The Lib Dem Spring Conference kicks off in Southport this weekend.
Whether you want an insider's look at the world of political campaigning, an account of the realities of life in coalition, or a look at the achievements of British Liberal leaders through history, here are our recommendations for some supplementary reading for anyone at #LDConf ...
By his 20s Chris Rennard was the most successful election campaigner his party has ever known.
He helped the Liberal Party win power in Liverpool in the 1970s and campaigned for Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins in famous by-elections which helped the Liberal SDP Alliance to compete for power before its acrimonious collapse in the late 80’s. He was then responsible for a series of spectacular by-election victories that rescued his party’s fortunes and he oversaw a huge increase in the party’s number of MPs and elected representatives. Liberal leaders Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy, Menzies Campbell and Nick Clegg would all rely on him as the party grew to the peak of its success.
There will never be a better inside account of a political party, or contemporary history of the Liberal Democrats. Winning Here is a record that shows how election campaigns are really fought and won and how party leaders change and parties develop. Similarly, there will never be a commentator better placed to tell this story.
Coalition Diaries, 2012–2015
By David Laws
Acclaimed as one of the sharpest political minds of his generation, David Laws saw his ministerial career nosedive before it had properly begun when, after only seventeen days as Chief Secretary to the Treasury, he was forced to resign over unintended breaches of the rules on parliamentary expenses.
But you can’t keep a good man down, and Laws returned to government, where he was responsible for implementing the coalition agreement and planning the Lib Dems’ strategy in the run-up to the 2015 election. He began writing a diary in March 2012 and continued with it throughout his ministerial career, capturing his private reflections and immediate, detailed recollections of key events.
Frank, acerbic, sometimes shocking and often funny, Coalition Diaries chronicles the historic Liberal Democrat–Conservative coalition government through the eyes of someone at the heart of the action. It offers extraordinary pen portraits of all the personalities involved, and candid insider insight into one of the most fascinating periods of recent British political history.
As the governing party of peace and reform, and then as the third party striving to keep the flame of freedom alive, the Liberal Party, the SDP and the Liberal Democrats have played an undoubtedly crucial role in the shaping of contemporary British society. And yet, the leaders who have stood at its helm – from Earl Grey to Nick Clegg, via William Gladstone, David Lloyd George and Paddy Ashdown – have steered the Liberal vessel with enormously varying degrees of success.
This comprehensive and enlightening book considers the attributes and achievements of each leader in the context of their respective time and political landscape, offering a compelling analytical framework by which they may be judged, detailed personal biographies from some of the leading academics and experts on Liberal history, and exclusive interviews with former leaders themselves.
An indispensable contribution to the study of party leadership, British Liberal Leaders is the essential guide to understanding British political history and governance through the prism of those who created it. More here.
For more Lib Dem books and ideas, click here!