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Diaries: Into Politics Audio Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook
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Following the public devouring of Alan Clark's Diaries, the "long-awaited" second helping takes the form of a posthumous prequel, covering 1972 to 1982, the formative years of this idiosyncratic political wag. And what do we discover? Blithely racist, he considers standing for the National Front, and writes that "I'm the nearest thing they're likely to get to an MP". He professes belief in National Socialism, is vehemently anti-European, and thrills to the sight of "fair-haired children" waiting outside school for their mums when he visits the Falklands in 1982. Indeed, blondes dominate his vision: his lecherous eye is everywhere, even propositioning in the Commons' public gallery, while his wife Jane stoically picks up the pieces.
After the first volume, some flatteringly spoke of Clark as a diarist to rival Samuel Pepys or Sir Henry "Chips" Channon. This time, the comparison begged is with Adrian Mole. A melancholic first half details an interminable string of losses at backgammon, neurosis over ageing, perpetual hypochondria, as well as quite affecting parental concerns. Politics remains a sideline, even when elected as an MP in 1974. It's only when the Conservatives come to power in 1979 under Margaret "The Lady" Thatcher (who reminds Clark of his mother), that the tone settles and becomes familiarly expansive, perhaps with an awareness of a future audience. Despite his hatred of his Plymouth constituency--such a pain--he revels in Commons clubbability, developing heroes such as Enoch Powell, chums such as Jonathan Aitken, and adversaries such as the "odious" Michael Heseltine, or that "butterball", Ken Clarke. The Falklands War is greeted as a personal triumph, albeit from the backbenches, but he does well to remind us how unpopular the Government was prior to it, and the lifeline it gave to Thatcher. Moving with caddish bounds from obsequious simpering to bovver-boy arrogance, Clark longed for immortality, and in a peculiar way he has found it: as a charmingly solipsistic narcissist, whose irreverence continues to tickle a British funny bone. However, as the mists of time descend, and the footnotes lengthen, perhaps future generations will wonder at such dubious charm, and our more dubious fascination with Clark's rakish progress. --David Vincent This review refers to the hardcover edition of this title.
We have given this a press date of 24 July. We will get paperback review coverage and Ion will be doing interviews. Jane and Ion are doing an event at the Winchester Festival on 10 July. More news in the next bulletin. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
Not only are the diaries amusing but they also provide a revealing insight into the political process - in the age of the professional politician the lack of talent, of which Clark cannot be accused, is no bar to the road to the top. At times, Clark seems to be genuinely surprised that his own inate talents have not taken him further sooner. More particularly, the dairies tell us much about the Tory party. It is surprising how soon after the 1979 election the party in Parliament began to have doubts about its leader, a feature mirrored, albeit much sooner, after the 1992 election. In this regard, these diaries should be read in conjunction with Gyles Brandreth's "Breaking the Code", the diaries for the period he spent as a Tory M.P. between 1992 and 1997. Although the styles are different, together the books cast a revealing light on party politics and help to explain, but do not excuse, the gap between the electorate and their elected representatives.
Strangely, for someone born to wealth (his great-great-grandfather founded the family fortune, in textile mills in Scotland) and culture (his father was ennobled as Lord Clark of Civilization!) and who had an expensive education at Eton and Oxford, Clark is at heart a vulgarian, somehow, despite all that and his own innate intelligence and (up to a point) culture. Against all the odds, there is something somehow ineradicably "nouveau" and also bourgeois about him. When his affairs came to public light, his wife (herself of the middle classes) sniffed about that happening "if one dallies with women from below stairs"! And Clark once looked down his nose at those "who have had to buy their furniture" rather than inheriting it, yet his own castle, in Kent, was only bought by his father in 1951!
Clark for me is the kind of chap who turns up flashing his wallet, at a country pub, in a well-polished classic sports car, probably wearing a cravat and a flat tweed shooting or driving cap. Mega ugh!
The Diaries are at their best when he bitches at the general state of affairs, which he does try to ameliorate in Parliament: supported a Labour amendment to require dreadful pop/rock "concerts" to have a licence at least; tried to help animals as much as possible etc. He realizes that the UK will eventually fall apart thanks to mass immigration and multiculturalism but (like the more educated and intent Enoch Powell) is obsessed with the Conservative Party and the Westminster monkeyhouse and so is more or less sidelined politically. He toys with the idea of becoming a National Front candidate or an independent but does nothing about it. I wonder what would have happened IF he and Powell together had either joined the NF or, better, started their own British nationalist-type party? They might just have succeeded, in a 1970's milieu in which the NF, with poor candidates and little money was getting an average between 5% and 10% (sometimes more) of the popular vote, though (thanks to the system) no Westminster seats (and then got iced-out by the raising 10x of the usually lost electoral deposits...long live "freedom"!).
Clark loved England --one of his real plus points, for me-- and was not afraid to show his emotion in public as well as in the Diaries. Unfortunately, not least for his own ambitions, he could never make up his mind: he has large overdrafts yet owns something like 7 major properties, some of which have other houses on them, but which he thinks he cannot sell. He also has masses of valuable art: his wife even finds a Miro sketch in a drawer of old postcards. Yet he is always worrying about money. Never consistent, he still realizes from time to time just how very privileged he is in life.
As for Mrs Thatcher, he calls her The Lady (not the more critical Tina, There Is No Alternative) and never mentions her own less privileged background (daughter of a Lincolnshire grocer). Why? I think the answer is that she had Power, which he worships (as on seeing the warplanes at Ascension Island).
Clark was a well regarded historian (The Donkeys; Barbarossa), though not of the same stature as David Irving (now "banned" in our supposedly free country) or Corelli Barnett, both of whom are mentioned here, as is Hitler (once). To my way of thinking, Clark overstresses the Nietzschean roots of part of the National Socialist ideology, but, also to my way of thinking, was correct in believing that the defeat of the Reich was a disaster for the world and especially for the Anglo-Saxon peoples, as he states quite explicitly.
The very best of Clark's mentality comes out in his love for animals, birds and (although concealed from them in a very British or as Clark would say "upper class" way), his two sons. Like so many, he thought it "important" to be an M.P. and try to be a minister etc (he did briefly make it, though after these Diaries end in 1982), when he could have had a happier life either ignoring ordinary politics or going outside the box of the Lib Lab Con-men. Having said all that, Clark muses, in the mid-1970's "Am I a Renaissance prince, a philosopher king, or an ageing dud?". I think the answer is pretty obvious! It is a pity that he never really focussed.
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This is the third (a prequel covering his entry into politics) in the series of diaries by Alan Clark - a man of...Read more
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