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101 Reviews
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sit down you're rockin' the boat
Damien McBride writes well. In places very well. And therein lies the nub of the problem.

At face value, this is a confessional work by a repentant man who regrets the many sins he committed while close to the centre of power. McBride appears to be candid about his problems with alcohol, his failed relationships, his manipulation of national news, his use of...
Published 3 months ago by angus young

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Boring!
This is the worst memoir written by anyone involved in politics that I have ever read. The man is totally thick, and loves himself.
McBride doesn't have the ability or mental capacity to go into any detail, so all the stories are boring and childish. I cannot see many adults enjoying this crap.
Published 3 months ago by Anthony


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sit down you're rockin' the boat, 8 Sep 2014
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This review is from: Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin (Kindle Edition)
Damien McBride writes well. In places very well. And therein lies the nub of the problem.

At face value, this is a confessional work by a repentant man who regrets the many sins he committed while close to the centre of power. McBride appears to be candid about his problems with alcohol, his failed relationships, his manipulation of national news, his use of half-truths and occasional inventions, his irresponsibility and lack of care for the individuals on the receiving end of his schemes, his flirtations with illegality, and yet...

...and yet I couldn't help thinking of that scene in the musical Guys and Dolls, when the gangsters are called to testify at the Salvation Army, feigning sincere contrition for the benefit of their leader, Sky Masterson, who won them in a dice game.

McBride would make an excellent Nicely Nicely Johnson. Whether he really has had a sobering revelation and has chosen to confess faithfully, or whether this is simply a Mea Culpa designed to exculpate other senior figures in the then Labour government for their parts in the dishonesty he describes, is left for the reader to decide.

It's a good book, but I've no idea how honest it really is.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Damien is a good writer and knows exactly what his audience wants, 13 Oct 2014
Very enjoyable read, I found myself glued to this book which I found rare for a sort of political biography. Damien is a good writer and knows exactly what his audience wants, so no account of his formative years its straight from Uni where the excesses of his personality started to show to the Civil Service exams and the start of his career in Government. This leads us fairly quickly into the Treasury and the world of Brown and the two Ed's and his Press role where the dark arts are displayed in lots of detail and with apology. Damien unravels as he is moved into No.10 leading into his role and the fall out from the Red Rag affair.

Damien obviously feels very sorry for himself but large parts of this book read like a resume an almost pleading to the Party on how clever and essential he was, he apologies repeatedly for his behavior but also takes delight and pride in detailing his arts and how successful he was in practicing them.

I found it troubling that someone with such an obvious drink problem was allowed to move so close to power for so long but thoroughly enjoyed the structure, gusto and style of his book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than I imagined, 20 Oct 2014
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McBride gets his mea culpas in regularly and it shouldn't be forgotten that this is a spin doctor at work. Having said that this account of his times as a Civil Servant and political aide is well written, comical at times, and informative. Like many others, it was mostly the dirty tricks and feuds that I wanted to read about. Surprisingly to me, his account of policy formation and process is probably the more enjoyable. He's got the not insignificant ability to make the more esoteric parts of VAT policy not only interesting but understandable. Power Trip is as good a political memoir as I've read in years, well worth reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A surprising candid account, 23 Nov 2014
This review is from: Power Trip: A Decade of Policy, Plots and Spin (Kindle Edition)
Damian McBride spent a decade at the heart of Gordon Brown's caucus, during the latter years of his time as Chancellor and then through most of his tenure as Prime Minister. The prevailing public image is of someone who was Machiavellian, brutal, thuggish at times and, above all, someone whom it was best not to cross. This memoir does nothing to dispel that perception, and he puts his hand up to be guilty as charged for many of those accusations.

The book gives a fascinating insight into how 'Team Brown' operated, and the close relationship between Gordon Brown and 'the two Eds' (Balls and Miliband). Brown towers over every aspect of the story, and while it is by no means a hagiography, McBride seems at far greater pains to protect Brown's image than his own. He is also remarkably sanguine about the dirty tricks email fiasco that led to his own disgrace and departure from the Brown caucus.

I was intrigued to read an insider's account of events that I had followed so closely at the time they unfolded, and was left feeling that Downing Street must be an awfully difficult place for all who operate there, senior politicians, civil servants and advisers alike.

I also enjoyed reading about McBride's relationship with Balshen Izzet, his girlfriend throughout much of the period covered in the book, as I had briefly encountered her in my own work at what was then the Department for Children Schools and Families. [Ed Balls, when Secretary of State at that Department, participated in an outdoors 'cook off' with TV chef Phil Vickery on an arctic day at Covent Garden in December 2009 to promote his cookery book aimed at primary school children, and Balshen and I were the departmental officials in attendance.] She would later act as 'getaway driver' helping McBride to escape the hordes of press representative gathered outside his flat when the story of his disgrace broke.

This book hasn't improved my opinion of McBride, but I was impressed by the honesty of his confessions, and gripped by the unfolding stories which read as well as a political thriller.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring, 2 Sep 2014
By 
Anthony "Doe." (london, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Boring!
This is the worst memoir written by anyone involved in politics that I have ever read. The man is totally thick, and loves himself.
McBride doesn't have the ability or mental capacity to go into any detail, so all the stories are boring and childish. I cannot see many adults enjoying this crap.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixture of Interesting and Depressing, 1 Jan 2014
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It is an interesting and honest book which gives a real insight into politics behind the scenes. To be honest, despite their abhorrence of the book, I thought that it made Miliband, Balls and Brown three dimensional and a bit more human than I had previously thought. But inevitably it shows the dark and dirty world of politics and it wasn't half depressing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Power Trip: A Decade of Policy,Plots and Spin, 1 Jan 2014
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I found this book to be a real page turner. It's such a shame that our political system needs people like Damian but it clearly did/does. I also found ,that despite Damians well documented exit from politics ,that he has nothing but praise and loyalty to his former employer it's very refreshing. sometimes the book is written in a whirlwind kind of way throwing in political events here and there, but that only helps you want to find out how it's going to play out.
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 22 Dec 2013
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A very good book, McBride's writing style made it a real page turner and gave us a fascinating view what life was like inside 'the bunker'.
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