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Nothing Like a Dame: The Scandals of Shirley Porter.

Nothing Like a Dame: The Scandals of Shirley Porter. Andrew Hosken. Granta Books. [pounds sterling]20.00. xii + 372 pages. ISBN 1-86207-809-2. The current scandals and exposed corruption besetting HM's present government should not blind us to the fact that corruption is not confined to the Labour party although its level of corruption at the local level is arguably greater than that of the Tories. Having said that, one of the most prominent cases of borough corruption was not under a Labour councillor but under the leader of the Tory dominated Westminster Council in the 1980s. Shirley Porter, nee Cohen, was heiress to the Tesco empire and became prominent not just for her aggressive politics but because of her wealth and sex. Her crime was to attempt a widespread gerrymandering of Westminster's wards to secure a continuing Conservative majority. Once exposed she was not tried in a court but fined almost [pounds sterling]50,000,000 by the District Auditor and then fought the judgement. Eventually she escaped to Israel. This is the story not just of the gerrymandering scandals but of the less than attractive history of Dame Shirley and the world she represents and also of the attempts to get the money left behind in Britain. The book is based on solid research and numerous discussions with those involved. It may not make pleasant reading but it should be required for anyone interested in the country's history during this period. (R.G.C.)
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Book review
Date:Dec 22, 2006
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