A Very British Coup
Cover of the first edition
Harry Perkins is the left-wing Leader of the Labour Party and Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central. Beating all the odds, Harry becomes Prime Minister and sets out to dismantle media monopolies, withdraw from NATO, carry out unilateral nuclear disarmament, and create an open government. Many people in the media, financial services, and the intelligence services are deeply unhappy with Harry's win and his policies, and they unite to stop him by any means.
- Harry Perkins MP, Prime Minister and Leader of the Labour Party
- Sir Peregrine Craddock, Head of MI5, head conspirator
- Frederick Thompson, former reporter and Perkins' Press Secretary
- Lawrence Wainwright MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, later Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, conspirator
- Joan Cook MP, Home Secretary, later Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Tom Newsome MP, Foreign Secretary, resigns over affair
- Sir George Fison, owner of a consortium of newspapers, conspirator
- Alford, Director of the BBC, conspirator
- Fiennes, assistant to Browne
- Marcus Morgan, United States Secretary of State
- Thomas Andrews MP, Leader of the Conservative Party, Prime Minister before Harry Perkins
- Inspector Page, Head of Security for the Prime Minister
- Sir Montague Kowalski, Government Chief Scientific Adviser
- Sir Horace Tweed, Prime Minister's aide
- Sir James Robertson, Cabinet Secretary
- Helen Jarvis, former lover of Perkins
The book was written in 1981, at a time when Tony Benn looked likely to become deputy leader of the Labour Party which at the time was strongly challenging the government of Margaret Thatcher in the opinion polls. It also has strong echoes of the persistent rumours that have circulated over the years about attempts by members of the British security services, and other wings of the British Establishment, to undermine and depose Harold Wilson's Labour government of the mid-1970s. This first became widespread public knowledge around 1986 with the controversy over Spycatcher, after the publication of the novel but before the broadcast of the TV version. The story also has echoes of the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis in which there was alleged CIA involvement to remove a government proposing to close US military bases on Australian soil.
Some editions of the book include a quote by Peregrine Worsthorne from his article When Treason Can Be Right, which argues that treason to defend the UK's alliance with the USA would be justified. This indicates the choice of name for Sir Peregrine, the chief conspirator in the novel.
The novel has twice been adapted for television.
A Very British Coup (1988)
Secret State (2012)
- Mullin, Chris (5 November 2012). "Secret State: I played the vicar in the TV version of my novel". guardian.co.uk. Guardian News and Media.
- Conlan, Tara (24 January 2012). "Gabriel Byrne returns to UK television in Channel 4's Coup". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media.
- Chris Mullin: When the threat of a coup seemed more than fiction The Guardian, 7 March 2006
- Chris Mullin (20 November 2015). "Reprinted twice since Corbyn was elected. Thanks Jeremy. #asmsg #kindle buff.ly/1MYCecS". Twitter.
- "A Very British Coup part two is coming, and you'll never guess who inspired it". The Independent. 30 July 2015.
- Chris Mullin (10 August 2015). "My fictional PM was destabilised by MI5. Corbyn's enemies would be in his own ranks". The Guardian.
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