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Opposition matters for many reasons – any political party entering government will have spent a considerable time in opposition, forming a policy programme and preparing to assume office. How they conduct this process and how successful they are during this period can have a major impact on their administration.

Equally, in a democracy the opposition plays the vital role of scrutiny and agenda-setting, holding the government of the day to account. Despite this, opposition can be a miserable job in British politics: under-resourced, demoralised and ignored, shadow ministers nevertheless have to fulfil the important job of keeping government honest, all the time preparing to take power themselves one day. It is an often thankless task, with very little support and no handbook to tell you how to do it. Until now.

How to Be In Opposition features essays from leading academics and practitioners, combining first-hand accounts of the challenges of life in the shadows with detailed analysis of its opportunities and vital importance. Features contributions from Neil Kinnock and Gillian Shephard.

‘An excellent study of the central importance, but the often humiliating practicalities, of opposition. Compulsory reading for Miliband’s office.’ – Neil Stewart, Progress Online

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