Off Message: The Complete Antidote to Political Humbug

Off Message: The Complete Antidote to Political Humbug

Bob Marshall-Andrews

Language: English

Pages: 273

ISBN: 1846684412

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Tony Blair's least favourite colleague casts a mordant eye on whips and rebels, wars and liberties, spin and patronage, and expenses and legacies - and at the same time delivers a passionate message about parliament's enduring value. This subversive and richly comical account of British political life during New Labour's term in office presents an intimate picture of what it was like to be its most prominent dissident member. Bob Marshall-Andrews looks at the sombre events of the last thirteen years including wars in Kosovo and Iraq, sustained assaults on ancient English liberties, and the worst scandal of recent political history. He reveals the stories that lie behind them and the Westminster dramas of intrigue, triumph and disaster. He describes the delights and trials of his work as constituency MP and examines his own and others' motives for entering politics: should the ambition, he asks, be to achieve power or to control it. Bob Marshall-Andrews breathes new life into the old values of libertarian socialism. "Off Message" is as provocative and entertaining as its author's campaigns and interventions.

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procedural checks. I was invited to write a comment piece in the Evening Standard and did so. This led to furious denunciation in the Murdoch press, where a gentleman, whose experience of water boarding was, presumably, vestigial, expressed the trenchant view ‘that this is the justice that terrorists should get’. The British Government, buoyed by the American example and the tabloid press and convinced of the populist value of more, rather than less, oppressive legislation announced further

in reality, no such thing. It proceeded on the basis that a law designed only to criminalise ‘foreign terrorists’ was, ipso facto, discriminatory. The Government was, therefore, faced with a classic dilemma. It could scrap the existing (now useless) legislation providing for certification and detention without trial. Alternatively, it could avoid the issues of discrimination by extending detention without trial to everyone including, of course, British subjects. Charles Clarke and I had known

but have, on reflection, restrained myself, as I suspect he would himself fall into much the same category and I would not want to promote any affinity between us. After my rejection by Battersea South and others, I remained a solid member of the Labour Party and, on occasions, subscribed to elections and where necessary worked the streets. Otherwise I remained dormant. My return to active politics was occasioned by Neil Kinnock, who had become a friend during the 1974 campaign. We met at a

Little did he know. CHAPTER 19 OF WARS 3: THE GREAT GAME In which we remember 9/11 and the inevitable march to the unwinnable war – Reflect on the majestic impotence of parliamentary debate – Recollect the joy of Mr Donald Rumsfeld as 1 million ‘rations’ are dropped by American bombers, and witness the false dawn of liberation. I watched the destruction of the Twin Towers in my constituency office, where we had spent the morning occupied by the closure of a primary school in a

neglected in national endeavours to promote health, welfare and employment. It was also his role (and it was generally ‘him’) to resist the Government’s implementation of schemes that were positively detrimental to the interests of his constituency such as the positioning of an airport on large acres of natural beauty. In addition, if his constituency contained institutions of particular note, size or value, such as a naval dockyard or industrial complexes, it was the ‘job’ of a Member of

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