XMAS BOOKS 2008
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.
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.
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?”
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!
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
Click here to return to the home page.