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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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”.
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.
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:
— FUKP (@FUKPnews) April 15, 2015
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.