The Importance of Being Awkward – Tam Dalyell’s autobiography

It starts with the history of one of Scotland’s landed families, especially intriguing because of a willingness to permit the inheritance to pass through the female line. From a childhood in the idyllic rolling country of northLinlithgowshire to Eton, to national service with the Scots Greys and then to Cambridge, the least expected destination is among the awkward squad on Labour’s parliamentary back-benches. That however is a potted version of the life of Tam Dalyell, latterly father of the House of Commons, a thorn in the side of several premiers, a politician of character and integrity and a multi-faceted human being. His autobiography, The Importance of Being Awkward (Birlinn, £25) is one of the most mesmerising of several recent political lives published in Scotland.

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