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Outside In [Kindle Edition]

Peter Hain

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Review

'In terms of decency and principle, he was one of the best.' Martin Ivens, Sunday Times

Product Description

Peter Hain has always spoken his mind. So he does in this book. Here he tells his story as an outsider turned insider: anti-apartheid militant to Cabinet minister, serving twelve years in Labour’s government between May 1997 and May 2010. Growing up as the son of courageous anti-apartheid South Africans, Peter Hain was first in the public eye aged fifteen, reading at the funeral of an anti-apartheid friend hanged in Pretoria. Living in exile in Britain during his late teens, he led campaigns to disrupt whites-only South African sports tours. His political notoriety resulted in two extraordinary Old Bailey trials and a letter bomb. Hain recalls his role in negotiating the historic 2007 settlement in Northern Ireland, being Britain’s first-ever African born Africa Minister, and acting as a passionate advocate and deliverer of devolved government to Wales. Featuring Iraq, Mugabe, Europe, Gibraltar, blood diamonds, work alongside MI5 and MI6, and the delivery of justice for workers robbed of their pensions and compensation for sick miners, Hain’s autobiography gives a fascinating insight into life near the top of the Blair and Brown governments.

Product Details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3665 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback Publishing (Jan. 23 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006VL1HJ0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An 'all or something' man... Feb. 4 2012
By FictionFan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
Peter Hain, one-time anti-apartheid campaigner turned British Cabinet Minister, here describes his fascinating political life both outside and inside mainstream politics. For more than four decades he has been an active campaigner and politician, during which he was involved in some of the most important events of this period.

Hain starts his account with the story of his early life in South Africa as the son of anti-apartheid campaigners at a time when this was a dangerous thing to be. When his parents eventually felt they could no longer stay in South Africa, the Hain family moved to London where they continued the struggle, with young Peter gradually becoming a major player in the British anti-apartheid movement, leading the Stop the Seventy Tour campaign (the proposed all-white South African cricket team tour of England). During this period, Hain was very much outside mainstream politics and in fact was tried for conspiracy and, rather surreally, for bank robbery - charges he clearly believes were politically motivated. Hence, his description of himself as an 'outsider'.

Having joined the Labour party and working for the Union of Communication Workers, Hain's political career as an 'insider' began with his election to Parliament in 1991. During a lengthy Cabinet career, Hain held a number of positions though never quite the top rank ones. From his own account, Hain was neither a party hack nor involved to any great extent in the in-house political manoeuvring of the Labour Party. Instead, his aim seems always to have been to achieve something substantive in each of his roles - following the mantra 'all or something' rather than 'all or nothing'. As European Minister, he was involved in the negotiations that subsequently led to the Lisbon Treaty; he was a minister in the Welsh Office during the devolution referendum campaign; he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the St Andrews Agreement was reached, resulting in the restoration of devolved government.

Hain writes interestingly and enthusiastically about all these events, and if he perhaps blows his own trumpet a little too loudly at times, well, that's a common failing in political memoirs. He also gives us a little on the Blair-Brown saga, but thankfully not too much. I found this book a refreshing change because of Hain's concentration on the politics rather than the politicians of his time in office - it's also better written than many political autobiographies. Whether you agree with his politics or not, this is a well-told tale of a fascinating political life. Highly recommended.

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