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Diary of an MP's Wife: Inside and Outside Power: 'riotously candid' Sunday Times

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She moved in circles whose values may not be to everyone’s taste (anti-green, anti-poor, anti-common) but she certainly tells it as she sees it and I don’t think she was as bad as the others. The small clique of people at the top are also exposed with waspish irreverence by Sasha Swire in Diary of an MP's Wife. By 2015 she is fretting that Ed Miliband is clearly “on to something” in pledging to abolish non-dom status and that the Tories have become too harsh towards the poor, “unforgiving of personal circumstances, relentless in telling people to stop whingeing and make a go of it”. She insists she never originally intended to publish the resulting inside story of a turbulent Tory decade, for fear it would be seen as a betrayal. Unsurprisingly, she was scathing about Michael Gove (it’s a national sport, really) and surprisingly unpleasant about Sarah Vine, for reasons, I concluded, of jealousy.

But the Swires were extremely plugged-in socially, and during the coalition years that’s what mattered. Diary of an MP's Wife is an irresistible, informal history and a rare tell-all about what it's really like to live behind the headlines of British political life. There is an acute political intelligence at work, of the sort that makes one wonder what might have been had Swire not settled for experiencing politics vicariously through her husband. Westminster diaries are judged on three levels: the details they leak, the political era they re-create and the central character of the author. I am happy to give this book five stars and recommend everybody read it at least once in their lives.

Sasha Swire, second left, with her husband, Hugo, Margaret Thatcher and Lady Miloska Nott at a dinner in Chelsea in 2010. Even better, they are written from the point of view of an insider; Sacha Swire is the daughter of another Tory Minister and devotee of Margaret Thatcher, John Nott, and has the ethics and ethos of the Tory Party imbued in her like letters in a stick of Blackpool Rock. We don’t share your credit card details with third-party sellers, and we don’t sell your information to others.

Swire is at least vaguely aware of how insufferable it can seem; glancing around the Camerons’ Downing Street Christmas party in 2011, she realises “we all holiday together, stay in each other’s grace and favour homes, our children play together, we text each other bypassing the civil servants … this is a very particular, narrow tribe of Britain and their hangers on. Swire has literary ability, a quality that manifests itself in the colour with which she describes the show and the freaks within it. She seemed somewhat in awe of Samantha Cameron, and also rather jealous of her various business successes.

We read of parties in Cornwall, dinner parties with the Prince of Wales, shooting parties, Russian oligarch parties, parties with Tony Blair, Rupert Murdoch, and Murdoch's former wife, Wendy Deng. For instance the author enthuses about all the prestigious White Tie dinners she’s invited to but it sounds like they’re all status symbol and not enjoyment. But if the first half of the book is a giddy romp through life under the “chumocracy”, the second is more bittersweet, chronicling the fracturing of old friendships post-Brexit in what has become a court exiled from power. On a visit to stay with the then chancellor George Osborne, at his “moderately large” grace-and-favour mansion, the 21-room Dorneywood, her Notting Hill sensibilities are even offended by the outré pink tiles in her suite.

As the daughter of former defence secretary Sir John Nott, the author knows her own way round Whitehall, and her instincts are razor sharp; she is scathing from the off about “seven-year-old Gavin Williamson”, at the time just an eager young prime ministerial bag-carrier, and has Keir Starmer pegged as a potential Labour leader almost from the moment he enters parliament. As her old friends argue fruitlessly over the best way to thwart a hard Brexit and plot unsuccessfully to manoeuvre Rudd into Downing Street, she backs the arch Brexiter Dominic Raab’s leadership bid before warming to the “slobbering golden retriever” Boris Johnson.If you needed proof that Britain has been misruled by the unserious, entitled, snobbish, incestuous and curiously childish then the acerbic Lady Swire, unwittingly or not, has provided it. Sasha Swire was raised and educated in west Cornwall, where her father, Sir John Nott, was MP for the St Ives constituency. Remarkables REMARKABLES Intriguing, stunning, or otherwise remarkable books These include fine editions, foreign publications exceptional for their interest or production, special editions and some first-rate books from very small publishers. In 500-odd pages of deftly edited diary entries covering her observations and conversations during the tumultuous years of 2010 to 2019, she lifts the veil on the doings of a political class that is difficult to like, admire or respect.

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