The Blunders of Our Governments, co-authored by the president of the Academy of Social Sciences, Ivor Crewe, and fellow political scientist Anthony King, has been named the Practical Politics Book of the Year in Britain’s annual Paddy Power Political Book Awards. Crewe and King’s award was presented to them Wednesday night by John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons.
As described by the Paddy organizers, Blunders “open our eyes to the worst government horror stories and explain why the British political system is quite so prone to appalling mistakes. Informed by years of research and interviews, this razor-sharp diagnosis of flawed government is required reading for every UK citizen.”
The Guardian, citing the King and Crewe’s “clarity, elegance and wit,” predicted, “this book will make you gasp in disbelief and stamp your feet in rage, and quite frequently reduce you to helpless laughter. It will also make you tremble in terror at the realisation that the people in charge of our destinies are, in many respects, idiots.”
Crewe is the master of University College, Oxford and formerly served as vice chancellor of the University of Essex (the Crewe Lecture Hall at Essex is named for him); he edited or co-edited the British Journal of Political Science for more than 15 years. Crewe took over leadership of the Academy of Social Sciences, a Social Science Space partner, on January 1 and will serve for three years.
The Canadian-born King is currently the Essex County Council Millennium Professor of British Government at the University of Essex, where he has taught since 1969.
The awards are offered in association with Politicos.co.uk and selected by separate panels of judges in nine areas. The Practical Politics team featured Liberal Democrat Life Peer Rosalind Grender, Baroness of Kingston Upon Thames; former secretary of state for Education Gillian Shephard, Baroness of Northwold; Labour Party politician Tom Harris; and journalists David Hencke and Romilly Weeks. Blunders was chosen from a field that included Meg Russell’s >The Contemporary House of Lords: Westminster Bicameralism Revived; 5 Days in May: The Coalition and Beyond, by Andrew Adonis; Democracy Ltd: How Money and Donations Corrupted British Politics, by Bobby Friedman; In It Together: The Inside Story of the Coalition Government, by Matthew d’Ancona; and Trading Secrets: Spies and Intelligence in an Age of Terror, by Mark Huband.
The competition’s top prize winner was Charles Moore’s Margaret Thatcher: The Authorized Biography by Charles Moore, named Political Book of the Year from among what Paddy organizers described as “fierce competition,” including I Am Malala and Antonia Fraser’s Perilous Question.
The evening also featured a Lifetime Achievement Award presented to Lord Michael Dobbs, the onetime deputy chairman of the Conservative Party now gaining fame on both of the Atlantic for his trilogy of political novels, House of Cards, a hit TV series first in Britain and now in the United States.
Winners in other categories were:
Political Fiction Book of the Year | One Night in Winter, Simon Sebag Montefiore
Political Biography of the Year | The Pike, Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Debut Political Book of the Year | Making It Happen, Iain Martin
Political History Book of the Year | An English Affair, Richard Davenport-Hines
Political Humour and Satire Book of the Year | Maggie & Me, Damian Barr
Polemic of the Year | How We Invented Freedom and Why It Matters, Daniel Hannan
International Affairs Book of the Year | The War That Ended Peace, Margaret MacMillan