This is the third book I’ve been reading about the Coalition between the Conservatives and the LibDems between 2010 asnd 2015. After Nick Clegg’s “Politics” and “Cameron at 10: The Inside Story 2010-2015” I had already two perspectives beyond my own, media-fuelled and party-lined views.
This book is a well-put and pretty balanced account of the coalition, condemning it neither as failure, nor hailing it as success – something I must credit Laws for. As LibDem I am inclined to see the Coalition positive and applaud the tough decision to go into government with the Tories in a time of economical crisis. Laws’s summary is very detailed and remains as objective as you can be in the context.
What stands out to me most is that David Laws seemed more emotionally charged than Clegg and occasionally inclined to score points, however moderated and low-key. While this provides insights into the mechanisms of coalition politics and usually is backed up by comments in both, Cameron’s and Clegg’s books, it shows us someone who may not have had the necessary distance to politics.
One of my favourite quotes from the book (not verbatim): “The press had written the tuition fee story years ago and was unwilling to revisit…” when Laws points out how more students and more students from underprivileged backgrounds are now in University than were before, thanks to the loans and repayment structure.
Despite the factual nature and the immacculate collecting of data, this was a less gripping read than Clegg’s book. Although Clegg didn’t give too many detail, he held my attention easier and made points quicker and more concise.
Disclosing background arguments and behind the scenes episodes, Laws’ book shows the workings of compromise and politics, good, bad and ugly. It is valuable historical document, especially in times of deteriorating press quality and accuracy.