The End of the Party by Andrew Rawnsley

This text should be required reading for acolytes of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. It might focus too much on the upper echelons of the Labour Party. It might neglect the importance of ideology. It might not explore critical details about the input of trade unions like the Warwick Agreement of 2004. However, it is a readable account of a political project that was destroyed by foreign policy blunders and inappropriate economic policies.

Further, the book underlines the fact that presentation is not enough. Politics cannot be reduced to a form of public relations. Managing the message is insufficient. Citizens know the gap between slick discourse and delivery in the real world. A successful political movement should impact significantly on the lived experiences of ordinary people. Chasing flattering media coverage is not good enough.

The narrative can read like a list of failure. Certainly it does not concentrate on the positive. Complexity is sometimes ignored. As a result, it is advisable to try to acquire a ‘history from below’ to counteract the tangible bias, but the author makes great use of his elite sources. The tragedy of Prime Minister Tony Blair is summed up succinctly with an apt quote:

“I began hoping to please all of the people all the time; and ended up wondering if I was pleasing any of the people any of the time.”

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