Faces of Labour: The Inside Story

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Verso, 1997 - Biography & Autobiography - 378 pages
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Updated since the May 1997 election, Faces of Labour gives a unique insight into a range of Labour politicians in a series of entertaining and revealing portraits. With a substantial lead in the opinion polls, the Labour Party looks set to take over the reins of Britain s government within a year. Ironically, just at the point when Labour appears to be a government in waiting, it has never been more difficult to judge exactly what we can expect from Labour in government. New slogans and buzz words appear on almost a daily basis, as the Labour Party continues to redefine itself after two decades in opposition. In Faces of Labour Andy McSmith brings an expert eye to bear on the enormous changes Labour has undergone on the long road back to Number 10. A former party press officer and now a political correspondent for the Observer, few people are better qualified than Andy McSmith to give an account—both as an insider and as a critical observer—of what is really going on in the Labour Party. McSmith describes the transition from a party dominated by the radical left into a social democratic party. He reassesses the tensions between Old and New Labour, focusing on individuals whose careers throw different aspects of a complex story into sharp relief. McSmith gives a sharp insider's account of the key figures in the Labour hierarchy, including Peter Mandelson—the man described as Tony Blair's Rasputin—John Prescott, Robin Cook, Clare Short and, of course, Tony Blair himself. He also looks at those on the underside of the party—figures such as Ted Grant, guru of the Militant Tendency, and the late Jim Murray, a Tyneside shop steward who, by combination of pure chance and the power of the block vote, once held the future of Labour in his hands. Faces of Labour is crammed with the kind of telling detail available only to a writer who has observed his subject from close up. If you want to know what to expect from the New Labour government, this lively and accessible book is an indispensable guide.
 

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Contents

Preamble
1
Tony Blair
7
A Guide
97
The Blind Man from Sheffield
144
The Shoppie on the Scotswood Road
189
Clare Short
213
The Long Trudge of Ted Grant
263
The Myth of Peter Mandelson
291
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About the author (1997)

Andy McSmith is Political Editor of the Independent on Sunday. His previous books include John Smith: Playing the Long Game, Kenneth Clarke: A Political Biography and Faces of Labour.

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