From the horse’s mouth: six books about political leaders from 1997 - 2019

As David Cameron’s memoirs hit the shelves, we identify six of the best political books post-Blair

By Tim Gibson

After a few years in the wilderness, former Prime Minister David Cameron has well and truly come back into the public eye.

    ...what are the most revealing books about political leaders in recent years?  

A two-part documentary, The Cameron Years, is airing on BBC One, and his memorable interview with retiring Today host John Humphrys was a typically bruising encounter.

Cameron’s re-emergence is of course deliberate. His new book, For the Record, is out, and he wants it to sell like hot cakes in order to earn out his generous advance.

All of which got us thinking: what are the most revealing books about political leaders in recent years? To help narrow our selection, we decided to focus on British politics post-Blair, giving us a start date of 1997.

Here are the six tomes we came up with, telling the story of our recent political history through the eyes of the people at the top.

1) Tony Blair A Journey

Love him or loathe him, it is impossible to deny Tony Blair’s influence on UK politics since the 1990s. Apart from Margaret Thatcher, it is hard to think of a post-war Prime Minister who has been so divisive, or left such a striking legacy.

A Journey showcases Blair’s undoubted communication skills. Like most political memoirs, there’s a fair amount of self-justification. But it’s written with genuine flair, giving a good insight into the way Blair and his allies reshaped Labour and led it to an unprecedented period in power.

With a particular focus on his controversial decision to lead the UK into a second Iraq war, Blair confronts the downside of his legacy head on. He makes the case for his defence and provides a fascinating account of statecraft in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

However you feel about Blair, this is a well written, engaging account of a momentous and ultimately turbulent period in UK politics.

2) Peter Mandelson The Third Man

It is hard to mention Blair without also mentioning Peter Mandelson, and that applies as much to their memoirs as it does to the rise and fall of New Labour.

    What stands out from The Third Man is Mandelson’s willingness to laugh at himself,...  

Mandelson’s book was a surprise hit, showing his genuine charm and humour. Arguably more engaging than Blair and definitely more entertaining than Gordon Brown (see below), Mandelson was both the architect of and bystander to their intense relationship. It was he who brokered the infamous Granita pact and he who mediated their disagreements during their tumultuous years in office.

What stands out from The Third Man is Mandelson’s willingness to laugh at himself, while also understanding the strength of his intellect. An inside story of New Labour that proves disarmingly hard to put down.

3) Gordon Brown, My Life, Our Times

As with their approach to politics, so with their approach to writing memoirs. If Blair and Mandelson’s books provide entertainment at the cost of substance, Brown’s hefty volume does the complete opposite.

My Life, Our Times could never be accused of being lightweight. Every page oozes with detail, displaying Brown’s legendary intellect and his status as a bona fide academic.

If you want to understand the serious thinking that lay behind much of the New Labour project, Brown’s memoirs are the place to turn. The chapters covering his handling of the Global Financial Crisis in 2007-8 are especially interesting, though occasionally marred by a rather self-righteous tone.

4) Andrew Rawnsley, The End of the Party

Completing the canon of must-read books about New Labour, political journalist Rawnsley’s detailed consideration of the fall of Blair and Brown skips along at a rip-roaring pace.

Rawnsley has an innate interest in the human relationships that lay at the heart of the Labour party in the 1990s and 2000s. This leads to a book that is fascinating, without ever descending to mere soap opera status.

The most striking thing to emerge from the book is how little thought Blair and his closest allies had given to policy when they won the famous Labour landslide in 1997. But it didn’t seem to matter: a fresh spirit of optimism spread over the nation, and for a few years, the Blair government could do no wrong.

Rawnsley’s account explains how that mood changed, with the eventual collapse of New Labour in the years following the 2010 general election.

5) David Cameron, For the Record

While New Labour rapidly disappeared as a brand, and is now actively shunned by Jeremy Corbyn-supporting party activists, its ideology continued with the Conservative Prime Minister and his Liberal Democrat coalition partners.

Cameron famously described himself as “the heir to Blair” and his memoirs show just how close he was to the New Labour leader in terms of his outlook. Like Blair, Cameron stood for a politics that was economically dry and socially liberal. His style was modern, informal and often studiously unscripted.

Like Blair, Cameron’s premiership ended in ignominy with a decision that many have come to criticise. For the Record explains his motivation in holding the 2016 referendum on EU membership, as well as his take on the factors at play in UK politics since.

No matter how you feel about the former PM, his book is essential reading for anyone with an interest in our political landscape and the people who shaped it.

6) Anthony Seldon, May at 10

Seldon’s book about Theresa May’s government is yet to be published (it comes out in November). But early reviews suggest a detailed account of a dramatic period in British political history, which gets to the heart of May’s beliefs and her failure to deliver a Brexit deal on which Parliament could agree.

If Seldon’s other books about UK Prime Ministerial reigns are anything to go by (he’s written about every PM since Margaret Thatcher), May at 10 will be insightful, well informed and thoroughly researched.

Don’t expect a page-turner, but do expect a dutiful account of genuine substance that will leave you with plenty to think about.

Published: 20 September 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: John McDonnell berates Sajid Javid. How should he respond?

You may also enjoy: Workplace dilemmas: I feel marginalised for my views about Brexit

Jobs currently available

Driver
Sector: Transport, Logistics and Shipping
Salary: £18,000 - £22,000 per annum
Location: Chelmsford
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909015
About the role

Just Recruitment is looking for a driver to join a large and well-established business, with multiple branches across the UK.

This position will be based at their Chelmsford branch.

The role involves delivering various items to locations in and around the Chelmsford area.

You must have a full clean driving licence and have experience of driving either transit or LWB vans.

Working Hours:

  • 45 per week Mon-Fri 7:30 - 5 plus 2 Saturday mornings (8am-12pm) per month - paid at overtime rates!

Bonuses:

  • Salary Negotiable.
  • Attendance bonus scheme.
  • Company pension scheme.
  • Shared profit scheme.
  • Uniform and PPE provided.

Duties will include:

  • Deliveries in and around Chelmsford
  • Assisting with various warehouse duties
  • Proving a friendly service to customers and other staff whilst out on the road and within the branch as and when required.
  • Working with the team to ensure the branch runs smoothly and customers are delighted with the service.

In order to be considered for this role you must have worked in a similar role, have excellent IT skills and a good telephone manner.

This is a great opportunity to join an organisation that promotes from within, provides extra training and development and further company benefits.

Read more
Workshop Technician/Mechanic
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £17,500 - £27,000 per annum
Location: Hadleigh
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909014
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Workshop Technician/Mechanic on behalf of a leading independent parts specialists based on the outskirts of Sudbury, Suffolk.

Salary;

  • £17,500 - £27,000 depending on experience.

Great working environment in a high-spec workshop with heating and insulated flooring, to ensure employees are comfortable all year round.

Duties include:

  • Repair and refurbish motors and gearboxes.
  • Stripping down engines.
  • Disassemble and fix parts.
  • Complete root-cause analysis.

Benefits;

  • 23 days annual leave, plus bank holidays.
  • Free parking.
  • Profit share scheme, available after probation.
  • Medical scheme, available after probation.
  • PPE provided including boots and company branded tshirts / fleeces.
  • Training courses.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a great company offering lots of progression and excellent benefits.

Candidates must drive due to the location of the company, and will occasionally be required to drive company vehicles.

 

 

Read more
Business Development & Account Manager
Sector: Sales
Salary: To be discussed on application
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909013
About the role

Are you looking to work for an exciting new start-up business offering a great opportunity for you to grow?

Have you worked to targets, and enjoy selling?

Just Recruitment  is delighted to be recruiting for an Account Manager for our client based in Witham.

The role of the Account Manager is to build and develop relationships with new members, working with them throughout their one month free trial and ultimately upgrading them to a paying member.

There will be no cold calling in this role, all leads have come to express their interest!

If you love working in a team, talking to new people, have worked in sales before and have good verbal and written skills then this could be the role for you!

This is a full-time, permanent role working Monday – Friday.

 

 

 

Read more
Legal Secretary
Sector: Law and Security
Salary: £22,000 per annum
Location: Clacton on Sea
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 909000
About the role

Just Recruitment is excited to be recruiting for one of the East of England’s longest established Legal Firms.

Operating for over 250 years, they are a full-service law firm, which has doubled in sized over the past four years, and they are looking to expand further by hiring a new Legal Secretary for their Clacton branch.

They are looking for someone with experience of;

  • Electronic diary management.
  • Telephone liaison.
  • Front of house/reception duties.
  • Digital transcription systems.
  • Using accounts software.
  • Various other clerical and administrative duties.

The ideal candidate will have experience working as a Legal Secretary, with a genuine passion for building a career within the law.

They must also have fast typing speeds and the ability to multi-task effectively.

In return you will receive;

  • A competitive salary.
  • 20 days holiday + bank holidays.
  • Contributory pension scheme.
  • As well as a whole host of other benefits.
Read more
Wedding and Special Events Sales Manager - Maternity Cover
Sector: Hospitality and Events Management
Salary: £20,000 - £24,000 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908437
About the role

Luxury, grandeur and spectacular!

Our client, one of the finest country house venues in the tantalising Essex Countryside have a fantastic opportunity for you.

They are seeking a full time Wedding and Sales Manager to join their team to support the corporate, wedding sales and planning team on a 12 Month Maternity Cover Contract.

You will be working alongside the Head of Wedding Planning and the CEO in a buzzing environment, that requires you to focus on every little detail to deliver beyond expectations.

You will be responsible for;

  • Hosting all wedding show rounds.
  • Preparing for open evenings and open days.
  • Following up with potential brides or clients to discuss set up and more detailed planning.
  • Working alongside the Operations Team.
  • Work in conjunction with all event staff and catering partners to ensure the function is delivered to the high standards expected.
  • Manage external suppliers.
  • To assist other department managers as and when required.

Please note - this venue will be holding a sensational Christmas Fayre in 2020, along side the normal duties you will also have a heavy hand within the planning and organisation of this spectacular event!

If you have previous experience of wedding sales and managing weddings then we want to hear from you!

Due to the location, you must hold a full UK license and have access to a car.

 

 

Read more
Signs & Cladding Fitter
Sector: Engineering and Manufacturing
Salary: £10.00 - £12.00 per hour
Location: Colchester
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908998
About the role

Just Recruitment is recruiting for a Signs & Cladding Fitter for their client based in Colchester, Essex.

The role will involve working at customers sites all over the UK and Ireland. Fitting and assembling signage and Led light boxes to walls and ceilings etc, as well as assisting in the factory when there are no Fitting jobs.

Responsibilities;

  • You must be fully conversant with all aspects of signage installation including LED illumination.
  • Able to use your own initiative on site and work as part of a team.
  • Good communication skills with work partner, clients and in site meetings.
  • Smart appearance (representing the company)
  • You must be willing to travel throughout the UK including Ireland and stay away on rare occasions.
  • Ability to work at heights.
  • CSCS, PASMA, IPAF certificates required.
  • Flexibility regarding early starts/late finishes.
  • Capable of reading CAD drawings & surveying.
  • Clean full driving licence.
  • Aware of H&S practices on building sites & as an individual.
  • be able to think logically and problem solve on site.
  • Attention to detail is crucial & ability to read schematic drawings is essential.

Characteristics;

  • Amiable, flexible and approachable style.
  • Adaptable and open to trying new ideas and techniques and recognising that new ideas may not suit all applications.
  • Ability to listen and communicate new processes and procedures.
  • To bring a modern approach to traditional processes.
  • Meticulous attention to detail, alongside a high level of accuracy.
  • Self-Motivated with good time management skills, ability to prioritise multiple tasks.

You must have previous experience in the same or similar role to be considered for this role

Hourly rate £ 10.00 – 12.00 per hour depending on experience

All overtime over 40 hours at 1.5 x basic rate

Read more
Quality Control Inspector
Sector: Production and Stock Control
Salary: £17,000 - £17,500 per annum
Location: Witham
Role: Full Time
Contract: Permanent
Job ref: 908997
About the role

Do you have administrative experience, and ideally jewellery knowledge?

Just Recruitment is recruiting a Quality Control Inspector for their leading and highly reputable client based in Witham.

You will be responsible for checking the incoming quality of products from their suppliers to ensure that they meet strict requirements.

You will also decide whether stock is acceptable or should be rejected and log Inspection results on the inspection database.

You must be extremely thorough, with a high level of attention to detail, and have the ability to communicate effectively and professionally, both orally and written English.

This position requires knowledge of Microsoft Office (in particular Excel).

This is a full-time, permanent position working Monday – Friday.

 

 

Read more