Call Me Dave by Michael Ashcroft and Isabel Oakeshott

One test of a text is how long it resonates with readers. This biography is already outmoded. The EU referendum result and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn have made the poll-based predictions of Michael Ashcroft seem absurd. At the same time, the gossipy tone makes the book a difficult read for those who want to take an interest in the evolving political economy of the UK.

Notwithstanding these huge problems, the authors do shed some light on the formation of the coalition between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. It underlines how cordial the relations were between the neoliberal politicians in question. Further, it exposes how Cameron lied to his own party about the position of the Labour Party on electoral reform as negotiations unfolded.

These minor revelations continue to matter because the Liberal Democrats depict themselves as a pro-European party. When they had a sniff of power they effectively jettisoned their commitment to the EU, signing up to severe cuts on the pretext that the UK was in a similar position to Greece in economic terms. The coalition failed to establish really positive relationships with their European partners. According to an aide of Mrs Merkel, David Cameron was unable to sustain her full respect:

“Allies will help each other when they can, but each must do their own homework before coming to the table in Brussels or elsewhere.”

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