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Customer Review

45 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A conservative review, 20 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Third Man: Life at the Heart of New Labour (Audio CD)
I decided that I wanted to read an account of the New Labour years following the recent change in Government. After some debate, I decided to go for this book over the various other main contenders for a few reasons. Firstly, I didn't have the patience to wait for Blairs, secondly, I simply couldn't believe I would get any sort of frank account from one of the Alistair Campbell ones. Finally, I just had a gut feeling that this would be particularly honest and open in terms of the Blair/Brown relationship as I didn't see what motive Mr Mandelson would have for holding back, something not the case with the other authors I mentioned.
What a good decision this turned out to be. The account is very open, astonishingly so in places, and makes for an entertaining read, or should I say listen, as I actually had the audio CD version, which was if anything enhanced by Mandelson doing the reading.
As with any book, people need to read this and make up their own mind, but what really struck me about this was the sense that New Labour really never achieved what it promised due to the relationship between Blair/Brown, and I did sense genuine regret from Mandelson on this. Tony Blair actually comes across pretty well, but Gordon Brown comes across very poorly (if we are to believe this account and many others that support it). Mandelson provides strong evidence that for the first few years of power Mr Brown convinced himself he had been cheated out of the top job, which led to constant attempts to outmaneuver and undermine Blair, to the extent that it really did affect the success of New Labour. If there is one resounding conclusion you can draw from this, its that Blair should have had the decisiveness to address this issue firmly early on, but once this was left to ferment, it simply got worse and harder to deal with, which unfortunately it never was.
In summary, a frank account, which if you can look past a touch too much self justification, is a surprisingly honest and entertaining read, made even better if you go for the audio book route.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 1 Apr 2011 13:30:50 BDT
And let us not forget about his mate TB.
Check out John Arlidge online.
John Arlidge's account in the Sunday Times of life on the road with Tony Blair, which provides some fascinating insights into his nomadic first class existence. The former Prime Minister spends three out of four weeks outside the UK (talk about being non-domiciled), touring the world in pursuit of his multiple interests and making lots of money in the process.

Mr Tony must still feels the scars on his back from trying to reform public services back home, which must be why he appears to have lost faith in government. He says: "I'm a social engineer now. I can engineer social change on my own terms, outside of a big government buraucracy." There's more like that in the piece, which suggests someone who is beginning to think that democracy just gets in the way. Talk about power corrupting. You could not make this up.....

But it's the details that are revealing, like the fact that on one trip he was ferried between the Middle East and Rwanda on the Rwandan president's private jet. Also worth noting what he has to say about the British media: "I've got a problem with the UK media. They don't approach me in an objective way. Their first question is how to belittle what I'm doing, knock it down, write something bad about it. It's not right. It's not journalism. They don't get me and they've got a score to settle with me. But they are not going to settle it."

But my favourite extract is this one: "Everywhere he goes in Africa, he is lauded as some kind of saviour and he appears to enjoy it. After meeting him in Kigali, Anastase Murekezi, Rwanda's minister of public service and labour, goes on television to describe the encounter as "a blessing from God". In each African village Blair goes to, there are young children called Tony Blair. Spend time with him and you get an awkward sense that he sees himself as a bit of a 21st-century missionary saving souls - economically if not spiritually."
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