My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The second volume of Chris Mullin’s diaries that I have read and, as an inside account of the British Parliament at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, it’s both reassuring to see that many representatives in The House are not in it purely for self gain, having loftier aims that benefit us all, and disappointing to discover that Honourable Members, just like the any group anywhere, can be back-stabbing and self-serving. Mullin clearly falls into the former but his ringside seat for the end of the Blair era, the expenses debacle, the arrival of Gordon Brown and the self-destruction of New Labour is fascinating. I don’t know if the diaries are well edited, or well written in the first place, but you are drawn in by the stories the diaries reveal and gripped as the details of parliamentary life are unveiled. His belief in a parliamentary democracy and MPs who work on behalf of their constituents is clear and often put him at odds with senior party colleagues. The fact that he does not follow the party line all the time is what makes his account all the more memorable. The book’s easy to follow as Mullin does not fall into the trap of reducing most people to nicknames or initials and, therefore, can be read without constant reference to a ‘cast of characters’. This volume ends as Gordon Brown leaves number 10 and Mullin retires from The House (he did not contest the 2010 election) but before that point some of the most interesting events of recent times are recorded with a charm and wit that’s compelling.