Jon Ashworth MP's reading tips for whips
This article is from the April 2013 issue of Total Politics
Master of the Senate: The Years of Lyndon Johnson
By Robert A Caro
It’s almost a cliché for a politician to pick Caro’s monumental biography of Lyndon Johnson, and I feel like I’m cheating because I know other MPs have nominated this magnificent tome too, but it’s simply an extraordinary read.
I picked up this copy just as it was published about 10 years ago in Washington DC when I was visiting my good friend Rachel Reeves, who was then an economist at our embassy.
Johnson was such a complicated character, full of contradictions. Indeed, during his political career he often embodied everything the public doesn’t like in a politician –publicity obsessed, often cruel to family, friends and staff, ruthless and bullying towards colleagues.
And yet he pushed through great advances such as civil rights legislation by sheer force of personality even when Democrats disagreed with him.
It’s said that Johnson had a brilliant sense for counting noses – as a whip myself, I appreciate how important such a skill is. Given the government has lost some high profile votes recently in the Commons, maybe Master of the Senate should be required reading for all in the government Whips’ Office.
Jon Ashworth is Labour MP for Leicester South