James Naughtie, a well-placed, well-informed political journalist,
here presents the fascinating inside story of Tony Blair and Gordon
Brown, the two men who have run Britain since 1997. He sketches
their different origins - Brown, the elder by two years, son of the
manse, going up to Edinburgh University from Kirkcaldy grammar
school; Blair, from the English middle class, going to Oxford from
Fettes, both possessing firm religious beliefs. Brown has been
active in politics since his student days; Blair turned to politics
after failing to become a pop star. They have long been close
friends; they have also had to become rivals. Naughtie explains
neatly how closely they worked together, and how fate divided them
- from the day John Smith, then Labour party leader, died and they
had to decide whether to run against each other for the leadership.
As we know, Brown agreed to stand aside in return for becoming
Chancellor of the Exchequer, but persistent rumours suggest that
Blair promised to stand down from the Prime Ministership in Brown's
favour after two terms. The relationship is not always an easy one.
Though they now live side by side in 10 and 11 Downing Street, and
- to the alarm of their civil servants - often have long talks by
themselves with no note-taker present, each has gathered round
himself a coterie of close friends; these coteries do not mix.
Peter Mandelson, twice driven from high office, is still in
frequent touch with Blair; Alastair Campbell, often at Blair's
elbow, controls his master's public image. 'Blair's aides work for
a man, not a team of ministers; in Brown's office, every speech is
crafted to build up the Chancellor, not the government.' Politics
is so volatile that Naughtie cannot be quite up to date. But he has
written a most lively and readable book, giving a fascinating
insight into the inner circle of power. (Kirkus UK)
A penetrating insider's view of the most important relationship in
modern politics, the one on which the recent reinvention of Britain
is founded: Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. By the celebrated Radio 4
Today Programme presenter James Naughtie. No Prime Minister and
Chancellor this century have been bound so closely together, each
depending on the other's strengths to repair weaknesses that might
otherwise be politically fatal; yet theirs is a bond that crackles
with suspicion and misunderstanding, lovers' tiffs that send
tremors through the government . The story of the current era can
only properly be told through the prism of this strange union, and
it has never been told before. James Naughtie is a unique insider.
A hugely respected political commentator, he has equal access to
both men, to their key courtiers, to the party malcontents and
everyone who has ever sat in Cabinet with them. Not since Alan
Clark's Diaries has there been such a vivid, human portrait of the
agonies and ecstasies of power in action. Even the supporting
players are wildly dramatic: the saturnine plotting of Peter
Mandelson, the muscled protection of Alistair Campbell, the Scots
traditionalists facing down the Number 10 policy wonks. But the
real drama is compressed into the central relationship. Here are
Othello and Iago, Caesar and Brutus. This is a classic power play
of our time, brilliantly, vividly and intimately staged by James
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