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Protest and Power Reviews

Protest and Power by David Kogan

Protest and Power

The Battle For The Labour Party

David Kogan

3.25 out of 5

3 reviews

Imprint: Bloomsbury Reader
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication date: 18 Apr 2019
ISBN: 9781448217281

'The definitive account' Nick Robinson 'If you want to understand ... Labour, this is the only book to read' Robert Peston Labour has shifted from the New Left, to New Labour, to Corbynista Labour.

  • The GuardianBook of the Day
3 stars out of 5
William Davies
13 Apr 2019

"Key players reveal the extraordinary story of the Labour left’s unlikely return from the wilderness"

In its attention to historical detail, Protest and Power cannot be faulted. But Kogan largely relies on sheer quantity of facts. Every vote, every poll is reported with such fidelity that it occasionally feels like reliving an interminable and intricate democratic procedure. And in the absence of any effort to explain events (rather than simply report them), he offers little sense of who and what really mattered amid this deluge of evidence. Every so often, an event arises that we already recognise as crucial; yet Kogan puts no more emphasis on the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rewriting of Clause 4 or the Iraq war than on internecine tussles within the NEC... At a time of rampant distrust in politics and rising polarisation, there is certainly some value in committing events to the record in as consensual a fashion as possible...  But then who’s to say that such an empirical, balanced and exhaustive account of political conflicts won’t one day be invaluable to those looking back from some yet more divided future?

Reviews

3 stars out of 5
Dominic Sandbrook
14 Apr 2019

"Kogan tells this story with admirable even-handedness and plenty of revealing quotation"

For all its virtues, though, his book does not dig deeply enough. His narrative revolves almost entirely around party insiders, but he says almost nothing about the kind of people who supported Benn in the early 1980s and Corbyn today, whom George Orwell famously described as “that dreary tribe of high-minded women and sandal-wearers and bearded fruit-juice drinkers who come flocking towards the smell of ‘progress’ like bluebottles to a dead cat”.

4 stars out of 5
13 Apr 2019

"This book explains the rise of Jeremy Corbyn, the reluctant leader"

This is a meticulously researched and balanced history by a writer with sources at the highest level across different wings of the party. Kogan was a political reporter who published his first book, The Battle for The Labour Party, in 1981, before making his money selling football broadcasting rights and going on to run Magnum Photos. The book begins with an account of Labour’s election defeat on May 7, 2015, which he watched at his home in Tuffnell Park, London, with his old friends Jon Lansman, an acolyte of Tony Benn who is now an influential Corbyn supporter, and David Triesman, the party’s general secretary under Tony Blair.