Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg

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Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg

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Category: Politics and Society
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A more candid and open retelling of the life the coalition and the collapse of Lib Dem support than I was expecting. I did what I thought would have been impossible and warmed to Nick Clegg.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288/8h59m Date: September 2016
Publisher: Vintage
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1847924056

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The political landscape is changing rapidly at the moment. A little more than two years ago we were facing the end of the UK's first coalition government since World War II and fully expecting that we would see another. Instead we saw a Conservative government elected with a workable majority. Brexit saw the end of one Prime Minister and another elected by a few members of parliament. As I write we're facing another general election, with a Conservative landslide predicted. In two years we've seen the Liberal Democrats collapse from being part of the ruling coalition to a party whose MPs could hold a meeting in a decent-sized car.

I lost faith in Nick Clegg over the matter of the coalition, having supported the Lib Dems precisely because they weren't the Conservatives. The coalition government didn't worry me unduly, but what did concern me was the future of the Liberal Democrats. Why would anyone vote for a party which was now largely indistinguishable from the Conservatives? We were just getting used to the idea that the two-party state wasn't necessarily the way that politics would proceed: would the gains of the post war years be wiped out because of Clegg's taking the party into government, as opposed to giving support where appropriate?

Politics: Between the Extremes takes a candid look at the reasons for going into government and the five turbulent years of the Coalition. He defends the part the Lib Dems played in government and points up the beneficial effect which they had both in terms of achievements and those areas where they were the restraining hand. Early in the book he's keen to point out that it's not an exercise in settling old scores (although he says that there are a few still to be settled) and whilst this is largely correct it's difficult not to tell of what went wrong and to attribute blame, even if only by implication.

Clegg is candid in taking his share of the blame for what went wrong - part of it down to his political naivety when he first went into office - and he's quite open about the damage done by the reversal on tuition fees. If you're reading the book in the hope of juicy revelations then I'm afraid that you might be disappointed, although I was shocked to read about the rowdy behaviour of MPs and just how tribal some political parties actually are. The book's real strength lies in its thoughtful look at how politics is changing and how politicians will need to change if the country is to flourish.

As well as reading the paperback version of the book I listed to an audio download (which I paid for myself) narrated by Nick Clegg. He was easy and convincing to listen to and whilst it's rare to feel that political memoirs are too short I would have been happy to hear more of what he had to say. There is one minor disadvantage to the audio version and the hardback: they date back to September 2016, when we had not yet been Trumped. The paperback includes a new foreword and afterword - but even these are quickly dated by changing events.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

For a statistical look at why the United Kingdom opted to leave the European Union we can recommend Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union by Harold D Clarke, Matthew Goodwin and Paul Whiteley.

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Buy Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.

Buy Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.

Buy Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Politics: Between the Extremes by Nick Clegg at Amazon.com.


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