The 2010s were a turbulent decade for British politics - and the 2020s are showing no sign of being any quieter. How on earth did things get to be like this? Will we ever return to a time when our politics was considered dull - or should we at all? Whether you're an expert obsessively following the latest developments in Westminster or struggling to keep up, our list of top titles will hopefully make things clearer.
Isabel (Author) Hardman£9.99 £9.29
In an era when politicians are responsible for the Brexit logjam and embroiled in sexual-harassment and expenses scandals, it's no wonder we've lost our faith in government. Every year, they introduce new legislation that doesn't do what it sets out to achieve - often with terrible financial and human costs. But, with some notable exceptions, they are decent, hard-working people, doing a hugely difficult and demanding job. In this searching examination of our political class, award-winning journalist Isabel Hardman investigates the strange and demanding world of Westminster, and asks why we end up with representatives we no longer trust - and how might faith be restored.
The Conservatives are back, and back with a bang two election wins in a row and, providing they can hold things together, in a pretty good position to win another. But many questions about their recent past, present, and future still remain. Just why did the world's oldest and most successful political party dump Margaret Thatcher only to commit electoral suicide under John Major? And what stopped the Tories getting their act together until David Cameron came along? Did Cameron change his party as much as he sometimes liked to claim, or did his leadership, both in opposition and in government, involve more compromise - and more Conservatism than we realize? Finally, what does the result of the EU referendum mean for the Party in years to come? The answers, as this accessible and gripping book shows, are as intriguing and provocative as the questions. Based on in-depth research and interviews with the key players, Tim Bale explains how and why the Tories lost power in 1997 and how and why they have eventually been able to rediscover their winning ways, even if internal tensions and external challenges mean they still can't take anything for granted. Crucial, he suggests, are the people, the power structures, the ideas, and the very different interests of those involved. This second edition of The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand what makes the Tories tick.
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if... Britain had lost the Falklands War? Scotland had voted Yes in 2014? German reunifi cation had never happened? the Conservatives had won an overall majority in 2010? Lyndon Johnson had been shot down in 1942? David Miliband had beaten Ed Miliband to the Labour leadership? Lynton Crosby had changed sides in 2015? or Boris Johnson had become Prime Minister after the European referendum? Welcome to the world of political counterfactuals, where scholarly analyses of possibilities and causalities take their place beside enthralling fictional accounts of alternate political histories - all guaranteed to enlighten and entertain (or make you shudder at the thought). From a permanent union between France and the UK in 1940, to a 'Yes' vote in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, to Jeremy Corbyn becoming Prime Minister in 2020, get ready to see a century of political history turned on its head with twenty-three expert examinations of things that never happened (or likely never will) - but easily could have if events had so conspired...
Tim Shipman£9.99 £9.29
The only book to tell the full story of how and why Britain voted to leave the EU. This is the acclaimed inside story of the EU referendum in 2016 that takes you behind the scenes of the most extraordinary episode in British politics since the Second World War. With unparalleled access to all key players, this is a story of calculation, attempted coups and people torn between principles and loyalty. It is a book about our leaders and their closest aides, the decisions they make, how and why they make them and how they feel when they turn out to be so wrong. In All Out War, Tim Shipman has written a political history that reads like a thriller, exploring how and why David Cameron chose to take the biggest political gamble of his life, and why he lost.
David Laws£25.00 £23.25
When David Cameron and Nick Clegg stepped out into the rose garden at No. 10 to launch the first coalition government since the Second World War, it was amid a sea of uncertainty. Some doubted whether the coalition could survive a full term - or even a full year. Five years later, this bold departure for British politics had weathered storms, spending cuts and military strikes, rows, referendums and riots. In this compelling insider account, David Laws lays bare the inner workings of the coalition government from its birth in 2010 to its demise in 2015. As one of the chief Lib Dem negotiators, Laws had a front-row seat from the very beginning of the parliament. Holding key posts in the heart of government, he was there for the triumphs, the tantrums and the tactical manoeuvrings. Now, he brings this experience to bear, revealing how crucial decisions were made, uncovering the often explosive divisions between and within the coalition parties, and candidly exploring the personalities and positions of the leading players on both sides of the government. Honest, insightful and at times shocking, Coalition shines a powerful light on perhaps the most fascinating political partnership of modern times.
Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire£18.98 £17.65
The 2017 parliament began with Labour on the precipice of power, and its left-most fringe - for so long alienated within its own party - closer to government than it had ever been. It ended with them even farther away than they started. From the peak of Jeremy Corbyn's popularity and the shock hung parliament of 2017 to Labour's humbling in 2019 and the election of Keir Starmer, Left Out draws on unrivalled access throughout the party and to both leaders' inner circles to provide a blistering narrative exposé of the Labour Party during one of the most tumultuous and significant episodes in its history. It reveals a party riven by factionalism and at war over ideology, then incapacitated by crisis and indecision. From the plotting of the break-away Independent Group to the inaction and despair over accusations of anti-Semitism, from complaints of sexual harassment and bullying to foiled coups and furious disagreements over Brexit, the reader is in the room as tempers fray and tensions boil over, as sworn enemies forge unlikely alliances and lifelong friendships are tested to breaking-point. At the heart of the book is Corbyn himself, a man whose like had never been seen at the top of British politics - and is unlikely to ever be seen again. Heroised for his principles by some, derided as an idealist by others, the loyalty and hatred he inspired changed not only the party but the nation.
Philip Cowley and Dennis Kavanagh£24.99 £23.24
The British General Election of 2017 is the definitive and authoritative account of one of the most dramatic elections in British history. Throwing aside her natural caution, Theresa May called a snap election and was widely expected to crush Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Her gamble backfired spectacularly as the Conservatives lost their Commons majority to a resurgent Labour led by one of the most unconventional politicians to lead a major British political party. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, with unparalleled access to all the key players, The British General Election of 2017 offers a revelatory guide to what really happened. The 20th edition in this prestigious series of books dating back to 1945, it is designed to appeal to everyone — from Westminster insiders and politics students to the wider general public.
Tom Bower£20.00 £18.60
Many of us think we know his story well. His ruthless ambition was evident from his insistence, as a three-year-old, that he would one day be 'world king'. Eton and Oxford prepared him well for a frantic career straddling the dog-eat-dog worlds of journalism and politics. His transformation from bumbling stooge on Have I Got New for You to a triumphant Mayor of London was overshadowed only by his colourful personal life, brimming with affairs, scandals and transgressions. His ascent to Number 10 in the wake of the acrimonious, era-defining Brexit referendum would prove to be only the first act in an epic drama that saw him play both hero and villain - from proroguing parliament to his controversial leadership of the Covid-19 Crisis, all against the backdrop of divorce, marriage, the birth of his sixth child, revolts among Tory MPs and the countdown to Brexit. Yet despite his celebrity, decades of media scrutiny, the endless vitriol of his critics and the enduring adoration of his supporters, there is so much we've never understood about Boris - until now. Previous biographies have either dismissed him as a lazy, deceitful opportunist or been transfixed by his charm, wit and drive. Both approaches fall short, and so many questions about Boris remain unanswered. What seismic events of his childhood have evaded scrutiny? How has he so consistently defied the odds, proved his critics wrong, and got away with increasingly reckless gambles? What were his real achievements and failures as Mayor of London, what was really going on during his time as Foreign Secretary, and why did he write two articles for the Telegraph, one in favour of Leave and the other for Remain? How have the women in his life exerted more influence than any of us realise, and why is his story ultimately one overshadowed by family secrets? Based on a wealth of new interviews and research, this is the deepest, most rounded and most comprehensive portrait to date of the man, the mind, the politics, the affairs, the family - of a loner, a lover, a leader. Revelatory, unsettling and compulsively readable, it is the most timely and indispensable book yet from Britain's leading investigative biographer.
Tom Harris£12.99 £12.08
For the first eighteen months of Jeremy Corbyn s leadership, Labour MPs were in open revolt. Labour seemed to be returning to the early 1980s, when old-school Marxists tried to seize control of the party, at an appalling electoral cost. So when Theresa May called a snap election, it seemed that time was finally up for Labour voters would consign it to the history books. Yet on 8 June 2017, it was the Conservatives who were left with egg on their faces. But how long can the uneasy peace between moderate, anti-Corbyn MPs and the leader's loyal grassroots activists last? Does Corbyn's victory give cause for celebration? Or is the Labour Party, as generations of voters have known it, finally coming to an end? From Gordon Brown s momentous decision not to call an election in 2007 and Ed Miliband s crushing defeat in 2015 to the continued rise of Corbynmania, ex-Labour MP Tom Harris examines the seismic events in Labour s recent history and the decisions that have shaped its fortunes.