Hinterland is one of the most readable, enjoyable and interesting political memoirs I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few). Chris Mullin, whilst not getting as far as the cabinet (though judging from one nugget from this book if he’d have carried his pager he may have done!) has had a long and varied career as a politician and journalist. His three volumes of diaries are a fascinating insight into life as an MP on the lower rungs of the ministerial ladder and as a committee chairman. I first became aware of him when watching the TV adaptation of “A Very British Coup” in the 1980’s, then reading the book shortly afterwards (one of THE best political novels ever written in my opinion). He became a very familiar face on General Election results evenings as from 1992 to his final election as an MP in 2005, his was the first seat to declare (Sunderland South) and his the first speech broadcast!
This book looks through his varied career from childhood, his travels, particularly to the far east and has amazing journalistic adventures, his significant role in uncovering the appalling miscarriage of justice that led to the Birmingham Six being released and of course his life as MP for Sunderland South from 1987 to 2010.
As a Labour party member from the age of 16 in the mid 80’s, his account of his time before he became an MP when he was close to Tony Benn and particularly the treatment he received from Neil Kinnock gave me a totally different perspective of the travails of the Labour party at that time. Mr Mullins pulls no punches but does not go out to settle scores, just tell his side of the story in a very even handed and witty way. He wasn’t a politician whose head was turned by the trappings of power and, in my opinion, his talents were wasted by Tony Blair who put him in an unsuitable role for his first ministerial job and did not use them to their fullest later. In an age when honourable members weren’t always so honourable, Chris Mullin comes across as the most honourable of gentlemen.
I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to give away too many spoilers. All I will say is that if you have a modicum of interest in politics and current affairs or if you are just interested in learning about the life of an incredibly interesting person this really is a fantastic book to read. I enjoyed it immensely and would highly recommend it. Five stars every day of the week!!