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5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond Hardcover – 6 May 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Biteback Publishing; First Edition edition (6 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849545669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849545662
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 2.5 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

Details with breathless energy the plotting, late night phone calls and the desperately fading hopes of Brown's government from inside Number 10... Fascinatingly candid... Adonis's description of the hectic negotiations is absorbing for its detail and the palpable sense of chaos at the heart of the British establishment... Flashes of irony and slapstick... Convincing book by a man generally more interested in ideas than tribal loyalties... This book may prove to be his most important work. --The Telegraph

Revelatory and quietly shocking. --The Guardian

If anyone is going to spend five days inside the head of anyone, Adonis is a good candidate. He is intelligent, moderate and nice. The Spectator A West Wing-style thriller. --New Statesman

[An] invaluable book on the negotiations that led to the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. --The Observer

In 5 Days in May, Adonis has written a classic new text of political journalism. --Open Democracy

This is a political thriller with a twist. Times Literary Supplement It is a book full of anger, recrimination and justice...But this adds to the interest as the words crackle with barely concealed rage. --Total Politics

…as gripping as any Dan Brown page-turner --Choice Magazine

Without a doubt the political book of the summer, alongside Charles Moore's Thatcher biography… As both a tell-all (it's peppered with key details about Labour front benchers) and an examination of coalition governments, it makes for a compelling read. Unsurprisingly, Nick Clegg doesn't come off well. --GQ

A fine book. …as gripping as any Dan Brown page-turner --Choice Magazine

All Adonis' books are important, and now is the time to read one. --Independent on Sunday

[T]here is a revelation on almost every page of Adonis's book --The Independent

[It] challenges conventional wisdom about the forming of the coalition. Anyone who might be near the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015 needs to read this now. --Independent on Sunday

[It] challenges conventional wisdom about the forming of the coalition. Anyone who might be near the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015 needs to read this now. --Independent on Sunday

An inside account of how the coalition was formed […] It is advice the Labour leader would be wise to take. --New Statesman

[It] challenges conventional wisdom about the forming of the coalition. Anyone who might be near the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015 needs to read this now. --Independent on Sunday

An inside account of how the coalition was formed […] It is advice the Labour leader would be wise to take. --New Statesman

About the Author

ANDREW ADONIS was an architect of education reform under Tony Blair. He went on to become Transport Secretary under Gordon Brown. He is the author of Education, Education, Education.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very readable, insider's account of the unsuccessful negotiations between the Labour and Lib Dem parties, following the last general election. At 180 pages, there is very little padding, which is commendable.

Adonis seems to be motivated to go into print by a sense of frustration that the two parties who were closest in terms of political views, were unable to form a coalition, with the Lib Dems opting for what has been an uneasy and unnatural alliance with the Tories. I suspect in this, he underestimates the difficulties that the Lib Dems would have experienced in appearing to prop up a defeated government and an unpopular Prime Minister, at least in the short-term. Nevertheless, Adonis does make some credible points about the power imbalance within the current government.

This felt like an interesting subject that needs a writer in a more objective position. Adonis was a participant who can only give a partial account.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A behind the scene idea of went on between the election and the government being formed. Public needed to know
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 politics so far, which is what he does here.

The majority of his book, telling the narrative of those five days (from the Friday immediately after the election, when the results were still coming in, to the Tuesday on which Cameron formed his new government), was written within a few weeks of the events they describe and have been published unaltered. This gives it a great sense of immediacy and you feel the emotions flow among the discussions, the intrigue, the fatigue and - particularly for Labour - the waiting and watching. The second, written much more recently, is Adonis' take on how the Coalition has fared and what lessons are to be learned from the events.

Adonis writes well and the detail is impressive. What I took from it more than anything though was the scale of the delusion that Brown, Adonis and some others on the centre-left suffered from when trying to cobble together a government: again and again they see politics solely in terms of being pro- or anti-Tory without recognising that some - and in particular many Lib Dems - had at least as many differences with Labour as with the Conservatives. Indeed, they never really get beyond platitudes such as 'progressive' when trying to identify why Labour and the Lib Dems are natural allies and should form a coalition.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
David Laws and others have given largely unchallenged accounts of the coalition negotiations. Here Andrew Adonis gives a riposte to critics of Labour's stance immediately after the election results. He argues, persuasively I think, that Labour was right to seek to cling on to power. His claim that the Lib Dem leadership is essentially a soft Tory clique is surely designed to discomfit Lib Dem activists who identify as social democrats. With polls hinting at another close election this is a thoughtful book coloured by intimate details of a heady few days in politics.
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At the time of writing this review in early April 2015, the polls are pointing strongly towards the next UK government consisting of a coalition, which until five years ago was something not seen in this country since the Second World War, and not seen for even longer in peacetime. This is a fascinating insider account written around the time by Labour's Lord Adonis of the five days of negotiations that took place between the parties immediately after the 2010 general election on Thursday 6 May and the formation of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition on the evening of Tuesday 11 May. The progress of the negotiations between Labour and the Liberal Democrats to prevent the Conservatives coming to power is clearly told here from Labour's perspective, but Adonis is quite well respected across the political spectrum and not generally seen as a tribal politician, so the account carries conviction.

The five days saw many twists and turns, but ultimately failed due a number of first and second order factors. Ultimately, Nick Clegg and David Laws saw themselves as more naturally Conservative-inclined on economic policy, as opposed to the social democratic Labour inclinations of figures like Vince Cable, Menzies Campbell and Paddy Ashdown. The premiership of Gordon Brown was seen as a major obstacle to the success of a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition working, yet could also not even get off the ground without his being in charge as the existing Prime Minister for at least an initial period of some months.
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