Saturday, April 26, 2008

Ten Political Memoirs Which Haven't Been Written But Should Be

Well, at long last, here it is! These are listed in no particular order. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments.

Michael Portillo
Portillo's is a political journey that would make fascinating reading. He probably thinks is too early to write his testament, but he shouldn't leave it too long. Every one has a shelf life.

Lord (Robert) Armstrong
Has been around the centre of power for forty years. The convention that Cabinet Secretaries don't write memoirs should be abolished. He would provide a fascinating insight into the inner workings of government.

Lord (Robin) Butler
Ditto

Neil Kinnock
Would probably need a ghost write to keep the text below a million words, but nevertheless his story would be worth telling. I suspect it would be laced with emotion and bitter regret.

Tony Benn
Having written seven volumes of diaries you might think there wouldn't be much else to say, but an autobiography is a very different beast to a spontaneous political diary. It would provide perspective on one of the longest careers in British politics.

John MacGregor
A strange inclusion in this list, you might think, yet John MacGregor was a Minister throughout the entire Thatcher and the first four years of the Major government - and a Cabinet Minister for nearly a decade. I've been encouraging him to put pen to paper and haven't given up yet!

Peter Hennessy
Britain's leading political adacemic started life as a journalist but has become a world authority on the inner workings of government, and he has a fascinating life story to tell.

Paddy Ashdown
Ashdown's diaries do not tell the whole story. His post political career in the Balkans would add a lot to his story of a politician who rose from nowhere to become a key figure in the revival of the Liberal Democrats.

Charles Powell
Charles Powell was for some years possibly the closest adviser to Margaret Thatcher. His foreign policy insights during the period which saw the end of the cold war need to be written.

John Biffen
I'm cheating here a little as John Biffen has indeed written a memoir which he was completing just before he died. I was trying to help him find a publisher and I hope that will still be possible. Having read an early draft of the manuscript his pre-political life is just as fascinating as his political career, where he distinguished himself for his honesty and candour.

21 comments:

Chris K said...

Please, God, nothing more from Tony Benn....

Chris said...

I would be facinated to read more about Portillo's journey. His transformation from darling of the right/leftie hate figure to almost the exact opposite is fascinating. I for one don't know whether he underwent a real transformation post-1997 or whether he was playing up to a stereotype pre-1997 and was only able to be himself once freed from the burdens of office/expections. Whichever it is I would love to know.

Iain, if you have any influence on Michael do encourage him to write his memoirs. I for one would buy them.

asquith said...

Why don't you write a memoir of some things you've done, Iain? Something about the campaigns you've been involved in, maybe. I observe from your bibliography that you generally write about other people. But you've done a few things in your time. Been around.

I haven't read any of your books yet. Perhaps I will in the future. But I've got to get through my newly acquired Aldous Huxley and Roy Jenkins collections first. Also I've decided to re-read my Orwell after that literary discussion with newmania etc. about a month ago. And I've been working like a Pole these last few weeks. Believe it or not, I comment less than I once did :)

J said...

Agree about no nore from Tony Benn. I am a Labour supporter and can't stand the man. I would like to read Paul Boateng's. How does someone go from being a rabid leftie and ending up being one of the first ever Black people to reach the Mother of all parliaments to tame New Labour lackie then unceremoniously booted out. Bet he could reveal a few New Labour secrets. Another observation, dear Iain. Could you not even find ONE woman to include in your list? I want to know what Margaret Beckett really thought of the ascent of Blair and whether she really believed in all that Iraq stuff. I also want to know how much power "Leo" had in the hot political decisions she was involved in....

Bill Quango MP said...

No Lee Jasper ? strange..

hatfield girl said...

Elizabeth II

judith said...

Portillo's abilities were wildly over-inflated by those who were captivated by his posturings when in Government.

I saw him close-up when he was Shadow Chancellor, and he was damn useless. I suspect that personally as well as politically he has no sense of self-identity, and would suggest that his shelf-life expired around the time he refused to take on John Major.

Anonymous said...

Margaret Beckett... Bennite Minister under Callaghan, labour front bencher, involved in the Militant expulsions (she opposed it), acting leader, then Minister throughout the Blair years.

now charing security and intelligence

she must have seen loads

Nick Drew said...

Lord Butler has much to tell but is constitutionally incapable of doing so (in more ways than one ...)

Anonymous said...

"The Deaconess of Bray" would be a good title for Margaret Beckett's memoirs. Always going with the flow.

Struan Jamieson said...

When he retires, you Iain via your SNP friend, Angus McNeil broker a deal with Alex Salmond.
His coming from a mixed marriage (Labour father Tory mother, going to St.Andrew's University in the hey day of free marketeers such as Madsen Pirie and the Butlers,yet still remaining left centre in inclination yet joining the arch capitalist Royal Bank. His elections to both Parliaments, his standing down from leadership and letting the hapless John Swinnie take charge. The 2007 Scottish General Election.
No constitutional nationalist has written a serious autobiog.

Adrian Yalland said...

Iain - you should also include David Trimble's.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Margaret Beckett... now charing security and intelligence"

So she's now got a cleaning job?

Anonymous said...

What about John Reid?

Say what you want about him, we know little about what really motivated him. He could also have some incredible knowledge of the Blair Government.

ak23566 said...

Surely "Dare to be a Daniel" was the first part of Benn's biography?

Anonymous said...

I thought Lord Butler was writing a book?

Also Michael Foot - drawfs Tony Benn's political longevity - knew George Orwell, and fought every general election from 1935 to 1987
- 1983 as party leader.

Anonymous said...

Having written seven volumes of diaries you might think there wouldn't be much else to say

Having read an early draft of the manuscript his pre-political life is just as fascinating as his political career

Iain, get Nadine ('took a photo of Iain and I') Dorries to explain what a misplaced modifier is, and why they're a bad thing, will you? 'Edukashun, edukashun, edukashun,' eh?

The Secret Person said...

What about the Hitler Diaries. I know he's dead now but someone should really write those for him...

Paul Linford said...

Interesting that you don't include Michael Foot, who despite being a journalist by profession never actually wrote his autobiograpy. Theoretically there's still time...

machiavelli said...

Gordon Brown.
On the basis that you have to have retired from politics to write your political memoirs.

Simon Harley said...

Michael Foot would be a fascinating read, considering his long life in politics and his interesting background. Can't stand the man at all but he's one of the very few of the left I respect.