We’ve been browsing some of the biographies published late last year and early this year. They haven’t had the media love that other political biographies have enjoyed because of the pandemic but while we’re all stuck indoors, there’s no better time to start reading!
Here’s some of the top new political autobiographies for you to read and enjoy.
1. SASHA SWIRE – Diary of an MP’s wife
This book was splashed all over the papers when it launched last year. It does indeed feature some salacious gossip from the Cameron years that I am sure a few would have rather stayed unknown. Sasha Swire is the wife of Hugo Swire who was a Conservative MP from 2010-2016 (and Minister for NI!), so this book has a bit of an outsider’s perspective. Nevertheless, there’s many a hilarious, outrageous and even drunken stories of the boozy, highs and lows of the David Cameron Government as well as a brief glimpse into our now-PM, Boris Johnson. While this book won’t teach you the inns and outs of life as an MP, it will give you a glimpse into political class, events and shenanigans the Westminster crowds get up to.
2. PETER CARDWELL – The Secret Life of Special Advisers
A good insight into the quiet and often unspoken world of SPADs. Peter Cardwell was a media SPAD for a number of MPs and his book reviews some of his work campaigns, stories and perks while he was in the role. It’s a funny, light hearted book which features a glimpse into the trials and tribulations of working between the Government and the Civil Service. While Peter never reached the notoriety of Dominic Cummings or Alistair Campbell, there’s one or two stories that politicos will certainly recognise and learn he was the man behind them. A short but fascinating read into the mysterious world of special advisers.
3. JOHN BERCOW – Unspeakable, the autobiography
Orrrrderrrr Orrrrderrrr! (I know you read it in his voice) early last year the previous Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow released a biography, into his life, his role as Speaker and how democracy in the United Kingdom runs.
While some would say Mr Speaker was never a fan of democracy, rather his own voice, this book gives a brief insight into the inner workings of the House. Bercow had been an MP for a long time so he also gives his verdict on leaders from Tony Blair right through to Boris Johnson. It does miss some of the technical aspects of being in the Speaker’s Chair, there’s certainly not much Eskine May but for a man known more for his ego than his height, there’s a many a verdict given on the big names in politics. Worth a look in!
4. ELFYN LLWYD Betws a’r Byd
Published in October last year and one for the Welsh amongst us (and yes this book is now available in Welsh too). The biography of former Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd is a short but interesting read. The book covers his time serving as MP through the trials and tribulations including Iraq, volatile Select Committees and . Elfyn also covers his own Party, something I suppose you rarely see in political books. He spent over 20 years as an MP so this is a mere snippet of his time representing people, successes, failures and the achievements that made him proud.
It even features a rather unusual story about the secret service…Hmmm…
5. FIONA ONASANYA – Snakes and Adders: A set up for the step up
This was a political story which did not end as well as perhaps hoped, famed mainly for her stint in prison for perverting the court of justice, Fiona Onasanya was the first ever MP to be removed by her own constituents after a successful recall petition. However she’s turning it around and this book is one of the first steps back as she hopes for a career in motivational speaking.
A short 122 pages, the book’s key take-away was a line related to the game ‘snakes and ladders’ but I’ll let you read it for yourselves. Covering her time as Peterborough’s first Labour MP in over 10 years the book has plenty of comradeships, exclamation marks and ice crunching that will send the right wing readers wild. While there’s little mention of the crime, only her innocence, the final few chapters cover her time behind bars. It was not a nice experience for the Champagne Socialist who could no longer enjoy almond milk with her breakfast and munched spaghetti hoops for a meal but there are some hilarious prison anecdotes.
It is an independent publication so not as polished as the other books on the list but if you want a peek into something a little more chaotic, different and left-wing, give this a punt!
So there you have it 5 political autobiographies from the last year which didn’t quite get the press they ought to have had due to the pandemic. Hope you find the time to enjoy a few (or try the audio versions) before our 2021 lockdown ends!