Chris Bryant has been the Member of Parliament for Rhondda since 2001. He is the Shadow Minister for Constitutional reform, and was Deputy Leader of the House of Commons and Minister for Europe and Latin America in the last Government.
Prior to entering Parliament he was a priest in the Church of England, serving as a curate in High Wycombe and a youth chaplain in Peterborough diocese and then ran an educational charity, Common Purpose, before becoming Head of European Affairs at the BBC, based in Brussels.
Chris read English at Oxford before completing two further Oxford degrees in Theology (including History of the Church) as part of his preparation for ordination. A former member of the Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport, he has written biographies of Stafford Cripps and Glenda Jackson, as well as a history of Christian Socialism. He has also edited several books of essays and has written regularly for the Guardian, the Mail on Sunday and the Independent, and appeared on every major TV and radio news and current affairs programme.
Chris Bryant was the first gay MP to celebrate his civil partnership in the Palace of Westminster. He was recently described by the political sketch-writer Quentin Letts as 'a brilliant parliamentarian'.
Over the last two hundred years Parliament has witnessed and effected dramatic and often turbulent change. Political parties rose – and fell. The old aristocratic order passed away. The vote was won for the working classes and, eventually, for women. The world was torn apart by two extraordinarily bloody wars. And individual politicians were cheered for their altruism or their bravery and jeered for their sexual or financial misdemeanours.
This second volume of Chris Bryant’s majestic Parliament: The Biography has a cast of characters that includes some of British history’s most famous names: the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, Gladstone, Disraeli, Lloyd George, Churchill and Thatcher. Its recurring theme is reform and innovation, but it also lays bare obsessive respect for the past and a dedication to evolution rather than revolution, which has left us with a fudged constitution still perilously dependent on custom, convention and gentlemen’s agreements.
This is riveting, flawlessly researched and accessible popular history for anyone with an interest in why modern Britain is the nation it is today.
The history of Parliament is the history of the United Kingdom itself. It has a cast of thousands. Some were ambitious, visionary and altruistic. Others were hot-headed, violent and self-serving. Few were unambiguously noble. Yet their rowdy confrontations, their campaigning zeal and their unstable alliances framed our nation.
This first of two volumes takes us on a 500-year journey from Parliament's earliest days in the thirteenth century through the turbulent years of the Wars of the Roses and the upheavals of the Civil Wars, and up to 1801, when Parliament - and the United Kingdom, embracing Scotland and Ireland - emerged in a modern form.
Chris Bryant tells this epic tale through the lives of the myriad MPs, lords and bishops who passed through Parliament. It is the vivid, colourful biography of a cast of characters whose passions and obsessions, strengths and weaknesses laid the foundations of modern democracy.