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Book Review: The Little Red Book of New Labour Sleaze

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Containing the contributions of about 70 bloggers, including one by some bloke listed as Andrew Ian Dodge, this is a collection of all the choice moments of the cases of sleaze in Britain’s ruling “New” Labour Party up until the book’s publication. Each entry is about 400 words on the highlights of each of 100 New Labour scandals since 1997. Its editors have joked that the revised edition will need to be called Bumper Book, at the rate we are getting new scandals.

Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes explain that while no one was paid for their contributions, the 70 who contributed felt the need to be part of this historic quick-to-print collection. The book went from idea to “in the shops” in less than a month. Despite this, it does not feel shoddy, and it is getting quite a bit of press, including from The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

While the style of the entries vary a bit due to the collective nature of the book, the editors have done an excellent job of smoothing contributions to quite a good overall quality. It was all-in-all an excellent experiment in rapid publishing and a very useful book. The illustrations, by Hoby Cartoons, add an amusing twist to otherwise rather disturbing collection of scandals, breaking things up nicely for the reader.

A classic example of one of the nastier scandals is the case of using the day after 9/11 to bury bad news. Of course the email was released to the press.

“It’s now a very good day to get out anything we want to bury. Councillors’ expenses?” On September 11th Jo Moore, Special Advisor to Stephen Byers, Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, emailed out the above, suggesting that bad news could be released whilst the media’s attention was focused on the tragedy in New York. It was to spark a row that only ended in the burying of her own career and eventually Byers’ as well.

The last scandal in the book, under the banner of Stop Press, is the revelation that Cherie Blair, wife of the Prime Minister, earned £1,200 a minute giving a 20-minute speech to the American University of Dubai. Alas the book went to press before the row about Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, his affairs, “perving (women’s) melons” and perks for doing nothing. At this point there seems to be a new scandal a day from this government. One does suspect there will be in a new version of this book very soon.

It is really a must-have for students, fans and observers of British politics. Americans might find this book makes for some amusing reading as well, to learn about the peccadillos of their “special” friends across the Pond. After all how many people do you think can remember the specific detail of all of Labour scandals?

The book is available from Amazon UK; edited by Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes.

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About Marty Dodge

  • Iain

    This is completely the wrong Amazon link for the book.

  • We can’t link to Amazon UK books; there is however a requirement that every post needs to have at least one link to an Amazon product. Hence why the book is up there. The link at the bottom of the review is correct however.

  • swingline

    Well anyway, thanks for the link to The New Labor Reader. I’ve already added it to my favorites and intend to order it soon. It sounds much more informative than the collection of yellow journalism, researched by bloggers (so it has to be accurate) that you reviewed in the post.