经济学人:英国政治 幕后智者
日期:2012-08-13 11:19

(单词翻译:单击)

Books and Arts; Book Review
文艺;书评
British politics;Backroom boy
英国政治; 幕后智者
In the Corridors of Power: An Autobiography. By David Lipsey.
《自传:在权力走廊》:作者David Lipsey。

Political memoirs generally do two things. The first is to set the record straight. The second is to justify the writer's own career, arguing causes that have long since been lost, or won by others. David Lipsey's book is admirably long on the first, though not devoid of the second.
政治回忆录通常起二个作用。其一:说明事实,以正视听;其二:对早年的失败或他人的成功进行解释,从而为自己的职业生涯进行辩护。在这部书中,David Lipsey不惜笔墨说明事实,但同时亦不乏自我辩护。

Lord Lipsey, a Labour man to the core, has been at or near the political coalface since the early 1970s. At 24 he became special political adviser (the term, like the job, barely existed at the time) to Tony Crosland, a leader of the social-democratic faction of the Labour Party who became foreign secretary and was the dominant intellectual figure of his political generation. Young Lipsey fell under his spell, and no one—certainly not Jim Callaghan, the beleaguered prime minister for whom he worked after Crosland's early death—ever really measured up.

Lipsey勋爵作为一名实实在在的工党人,从二十世纪七十年代早期起就要么在政治工作面上忙碌,要么也从事着相应的工作。24岁时,他成了Tony Crosland的“特别政治顾问”(当时政治顾问一词就像其所指代的职务一样根本不存在)——Tony当时是工党社会民主派的领袖,后来担任了外交大臣,属于他这一代政治人物中举足轻重的知识分子。年轻的Lipsey被Crosland的魅力征服,Crosland之后也没人——当然,也不可能是四面楚歌的Jim Callaghan总理,在Crosland早逝后,Lipsey在他手下服务——能真正符合Lipsey的标准。

As backroom special advisers do now, the author wrote speeches, drafted and redrafted policy papers, and negotiated electoral manifestos, all the while observing the foibles of his front-of-stage bosses. In what is clearly the emotional heart of the book, he chronicles the turbulence surrounding the decline and fall of Old Labour, the fight against the hard left, the economic debacle of the mid-1970s and the disastrous election of 1979—all with a keen eye for strategy and personality. There is delight in small details: the chill that settled on a lunch party when the young jobseeker had the temerity to hit the croquet ball of Roy Jenkins, a Labour grandee, into the flower bed, or Crosland's views on the inanities of ambassadors' wives.

就像如今幕后特别顾问所从事的工作一样,作者当时也写演讲稿,对政策文件起草了又起草,协商选举宣言,同时观察着台上领袖的缺点。运用自己对策略和人性的敏锐感,他在编年史内写下老工党衰退和倒台那段时期的骚乱,反左派的斗争,也记录下二十世纪七十年代中期的经济崩溃,1979年那场极糟的选举。有些细节很明了:在午餐会上一名年轻的求职者鲁莽地把工党贵族Roy Jenkins的槌球打进了花圃里的事,亦或是Crosland关于大使夫人的浅薄方面的一些言论。

When the door of Number 10 slammed shut in 1979, Lord Lipsey turned to journalism to earn his crust, notably at the Times and The Economist. He left the latter for the House of Lords in 1999 after Labour regained power. Further than before from the inside story, he nonetheless remained a backroom boy in a sense, beavering away in the upper chamber and on official commissions to review such hard-to-sort subjects as electoral reform and social care for the elderly. Though neither produced the results he wanted, his insights into how policy is made are revealing. As he tells it, the knock-down-drag-out fights over these matters (his gonads were threatened by a fellow member of the social-care commission) were no less vicious than the fight to control the Labour Party in the 1970s.

1979年当10号大门砰然阖上时,Lord Lipsey为了谋生转投了新闻业,他甚至为《泰晤士报》与《经济学人》都工作过。1999年工党重新积蓄力量之后,他离开了《经济学人》,前往上议院。故事以往不曾有的是,他却在某种意义上一直处在幕后,为上议院和官方委员会辛勤的工作,回顾那些难以排序的事件(比如选举改革,或是老年人的社会福利)。纵然他没去创造他想要的结果,但他关于政治应该如何进行的见解还是有启迪作用的。正如他自己说的那样,上个世纪七十年代企图控制工党的斗争和在这些问题(曾有社保委员会的同僚威胁他的性腺)上的激烈斗争是一样邪恶的。

There are ways in which this well-written book could have been better. It follows the author out of politics and into the newspaper industry for a couple of decades. As a result, the reader hears almost nothing about the walkout of the “gang of four” (Jenkins, David Owen, William Rogers and Shirley Williams) and the transformation of the Labour Party. Yet these are precisely the sorts of issues that animate the first third of the book, and without them the last third is less enlightening than it might have been. At times Lord Lipsey seems to take disproportionate umbrage against people: Nick Clegg, the deputy prime minister, is ferociously raked over the coals for mishandling the referendum on the alternative vote, for example. And yet he has a disarming willingness to admit his personal limitations: his own work on voting reform “must rank the greatest failure among a number of failures in my political life”.

这本文笔好的书原本可以写得更好的。它记录了作者离开政坛,进入报业呆了几十个年头的经历。因此,读者难以查阅四人帮(Jenkins, David Owen, William Rogers and Shirley Williams)的倒台,也读不到工党的变化。但是这些俨然是推动此书前三分之一的那些问题。Lord Lipsey有时似乎会对人们发无名火:比如代理总理Nick Clegg没好好处理关于可选择能源的公民投票,因煤炭的事被他狠狠的痛骂了一顿。然而令人舒缓的是,他承认自己的个人不足之处:关于他选举改革方面的工作,“在我政治生涯里的数个错误中,这个必定是最大的错误”。

Through the years, Lord Lipsey says his ideas have remained broadly constant, while the political landscape has changed dramatically. “I, once regarded as a proto-fascist in Labour circles for my right-wing views, am now a dangerous leftie, without having changed my mind much on much.” Class has declined as the central divide in British politics. Partly in consequence, parties have become far less ideological. Politics these days is about what works. And a new professional political class is ever more cut off from the people who send its members to Westminster. What better sign of the times than this: former backroom-boy Lipsey rose to the dizzying heights of running the British Greyhound Racing Board, whereas another former special adviser, David Cameron, younger by almost 20 years, is running the country.

这些年,Lipsey勋爵表示,纵然政治版图已戏剧化的改变,他的观点大致还是不变。“我,因我右翼的言论,一度被认为是工党圈里的早期法西斯人士。我现在是一名危险的左翼分子,我的观点还是没有改得太多。”英国政局的重要分化使得社会等级变得越来越不重要。所以不完全地说,政党的意识形态越来越薄弱了。这段时间的政治就是政治所要做的工作。而且一个新的专业的政治阶层也从一些人中分离出去了——这些人是向议会输送成员的人。比这个前兆更好的一点是:前幕后指挥Lipsey上升到了一个令人难以理解的高度——管理英国赛狗委员会——然而比他年轻二十岁的前特别顾问David Cameron,正在管理这个国家。

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重点单词
  • keenadj. 锋利的,敏锐的,强烈的,精明的,热衷的
  • transformationn. 转型,转化,改造
  • enlighteningadj. 有启迪的,使人感悟的 动词enlighten的
  • landscapen. 风景,山水,风景画 v. 美化景观
  • professionaladj. 职业的,专业的,专门的 n. 专业人员
  • willingnessn. 乐意,愿意
  • delightn. 高兴,快乐 v. (使)高兴,(使)欣喜
  • settledadj. 固定的;稳定的 v. 解决;定居(settle
  • declinen. 衰微,跌落; 晚年 v. 降低,婉谢
  • strategyn. 战略,策略