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Xmas Books 2008
14 February 2009 (15:01:44)


Once again, Liberator has invited leading Liberal Democrats to recommend their favourite books of the year

Danny Alexander MP
Plane travel is getting an increasingly bad press these days, so I’m keen to learn about the alternatives. Fans of train travel tell me I should read a new book called The Man in Seat 61. I shall be interested to see whether it will help me avoid the man in seat 62.

Steve Webb MP
Christmas is a time for reading more light-hearted fare, so I shall relax with a humorous tome such as Things Overheard on Planes, an hilarious account of the careless remarks people make on board aircraft.

Brian Paddick
I went to Waterstone’s the other day to get a book to help with my television career and found it hard to choose between two of them. There was Basic Jungle Survival by Smith and Jones, which was very good, and Jungle Survival: The Basics by Jones and Smith, which was very good too. I am sure all the authors put a lot of work into writing these books so it did not seem fair to choose between them. I bought both and I suggest you do the same. I also bought Advanced Astrophysics because the girl on the till looked unhappy and I wanted to cheer her up.

Mark Littlewood
This Christmas I shall be re-reading The Rise of Militant, a brilliant study of a group under shadowy external control that once tried to take control of a major political party. Are there parallels in the Liberal Democrats today?

Vince Cable MP
One doesn’t wish to gloat, but this year I have taken a modicum of grim satisfaction from the fruition of my predictions about the economy. Accordingly, this Christmas I shall be reading the works of JK Galbraith and reflecting that we are all Keynesians now.

Lembit Öpik MP
Since my surprise defeat in the Liberal Democrats’ presidential ballot, I have been reading Walter Bagehot’s classic The English Constitution and contemplating the iniquities of various electoral systems. The single transferable vote is somewhat overrated, I find.

Stephen Williams MP
I’m a big fan of Steve Coogan’s student-hating comic creation Paul Calf, and Christmas is a time to relish some of Calf’s gems: “There was a student, he was acting up, he got a slap. But I was under severe provocation. There I was, having a quiet pint, when a student walked past and nudged me, causing me to spill a bit. I did what any fine, upstanding citizen would do. I followed him to the toilet and kicked his head in. Perhaps I should have stopped kicking him when he was in the ambulance. But I did what I did because I want to live in a world where we can have a pint without fear of being nudged by a student. Is that a crime? Is it a crime to want to live in a world of peace and harmony? Is it a crime to live in a world of love? Is it a crime to hit a student across the back of the head with a snooker ball in a sock?”

Chandila Fernando
Tolstoy’s War and Peace – what a load of rubbish! It is far too long to start with and he should have put the battle scenes at the start to grab people’s attention. In today’s 24/7 media environment, no one is going to waste time reading unless there is a clear payback on the bottom line. And the other day I learned that Tolstoy originally wrote it in Russian. Can you believe it? If he had taken the time out to Google he would have found there are 322 million English speakers in the world and only 170 million Russian speakers. It’s a no-brainer!

Nobby Shuttleworth
A northern stand-up comedian like me has to be versatile and these days a lot of folk go for impressions. Any road up, I says to the wife, I need to brush up my impressionist act so can you get me a book about impressionists? The daft old bat gives me this book full of paintings by some frog bloke called Monet! Next thing I know, I’m booked to do a turn at Inverness Liberal Club and they want me to do an impression of Nick Clegg. With no time left for rehearsals, the only thing for it was to practice on the plane up to Inverness. Luckily, I were sat next to Danny Alexander and he thought I sounded just like the real thing.

Book recommendations compiled by Jonathan Calder and Simon Titley

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