Alex Puffette, a sixth former who attends Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar tells Eileen Leahy what inspired him to put pen to paper and write about our modern day politicians.
“I was thinking about what I wanted to do to keep myself productive during my extended time off in lockdown and I settled on writing a political book, as it was something I could do entirely from home yet also would help me learn more about the world that I aim to have a career in.
After some deliberation and shelving of other ideas I decided that the book would be a collection of mini biographies of a group of Prime Ministers. I then settled on the Thatcher to Johnson period, as I felt that those Prime Ministers governed in a time of increased political scrutiny from television, radio and later social media. And the decisions taken by these recent leaders have had direct effects on the lives of many people in a way that more distant Prime Ministers’ decisions haven’t.
From the decision to go to war in Iraq under Tony Blair to holding a referendum on our membership of the European Union under David Cameron, these politicians have for better or for worse shaped the lives of people across the country and even across the world.
When I began writing I had a clear timeframe plan of what I wanted to do and when I wanted it completed. This made the writing process a joy. I spent a few days per Prime Minister gathering information from all sorts of sources, from books to documentaries and my own experiences in the world of politics. I then used those notes to build the basic timeline of each leader, adding extra detail and opinion to form the section and ultimately coming to a justified conclusion.
Learning more about the world of politics was fascinating, especially when it came to researching events that were long before my lifetime, like the Miners’ Strike or Black Wednesday. Unlike more recent events such as the Coronavirus crisis or Brexit which I am fairly knowledgeable about, I had little idea of the detail when it came to some of the major political events that have occurred in the last few decades.
During lockdown I participated in a number of Zoom calls with politicians, including with the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the Home Secretary Priti Patel and Chairman of the Conservative Party Amanda Milling. These calls were highly informative and beneficial.
Though I was mostly highly motivated to continue to research and write the book there were times, especially when I was writing about a fairly uneventful period of time, that I couldn’t wait to finish a particular section so I could move on to a more exciting event. I must say that writing the final paragraph and specifically the final line of my book was rather challenging and I went through numerous edits of the final sentence before I was happy with it.
I’m currently studying government and politics, economics and history at Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar and my Headteacher, Amanda Simpson, has been very helpful during the project. I intend to use the book as a Sixth Form fundraiser, and Ms Simpson has helped me to share the release of the book with the wider community.
I would say the main message that my book aims to deliver is that when you are criticising or praising a particular politician, past or present, it is essential that you look at the wider information and see through the misdirection and spin.
Though I have massively enjoyed writing this book and hope to write more, I have never really considered becoming a full-time author, though I’m sure it would be rewarding and enjoyable. I am focused on trying to become a politician and writing this book is a small step towards that eventual goal.”