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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Five days that revolutionised British politics and laid bare Labour's delusions
Andrew Adonis was quietly at the heart of the Blair and Brown governments, one reason why Gordon Brown chose him as a member of Labour's small delegation negotiating in the crucial days following the 2010 general election to keep their party in power. That therefore gave him a ringside seat from which to recount probably the most dramatic week in 21st Century British...
Published 13 months ago by David Herdson

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3.0 out of 5 stars Dry but worthy
Andrew 'Lord' Adonis is a middle-aged man who sounds a bit like Jools Holland. Unlike Jools, sadly, he hasn't been content to restrict himself to adding innappropriate boogie-woogie piano fills to live pop music performances. After a few years as a policy advisor, Adonis was elevated to the Lords during the fag-end years of the Blair administration in order to oversee...
Published 1 month ago by Etienne Hanratty


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars could have been better, 25 Jun 2013
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I much preferred Rob Wilson's 5 days to power & David Law's 22 Days in May. These books were better written; gave more of a sense of the febrile atmosphere of the period. Rob Wilson's was by far & away the best one. Although much of this book was supposed to be contemporaneous it smacked of hindsight & wishful thinking. Still worth a read.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The main account adds little new, but the thoughts after the event are well worth a read, 27 May 2013
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Mark Pack (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Andrew Adonis's book about the May 2010 coalition negotiations following the general election is very much one of two halves: a near-contemporary account written in the heat of the moment and then reflections on what happened, written three years on. It's also a book of two halves in that one part reveals little new whilst the other offers much worthwhile insight.

The near-contemporary account adds little to existing books such as those by David Laws (22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition) and Rob Wilson (5 Days to Power). It does try to give an account more favourable to Labour politicians than those others, but the key elements of criticism of Labour are (to the author's credit) still very clearly present in this book, including such basic mistakes as Labour's senior figures being so insular that they didn't even know who former Lib Dem Chief Whip Andrew Stunell was.

The book makes clear how horribly under-prepared for a hung Parliament Labour was, with little thought having gone into how to hold the party together if a deal was to be struck and there was little understanding from senior Labour figures about the sort of compromises a coalition would require. Even where Adonis tries to pin the blame on those in other parties, he doesn't convince - such as when he complains that Paddy Ashdown wouldn't sit down in public on a train and talk to Peter Mandelson about possible deals. In public? No wonder Paddy Ashdown ran for the toilets rather than stay and talk.

Where the book becomes much more interesting is in the second half (though it's much less than half the book), where Andrew Adonis looks back from three years on, reflecting that his account, "reminds me of a general's despatch after one of Britain's all too common defeats in the Napoleonic wars, dictated whilst the smoke was still swirling and the dead and maimed being taken off the field. It is vivid, partisan, and angry."

He goes on to use the advantage of hindsight to adjust his views of events, including concluding that, "In retrospect, I downplayed Labour's fatalism during and after the 2010 election ... a fair proportion of the Labour Cabinet were resigned to losing the election. And when the election wasn't won by the Tories, they were equally resigned to handing power to David Cameron on a plate".

In two key respects, even with hindsight, I think Adonis still misjudges the Liberal Democrats. He fails to grasp just how unpopular the record of much of the New Labour government was with Liberal Democrat of all stripes, especially but not only when it came to civil liberties and the love of micro-management. He still seems to fail to see that many who put themselves on the centre left were heartily fed up with Labour's record in power. Moreover, he is airily dismissive of the idea that the Liberal Democrats might say that the largest party should get the first attempt to form a government in a hung Parliament for any reason other than a covert right-wing plot.

However, despite that Adonis is also pretty self-critical of Labour, emphasising how much more seriously it needs to take preparations for any future hung Parliament. Moreover, his suggestions for what Liberal Democrats should do differently in a future hung Parliament are, for all the acerbic commentary around them, thoughtful and interesting.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars deluded perspective, 29 Dec 2013
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This review is from: 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond (Kindle Edition)
Adonis doesn't grasp the public revulsion that would have been felt had Labour remained in power after the 2010 election. He tries to legitimise a post election lab-lib coalition and lays the blame for its failure to materialise firmly at the door of Clegg. Such politicians need to realise that it is the big issues, such as immigration, economy, health, education etc that the population are concerned about and that the sound bites and semantics they spout hoping to convince the populace turn people off and reinforce the notion that politicians are out of touch and self serving. Look at what you, the Labour part, left behind, even this Is implicitly rejected. This book made me quite angry!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, 9 July 2014
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This review is from: 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond (Kindle Edition)
This is. Easy read with fascinating insights! Well worth picking up. You won't put it down. It least because it is so well written and has real pace and interesting stories.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Coalition Making, 15 April 2014
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This review is from: 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond (Kindle Edition)
A useful view from the Labour side on the making of the coalition. This is a good book which will provide material for historians of the era. It is a well told story that demonstrates that the Libdems were intent in going in with the Conservatives whatever the cost, to their ultimate detriment.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cleggs duplicity and incompetence., 7 Feb 2014
Andrew Adonis was at the centre of the negotiations between labour and the lib deems after the inconclusive may 2010 general election. He writes with fluency and an insiders knowledge and the whole short book reads like a gripping novel even though you already know the outcome. His style is much better than the rather dreary Alastair Campbell.
Two people do not come well out of the book Gordon brown and nick clegg.brown may have been a total failure as prime minister but when the inconclonclusive results came in he did not care that he had lost all moral authority to govern . His instincts as a politician bred in the Scottish labour machine immediately surfaced. Even before the last results were in he was intriguing to somehow cling on to power. Brown emerges as a discredited, somewhat tawdry figure.
Clegg comes out of the book even worse than brown.he and his pals, laws and Danny Alexander, clearly intended to go into coalition with the Tories right from the start but strung labour along as a bargaining chip to try and get better terms from the Tories on matters like the Av referendum.Apart from that Clegg seems to have been an inept negotiator.he failed to ask for any of the great offices of state from the Tories ,nor take a big department . Incredibly brown had intended to offer clegg the Foreign Office.
Adonis is also good in his summary of the coalition since 2010 .He concludes that cleggs incompetence has continued exerting little influence on the Tories and ,incredibly staying with his brief of constitutional reform when both electoral reform and House of Lords reform had failed.
Adonis says that the Lib.Dems. Are not in coalition merely in government and that is absolutely correct.History may well see Clegg as the man who led the Lib.Dems . Back to government but in doing so destroyed them.Any one interested in British politics should read this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fast moving view from one side, 2 Jan 2014
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E. Spence "@Ewan" (Edinburgh, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond (Kindle Edition)
While this is not a comprehensive I 've view of the days after the general election, by sticking with Labour's view (and Adonis' own viewpoint) 5 Days in May is an entertaining and accessible read. take it with a pinch of salt, because of that viewpoint, but enjoy it as a look behind the scenes.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting insight into coalition government, 1 Jan 2014
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This review is from: 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond (Kindle Edition)
Written from Labour's perspective this is a fascinating account of the days leading to the formation of a coalition government, plus insight after 3 years. Adonis sets out a series of principles for future coalition agreements which are well-argued and logical. All in all a good read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Not a bad read. Helpful to have read 22 days in May by David Laws, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond (Kindle Edition)
Rather a lot of carping about what might have been in the last section of the read. Otherwise interesting background to recent events..
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4.0 out of 5 stars The future, 16 Nov 2013
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An insight into the makings of the coalition and how future negotiations could well take place after the next election.
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