2018 refused to go quietly, so it’s perfectly understandable if you’re a little behind on your Christmas shopping. By way of a helping hand, here’s Natalie Mauchline’s favourite political books of the past year. Merry Christmas!
WTF by Robert Peston: A very entertaining read which presents analysis of the underlying causes of Brexit as well as an attempt to understand changes to British society. Peston argues that falling living standards, the decline of social mobility and the rise of inequality are at the core of Brexit. This is an excellent read for those wanting to cut past the political point scoring and get to the heart of the debate. “I’m not saying Britain is finished or anything like that. I’m just pointing out that there are some very significant structural problems that we need to fix, whether or not we leave the European Union.”
How to Be Right by James O’Brien: A different kind of political book. O’Brien is a talk-show host on LBC who spends most mornings calmly pointing out the cracks in the absurdly xenophobic or erroneous arguments made by callers. The book contains many accounts of these calls as well as his interesting stance on the current political climate. The book, while providing a good amount of comedic relief, also offers valuable insight into how the opinions shaping British society were formed in the first place.
Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem by Tim Shipman: This is a book for The Thick of It fans. It covers the period after Theresa May arrived in Downing Street and the unfortunate 2017 General Election. Through many off-the-record interviews with the well-known names of Brexit, the book offers a vivid, if slightly disturbing, picture of Britain’s political leaders during a chaotic period.
Poverty Safari: Understanding the Anger of Britain’s Underclass by Darren McGarvey: This book offers a passionate and first-hand account of living in poverty in Britain. McGarvey describes poverty as “a quicksand that consumes us despite our best efforts to escape its pull” and argues that the use of the word “poverty” has been reduced to political football. It is an engaging and raw narrative that explains why the gulf between classes must be addressed if we ever hope to end poverty. The author was awarded the Orwell Prize for the book and was a keynote speaker at this year’s ‘Festival of Politics’ at Holyrood.