I had never done a live TV interview before – and on Sunday I had to do two. To say I was nervous when I went to bed on Monday evening is an understatement. To be honest I didn’t sleep very well and getting up really wasn’t a problem. Vilma was brilliant at trying to keep me calm but the house was so busy this weekend that I couldn’t wait to leave.
I got to the Andrew Marr show and waited in the Green Room and I began to feel calmer. I knew what I wanted to say and this was my first chance to say it in person. The only slight glitch was that I think that I overdid the coffee and I was getting caffeine rushes. Sat waiting for the opening shots I managed to have a conversation with Nick Clegg – we spoke about the joys of early mornings with the kids.
The interview with Andrew Marr was over in a flash buy I think it went ok. Carol Vorderman, who was reviewing the papers, told me she thought it went well and asked for a signed copy of the book. And then on to Sky for a session with Adam Boulton and Steve Pound MP.
The Green Room was busy as Ken Livingstone and Edwina Currie were preparing for their paper review. It was good to see Steve, I’ve always liked him and we spent some time catching up. And then we were on. Steve had a bit of a go at me, I had a bit of a go back – but it was all pretty friendly. It was over pretty quickly.
In the car on the way home Vilma texted me to say well done, she said that I only looked nervous right at the start of the Marr show. I was pleased as well; I had a chance to again explain why I have written Inside Out and why now. I had a chance to acknowledge that some Labour activists are understandably cross with me. And I was able to show that I stand by and am proud of my book.
LAST night was extraordinary, and this morning it just gets better. Everyone is talking about Peter Watt’s sensational memoirs, which I ghost wrote for him – and I’m not surprised.
When I first met Peter nine months ago, I knew I had hit journalistic gold. Here was a man who had enjoyed the highest level of access inside the Labour government, who had worked closely with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and other towering figures in the Labour party on a daily basis - and crucially, he was ready to reveal what really went on behind the scenes.
It didn’t matter that Peter wasn’t a household name. It was not about who he was, but what he knew. Yes, there have been books about the Labour regime by famous insiders like Alastair Campbell and John Prescott. But they were never prepared to risk the consequences, political and personal, of telling us the embarrassing and often ugly truth about life behind closed doors at Labour HQ and in no10.
Watt was treated appallingly by Brown, and had no such reservations. He knew where the bodies were buried, and he was prepared to show us. After being publicly condemned by Brown despite his years of loyalty, then forced into silence by a police investigation, it was finally time for him to have his say.
Crucially, Peter understood what I needed to make his story really fly: colourful and irreverent anecdotes like his ghastly account of a dinner party he and his wife attended at no10. He was funny and self deprecating, and I knew we had to write this book.
A number of publishers shied away from the project. After all, the received wisdom is that political books don’t sell – or do they? Iain Dale at Biteback understood the massive potential. In the end, the book was the subject of a bitter bidding war. Biteback’s faith in this book is paying off.
Isabel Oakeshott is Deputy Politcal Editor of The Sunday Times
Inside Out is a book that we have not previously been able to trumpet, due to it's serialisation, beginning today, in the Mail on Sunday. Excerpts from this extraordinary book will appear in the MoS over the next three weeks. The book is quite extraordinary and is published on 25th January. As I write this, Michael White is on Sky News, where it is top story, calling the book a serious indictment of Gordon Brown and commenting, "Revenge is a dish best eaten cold".
Inside Out is the ultimate insider exposé: a no-holds-barred account of the spectacular decline of the most effective party political machine of modern times and an intimate viewpoint onto the personalities at the heart of government, including the country’s two most recent Prime Ministers. Watt is the first insider to break ranks since Brown entered No. 10 and his revelations will send shockwaves through Westminster.
For many years in Libya spectator sports were outlawed. In a strange exercise of logic, Gaddafi felt professional sportsmen stole the benefits of physical exercise from their fans, labelling sporting clubs ‘rapacious social instruments, not unlike the dictatorial political instruments which monopolise power to the exclusion of the people’. Fans were ‘a multitude of fools… practising lethargy’. Football clubs were only allowed after Gaddafi’s son, Saadi, personally requested his father relax these restrictions. Since then, Saadi has gone on to become a long-serving member of the Libyan national team, although, his abilities have often been questioned. National Libyan team coach, Franco Scoglio, who was eventually dismissed for putting Saadi on the bench once too often, remarked of him, ‘as a footballer he’s useless. With him in the squad we were losing. When he left, we won’. Similarly, it’s claimed that during his career with Libyan team, al-Ittihad, the opposition would turn and run away rather than tackle Gaddafi’s son. However, Gaddafi junior went on to play for several prestigious Serie A clubs in Italy, signing for Perugia in 2003, to Udinese in 2005-06 and to Sampdoria in 2006-07. In all, he took to the field twice during his entire Italian career, and rumours circulated that Italian clubs were keen to profit from Libyan sponsorship. Indeed, Italian football has certainly profited from the Gaddafi connection. In 2002, at Saadi’s prompting, his father bought a £14 million stake in Juventus.
In the Pakistani city of Lahore, the stadium which hosts international cricket matches is named after Colonel Gaddafi, in gratitude for the aid he sent to West Pakistan in its 1971 civil war with East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). Gaddafi’s firmly entrenched place in the popular culture of cricket-obsessed South Asia suggests the extent of his involvement in the continent.
Seeking Gaddafi by Daniel Kawczynski is available from 8th February 2010