Which book did Gisela Stuart MP give out in her constituency?
This article is from the August 2013 issue of Total Politics
Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory. A regime tries to repress an idea by attempting to free Mexico of all Catholic priests. Does the messenger have to be pure to deliver a pure message? The whisky priest would suggest not. Above all, it shows that you can’t defeat ideas by physical force.
What’s your least favourite?
Any book I couldn’t be bothered to finish reading. A frontrunner for ‘number of attempts and never getting past page 15’ is Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
What’s your favourite political biography?
Denis Healey’s The Time of My Life. A big beast, he fought in the war and knew that there has to be more to life than politics. Today’s politicians lack that sense of “hinterland”.
Whom would you like to write a political biography about?
Ludwig Erhard, the father of the post-war German social market economy. He understood that markets are social and that governments need to provide the framework.
What was your favourite children’s book?
Judith Kerr’s When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit. It contains the most moving account of the pain and joy of learning to speak a foreign language. I gave a copy to every primary school in the constituency.
What’s the most inspiring book you have ever read?
Jenny Uglow’s Lunar Men. Bolton, Wedgwood, Priestly, Darwin – and all the others who made Birmingham what it is today. They took risks, pushed the boundaries and often paid a heavy personal price.
What’s your favourite political novel?
George Orwell’s 1984. The idea of groupthink, which draws on Orwell, is frightening. When everyone agrees, it’s time look at the argument again.
Name the most significant book of the last 10 years
Derek Scott’s Off Whitehall. He foresaw the flaws in the single currency [the euro] ahead of others, and was not afraid to say so. He was also my husband who died last year.
What would you like to write a book about?
Town hall radicalism and Birmingham. Joe Chamberlain’s legacy needs to be rediscovered.
Which fictional character would you be?
Hester in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. She may not be an immediately attractive character, but I admire her inner strength.
Gisela Stuart is Labour MP for Birmingham Edgbaston