In light of recent events...

  • October 07, 2010 13:06
  • Katy Scholes

...we have reached for the bestselling Yes Minister Miscellany.

What with budget cuts, the revision of defence spending, the occasional leak of official documents and murmerings of the effects upon the Coalition of a replacement of Trident, Yes Minister proves that it really is as timeless as ever:

"Conventional Forces are terribly expensive. Much cheaper just to press a button."

Submit your favourite Yes Minister quote to be entered into our free prize draw. Biteback Publishing is running a competiton in tandem with the Yes, Prime Minister stage show and we're offering three lucky winners the chance to win two tickets to see the show!

To enter, simply email your favourite Yes Minister or Yes Prime Minister one-liner and your contact details to katy.scholes@bitebackpublishing.com. All entries will be entered into a random draw and the winners picked and announced on the Biteback website on 1st November 2010.

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Labour's Revival makes its appearance on the mayoral scene

  • October 06, 2010 10:17
  • Katy Scholes

Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone received his copy of Labour's Revival from author Paul Richards at the Labour Conference last week.

May it bring you much happiness Kenneth!

Get your copy of Labour's Revival: the moderniser's manifesto now for £12.99

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Conference Diary: Nicholas Jones

  • October 05, 2010 15:44
  • Katy Scholes

Labour’s latest broadside against the Cameron-Coulson partnership

Given the skilful way the Conservatives have used the news media to prepare public opinion for the cutback in child benefit announced at this week’s party conference in Birmingham, it is no wonder that Labour MPs are continuing to gun for David Cameron’s communications chief Andy Coulson.

Channel 4’s Dispatches programme – which made fresh allegations about Coulson’s involvement in phone-hacking by News of the World journalists – provided ready-made ammunition for opposition MPs and another barrage of damaging publicity.

But Coulson is standing firmly by his previous denials of having had any knowledge of how the paper’s royal editor hacked into mobile phone messages. This is despite fresh claims by an unidentified former senior journalist that Coulson listened in personally to intercepted voicemails of public figures. Tom Watson, Labour MP for West Bromwich, has called on Cameron to make a statement to Parliament.
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Nicholas Jones, author of Campaign 2010, says Coulson has a pivotal role as Downing Street’s director of communications in co-ordinating the media build up to announcements by the coalition government about the current spending review. The decision to withdraw child benefit from parents who are higher rate taxpayers was a well kept secret but the possibility of a cut was trailed in both the Sunday newspapers and weekend radio and television programmes, preparing the ground for the Chancellor George Osborne.

Campaign 2010 provides an insider’s account of how Coulson was appointed the Conservatives’ media chief in 2007 and then worked with Cameron to prize the support of the Murdoch press away from the Labour government.

Cameron has been a beneficiary of the style of campaigning journalism favoured by the Sun and the News of the World and under Coulson’s guidance his government is managing to orchestrate favourable coverage for the spending cuts which are now being announced.

Jones says Campaign 2010 gives readers a step-by-step guide as to how Cameron and Coulson succeeded in bringing together the Conservative and Liberal Democrat media teams to promote the first peace-time coalition government and allow Cameron to claim that under his premiership politicians from opposing parties can work together in the national interest.

Nicholas Jones's book Campaign 2010 is available from the Biteback website priced £9.99.

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Brought to Book: Shane Greer

  • October 04, 2010 14:21
  • Katy Scholes

Executive editor of Total Politics magazine and editor of So You Want to be a Politician Shane Greer gets Brought to Book.

What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t have a favourite to be honest. When it comes to fiction I like anything by Raymond E. Feist or Robert Ludlum. As for non-fiction, I’m a big fan of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, Drew Westen’s The Political Brain, Bastiat’s The Law and Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom.

As a child, what was your favourite book and why?
Anything by Raymond E. Feist. But if I had to pick an absolute favourite, I’d have to go with Rise of a Merchant Prince.

What book would you take on holiday this year?
It depends where I’ve got to in my reading list. But Thanksgiving isn’t far away, so I’ll take a punt and say that I’ll bring Alice Schroeder’s The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life (which has been sitting on my bookshelf for far too long).

Do you have a favourite political book/biography?
I don’t have a single favourite. My favourites include those listed above. But to make this a little more interesting I’ll throw in David Plouffe’s Audacity to Win and Joe McGinniss’ The Selling of the President.

Which book published in the last ten years do you think is the most significant?
Significance is relative. But in the world of politics I’d probably go with the Alastair Campbell diaries.

Which literary character would you most like to be and why?
That’s a tough one. But I think I’ll go with Pug (who can be found in almost all the Raymond E. Feist novels). Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be a master magician whose best friend rides a golden dragon?

Shane Greer's So You Want to be a Politician is available from the Biteback website.

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Conference Diary: Paul Richards

  • October 04, 2010 11:40
  • Katy Scholes

William Hague’s speech this week made much of the book sales at the Labour Party conference last week. That Tristram Hunt’s biography of Friedrich Engels outsold both Blair and Mandelson was taken as evidence of a resurgence of communism.

I spent a fair chunk of the week hanging around the bookshop at conference in Manchester, but I didn’t see any communists. I did see a pleasing number of people buying Labour’s Revival, and even more looking at it, and saying they would get a copy mail-ordered. Billy Hayes, general secretary of the CWU bought a copy. Even Ken Livingstone leafed through a copy.

It is always a thrill for an author to see their work in print (they’re lying if they deny it), and to see people buying and reading it. When Michael Crick from Newsnight filmed me signing copies (as though there was a queue of people wanting a signed copy), it was a highlight of the week.

I hope people who wish Labour well read the book. It’s designed to provide succour to the new leader (I’m glad I left that question open in the book) and a guide to what Labour should do next. There’s a pretty hard-hitting analysis of the failings of the last years of Labour in government. Looking back, it seems mild compared to the revelations coming out in my namesake Steve Richards’s book and radio series. Most of all there’s a plan for Labour’s next moves forward.

Rachel Sylvester of The Times says the new Labour leader should read Labour’s Revival. I know there’s a copy in Ed’s office, but I don’t know if he’s picked it up – yet!

Get your copy of Labour's Revival by Paul Richards for £12.99 here.

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