Beyond a Fringe Tales from a reformed Establishment lackey
Veering from the hilarious to the tragic, Andrew Mitchell’s tales from the parliamentary jungle make for one of the most entertaining political memoirs in years.
From his prep school years, straight out of Evelyn Waugh, through the Army to Cambridge, the City of London and the Palace of Westminster, Mitchell has passed through a series of British institutions at a time of furious social and political change – in the process becoming rather more cynical about the British Establishment. Here, he reflects on the perils and pleasures of loyalty, whether to a party, to individuals or to one’s own principles.
He brilliantly lifts the lid on the dark arts of the government Whips’ Office (‘Whipping, like stripping, is best done in private’) and reveals how he accidentally started Boris Johnson’s political career and later naively backed him to be Prime Minister – an act which rebounded on him spectacularly.
Mitchell also writes candidly about the Plebgate fiasco, which led to four police officers being sacked for gross misconduct and in one case imprisoned, while Mitchell himself faced a bill of millions of pounds in legal fees after losing his libel case.
Engagingly honest about his ups and downs in politics, Beyond a Fringe is crammed with hilarious political anecdotes and irresistible insider gossip from the heart of Westminster.
“A cracking good read – full of mischief and shrewd observation. Mitchell lifts the lid on so many layers of the British Establishment, and what he reveals will often make you laugh and occasionally make you want to weep. A human and political must-read.”Gyles Brandreth
“For once, here is an enjoyable departure from the standard political memoir: entertaining anecdotes combined with robust commentary on Westminster life. For a political outsider, there was much to be learned here – I particularly appreciated the sober and insightful account of Andrew’s work both in and out of the Department for International Development, a revelation in many senses.”Penelope Lively
“This is a story of an English boy drenched at birth in the attitudes and pieties of his parents, class and time and the slow peeling away of what he had lovingly thought of as timeless verities as he shimmied up the pole to find that most assumed ‘truths’ last as long as fashions in hats. With a wry self-awareness and sense of the ludicrous, this is a thoroughly refreshing personal and political memoir.”Bob Geldof
“Andrew Mitchell’s memoirs are that very rare thing – a genuine political page-turner. He is witty, self-aware and alive to both the repeated ridiculousness and critical importance of politics. He gives us an inside tour through Establishment institutions with an amused eye, provides an expert’s guide to the huge significance of international development work and also examines his own soul at a time of deep trial. For anyone who really wants to understand politics and politicians, this is the book to read.”Michael Gove
“This is not your usual self-serving political autobiography. A pacy read, mixing light and shade, and light and heavy, it is unsparing – on the author as well on others. The story of his role in Boris Johnson’s rise also confirms me in my view that Boris Johnson should be nowhere near Downing Street.”Alastair Campbell
“Honest and insightful, Beyond a Fringe taught me loads I didn’t know about how the other side works. A brilliant read.”Jess Phillips
'One of the several merits of this highly engaging memoir is the light it shines, often entertainingly and sometimes shockingly, on how ghastly that establishment can be.'Andrew Rawnsley, The Guardian
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- Hardback, 384 pages
- ISBN: 9781785906985
- 12 October 2021
- ISBN: 9781785906992
- 12 October 2021