20 September 2018, The Tablet

Instinct for devilment


Instinct for devilment

Austin Mitchell
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Properly defined, a maverick is an unbranded animal, especially a mother­less calf, usually to be found in a herd of cattle on the American prairie. At Westminster, it is an MP who chafes at the discipline of party whips and government control. A sucker for jokes, television presenter turned politician Austin Mitchell would probably say it’s a man who kicks against the pricks.

There are many humorous digs in his warts-and-all autobiography, delivered after almost four decades as the Honourable Member for Grimsby. Most are funny, others not quite so. He has a keen satirical eye. So, nail-biting Gordon Brown is “a polite Dalek”. Domineering and socially prejudiced Margaret Thatcher was “an oil-fuelled Boudicca”. 

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