Something to Say with Keith Newbery: An epic of contemporary politics

MY daughter bought me Andrew Rawnsley’s book, The End of the Party, for Christmas and it’s been what you might call a deliberately delayed delight.

I did not want to fritter the gift by dipping in for a few pages at a time, so I resisted the temptation to open it until I knew I had time to consume it in great, hearty chunks.

What better opportunity to make a start than on a transatlantic flight?

As I absorbed myself in the spectacularly devious machinations of Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Campbell (far more Machiavellian than you could ever imagine) the trip passed in no time.

Rawnsley is a man with the ability to convert his canny observations into compelling prose.

In doing so, he has created an epic of contemporary politics in which the genesis, glory days and grubby disintegration of the New Labour experiment is unsparingly chronicled.

It is a book Vince Cable would be well advised to – as my old English teacher used to say – read, learn and inwardly digest.

It may even prevent him from coming out with more of the pitiful whimpering he produced in the aftermath of his party’s humiliation in the AV referendum.

It is hardly credible that a man who has risen to ministerial status could be so naïve as to criticize the Conservatives for being ‘ruthless, brutal and thoroughly tribal.’

Surely he must have realized by now that it’s what political parties do.

These unattractive characteristics may not be their reasons for existing, but they are certainly their means of surviving.

The vacillating Cable (who once seemed the Lib Dems’ best hope of acquiring a leader of substance) has been a disappointment since the Alliance was stitched together.

His participation was always going to be a victory for vanity over principle.

As a consequence, he has spent the last 12 months teetering along a political tightrope, trying to balance national interest with party credibility.

The same has applied to the lubricious Chris Huhne, who is saying one thing as a concession to government consensus, and another as a sop to the party faithful.

Both men know Clegg is doomed as party leader, and both have their eyes on the succession.

The irony is, neither now has a hope of getting it.

THE 2018 World Cup is unlikely to be as entertaining as the battle to stage it.

England went into the match with an all-star forward line which included Prince William and David Beckham.

At one stage their flair seemed poised to provide an unlikely victory, but they were unable to provide the finishing touches to several neat moves.

Meanwhile, gaps at the back were quickly exploited by the determined Russians and the nimble Arabs.

They ran rings around ageing central defender, Lord Triesman, who had to resort to several late tackles – five months late, in fact.

However, his claims of bribery and corruption against four FIFA officials are certain to be ignored – and the result (never really in doubt) will stand.