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It is March '89 & Britain has a new Government. Ex-steelworker Harry Perkins has led his far-left Labour Party to victory on a manifesto which includes withdrawal from NATO, nuclear disarmament & removal of all US bases from Britain. Horrified, the British Establishment musters its forces & as senior civil servants, press barons & the City conspire to bring him down, Perki It is March '89 & Britain has a new Government. Ex-steelworker Harry Perkins has led his far-left Labour Party to victory on a manifesto which includes withdrawal from NATO, nuclear disarmament & removal of all US bases from Britain. Horrified, the British Establishment musters its forces & as senior civil servants, press barons & the City conspire to bring him down, Perkins finds himself embroiled in a battle for survival. Can Perkins & his elected Government hold out or is the Establishment bound what turns out to be a very British coup?


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It is March '89 & Britain has a new Government. Ex-steelworker Harry Perkins has led his far-left Labour Party to victory on a manifesto which includes withdrawal from NATO, nuclear disarmament & removal of all US bases from Britain. Horrified, the British Establishment musters its forces & as senior civil servants, press barons & the City conspire to bring him down, Perki It is March '89 & Britain has a new Government. Ex-steelworker Harry Perkins has led his far-left Labour Party to victory on a manifesto which includes withdrawal from NATO, nuclear disarmament & removal of all US bases from Britain. Horrified, the British Establishment musters its forces & as senior civil servants, press barons & the City conspire to bring him down, Perkins finds himself embroiled in a battle for survival. Can Perkins & his elected Government hold out or is the Establishment bound what turns out to be a very British coup?

30 review for Secret State

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pat

    This book was published in the early 80s and was set slightly into the future - ie the late 80s. However, as we face a labour leadership campaign it could almost be written about Jeremy Corbyn. The author was not an MP when he wrote the book but he went on to be a labour MP and is now retired from politics. You might almost think he wrote this gripping tale with a crystal ball in his hand. It was most entertaining and certainly kept me interested from start to finish. I am not a particularly pol This book was published in the early 80s and was set slightly into the future - ie the late 80s. However, as we face a labour leadership campaign it could almost be written about Jeremy Corbyn. The author was not an MP when he wrote the book but he went on to be a labour MP and is now retired from politics. You might almost think he wrote this gripping tale with a crystal ball in his hand. It was most entertaining and certainly kept me interested from start to finish. I am not a particularly political person but I don't think that mattered at all.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Alejandro Shirvani

    I love the premise of this book: a far left government elected in Britain in the 1980s tries to enact a socialist manifesto and finds the security services, the establishment, civil service and the USA all working against them. Chris Mullin was a Labour MP for many years and has written this with enough inside information to make it interesting, so this is great escapism if you wonder 'what if' Thatcher had been knocked out of office by a Bennite Labour government. Found it hard to put this down I love the premise of this book: a far left government elected in Britain in the 1980s tries to enact a socialist manifesto and finds the security services, the establishment, civil service and the USA all working against them. Chris Mullin was a Labour MP for many years and has written this with enough inside information to make it interesting, so this is great escapism if you wonder 'what if' Thatcher had been knocked out of office by a Bennite Labour government. Found it hard to put this down, really enjoyable.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Kresal

    A left wing candidate is elected after a hard fought campaign by his right wing rivals, leaving the latter in a state of a shock. That is the beginning of A Very British Coup, Chris Mullin's 1982 novel that later inspired the first rate miniseries of the same name produced six years later. The novel is a cautionary tale of left wing British Prime Minister Harry Perkins whose radical policies lead to members of the right wing establishment trying to bring him down. The result makes for intriguing A left wing candidate is elected after a hard fought campaign by his right wing rivals, leaving the latter in a state of a shock. That is the beginning of A Very British Coup, Chris Mullin's 1982 novel that later inspired the first rate miniseries of the same name produced six years later. The novel is a cautionary tale of left wing British Prime Minister Harry Perkins whose radical policies lead to members of the right wing establishment trying to bring him down. The result makes for intriguing reading almost thirty years later. The novel has a strong sense of reality to it. Following Perkins election in the first chapter, Mullin creates Perkins back-story and that of the events leading to the election itself, creating not only a plausible character in the form of Perkins but an intriguing alternate of 1980s UK as well. From the opening chapters, a battle of wills begins between Perkins Labour government and those both in the Establishment , the UK right wing and the US government. What follows includes attempts to undermine the UK economy, a strike that threatens to leave the UK without power and a political battle to US military bases and nuclear weapons out of the UK. In a mere 200 odd pages, Mullin's novel presents a intriguing and plausible tale of a nation under siege from within. Not that A Very British Coup is a perfect novel. Mullin's plot is excellent and moves on with great speed all right. The trade off is the characterizations that, with the exception of Perkins, seems to be cardboard if not one dimensional most of the time. The American characters in particular are just that, especially the President who is clearly a version of Ronald Reagan which doesn't quite work. Other characters are given long introductions and they appear for only a matter of a few pages before disappearing, never to be seen or heard from again. Much of the novel's dialogue is rather wooden especially with more cardboard and one-dimensional characters. The ending also is a problem as the novel ends not with a bang but a whimper and does so rather suddenly with little warning. Both of these areas are places where the miniseries version is an improvement and both hurt the novel's realism considerably. The result of all this makes A Very British Coup an intriguing read. It is well paced and feels quite realistic in its deception of a now alternate 1980s UK though it is hampered significantly by both weak characterizations and a rushed ending. It is still an intriguing read though because it still carries weight today. For at its heart A Very British Coup carries an important and time less message: the greatest enemy of a democracy is not from without but from within. It's a message we shouldn't ignore.

  4. 4 out of 5

    David Highton

    A novel written in the 1980's, when Michael Foot was the left wing leader of the Labour party, postulating the impact that the election of a left wing government would have on the establishment and our American allies. Now a little dated, but as the author points out in his 2017 introduction, of some relevance with Jeremy Corbyn again moving the Labour policy platform to the left. A novel written in the 1980's, when Michael Foot was the left wing leader of the Labour party, postulating the impact that the election of a left wing government would have on the establishment and our American allies. Now a little dated, but as the author points out in his 2017 introduction, of some relevance with Jeremy Corbyn again moving the Labour policy platform to the left.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I remember watching the TV adaptation of this, must be 20 years ago, but I'd never got around to reading it. Having read and enjoyed the author's political diaries, I thought I'd remedy that at last. How I wish I hadn't bothered. There's a good story in there, but the writing is very patchy and the characterisation is poor. I'm pretty sure left-wingers aren't so uniformly saintly and that not all right-wingers twirl their moustaches while planning to sell their country out to the Americans. I on I remember watching the TV adaptation of this, must be 20 years ago, but I'd never got around to reading it. Having read and enjoyed the author's political diaries, I thought I'd remedy that at last. How I wish I hadn't bothered. There's a good story in there, but the writing is very patchy and the characterisation is poor. I'm pretty sure left-wingers aren't so uniformly saintly and that not all right-wingers twirl their moustaches while planning to sell their country out to the Americans. I only do the former, for instance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicolas Chinardet

    Written in 1982, A Very British Coup is an entertaining piece of political fiction. The fact that it's written by a former MP lends it strong verisimilitude. And the fact that it's about the accession to Downing Street of an "extremist" Labour leader who find himself the target of a frightened and rank-closing establishment lends it strong resonance with the current situation. Although it tells more than it shows, the book is a rollicking story of political conspiracy that will entertained anyon Written in 1982, A Very British Coup is an entertaining piece of political fiction. The fact that it's written by a former MP lends it strong verisimilitude. And the fact that it's about the accession to Downing Street of an "extremist" Labour leader who find himself the target of a frightened and rank-closing establishment lends it strong resonance with the current situation. Although it tells more than it shows, the book is a rollicking story of political conspiracy that will entertained anyone interested in British politics, and hopefully a few others. Great fun.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kosta Barlas

    What if the british labour party won with a socialist in charge? How would the ruling class react? Thats the question asked by Chris Mullin (former labour MP) in this novel With the perspective jumping constantly between the PM himself, media bosses, high-ups in the army, socialists on the street, policemen, scions of wealthy landowners and more, Mullin paints a full picture of how he thinks such events would go down; and given the UK establishment's treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, its hard to say th What if the british labour party won with a socialist in charge? How would the ruling class react? Thats the question asked by Chris Mullin (former labour MP) in this novel With the perspective jumping constantly between the PM himself, media bosses, high-ups in the army, socialists on the street, policemen, scions of wealthy landowners and more, Mullin paints a full picture of how he thinks such events would go down; and given the UK establishment's treatment of Jeremy Corbyn, its hard to say that he's far off the mark. Not too long, and easy to read, if you find politics interesting I really recommend it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sean O'Hara

    If there's one thing I despise about democracy, it's the habit of people in opposing parties to assume that anyone on the other side is evil and plotting to either destroy democracy or sell the country out to the enemy. We see it in the US with the paranoid nutjobs who think Obama is a sleeper agent put here by fanatical Muslims. A decade ago the other side was doing it with conspiracy theories about Bush canceling elections and declaring martial law. Before that it was Bill Clinton conspiring w If there's one thing I despise about democracy, it's the habit of people in opposing parties to assume that anyone on the other side is evil and plotting to either destroy democracy or sell the country out to the enemy. We see it in the US with the paranoid nutjobs who think Obama is a sleeper agent put here by fanatical Muslims. A decade ago the other side was doing it with conspiracy theories about Bush canceling elections and declaring martial law. Before that it was Bill Clinton conspiring with the UN to invade America with his vast FEMA armies supported by black helicopters. A Very British Coup is an early '80s version from the UK. Written at the start of the Thatcher era, it foresees a dreadful future under Tory rule. When the story begins in 1990, the country is in financial ruin thanks to a decade of Conservative policies. Despite the Tories' best efforts (concentration camps for Trotskyists!), leftwing politics have flourished in Britain, and Labor has fallen under the control of an avowed Socialist, Harry Perkins. The party runs on a platform that ranges from reasonable (nuclear disarmament) to far-out (withdrawal from NATO) and into absolute wingnuttery (withdrawal from the Common Market and protectionist trade barriers). Somehow or other, Britons are crazy enough to vote these people into power. Of course the establishment doesn't like this, and the media, civil service and the military do everything in their power to bring down Perkins. Because all conservatives are evil and have no regard for the institutions of democracy in Britian, unlike good and noble Harry Perkins. The fact that Harry, upon hearing that people in the Treasury have been saying things that undermine his negotiations with the IMF, declares their actions treason and tells the security services to bug their phones -- well, that's perfectly reasonable. Oh, and the United States is pure evil for supporting dictatorships like Pinochet, but Harry's an all right fellow for getting loans from Iraq and Libya. The whole book's like this. Conservatives are all cartoon villains, whereas Tories (at least those far enough left for the author's taste) are morally upstanding. The book would've been ludicrous enough in the '80s, but seen from the remove of three decades it comes off as extreme left-wing skylarking. Britain survived the Thatcher years without any prison camps, and the people were satisfied enough with what she'd done that they followed her with another conservative Prime Minister. By the time Labor did get back to power, it was under the leadership of Tony Blair, who's about as far from Harry Perkins as you can get while still in the Labor Party.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Helen Tozer

    I've just finished this book and it's left me wanting more. I think this was Chris Mullin's intention. He's created a warped snapshot of what the 1980's could have been. A lefter than left-back Labour government have been flung into office in a landslide victory. Downing Street nervously prepares to welcome an unorthodox crowd. Plans to destroy all American bases on British soil, do away with Nuclear weapons and enforce public control of finance and media are soon rolled into action. As quick as I've just finished this book and it's left me wanting more. I think this was Chris Mullin's intention. He's created a warped snapshot of what the 1980's could have been. A lefter than left-back Labour government have been flung into office in a landslide victory. Downing Street nervously prepares to welcome an unorthodox crowd. Plans to destroy all American bases on British soil, do away with Nuclear weapons and enforce public control of finance and media are soon rolled into action. As quick as the new Prime Minister, ideological ex-steel worker Harry Perkins, is to react to this shock win; the 'Establishment' are faster. The city-slickened wheels gather pace and pressure builds from all sides as the the mighty banking, civil service, media, religious and military worlds oppose the government's plans. Once the post-election celebrations die down it's clear that the British public have no control over the information forming their opinions, and they soon turn against Perkins. First published in 1982 but set in 1989, A Very British Coup feels somewhat topical in light of the Levinson Inquiry, public mistrust of the banks and politicians, unemployment, social inequality and public sector strikes. *insert intelligent comment here on it being set in a future which is now in the past* Depending on your level of cynicism, it could be described as a fantasy or satire. Perhaps it's a mix of the two. Mullin documents Perkin's rise to power but the voting public themselves barely make an appearance. Barring the Cabinet and the trade leaders, you'd be hard pressed to find many Labour voters. This reiterates the sense that real political power is concentrated into an impenetrable world where a privileged minority control an unsuspecting majority. The novel weaves between political worlds, circling back less frequently to Perkin's office as his influence dwindles. A frustrated love affair, infidelity and a traitor in the Cabinet combine to threaten his party's ideological fervor. Ultimately I wanted more from this book. The problem is, I still can't decide if was the whole point.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Anndra Dunn

    Institutional Subversion Of Democracy: It Could Happen Here! Very enjoyable book about a left-wing Labour government being toppled by a combination of forces ranging from the United States State Department and British intelligence to the civil service and the media. Essentially all of imperialism's dirty tricks being used against the UK rather than Chile, Guyana, Australia, or any one of the dozens of other historical examples. Beginning the book with a quote from a broadsheet newspaper column a Institutional Subversion Of Democracy: It Could Happen Here! Very enjoyable book about a left-wing Labour government being toppled by a combination of forces ranging from the United States State Department and British intelligence to the civil service and the media. Essentially all of imperialism's dirty tricks being used against the UK rather than Chile, Guyana, Australia, or any one of the dozens of other historical examples. Beginning the book with a quote from a broadsheet newspaper column about how it wouldn't actually be treason to help the Americans bring down an anti-NATO British government was a stroke of genius, too, since it makes clear that Mullin hasn't had to reach very far into the realms of imagination to conjure up the cast of establishment figures terrified by social democratic neutrality. The plausibility does stretch somewhat when it comes to the American cast, who edge slightly into parody, but only very slightly. I only wish it had been longer and explored more of the ways that an elected government can be undermined by other centres of power. Even so, it's a very compelling (and exactingly plausible and convincing) story, and a succinct fictionalised refutation of the SPGB idea of revolution by the ballot box.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Jane

    How would The Establishment react if an ultra-socialist Labour leader actually got voted into Number 10? That's the question posed by this novel and the drama unfolds satisfyingly throughout. There is (yes, unsurprisingly!) a lot of politics but it doesn't really get in the way of the story. I found myself nodding sagely at the characters behaviour at several points - how true! A Very British Coup is also a Very British Book and I'd be interested to know if overseas readers/listeners would recog How would The Establishment react if an ultra-socialist Labour leader actually got voted into Number 10? That's the question posed by this novel and the drama unfolds satisfyingly throughout. There is (yes, unsurprisingly!) a lot of politics but it doesn't really get in the way of the story. I found myself nodding sagely at the characters behaviour at several points - how true! A Very British Coup is also a Very British Book and I'd be interested to know if overseas readers/listeners would recognise their own politicians in the characters too.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    A remarkably prescient book that charts the rise to power of a hard left Labour candidate, which is met with the same horror by the British establishment as Harry Perkins's contemporary Jeremy Corbyn. It's credible even decades later, except for the somewhat paper thin American characters who come across as tropish stereotypes, even if their political actions seem believable. A remarkably prescient book that charts the rise to power of a hard left Labour candidate, which is met with the same horror by the British establishment as Harry Perkins's contemporary Jeremy Corbyn. It's credible even decades later, except for the somewhat paper thin American characters who come across as tropish stereotypes, even if their political actions seem believable.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Great page turner, nicely paced, sad story of the state of politics and the powers in private, with too much truth in it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dan McLaughlin

    The premise of this book seems increasingly more relevant in the current state of things: what would happen if Britain elected a truly socialist government? How would the elite react? And it is a fine concept; though I feel it is a bit of a missed opportunity by the author. A Very British Coup seems to end before it can even finish. While it is clever, engaging and excellently written, I felt like there was a possibility to explore this story even further. I understand there was a television ada The premise of this book seems increasingly more relevant in the current state of things: what would happen if Britain elected a truly socialist government? How would the elite react? And it is a fine concept; though I feel it is a bit of a missed opportunity by the author. A Very British Coup seems to end before it can even finish. While it is clever, engaging and excellently written, I felt like there was a possibility to explore this story even further. I understand there was a television adaptation; and it would interesting to see whether they developed the narrative a bit more. It was still enjoyable, nonetheless, as a good, solid and quick read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Dee

    Fascinating read, especially in today's current political climate. As relevant now as it was when it was first published in 1982. Fascinating read, especially in today's current political climate. As relevant now as it was when it was first published in 1982.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kenny

    The establishment and how they get away with it. Written 30 years ago, but still entirely relevant now, this got another run given the similarities between principled left-wing Labour PM Harry Perkins and potential PM Jeremy Corbyn. Chris Mullin - always an entertaining MP (in a good way, he knows things and did stuff with that) and commentator, wrote what would happen when Corbyn, sorry, Perkins got unexpectedly elected and then set about implementing a socialist manifesto - unilateral disarmam The establishment and how they get away with it. Written 30 years ago, but still entirely relevant now, this got another run given the similarities between principled left-wing Labour PM Harry Perkins and potential PM Jeremy Corbyn. Chris Mullin - always an entertaining MP (in a good way, he knows things and did stuff with that) and commentator, wrote what would happen when Corbyn, sorry, Perkins got unexpectedly elected and then set about implementing a socialist manifesto - unilateral disarmament, limiting the city etc. And then the establishment, led by the security service, police, civil service and media moguls, with support from banks, other countries (particularly the US) and fifth columnists limit the whole thing and bring it to its inevitable failure. You know exactly what's going to happen, with the grim inevitability that rings pretty much entirely true. If in any doubt, look at some of the headlines about Corbyn and compare then with the remark in the context of the speech - many are blown out of proportion (not all though...nope, far from it). This is what happens, and how things sadly seem to work. It's written with a dispassionate, yet disappointed tone that's both right for the book, but means you never quite engage - effectively it's a documentary in book form. Or a manual. Certainly a manual.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tobias

    A dark version of "Yes Minister." Without necessarily intending to - I think Mullin intended his story to be fairly black and white - ends up being a deeply interesting discussion of the tensions between elected representatives, the "popular will," and the role of unelected experts in advanced industrial democracies. It seems inescapable that certain groups of experts - military officers, central bankers, bureaucrats - will have important roles to play in contemporary democracies. The key questi A dark version of "Yes Minister." Without necessarily intending to - I think Mullin intended his story to be fairly black and white - ends up being a deeply interesting discussion of the tensions between elected representatives, the "popular will," and the role of unelected experts in advanced industrial democracies. It seems inescapable that certain groups of experts - military officers, central bankers, bureaucrats - will have important roles to play in contemporary democracies. The key questions then become a) how can they be held accountable? and b) what obligation do experts have to follow their own reasoning vs. heeding the will of the majority, even if they believe the public and its representatives to be in error? Ironically, while Mullin wrote about the conservative British establishment undermining a hard left Labor government, today the tension is between a hard right Tory government hellbent on Brexit and an establishment that would rather not leave the EU. The fact is that these issues will always be with us as long as democracy is with us. Also, as a Japan expert, I couldn't help but think of 2009, when a conservative establishment (bureaucracy, business establishment, media, opposition LDP), with the United States, undermined a nominally progressive DPJ government. Reinforces the extent to which this touches on fairly universal themes.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Craig

    I read this book mainly because of the current media hysteria surrounding the new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. It feels incredibly relevant even though it was first published in 1982. The book tells the tale of Harry Perkins, left wing steelworker and trade union organiser, who is elected Labour Party leader and then subsequently wins a general election to become Prime Minister. His platform includes withdrawing from Nato, nuclear disarmament, abolishing the House of Lords and breaking up t I read this book mainly because of the current media hysteria surrounding the new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. It feels incredibly relevant even though it was first published in 1982. The book tells the tale of Harry Perkins, left wing steelworker and trade union organiser, who is elected Labour Party leader and then subsequently wins a general election to become Prime Minister. His platform includes withdrawing from Nato, nuclear disarmament, abolishing the House of Lords and breaking up the monopolies of the press barons. Sound familiar? The establishment aren't impressed by this of course and a plot is soon hatched involving the secret service, press, senior civil servants and army high command to destabilise and then overthrow Mr Perkin's government. Chris Mullin gives some real insight here into the machinations behind the scenes in British politics and the tale unfolds in a highly believable, entertaining yet disquieting way. It just reminds you how much of a stitch up politics in this country truly is and where the real power lies. And what does Mullin think of Jeremy Corbyn's chances of ever reaching No. 10? "...if he ever threatened to do so, I imagine the establishment would start behaving very badly". We live in interesting times.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really enjoyed this book, although that's not to say it's perfect (the ending in particular was rather anti-climactic). What it does do is pose a topical hypothetical – what if a genuinely progressive politician were to ever become the British prime minister? – and expose in exquisite detail all the forces that would work hard to wreck them. There are a ton of naïve people out there who believe that an elected government has the authority to do more-or-less whatever they want, and it's a sheer I really enjoyed this book, although that's not to say it's perfect (the ending in particular was rather anti-climactic). What it does do is pose a topical hypothetical – what if a genuinely progressive politician were to ever become the British prime minister? – and expose in exquisite detail all the forces that would work hard to wreck them. There are a ton of naïve people out there who believe that an elected government has the authority to do more-or-less whatever they want, and it's a sheer coincidence that all major political parties end up with identical policies on 99.9% of issues (like gleeful participation in American wars, the prioritisation of corporate profits well ahead of wages or pensions…). This book shows well what would happen if a government really tried to cast off all that shit and instead implement common-sense social democratic policies. In venues like the exclusive Athenaeum club and luxurious country estates, the upper-class men who run the secret service, the civil service, the newspapers, the television news bureaux and who represent US diplomatic interests all conspire to ruin the new government before they can have literally any of their privileges taken away. In Australia, of course, we had a similar thing happen to a leader who was not even nearly as progressive as the central figure of this book: Gough Whitlam was no progressive himself, but he came to power at a moment when the working class was powerful, militant and prepared to punish any Labor leader who did not try to fulfil the aspirations of the membership. During his time as prime minister a number of important reforms passed, but conservatives worked hard to wreck him and ultimately succeeded in the 1975 crisis. An important factor in the success of that effort was that the Americans extracted agreement from “a leading trade union figure” that there would be no industrial action to force Whitlam's reinstatement after removal – and thus, when unionised workers began walking out on impromptu general strikes in 1975, ACTU boss Bob Hawke – who later became the Labor PM who brought neoliberalism to Australia, prompting a mass exodus of the party's membership which leaves the party a hollowed-out husk today – insisted that they all go back to work. A Very British Coup has its own class traitor union boss – Reg Smith, representing the power workers, who leads a massive industrial action causing rolling blackouts as he insists on a 50% pay rise. Newspapers and TV stations which have never supported an industrial action in their entire histories fall over themselves to support this one, just so they can wedge the government and put them in an impossible position which they hope will lead to their demise. There are a number of other crises in this book – foreign currency traders working to make the pound crash, conflict with the US as the new government insists on nuclear disarmament and a withdrawal of the US military from its territory, and a scandal over a poorly-built nuclear power plant causing a narrowly-averted disaster. One thing that is dissatisfying about this book is that it never really feels like Perkins’ government are defeated. Instead, it feels like they grow tired and give up. There is a part where one of the government's best ministers is “forced” to resign because he's been exposed as having a mistress, even though two days earlier it was agreed that he wouldn't have to resign and nothing had really changed since then. Similarly, the scandal that finally finishes the government off doesn't really feel any bigger or more impossible to resolve than previous scandals. It just feels like they've grown tired of fighting, which is not very satisfying narratively. The novel also doesn't really talk about who's supporting Perkins’ government, aside from a handful of individuals. It doesn't talk about the party membership, or the trade unions that aren't arcing up like Reg Smith's power workers. It doesn't talk about how you could work against the dishonesty of the mainstream newspapers and TV channels – how even in the 80s you could create alternative newspapers for example (except for one character criticising the far-left's alternatives as “high on paranoia, low on facts” or something like it – which is like, at least they've made more than zero effort to put their analysis out there, you know?). Revolutions have succeeded in far more hostile environments, and this book doesn't really explain why this government has opted not to take any inspiration from their strategies. Then again, another disappointing aspect of this book is that we never really see the government introducing any progressive policies. The early section of the book talks about some of their proposals, but they don't make any headway with any of them, even the ones that would be a lot easier than “force the US military to extricate themselves from our country”. Again, we don't even see them really try. The book is fairly short, and while in some ways that's a good thing, I do think it would have been enriched by being a bit longer. It would have been nice to see this government achieve some successes, and have the opposition's victory come as a result of a long war of attrition as opposed to the government never successfully doing much and then giving up. Or even if they could have shown us how the timidity of social democracy seals its demise; something to suggest to the reader that progressive change is not just so impossible that there's no point even trying. What can left-wingers do that might actually work? I feel like this review is more of a messy jumble of thoughts than a review, but long story short I did find this a very interesting book. It also seems like a rare gift to be able to describe currency fluctuations and other economic happenings in such a way that they're actually interesting, so well done there. If the topic sounds interesting to you, I would definitely recommend the read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zare

    Very disturbing book. What makes you wander is the very fact that author worked in UK parliament for years. In my opinion worst thing is that most people just say - ah, politicians they are all the same, shame, shame on them .... and then they elect them to their positions. Do we truly try to change anything? Or do we only accept things as they are? Society needs to change first - everything else will follow afterwards. If you are interested in books about high politics, plots showing who actually Very disturbing book. What makes you wander is the very fact that author worked in UK parliament for years. In my opinion worst thing is that most people just say - ah, politicians they are all the same, shame, shame on them .... and then they elect them to their positions. Do we truly try to change anything? Or do we only accept things as they are? Society needs to change first - everything else will follow afterwards. If you are interested in books about high politics, plots showing who actually is the power behind the officials and how money and power can make people change sides in a blink give this book a try. I think you'll like it. Recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    At a time when Jeremy Corbyn seems poised to take the leadership of labour and Bernie Sanders is making waves in the Democratic primaries, this book rings true in a number of surprising ways. And any time I was skeptical at the things done by the "forces of darkness," be they the press, conservative elements in society, or the good ole USA, I remember what happened in Chile or a dozen other countries in South America and Africa and realized that this book, while still fantasy, bears a bit more t At a time when Jeremy Corbyn seems poised to take the leadership of labour and Bernie Sanders is making waves in the Democratic primaries, this book rings true in a number of surprising ways. And any time I was skeptical at the things done by the "forces of darkness," be they the press, conservative elements in society, or the good ole USA, I remember what happened in Chile or a dozen other countries in South America and Africa and realized that this book, while still fantasy, bears a bit more truth in it than its nearest literary relative, House of Cards, which success can largely be attributed to Ian Richardson.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Highly credible fictional account of what might happen if a government was elected that threatened the British establishment. Though written in 1982, the institutions and characters are still very recognisable and the book is a lot less dated than you might expect. It also serves as a reminder of the more confrontational politics of the 1980s in which there was a clear difference between the parties.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    The cover of this book claims that the novel predicted the rise of Corbyn, which it doesn't. What it does do is speculate about a very left-wing Labour government coming to power and the reaction of the establishment. It's all a bit conspiracy laden, but the plot moves along at a fair old clip, which is both good and bad. On one hand, the pacing makes for a very readable story but the downside is that neither the themes nor the characters are really developed. The cover of this book claims that the novel predicted the rise of Corbyn, which it doesn't. What it does do is speculate about a very left-wing Labour government coming to power and the reaction of the establishment. It's all a bit conspiracy laden, but the plot moves along at a fair old clip, which is both good and bad. On one hand, the pacing makes for a very readable story but the downside is that neither the themes nor the characters are really developed.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Could have been written about Corbyn and the current direction of the Labour Party. Although I can't see the establishment taking things quite this far, it paints a picture of who really runs the country which probably isn't a million miles from the truth. Very good read. Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Could have been written about Corbyn and the current direction of the Labour Party. Although I can't see the establishment taking things quite this far, it paints a picture of who really runs the country which probably isn't a million miles from the truth. Very good read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    J.F. Penn

    Many are reading this as a prescient look at a potential Corbyn led government. It could have been taken a lot further but then I love a conspiracy thriller. This was more like an MPs diary.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Well this makes me feel angry.

  27. 5 out of 5

    F.

    "For most of the decade that preceded the election of Perkins and his government the orgy of speculation which lay at the heart of the British disease was, in the minds of many people, camouflaged by the view that political extremists and greedy workers were to blame. By the end of the 1980s, however, certain weaknesses had become apparent in that line of thinking. Real wages had fallen, public spending had been cut back drastically, the trade unions had been neutered; yet still the slide into r "For most of the decade that preceded the election of Perkins and his government the orgy of speculation which lay at the heart of the British disease was, in the minds of many people, camouflaged by the view that political extremists and greedy workers were to blame. By the end of the 1980s, however, certain weaknesses had become apparent in that line of thinking. Real wages had fallen, public spending had been cut back drastically, the trade unions had been neutered; yet still the slide into ruin continued." What would have happened had Bernie Sanders been elected as President in 2016 or 2020? Most likely the same sort of thing that happened in this book set in the 1980's Britain when a Labour Party Prime Minister is elected who is every bit as left as Sanders unfortunately. "One reason why the British ruling class have endured so long is that every so often it opens ranks and absorbs a handful of its worst enemies." What happens is that the entrenched bureaucracy and the capitalists who own the papers, the military industrial complex, and other industries start to maneuver around the edges to have them removed however they can. They might work with foreign governments actively conspiring against their own government economically in order to make the administration look bad, or they might go so far as to dig up blackmail on as many different members of the President's family and cabinet as they possibly can. "At the same time it was reliably reported from Washington that the Secretary of State had told a group of right-wing congressmen in an off-the-record briefing that America had no intention of vacating its bases in Britain. “When the time comes,” he was quoted as saying, “we’ll just sit tight and see what happens.” At this news the colour drained from Perkins’ face. “I’m beginning to think we’ve bitten off more than we can chew,” he said to Fred Thompson during one of their late night chats. Thompson was amazed. It was the first piece of pessimism he had ever heard from Perkins. “You know, Fred,” Perkins had continued, “membership of NATO is about as voluntary as membership of the Warsaw Pact.” He spoke as though he was kicking himself for not having realised that earlier. “We aren’t going to be allowed to leave. If economic pressure doesn’t work, they’ll try blackmail. If that doesn’t work, they’ll try and subvert us. And if that fails, they’ll send tanks. Just like the Russians did in Hungary.”"

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mehmet

    This is not a political essay, the book is a fictional imagining of the Labour party having a hard left leader and winning the election. Its a alternative version of the 1980s. History does not always fit into people's theories. Chris Mullin though is not writing for serious political theory, but this is not to say there is not some of his political thoughts put into the novel. A very well written and thoughtful story. Parts of the book seem rather weird in hindsight, comparing events in story, This is not a political essay, the book is a fictional imagining of the Labour party having a hard left leader and winning the election. Its a alternative version of the 1980s. History does not always fit into people's theories. Chris Mullin though is not writing for serious political theory, but this is not to say there is not some of his political thoughts put into the novel. A very well written and thoughtful story. Parts of the book seem rather weird in hindsight, comparing events in story, to real life make for some interesting discussions. Poignant and very sad in parts, also partly paranoid. I believe some points in the book are justified with hindsite, some very dated. UK had a Conservative government instead of a Labour, Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister during the infamous Miner strikes. In the book the trade unionists are not exactly shown in a friendly light. Yet rather then being unsuccessful as in realife they are shown as winning in their tactics. Mind you the media smear campaign used in the book could be compared to the one used against Jeremy Corbyn in the December 2019 elections. So parts could be compared and parts seem funny in perspective. Yet I really enjoyed the book, and highly recommend it to readers with similar taste in books to me. I would love to talk with the author just to find out why he wrote this book and how he views it almost 40s years later. I noticed he wrote a sequel in 2019 dealing with Brexit and i will buy this for certain.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Huw Rhys

    This excellent novel was written in the early 80's by Chris Mullin, who later on in the decade became a Labour MP. It is set about 10 years in the future, and imagines a left wing Labour Prime Minister being elected - and details how the British "establishment" does everything in its powers to thwart his attempts at changing the world. As you would expect, the Labour PM (reputedly modeled on Tony Benn) is very much on the side of righteousness, and the various figures of the establishment are vie This excellent novel was written in the early 80's by Chris Mullin, who later on in the decade became a Labour MP. It is set about 10 years in the future, and imagines a left wing Labour Prime Minister being elected - and details how the British "establishment" does everything in its powers to thwart his attempts at changing the world. As you would expect, the Labour PM (reputedly modeled on Tony Benn) is very much on the side of righteousness, and the various figures of the establishment are viewed as sinister, self serving and and very much in favour of preserving the status quo of a right wing regime. Whilst this is in many ways a novel of its time, it also has huge amounts of contemporary resonance for us as we see events not only at home, but across Europe and on the other side of the Atlantic, with politicians constantly being undermined by unseen forces, and attempts to bring out change for the better of the many knocked down by those in power, and with most to lose. For those that enjoy political intrigue and a bit of crystal ball gazing, this is a delightful read which works to entertain, educate and stimulate on many different levels.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark OceanG

    A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin. Although it might be a cliché to say a book is ‘so current and so relevant to now’, I did have to double check online that it really was first published in 1982 and not within the last couple of years. A political thriller might sound dull and I agree it wouldn’t be my usual genre but it was great. Anyone familiar with British politics and Jeremy Corbin would be astounded at this book and the parallels of the last few years. The ex-trades union man turned far A Very British Coup by Chris Mullin. Although it might be a cliché to say a book is ‘so current and so relevant to now’, I did have to double check online that it really was first published in 1982 and not within the last couple of years. A political thriller might sound dull and I agree it wouldn’t be my usual genre but it was great. Anyone familiar with British politics and Jeremy Corbin would be astounded at this book and the parallels of the last few years. The ex-trades union man turned far left wing Socialist Harry Perkins won the general election, against the predictions of all the opinion polls. His manifesto ideals means the ruling classes days are over, nuclear disarmament would be achieved within 3 years, the Americans and their military bases would be kicked out if Britain. But the establishment and the Americans won’t stand for this. This is a great novel, and apparently also a great TV show as well which I will hit out. Here’s the author discussing the protagonist and Jeremy Corbin and some of the things that came to pass in reality from his novel. https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/j...

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