Hinterland All Serious Politicians Are Supposed To Possess A Hinterland, But Not All Do Chris Mullin Was One Who Did By The Time He Entered Parliament He Had Reported From The Wars In Vietnam, Laos And Cambodia And Tracked Down The Survivors Of The CIA Operation In Tibet He Was The Author Of Three Novels, Including The Classic A Very British Coup His Successful Campaign To Free The Innocent People Convicted Of The Birmingham Bombings Was Described As One Of The Greatest Feats Ever Achieved By An Investigative Reporter Elected To Parliament, Aged , He Quickly Established Himself As A Fearless Inquisitor Before Going On To Become A Minister In Three Departments His Three Volumes Of Diaries Have Been Widely Acclaimed As The Best Account Of The Blair Years And The Rise And Fall New Labour He Left Parliament In Better To Go While People Are Still Asking Why Rather Than When These Are His Memoirs

Chris Mullin is the former MP for Sunderland South, a journalist and author His books include the first volume of his acclaimed diaries, A View From the Foothills He also wrote the thriller, A Very British Coup , with the television version winning BAFTA and Emmy awards He was a minister in three departments, Environment, Transport and Regions, International Development and The Foreign Offic

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  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • Hinterland
  • Chris Mullin
  • English
  • 06 May 2018
  • 9781781256053

10 thoughts on “Hinterland

  1. says:

    Regardless of their particular hue, politicians, these days have made themselves one of the least respected professions for a whole raft of reasons, being out of touch, self serving and how shall I put this, economical with the truth a lot of the time A sizeable number of them have never worked outside the Westminster bubble either, going straight from a degree from the right university into a policy unit or working for politicians directly Very rarely these days do you come across one who has a hinterland In essence, this means someone who has finally become a politician after having experienced the world and workplace and is probably better placed to make a sensible decision.Mullin was one of those people who did have a life before politics, he had been a journalist reporting from the wars in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia Tracked down the survivors of a CIA operation in Tibet, written three novels and successfully campaigned to free those wrongly imprisoned He was first elected to parliament as a Labour MP at the age of 39 and immediately set about asking the difficult questions to those who had made themselves too comfortable.Because of this he was not always liked, even by those in his own party, but his persistence and consistency meant that he earned the respect of other MPs in the end He was asked to be a junior minister under Blair and New Labour and worked for three departments by the end of his time in government Mullin much preferred being on the Select committees though where he felt he had much influence that he did as a junior minister.I picked this it up because his diaries were a brilliant expose of what it was like to be an MP and a junior minister It is a little different from those though as this is a potted biography of his life before and outside the political arena, though naturally, he does venture in there as it did take a lot of his life up before retirement He has far depth than most current shallow politicians and that alone makes this worth reading.

  2. says:

    3.5 I picked this up because I d made my way through his political diaries and I suppose one piece of advice I d offer is that this book is best read as an adjunct to those diaries, rather than as a stand alone piece On its own, I think it skips over too much of Mullin s life and in particular his life in politics, which is after all the reason that people would be interested in reading about him in the first place but if you ve read the diaries and find yourself wondering a little about what their author did before he went into Parliament he was, after all, nearly 40 when he became an MP, young perhaps by the standards of our current UK political leaders, but old in the context of an era when so many MPs went straight from university, to working as a research assistant, to entering Parliament by the time they were 30 I hadn t realised that he had actually had a not insubstantial career as a journalist through the 1970s reporting on the wars in Vietnam and Cambodia, and it is this section of the book that is most interesting at least to those, like me, who ve already read the diaries and found the very potted summary of his career in politics, and indeed, his decision to get out of the game and spend time tending to his garden, in the later chapters, added little to what was in those diaries On the other hand, his stories of reporting from Vietnam, and of his becoming disillusioned first with what he saw as the deceptions of the US military and its unwillingness to admit that it was inflicting enormous carnage on the civilian population fighting a war it had no hope of winning, and then, following the peace, with the self defeating tendencies of the Vietnamese Communist government, and in particular with their habit of deciding who to employ not on the basis of who could do the job, but on the basis of which side they had been on during the war I wonder if, in a small way, it helped to form Mullin s own political views, which always struck me as being a good deal suspicious of concepts like ideological purity and unquestioning trust in the party line than many others on the left of the Labour party He strikes me as someone who would have been an equally awkward and semi detached Minister in a Corbyn government as in the Blair government in which he served as a Minister for a time this book being written in 2016, there are a few nods to Corbyn, in contrast with the diaries, where the man barely warranted a mention in than 1,000 pages, despite the fact that they were at least arguably both from the same part of the Labour party.So, read the diaries first And if you like them and are curious to learn about, quite literally, their author s hinterland, then maybe you might want to read this afterwards.

  3. says:

    I was given this by Peter I m still unclear why he owned it in the first place.Maybe there s grade inflation or something in the past I might have given this 5 stars as I enjoyed it hugely, but maybe you need to like political diaries This is a potted autobiography his diaries appear somewhere else.Mullin writes disarmingly you really feel you like this chap, while at the same time it s clear that he is very clever, vastly experienced and a remarkably hard worker, so beats me on most metrics I also like it as the central events he describes are things I recall well and thought I knew at least a bit about.His closing remarks are most unlike a politician I might go and buy his proper diaries.

  4. says:

    Hinterland is an interesting word Until fairly recently it was principally used in its geographical sense, to denote an area lying behind, and commercially served by, a port Over the last few years, however, it has become fashionable to apply the term to politicians life beyond public view This was particularly noticeable in the obituaries for Denis Healey, where the word seemed ubiquitous Healey certainly had a fair amount of hinterland, being an accomplished musician, and a notable photographer.Chris Mullin has than the customary share of hinterland, too Now best known for his spell as Labour Member of Parliament for Sunderland South constituency from 1987 until 2010, he had already amassed considerable experience of life beyond the Westminster Village This volume of his memoirs catalogues his work as a journalist and his travels in the Far East, including perilous outings covering the latter years of the Vietnam War.Although he studied law at university, he never practised, choosing instead to train as a journalist Quite early in this chosen career he achieved a major scoop, securing an interview with the then Prime Minister Harold Wilson Quite early on he came to revel in foreign travel, and exploited the opportunities that his work as a journalist offered to pursue this His description of a visit to China during the early 1970s is particularly engaging.During the 1970s and 1980s he became a prominent voice campaigning for civil liberties, and through his journalism campaigned for the release of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six This exposed him to bitter opprobrium from much of the right leaning press, even after his stance was exonerated when their convictions were quashed.As a politician, he remained true to his convictions, at the expense of career advancement He identified himself as a Bennite early on, and remained true to those left wing inclinations That integrity almost brought about the demise of his political career before it even started, as it counted against him in the selection process for the candidacy for Sunderland South The local party organisation conducted an underhand campaign to try to keep him out, and even worked against him once he had secured the candidacy.Even after he became an established MP, his political ideals proved to be unwelcome baggage within the Labour Party He did briefly host ministerial posts during Tony Blair s first and second terms, although that came to an end after he voted against the government s proposal for 90 days detention without trial for terrorist suspects.I have read a lot of political autobiographies recently, and have, as a consequence, come to recognise the tendency towards self congratulation when parliamentary or ministerial careers are under the lens, although that is less marked than in many similar books that I have read His experience as a journalist serves him well, as the book is very readable Mullin doesn t labour points unnecessarily He knows how to convey a story clearly, and does so, with a refreshingly self effacing approach when he recounts his personal life.

  5. says:

    Hinterland is the autobiography of Chris Mullin It is a partial companion piece to his very successful political diaries, filling out the details of his life that are really just in the background there Thus there are chapters on his involvement in releasing the Birmingham Six, his novel writing, his trips to Vietnam, his time as a journalist, his early years as an MP The last two chapters are of a summing up of what he did later on as an MP but these are covered in the diary, though it is nice to see each thing in one place tied thematically rather than the way they appear int eh diaries as events that happen sporadically and in an unknown way this is one of the appeals of the diary format of course, that some things never come to anything and not everything is known at the start as is usual in life.Chris Mullin s diaries served a useful corrective to me to the idea that MPs are all in it for themselves which was promulgated by the expenses scandal, and in my opinion partially contributed to the EU referendum outcome I am interested in Chris Mullin and politics and was naturally interested in this book The chapter on his trips to Vietnam, China and the far East in the 70s will be the most interesting for most people but these are only two small chapters in the book Chris Mullin writes in a compact style which I like and there are enough funny anecdotes to keep it from ever dragging One thing that it impressed upon me was that a little bit of investigation and leg work can reveal secrets which people don t want you to know It is how a little digging reveals who amongst the guests in the chamber of the house of commons are amongst the secret service and is how he manages to track down the real Birmingham bombers.

  6. says:

    I really enjoyed this book I thought that it added some much needed background to the Diaries, to the extent I would like to read them again now knowing about the context This book only contains one or two chapters about the events of the diaries, though it is overwhelmingly focused, as the name might suggest, on his time before those events, and that is the book s real strong point With wit and wryness, Mullin takes you through some of the recent past in British politics, which contains a veritable trove for Labour politicians to take note and say we ve been here before It also shows the horror and desperation of some of the other events of the second half of the last century I highly recommend for all.

  7. says:

    This is one of the author s very best books.I read it in one sitting.Firstly because it puts his fascinating and varied life as a journalist, novelist, campaigner and politician into one overarching shape including gardening, one of my passions And the lessons he draws at the end about life and politics felt both profound and earnedsecond, the story of his meeting and wooing his wife in vietnam and their subsequent marriage was incredibly moving And lastly, the lessons he draws for the labour party and its future, by charting his involvement from the 80 s, through the blair years, and on into today s struggles, were bracingly fair minded and compelling.A wonderful achievement by a writer fast becoming one of our national treasures

  8. says:

    What MPs should be.The last of his three biographies tells of political life as it is Highs and lows as a human being strives to make a difference in the politics of our well, my life.He may not approve, but the light shines through him, and the darkness cannot and will never put it out.

  9. says:

    Delightful and revealingA frank and honest account of a persistent and hardworking idealist, his struggles, failures and surprising successes, some notable Excites sympathy and admiration.

  10. says:

    The mixed bag of his career A good piece of era insight from his perspective, on the 4 principal items in his career life in Vietnam in and after the last phase of the war, then back home writing the silly lefty TV series A Very British Coup, the fight over reselection for Labour MPs in the 80s, and the inspirational fight to clear the Birmingham 6 and how it took him to some scary places in Ireland A bit on his Blair era experience where he felt far influence as a backbencher chairing the home affairs select committee, than when an unhappy junior minister absurdly expected to feign expertises he did not have Also good common sense experience from Sunderland on how to retrieve post industrial communities from underclass disorder by adapting rules to recreate responsibilities, from both councils and private landlords, for the infrastructure there and the neglected houses.There, he shows that considered intervention is right But surprisingly for a name remembered of the left, he is not dogmatic for nationalisation, and favours a moderate mixed economy Thus he was not hard left and is surprisingly critical of their rigid thinking and its effect on holding onto support It s interesting that following the communist takeover of South Vietnam after 1975 as a journalist helped form this view, he acquired a Vietnamese wife so his knowledge is intimate, and he manages to write cuttingly critically of it while still being against the war Mandatory reeducation camp terms for folks connected to the old regime often had impractical results upon the economy, created a quite skilled marginalised underclass and led to the boat exodus Back home he shows how his support for reselection came from practical experience of businessmen manipulating local parties, not from Benn, and was wrongly made into a bogey of extremism because it took string pulling power away from the leadership That history repeating itself now with the reselection issue used against Corbyn.On his publishing history as a modest novelist and journalist of justice standards I have never seen in a published book such open inside story on the warts of how publishing works Business choices to neglect markets, to publish only small unplugged print runs in some countries, and let the author down by it, or promote a book misleadingly to a readership who its real message does not quite match All to vindicate your worst fears that the circulation of written thought is erratic, neither rational nor scrupulous, and a lot about luck and circumstance.Book s down side he never mentions CND as a cause of Labour s 80s long wilderness, clearly determined not to believe that himself, and without it his view of the wilderness s causes feels contrived and wrong Too many extraneous bits of local or family nostalgia, partucularly in the early chapters, including maddeningly unnecessary WW2 references that could put you off the book before you ever reach the politics Skip that, they made me angry for their generational unfairness particularly for coming from a CND supporter The chapters are arranged by themes, rove them and start in the middle on the career items that interest you.

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