8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
An 'all or something' man...,
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This review is from: Outside In (Kindle Edition)
Peter Hain, one-time anti-apartheid campaigner turned Cabinet Minister, here describes his fascinating political life both outside and inside mainstream politics. For more than four decades he has been an active campaigner and politician, during which he was involved in some of the most important events of this period.
Hain starts his account with the story of his early life in South Africa as the son of anti-apartheid campaigners at a time when this was a dangerous thing to be. When his parents eventually felt they could no longer stay in South Africa, the Hain family moved to London where they continued the struggle, with young Peter gradually becoming a major player in the British anti-apartheid movement, leading the Stop the Seventy Tour campaign (the proposed all-white South African cricket team tour of England). During this period, Hain was very much outside mainstream politics and in fact was tried for conspiracy and, rather surreally, for bank robbery - charges he clearly believes were politically motivated. Hence, his description of himself as an 'outsider'.
Having joined the Labour party and working for the Union of Communication Workers, Hain's political career as an 'insider' began with his election to Parliament in 1991. During a lengthy Cabinet career, Hain held a number of positions though never quite the top rank ones. From his own account, Hain was neither a party hack nor involved to any great extent in the in-house political manoeuvring of the Labour Party. Instead, his aim seems always to have been to achieve something substantive in each of his roles - following the mantra 'all or something' rather than 'all or nothing'. As European Minister, he was involved in the negotiations that subsequently led to the Lisbon Treaty; he was a minister in the Welsh Office during the devolution referendum campaign; he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the St Andrews Agreement was reached, resulting in the restoration of devolved government.
Hain writes interestingly and enthusiastically about all these events, and if he perhaps blows his own trumpet a little too loudly at times, well, that's a common failing in political memoirs. He also gives us a little on the Blair-Brown saga, but thankfully not too much. I found this book a refreshing change because of Hain's concentration on the politics rather than the politicians of his time in office - it's also better written than many political autobiographies. Whether you agree with his politics or not, this is a well-told tale of a fascinating political life. Highly recommended.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 6 Feb 2012 19:14:55 GMT
who wrote this, his agent?
In reply to an earlier post on 6 Feb 2012 20:06:27 GMT
No, just someone who thought it was considerably more interesting than most of the stuff that passes for 'memoirs' these days. Have you read it? Or do you just like to leave rude little comments because it makes you feel good?
Posted on 6 May 2012 03:27:59 BDT
It is a poor review. For example, the proposed cricket tour was the season after Hain had disrupted the South African rugby tour with mass pitch invasions. It was that experience which persuaded the Labour government to tell the MCC it must withdraw the invitation to the cricket team. In addition, Hain "having joined the Labour party and working for the Union of Communication Workers" is misleading. He started work with the union immediately after he left University but remained in the Liberal Party for four years before switching to Labour.
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