PARTY TIME

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The Independent Culture
2 Opposition politicians, like blondes, have more fun. Of the current crop of political tomes, the ones that tackle Labour are by far the liveliest. Take Faces of Labour: The Inside Story by Andy McSmith (Verso pounds 16), penned by "one of the most biased, ill-informed, malicious and unpleasant journalists in Westminster" (P Mandelson). The book profiles hotshots like Clare Short, Blunkett, Prescott and, most enjoyably, Mandelson himself. At last, the truth about avocado puree!

Leo Abse's The Man Behind the Smile: Tony Blair and the Politics of Perversion (Robson Books pounds 16.95) is an entertainingly sinister analysis of "Blair's Palingenetic Myth": he is clearly disturbed by the Labour leader's "androgynous quality that quintessentially belongs to Mick Jagger".

Being behind the seat of power is dull in comparison with this feverish Freudianism. Sarah Hogg and Jonathan Hill, "the PM's closest advisers from 1990 to 1995", adopt a chummy tone in Too Close to Call: Power and Politics - John Major in No 10 (Little Brown, pounds 17.50). Another author who truly earns the title of "insider" is George R Urban, a constant visitor to No 10 in the Thatcher years, as policy adviser and Eastern Europe expert. In Diplomacy and Disillusion at the Court of Margaret Thatcher (I B Tauris pounds 19.95) he describes how he first worshipped the Iron Lady as a liberator, then fell out big-time over her unshiftable Little Englander mentality. It's a timely book, now anti-German feeling runs as high as ever.

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