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The Strange Death of Tory England Paperback – 1 Sep 2005

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint. edition (1 Sept. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141018674
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141018676
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.1 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,108,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Thoroughly enjoyable...we get all the gossip: the bitterness, rancour and contumely, and there are several smoking guns’ -- Rod Liddle, Sunday Times

‘A rattling good read’ -- Spectator

‘Every page of this book is a firework party, full of great sparks and explosions' -- Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday

‘Immensely readable and sardonic … one puts the book down chuckling, as well as feeling wiser’ -- Peregrine Worsthorne, New Statesman

‘Rarely has a wake proved so much fun' -- Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Inside Flap

Acclaimed as one of the funniest political books in years, this is the story of the rise, fall and likely extinction of what was the most successful political species in Britain. Drawing on years of first-hand encounters with the architects of the Tories’ changing fortunes (from spirited exchanges with Thatcher to almost unprintable asides from Alan Clark) Geoffrey Wheatcroft’s acerbically funny and brilliantly indiscreet insider’s account shows how the unstoppable became unelectable. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a splendid book. Journalist Geoffrey Wheatcroft explores the reasons behind the slow decline of the British Conservative (Tory) Party, once the undisputed mistress of the British political scene, now reduced to a rump of quarrelsome, factional schisms, disunited, directionless and with no sense of being able to return to power. It's a wonderful read and I recommend that anyone interested in politics, contemporary history or ploitical thought packs this thoroughly enjoyable tale of a fall into the political wilderness in their holiday reading.
The tale is told by a canter through Tory party history; although the book was completed prior to Tony Blair's historic third Labour Party win in May 2005, the writing is clearly on the wall. Wheatcroft ably describes the twists and turns of policy and personalities in recent British history and his evocation of ideas and individuals, often with a few carefully chosen sentences, is superb. He (correctly in my view) identifies and dissects the reasons for the fall of the Tory party - disunity, the stealing of Thatcherism's thunder by Tony Blair and above all a total change in social outlook and mores to which point a recent Daily Telegraph correspondent could state 'we are all social democrats now'.
And the tale is told with admirable clarity and a wonderful acerbic humour. Here is Geoffrey on the Referendum Party - 'in many ways it was a risible affair, noisily supported at one glitzy gathering after another by such notabilities as...and altogether a fine cross-section of rich white trash; there has been nothing like it since the flapper in 'Vile Bodies' complained, 'The Independent Labour Party? Why haven't I been asked?'.
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Format: Hardcover
The first thing to say about this book is that it is written by a conservative, so for those not of this political persuasion, parts of the book, such as the general praise of Thatcher will be hard to swallow. But I would still recommend it to all as an excellent study of the Tory party from within. It is written with real wit and carefull analysis. What's better, is that once you pick it up, you can't put it back down, and this is very much to the authors credit.
The attack on the Fogey Right and their obsession with Europe is particularly vehement, and fair. This section of the party which seems to have been in control for some time has repelled more voters than it has attracted, and for the forseeable future, this is something that does not look like it will be remedied. The author's lament of the fall of the old patrician spirit of the Tory party is just, and in many ways, is also the root of the problem. His demonstrates this well through examining the history of the Tory party. Truthfully, the party today appears to be in a wilderness similar in form to that it sruggled under against the power of the Whig party in the 18th century.
However, some of his analysis of some issues seems too one-sided, and his Conservative views overcome his judgement. This is lacking particularly in his section outlining the problems the Tory party had in The Troubles, in Scotland, the anti-Thatcher crusade of the 'intellectual left' and much of his narrative on Thatcher and her acheivements. With regards The Troubles, he rightly condemns Seinn Fein, but leaves it at that. He doesn't really expand on the problems the unionists created, or the frequently good causes fought by moderate elements such as the SDLP. He also fails to condemn Thatcher's policy of fighting fire with fire against the IRA.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For most of the twentieth century the Conservative Party dominated British politics, however by the end they had been routed at the polls and appeared to have nowhere to go. Geoffrey Wheatcroft's book explains in a thought provoking but sometimes humourous way how the Conservative Party lost its way. His main conclusion seems to be that the era of Conservative dominance from 1979-1997 was in fact bad for the Conservative Party as a whole as it gained a reputation for being the nasty party due to its introduction of necessary but unpopular free market reforms. This meant that the old Tory One-Nation Conservatism which had been successful in the past was displaced by free-market radicalism which became increasingly unpopular and ultimately led to defeat in 1997 and also the Party becoming controlled by free market radicals who were dogamtic in their belief. All in all this is a very good book.
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Format: Hardcover
This disappointing, ill-focused sprawl of a book does not live up to its title. Irrespective of its author's frequently one-sided views, a book called 'The Strange Death of Tory England' (as opposed to 'of the Tory Party') should be about England, and how English people played their part in the downfall of Major. Instead, Wheatcroft makes the fatal mistake of assuming that history is nothing more than the biographies of famous men; he concentrates on the experiences and views of only a few people at the top of the party (basically, his mates at the time), when it would have been so much more interesting and profitable to examine the views and values of the electorate, who, in the final analysis, are the only people in a democracy who can cause the 'strange death' of any political party or ideology. Worst of all, however, the book is almost entirely journalistic descriptiveness, despite the in-depth analysis promised by the title, which as a reader I really missed. Wheatcroft only starts analysis of the events he describes on page 269 out of 285, and even then, it is shallow and highly subjective. If you want to read a book that should be more accurately called 'The Conservative Party in the late 20th century from the viewpoint of one sympathetic journalist' then you'll like it. But for such a promising title, 'The Strange Death of Tory England' offers little more insight than if you had followed the events described in the newspapers at the time. Wheatcroft adds very little value here, and his book is best avoided.
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