Mandelson tops MPs' summer reading list

Books about the New Labour government feature highly in MPs' summer reading lists ahead of the publication of former prime minister Tony Blair's hotly anticipated memoirs, a survey revealed today.

Politicians packing a book for their holidays have made Lord Mandelson's The Third Man their top choice, with diaries by former minister Chris Mullin and Mr Blair's spin doctor Alastair Campbell also popular selections.

But almost half of the MPs surveyed chose to escape the Westminster bubble, choosing novels including Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy, and 6% of the MPs who responded said they would not have time to read a book during the recess.

Some 152 MPs responded to the Waterstone's survey, with eight - including four Tories - saying they would choose Lord Mandelson's book.

Mr Mullin's A View From The Foothills and Christopher Andrew's The Defence Of The Realm: The Authorised History Of MI5 were each picked by four MPs.

Prelude To Power, the volume of Mr Campbell's diaries covering 1994-97 was tied with universities minister David Willetts' The Pinch in third place - the Tory frontbencher's book chosen by three of his colleagues.

Mr Blair's A Journey, which is not published until September, was chosen by one Tory and one Labour MP.

The former prime minister announced earlier this week that he would donate all the profits from his memoirs to a new sports centre for injured troops.

Overall, fiction is the most popular subject area, with 48% of MPs choosing a novel for their summer reading.

Waterstone's politics buyer Andrew Lake said: "Mandelson was a key figure in New Labour, one of the most controversial political figures of his generation.

"His book was published with perfect timing for maximum controversy and the contents really delivered.

"This is a must read book for anyone who lived through the New Labour years, or for new MPs wanting to learn the dark arts of spin."

:: ComRes surveyed 152 MPs on the ComRes MP Panel between June 23 and July 19 by self-completion postal questionnaire and online.