Philip Webster covered politics for The Times newspaper for 43 years, including 18 years as its political editor. He has been at the centre of all the big stories of the past four decades – the fall of Labour in 1979, the rise and fall of Margaret Thatcher, the emergence and fall of John Major, the rise and fall of Tony Blair and his wars with Gordon Brown, the aftermath of 9/11, the war in Iraq, the fall of Brown, the rise and rise of David Cameron, and the shock election of Jeremy Corbyn.
Beautifully illustrated with Peter Brookes’ cartoons, Webster offers fresh insight into the great stories of his time. He gives a frank and revelatory insider’s account of great political events since Michael Heseltine brandished the Mace, the night the Callaghan government fell, the day Sir Geoffrey Howe brought down Margaret Thatcher, the day Tony Blair said farewell, the night MPs voted for war in Iraq; and every Budget and autumn statement for 40 years.
With the wit and geniality that has made him so many friends in politics, he reveals how stories came into his hands and how political journalism influences events as they unfolded. He has witnessed what he terms a golden age of political journalism and this book offers an intimate account of his trade. The essential handbook for anyone interested by the craft of journalism, ‘Inside Story’ reviews three decades of lead stories and the many politicians, great and small, that he has encountered.
It is hard to overstate the bitterness and fury which Peel's decision to repeal the Corn Laws had provoked in British politics. One biographer of Disraeli, Robert Blake, spoke of "Home Rule in 1886 and Munich in 1938 as the nearest parallels". Friendships were sundered, families divided, and the feuds of politics carried into private life to a degree quite unusual in British history. Those who are interested in the details of parliamentary warfare which raged until Peel's fall from power should consult Lord George Bentinck.
But the worth of this book goes beyond constitutional history or even the Irish food famine. Disraeli helps explain the intellectual and ideological grounds of the Young England Movement: a conservative force that aimed at a union of discontented industrial workers with aristocratic landowners and against factious Whigs, selfish factory owners and dissenting shopkeepers. In forging such a policy of principle, the Conservatives, as Disraeli's book well demonstrates, became a minority party but one which carried the full weight of moral politics.