Book in the news: a thorough hatchet job on the Labour leader

Cover of Dangerous HeroDangerous Hero

Corbyn’s Ruthless Plot For Power
Tom Bower
HarperCollins (£20)
Buy on Amazon

“It’s usually bad news for a prominent personage when Tom Bower decides to write their biography”, as he “seems only to alight on someone because he has already decided that they’re a bad lot”, says David Aaronovitch in The Times. His latest “thorough hatchet job” is of Jeremy Corbyn. The book ranges over both Corbyn’s personal and political lives, from his childhood to the “35 wilderness years” he spent between being elected MP for Islington North and becoming Labour leader in one of the “great accidents of political history”.

“Much of Bower’s book, or at least the general narrative, will be familiar to most political observers,” says Tom Harris in The Daily Telegraph. However, thanks to “some entertaining and impressive research”, a “new layer of detail has been added to the picture”. We learn, for example, that Corbyn expected and hoped “to be leading a Labour-SNP coalition government” in the aftermath of the last general election. And it’s not just Corbyn who comes under the spotlight as Bower relates, in “painful detail”, the “miserable machinations of Theresa May and her ministers in trying to sort out Brexit”. Overall, this is a “meticulous and highly readable account” of the Labour leader that is both “funny and devastating”.

Nonsense, says Stephen Bush in The Guardian. After reading this book, “you couldn’t pay me to read” any of Bower’s other biographies. It is filled with “general sneering” at the Labour leader, but it is also littered with “rudimentary errors”, such as apparently confusing one of Corybn’s supporters with a pop singer. The book is a “dismal failure” that “tells us nothing we don’t already know” and its judgment is off, condemning Corbyn’s decision to skip a meaningless Arsenal match with the same intensity as it does his failure to tackle anti-Semitism within his party.