Over the last few months, I’ve read (and mostly reviewed on this site) all the books I’ve found published so far about the 2010 general election and the subsequent coalition negotiations, not to mention a fair number about the political events leading up to the general election over the preceding years.
I’ve yet to read a book that is really bad, although many do have very similar content to each other. A few gems either have original content or present that common ground in particularly strong ways. So based on that here are my top four recommended books about the British general election of May 2010.
The British General Election of 2010 by Dennis Kavanagh and Phil Cowley: the long-running Nuffield series of general election studies has come under increasing competition from other publications in recent general elections with its own very high standards slipping slightly and with other series taking root. With the 2010 volume, however, the series was back with a bang. Its fulsome account made full use of the excellent access the two authors have to key players for off the record interviews.
(My review of The British General Election of 2010 is here and you can buy The British General Election of 2010 here.)
Talking to a Brick Wall by Deborah Mattinson: there are many, many accounts of New Labour’s rise and fall. Deborah Mattinson’s is excellent for telling the story not through the eyes of plotters and policy makers at the top of the party but through the eyes of ordinary voters as recorded in focus groups around the country over the years.
(My review of Talking to a Brick Wall is here and you can buy Talking to a Brick Wall here.)
Minority Verdict: The Conservative Party, the voters and the 2010 election by Michael Ashcroft: the Conservative peer’s account of the 2010 election mixes some reference-book style recounting of poll results, some rather odd attempts at self-justification (particularly his dismissal of non-cash donations when assessing his own contributions to the Conservative Party just before he includes non-cash donations when assessing the level of union support for Labour) with a very good account of how research, policy and campaigning can be tightly integrated to reach floating voters with the issues that most matter to them.
(My brief review of Minority Verdict is here and you can buy Minority Verdict here.)
22 Days in May by David Laws: this is the best of the different blow by blow accounts of the coalition talks, especially as it is one of the few to understand Chris Huhne’s role. It is clearly written by a Liberal Democrat, but there’s plenty of detail for people of all views to get stuck into.
(My review of 22 Days in May is here and you can buy 22 Days in May here.)