04 September 2019
As Westminster descends into the ‘chaos’ promised to us by tabloids for so long, we’re turning to the experts to help us make sense of what’s going on. Our authors offer everything from deep political insight to a reminder that all our cursing might actually be good for us. Here’s our reading list to help you through a very unpredictable autumn.
From the presenter of Talking Politics podcast
Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Barack Obama, Theresa May, Donald Trump: each had different motivations, methods, and paths, but they all sought the highest office. And yet when they reached their goal, they often found that the power they had imagined was illusory. They faced bureaucratic obstructions, but often the biggest obstruction was their own character.
David Runciman explores how personal histories help to define successes and failures in office. These portraits show what characters are most effective in these offices. Could this be a blueprint for good and effective leadership in an age lacking good leaders?
What it means to be a minister in the UK government
The ministers of the UK are a cast of roles that expand and contract based on the whims and political needs of the Prime Minister. Within their portfolios those MPs and Lords are able to reshape whole sectors of British society.
Any misstep or scandal can invite media attention, public outcry, and their swift departure. At the same time, their resignations can shatter political alliances and bring down Prime Ministers and even governments. In Fifteen Minutes of Power, Peter Riddell draws on interviews with former ministers, conducted on behalf of the Institute of Government, to reveal the fraught existence of these powerful men and women.
Sunday Times Bestseller
In the past few decades, legislatures throughout the world have suffered from gridlock. In democracies, laws and policies are just as soon unpicked as made. Moreover, courts often overturn decisions made by elected representatives.
In the absence of effective politicians, many turn to the courts to solve political and moral questions. Rulings from the Supreme Courts in the United States and United Kingdom, or the European court in Strasbourg may seem to end the debate but the division and debate does not subside. In fact, the absence of democratic accountability leads to radicalisation. Judicial overreach cannot make up for the shortcomings of politicians. This is especially acute in the field of human rights. For instance, who should decide on abortion or prisoners’ rights to vote, elected politicians or appointed judges?
Expanding on arguments first laid out in the 2019 Reith Lectures, Jonathan Sumption argues that the time has come to return some problems to the politicians.
‘Anyone who wishes to understand why Brexit is so intractable should read this book.’ The Times
A history of the region at the centre of Brexit negotiations. Baffled about the backstop? Learn how we got here.
Did you know:
• The border is approx 310 miles long and includes 208 crossing points
• It runs along the middle of 11 roads, divides rivers, cuts bridges and even the odd house in two
• Up to 35,000 people commute across it daily
• For comparison, the entire border between the European Union and the countries to its east has a mere 137 crossings
• The 1998 Good Friday ended years of Army checkpoints, closed crossings (just a handful remained open during the Troubles) and violence.
Worried about all the effing and blinding you seem to be doing at the moment? Don’t be. In her brilliant science book, Emma Byrne proves that swearing reduce physical pain, help stroke victims recover their language, and encourage people to work together as a team.
Learn how to simplify complex decisions without over-simplifying them. Discover the power of analogies and the dangers of false equivalences. Find out how people construct misleading arguments, and how to always be right.
A practical and inspiring guide to decoding the modern world – and argue your case, whatever you believe about Brexit.
For those sweet, sweet moments when everything is going horribly wrong for those you really don’t like.
Theresa May would appreciate this, we reckon.