the guardian Sat 15 November 2008
When Tony Benn retired from the House of Commons in 2001, he claimed it was to "devote more time to politics". According to Peter Oborne, such drollery points to an uncomfortable truth. Political editor and columnist Oborne devotes this book to unmasking the "political class", defined as Whitehall careerists who have chiselled away the once-rigorous codes of public life to protect their own interests. Moreover, they don't write thank-you notes, and Tony Blair once walked off with a rally organiser's umbrella in a rainstorm. All the standards of anti-New Labour rhetoric are here - Tuscan holidays, cronyism - but the force of Oborne's disapproval transforms the clichés, especially when he argues that the corridors of power have become a "politically androgynous zone", where the gap is no longer between left and right but between politicians and an increasingly disillusioned public. While it's hard to believe the past was so rosily decent, it is exhilarating to read such a serious, fearless tirade, delivered with the flair of somebody with their dander up.