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The Top 10: Obscure Titles of Politicians’ Memoirs

From ‘Blind Victory’ to ‘Be at the Table or be on the Menu’

John Rentoul
Saturday 03 September 2016 14:16 BST

This list was prompted by the title of Ed Balls’s memoir, Speaking Out, which seemed disappointing when he could have called it Ed Balls, with reference to his debut on social media on Ed Balls Day, 28 April 2011.

1. The Story of My Experiments With Truth, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Nominated by Xlibris1.

2. ‏Sometimes I Think: Random Reflections and Recollections, and This is My Case, by Sir Gervais Rentoul KC, founding chairman of the Conservative 1922 Committee. Recalled by Mr Memory.

3. In My Way, by George Brown, deputy leader of the Labour Party. Harold Wilson commented: “Exactly what I always said.” Thanks to Peter A Russell and David Green.

4. Blind Victory, by David Howell, Transport Secretary in Margaret Thatcher's government and father-in-law to George Osborne. I think it is a reference to market forces.

5. Westminster, Wales and Water, by Nicholas Crickhowell, Welsh Secretary under Margaret Thatcher (as Nicholas Edwards), and chairman of the National Rivers Authority (as Lord Crickhowell). Nominated by Jonathan Isaby.

6. Don’t You Worry About That! by Sir Joh Bjelke-Peterson, premier of Queensland, Australia. “Maybe more ironic than obscure, because he turned out to be one of the most corrupt politicos Oz had ever had,” says Amalia Illgner.

7. Blue Remembered Years, by Ian Lang, Scottish Secretary and Trade and Industry Secretary under John Major. Might have been a candidate for the Conservative leadership if he hadn’t lost his seat in 1997. Another from Jonathan Isaby.

8. Be at the Table or Be on the Menu, by S Jayakumar, foreign minister of Singapore. Served up by Mike Mason.

9. A Different Kind Of Weather, by poll tax inventor William Waldegrave. Thanks to Robert Orchard.

10. Going Nowhere, by Joan Ruddock, CND chair and Labour MP. Meant to be a self-deprecating reference to Tony Blair’s refusal to promote her, “but maybe a tad negative”, says Anne Perkins.

Honourable mentions for Mr Memory, for From House to House, The Endless Adventures of Politics & Wine, by Sir David Mitchell; Peter Warner, for A Sparrow’s Flight, by Lord Hailsham; Xlibris1, for Old Men Forget, by Duff Copper; and Andrew Graystone, for ‏Porridge and Passion, by Jonathan Aitken.

Next week: Invented Languages, such as Simlish, Vogon and Boudledidge

Coming soon: Unnoticed Things the British Are Good At, such as post boxes, lawns and dry stone walls

Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, From Politics to Pop, is available as an e-book for £3.79. Your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, in the comments please, or to me on Twitter, or by email to

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