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Outside In

Publish date: 21 February 2012
Issue Number: 467
Diary: Legalbrief Africa Old
Category: Book Reviews

Peter Hain Biteback. R359

The fire burned in his belly as, aged 10, he watched his parents being arrested. Three years later he spoke at the funeral of a friend executed by the state. Peter Hain became a political activist at a painfully young age, as he witnessed close up the evils of apartheid and the courage of his parents in trying, in their small way, to fight it. His father hounded out of work, eventually they felt they could fight no more. Leaving the material comforts of South Africa for a life in England, one can feel his sadness. The title of Hain's memoir, Outside In, is well chosen. Wherever he found himself, he never quite fitted in. As he notes in his conclusion, his political 'mission' remains unfulfilled. He made his contribution, and continues to do so, but I can't help thinking, as he does, that it could have been more substantial if only he had been less cautious. Still, I would rather parliament had more of his like, even the muted firebrand, than the new generation cloned from thinktanks and party work. Peter Hain has lived life to the full, which is more than most of our politicians can say. - John Kampfner