Politics brought Dobbs `passion and despair'

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The Independent Online
After years prowling the dark corridors of power, Michael Dobbs found fame writing political novels with many a twist and turn . Now his own life appear to be following one of his plots.

The former Conservative Party deputy chairman revealed yesterday that he has paid a heavy price, personal and financial, for his life long affair with politics. He was, he said, " in the darkness of private despair".

Mr Dobbs' wife Amanda, the mother of his two sons, recently became a Buddhist lama taking the name O-Sel. The couples' pounds 500,000 dairy farm in Bridport, Dorset, is now for sale. He had written one book in the last three years, and has had "no income" for the last two.

The author, whose Westminster trilogy - House of Cards, To Play the King and The Final Cut - became a highly successful television series, denied that he was facing bankruptcy. He said the reason for the sale of the home was "because of changes in my private life. This has been brought about by my long involvement in politics, which has gone on perhaps for too many years.

"Politics has been a passion that has taken me from the heights of public joy to the darkness of private despair, cost me a fortune and my home. Yes, that may make me a bloody fool, but it has meant that much to me".

A phrase from Mr Dobbs's fictional Prime Minister Francis Urqhart has entered the language - "You may well say that, but I cannot possibly comment". Yesterday the author was similarly enigmatic about his 17-year marriage: " My private circumstances are my private circumstances and they will remain so. One of the reasons why I have never gone into electoral politics is for this very reason - to remain private. The idea that everyone in politics is on the make is hopelessly wrong. Financial and personal costs are great ... I am not complaining, it's merely a fact of political life."

The former chief of staff to Lord Tebbit said he was proud of his achievements. He was with Baroness Thatcher when she went into No 10, and worked for John Major. However, he believes that under William Hague the party is "sleepwalking towards disaster".

Mr Dobbs now working on his seventh novel, The Buddha of Brewer Street, about a fictional Dalai Lama born in Soho, central London. He plans to move to London to continue with his writing.