Sunday, November 30, 2008

Book Review: Sir David Mitchell's Memoirs

I have known former Tory MP Sir David Mitchell on and off for more than twenty years. Around eight years ago he told me he was considering writing his memoirs, and asked me what I thought of the idea. I told him that in my view all politicians - especially those who have been Ministers - owe it to posterity and history to record what went on during their political careers. Sadly I left the world of political publishing before David completed his manuscript, otherwise I suspect I would be plugging this book as a publisher rather than a reader.

FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE: THE ENDLESS ADVENTURE OF POLITICS & WINE is a delight from start to finish. There's no killer fact, no sensational story, but it does contain a raft of anecdotes from a political career which lasted more than three decades. The mix of political chapters together with chapters of his career in the world of wine (he ran El Vinos for many years) give the book a uniqueness and charm.

Knowing nothing about wine (and frankly caring even less) I will admit that I didn't read all the wine chapters, but to the connoisseur, they will be fascinating. For me, the best bits of the book were the chapters detailing David's Ministerial career during the Thatcher years, where between 1979 and 1988 he served at Industry, Northern Ireland and then Transport, which is where I first met him in my early days as a lobbyist for the ports industry. His recollections of the way government was run in those days provide a welcome contrast to the shambles that exists today.

Sir David Mitchell was the MP for Basingstoke from 1964-83 and then for Hampshire North West from 1983-97. His son Andrew is Shadow Secretary of State for International Development.

Buy the book HERE.