Compass activist and former Kent council leader publishes political memoir, ‘Inside Left’

The former Leader of the Swale Council five-group rainbow coalition, and member of Kent Compass, has published a political memoir called Inside Left, a title which the author describes as being “pretty well my ideological outlook” but also “my favourite position on the football field”. He says, in both contexts, he has sometimes found himself on the left wing.

Roger Truelove was brought up in an overwhelmingly Labour supporting street in the then ultra-safe seat of Woolwich East in south-east London. He was always interested in politics and after attending a hustings meeting at the age of 10, in the May 1955 election , followed the results with partisan passion. The following year he attended a public meeting on the Suez crisis and in 1966, whilst an Oxford University student, campaigned for Labour, despite other students querying his support for “that horrible little man Wilson.”

Yet when he finally joined a political party in 1980, it was David Steel’s Liberals. He says “at that point I thought the Liberals were more committed to electoral reform, Europe, and the environment than Labour, and I wanted to see, as I do still, a change in our political culture. “

Of course, the mould did not break and the politics of the successor Liberal Democrats often became too parochial in the years ahead. Truelove however played an active role. He took part in many Liberal Democrat by election campaigns, convincing BBC Radio in Kent that the party would win in Eastbourne in October 1990 and being a member of policy working parties, notably on the economy. 

He stood twice for parliament, in 1992 and 1997, but resigned from the party in 1998, convinced, as has proven to be the case, that the Liberal Democrats would never mount a serious general election campaign in Kent.

The victor in the 1997 election in the north Kent seat of Sittingbourne and Sheppey was Derek Wyatt, a Labour moderate who had been an England rugby international. Wyatt asked Truelove to help him with communications and strategy, and thus two election opponents formed a team that was described by the local press as “formidable.” Truelove was campaign manager for Wyatt in the 2001 and 2005 election victories but recalls as “fateful for Labour and the country” the Saturday afternoon in October 2007, when walking away from the Valley, the home of Charlton Athletic, they heard that Gordon Brown had abandoned plans for a general election.

During these “new Labour” years, Roger Truelove was invited to social gatherings at 10 Downing Street and he offers a vivid account of the contrasting social skills of first Blair and then Brown, the first very relaxed and almost ingratiating and the latter very formal and short of small talk. 

Truelove was a Swale Borough Councillor, first as a Liberal Democrat, and then as Labour, for most of the years from 1987 to 2023. He was also a Kent County Councillor for eight years. In the end he became Leader of Swale Borough Council in 2019 leading a coalition of five parties, including Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens and two separate Independent groups. He describes the electoral strategy that led to the overthrow of the predominant Tories in 2019 and how the coalition worked, despite predictions that such a polyglot administration would not hold together. He gives advice on coalition politics, the obvious need for respect and compromise, but the need for a clear agenda and not simply relying on a collective opposition to the Tories.

For Truelove claims that this experience in this Council gives a microcosm of how politics could and should be. In a chapter called “the failure of contemporary politics” the author offers a coruscating analysis of what has gone wrong with our politics; the toxicity, populism, short termism, and poor leadership that has warped our decision making.

As a Labour activist he naturally looks forward to a Labour victory in 2024 but he forcefully calls for a progressive consensus around political culture, internationalism, and climate change. He says that a Labour majority will owe a lot to tactical voting, and he hopes a Labour government will try to embrace those Liberal Democrat and Green voters who will have lent Labour their vote. That embrace must include consideration of our voting system, the future of the House of Lords, devolution to the nations of the United Kingdom and a restoration of life for local government.


The book is published by Conrad Press and the ISBN is 978-1-916966-06-2

The book is available from various distributors but principally from Amazon books where it is available in book and kindle form at £10.99 and £9.99

The book is featured on the Conrad Press Facebook pages,

One thought on “Compass activist and former Kent council leader publishes political memoir, ‘Inside Left’

  1. This is a cracking read and Roger’s integrity stands out a mile. Compare and contrast with Kent Tories in Parliament who have remained deaf for 14 years

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