Honourable mentions.
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Reading between the party lines: a run-down of the key books of this election

Sometimes you need more than 140 characters.

Wasted: How Misunderstanding Young Britain Threatens Our Future, by Georgia Gould (Little, Brown)

A rousing argument against the idea that Britain’s feckless, apathetic youth are taking us to hell in a handcart, by a 28-year-old New Labour insider. Its central argument is that young people can drawn back into the political process, through low-tech graft at a community level. Packed full of anecdotes, research and statistics, it is let down by occasional lapses into boilerplate wonkish prose.
Helen Lewis

 

Five Year Mission: The Labour Party under Ed Miliband, by Time Bale (OUP)

For Labour, losing is like smoking: they tend to find it hard to stop once they’ve started. Tim Bale, professor of politics, gives us the definitive history of Ed Miliband’s attempt to defy history and get the party back into power in just one term. The book is exhaustive and scrupulously fair – but partisans may find the constant cycle of “crisis – big speech – moment of calm – repeat” somewhat waring. Whatever happens to its subject, the book will remain a useful first-stop to this period in Labour’s history.
Stephen Bush

 

How Good We Can Be: Ending the Mercenary Society and Building a Great Country, by Will Hutton (Little, Brown)

Two decades ago, Will Hutton captured the zeitgeist with The State We’re In, an excoriating critique of Thatcherism that was briefly embraced by Tony Blair. In How Good We Can Be, the Observer columnist seeks to offer a similarly comprehensive account of the UK’s economic, social and political maladies and the solutions required. Hutton argues for a fundamental redrawing of corporate governance, the replacement of austerity with investment, the renewal of trade unions as stakeholders in capitalism and the revival of public ownership in the case of natural monopolies such as the railways. The open question is whether Ed Miliband, who espouses much of this agenda, succeeds in preventing him from having to write another lament.
George Eaton

 

The Coalition Effect, 2010-2015, by Anthony Seldon and Mike Finn (Cambridge University Press)

Everyone has an opinion about the coalition government; here, as much as is possible, are the facts. The Liberal-Conservative administration’s record in health, education, the public realm, the running of parliament are asssessed by a series of wonks and analyists, all edited and coralled by Anthony Selsdon and Michael Finn.
Stephen Bush

 

None of the Above, by Rick Edwards (Simon & Schuster)

The host of BBC3’s Free Speech has produced a clunking fist of a book, directed squarely at young voters. It outlines policy areas and party positions in straightforward, accessible prose, leavened with dashes of wit. Edwards is obliged to be non-partisan, making this a refreshing read for anyone who has overdosed on polemics in the last few months.
Helen Lewis

 

Seat by Seat: A Political Anorak's Guide to Potential Gains and Losses in the 2015 General Election by Iain Dale (Biteback Publishing)

It has become a cliché that this is not just one election, but 650 of them. And for LBC presenter and political publisher Iain Dale, it's been even more. He's been updating his seat guide (on his blog) as circumstances have changed ever since it was published. He even amended his overall forecast from three-party coalition or second election to a minority government. His multiple revisions – he changed his mind twice on Hampstead & Kilburn, for example, and went from SNP surge-sceptic to giving it 54 seats – do make you wonder if it was worth enshrining this information in a book.
Anoosh Chakelian

 

The Purple Revolution: The Year That Changed Everything, by Nigel Farage (Biteback Publishing)

The Ukip leader’s second autobiography is a tortured polemic complete with Alan Partridge-isms like “it’s the National Health Service, not the International Health Service” and “Britain was just one star on [the] EU flag.”
Still, prescient in parts. On his party: “It is far more exciting being the horse that comes up on the inside . . . than having to keep the pace.”
Stephanie Boland

 

Sex, Lies & the Ballot Box: 50 things you need to know about British elections, by Philip Cowley​ (Biteback Publishing)

Or Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Politics, But Were Afraid To Ask. Does canvassing change anything? (A bit.) Why do the Conservatives struggle with ethnic minorities? (It’s complicated.) Do you inherit voting behaviour from your parents? (Less so than you used to.) And which party’s supporters are most likely to want to have a three-way? (I’m not referring to televised debates.) Philip Cowley and Rob Ford bring together pollsters and academics to answer politics’ biggest questions.
Stephen Bush

 

Get It Together, by Zoe Williams (Cornerstone Publishing)

Another whistlestop tour of Britain’s social ills, from a firmly left-wing perspective. The book covers housing, climate change, welfare and tax, among many other subjects, and will provide useful ammunition for pub arguments or if (god forbid) you find yourself on Question Time being berated by a Tory. The best line is a description of Vivienne Westwood “rolling conspiracy theories into the crowd like boules into a box of frogs”.
Helen Lewis

 

Honourable Friends? Parliament and the Fight for Change, by Caroline Lucas (Portobello)

The only Green MP ever to darken Westminster's “1970s pub” carpets, Caroline Lucas, gives an account of Commons life with no “honourable friends”. The most illuminating part is her navigation of parliament as an independent operator. Less intriguing are her recollections of environmental battles she has fought. Her gripe that media interviews rarely allow time to “fill in the background” of green issues has clearly been bubbling way, exploding in detail in this book like an aggressively-fracked dale.
Anoosh Chakelian

 

Al Murray: Let’s Re-Great Britain by Al Murray (Penguin)

Al Murray’s pub landlord character – which he first started doing in 1994 – had felt like quite a tired act long before he declared his intention to challenge Nigel Farage by running for parliament in Thanet South. Controversial too, since there’s a question mark over whether the audiences are packing out theatres to laugh ironically at the landlord’s quasi-Ukip brand of patriotic xenophobia, or to laugh approvingly. His manifesto video for the “Free the United Kingdom Party” was moderately amusing when it was released back in January, but presumably Murray’s management team have since realised that there’s no money to be made from slogging it on the doorsteps in east Kent, and have therefore fallen back on the hardy perennial of the comedy world: the tie-in book. Suffice it to say the font is quite big, there are quite a lot of bullet points, and there are little illustrations of beer tankards on the corner of every page. But since the whole premise of FUKP was supposed to be that its manifesto had been drawn up on the back of a fag packet, I suggest you bypass the book and just go right to the source: 

Caroline Crampton

 

Be Your Own Politician: Why It's Time for a New Kind of Politics​, by Paul Twivy (Biteback Publishing)

How do we fix our broken politics? If the answer is a series of barely-connected historical anecdotes by a baby boomer, with a political programme that swings wildly from right to left, washed down with some vague platitudes about devolving power and communities, Paul Twivy’s book may hold the answers.
Stephen Bush

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Leader: Trump and an age of disorder

Mr Trump’s disregard for domestic and international norms represents an unprecedented challenge to established institutions.

The US presidency has not always been held by men of distinction and honour, but Donald Trump is by some distance its least qualified occupant. The leader of the world’s sole superpower has no record of political or military service and is ignorant of foreign affairs. Throughout his campaign, he repeatedly showed himself to be a racist, a misogynist, a braggart and a narcissist.

The naive hope that Mr Trump’s victory would herald a great moderation was dispelled by his conduct during the transition. He compared his country’s intelligence services to those of Nazi Germany and repeatedly denied Russian interference in the election. He derided Nato as “obsolete” and predicted the demise of the European Union. He reaffirmed his commitment to dismantling Obamacare and to overturning Roe v Wade. He doled out jobs to white nationalists, protectionists and family members. He denounced US citizens for demonstrating against him. Asked whether he regretted any part of his vulgar campaign, he replied: “No, I won.”

Of all his predilections, Mr Trump’s affection for Vladimir Putin is perhaps the most troubling. When the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, warned that Russia was the “number one geopolitical foe” of the US, he was mocked by Barack Obama. Yet his remark proved prescient. Rather than regarding Mr Putin as a foe, however, Mr Trump fetes him as a friend. The Russian president aims to use the US president’s goodwill to secure the removal of American sanctions, recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and respect for the murderous reign of the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad. He has a worryingly high chance of success.

Whether or not Mr Trump has personal motives for his fealty (as a lurid security dossier alleges), he and Mr Putin share a political outlook. Both men desire a world in which “strongmen” are free to abuse their citizens’ human rights without fear of external rebuke. Mr Trump’s refusal to commit to Nato’s principle of collective defence provides Mr Putin with every incentive to pursue his expansionist desires. The historic achievement of peace and stability in eastern Europe is in danger.

As he seeks reconciliation with Russia, Mr Trump is simultaneously pursuing conflict with China. He broke with precedent by speaking on the telephone with the Taiwanese president, Tsai Ing-wen, and used Twitter to berate the Chinese government. Rex Tillerson, Mr Trump’s secretary of state nominee, has threatened an American blockade of the South China Sea islands.

Mr Trump’s disregard for domestic and international norms represents an unprecedented challenge to established institutions. The US constitution, with its separation of powers, was designed to restrain autocrats such as the new president. Yet, in addition to the White House, the Republicans also control Congress and two-thirds of governorships and state houses. Mr Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment will ensure a conservative judicial majority. The decline of established print titles and the growth of “fake news” weaken another source of accountability.

In these circumstances, there is a heightened responsibility on the US’s allies to challenge, rather than to indulge, Mr Trump. Angela Merkel’s warning that co-operation was conditional on his respect for liberal and democratic values was a model of the former. Michael Gove’s obsequious interview with Mr Trump was a dismal example of the latter.

Theresa May has rightly rebuked the president for his treatment of women and has toughened Britain’s stance against Russian revanchism. Yet, although the UK must maintain working relations with the US, she should not allow the prospect of a future trade deal to skew her attitude towards Mr Trump. Any agreement is years away and the president’s protectionist proclivities could yet thwart British hopes of a beneficial outcome.

The diplomatic and political conventions embodied by the “special relationship” have endured for more than seven decades. However, Mr Trump’s election may necessitate their demise. It was the belief that the UK must stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the US that led Tony Blair into the ruinous Iraq War. In this new age of disorder, Western leaders must avoid being willing accomplices to Mr Trump’s agenda. Intense scepticism, rather than sycophancy, should define their response.

This article first appeared in the 19 January 2016 issue of the New Statesman, The Trump era