Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Blind Boys of Alabama Shop now Fitbit



There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 August 2014
The new paperback edition of In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government by Matthew D'Ancona is not much changed from the previous hardback edition, save that its documenting of a government which is still in office has been brought up to date with some extra chapters. In the process it has, alas, lost the Peter Brookes cartoon cover done for the hardback edition.

How much you will enjoy the book depends very much on how much you want to read about the Liberal Democrats or to read political analysis.

This book is, despite the subtitle, very much an account of the Conservatives in power. The Liberal Democrats do get mentioned now and again but when equal marriage get discussed without mentioning Lynne Featherstone or the pension triple lock without mentioning Steve Webb you get the idea.

In It Together is a book primarily about the Conservatives and the references to the Liberal Democrats, taking as true pretty much every caricature that 'well placed sources close to the leader' like to wheel out when dissing their own party, suggest a range of Lib Dem sources that might be well placed in Westminster but are also small in number and homogenous in outlook.

As instant narrative history of the Conservatives, however, this book is brilliantly done. The Conservative sources look to be both numerous and well-placed, with controversies involving senior figures often having conflicting versions of events from the different sides set out.

The words flow easily as events move on a pace, with a skillfully done thematic structure. Despite the jumping back and forth in time that a thematic discussion requires, the overall chronology of events and changing nature of the coalition comes through clearly.

But it is much much narrative history, written right up close to the coalface of political events. Even though it is now four years since the start of the coalition, there is not much wider perspective or analysis deployed beyond the sort you get in a Sunday newspaper at the end of the week. The book, for example, repeats the simplistic and myth-laden story about children being removed from parents in Rotherham because the parents were UKIP members - rather than setting out the rather different full story of the events that came out after the initial headlines. Nor does the book put issues such as the impact of the 'Quad' at the heart of government on the way the civil service operates in much perspective.

In other words, if you want a close up narrative of the Conservatives in power, this is a great read. If you want to know more about the Lib Dems or to see issues put in greater perspective, it's not so great.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 14 April 2015
This is an extremely well-informed account of the coalition. Unsurprisingly, given that d’Ancona is a political columnist for the Sunday Telegraph and the Evening Standard, this book puts all the coalition’s acts in the best possible light.

He notes that the coalition’s Programme for Government pledged to ‘stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS’. It also pledged to hire fewer spin doctors. The coalition broke both these pledges and many others too.

In 2006 David Cameron told the Conservative party conference, “Tony Blair explained his priorities in three words: education, education, education. I can do it in three letters: NHS.” But come 2015’s election campaign, the NHS was not even one of his party’s top six priorities.

Cameron had appointed Jeremy Hunt Health Secretary: before Hunt was appointed, he had written, “Our ambition [is] in effect denationalising health care in Britain” and that the NHS was ‘a 60-year-old mistake’ and ‘a fundamentally broken machine’.

The facts refute Hunt’s claims. In 2014 the Commonwealth Fund ranked the NHS the best of eleven health services, better than those of the USA, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

But governments still underfunded our NHS. We had fewer hospital beds per 1,000 people: 2.8, as against Germany’s 8.3, France’s 6.3, Italy’s 3.4 and Spain’s 3. We also had fewer doctors per 1,000 people: 2.8, as against Germany’s 4, Italy’s 3.9, Spain’s 3.8, France’s 3.3 and Australia’s 3.3.

d’Ancona notes that the Conservatives and the LibDems face a huge dilemma: if there is no recovery, their coalition has failed; if they claim that there is a recovery, then their coalition is not needed.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 7 November 2013
as Boris would call it... which happens to be based on the truth. I must read it before the 2015 election.
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 December 2013
I usually enjoy most political books. I like this one & have read other Matthew d'Ancona books but it doesn't flow as well as other books I've read. I am familiar with the territory and find it a bit 'he said, she said'. I still like it & would recommend it but it could have been much better.
0Comment| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 3 January 2015
Good read and very interesting. Wish the media would all read it and stop laying into the Lib Dems on a regular basis.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 30 October 2013
I found this book interesting and revealing, particularly the part played by 'the main players' in the Coalition.I understood more what the key issues have been as the Coaltion has developed.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 11 August 2016
I'm amazed at the number of reviewers here who think this book could have been better written, or that it's partial in some way. I couldn't disagree more (and I'm politically unaligned). D'Ancona is a marvellous writer - his book is dense (because of the amount and quality of research underpinning it) yet gripping to read. Rather than a plodding chronological account, the book is divided into chapters that deal with discrete events or themes (eg, education reforms, Lansley's over-ambitious plans for the NHS, the inner city riots of August 2011 and the battle for influence between Steve Hilton and Jeremy Heywood). Taken as a whole, it's also a brilliantly observed panorama of the modern political landscape.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This is a very readable account of the first few years of the coalition. It seems well-informed and deals with all the aspects which interest me (and, I would guess, most readers. Recommended.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 October 2013
This book is a great disappointment. I purchased it on the day of publication believing it would be the first really authoritative book on the coalition. I knew that Matthew D'Ancona was on the right of the Conservative Party but on the basis of his Telegraph columns I had expected a degree of objectivity. Alas Mr D'Ancona has elected to display his uncritical admiration of the Cameroons in general and his absolute adulation of George Osborne in particular.
There are no new revelations except that Osborne thinks that Ian Duncan Smith is thick. Not exactly a surprise to anyone who has seen IDS interviewed. We get lengthy descriptions of the social life of the Notting Hill set and the Chipping Norton set. Above all, we are constantly reminded about how nice they all are and how Michael Gove is the most polite person in politics. You could almost believe that the author would love to be a member of both sets. Or maybe he already is.
If you are looking for informed analysis of the coalition, this book is not for you. If you are an uncritical, devoted and hero worshipping fan of George Osborne, this is the one for you.
I'll put this book down to experience and wait for the first really serious and objective analysis of the coalition to come along.
0Comment| 30 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 March 2014
I have always rated Matthew d"Acona very highly as a political journalist, and look forward each Sunday to his incisive analysis and comment of the current politics of the country and the world. This book gives a page-turning account of the behind the scenes activity of the coalition; the tensions; the compromises as well as the outcomes. Highly recommended
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)