Amongst the self aggrandising, self serving diaries and memoirs of politicians, Chris Mullin's diaries stand out. He was the government minister who never wanted to be one. He found it hugely frustrating and soul destroying, feeling he had no influence, less power and achieved more or less nothing during his time as a junior minister.
But his experiences are all the more enlightening for that. We usually read about prime ministers and cabinet members, not the junior minister who gets all the rubbish nobody else wants, isn't allowed to talk to the press, and is engaged with running battles with his department about whether or not he carries a pager or a mobile. He returns to the backbenches and his chairmanship of the Home Affairs select committee, but is soon returned to government as minister for Africa in the foreign office.
These stories are nterwoven with his duties as a constituency MP in Sunderland, and, particuarly, his struggles to engage a cynical and distrustful public, and to battle the immigration system.
It's illuminating, informative, often funny and all written with a wonderful lack of pomposity. Recommended if you want an alternative view of the Blair years
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