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Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power: 'riotously candid' Sunday Times

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Just once in a while a book comes long which allows the hot-polloi to peep behind the curtain and see the machinery of the theatre of British political life.

Westminster diaries are judged on three levels: the details they leak, the political era they re-create and the central character of the author. Swire has literary ability, a quality that manifests itself in the colour with which she describes the show and the freaks within it.

There is much sniggering public schoolboy sex chat – jokes about the size of fellow MPs’ honourable members, referring to the current health secretary as Matt Hands on Cock – and a startling moment on a Cornish coastal walk with the Camerons, where the then prime minister asks Sasha not to walk in front of him because her perfume makes him want to “push you into the bushes and give you one”. A former journalist who gave up her career to look after her family, she had kept a diary since childhood, and carried on jotting down daily insights gleaned throughout her husband Hugo’s time as a minister under their good friend David Cameron (and subsequently as a backbencher under Theresa May).

If you needed proof that Britain has been misruled by the unserious, entitled, snobbish, incestuous and curiously childish then the acerbic Lady Swire, unwittingly or not, has provided it. Imagine the Alan Clark diaries, but written by his wife Jane instead: all the high-octane political gossip, set against a backdrop of country house shooting weekends and boozy dinners at Chequers, but seen through the sceptical eyes of a woman one step removed from all the head-butting stags. It is 30 years since Hazel Holt's biography; many more since David Cecil and Philip Larkin championed her novels. There is an acute political intelligence at work, of the sort that makes one wonder what might have been had Swire not settled for experiencing politics vicariously through her husband. This helped me understand why Cameron lobbied for Greensill, why Hancock turned covid-19 pandemic NHS procurement into a profiteering operation, and why Johnson and his wife sought their ridiculously over-budget redecoration of Downing Street.The author clearly was part of David Cameron’s inner circle and completely in the confidence of her husband throughout his years as an MP and junior minister. Sasha Swire, second left, with her husband, Hugo, Margaret Thatcher and Lady Miloska Nott at a dinner in Chelsea in 2010. But in Swire’s vignettes of Cameron’s chillaxed post-Downing Street life – telling his daughter he has a meeting, only to sit watching back-to-back episodes of Game of Thrones – and her perceptions of a very different, less privileged generation rising through the party lies another small piece of the jigsaw. At first it proved ideal shallow bedtime reading – entertaining gossipy disclosures about the world of Cameron, Osborne, Johnson, Gove, Raab etc.

Viele Tagebuchschreiber betätigen sich als Chronisten, reflektieren ihr Leben und bereichern die Geschichtsschreibung um eine Menge Klatsch und Tratsch.To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we don’t use a simple average. Because of the author’s position as a confidante of the main players, this book will be a primary source for future political and social historians. For this was the period of austerity, instituted by George Osborne (Boy George to the diarist) where council budgets were cut, bedroom tax introduced, the police force lost 20,000 jobs, disability benefits were slashed, and education, health and social security budgets were cut to the bone. Painfully revealing and often hilariously funny, here are the friendships and the fall-outs, the general elections and the leadership contests, the scandals and the rivalries.

She seemed somewhat in awe of Samantha Cameron, and also rather jealous of her various business successes. They were close enough to “Dave and Sam” to spend the day after the Brexit referendum getting sloshed with the defeated prime minister, while he raged about those he felt had wronged him. Unsurprisingly, she was scathing about Michael Gove (it’s a national sport, really) and surprisingly unpleasant about Sarah Vine, for reasons, I concluded, of jealousy. Somewhere, unknown to his or her colleagues, a secret scribbler will already be at work, documenting the rise and, in due course, no doubt, the fall of this administration" Well, here it is.Someone who I’ve met and whose general reputation is for total charmlessness, was surprisingly (to me) described as “charming” – presumably for being nice to her. After all, this is the same Dave who on another now-infamous occasion blamed pheromones for wanting to drag her into nearby bushes to “give her one”. But then if only half her recollections of the Notting Hill set are true, she has done the rest of us a favour by removing all possible doubt about the unfitness of most of them to govern.

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