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2.0 out of 5 stars repetative and bland - a bit like the tories themselves!, 14 Aug 2012
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This review is from: Tory Wars: The Conservatives in Crisis (Hardcover)
Having read Andrew Rawnsley's engaging history of New Labour, 'The End of the Party', I set about looking for something similar on the Conservatives. Alas this was not it. Its not exactly a bad book, just thoroughly unremarkable, reading almost like a textbook than political journalism. The facts are all there, events are chronicled but its passionless and shallow. For example a major theme of the book is the tension between the modernisers, spearheaded by Michael Portillo, and Thatcherite traditionalists. But there is no great insight given into the substance of these different factions, what they believed and why. We just know that they existed and that the tensions between them caused headaches for the leadership.

As well as lacking depth it also reads poorly, and the very basic writing style sucks any drama out of the interpersonal tension between the main players. Whereas Rawnsley's vivid writing brings colour and detail to the events depicted, Walter's style renders events distinctly grey. It also feels repetitive and the urge to skip over several paragraphs of text begins to creep over the reader surprisingly early on - never a good sign.

With hindsight the author appears to have made the wrong call - the stance taken is hostile to the modernisers, and lays disproportionate blame at their door for the election defeat as well as for the chaotic state of the party. While tension at the top of the party cannot have helped, and Portillo's personal ambition and the behaviour of his disciples may have been disruptive, the subsequent history of the party probaby shows that an unreconstucted Thatcherite stance combined with stolid social conservatism was not going to get the party re-elected. In other words the modernisers were probably right, a fact that this book fails to acknowledge due to its partisan nature and undisguised personal hostility towards Michael Portillo and his followers.

In summary this is a book that is strictly for beginners - anyone who is vaugely familiar with the travails of the tories under Hague should skip it, and I doubt i'll be re-reading it. Far better is Tim Vale's 'The Conservative Party from Thatcher to Cameron', which is more thorough, more neutral and far better written.
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Tory Wars: The Conservatives in Crisis
Tory Wars: The Conservatives in Crisis by Simon Walters (Hardcover - 1 Oct 2001)
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