A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin
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Chris Mullin has been a Labour MP for twenty years. In that time he has not been afraid to criticise his party. But despite his refusal to toe the party line - on issues like 90 days detention and Africa, for example - he has held several prominent posts. To the apoplexy of the whips, he was for a time the only person appointed to government who voted against the Iraq War. He also chaired the Home Affairs Select Committee and was a member of the Parliamentary Committee, giving him direct access to the court of Tony Blair. Mullin is irreverent, wry and candid. His keen sense of the ridiculous allows him to give a far clearer insight into the workings of Government than other, more overtly successful and self-important politicians. He offers humorous and incisive takes on all aspects of political life: from the build-up to Iraq, to the scandalous sums of tax-payers' money spent on ministerial cars he didn't want to use. His diary is a joy to read: brilliantly-observed, it will entertain and amuse far beyond the political classes.
eight applicants for the two vacancies on the Public Accounts Committee. However, they were all men. She asked for a further week in the hope that a suitable woman could be persuaded to put her name forward. This was greeted with scepticism by those of us who believe that Hilary is looking for an excuse to exclude Frank Field. Andrew Mackinlay asked the killer question: ‘How many women applied when the committee was formed in July and how many did you put on?’ Answer: five applied and none were
Wednesday, 18 June The Foreign Office Day Three. I still take wrong turnings on the way to and from my luxurious apartment (I even have my own bathroom). Everything is larger than life. Ceilings so high as to be in the clouds, huge double doors which can only be opened with effort, miles of polished corridors, marble statues, pillars, vast (politically incorrect) murals. One half expects to see Sir Edward Grey or Lord Halifax sweeping down the grand staircase. Today I returned from lunch
and violence laying waste to their continent. We talk of good governance, democracy, transparency and they make all the right noises. Only on one subject – Zimbabwe – do they have their heads firmly in the sand. Despite Mugabe’s evident wickedness, despite the ruin he has inflicted on his country (which in private they usually acknowledge), no African, or virtually none, will say a word against him in public. The South Africans (who are playing host to a million Zimbabwean refugees) talk of
just want to go to her and say, ‘Come on, Mum. The nightmare’s over. I am taking you home.’ It has been decided by some shadowy Whitehall committee that I require protection for my visit to east Africa later this week. Why, for goodness’ sake? No one has ever suggested that I need protecting before. This afternoon two Special Branch officers came to explain. Kenya, apparently, is the problem. Nothing personal, but there are credible if vague reports that a local franchise of al-Qaida is
I must not utter a word on the subject, for fear of inviting judicial review. Even now it will be another three weeks before the decision can be made public, to allow yet more time for lawyers to crawl through the small print. But one day – five years hence – I shall be able to look out over the tranquillity of Windermere, sans power boats, and say, ‘I did that.’ Tuesday, 18 January Alan Haselhurst, a very civilised Tory, came to see me about Stansted Airport. He says it’s growing like Topsy