When the media was flooded with discussions about Lord Mandelson’s autobiography and speculating about what would be in Blair’s, I decided to read a more junior minister’s diaries, already published. A View from the Foothills contains the diaries kept by Chris Mullin from the first time he became a junior minister until the last time he was shuffled out of the cabinet.
Mullin was a part of the New Labour machine who was positioned to be part of many discussions with cabinet members and Blair, without being so close to the powerful parts that he found it necessary to adapt the truth as much as others may do. His role as the Home Affairs Select Committee chair (when not in government) gave insights into how MPs acted on controversial topics, and as a constituency MP he has to cope with his local Labour party and tries to help constituents who fall the wrong side of the government machinery.
Throughout this, the book retains a sense of humour, with a high note being when he was confronted by a Daily Mail reader who tells him what is wrong with the world, and who’s fault it is. Mullin cuts short his complaints by completing his final “I blame…” with “Anyone but yourself”. These humorous notes are not always appreciated by Mullin’s colleagues, but make the book a lighter read.