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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He tells it like it is
I have always rated Matthew d"Acona very highly as a political journalist, and look forward each Sunday to his incisive analysis and comment of the current politics of the country and the world. This book gives a page-turning account of the behind the scenes activity of the coalition; the tensions; the compromises as well as the outcomes. Highly recommended
Published 4 months ago by . John B

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit plodding
I usually enjoy most political books. I like this one & have read other Matthew d'Ancona books but it doesn't flow as well as other books I've read. I am familiar with the territory and find it a bit 'he said, she said'. I still like it & would recommend it but it could have been much better.
Published 6 months ago by Densie


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He tells it like it is, 8 Mar 2014
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I have always rated Matthew d"Acona very highly as a political journalist, and look forward each Sunday to his incisive analysis and comment of the current politics of the country and the world. This book gives a page-turning account of the behind the scenes activity of the coalition; the tensions; the compromises as well as the outcomes. Highly recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit plodding, 21 Dec 2013
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
I usually enjoy most political books. I like this one & have read other Matthew d'Ancona books but it doesn't flow as well as other books I've read. I am familiar with the territory and find it a bit 'he said, she said'. I still like it & would recommend it but it could have been much better.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Coalition- its inner workings revealed, 30 Oct 2013
By 
Rev. T. J. Carter (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
I found this book interesting and revealing, particularly the part played by 'the main players' in the Coalition.I understood more what the key issues have been as the Coaltion has developed.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed story, 4 Nov 2013
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
Well written & researched book on current politics.The detail makes realise that the Government do not care about the ordinary voter
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18 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Love George, 10 Oct 2013
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
This book is a great disappointment. I purchased it on the day of publication believing it would be the first really authoritative book on the coalition. I knew that Matthew D'Ancona was on the right of the Conservative Party but on the basis of his Telegraph columns I had expected a degree of objectivity. Alas Mr D'Ancona has elected to display his uncritical admiration of the Cameroons in general and his absolute adulation of George Osborne in particular.
There are no new revelations except that Osborne thinks that Ian Duncan Smith is thick. Not exactly a surprise to anyone who has seen IDS interviewed. We get lengthy descriptions of the social life of the Notting Hill set and the Chipping Norton set. Above all, we are constantly reminded about how nice they all are and how Michael Gove is the most polite person in politics. You could almost believe that the author would love to be a member of both sets. Or maybe he already is.
If you are looking for informed analysis of the coalition, this book is not for you. If you are an uncritical, devoted and hero worshipping fan of George Osborne, this is the one for you.
I'll put this book down to experience and wait for the first really serious and objective analysis of the coalition to come along.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Political !, 27 Jan 2014
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
A Christmas gift for a person who has a degree in Politics - he had his head buried in it all day !
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive Account, 16 Nov 2013
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
The book covers the politics of the coalition and provides a useful analysis into the happenings and fallouts within the coalition.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A romping yarn, 7 Nov 2013
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
as Boris would call it... which happens to be based on the truth. I must read it before the 2015 election.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars All about dreaming and hoping, 3 Nov 2013
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This review is from: In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government (Hardcover)
I recall that political parties were coalitions of opinions; that unlike the rest of Europe Britain believed in forming governments rather than having parliaments with exact representation of its electorate. Then we came to May 2010, to the lovely Rose Garden scenes, "in it together" all to restore the country of the mess which Labour (and the international bankers) had left it and to start "new politics".

Some commentators claim Matthew D' Ancona's work is a modern version of Andrew Rawnsley's Servants of the People Servants of the People: The Inside Story of New Labouron the state of the first New Labour Government after around 40 months, and if you familiar with that book this tome might be interesting. If at the outset a spring-like harmony existed where previously deep winter feuding persisted between Blair and Brown, after the Lib Dem embarrassment over university capping and the failed electoral reform in the AV referendum in 2011 Deputy PM Clegg joined the antagonist Business Minister Cable, with a more belligerent tit-for-tat approach towards its partners, the Tories. Back to wintertime until the next attempt? The Telegraph journalist, D' Ancona, never comments how new, or European, the Lib Dem's current position is.

The author points to the opponents, and supporters in government, as there are those in both camps. Following the brief intervention on Ralph Miliband's past Parliamentary Socialism: A Study in the Politics of Labour, which broke after the publication of this book, the Lib Dems seem, as the historian would have remarked, to have been influenced by the "parliamentary embrace", the desire to stay in power at all costs, a common feature of all new "revolutionary" groups, which in the long term benefits the establishment, and thus the Tories. Or will it?

D' Ancona goes at length to show that the Chancellor, George Osborne, like Brown, at the Treasury, is Machiavellian, putting his colleagues one against another, showing camps emerging there, and his biggest threat is with the "quiet one", in IDS at DWP. With his "Big Society" Duncan Smith wants to redefine "social justice" and presses those on benefits towards work, whereas Osborne who has no conviction in this idolised scheme, wants to humiliate those living on benefit as "skivers", refusing to behave responsibly in the period of national austerity. Maybe, or is it a scheme of good cop, bad cop?

The author shows that the reaction in government and in parliament among the Conservatives are not passive as they were in pre Heath days, and now as a coalition they know the whips have not the same clout and promises of promotion as they normally had. There still exists differences and obstacles with the civil service, in particular at Education between Gove and pro-Labour sleepers accidentally on purpose not supplying correct data. He reiterates as Blair did, his fight really is against the public sector "wreckers", the "forces of conservatism", known as the "Blob" ie. the teaching unions (not to be confused with Mr Blobby!). Indeed, the present Sir Humphrey, the Cabinet Secretary (since 2012) Jeremy Heywood first says he can not arbitrate between the elected representatives in government, but then as it is a coalition they ask him advice to find the common ground, which means he is called upon to act as a referee. Hurrah for honesty, or is a sign of Mr Big?

An outsider might query why this author adds what a political historian would not consider in adding, on the spouses and friends of leading figures, which certain journalists in the know would. This is partly I believe to demonstrate the reliability and closeness to his facts and sources, and how similar that world has become to Labour: friends at school and uni moving on into politics full-time through the media, or as political researchers, and as members of think tanks, an extremely narrow incestuous atmosphere, inviting constant private and public back biting.

At the centre lies the Etonian Premier, and undoubtedly D' Ancona depicts a real liking for David Cameron. He is not a Tory Lite because it is a coalition (IDS anecdote that mentioning the election to the PM is like mentioning Heather Mills to Paul McCartney - a no-no situation), or a cuckoo colonizing the nest of others for himself; he is instead a very clever organizer, and manipulator of his talent and their minds: Fox, Gove, Lansley, and May, together with the two generals in Hague and Osborne, successfully giving the impression of a change from a Presidential sofa-style apparatus, together with the pit bull-like Campbell as gate keeper, to a more traditional team-like administration, something which Labour commentators choose not to mention for fear of reminding younger readers of less than glorious days.

Far from being the wasted Champagne Charlie toff of the Bullingdon club as described by the Guardian, Cameron is much the social reformer, and works well with the true believer ISD. Moreover, he sounds calm as a commander and a statesman whether presenting even handed cases following the Bloody Sunday (June 2010) and Hillsborough (September 2012) inquiries, and the Algerian crisis (January 2013), or when meeting Gold winning athletes after the London Olympics, but he is not afraid to listen to and appease the growing demands of its party constituents over Europe in reply to the Europhile policies of the Lib Dems. Cameron, the author goes on, also looks different to his contemporary, the mayor of London, each playing to their own supporters. D' Ancona hints of a possible what if? Dave had offered Boris a more inviting portfolio in 2007. That is something neither Boris, nor Dave might truly answer - though many other commentators obviously would. This author just throws this idea into the ring.

Overseas, Cameron's natural charm is so refreshing and believable compared to the calculating posturing of Blair, or the quiet insignificant anger of Brown, in particular when standing next to a President with eyes firmly fixed onto Asia, distancing himself from its former policing role of the democratic world.

Some in government claim it has already done a lot, in health: Health & Social Care Act, and education: the expansion of academies to over 2,000 in less than three years, and of free schools. Some say too much, stating its planning seemed shambolic and contradictory at times. That, however, is due to it being a coalition, which could end after 2015, so more has to be done quickly. It was inevitable that sooner rather than later the Libs would begin to blow their own electoral trumpets in order to claim benefits before the government's term of office ends. That will especially be the case with the economy starting to recover since mid 2013, even if growth is still sluggish.

So why publish the book now? Yes, it is a full balanced account of the Coalition: including the down moments, such as the intrigue behind the resignation of the homosexual Fox over his friend Adam Werritty incorrectly comparing him to Lord Bob Boothby: a bi-sexual with two failed marriages, a long liaison with Dorothy Macmillan, wife of "Super Mac", Harold, as well as countless male relationships introduced by the London hood, Ronnie Kray. This sounds a little like one of the many sleazy embarrassments of the Major government, and a very minor version of the Profumo-Keeler scandal of 50 years before, stuff of Andrew Lloyd Webber's new musical Steve Ward, hardly something of "new politics", and understandably causing many European commentators to continue to shrug with total disbelief.

I suspect, however, that with the hacking trial continuing for months the author will want readers to be reminded that while not only Labour and the Conservatives had been mixed up with Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks of the News of the World, and that while Andy Coulson worked with Cameron both Clegg and Cable found Coulson to be someone with a clear open mind, and proving very useful and original in his methods. And what does that mean? Where there is smoke, there is a hint that members of the clean, principled Lib Dems were happy to work with, learn from, and even obtain material from a possible unscrupulous crook. In other words, In it together - nice title.

D'Ancona and other contributors to the Telegraph will also like to tell proud traditional Liberal voters that contrary to advancing progressive liberal reforms Clegg now would like to behave more as conservatives and abolish the very educational reforms compiled by his colleague Laws with Gove; they have already watered down Lansley's health reforms keeping power in the hands of the state; they intend to prevent the people have a say in the future of the country in exiting from their dream-like Nirvana the EU; and with the ratings plummeting to Labour, the Lib Dems have thwarted Osborne's plan to reduce the lowest rate of tax to 40p to sound more Labour-like than traditional Labour. This sounds much like Lord Acton's declaration that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely".

And as for Labour? It sounds like a Gilbert & Sullivan refrain. It was Labour which brought us the mess -ta-ra, which brought in the Coalition in the Rose Garden -ta-ra. Labour have virtually the same faces -ta-ra, with little more on offer, on offer. Clegg knows as he did last time -ta.ra, he can not work with neither Eds -ta-ra, so again back to the Tories, to the Tories. Last time Clegg-mania was cool - ta-ra, next time they'll know what Clegg can do - ta-ra. You can have it -ta-ra, you can change it - ta-ra.

Answer: the real solution is no half measures and bring in a real Tory Government. A Cameron dream or a D' Ancona hope? Or has he another motive: drive all into the hands of UKIP - in it together. Keep dreaming.

Good analysis on the daily routines in the ministries; informative about who's who on the personalities, easily explained, but not enough on the Lib Dem party. A copy should be put on the shelf or hidden in the garden and then re-read in 2015. Overall, I was not enamoured with the book, nor the hidden motives, or is it I no longer trust politicians, or commentators?
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bob does it again., 29 Mar 2014
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More exploits of a cat that has touched every cat lover and some that are not.I waited a long time for this book having ordered it last September but it arrived as promised on release date.
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In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government
In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government by Matthew d'Ancona (Hardcover - 30 Sep 2013)
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