Sunday 22 February 2009

Chris Mullin in conversation with Michael White

Extracts from Chris Mullin's diaries 'A View from the foothills' are serialised in today's Mail on Sunday.

This promises to be one of the most enjoyable political books of the year. The lack of a smoking gun is indicated not just by Mullin's self-deprecating title for his wry and witty observational diary, but also by 'Day Prescott came to work in odd shoes' being in the standfirst of their frontpage splash. The MoS draws comparisons with Alan Clark, though the extracts suggest more of a Yes Minister experience. Number 10's engagement, through Anji Hunter, in the Leylandi hedge issue is given a good deal of space, somewhat ironically given that this was doubtless driven primarily by fear of the Dail Mail reaction.

The Fabians will host Chris Mullin in conversation with Michael White in Westminster on Wednesday 18th March, the week of publication. (The book will also be the Radio Four book of the week that week). Places are by registration: contact if you would like to attend.

Today's extract begins with Mullin wondering whether he should give up the chairmanship of the Home Affairs select committee for the bottom rung in John Prescott's mega-department, and ends with his being reshuffled to a role at DFID which seems more likely to be a chance to do something useful.

I have been reshuffled. As I was getting ready to go for the train, my private office called to say the Prime Minister was looking for me. The Man called and asked if I would like to replace George Foulkes at International Development. I replied: 'Nothing would give me more pleasure than helping to redistribute the wealth of the middle classes to the poorest people in the world.'
A brief silence and then a chuckle. 'Ah, Chris, that's not quite how it works.'
'Don't worry, Tony, I'll be discreet.' And that was that. My career as the lowest form of life in JP's empire is over. I am now the lowest form of life in a smaller, but more agreeable department.

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