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The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of…

The End of the Party: The Rise and Fall of New Labour (2010)

by Andrew Rawnsley

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This is a tale on par with anything told by Shakespeare. Gordon Brown, the brilliant Chancellor whose hubris evicted Tony Blair so that he might become Prime Minister. In a party which professed to support the best candidate as opposed to the outmoded Conservatives, Brown felt that he should have become Labour Leader instead of Blair, based upon seniority.

Brown had all the charisma of a three week old kipper. Difficulties with his vision, caused by a rugby injury in youth, hampered his limited media appeal and a combination of paranoia and an uncontrolled temper made him the worst possible choice as leader but also the last person to whom one would express such an opinion.

This eminently readable account of Labour from the beginning of TB's second government until the day that Brown walked out of Downing Street makes even an arch Social Democrat, such as myself, grateful that Cameron and Clegg created a hotch-potch alliance to remove him.

I have read most of the biographies of the main characters, which were rushed out following the defeat of New Labour. Some are good, some less so but, this work stitches together the nearest story to the absolute truth that we are ever likely to see. Andrew Rawnsley seems to have spoken to all the main protagonists - and many of the bit part characters, whose story may not be worthy of their own book, but shines an undeniable light of verisimilitude on the action. Whilst nobody comes out untarnished, not Blair, Cameron, Clegg, Mandelson or Campbell; the real villain is clearly Gordon Brown. His tale takes him through a lingering death of a thousand cuts as he alienated the country section by section. It becomes almost a morality tale, be nice to people on the way up because you might meet them again, on the way down.... ( )
  the.ken.petersen | Oct 30, 2011 |
A behind the scenes look at the inner workings of the Blair-Brown leadership in government. Rawnsley shows us how very human and inperfect politians are when the cameras are off of them. I did feel though that Rawnsley personified Brown as the wicked tyrant who ranted and bullied his way through the corridors of power. ( )
  bennyb | Jan 17, 2011 |
Again Andrew Rawnsley gets amazing access to the players with the Labour government and paints a vivid picture of the work of government and the struggles of politicians.

Structurally it tries to group the end of the Blair era by themed chapters and this feels disjointed as anecdotes and vignettes reoccur but in different contexts or to valid different statements.

It gets stronger with the linear narrative that reasserts itself for the Brown years. In the newer chapters for the later edition it gets a bit metatextual when it begins analysing the impact of the book itself.

Overall though it is a powerful companion to the earlier "Servants of the People". ( )
  rrees | Dec 28, 2010 |
This book describes the New Labour government from the election in 2001 (Tony Blair’s second election victory) through to the Labour Party Conference at the end of 2009 (the last before a general election must be called). It is a political history concentrating on the major personalities of government and how they react and interact as events unfold around them.

This is definitely a warts-and-all view although it is less partisan than I thought it might be. At first the chaos, the fallibility of the leaders, the pettiness, the reliance on personality and the sheer inefficiency of everything seemed shocking. Then I started to consider, there is little here to tell us if this is all more or less than in other governments; and is what is described here really any different to what goes on in every office and organisation in the land? In the light of this it all seems rather less shocking and rather more like everyday life at work, except with bigger and more expensive toys.

Blair comes across as a decent chap trying to do the right thing being thwarted by the flaws in his own personality and by the Darth Vader character in this saga, Gordon Brown. Brown’s positive qualities, in turn, seem to be played down in favour of his win-at-all-costs, power-for-the-sake-of-it approach. Even though he takes equal billing in the cover art of this bok, we hear very little about Mandelson.

Rawnsley uses published records and the output of many hours of interviews to verify what he describes. This often results in repetition and has left us with a book much longer than I think it needs to be. Still, an excellent view of recent political history that has changed my perception of New Labour (for the better) and taught me something about how modern British politics at the sharp end (actually in charge) works. ( )
  pierthinker | May 31, 2010 |
The Servants of the People published in 2000 chronicled Labour's election and first term in power, this book details everything that has happened since. Rawnsley, political columnist for the Observer, quotes from quite an impressive array of sources as he writes the story of New Labour, 9/11 and the war on terror, the Iraq War and the dodgy dossier that got us there and the financial crisis. It also goes into deep details of the personalities and conflicts between the main protagonists.

Rawnsley comes across as quite Blairite and for him other than when he details the David Kelly affair in which is he quite vitriolic about Blair's involvement, he is portrayed almost as the man who can do no wrong and when things do not turn out as they should, the finger of blame is nearly always pointed at Brown and those in his team who push him into being more extreme than he would be on his own (all of Douglas Alexander, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband and Damian McBride do not come out of this book looking good). In a chapter entitled 'the long goodbye' he details what he sees as the highlights of TB's 13 years in power:

"generous investment in health and education which reversed years of neglect of the public realm. State-funded childcare was introduced alongside the minimum wage. There was considerable redistribution, mainly the work of Chancellor, from the affluent to the poor. Tax and benefit changes since 1997 broadly raise the incomes of the poorest fifth of society. This was not enough to entirely counteract the global forces which were stretching the inequalities and the super-rich continued to pull away from every one else...he left Britain wealtheir and more diverse, but not much happier than how he found it."

The book received a great deal of press pre-publication for the details of Gordon Brown's temper and the book paints him as palpably mad. He is seen as moody, sulking, petty and violent. The reason, it is made to look, that there was no real challenge to Brown for the Labour leadership is that he crushed any promising talent that might challenge what he viewed as his solemn right to govern Britain. He and his team are shown to continually brief and leak against Blair, the content of his budgets were rarely divulged up to a couple of hours before they were announced when they were already at the printers and he is shown to be the worst micro-manager possible.

The book is far from perfect and you are painfully aware that the author is still working with the people he is writing about and so tries to stay away from making personal judgement. However in an election year and despite whatever economic competence he portrays Brown as having you cannot but arrive at the conclusion that Gordon Brown is insane

An interesting if not biased account.

4/5 ( )
1 vote phollando | Apr 23, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0670918512, Hardcover)

Andrew Rawnsley's bestselling and award-winning "Servants of the People" was acclaimed across all media as the most authoritative and entertaining account of New Labour and its first term in office. As one reviewer put it, 'Rawnsley's ability to unearth revelation at the highest level of government may leave you suspecting that there are bugs in the vases at Number 10'. "The End of the Party" is packed with more astonishing revelations as Rawnsley takes up the New Labour story from the day of its second election victory in 2001. There are riveting inside accounts of all the key events from 9/11 and the Iraq War to the financial crisis and the parliamentary expenses scandal; and entertaining portraits of the main players as Rawnsley takes us through the triumphs and tribulations of New Labour as well as the astonishing feuds and reconciliations between Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and confidential conversations with those at the heart of power, Andrew Rawnsley provides the definitive account of the rise and fall of New Labour.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:21 -0400)

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"The End of the Party has generated headlines around the world. Drawing on hundreds of confidential conversations and interviews, Andrew Rawnsley takes us behind the black door of Number 10 to provide the most authoritative inside account of all the key events from 9/11 and the Iraq War to the financial crisis and the parliamentary expenses scandal. This fully updated edition adds two new chapters and an epilogue which deliver more of the astonishing revelations, vivid character portraits, penetrating insights, acute judgements and sharp wit that readers expect from Britain's foremost political commentator and documentary maker. The fresh material covers the 2010 election campaign and Gordon Brown's final days in Downing Street to complete the definitive assessment of the rise and fall of New Labour."--p. [i].… (more)

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