Sunday, January 31, 2010

Rod Liddle Reviews Peter Watt's INSIDE OUT

Rod Liddle has reviewed Peter Watt's book in today's Sunday Times Culture Section. It's a slightly 'on the one hand this and on the other hand that' review, but overall I am quite pleased with it. Here are a few extracts.

He has now written a very readable book designed to be as damaging to the party to which he owed his allegiance as it is possible to imagine, and especially so for the prime minister, Gordon Brown, who comes across — as he usually does on these occasions — as a psychologically damaged, sulking bully without a policy to his name. And at one point even as “bonkers”.

Watt, a Blairite through convenience if not ­conviction, dishes it out from page one and his particular target is Brown. The prime minister emerges as a man incapable of taking a decision, especially if it is a big decision. Even more damningly, Watt suggests on several occasions that Brown did not have a political thought in his head.

Watt relates the tale of a ghastly dinner party at No 10 that he attended with his wife. Before the guests were seated, Brown was called away to the phone. When he returned the guests had sat around the table and Brown said furiously: “I didn’t sit you all down!” Watt takes up the tale: “Then he swivelled in his chair, so that he almost had his back to everybody and leaned his head on his arm. For the rest of the meal he was mono­syllabic, sulking because he had lost control of the seating plan. The plates had not even been cleared when, quite suddenly, without saying anything, he just got up and left. As Sarah had also dis­appeared by then we all quite literally had to show ourselves out. ‘He’s bonkers,’ Vilma [Watt’s wife] whispered, as we trooped out.”

Mind you, not many people come out of this book terribly well — except, in common with almost all of these rat-on-your-party memoirs we’ve seen in the past couple of years, John ­Prescott, whom everybody seems to like. Prescott emerges as humane and principled and kindly towards party workers. However, Watt cannot abide Harriet Harman and her constant “dog whistling to the left”, and has even less time for her husband, Jack Dromey, considering him duplicitous and self-indulgent.

Read the whole review HERE. You can buy the book HERE.


Unsworth said...

Liddle is really not up to it.

"Watt, a Blairite through convenience if not ­conviction,...."

Yet this same Watt has publicly and repeatedly indicated that he'll be voting for Brown. I suggest that the casual labelling of Watt by Liddle is slipshod and idle journalism. Things are altogether more complex than that, but perhaps this has escaped Liddle.

Sean said...

I normally like your blog very much but in recent weeks it's become an advertising engine for one book.

Josh said...

Ian, is it possibly to buy the book in an electronic format?

I have grown used to reading books on the tube on my eReader, after a year of that carry an actual book around to and from work seems to clunky and awkward.

Oscar Miller said...

This just doesn't represent the book I'm reading at all. It's a very warm, honest, primarily autobiographical book. Liddle is making out it's embittered. It's caustic and trying to make sense of what was obvious an unbelievably stressful time, but it just isn't vengeful or nasty at all. I also notice that Hazel Blears comes out of it very well not just Prescott. But Liddle isn't gallant enough to mention that. (Or maybe he hasn't really read it).

OldSlaughter said...

Yeah, Prescott was nice.

Just a shame that a coherent sentence was beyond him, hypocrisy was invisible to him and that he couldn't resist plugging the staff.

@Sean Haffey

You are still running at 100% correct 100% of the time. Impressive.

Alfie said...

One thing is clear - Brown is an utter nutter. We already knew that - what I find really weird is that people are willing to serve under this completely dysfunctional madman..

Acecoollo said...

Not a fan of Liddle either. Seems a little obvious and low blow.