Written before the European referendum:
Taken from David Laws’s Coalition: The inside story of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government.
As with David Laws’s book about the 2010 coalition negotiations, this book from him sets out in detail a Liberal Democrat version of events which have been heavily covered by others, but those others have frequently paid little attention to the Liberal Democrats perspective or involvement. Two examples of that – the Ashcroft biography of Cameron which spends time speculating how same-sex marriage came to take up so much government time and cause such Tory angst without once mentioning that its inclusion in the government programme was triggered by a Liberal Democrat minister, or Matthew D’Ancona’s book on the coalition which similarly, if less glaringly, has little time for what Lib Dems did. Those other omissions make Law’s perspective an important one, although in this case his barbs and criticisms are not infrequently directed at fellow Lib Dems such as Vince Cable, even if they are also often wrapped in kind words about the person.
What David Laws’s book itself largely omits is much discussion of Liberal Democrat campaign strategy or messaging. Even though he was one of Nick Clegg’s closest advisers, and discussions about hugely detailed policy are carefully recorded in the book, very little attention is given to the party’s electoral fight for survival. That, I suspect, reveals a mistaken belief during coalition that if only Lib Dem policies could be got through and made a success, the electoral politics would sort itself out – rather than having a clear political strategy at the centre of planning and decisions all the way through.