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POLITICS MATTERS: Bringing politics to book – just in time for Christmas

By David Stewart

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David Stewart shares some of his best political reads of the year.
David Stewart shares some of his best political reads of the year.

Christmas shopping is the top of the agenda for many readers at this time of the year.

Are you looking for a good book to gift to a loved one who has caught the political bug?

Or could you be a “secret Santa” to a work colleague, or a neighbour?

Well, I am here to help.

After extensive and thorough research, I can recommend the following books as Christmas presents.

If truth be told, they were all in my eyeline in my bookcase as I wrote this article…But for full transparency, I have no shares in the book publishers!

My political book of the year is Politics on the Edge, by former Tory MP Rory Stewart.

If there ever was an example of a “lost” leader it was Stewart.

He is talented, super bright and he had an interesting background before becoming an MP.

Stewart writes extremely well.

His description of life as a backbench MP and Junior Minister were first class.

This is an excellent read irrespective of where you are on the political spectrum.

My next enjoyable read was When They Go Low, We Go High by former Tony Blair speechwriter, Phillip Collins.

Collins is a columnist for The Times and is an inspirational guru for readers who are interested in the art of public speaking.

Collins looks at famous speeches from John F Kennedy to Neil Kinnock and put them in historical and political context.

Anthony Seldon and Raymond Newell’s well researched book, Johnson at 10, The Inside Story, is the rollercoaster ride that was Boris Johnson’s tenure as Prime Minister.

The book covers Johnson’s highs and lows from Brexit to the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.

There is also a dedicated chapter to Dominic Cummings, so there is no shortage of mystery, intrigue and manipulations.

My next book is a hidden gem. ‘What Does Jeremy Think?’ by Suzanne Heywood.

Jeremy Heywood was one of the UK’s most senior civil servants, who was well respected across the political divide.

Following his premature death, his widow, Suzanne, completed Jeremy’s book which is an insiders guide to modern crisis management and policy reform within the hot house of a 24-hour-news media cycle.

Written from the perspective of the civil servant, not the politician, it gives a refreshing perspective on modern political life at the very centre of power within Downing Street.

My last choice may seem strange to those above, which are more interested in contemporary political dramas.

‘Napoleon the Great’ by heavy-weight historian Andrew Roberts is an 800-plus page masterpiece.

Of course, Napoleon was much more than an extraordinary general – he rewrote the laws of France, modernised the education system and was a lover of the arts.

Along the way, he also picked up a few of the political dark arts.

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