THE BALLOT by Rowland Summerseales


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British politics, sleazy-melodrama style--as the Labour Party in power goes into a tizzy when the Prime Minister dies right on the eve of a general election. Who will win the right--through a special ballot--to lead the party into battle? Weakwilled deputy-P.M. Arnold Prestcote--who's been having an affair with the philandering P.M.'s long-suffering wife? Solid Socialist Tom Westwood? Or chic and sincere Pam Bruce, prot‚g‚ of party mastermind Joe Hepworth? (Joe is also the father of Pam's lascivious daughter Liz--a Big, Secret.) To discredit Pam, the P.M.'s wife leaks the scandalous secret of Liz's paternity. To rig the balloting, Joe makes a snaky deal (unbeknownst to ethical Liz) with the Scots nationalists. And then all the dealing and squealing is overshadowed by the car-accident double death of Liz and Westwood's son Richard--who have been lustily carrying on a Romeo-and-Juliet sort of affair. (Pam has always hated the powerful Westwoods, whom she blames for her laborer father's death.) Summerscales doggedly contrives heaps of scandal and even drags in some graphic bedroom action, but the only vividness here comes from the intermittent appearances of an engagingly loathsome Fleet Street reporter, who gets his political scoops via sex, bribes, and such. And the political wrangling is of strictly provincial interest, drenched in references and nuances largely unfamiliar here--and dated to boot now that Margaret Thatcher has made mincemeat of Pam's candidacy worries (""The Labour Party isn't ready for a woman leader"").

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1979
Publisher: St. Martin's