A Very British Coup

I’m in the process of re-reading A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin who stood down as an MP this year. I’d forgotten what a well-written book it was and quite prescient too in describing the causes of many of the of both country and politics that have befallen us since it was published in 1982.

The reason I’m reading it is as a prelude to the second volume of Mullin’s diaries which lays bare the terminal stages of the Labour government.  An email from Amazon tells me it was despatched today.

Mullin has generally been to the left of Old Labour, let alone the New. He cut his teeth as a journalist with Granada’s World in Action programme, along with the likes of John Pilger, Tony Wilson, Michael Parkinson, Gordon Burns and Donal MacIntyre.

A Very British Coup was later adapted for television with the excellent Ray McAnally as Harry Perkins MP. And its theme of a left-wing government destabilised by the establishment reflected Mullin’s involvement in politics during the paranoia of the Wilson era.

The MoS published excerpts from Mullin’s latest volume in its review section last weekend as an appetiser. You can read it here and it is both an illuminating and depressing insight into the way we are governed.

For example, that the Blairs were shown around the bunker deep below Whitehall where they would ‘govern’ in the event of nuclear armageddon. It seems that while the top brass were planning for an extreme makeover for the rest of the country, Cherie was more concerned with the fixtures and fittings of the PM’s quarters and insisted on a change of decor.

And on the election that never was: “They are talking about early November. Good grief, it’s hard enough persuading the citizens of Sunderland to vote on a sunny evening in May, let alone on a rainy evening in November.”

His portrait of Gordon Brown is none too flattering either, a man he describes as having an extraordinary capacity to absorb information, never needing to be told anything twice, but a control freak who tried to micro-manage all aspects of his government. It is no wonder he lost it towards the end.

Mullin’s observation on Brown after he ascended unto Blair’s throne says it all: ” He still doesn’t look happy (what does it take to make Gordon happy?) and it still takes a second or two for a smile to travel from his brain to his lips.”

All depressing stuff, but at least Coup brought Mozart’s Mass in C Minor to our screens. Now that’s what I call music and I shall leave you with Credo.

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