Conference Diary: Francis Beckett

  • September 28, 2010 17:29
  • Katy Scholes

Biteback author, Francis Beckett is in Manchester this week for the Labour Conference, here's his take on the Miliband saga:

Stalin used to talk about socialism in one country, but Labour today seems to have opted for socialism in one family. Ed Milliband’s views are marginally to the left of his brother’s, but that’s not why they chose him. He may, as Neil Kinnock seems to be saying, have a more common touch than his brother, but that’s not it either. He is leader because he was not an MP when we went to war in Iraq.

The rejection of his brother is, quite simply, a way of putting two fingers up to Tony Blair. It’s a way of saying: we may have followed Blair for a decade and a half, but we hated his guts. Ed never had to make the career-destroying decision about whether to vote for war in Iraq or not. David voted for it; that’s why he’s not leader today. Harriet Harman voted for it; that’s why she’s so tainted by the Blair years that she sensibly decided not to run.

Robin Cook voted against it, which is why the most promising political career in the Blair generation petered out. John Denham voted against it, which is why he had to spend all those years in the wilderness – otherwise he’d have been in line for a pop at the leadership by now.

No one who voted for it would be acceptable. Anyone who voted against it had his career halted in its tracks by Blair. Ed can get the best of both worlds. He wasn’t there, and can claim he would have voted against it if he had been. So he’s got a chance – a slim one – of putting the grubby superficiality of the Blair years behind the Party. He’ll have to be an exceptional person to do it. I hope he is. We’ll find out.

Visit Francis Beckett's own website here. Or if you're keen to read more by Francis Beckett you can by a copy of his latest book, What Did the Baby Boomers Ever Do For Us? for £12.99 here.


We Ate All the Pies longlisted for Sports book prize!

  • September 28, 2010 14:18
  • Katy Scholes

We're absolutely delighted for Biteback author John Nicholson who has been longlisted for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award for his fantastic We Ate All the Pies!

"Fit to grace the shelves of any sporting library", We Ate All the Pies joins twelve other sporting books (chosen from a staggering 130) on the longlist to contend for the world's longest established and most valuable literary sports-writing prize.

The shortlist will be announced on 26th October with the winner announced at a lunchtime reception at Waterstone’s Piccadilly (London), Europe’s largest bookstore, on Tuesday 30th November.

We posted an exclusive extract from We Ate All the Pies but why not read it in its full glory and buy it now.


Local Elections Handbook 2010 - Available Now

  • September 28, 2010 10:37
  • Katy Scholes

Now in its 26th year, it's that time again when the Local Government Chronicle Elections Centre publish their annual Local Elections Handbook.

The Local Elections Handbook 2010 is a detailed summary of voting and electoral statistics for 164 local authorities that went to the polls in 2010.

Compiled by the experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher - who brought you British Electoral Facts published by Biteback in November last year - this is your one-stop statistical guide to local government in 2010.

Get your copy for £42.50 here.


Labour's Revival: A Moderniser's Manifesto by Paul Richards

  • September 27, 2010 12:34
  • Katy Scholes

"Paul Richards writes with conviction and lucidity. The new Labour leader should read this book."
Rachel Sylvester, The Times

Well the votes were in this weekend and in defeating the favourite (and his brother), Ed Miliband steps up to lead the Labour Party. Following a general election when its coalition of support has been fractured and its traditional voters have deserted it in their tens of thousands, the question is: will he be able to steer the party back to power?

Paul Richards, the founder of and columnist for Progress magazine, provides some guidance in his new book Labour's Revival: A Moderniser's Manifesto. He analyses Labour's strategic errors and the debilitating bumps in the road, plots against Gordon Brown’s leadership, poor election results and policy U-turns. He outlines the task ahead for Labour and calls on it to adopt a new agenda on public service reform, local ownership and control, a green economy and a renewed democracy.

As the Labour Party, with its new leader Ed Miliband at the helm, searches its soul and debates the future, Labour’s Revival provides a wake-up call for anyone who wants to see it come back as a serious party of government.

Labour's Revival: A Moderniser's Manifesto by Paul Richards is available to buy from the Biteback website priced £12.99


Some Yes, Minister light relief on a Monday morning

  • September 27, 2010 10:21
  • Katy Scholes

For a bit of light relief on a rather drab Monday morning, we thought we'd post a classic exchange between Yes Minister's Sir Humphrey and Bernard Woolley to put a smile on everyone's faces!

Sir Humphrey: Now go in there and inform me of their conversation.
Bernard Woolley: I'm not sure I can do that, Sir Humphrey. It might be confidential.
Sir Humphrey: Bernard, the matter at issue is the defence of the realm and the stability of the government.
Bernard Woolley: But you only need to know things on a need-to-know basis.
Sir Humphrey: I need to know everything! How else can I judge whether or not I need to know it?
Bernard Woolley: So that means you need to know things even when you don't need to know. You need to know them not because you need to know them, but because you need to know whether or not you need to know. And if you don't need to know you still need to know, so that you know there is no need to know.

Got your own favourite Yes, Minister quote? Let us know and enter our fantastic competition and you could win tickets to see the Yes, Prime Minister play at London's Gielgud theatre!

For more quotes, facts, titbits, lists and tips, check out The Yes Minister Miscellany by Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, available from the Biteback website, priced £6.99.