The newly updated paperback version of Damian McBride’s Power Trip adds but a little to the original hardback edition. There’s a previously removed chapter about phone hacking, full of claims about just how extensive Rebekah Brooks’s power was, and a series of comments on Ed Miliband where (as surely he was savvy enough to anticipate) the critical have achieved far more publicity than the positive.
Yet the original hardback was such an enticing read that if you haven’t yet read it, now is the time to make up for that. Much of politics and journalism come out of the account with a battered reputation – frequently drunk Labour figures managing to spin regularly complaint journalists who were all too eager to push stories that served McBride and not their readers, as long as they got them ahead of their rivals.
But as I wrote of the hardback edition of Power Trip (and read that post for a fuller review of the book):
In amongst his frequent accounts of how he saved the day for Labour politicians, McBride ironically offers up a defence of those journalists he has just told us he so frequently manipulated. They were all under great pressure to run stories, so if he had a ready supply of good stories for them, is it any wonder they were often willing to go along with his suggestions about what stories to ditch in order to get a good story handed out by him all neatly packaged and in good time for their deadlines?
I also pointed out that, for all the book’s frankness in parts, it is also rather coy at other times:
Essentially if a journalist is praised, they get named, but where they might come out poorly from an account (such as an undue willingness to take the McBride spin on a story), they do not get named. As a result, even within the same paragraph, Damian McBride switches from naming to not naming the people he is talking about. Yet even a pulled punch from McBride leaves an awful lot in the account, making it one of those few books which really does deserve the label of being an essential account of what goes on inside politics.
McBride’s tactics and style are to be reviled. What he says about politics and the media however can still be learnt from.
Note: a review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher.