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Postcards from the Westminster bubble


THE shortlist for the Parliamentary Book Awards 2021 has been passed to TCW Defending Freedom.  

Publishers were invited to nominate titles and authors for the awards, with booksellers selecting the shortlists. Voting is now open for parliamentarians to decide the winner in each category. The winners will be announced in a ceremony on Wednesday March 9, 2022.  

There follows a handy guide for voters who do not have the time for detailed reviews. 

Best Non-Biographical Book by a Parliamentarian 

Hard Choices by Peter Ricketts 

According to the blurb from his publisher, if you read this book, you can look forward to the following revelation … 

‘In this lucid and groundbreaking analysis, one of Britain’s most experienced senior diplomats highlights the key dilemmas Britain faces, from trade to security, arguing that international co-operation and solidarity are the surest ways to prosper in a world more dangerous than ever.’  

Spoiler alert: That’s about it, really. International co-operation is good. Non co-operation is bad. Who would have guessed? 

Lord Ricketts was a member of a group of peers and MPs that wanted to take legal action against the Prime Minister for failing to investigate alleged Kremlin meddling in the 2016 referendum.  

He no doubt thought that a tweet from Ivan in Moscow influenced the vote of Doreen from Grimsby. Maybe I’m just bitter that after a perfunctory interview at the Foreign Office I was deemed to be too much of a yahoo for their liking! 

Greater: Britain After The Storm by Penny Mordaunt and Chris Lewis  

Despite being hailed as the most practical and optimistic book in the selection, it starts badly, with recommendations from Bliar, Johnson and Branson. Worse still, if the adage ‘by your friends ye shall be known’ has any weight, this book is damned before it begins – with a foreword by the former Jeffrey Epstein associate and self-professed ‘philanthropist’ William Gates. 

In the light of recent events, Gates’s introduction is vomit-inducing. He writes in April 2021: ‘Before this year global health didn’t get much attention in the news.’  

It’s no surprise that this changed with his ‘philanthropic’ donations of 319million dollars from the Gates Foundation.  He boasts about ‘the UK … being the place outside the United States where … the Gates Foundation invest most in research and development’. 

He who pays the piper! His manifesto then demands that the whole planet should embrace net zero emissions with all the horrors and deprivation that the policy is already inflicting on the Western world. 

Notwithstanding the wittering of the Gates creature, Mordaunt is a cabinet minister who has stayed in her post throughout the enforcement of the disastrous Covid policies, State-sponsored child abuse and the promotion of Net Zero, and, therefore, does not deserve to have any of her opinions taken seriously. 

Everything You Need to Know About PoliticsMy Life as an MP by Jess Phillips 

You might think that a book from an MP that got a poor review from Zoe Williams in the Guardian was worth a recommendation. Do not be fooled.  

The once worthwhile rag has also given Phillips a marshmallow interview to promote her musings. In that interview, she is asked: ‘How is Labour to restore its fortunes?’  

Her reply is: ‘It has to do it with confidence. We need to stop diagnosing the problem and start to talk about the future. It can only be done with hope and good humour.’  

In other words, she has no idea.  

Perhaps the main problem with this book is in the title Everything You Need to Know About Politics. Everybody has seen more than enough of our venal, subservient, obsequious, devious, simpering Members of Parliament to realise that we do not want to know another single thing about politics. 

Seven Ways to Change the World by Gordon Brown  

In 1985, Tears for Fears released their song Everybody Wants to Rule the World. I suggest they re-release the song with a revised version entitled Everybody Wants to Save the World.  

This booklist is chock full of suggestions and it is no surprise that the dour, ruminating Brown should give us his two penn’orth worth of wisdom (actually RRP £25).  

He identifies what he believes to be the major crises of the 21st century: Global health; climate change and environmental damage; nuclear proliferation; global financial instability; the humanitarian crisis and global poverty; the barriers to education and opportunity and global inequality and its biggest manifestation, global tax havens.  

As is the case with the other saviours, the self-inflicted catastrophes of the international responses to the scamdemic, and the fiction of anthropogenic climate change loom large in his pondering.  

The brooding leviathan is currently the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, but he no doubt awaits the day when a pleading nation demands he returns to save it from his seven deadly crises. 

Best Biography, Memoir or Autobiography by a Parliamentarian 

Spider Woman by Lady Hale 

An inspiring story about how a little girl from Yorkshire, named Brenda by her thoughtless parents, smashed the fabled ‘glass ceiling’, the favourite metaphor of the downtrodden striver.  

The pinnacle of her career was undoubtedly being chosen as a judge on the BBC’s Master Chef, almost matched by being asked to choose her favourite tunes for Desert Island Discs

The book also covers the glass ceiling-breaker’s choice of the twinkling spider brooch that she famously wore in 2019 in an attempt to thwart the result of the Brexit referendum as she sat as a judge in the Supreme Court. 

The book will appeal to those who enjoy reading about a how a humble young woman from the North obliterated the glass ceiling to destroy the evil patriarchy and become a revered household name in the posher parts of Camden and Islington. Did I mention glass ceilings? 

Appetite: A Memoir in Recipes of Family and Food by Ed Balls 

Quite why anyone is interested in recipes from Ed Balls is beyond me. Are we to be offered Repairing your Ford Transit from Emily Thornberry, My Top Ten Martinis by Diane Abbott (on reflection, that might be okay) and From Piglet to Peppa – a History of Bacon, from Ed Milliband?

His approach to cooking seems to be rooted in ideas which stress the importance of macro-economic ingredients suffused by post neo-classical endogenous growth theory and flavoured with a soupçon of the symbiotic relationships between growth and investment, tempered by people and infrastructure. 

Highlights include: PFI Steak and Kidney Pie: A well-cooked concoction using only the finest ingredients that could be bought at Aldi for a tenth of the price. 

Euro Sausage and Mash: A meal guaranteed to give you wind and sleepless nights. 

Flip-Flop Pudding: A dessert that will appear when you want it and where you want it to suit your convenience and your pocket. 

Beyond A Fringe: Tales from Reformed Establishment Lackey by Andrew Mitchell 

Imagine you had laboured all your life in the belief that you were a good egg, and were doing your best for your constituents and the grateful recipients of the foreign aid you championed, without their consent, only to be remembered for a single word. That word of course is ‘pleb’.  

One of the most contentious issues of the last decade was did he or did he not utter that word. Given the recent revelations about the conduct of the Metropolitan Police, one is inclined to believe he did not.  

The book could be seen as a reverse Rake’s Progress, where the hero rescues himself from the degradation of association with the Establishment to become a free-thinking member of the Enlightenment. Sadly, he disproves that analogy by remaining as an MP in the cesspit that is the House of Commons. 

In the Thick of It: The Private Diaries of a Minister by Alan Duncan 

Popinjay (noun)Definitions: 

A person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter 

A woodpecker, especially the green woodpecker. 

Archaic. The figure of a parrot usually fixed on a pole and used as a target in archery and gun shooting. 

Alan Duncan 

Enoch Powell famously said: ‘All political lives, unless they are cut off in mid-stream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics.’ 

Exhibit A is former minister Alan Duncan. Like countless others who do not receive the preferment that they think their self-professed brilliance should bestow, the writer unleashes his barbed ‘private’ (some mistake, publisher?) diary on an indifferent public.  

Duncan does at least have some perceptive analysis of his former colleagues, describing Gavin Williamson as a ‘venomous self-seeking little shit’, Priti Patel a ‘brassy monster’, and Michael Gove an ‘unctuous freak’. 

Best Political Book by a Non-Parliamentarian 

How To Stop Fascism, by Paul Mason  

Did you know that rice pudding was far Right? What about Noddy? Starlings? Lampposts? WD-40? Aloe Vera? In this unilluminating diatribe, journalist Paul explains how fascism has evolved from its pre-1914 roots to infiltrate just about everything we encounter in our daily lives.

This book is a warning. He believes that the only way we can stop this assault on our way of life is to develop a command economy underpinned by censorship, surveillance and the denial of political power to those he and his politburo colleagues deem to be unsuitable.  

This society would have no resemblance to a fascist society, no, none whatsoever. Anyone who thinks in that way is a fascist, obviously, just like the far Right penguins, nail clippings, cucumbers, radiators, cushions … 

As well as being a former editor on BBC’s Newsnight and Channel Four News, Paul is an ex-member of a Trotskyist organisation called Worker’s Power. His association with such stalwart far Left anti-fascist organisations has no doubt informed his writings and given him valuable insights into how society can be better controlled. 

Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera 

Historycake has a simple recipe. The ingredients are yours to choose. Find some juicy stories, mix with supportive cherry-picked facts and sprinkle with a few salty opinions.  

The British Empire will continue for evermore as inspiration for those who want to examine the good, the bad and the ugly in human nature. Unfortunately, it is usually the bad and the ugly that we are asked to consume and the native population who are invited to feel indigestion of colonial guilt. 

Perhaps the writer, who is of Sikh parenthood, could devote his next book to the bravery of his ancestors, who fought magnificently on behalf of the Raj, and their historic territorial and religious battles with the Moghul Empire.  

It is noticeable that the discordant cacophony that sounds in most of these books is the whine of the irredeemable Remoaner Orchestra.  

The writers persist in the fatuous notion that because the Union Flag once flew over Minorca or some hill station in the Hindu Kush, 17.4million people, yearning for a return of Empire, voted to leave the corrupt, globalist totalitarian mafioso based in Brussels. 

Value(s): The Must-read Book on How to Fix Our Politics by Mark Carney 

Goldman Sachs, The Group of Thirty (a Rockefeller Foundation construct), the World Economic Forum, the Bilderberg Group, United Nations envoy for climate action (whatever that is) and investment banker … Mark Carney has been there, done that and got their various gilded T-shirts. 
Given that background, it is faintly ludicrous for him to bemoan the failings of a society that he believes has been robbed of its capacity to embrace his seven wishy-washy ‘key values’: Solidarity, fairness, responsibility, resilience, sustainability, dynamism and humility – all laced with compassion. 

Maybe he could explain how a single parent on a low wage living in a grotty rented flat should embrace the zero carbon future he advocates, or stand in solidarity with the Gruppenführer of the WEF and its globalist medico-tech-slave New World Order.  

Perhaps Mark could show his compassion and humility and form a better understanding of the world by exchanging places with that person for a few months. 

Freedom by Nathan Law 

At last, a serious book describing a young man’s heroic resistance to uphold democratic accountability in Hong Kong.  

His actions and writing put to shame the kowtowing of the West to the Chinese Communist Party in exchange for fleeting financial gain. 

Whilst most of the other authors were honing their saviour complexes, or being nasty about former colleagues over a bottle or two of Chenin Blanc, Nathan Law’s commitment and beliefs were being tempered in the flames of the repressive furnace that is fed by the paranoia of the People’s Republic of China. 
Would that our elected representatives had an ounce of the fervour displayed by this young man. Nathan is now a UK citizen. Perhaps one day he will be elected to Parliament and drain the putrid cesspit it has become. 

A clear winner.

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John Ellwood
John Ellwood
John is the father of four beautiful girls. He is, thankfully, not knowingly related to Tobias Ellwood. ‘My Dear Friends . . . ’ a compilation of many of John’s contributions to TCW Defending Freedom is available in paperback and on Kindle.

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