Diary of an MP’s Wife

Photo credit Barnaby Dorfman, Creative Commons 2.0

Sasha Swire’s diaries are turgid, and many of the choicest bits were trailed well before the book came out. But, as someone who’s never* read a political diary before, I was tempted.

I succumbed. I read them. Or, at least, the first 60% of them. They’re filled with ephemeral remarks, incidents that likely bring joy to the writer to recall them but may pass us by with relatively little impact. But that is a large part of their power and charm. Swire recalls to us the fact that there are so many people tangentially connected to politics whose lives are dictated by the absurdity of party considerations.

Swire’s real insight, perhaps unintentionally, is into the utilitarianism of political friendships. The apparently close-knit “Court of King David” seems to have entirely dissolved after their political project runs aground and Cameron resigns. Some of that is as a result of real in-fighting and betrayal, but Swire’s diaries reflect that much of that disintegration is organic decay. The relationships are deep as long as they need to be, but casual when they do not. The intensity of Parliament, its close quarters and long anti-social hours, generate relationships that are good only so long as they are enclosed in that space.

Her own artifice is charming, and Swire gets away with much of her criticism of others because she doesn’t (wholly) shy away from airing her own dirty laundry. But Swire’s diaries real success is how she manages to reflect the ephemeral artifice of the system itself in a way that rings entirely true.

I’m thinking about this particularly at the moment in the context of Government by press release (or press leak) that seems to be ascendant. The true shallowness of the connections between people seems an apt metaphor for the shallowness of policy setting and policy scrutiny.

* Seriously. Never. Unless Michelle Obama’s Becoming counts. I used to just nod wisely and stay schtum when colleagues at the House of Lords would bang on about them….

Originally published at https://graciado.substack.com.

EDI consultant and project manager; Transformational and career development coach; Writer of many things; Runner. In no particular order.