A non-partisan journal of the left.

Why I’m Right and Everyone Else is Wrong

Thu 19th Jan 2012

Tom Harris has rarely been shy in expressing his opinions via social media, sometimes to the detriment of his political career. He stepped down this week as the Labour Party’s social media advisor in Scotland, on account of a controversial clip he posted on the web. For this reason it is maybe apt that Tom Harris published a collection of his blogs last year in the form of a book.

The former Glasgow South MP, and former transport minister, wrote the political blog (And another thing…) for more than two years since 2008, detailing everything from life in the ‘Westminster Village’, to his love of the band Genesis. The book is an often witty, very current and wholly personal commentary.

Harris speaks of refusing to judge David Cameron on the basis of his class; indeed he goes on to say that “as a teenager, Cameron was a fan of Genesis and Phil Collins!...I mean, come on! No one who likes Genesis can be all bad…” Worrying. However, a page later he goes onto clarify why Cameron does not have his support and that he has no desire to join the Tories, with a point-by-point analysis.

He writes frankly of the criticism levied at him for being an ‘out-there Blarite’, sitting to the right of New Labour, and about the bitching between Blarites and Brownites. However, he adds “Whatever reservations I had about Gordon’s leadership, I was in no doubt that his continued leadership of the country was far preferable to Cameron’s.”

There is additional – and exclusive – new material which, along with the rest of the book, follows a thematic rather than chronological order, touching on subjects such as Parliament, the 2006 coup against Tony Blair, television (he is a Doctor Who fan), and how his job impacted on his relationship with his wife and young family.

On the issue of from teenage pregnancy, he expresses views that might not sit happily with some those on the far left: “Teenage girls shouldn’t be having underage sex. Why? Because it’s wrong. He has this to say about McDonald’s: “...as far as I can see, they sell extremely tasty food at reasonable prices”. Few subjects are left untouched and the manner in which they are written may not seem to carry profound political weight, expressing his own views (very much New Labour ones), can sometimes come across as rather flippant.

#In the conclusion of the book, Harris (who stood as a candidate in the Scottish Labour Party leadership race) wrote that blogging was having “a negative effect on my personal, family and political life … I’ve become a blogger who is also an MP rather than a politician who blogs, and that was never the aim”.

Given recent ‘net related events’, such as the Diane Abbot Twitter affair, and Harris’s own recent gaffe posting a joke video portraying First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond as Hitler, you have to wonder whether those in the political public eye should steer clear of the internet.

This collection brings together his most entertaining and insightful (and better) blog entries. It is a good read whether or not you like Harris as a politician, and might have you in turn either venting or giggling.
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