3.5 out of 5 stars

Regardless of their particular hue, politicians, these days have made themselves one of the least respected professions for a whole raft of reasons, being out of touch, self-serving and how shall I put this, economical with the truth a lot of the time. A sizeable number of them have never worked outside the Westminster bubble either, going straight from a degree from the right university into a policy unit or working for politicians directly. Very rarely these days do you come across one who has a hinterland. In essence, this means someone who has finally become a politician after having experienced the world and workplace and is probably better placed to make a sensible decision.

Mullin was one of those people who did have a life before politics, he had been a journalist reporting from the wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Tracked down the survivors of a CIA operation in Tibet, written three novels and successfully campaigned to free those wrongly imprisoned. He was first elected to parliament as a Labour MP at the age of 39 and immediately set about asking the difficult questions to those who had made themselves too comfortable.

Because of this he was not always liked, even by those in his own party, but his persistence and consistency meant that he earned the respect of other MPs in the end. He was asked to be a junior minister under Blair and New Labour and worked for three departments by the end of his time in government. Mullin much preferred being on the Select committees though where he felt he had much more influence that he did as a junior minister.

I picked this it up because his diaries were a brilliant expose of what it was like to be an MP and a junior minister. It is a little different from those though as this is a potted biography of his life before and outside the political arena, though naturally, he does venture in there as it did take a lot of his life up before retirement. He has far more depth than most current shallow politicians and that alone makes this worth reading.

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