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22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition Paperback – 22 Nov 2010

3.7 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback; First Edition 2nd Impression edition (22 Nov. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849540802
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849540803
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 142,633 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

the story he has to tell is full of rich detail and comes with a vital five months' worth of perspective. --Peter Preston, The Guardian

David Laws has copious notes of interminable meetings to rely on, which means his account has the ring of authenticity. It's a brisk, rewarding read that makes you feel more participant than spectator. It also catches the milling chaos of the time, the imperative that a deal be done in yes! the national interest, because the cabinet secretary and governor of the Bank of England were dancing jigs of anxiety just off stage. --Peter Preston, The Guardian

David Laws has copious notes of interminable meetings to rely on, which means his account has the ring of authenticity. It's a brisk, rewarding read that makes you feel more participant than spectator. It also catches the milling chaos of the time, the imperative that a deal be done in yes! the national interest, because the cabinet secretary and governor of the Bank of England were dancing jigs of anxiety just off stage. --Peter Preston, The Guardian

About the Author

David Laws is the Lib Dem MP for Yeovil. He was briefly Chief Secretary to the Treasury in David Cameron s coalition government. He was co-editor of the influential The Orange Book (2004) and Britain after Blair (2006).


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Many insider accounts have already appeared of the events retold in David Laws's book. It is therefore one of the book's strengths that not only is it written in a lively style which gives some freshness to the now familiar sequence of events but it also adds many new insights.

Although only briefly mentioned by Laws himself, perhaps the most important is how much the Liberal Democrats owe to Chris Huhne who played a key and supportive role in the negotiations, despite having only very narrowly lost an at times tetchy leadership contest with Nick Clegg.

Laws's book brings out Huhne's close involvement in shaping the party's approach to a hung Parliament and how he persuaded many others of the virtues of his party agreeing a coalition rather than 'confidence and supply' arrangement. The environment in which that was done was one of mutual respect and debate - a sharp contrast from the Labour Party where so much of their approach to the hung Parliament was shaped by former and future personal ambitions.

In Laws's account, the final outcome of the coalition talks between the three main parties was pretty much determined by the result the voters decided on (wittingly or not) in the general election. There are no "what if..." moments from the post-result events which can spur alternative histories except for one - perhaps it might have been no AV referendum and confidence and supply rather than coalition. But it would still have been Cameron as Prime Minister, and Laws's book does not suggest any plausible sequence by which that could have turned out differently given the election result.
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Format: Paperback
David Laws' 22 Days in May is an engrossing read. It's the first true insider story of an era defining event, the creation of a full coalition in the UK, the story of the birth of a government written by someone who witnessed and whelped it. A slight let down is that it's author knows it. No page goes by without David Laws feeling the full weight of history bearing down upon him. "I knew" becomes the book's cliche (surely, "I know now" ?) No sentence is uttered without the significance that he can attach to it in hindsight. Even a pub gets upgraded, bemusingly, to a restaurant (Laws has visions of `Loose Box', in London, inserting a blue plaque where he once sat, perhaps?).

The one area where Laws might, in truth, claim credit for far-sightedness is in the book's treatment of Chris Huhne. Upon publication, reviews cited Law's description of Huhne's commitment to full coalition with the Conservatives as casting fresh, positive light on this defeated leadership candidate. Now, 12 months on, with Huhne fighting (a) to appeal to disaffected LibDems as their post-coalition leader, and (b) to avoid the DVLA, Law's intent in eulogizing Huhne may be seen very differently: as an attempt to tie him firmly to the mast of Nick Clegg and coalition.

I'd recommend the accounts of the negotiations between the parties to anyone, within or outwith the Westminster bubble. Only the true politicos will stick around for the appendices (the various drafts of agreements between the major parties).
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A review on the making of the British coalition government in the twenty-first century, with many firsts: a first with Liberals since MacDonald's National Government of 1931, written by the first Lib Dem Chief Secretary of the Treasury to hold office in the Treasury since Sir John Simon, and the shortest-lived holder of a Cabinet Office in 200 years, might have been an interesting scoop when it was first published in 2010. At second sight, David Laws, MP for Yeovil, never intended writing this as a short term measure to the soothe the pain and lost opportunities on the back benches, but as a record of the historic noble deed which his party had achieved, and which his fully-occupied Lib Dem colleagues in government would not be able to write for a very long time.

In brief, it is a direct personal short-term extended day-by-day diary account from election day by one of the five Lib Dem protagonists: consisting of party leader Nick Clegg, Danny Alexander, Chris Huhne, and Andrew Stunell, who laboured tiresomely for hours face to face with their direct opposites in Cameron's Conservative and Brown's Labour parties, to thrash out what could have been unsolvable, immediately after the inconclusive results of the General Election on May 6th, 2010, when the over excited European markets were looking anxious in the wake of meltdown in Greece, the fear of spread throughout Southern Europe, and now with indecision, possible dangers looming for Britain. It would have been very easy and pure to wave the party flag, return to opposition benches, and risk a second damaging election in the autumn, rather than put the nation (and for the Lib Dems, might I add, Europe) first.
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