Posts Tagged ‘back from the brink’

Sunday review: Back from the brink, by Alistair Darling

11/09/2011, 11:16:44 AM

by Anthony Painter

Like the Kennedy assassination, new camera angles on the decline and fall of Labour in office will be discovered for many years to come. What’s more, each new piece of undisclosed footage will end with the same dreadful, bloody result. So why do we do it to ourselves? We just can’t help it.

The latest offering from a senior Labour figure, the ‘never knowingly over-optimistic’, Alistair Darling’s Back from the

"A wise voice of reason"

brink has the same literary merit as the others in the genre: structure and style are put in the service of proving a point. But like the chick lit, executive biography or self-help genres (the political memoir may be a subset of this latter category- for the author) it is not full-throttle, florid prose that is the attraction. The author gets to have their say, settle a few scores and we get to vicariously sit in the room while momentous decisions are made.

Perhaps only Chris Mullin’s diaries would be worth recommending to a non-Westminster obsessed friend amongst the New Labour memoirs. For the rest, twenty minutes in the company of exclusive in the Sunday Times would be enough. None of this is particular to Darling; it should be clear by now that this is not my favourite genre. If it’s your taste then Back from the Brink is no better or worse than most of the others.

The Alistair Darling who emerges from these pages is decent, honourable, intelligent, courageous, and resolute. He’s rather like Alistair Darling in fact: very likeable and engaging. When events have subsequently proved him right, he makes his point and then moves on. There is no great crescendo of self-justification. But there’s no real mea culpa either. We simply see things- most of which we knew already- from his perspective. Kennedy gets shot and dies. (more…)

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