Thorbjørn Jagland kept quiet during all the recent fuss around the book released by his former rival within the Norwegian Labour Party, the current NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg. In it, Stoltenberg revealed among other things how he plotted to replace Jagland as party leader, but now Jagland is working on a book of his own.
Jagland, a former prime minister who now leads the Council of Europe in Strasbourg while Stoltenberg is in Brussels for NATO, plans to tell his version of events. “He’s writing (a book) and has an agreement with (Oslo publishing firm) Cappelen Damm,” editor Elisabeth Steen told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN).
Stoltenberg’s book offered some frank and unique insight into power struggles within the Labour Party. While they tried to play it down at the time, Stoltenberg and Jagland did not get along when Jagland was still party leader. Stoltenberg wrote in his book that their conflict prompted him to basically lead a party coup that left him as both leader of the party and its candidate for prime minister. Jagland was pushed aside, although he landed comfortably as president of the Norwegian Parliament, leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee and leader of the Council of Europe.
The rivalry and difference in styles between Stoltenberg and Jagland could not be denied, though, and Stoltenberg went on to win two terms as Norway’s prime minister, from 2005 until 2013. Now Jagland is in the process of preparing his response to the claims in Stoltenberg’s autobiography called Min historie (My Story), which newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reports may now be translated and released in Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands. It has topped bestseller lists in Norway since its release on September 30.
Stoltenberg’s book, which also revealed how he thinks he’d once been courted by the former Soviet Union’s KBG, came at a relatively early stage in the 57-year-old Stoltenberg’s life, and when he still holds a top international job at NATO. Jagland, age 65, is expected to release his book in 2019, after retirement age and when his latest term as secretary general of the Council of Europe is up.
“When we saw Jens’ book and the reaction afterwards, we were very satisfied that we are the publisher for Jagland,” Steen told DN. “Because we think his book will (also) be of enormous interest.”
Jagland himself wouldn’t comment on his book plans or his agreement with Cappelen Damm. Steen, meanwhile, believes Jagland’s memoirs will also sell well: “The interest in the Labour Party and its various leaders won’t subside,” she said. “We will patiently wait (for Jagland’s manuscript) but we’re really looking forward to it.”
Among the things Jagland may finally want to respond to were comments from Stoltenberg such as: “I think Thorbjørn saw conspiracies that weren’t there. He was convinced that someone wanted him out of the way. That made him confrontational and he could interpret the world around him in the worst possible way. Well-meant advice was viewed as criticism, and criticism was viewed as an attack.” Stoltenberg himself ended up going behind Jagland’s back and moving him out of the way, so perhaps there was some foundation for Jagland’s alleged paranoia.
Steen wouldn’t comment on Jagland’s contract or why he chose Cappelen Damm. “His advance (payment), how many books will be printed and such terms of his contract are things we won’t talk about,” Steen told DN. She said, though, that the size of the first print run hadn’t yet been determined.