3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Leaving behind ideals,
This review is from: Things Can Only Get Better: Eighteen Miserable Years in the Life of a Labour Supporter, 1979-1997 (Paperback)
I suppose I read this book late - ten years after publication and 10 years after Labour took power. Is there a book of the same title currently being penned by a despondent Conservative? Much of the criticism of the long in tooth Conservatives now seem so transferable to New Labour. In this book O'Farrell describes his personal travails of being a Labour party activist coinciding with the time when the party endured its longest spell out of power since its formation.
The book is funny and realistic, although some of the humour at times seems contrived and you then remember that O'Farrell has since become a comedy writer of some renown. I particularly admired his commitment and identified with his frustration at the lack of response from those he tried to reach with his message. You can literally feel his sheer despair at the constant re-election of a party, and above all a Prime Minister, who was getting it so obviously and disastrously wrong. "Why can't they see what I can see?" is his plaintiff cry, the one of all fanatics. I could also identify with him when he finally decided to drop his vegetarianism (part of the Labour Left package, together with no fashion sense, no humour and unilateral disarmament) in favour a large thick bacon sandwich.
By the end he seems to have almost ditched his political values as well and drawn comfort in a belief that this is the destiny of all faithful converts, seduced by comfort - the fight simply oozing away as other demands and concerns move in (family, security, home and lazy weekends). This may be satisfying to some, but I would have liked to have read of someone who transformed their belief to new circumstances, rather than diluted them down or gave up all together.