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Malcolm Wicks’ autobiography - My Life

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Malcolm Wicks knew he had a terminal illness and wrote his autobiography with his time being limited, or as he said with typical humour, he had a deadline. His book is in two parts - the story of his life and some of his writings on social policy.

At the book launch after the speeches I bought a copy, usually the next thing is to get the book signed, of course in this situation it was impossible. At Malcolm’s funeral his best friend told how over the years they would debate what made someone a thinker.  What were the qualifications? How did you recognise one? Poignantly his friend described how Malcolm would have loved that Gordon Brown’s tribute described him as a thinker.

But he wasn’t just a thinker - he was a Labour thinker wedded to the values his councillor father instilled in him. At a time when too many people say they can’t tell the difference between the parties Malcolm pithily articulates Labour values. For instance on the banking crisis and austerity he says, "The rich preach that workers should make sacrifices for the sake of the economy, but they themselves must be free to accumulate more riches, also for the sake of the economy."

His social policy background gives him authority when talking about society and he says, "There is certainly more care provided by the modern family than ever before in history. So much for the absurdity of the charge that we are a "broken Britain". At one point he asserts that central government can be a major force for good and finishes the chapter "Unfashionable perhaps, but it is my testimony."

Malcolm Wicks was that great combination of a warm funny person and a serious politician. In this book he tells us how it was for him. I am grateful for it as it has enabled me to hear again the voice of a friend that I miss. But it’s a lot more than that. The Shadow ministerial team for Work and Pensions should read it and use his well thought out prescriptions to build their policy.

Malcolm Wicks 1933 2012

(MP for Croydon North 1992 to 2012)

 

My Life by Malcolm Wicks, Matador 9.99

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