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Things Can Only Get Worse?

Narrated by: John O'Farrell
Length: 8 hrs and 50 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (100 ratings)

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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Things Can Only Get Worse?: Twenty confusing years in the life of a Labour supporter, written and read by John O'Farrell.

'...as the Labour candidate, I prepared for every possible question on the local radio election phone-in. What I had not prepared for was my mum ringing up to say that she agreed with John O'Farrell. On EVERYTHING.'

Things Can Only Get Worse is the personal story of one political activist helping Labour progress from its 1997 landslide to the unassailable position it enjoys today. Along the way he stood for Parliament against Theresa May but failed to step into her shoes; he was dropped from Tony and Cherie's Christmas card list after he revealed he always sent their card on to a friend from the SWP; and he campaigned for a new nonselective inner-city state school, then realised this meant he had to send his kids to a nonselective inner-city state school.

The long-awaited sequel to the best-selling Things Can Only Get Better is for everyone who could use a good laugh after Brexit, Boris and Trump. A roller-coaster ride through the last two decades via the very best political jokes (excluding the ones that keep getting elected).

©2017 John O'Farrell (P)2017 Random House Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Political Testament of a Lefty

I have always been a floating voter. At the last election I voted Labour, despite Jeremy Corbyn, on the basis that our local MP (Jim Fitzpatrick) does a good job for our constituency. I can’t see, logically, how it could make sense to choose a political party for life. There would be no point in democracy if people simply voted like their parents, according to their ‘faction’. But for John O’Farrell it is not like that; he has always voted Labour, he would be ‘uncomfortable’ wearing ‘tory-looking’ lace-up shoes. I was interested enough to read a book from a guy who felt like this, to understand ‘Why?’

The result was revealing and depressing. For Mr O’Farrell, politics is tribal and he is open about ‘identifying with the left’ and ‘being married to the Labour party,’ in an emotional and visceral way. This is revealing, but what was depressing is that he literally admits to being motivated largely by hate - ‘Hating the Tories’. He describes Edward Heath as the ‘hate figure of his youth who imposed the three-day week.’ [Mr Heath introduced the 3-day week because the UK did not have enough electricity to run normally while its coal-miners were on strike. This was not some capitalist plot to stop workers earning for 5-days a week.]

But Mr O’Farrell lost me completely when he suggested that had Nigel Farage died in the plane crash that only injured him, Joe Cox might not have been murdered. He also repeats his admission (already published in a previous book) that when the IRA failed to assassinate Mrs Thatcher in a bomb attack on her hotel in Brighton, his immediate reaction was, ‘Shame they missed.’ He manages to imply that his own father is a suspect racist for saying that ‘At least with the IRA you knew what they wanted, compared to the modern (Islamic – can’t say that word) breed of terrorist.’ Now, as O’Farrell, a middle-class scriptwriter, writing comedies for the BBC and gags for Gordon Brown, mellows and comes towards 60 years of age, he waves away the excesses of his youth and says hatred is not a good basis for politics. Still, he doesn’t question the policies of Jeremy Corbyn – scrapping student tuition fees and all the other giveaways in the latest manifesto seem great to him. One can only feel relieved that on the several occasions when O'Farrell stood for elected office he was roundly rejected by the British public.

Did I enjoy the book? I think I learned something, understood more deeply the observation that the ‘hard left’ is actually very like the ‘hard right’ (I’ve just read ‘Fire and Fury’ on Trump). It is scary, but political tribalism is driven by hatred. I will stay a floating voter.

7 people found this helpful

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brilliant

I loved this book from start to finish, funny and st times depressing as it reminded me of Labour's failures over last 2 decades !

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Interesting view of political life

I enjoyed the inside look into local politics
Funny and enjoyable while covering the major issues with a good opinion

Well worth a read

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Jkkm

Hello
Red pot and know that you are looking to the firecracker
Red carpet in a statement from their first child and

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Highs and lows of Labour supporters, with humour

It’s not always easy being a Labour Party member! John O’Farrell has lived through it all at local and national level. AND he retains a sense of humour and hope.
This book covers the years between the euphoria of the 1997 general election when the Tories were swept out of power after the years of Thatcher’s destruction of the UK society she didn’t believe in, and Major’s rather less malignant premiership. If only the Blair government hadn’t been overshadowed by the Iraq war so many of us marched against, no doubt we’d remember the good things that happened, and there were a lot.
The author successfully campaigned for a secondary school in Lambeth where he lived, but in the long run there were disappointments in that.
He has sat through long sparcely attended meetings, knocked doors, distributed leaflets and even once stood against Theresa May in a general election in true-blue Maidenhead, his home town.
He’s seen his local Labour MP, Kate Hoey, palling up with Nigel Farage (!) of all people.
The book ends with the encouraging result of the 2017 general election, but a sequel will be needed to reflect on the subsequent chaos of Brexit.

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Plastic

My goodness he bleats!

With the attitude he and his wife had to my Eastleigh constituency it is no wonder we don’t want plastic London socialists.

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Super

This is one of the funniest books I have read (listened to) in years. Told from the standpoint of a committed Labour Supporter.

1 person found this helpful

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Uplifting and surprisingly nuanced

Uplifting and surprisingly nuanced. Account of the ups and downs of following recent political history by a Labour supporter. I think anyone active in their community or local politics could appreciate this memoir of patient commitment regardless of political affiliation.

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Very entertaining. A must for left-leaning folk.

Very entertaining. A couple of quite poignant moments. Will be digging out a copy of the first book on the strength of this. Shame it isn't available in recorded format!

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Optimism in the face of gathering gloom

John O’Farrell sums up my feelings nearly exactly. His world view matches mine. I found this book really heartening - his relentless optimism in the face of the frightening centripetal force that is now threatening parts of the West has given me hope. I like this book a lot. I’m going to be buying it for many friends and family members as a reminder of when the country looked outwards instead of in.

1 person found this helpful