brown, well documented elsewhere. Whether or not one feels Gordon Brown had any competencies at all, it surely beggars belief that McBride cannot see that this "great man" was surely a penny short of a pound if he let himself be guided by the likes of McBride. This begs the question the author singularly fails to ask, namely "What kind of man would knowingly employ someone like me?"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars war, 9 Jan 2014
A damascus conversion.The prose is descriptive and matter of fact.But no matter how descriptive,the words cannot deliver the awful reality of abusing people in the name of a favourable headline.Not in anything like the same league, but you get some insight of why some people will commit war crimes because they either did as they were told or were committed to a cause.Mcbride assassinated other people's reputations with the same unforgiving mindset but in the knockabout world of politics which did no physical damage but were often vicious and laid waste other's reputations.He lost touch with his moral compass....but then there were others too who did the same thing and a voracious press intent on selling newspapers, lapping up stories and exploiting people and not caring much about the result. But caring only to please their editors and doing down competitors.Politicians;dont you love em!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The cynical amoral world of modern politics laid bare, 6 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin (Kindle Edition)
This deeply depressing book confirms worst fears about modern British politics and its supporting caste in the civil service, public institutions and the parliamentary lobby. None of them, including the author, has done a proper job or lived a life comparable to that of ordinary voters. The book shows what a cynical, duplicitous, amoral, self-serving lot they are. RIP kindness, humanity, courage and conviction. Three stars because the book is reasonably well written and brutally frank.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great political insider account which raises serious questions about the state of journalism, 23 Dec 2013
By 
Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Many British journalists are so keen to have a good story to run, they are easily bought off and distracted by government spin doctors who can get them to ditch an unwanted story as long as the spin doctor has a better story to offer up as journalistic payment. That is the basic story of Damian McBride's book.

Even allowing for the usual pattern of people talking up their own achievements in their memoirs, and even allowing for the fact that people on all sides - in Labour and out of Labour, in the press and in parties, have labelled him as a one-off talent (frequently with accompanying derogatory adjective) - it is still a far less flattering portrait of the state of British journalism than you would guess from the reviews of his book written by political journalists. Those reviews neither attack the book for unfairly smearing their profession nor admit embarrassment at the state of their profession, but rather have pretty much all just ignored what he has to say about them.

Whether or not you find the critical picture painted in McBride's book an accurate account of the state of British political journalism, the fact that the profession has reacted with a collective 'meh, nothing to see here', suggests he does raise issues that some would rather not face up to.

In amongst his frequent accounts of how he saved the day for Labour politicians, McBride ironically offers up a defence of those journalists he has just told us he so frequently manipulated. They were all under great pressure to run stories, so if he had a ready supply of good stories for them, is it any wonder they were often willing to go along with his suggestions about what stories to ditch in order to get a good story handed out by him all neatly packaged and in good time for their deadlines?

Some of the culture he describes is distinctly unflattering, especially the heavy drinking both on his side of the fence: "I was practically encouraged to take thirsty journos for the boozy lunches, long afternoons in the pub and late-night karaoke sessions that led to strong relationships and the open sharing of intelligence ... The occasions when I couldn't remember the previous night's events became more frequent and more worrying ... Even when - as a special adviser - I had a one-sided physical altercation with a civil servant ... and Gordon [Brown] was told to speak to me about it, he addressed it bashfully in terms of me having a bad temper, not being a bad drunk".

If you think that someone shouldn't regularly be drunk on the job, then Ed Balls comes out of the book very poorly for frequently knowing that McBride was heavily inebriated during working hours but seemingly never doing anything about it other than at times finding it amusing. McBride does not criticise Balls on this score, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that a better colleague and a better advisor to his boss would have taken McBride's drinking rather more seriously.

There are legitimate grounds for sympathy with the difficulties of working culture in which McBride found himself. Not just the normality of heavy drinking but also the always-on intensive pressure which meant even heading to a funeral did not stop the phone calls. (The personal pressures involved reminded me of similar accounts in former Labour general secretary Peter Watt's memoirs, Inside Out: My story of betrayal and cowardice at the heart of New Labour, with him taking phone calls on his wedding day.)

The book pulls its punches in a few places. Essentially if a journalist is praised, they get named, but where they might come out poorly from an account (such as an undue willingness to take the McBride spin on a story), they do not get named. As a result, even within the same paragraph, Damian McBride switches from naming to not naming the people he is talking about. Yet even a pulled punch from McBride leaves an awful lot in the account, making it one of those few books which really does deserve the label of being an essential account of what goes on inside politics.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected!, 17 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin (Kindle Edition)
This is a very readable jog through the life of one of the central figures in the construction of a Labour Party and Government which was obsessed with how every part of its activity could be "presented" and with every reference to it in every publication.

McBride makes no secret of his steady decline from being misleading, to dealing with publicity in a "dodgy" way, to "dirty tricks". In the book he stands back and observes that progression without apology or excuse. He simply accepts that he did it.

Early on, he describes how eh avoided disciplinary action at university by "lying without lying". That used to be known as "being economical with the truth" following the evidence at the Spycatcher trial. However you want to describe it, I think that particular story appears where it does as a warning to the reader that this habit of a lifetime has not been abandoned. You have to assume that a degree of dissembling, diversion and distraction affects every page.

Taking that on board, I think it is an "honest" book. I genuine retrospective assessment of his won character and the world in which he found himself.

Beyond that, it is simply a great read. McBride ahs a superb turn of phrase and an acerbic wit which he generally applies only to those who clearly deserve it and himself.

The book gives you a different view of the politics of the relevant period, and a little insight into the author. I do not think it will ever become part of the acknowledged lexicon of authoritative works on British politics but it is a very entertaining, informative and well written read.

Even if you only have a passing interest or vague recollection of the period he describes, I recommend the book as an entertaining read. And, perhaps, a short tutorial on how to spot planted news stories which leave you wondering what the planter is hiding!
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and engaging. Best political insider story for years., 25 Sep 2013
By 
Bookie (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin (Kindle Edition)
When I heard that Damian McBride was going to write about his time behind the scenes as an adviser and spin doctor to the Brown regime, I was intrigued. Would this be divine retribution from a disaffected former civil servant, unceremoniously dumped from his post following publication of some duplicitous emails? Or would it be an honest and open account of politics, power and personality?
The pre publication posturing, positing and distancing by some has been absolutely fascinating. Political maneuvering and machination at its finest!

What a totally absorbing and remarkable read. Mr McBride is a consummate storyteller and he has a tale to tell. It's gripping stuff. Carnage in the corridors of power and it gets worse with every passing month! It's pure pantomime politics. An easy narrative style laced with expletives makes this a tour de force. From the first page, he presents as a bit of an outsider. Not, at first glance, one likely to walk the corridors of Whitehall, privy to the innermost thoughts and actions of the most powerful individuals in the country. Damian's one of the lads. He likes a pint, a bit of a ruck and as a Cambridge graduate, was perhaps destined for something very different as a career. But he got the Civil Service calling card. In a self effacing narrative, he explains how he fell into a Fast Stream post. One of the great and glorious, in Civil Service terms, but he rightly explains his reservations about the selection system and how it could be improved.

Damian has an immediate grasp of the ways of the Whitehall world. As a junior civil servant, he quickly makes his mark. I found his honesty disarming. He understood how to oil wheels. More importantly, whose wheels to oil to ensure his own advancement. His rapid promotion and success early in his career was down to his ability, intellect and a dash of opportunism.

He became an integral part of the government machinery. He was entrusted and relied upon by those with their own political and personal agenda. He was running with the wolves. There was a sense that at some point his downfall was inevitable and a couple of times I wanted to shout, 'They're behind you!' One day, the mark was overstepped a disingenuous email too far and he became the sacrificial lamb, dropped like the proverbial hot potato.

Over the years, I've read books by former PM's, Ministers, 'spin doctors' and others. This feels like a very honest account. The frenzy of briefings and point scoring is captured to a T. The in fighting and machinations are captured along with moments of elation and bitter acceptance when the show was over. I have a better understanding of some of the individuals involved. Gordon Brown's warmth was unexpected. The extent to which some have sought to distance themselves or criticise the revelations speaks more of their failings and certainly influences my view of them. It seems those with most to fear are shouting the loudest.

This is a warts and all story. At times, Damian comes across as quite self satisfied and totally manipulative. His drinking must have salved his conscience on occasion. But it's also a remarkable account of how British politics really works. How policy translates into legislation and who pulls the strings and who. Read it at your peril; some of the exchanges and shenanigans are almost beyond belief. These are Britain's so called finest...

In summary, it's a well written, readable, rollicking and honest account, full of insight both personally and politically. I really enjoyed it. Call me stupid, but I believe most of it came from the heart. No duplicity or double dealing and I'll be happily recommending it. If you want to know how power works in practice, read this and understand how we're all manipulated. It's an endearing indictment of the maxim that power corrupts and absolute power... Thanks and good luck Mr McBride. A rewarding and entertaining read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Of the moment., 4 April 2014
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Politics moves so quickly this excellent insider book must be read before the world moves on. Excellent read whatever your political lean, whether or not you like what Damian McBride did or stood for.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire (With apologies to William Blake), 15 Mar 2014
By 
Neutral "Phil" (UK) - See all my reviews
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Reading Damien McBride's 'Power Trip' reminds me of the Alan Jay Lerner song, '"How Could You Believe Me When I Said I Love You When You Know I've Been a Liar All My Life?". The content and tone of McBride's book is one of selective memory and self-serving apologies which smack of insincerity and hypocrisy. For him, Gordon Brown, a son of the manse with a foul mouth, though not as foul as McBride himself, was a hero let down by inadequate colleagues. That Brown had no fundamental grasp of the economic reality which led to the crisis of 2008 appears to escape his myopic view of a failed Chancellor who became a failed Prime Minister. He blames others, Alistair Darling, for example, for the failure of Brown to save the world. Ed Balls, joint architect of the deficit disaster, comes up smelling of roses although this is only as a result of the manure spread by McBride's poisonous pen.

McBride was the epitome of the corruption at the heart of the British political system, corruption which expanded under Alistair Campbell and McBride. It's ironic that the latter, even when admitting some errors, shifts responsibility by saying others were worse. Yet McBride does not appreciate that providing special briefings for the political editor of GMTV, who later became a Labour MP, was a form of political corruption in an open society. So too was his strategy of lying-without-lying and while he claims Brown did not know what he was up to it's obvious from his reference to the 'unspoken word' between them that Brown closed his eyes to the obvious. Brown was a weak leader and employing McBride was a sign of his weakness, the more so since there were several opportunities to sack him which Brown botched. McBride was not a journalist, his genuine communication skills were poor and his appointment political. He was unable to devise a clear media strategy for Brown. McBride was Brown's servant, no-one else mattered to him. When the servant erred he was sacked but not before contributing to the rise of political cynicism amongst the public..

Although McBride claims in retrospect to have been appalled by his behaviour he blames 'the corrosive nature of our political system, which - over thirteen years - slowly ate away my principles, scruples and judgement...'. One is obliged to ask 'What principles, what scruples and what judgement?' all of which appear to have been lacking from the outset. Hugh Dalton resigned when he inadvertently leaked a budget story whereas McBride wallowed in his party political actions. Even when he made a mess of the leaking, was found out and MPs demanded an explanation, he boasts, 'They didn't get one'. Deception was an integral part of McBride's method of working. What is apparent from the book is that the Brownites spent more time fighting the Blairites than governing the country. We know from other sources that Brown coveted Blair's job and Blair despised Brown. 'Tony's mob' claimed Brown would destroy Blair's heritage whereas McBride was claiming Blair was hanging on to the trappings of power but was a lame duck leader who had lost the public's trust. Both men put their own personal ambitions ahead of the country's interest with Blair joining the illegal war in Iraq and Brown's failing to stop it by denying the necessary finance. Clinging to office was more important for Brown and disastrous for the country.

In McBride's skewed view the Blair-Brown wars were good for the country because it knocked all other political stories off the front page. Once Blair had gone and Brown fluffed an opportunity to go to the country in 2007, the story became the hapless Brown and his poisonous spin doctor McBride. In 2009 the latter came into his own in the 'smeargate' scandal in which McBride was caught out spreading false rumours about a number of Tory politicians including David Cameron, George Osborne and their wives and MP Nadine Dorries. McBride's claim is that many of his stories, although untrue, were from journalists who had sourced them from alleged friends of the people concerned but it simply doesn't wash. McBride was a liar who spread lies to damage people. His obnoxious actions were consistent with his philosophy which meant he had lost track 'of what the job or working for Gordon was all about'. He misses the point that it was the way in which he worked for Brown which was fundamentally flawed. CAFOD understood this when they refused to accept monies from the sale of the book.

Even after McBride had been identified as a liar amongst leading Labour figures no-one had the guts to demand his resignation, least of all Gordon Brown. For McBride it was never Gordon Brown's fault, only the fault of those around him, especially if they disagreed with McBride. McBride blames every Blairite for Brown's failures. His attack on Ivan Lewis was spiteful and that on Harriet Harman poisonous. He admits smearing Major and Lamont over Black Wednesday even though he was a neutral civil servant at the time. The book is confirmation that the Labour Party was not fit to govern. The book lacks morality, replacing it with rationalisation and self-justification, notwithstanding his alleged 'repentance'. McBride confirms that government by spin doctor and special advisers has damaged representative government and should be ended. McBride is coy about his childhood and the absence of photographs of his time at the top is puzzling.

Why five stars? So people can be educated into the corrupt nature of British politics and come to informed decisions rather than relying on their gut instinct that all politicians are liars and in it for themselves. McBride, who excuses himself on the grounds that he was not as bad as some others, (Campbell springs to mind), lacked any moral compass and should be treated as a pariah in any civilised society. Borrow it from the library and return quickly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real insight into the workings of Labour, 22 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin (Kindle Edition)
McBride documents his rapid rise to the top of the civil service and how he kept Brown out of trouble for years!

The book portrays and more human side to Brown which I was not aware of.

Well worth the price to see how the media actually rules the UK.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Power Trip - Damien McBride, 9 Feb 2014
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An interesting , and illuminating ( albeit slightly depressing) account of the shenanigans of politicians and the media manipulators who govern our lives.
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