Last-minute Christmas present ideas from the LDV team

There are just two shopping days left ’til Christmas, so if you’re still scrambling round for a last-minute pressie for a politico, here are a handful of ideas from Stephen Tall, Caron Lindsay and Paul Walter to help…

Stephen Tall

Stephen Tall - resized - small - H&S

Liberalism: The Life of an Idea – Edmund Fawcett
There are lots of books around about liberalism as an idea: this one focuses on liberalism as reality, and how it’s decisively shaped the past 200 years of American and European history. In the wrong hands, this could be scholarly but dry, important yet dull. As it is, Fawcett’s touch is both light and incisive (eg, ‘At times the liberal state tamed the market. At others, the liberal market tamed the liberal state.’). Highly recommended.

Audible audiobooks – There are plenty of books I’d love to read, but know I won’t ever find/make the time to do so. This year I treated myself to an annual subscription to Audible: 12 audiobooks for £69.99 (that’s less than £6 a book). As a result, I’ve finally ‘read’ the latest instalment of Robert Caro’s amazingly good biography of LBJ, The Passage of Power; Roy Jenkins’ Churchill; and am mid-way through Margaret Macmillan’s The War That Ended Peace. And I still have another 9 books to download and enjoy on my daily commute.

Sex, Lies and the Ballot Box: 50 things you need to know about British elections – Philip Cowley, Robert Ford (Eds)
How do you make political geekery and electoral psephology into a page-turner? Well, identify 51 intriguing questions and ask top academics to answer them in pithy 4-page bite-size chunks. If you want to know why people lie about voting, when racism stopped being normal, and whether attractive candidates get more votes then this is most definitely the book for you.

Caron Lindsay

100 Days of Hope and Fear: How Scotland’s Independence Referendum was lost and won by David Torrance

I’m still bear the emotional scars of the independence referendum. I found the paucity of debate, the petty divisions and the generally horrible atmosphere amongst people who normally got on with each other pretty hard to take. I managed to get through the whole thing without falling out with anybody, although I was unfriended by my local SNP councillor on Facebook. It’s not a period I’ll look back at fondly, though.

However, there were some good times and the ubiquitous David Torrance, he of the funky knitwear, trendy t-shirts and the snappiest of haircuts takes us through them with witty anecdotes, liberal amounts of gossip and his usual fair and measured observation. We get to find out the identity of his “hipster barber” too.

It could also be subtitled “A Cycle Tour round the posh eateries of Edinburgh” as he seems to spend an inordinate amount of time enjoying pleasant food with the key players.

David is as ever scrupulously fair to everyone and if anything was going to make me go all rose-tinted about that time, it would be that book. One of my favourite scenes is when he was recognised by some proper voters in a central Scotland town. It’s an enjoyable read.

Alex Salmond: My part in his downfall by Alan Cochrane

The Telegraph’s Alan Cochrane, on the other hand, is a little more partisan. Reading his book just proves beyond doubt that women’s voices were heard far too little during that campaign.

The Politicos Guide to the 2015 election by  Daniel HamiltonGreg CallusIain Dale, and Robert Waller

A comprehensive guide to the next few months – and I’m not just putting it in as a shameless bit of self-promotion because I wrote the Lib Dem chapter.

Mind Blind by Lari Don

Lari Don mostly writes about fairies and mythical creatures for younger children. Mind Blind is her first novel for teenagers and it’s chilling and scary. It’s about bereavement, betrayal, working together with someone you have a powerful reason to hate and who can read your mind.

A long, slow rooftop scene was so realistic that it made me wonder if the author knew what it felt like to navigate such precarious territory inch by inch with death vein the consequence of failure.

Paul WalterPaul Walter

Jeremy Thorpe by Michael Bloch

Its publication was delayed until the death of Jeremy Thorpe, which makes it enticing. The author has a great pedigree and it is a large, expensive book, but I am very much looking forward to it. For anyone with an interest in Jeremy Thorpe and the old Liberal party, it is a “must read”, I would guess – I’ll reserve judgment until I have read it!


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