Politics, Poverty and Belief: A Political Memoir by Frank Field - review by Michael White

Michael White

Holy Man of Westminster

Politics, Poverty and Belief: A Political Memoir

By

Bloomsbury 208pp £20
 

As an MP for forty storm-tossed years, Frank Field was often an elusive and exasperating public figure. So it is wholly appropriate that he has now written an elusive and exasperating book. Billed by the author as a ‘political memoir’, it is no such thing, at least in the sense that most people would understand the term.

Field, one of Labour’s leading welfare experts, lasted only a fractious year as a junior minister in the Department of Social Security under Harriet Harman. Sacked together by Tony Blair in 1998, both were – and still are – troublemakers with deep convictions. Yet Harman was later restored to office, Field never. Why? No explanation is offered here; there’s no score-settling with Harman either. She’s not even in the index.

Blair is indexed only twice, far fewer times than Margaret Thatcher, though Field admired both. So is this ‘political memoir’ enlivened by accounts of Field’s many private sparring sessions with Thatcher? There’s not a word about these. Did Field – saintly but also acerbic – once compare Gordon

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