My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’ve not heard of Peter Oborne before this book and, having listened to the audio version with the author himself narrating, I’ll be quite happy if I never hear of (or from) him again. Oborne is immediately odious, cranky, defensive and belligerent. He’s the drunk at the party everyone tries to avoid because he’s simply mean and borderline a bully.
There’s also issues with the content of the book. There’s literally nothing of worth about Trump in this ridiculously slim book and I see no reason why Oborne and his publishers felt the need to whack him into the title. This book is all about Boris Johnson. It didn’t need to pretend to be about anything else.
Oborne claims he’s not using all the lies he could have, having collated a great number, but I really wish he had used more and spent less time lecturing us all about just how bad Boris is and how he feels about it. For the lion’s share of the time, this is simply nothing more than a rant.
It all gets a little embarrassingly obvious how much of a rant this is when Oborne goes off on one about how nobody likes him any longer, he can’t get any work and he’s been ruined by the collusions of the Press and the PM’s office. In my experience, such one-way rants are rarely the whole truth and such is the belligerence of Oborne that I’m quite prepared to believe he was universally ditched because he’s an explosive liability that nobody actually likes to work with. And in the press world, that takes some doing.
That all said, Oborne does succeed in presenting important and sizeable lies which have been spouted by Johnson and his team which are demonstrably false and have been extremely destructive. He is persuasive about the origins – namely, Blair’s time in office where cronyism and spin blossomed considerably – and how Johnson isn’t just a new form of Tory, but is destroying the very foundations of ethics on which Tories traditionally stand.
I was very much impressed that at the end of the book Oborne gives suggestions for what we can do, as individuals and as a nation, to reverse the power of Boris. He doesn’t just drunkenly and flamboyantly fling his drink around at the party declaring “I hate that cunt”. There’s just a glimmer that, despite his definite bias and emotional intensity, that there is reason, evidence and action to take here.
If only I could believe it. I’m afraid watching both how the media – including the BBC – utterly ransacked Corbyn, and how people in the street licked up this nonsense like it was kitten’s milk, I’ve pretty much given up thinking there’s any point doing anything. One day Johnson will be gone and we can spend years afterwards – just as we did with Blair – calling him names and shaking our heads in disbelief that anyone could have thought he was any good. But it will all be show. The sad fact is, Johnson knows he’s got the Midas Touch with the nation and that we are too stupid on the whole to see what he’s doing and stop him getting away with it.
The only hope comes from Johnson himself: that he will take that one step too far at which point everyone will give themselves a collective shake out of the malaise and go “say what?”; the charlatan will be seen for what he is and will go.
Or not. I don’t know any longer and, frankly, I don’t care. I just don’t have the same bitterness and emotional intensity of Oborne. But then I hope, at parties, I’m not the other drunk who everyone wants to avoid.
Social Entrepreneur, educationalist, bestselling author and journalist, D K Powell is the author of the bestselling collection of literary short stories “The Old Man on the Beach“. His first book, ‘Sonali’ is a photo-memoir journal of life in Bangladesh and has been highly praised by the Bangladeshi diaspora worldwide. Students learning the Bengali language have also valued the English/Bengali translations on every page. Listen to his life story in interview with the BBC here.
His latest book is ‘Try not to Laugh’ and is a guide to memorising, revising and passing exams for students.
D K Powell is available to speak at events (see his TEDx talk here) and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, he is available for one-to-one mentoring and runs a course on the psychology of writing.
Ken writes for a number of publications around the world. Past reviewer for Paste magazine, The Doughnut, E2D and United Airways, and currently reviews for Lancashire Life magazine and Northern Arts Review.