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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 24 August 2008
Being the proverbial 'floating voter' I have a large and unbiased appetite when approaching 'Political diaries'. Alan Clark's were deliciously frank and irreverent, John Major's autobiography (though not strictly a Diary) was noble yet suspiciously sanitised for me and the overblown Alistair Campbell tomb last year frankly rather dull considering he was Britain's media spin-king. But Tony Benn is always excellent value for money. Coming from the old Coventry and Warwickshire automotive heartlands I recall an Uncle regaling me as a boy with stories of picking Mr Benn up at Coventry station and conducting a whistle-stop tour of various BL factories in the 1970s. He was hugely impressed with his concise ability to sum up the sheer morass of industrial rancour in the UK at the time. I had previously purchased the Benn tapes and was utterly engrossed in the nitty gritty 'content' and adversarial 'detail' of government. The face-to-face show downs with Wilson, Callaghan and Foot illustrate the 'day-to-day' of the career politician better than any Government & Politics text book could. True, there are the usual 'hot-potatoes' that Tony embraces with the utopian - and almost naive- stance of an idealist. But perhaps we could do with one of two of idealists just now. The book has an epistolary feel to it with his observations, critiques and conclusions on everything from New Labour, Cameron (Blue Labour as he calls it), Bush, British celebrity culture and his day to day sketches and contemplations on life-sometimes hugely poignant and moving. I can't say that Tony has made me a card carrying Socialist but I certainly felt all the more richer and rewarded for the reading experience. I'd rank it in the same league as Alan Clark -though obviously for different reasons! Tony Benn remains among the very best political diarists we have.
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4.6 out of 5 stars