Memoirs or biographies of local government figures are very rare in British politics which, when added to the paucity of media coverage about them, means that most of their goings on disappear from the political and historical record as people’s memories fade. Even when the politics of a council attracts much media publicity – such as Liverpool in the days of Militant – what gets known is often only a small slice of the full range of events. That is why books such as Eddie Clein’s, taking a tour via anecdote, amusing story and occasional serious politics, through half a century of political activity are always welcome.
With a Labour politician as his father, Eddie Clein first became a Conservative councillor, then was wooed by Labour before joining the Liberals, with whom he then stuck with for decades until losing his seat a couple of years ago, an event which he says most likely brings to an end his party political activities.
It’s a very enjoyable read. Given the pugnacious nature of Liverpool politics and the strident views expressed about some individuals, it’s likely some of those on the receiving ends of barbs from the author have very different versions of events to tell themselves, but Eddie Clein is the one who has taken the time to write a book.
Moreover, there are plenty of hints from his own accounts of why some may have taken different views. His love of Liverpool comes through very clearly, as does, for example, the fun he found in meeting many famous people whilst doing his civic duties – something which you can read between the lines on in helping to explain perhaps why some colleagues took a different view of his performance at times from his own.
Whatever the full ins and outs of specific events, however, the book gives a great sense of why Liverpool politics inspires such passion and commitment from all sides and what politics can be like for a local councillor.
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